For years, religious-right groups screamed that President Obama was ignoring the imprisonment of a Christian pastor in Iran. The American Family Association (a prominent backer of former Texas governor Rick Perry) has been so hateful that it even suggested the president cares more about Muslims than he does a Christian like that pastor, Saeed Abedini.

Then over the weekend Abedini was among four Americans released after a long and delicate period of negotiations between U.S. and Iranian officials. (Iran also released a fifth American, although reports indicate that release wasn’t directly related to the larger deal.)

On Monday the AFA sent out a celebratory email without even noting the Obama administration’s actions in gaining Abedini’s release. In fact, here’s the only mention of President Obama at all:

Through the AFA Action Alert, hundreds of thousands of emails, letters and phone calls flooded the State Department, members of Congress and President Obama during his time in prison.

That’s it. The email goes on:

Regardless of the publicly stated reasons for his release, we know that God has answered the prayers of His people.

“Regardless of the publicly stated reasons for his release”? What does that mean?

Here’s… Read More

Phony historian and religious-right pooh-bah David Barton and his sidekick Rick Green (who is seeking a seat on the Texas Supreme Court) hosted one of the country’s most notorious anti-Muslim hysterics on their radio program this week.

The WallBuilders Live! program Monday and Tuesday featured a discussion with Frank Gaffney, a man the Southern Poverty Law Center compares to the notorious Red-baiter Joseph McCarthy, the late senator from Wisconsin. From an SPLC brief on Gaffney:

If Frank Gaffney Jr. had his way, average hard-working Americans of the Muslim faith would be dragged before Congress to face such questions as, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood?” In Gaffney’s mind, America is in peril, and bringing back the notorious Cold War-era House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) would expose the subversives he imagines are working to implement Shariah religious law throughout the land.

The SPLC notes that Gaffney’s “wild-eyed accusations,” “smears” and “innuendo” have led to condemnation from even GOP leaders like Sen. John McCain and then-House Speaker John Boehner. According to the SPLC, in 2011 Gaffney made the outrageous claim that a top aide to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was part of a clandestine “Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy.” That same year the Conservative Political… Read More

TFN Insider is pleased to present this guest post from Rev. Michael Diaz, Director of Connections at Resurrection MCC Church in Houston. Rev. Diaz is a proud voice for social justice in his community for a host of issues, including equality for LGBTQ citizens.

Lunch with Liberty Counsel Rev. Michael Diaz

Religious-right propaganda distributed at the event by Liberty Counsel.

Late last Thursday I received an invitation to a “Who Will Stand?” pastors meeting at Grace Community Church in Houston hosted by Liberty Counsel. It was short notice but my interest was piqued by the speaker line-up: “Governor Mike Huckabee, self-taught historian David Barton, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver, and many, many others.”

About 10 people were present, and maybe five were actual local church pastors with a few bringing their significant others. That’s right, only 10 people showed up in a room set up for 80 – with a catered lunch from Chick-fil-a boxes, of course! I must say the small turn-out surprised me, considering the build-up given to the event.

The speakers “appeared” on a 70-minute DVD designed to mobilize “Christians” to vote in November. Their main message centered upon the fact that churches… Read More

We just sent out the following press release about today’s historic federal court ruling that strikes down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage:

The Rev. Dr. Larry Bethune, pastor of Austin’s University Baptist Church and a member of the Texas Freedom Network Board of Directors, has the following statement following today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Bethune said:

“Today’s decision is historic for both religious freedom and civil liberties. It respects the religious freedom of many congregations, like my own, that have been blessing same-sex unions for several years. Moreover, marriage equality acknowledges the worth and dignity of all families under the law and in our faith tradition. University Baptist Church blesses same-sex and heterosexual unions as a gift and calling from God.”

Bethune has served on the Texas Freedom Network board since 1995.… Read More

According to a statement from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the charter school operator at the center of an in-depth and highly critical article in the online magazine Slate on Thursday is “voluntarily conducting its own internal review.” TEA is also “looking” at the schools’ instructional materials.

TEA released its statement today to Zack Kopplin, who wrote the Slate article about Responsive Education Solution’s charter schools. Kopplin’s article listed numerous examples of anti-science and right-wing propaganda he found in instructional materials used by Responsive Ed schools. The charter school operator says it has 65 campuses with more than 17,000 students in Texas, Arkansas and Indiana and received more than $80 million in taxpayer funds in the fiscal year ending in August 2012.

TEA says in its statement that the agency is reviewing the schools’ materials “to determine that the state curriculum is being covered” and that it hasn’t yet “discovered anything that demonstrates a violation of law.” The statement notes that “allegations regarding instruction at the campus level are a local matter in Texas to be addressed by the governing boards of local education agencies.”

That last point might be true as far as TEA is concerned. But politicians… Read More