They Really Must Think Christians Are Stupid

Or maybe the lawyers at Liberty Institute — the Plano-based Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family — think Christians are just remarkably gullible. During the revision of social studies standards this year, for example, the group portrayed Texas teachers on the curriculum teams as anti-Christmas zealots who want to erase the holiday from their classrooms. It didn’t matter that the teachers, themselves Christians, made clear that they had no such intention at all. Liberty Institute apparently figured enough Christians would believe such an absurd lie that it would help fundraising.

Now the group is outrageously charging that officials in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, are attacking God and a local Christian church. A Liberty Institute e-mail to activists Friday screams: “Don’t let them kick God out of Gettysburg!” Noting that Gettysburg was the scene of a pivotal Civil War battle and of one of President Lincoln’s most famous speeches, the e-mail absurdly claims that “the City of Gettysburg is trying to kick God out of Gettysburg by closing the only reconstructed Civil War chapel in America.” “We don’t know why the city of Gettysburg is discriminating against our client,” the group whines in its shamelessly manipulative e-mail. (Yes, Liberty Institute is now providing legal representation for the chapel. The group shops for clients all over the country. During 2008 its lawyers even traveled to Alaska to help Sarah Palin — the newly chosen Republican nominee for vice president — try to block a legislative investigation into whether she had abused her power as the state’s governor by pushing for the firing of a public employee who was once married to her sister. The group lost that fight.)

This newest e-mail is — as with so many others from Liberty Institute — promoting a lie calculated to anger Christians who happen not to be familiar with the facts. But the Gettysburg Times offers some facts.

According to the Gettysburg Times, the so-called “Civil War chapel” isn’t a historical site. It was built just four years ago, replacing a burned-out rental property in the town. Constructed to look like an old rural chapel, the church has become popular with tourists. About a hundred a day week visit. But Gettysburg officials have explained that the building was constructed without a permit and doesn’t comply with safety codes and zoning laws that everyone else has to meet, such as codes for fire, electricity, plumbing and stormwater. “We didn’t make up the law,” one exasperated town official explains.

But that makes no difference to the lawyers at Liberty Institute. They seem to think Christians are gullible enough to believe any charge of anti-Christian discrimination, no matter how absurd. And it’s good business for the group: this new e-mail directs activists to an online petition, where they’re also asked to donate money to help the Liberty Institute “save the Civil War chapel.”

Meanwhile, taxpayers in Gettysburg have to pay for the legal wrangling Liberty Institute is cynically putting the town through. It’s a scam, of course, just like the group’s efforts to bamboozle Texans into thinking that their own classroom teachers are anti-Christian bigots. And by the way: Liberty Institute is helping lead the smear campaign to topple Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, and replace him with someone more obedient to the state’s rabid culture warriors. Maybe folks should be skeptical about the wild-eyed claims the group is making about Straus, too.

23 thoughts on “They Really Must Think Christians Are Stupid

  1. No matter WHUT ya do, ya ain’t gonna keep thuh South frum risin again!

    That basically seems to be the issue. I can hardly see how a building built in 2006 could be considered a historic landmark. It wasn’t “reconstructed” apparently, just constructed in a manner similar to how they might have built a chapel during the Civil War era. They just need to decide whether it’s to be a church or a museum and comply with the respective laws.

  2. Christians are not all gullible.

    However, a certain segment of that community is extremely gullible. It is the segment that believes Proverbs 3:5 is a signal to turn off your brain and blindly follow the lead and commands of anyone that drops the name “Jesus” from their lips:

    “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3: 5)

    Liberty Institute knows that these are the people who follow them and that they are suckers just ripe for a fleecing. These people will believe anything—any sort of lie—any sort of deception—any sort of misinformation—any sort of half truth—and sort of distortion—any story with conveniently unstated key facts.

    All I would say to the Liberty Institute is this:

    “Jesus is… making his list, checking it twice, gonna find out who is naughty or nice. Jesus is a coming—to town.”

  3. The Pilgrims believed that Christmas was a pagan ritual foisted on Christianity by Emperor Constantine. Christmas wwasn’t considred a major holiday until Queen Victoria’s reign.

    Since then Christmas is the mainstay of American retail, which is noted by this weeks coming “Black Friday” when Christmas purchaiing pushed retail stores into the black, financially.

    “Deck the halls with advertising, ’tis the season for merchandizing.” – Stan Freberg.

    Therefore, the Pilgrims were anti-Christian zealots.

    What should be done about the Houston restaurant, Marks, which is in a decertified church on Westheimer?

  4. The writer of this post is totally misguided and incorrect. Please read my post on this subject.

    Picked up on FoxNation 71 comments there now..

    If you would take the time to READ the response of the DC attorneys to the Borough of Gettysburg you would see that ALL the building permits were applied for and granted. Please don’t make these charges when you don’t know the facts.

    You would be a better blogger for it.

    1. Sorry, but we’ll give a bit more deference to a local newspaper than to a blogger for RedState (even if it’s picked up by that paragon of journalistic virtue, Fox News). And it’s even more difficult to take seriously a post that declares: “Apparently the City of Gettysburg is trying to kick God out of their town.” Not only is that statement ignorant and misleading, it’s intentionally and recklessly incendiary. Shame on you.

  5. Let’s see…you wrote an article called “Gettysburg Wants to Kick God Out of Town” for “Red State” and the story was picked up on “Fox Nation”.

    Anybody else thinking there’s some right-wing bias going on here?

  6. God’s Laws include those of gravity, and of the principles of electicity, fire and water regarding walls and the penetrations thereof by conduits and ventiltation. God does not,however, issue building permits and multiple attempts by the faithful to evade God’s building codes suffer the consequences, often fatal. God does not susspend the laws of nature in the spread of fire or in the flow upward of waste water downward.

    A year hardly goes by without the reports of religous groups in unsafe buses driving by unqualified drives meet headon with oncoming trains, traffic or floods.

    To cite Heavenly authority for the lack of good sense and good construction in the name of God is blasphemy. And subject to fines.

  7. I get a kick out of the fact that Carol Greenberg puts “God” in quotation marks. I am always tempted to do the same thing myself.

    As for whether the chapel really did have the right permits from the start, I’ll wait and see. If they did, why wouldn’t the law firm include a copy of the permits in the letter they sent to city officials? My guess is that the chapel followed some of the rules, but not all of them, and got a wrist slapped as a result.

  8. Carol, one other thing: You say that the city is threatening the “historic Civil War Chapel.” Sorry, that just isn’t so. It isn’t a historic chapel, it’s a replica. It’s no more historic than a nearby Starbucks.

  9. So Carol, what the heck does your comment above about Joe Strauss have to do with a so-called “historic” church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania?

    But, since the subject has been changed to Joe Strauss, I don’t see anything wrong with him not being a conservative. And if he, in fact, is getting a 100% rating from NARAL, that makes him all the better in my book. (I’d have to fact-check that out first though).

    Btw, one regular commenter here likes to constantly refer to the dictionary so I’ll take up the tradition myself and let you know that ‘ain’t’ ain’t in the dictionary. The proper grammar is ‘is not.’

    Lastly, I find it fascinating that people get their comments posted almost immediately (and in inappropriate conversations) while my comments sit in limbo “awaiting moderation” for 4 days or more. I can see TFN has their favorite commenters and their not-so-favorite commenters. I’m curious to see how long this one sits before it gets posted.

    1. Cytocop,
      Most of the comments are approved by one moderator (me). If it takes longer for yours to get posted, I’m not sure why. I usually try to approve them as I see them, although sometimes I don’t see posts that WordPress’s filter mistakenly sends to the spam folder. And of course, there’s the eating and sleeping thing. 😉

      But I honestly do try to get to all posts as soon as I can. Im sorry (and confused) about yours maybe getting delayed. I certainly have no favorites — although I gotta admit that Charles has some great stories.

  10. I would like to add just a few thoughts here for Carol Greenburg:

    1) I read the local newspaper article written in Gettysburg. The whole thrust of the article is that the chapel is in violation of the law. The city has determined this clearly, and the reporter is merely recounting what the city has determined. The city employees who enforce such laws are paid to know what they say, what they mean, and how they are applied. Building code rules are not designed to persecute Christians. They are designed to protect public health and safety. However, there may be an out for a historic property that does not meet code because the professional emphasis in the field of historic preservation is on exact preservation of the property as it existed in the past. Very few old buildings or exact replicas of old buildings would meet all modern codes—an 1804 log house for example.

    2) Historic preservation is one of my fields of expertise. This chapel might actually meet the federal definition of “historic property” and be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places A reconstructed replica of a building can be eligible for listing on the National Register if it is “accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived.” The key question would be whether the chapel is part of a restoration master plan.

    3) I doubt seriously that any official in Gettysburg is against the chapel because they hate Jesus or Christians. That seems like a real stretch to me.

    4) Because the chapel is so small, the answer might be to move it to a rural battlefield location where it would fit in better with the historical setting of the battlefield. From the photograph I saw, it looked as if it was sitting in some sort of crowded downtown commercial area—like maybe on the public square.

  11. Cytocop:

    How about looking at the blogger’s post here? She brings up Strauss. Not I until now. Just proves you didn’t read it.

  12. And just a tad sectarian while we are at it. A quick search on the internet discovers that at least four of Gettysburg’s actual churches were actually there during the battle and subsequent speech. Presbyterians and Catholics and Lutherans-Oh My!-in masonry buildings where real wounded soldiers suffered and died, or recovered. In the 1860’s, Gettysburg was not some mining camp on the frontier. The substantial town was over 100 years old and her churches were what an informed and sensible person would expect, not raw shacks.

    Besides preserving in situ the actual pew where President Lincoln sat for a patriotic meeting after his public remarks on the battle, these churches are on a summer tour program that interprets the battle and their roles in it and the aftermath. In that context, a freely imagined reconstruction of a country chapel that could have existed and pulls in perhaps a hundred visitors in a good month (that is to say, 3 a day on the average) is a sideshow arguably dedicated to some David Bartonesque wishfulness about the presence of evangelical Christians at the historic event.

    The correct inference is that the folks at the Liberty Institute think they can make some bucks out of being seen to be assisting some fellow Christohucksters in the larger effort to pull some serious wool over some of the realities of our collective history.

  13. I find it sad that, due to religious zealots taking over the Republican party, a politician must now be against personal freedoms and bodily autonomy to be considered a “conservative”. To extremists like Carol Greenberg and the sheeple who read RedState and other propaganda mills like it, it’s “all or nothing”. This nonstory calculated to whip the faithul into a froth (and, no doubt, get them to open their wallets) and the ridiculous attack on Strauss illustrate this fact.

    And, by the by, if God is being “kicked out of Gettysburg” and has a problem with it, why doesn’t He do something about it Himself? It’s always people with a social and political agenda who get offended on God’s behalf, as if He were powerless to take action except, perhaps through them. I find this very telling.

  14. It’s been people like this who have me convinced that most Protestant churches should be required to post a sign above their front doors warning “You Must Be This Stupid/Ignorant/Gullible/Vacuous To Enter Here.”

  15. Gettysburg has their panties in a knot over my post.

    Gettysburg to respond to critics

    “I think this information going out is very harmful and we should respond to the information that’s out there,” said Gettysburg Mayor William Troxell. “I think it can hurt Gettysburg and should be stopped before it goes any further.”

    Borough council members particularly noted an article with the headline “Gettysburg Wants to Kick ‘God’ Out of Town” on the Fox News website.

    1. Well, Carol, of course they’re upset. Your post and Liberty Institute are perpetuating a vicious smear. Suggesting that Gettysburg officials are trying to “kick God out” is shameful. Yet here you are, proud of your actions. One could be excused for wondering whether you are familiar with the commandment against bearing false witness.

  16. Carol, have you seen copies of the building permits for the chapel? If so, why not post them on your blog, or at least provide a link? If not, then how do you know that the city officials are wrong?

    Regardless, your attempt to make safety-conscious officials appear to be persecuting Christians is despicable.

  17. Who are you going to believe? The officials in Gettyberg who have to present their evidence in a court of law or before a judge to get a judgement, or foreigners from Texas?

  18. Not “Christians” in general; “Fundamentalists”. See the General Social Survey, variables FUND and WORDSUM.

    Of course, that’s only a statistical tendency (with some Z statistic measures running in the 10-20 range). So, perhaps of interest to sociologists, not so much for political persuasion these days.