Photo by Buddy Stone
The reality that religious fundamentalism is at the very root of the Tea Party movement is finally sinking in with the mainstream media. Jeff Sharlet, author of “C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy” wrote on CNN.com today that Tea Party is becoming a religious movement:
“Glenn Beck, who invokes the semi-mythical “Black Robe Brigade” — fighting preachers he claims led the American Revolution — as a model for a new generation of activists seems to think so.
On public radio, Bryan Fischer, a leader of the fundamentalist American Family Association, sternly instructed a libertarian Tea Party activist that her movement was religiously rooted whether she wanted it to be or not. A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute backs him up, revealing that 57 percent of self-identified Tea Partiers agree that “America is and always has been a Christian nation.”
So is the Tea Party a religious movement, too?
Truth Trails Fischer from Idaho to National Scene
Sara Posner, accomplished journalist and associate editor for the online magazine Religion Dispatches, contacted me several weeks ago after she attended the 2010 Values Voters Summit. Working on a piece about the American Family Association, Posner wanted to know about Bryan Fischerâ€™s history in Idaho.
Posted today, Employees: Racism & Abuse in Leading Religious Right Org is an excellent piece of investigative journalism, this reporters input aside. Posner shines a bright light on the internal dysfunction, racism and homophobia of the American Family Association that Fischer pledges allegiance to.
Posnerâ€™s leads with:
â€œJust before this year’s Values Voter Summit, the progressive advocacy group People For the American Way called on Republican elected officials and candidates to condemn virulently anti-gay and anti-Muslim statements made by the American Family Associationâ€™s director of public policy, Bryan Fischer.
Fischer, who hosts a daily radio show on AFA’s radio network of 180 stations, has, among other things, claimed that inbreeding causes Muslims to be stupid and violent; called for the deportation of Muslims and for banning them from military service; claimed that gay sex is “domestic terrorism”; called gay adoption a “terrible, terrible, inexcusable, inhumane thing to do to children”; and claimed that Hitler and his Stormtroopers were all gay.â€
To my knowledge, Posner is the only national journalist to date who has looked into Bryan Fisher’s history in Idaho. Fischerâ€™s critics will not be at all surprised and Idahoans may find the section From Boise to Tupelo of special interest.
This is a great read and well worth the time.
In the early morning hours of October 7, 1998 Matthew Shepard was savagely beaten and tortured for no other reason than he was gay. Left naked out in a field and tied to a fence, 21 year-old Matthew endured the cold Laramie Wyoming night until he was found the next day. Matthew was taken to the hospital where he died 5 days later.
Matthew has become a national symbol of anti-gay bullying and hate crime violence in our country. This 12th anniversary of his death is even more somber and poignant with the recent five gay youth suicides as a result of anti-gay bullying and homophobia.
Please join us as we gather to remember Matthew, grieve and re-energize our fight for equality in his name. Saturday October 9, 2010 3:00 PM at the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial. I will be speaking with a great line up of other community leaders.
By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Aug. 26, 2010
Catherine Carlson, arrested in Payette last month for setting fire to the trailer where she lived and placing what looked like four pipe booms on her stoop, was moved in late July from isolation in the Payette County Jail to the Idaho State Hospital in Orofino where she remains for an undetermined period of time.
Payette County Prosecutor Anne-Marie Kelso told CityDesk that although she could not talk specifically about Carlson because of medical privacy laws, explained that when a judge commits someone it is because the court suspects mental illness and the defendant is likely to hurt themself or others.
“Everything is stayed right now. Once she is out of the mental hospital they will complete the physiological evaluation regarding the issue of whether she can assist her attorney and only then can we proceed,” said Kelso.
Charged with felony first degree arson and using a hoax destructive device, Carlson faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
“I can’t say for sure,” said Kelso, “but it would be very unlikely to ask for the maximum sentence.”
Carlson said her case boils down to one thing: respect for her identity as a woman. In 1980 Carlson had sexual reassignment surgery to become a woman. As one of several pre-conditions for surgery, Carlson had her name legally changed. However despite her efforts to get it removed, Idaho state records list Carlson’s former male name as an a.k.a. Continue reading
By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com July 9, 2010
U.S District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled Thursday that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
Enacted in 1996 DOMA defines â€œmarriageâ€ and â€œspouse,â€ for purposes of federal law, to include only the union of one man and one woman.
The Massachusetts plaintiffs, seven same-sex couples and three widowers, claimed that because of DOMA, their families were denied critically important rights and protections that interfered with the state’s authority to regulate marriage.
Massachusetts Attorney General Spokeswoman, Amie Breton, told Boise Weekly the decision applies only to Massachusetts and any appeals would be up to the Obama administration.
â€œBecause there was no stay in the law suit,â€ said Breton, â€œstarting today immediately effective same-sex wedded couples in Massachusetts are eligible for federal benefits. That means this decision is binding for the federal agencies.â€
For states like Idaho with constitutional bans, the Massachusetts decision appears to have no bearing.
Idaho Attorney General spokesperson, Bob Cooper said his office has not yet seen the decision but based on news accounts said:
â€œOn its face it would appear this is not going to have any impact on the state of the law in Idaho. The decision is not inconsistent with the Idaho constitutional provision in which the state has defined marriage. From that perspective, it wouldnâ€™t matter what a particular stateâ€™s definition of marriage is this ruling would uphold the authority of the states to define marriage.â€
Tauro stated: â€œThere are at least, a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a factor.â€
Same-sex couples legally married or not, except in Massachusetts, are denied the right to file joint tax returns, claim Social Security survivor benefits, take family medical leave, as well as take gift and estate tax exemptions, have joint workplace health care and collect a spouse’s retirement.
â€œThe federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and, in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid,â€ wrote Judge Tauro.
By Jody May-Chang ©2010
Bryan Fischer is well-known in Idaho. To some he is a hero of “family values,” but to many he is a living, breathing example of what is wrong with America. Fischer is the pitchman for contempt and the poster boy for intolerance. The man’s obsession with and hatred of homosexuals is well documented, but recently he has been gaining national attention.
Fischer’s visceral scorn for gays was rarely, if ever, challenged by the Idaho news media that ran to him for a quote as if he was the anointed representative of all that is Christian in Idaho. He was essentially considered a “balanced” voice to oppose gays in Idaho.
Fischer is now climbing into the national spotlight to brand homosexuals and others who don’t fit into his narrow view of the world as threats that should be locked up or perhaps even executed. This past year, he was hoisted into the national spotlight when he was included in MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann’s Worst Person segment for his xenophobic rant that called on banning Muslims from the serving in the U.S. military following the Fort Hood tragedy.
More recently Fischer has been calling for the national criminalization of homosexuality, comparing gays to everything from IV drug users to murderers. This fact was brought out by Fox News’s Alan Colmes who called out Bryan Fischer on is daily radio show.
Colmes did what no reporter or editor in Idaho had the common sense, guts, or journalistic integrity to do when it came to Bryan Fischer â€“ Colmes held him accountable for his words and pressed him with hard questions! Continue reading
Alan Colmes is my latest hero! On his radio show last Wednesday, he called out Bryan Fischer, clearly demonstrating what many of us here in Idaho have known all along, that if ever put on the spot and pressed with direct questions Fischer would emerge as the “weasel” that Colmes exposed him to be.
Fischer was allowed to cut his teeth here with the assistance of a spineless media that ran to Fischer time and time again to get the sound bite and calling it balanced reporting. The Idaho news media NEVER asked any hard questions on any positions he took or outrageous statements he made.
It is an utter joy to listen to Fischer as he squirms in the hot seat while Colmes relentlessly presses him. You can almost hear the beads of sweat pour down Fischerâ€™s face as he unsuccessfully tries to defend the indefensible.
If only Idaho media had done their job as Colmes did Wednesday, perhaps Fischer would not be enjoying his national platform now.
Colmes should be applauded for exposing Fischer for the miserable fraud that he is to a national audience.
This interview segment should be played on an endless loop to the Idaho media on what it means to be a journalist!