Tag Archives: fundamentalist Christian

Colorado gunman: ‘No more baby parts’

“No more baby parts.”

Those were the words terrorist Robert Lewis Dear spoke to a law-enforcement official on Nov. 28 shortly after he was taken into custody for allegedly staging a long and deadly shooting attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Clinic.

The official could not elaborate about the comment and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

Afer a long, brutal standoff on a snowy afternoon during which portions of Colorado Springs were on lockdown, those words seemed to answer at least one question about the incident in which 12 citizens and police officers were shot and three, including a police officer, killed: Why?

Witnesses to the shooting have also told media sources and Planned Parenthood staff that the shooter was clearly motivated by opposition to choice.

At a vigil held at All Souls Unitarian Church on the evening of the shootings, the Rev. Nori Rost called the gunman a “domestic terrorist.” In the back of the room, someone held a sign that said: “Women’s bodies are not battlefields. Neither is our town.”

Vicki Cowart, the regional head of Planned Parenthood, drew a standing ovation when she walked to the pulpit and promised to quickly reopen the clinic. “We will adapt. We will square our shoulders and we will go on,” she said.

Cowart also said that all 15 clinic employees survived and worked hard to make sure everyone else got into safe spaces and stayed quiet.

Demonstrating the divisiveness of the issue even in friendly territory, after Cowart’s remarks, a woman in the audience stood up, objected to the vigil becoming a “political statement” and left.

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, like virtually all of the group’s clinics, has long been the site of regular anti-abortion protests. Colorado Springs is home to a very large population of born-again Christians. The anti-gay hate group Focus on the Family is headquartered there.

A Roman Catholic priest who’s held weekly Mass in front of the clinic for 20 years, distanced himself from Dear, saying that he wasn’t part of his group. “I don’t know him from Adam,” said Rev. Bill Carmody. “I don’t recognize him at all.”

The public might learn more about Dear’s motives on Monday, when he makes his first court appearance. Officially, police have not yet presented a motive to the public, although it seemed obvious. As Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers put it, people can make “inferences from where (the shooting) took place.”

Planned Parenthood has been under increased physical and verbal attacks since July, when an undercover video released by anti-choice activists appeared to show PP personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs. It was later determined that the video had been misleadingly edited. The truth is that the group only recouped preservation and shipping charges for fetal tissue that women ending their pregnancies asked to have donated to science, which is legal. Since the controversy, however, Planned Parenthood has taken the extra step of no longer recouping costs but rather paying the associated costs on its own.

Dears’ comment about “baby parts” likely refers to the controversial video.

Fetal tissue research has been responsible for some of the greatest medical treatment achievements of the last several decades, including the development of a polio vaccine.

In the wake of the killings, David Daleiden, who heads the Center for Medical Progress, the group that released the manipulated videotapes of Planned Parenthood, said he opposed the violence.

“The Center for Medical Progress condemns the barbaric killing spree in Colorado Springs by a violent madman. We applaud the heroic efforts of law enforcement to stop the violence quickly and rescue the victims, and our thoughts and prayers are with the wounded, the lost, and their families,” Daleiden said in a statement.

No wrongdoing

Multiple investigations in red states have uncovered no wrongdoing on PP’s part in charging storage and transportation fees for fetal tissue. But that hasn’t stopped politicians, especially GOP presidential candidates, from invoking the tapes often on the campaign trail in an effort to draw the support of fundamentalist Christian voters, who likely will determine the winner of the first-in-the-nation nominating caucuses in Iowa in February.

Demonizing rhetoric about Planned Parenthood has become a sure-fire way to inspire cheers and applause at conservative Republican events.

Eager to get in on that action, Republicans in Congress, who have a 9 percent approval rating among their own party’s voters, staged a Congressional hearing on the tapes to rally conservative support. That investigation, too, found no wrongdoing.

“We demand an end to the incendiary rhetoric from anti-abortion activists and lawmakers that demonizes Planned Parenthood doctors and patients,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The smear campaign and false accusations that motivated the attack in Colorado Springs must stop.”

Following the shooting, Ted Cruz was the first GOP presidential candidate to offer condolences to the loved ones of the victims.  

At a campaign stop, Cruz responded angrily to a reporter’s question linking Dear with the anti-choice movement, according to the Texas Tribune

“It’s also been reported that (Dear) was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist,” Cruz shot back. “If that’s what he is, I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”

Cruz is heavily backed by some of the nation’s most extreme anti-choice activists.

Ironically, although Cruz took exception to what he called attempts by the left to use the shooting to taint all abortion foes, he and others on the right have pointed to the terrorist attacks in Paris to denounce President Obama’s plans to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the United States — despite the lack of evidence that any Syrians participated in those attacks.

In recent months, as right-wing candidates and officials have tried to make political gains off the discredited tapes, the National Abortion Federation, an association of service providers, has seen a rise in threats at clinics nationwide. In a statement to Media Matters, NARAL president Ilyse Hogue suggested that all the anti-choice rhetoric quoted recently in the media and on display at GOP presidential debates and appearances was fueling the violence.

She wrote: “Instead of treating these (attacks on clinics) as the real and present danger to innocent civilians that they are, Congress is inviting anti-abortion extremists to testify at hearings, the Department of Justice has yet to announce a full investigation, and the news media remains silent. Where is the outrage?”

Since September, there have been four attempted arsons at Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation, three of which have caused significant damage.

At least eight murders of doctors and workers at abortion clinics have occurred in the United States since 1990. Since 1977, there have been 41 bombings and 173 arsons at clinics.

In recent years, the Republican Party has made it a top legislative priority to whittle away at abortion rights in the U.S., with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision making it legal for a woman to determine whether to have a baby.

Wisconsin, where Republicans are in control of every facet of state government, including the Supreme Court, is at the vanguard of those efforts. Gov. Scott Walker recently appointed Rebecca Bradley, a strong opponent to choice, to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, even though her career as a judge began less than four years ago, when he first appointed her to the bench.

Wisconsin has adopted among the most stringent anti-choice laws in the nation.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to review a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The law, which does not benefit women’s health due to the extreme rarity of complications and the nearby availability of other hospitals to handle any such cases if they arose, was found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court panel.

The Wisconsin case centers on a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services. The groups argue that the 2013 law amounts to an unconstitutional restriction on abortion.

Only about 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin involve ending pregnancies. The organization provides a variety of sexual health services for poor women, including PAP smears, STD and breast screenings, contraceptive services and prenatal care.

AP contributed to this report.

Response to the shooting from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

To those who go to unimaginable extremes to close our doors:

We deplore your violence.

We reject your threats.

We fight your legislation to limit reproductive rights and health care in every corner of our country.

We believe your actions and words hurt women — whether by making it impossible to seek health care or by creating a climate of disrespect and hostility that fosters extremist violence.

We demand an end to the incendiary rhetoric from anti-abortion activists and lawmakers that demonizes Planned Parenthood doctors and patients. The smear campaign and false accusations that motivated the attack in Colorado Springs must stop.

We aren’t going anywhere. Planned Parenthood has been here for nearly 100 years, and we will keep being here as long as women, men, and young people need health care with dignity.

To those who go to shocking extremes to close our doors, know this:

These doors stay open.

Click here to contribute to Planned Parenthood

See also Gunman had been charged with animal cruelty, domestic abuse

Son of anti-gay Alabama judge arrested on drug charges

The son of Alabama’s chief justice — who has made national headlines recently for his efforts to block same-sex marriage in the state — has been arrested on drug charges.

Court records show 24-year-old Caleb Moore, the son of Chief Justice Roy Moore, was arrested March 15 in Troy and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Police, responding to a complaint of a possible break-in, found Caleb Moore and four other men near a white pick-up truck. A police report says an officer smelled marijuana and searched the vehicle, where he found marijuana and Xanax pills on top of a wallet containing Caleb Moore’s passport.

Scott Hoyem, a spokesman for the Alabama Administrative Office of the Courts, confirmed the arrest yesterday to USA Today but said Chief Justice Moore would not comment on it, calling it a personal matter.

This was not Caleb Moore’s first brush with the law. He was arrested twice before — in 2011 on DUI and drug possession charges. Despite his partying, Caleb Moore has posted on Facebook that he’s embraced the family religions. In 2012 he worked part-time for the anti-gay Foundation For Moral Law, which was founded by his father and is currently headed by his mother Kayla Moore.

Moore, a fundamentalist Christian who says biblical law preempts U.S. law, is singlehandedly trying to block a Supreme Court ruling by forbidding Alabama county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. He contends that same-sex marriage will inevitably lead to fathers marrying daughters and mothers marrying sons. Moore has received strong support from the Ku Klux Klan, and a picture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis adorns the wall of his office.

A few years ago he was removed fro office after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.

But the mostly fundamentalist Christian voters of Alabama nonetheless reelected him to office.

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Christian right furious over selection of Robert Gates to lead Boy Scouts

Religious-right leaders are incensed over the nomination of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to serve as the next president of the Boy Scouts of America. If the BSA board approves his nomination, Gates will assume the two-year position in May 2014.

Gates was an Eagle Scout before he began his decades-long career in public service, which included leading the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Department. He retired as defense secretary two years ago after serving under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

As defense secretary, Gates helped oversee the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay and lesbian military personnel.

The Scouts has faced its own issues with gays in its ranks. In a process guided by the national executive board, the BSA agreed in June to allow openly gay Scouts, but not gay Scouting leaders.

Christian-right leaders clearly disapprove of Gates for supporting President Barack Obama’s repeal of DADT. Most right-wing media outlets led their coverage of Gates’ selection, which was announced on Oct. 31, with reminders of the role he’d played in overturning the Pentagon’s discriminatory policy. Anti-gay religious websites expressed alarm that Gates would be sympathetic to the BSA’s new policy of allowing out gay youth to participate in Scouting.

A columnist for the fundamentalist Christian website worldmag.com called Gates’ selection a “fruit-basket-turnover” and complained that BSA spokesman Deron Smith declined to answer his questions about the choice.

“When I emailed Smith more than a dozen questions related to this surprise move and its possible relationship to the new policy allowing homosexuals to participate in Scouting, he answered, ‘The BSA just completed a review of its membership policies and there are no plans to discuss it further,’” World writer Warren Cole Smith wrote angrily in his column Signs and Wonders.

Gay-rights groups, on the other hand, praised Gates’ appointment and called on him to push BSA a step further and allow gay leaders and adult volunteers.

“Millions of people and national corporations have called on the Boy Scouts to put an end to discrimination once and for all,” GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz said. “We urge Dr. Gates to continue his work to ensure all people are treated equally, no matter who they are and no matter what uniform they wear.”

Gates has previously recalled his time in Scouting fondly, saying in a 2010 speech that earning his Eagle Scout badge “was the first thing I had done that told me I might be different because I had worked harder, was more determined, more goal-oriented, more persistent than most others.”

“At a time when many American young people are turning into couch potatoes, and too often much worse, Scouting continues to challenge boys and young men, preparing you for leadership,” Gates said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted by the Department of Defense.

Michele Bachmann’s congressional reelection race surprisingly close

A recent poll commissioned by her Democratic opponent shows anti-gay U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann only two points ahead in her reelection race in Minnesota’s 6th Congresional District. The difference is within the poll’s margin of error.

Political observers still expect Bachmann to win the race – her district was re-drawn to make it more Republican and she’s perhaps the top congressional fundraiser in the country, loaded with cash donations from the corporate right and hate groups. But the unexpected closeness of the race demonstrates how badly Bachmann harmed herself during her bizarre run for the Republican presidential nomination.

That run brought unprecedented scrutiny to the gaffe-prone, fact-challenged Bachmann, as well as to her rock-solid fundamentalist Christian beliefs and her strange family, especially her husband Marcus Bachmann. Although Bachmann describes herself as a businesswoman, the business that she owns with her husband provides biblical psychological counseling, including trying convert gay and lesbian patients into heterosexuals through prayer.

Marcus Bachmann’s speech and mannerisms, widely ridiculed as “effeminate,” only added to the circus-like nature of her campaign.

Bachmann won her last race in 2010 by a 12-percent margin. But even that strong showing was the sixth weakest among Republican House incumbents in an election that was a right-wing rout. And her opponent this time around is Jim Graves, a hotel magnate who has cash of his own to bring to the race.

Graves persuaded Independence Party voters, who account for about 10 percent of the district’s electorate, to sit out the race this year. That presents yet another challenge for Bachmann, who must now go head-to-head against Graves, a social libertarian.

Meanwhile, Bachmann continues to draw controversial national headlines. Her attendance at a conservative synagogue in Chicago’s heavily gay east Lakeview neighborhood on the eve of Yom Kippur prompted a walkout a few weeks ago.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet Synagogue observed protocol by offering a customary greeting to Bachmann as an elected official.

Gary Sircus, a 25-year member of Anshe Emet Synagogue, not only walked out of the service but donated money to Graves and urged his friends to join his efforts to support Bachmann’s opponent. Although she’s a staunch supporter of Israel, Bachmann’s vilification of LGBT people and her campaign to ban their civil rights is strongly at odds with Jewish tradition concerning social justice.

“Our congregation values and embodies tolerance, compassion, respect for individual rights, intelligence, science – all of the things that I think Michele Bachmann stands against,” Sircus told the Trib.

On Oct. 13, The New York Times published an interview by columnist Frank Bruni with Bachmann’s out lesbian stepsister Helen LaFave. She described her hurt and disbelief when Bachmann began using her power as a state senator in Minnesota to defame gays and lesbians as sick and evil and to promote a constitutional amendment denying their civil right to marry. “It felt so divorced from having known me, from having known somebody who’s gay,” LaFave told Bruni. “I was just stunned.

Minnesotans will vote on just such an amendment this year on Election Day.

If Bachmann does win a fourth term in Congress, she faces another campaign – this one by the People for the American Way to have her booted off a key committee. PFAW says Bachmann’s widely ridiculed call for a probe of links between some Muslim-Americans working in President Barack Obama’s administration and the Muslim Brotherhood disqualifies her to serve on the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee.

PFAW has collected more than 86,000 signatures in an online petition to remove Bachmann from the committee.

Norway mass killer is self-described fundamentalist Christian

The man responsible for a horrific bombing and shooting spree at a youth camp in Norway is a self-described fundamentalist Christian who hoped to incite a war on Muslims through his actions, according to multiple published reports.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, has confessed to the two attacks, which took at least 93 lives in the nation’s deadliest post-war tragedy.

According to The New York Times, Breivik had called for a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination. His acquaintances described him as a gun-loving man obsessed with the nation’s multiculturalism.

Despite Breivik’s fears, Muslims represent only 3 percent of Norway’s population, according to a massive study by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that was released in January.

Norway’s foreign minister said Breivik was known for posting comments on fundamentalist Christian websites. He said most of the political violence Norway has seen in recent years has come from the far right.

Although Breivik was baptized into a mainline Protestant church, he expressed disgust with his church in recent years for not being hardline enough – a view that is shared by the growing right-wing evangelical Christian population in the United States. In one posting, he called for a collective conversion of Norway’s population back to Roman Catholicism.

Breivik’s killing spree began yesterday with a car bombing in Oslo that was intended to target Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. He was not injured in the attack, but seven others died and more than 15 were seriously wounded.

Hours after the bombing, Breivik entered a youth camp on Utoya Island, dressed as a police officer. He told camp leaders that he was conducting a routine precautionary check following the Oslo bombing.

Once he gained access to the camp, Breivik opened fire on everyone in sight.

Breivik has confessed to authorities for the killings.