The �War on Christianity� and the �Risk Audit Project�: Victimizers playing victim, yet again
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 31, 2006, 00:41

Factions of the Christian Right are notorious for playing victim as they hide behind �religious freedom� to victimize everyone who doesn�t bow down to their political dogma. The faith-based politicians in their pocket do the same. It�s a marriage made in hell. The new book by David Limbaugh (Rush�s brother), Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christians, makes that abundantly clear.

The �Resource Description� posted on James Dobson�s Focus on the Family�s website is almost humorous and filled with the usual self-serving hyperbole:

Author David Limbaugh exposes the subtle but pervasive discrimination against biblical Christianity in our culture. Using real, sometimes shocking, examples from Hollywood, public schools and other venues, he shows how terms like �tolerance� and the mythical �separation of church and state� have been used to portray Christianity as repressive, ignorant and offensive. This is a call to action for those who want to exercise their right to influence popular culture and find true religious freedom.

Someone at Regnery Publishing, a subsidiary of Eagle Publishing, �the nation�s leading conservative publisher,� cranked up the rhetoric for the book�s inner cover. The first two lines are enough to make the point:

Tolerance might be the highest virtue in our popular culture, but it doesn�t often extend to Christians these days.

Christians are increasingly being driven from public life, denied their First Amendment rights, and even actively discriminated against for their beliefs.

How could anyone even barely conscious write something like that when the Christian Right and their ultra-conservative political sycophants -- Bill Frist and Rick Santorum come immediately to mind -- are pushing an amendment the purpose of which is to embed faith-based discrimination and religious dogma into the United States Constitution? Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid was correct:

Today [May 26, 2006], Bush Republicans kicked off their campaign of dividing the country instead of addressing the real priorities of American families. . . . Our country faces great challenges: record high gas prices, skyrocketing health care costs, and an intractable war in Iraq. Yet instead of addressing these issues, Senator Frist has chosen to put the politics of division ahead of real progress by pushing for a debate on a divisive amendment that will write discrimination into the Constitution.

Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was dead-on accurate in her May 28, 2006 editorial, �On gay unions, pandering rises above principles�:

In 1964, just one congressman from the Deep South, Atlanta�s Charles Weltner, voted for the Civil Rights Act. For all practical purposes, his righteous leadership on civil rights -- he also supported the Voting Rights Act -- cost him his congressional career.

In 1966, he resigned his seat rather than sign an act of loyalty to the segregationist Lester Maddox, as Georgia Democrats insisted. . . .

Doing the right thing is difficult because it often means losing. And the typical politician is willing to lose anything -- honor, integrity, dignity -- but an election.

That helps explain why, during this election season, so few politicians have stepped forward to denounce initiatives against gay marriage as the cynical and opportunistic tactics that they are. They know that playing on prejudice and fear can rally a certain constituency and provide the winning margin in tight races. . . .

This year, conservative Republicans -- struggling against voter discontent over Iraq, health care and high gas prices, among other things -- are desperate to bring those religious conservatives back to the polls. So they�ve resurrected the same tired tactic. Next month [June 2006], the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex unions.

Senate leaders haven�t made much of an effort to disguise the initiative as anything other than the base political ploy that it is. . . .

There are never more than a handful like Weltner, who preferred losing a campaign to sacrificing his conscience. In his resignation speech, he declared, �I love the Congress, but I will give up my office before I give up my principles. . . . I cannot compromise with hate.�

His courage is as rare now as it was then. [italics added]

Sen. Bill Frist, M.D. has presidential aspirations. He lost favor with the Christian Right over the stem-cell issue. Pandering -- in all its many splendid forms -- is what he has left to regain their favor: Frist AIDS charity consulting fees called �excessively high�: Beneficiaries include Christian groups with GOP connections.� A May 28, 2006 headline said it all: �Frist Acknowledges Anti-Gay Amendment Aimed At Energizing GOP Base.�

Aside from backing discrimination for personal political gain, notorious homophobe Rick Santorum -- one of the Marriage Protection Amendment�s sponsors -- has good reason to hide behind the faith-based bigotry the MPA represents. It diverts attention away from his other activities. �Santorum pushes for new rules, lives by old: The senator took flights sponsored by corporations while arguing against the perk�:

Speaking from the Senate floor, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) urged his colleagues to curtail a popular perk: private corporate-sponsored flights at bargain rates for members of Congress.

�This is clearly a subsidy,� he said March 8.

Two days earlier, he had taken a BellSouth plane from a runway near his home in Leesburg, Va., to fund-raising events in North Carolina and South Carolina. The jet ferried Santorum, two aides and Ward White, BellSouth's top Washington lobbyist. [italics and link added]

So much for Santorum�s �Christian values� of truth and honesty (and residency), but he does exemplify hypocrisy very well indeed.

The claim that �Christians are increasingly being driven from public life� is pathetically laughable, as is the claim that �Christians� are being �denied their First Amendment rights.� The victimizer is playing victim yet again:

A conservative political action group that regularly fights LGBT issues has asked Utah�s Attorney General to investigate a suburban school for allowing a student to publish two pro-gay articles in a student newspaper.

On Nov. 17, when a Gay-Straight Alliance formed at Lone Peak High School in Highland, about 25 miles from Salt Lake City, the student run newspaper, The Crusader, ran two news stories on the GSA -- one pro, one con.

The story supporting the organization was written by student Sarah Brimhall. The article opposing it was penned by Elsie Graham, the daughter of Stephen Graham, president of the Standard of Liberty Foundation.

And what�s �Standard of Liberty Foundation,� aside from the group trying to silence freedom of speech at Lone Peak High School? Another dogmatic, politically active Christian Right group with its own publishing company:

In June 2005 Stephen and Janice Graham organized the Standard of Liberty Foundation in connection with our publishing company, Tidal Wave Books, which was formed in 2002. . . .

The Standard of Liberty Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation which exists to raise awareness of radical movements overrunning America�s Christian-moral-cultural life and to promote public resurgence of religion and traditional sexual morality to counteract these trends.

According to the May 25, 2006, article on, �Carol Lear, director of school law and legislation at the [Utah] state Office of Education, said she does not plan to investigate the articles.� No doubt Standard of Liberty Foundation and David Limbaugh would deem that �persecution of Christians.�

The poor, persecuted Christian Right seems particularly adamant about victimizing gay and lesbian Americans, especially young gays and lesbians as is so well illustrated by Standard of Liberty Foundation�s action and the McCarthy-like �Risk Audit Project� (RAP).

Just as Joseph McCarthy�s own words exposed him and his �investigations,� The Risk Audit Project�s expose theirs:

In May and June 2005, over 50 state pro-family groups formed an alliance to encourage the Southern Baptist Convention to use its influence to protect children from school districts that are promoting acceptance of homosexual behavior. As a result, a resolution was passed that encouraged local SBC churches to investigate, among other things, whether their school district is betraying parents, children, and the community by collaborating with homosexual activists. In cases where the school district was found to be collaborating, the resolution also urged parents to hold the school districts accountable and demand discontinuation of such morally offensive programs and materials.

As a result, to assist this investigative effort, we are offering this survey instrument to implement what we call the �Risk Audit Project.� The objectives of the Project are to:

1. Gather information about school districts throughout the U.S. regarding whether and how the districts promote acceptance of homosexual behavior to students;

2. Summarize this information through use of a uniform research instrument;

3. Communicate the results to the public through various media;

4. Hold the identified schools accountable to make needed changes in curricula; school programs and policies; and teaching.

The Risk Audit Project claims what it �offers local communities is knowledge.� Nothing could be further from the truth, beginning with their claim that homosexuality is one of several �mental health disorders.�

Aside from the fact that the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers strongly disagree, the Risk Audit Project�s blatant lie -- there is no more accurate word -- is embedded in other misrepresentations:

The fact remains that teens engaging in homosexual behavior are participating in a lifestyle that:

  • reduces life expectancy at age twenty by at least 8 to 20 years;

  • increases by at least 500 percent the risk of contracting AIDS;

  • increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease by nearly 900 percent;

  • increases by 4,000 percent the risk of developing anal cancer;

  • substantially increases the likelihood of smoking, having mental health disorders (other than same-sex attraction), being the victim of �domestic� violence, and being involved in alcohol and drug abuse;

  • substantially increases the likelihood of contracting hepatitis and other gastrointestinal infections;

  • substantially increases the risk of contracting bacterial vaginosis, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer;

  • has high levels of participation in sadomasochism, coprophilia, sadomasochism, fisting, and other dangerous, deviant sex practices;
  • involves extraordinarily high levels of promiscuity.

�Contracting breast cancer�?

RAP lists two references in relation to these �statistics� and scare tactics. One of them is �The Health Risks of Gay Sex� by John R. Diggs, M.D. The author and the article are well known for using medical credentials to mislead and advocate faith-based political perspectives. See �Medical Advice with Mixed Messages,� Parts I, II and III.

The other is an article by anti-gay activist Timothy J. Dailey, Ph. D. that appeared on the website of Tony Perkins� Family Research Council. FRC is another faith-based ultra-conservative political group and sponsor of the theocracy-on-parade Justice Sunday events (JS I, JS II, JS III). At least they had the authenticity to add the following notation to the article: �Please note: this article is an archived item on Family Research Council�s website; the information contained therein may be outdated.� Outdated and misleading, to be sure. But they forgot �homophobic.� The Risk Audit Project cites the article as if it were current �research.�

Some of what the Risk Audit Project considers dangerous includes: �An anti-harassment, anti-bullying or �safe schools� policy that includes the category �sexual orientation,�� �Non-discrimination policy based on �sexual orientation� (may also cover �gender identity�) for students and/or teachers, staff,� �Requirements for teacher/staff training on �diversity,� �tolerance,� �sensitivity,�� �Programs on tolerance, diversity, �hate� or �bias,�� �Lessons on different types of families,� �HIV/AIDS and �safe sex� education programs,� �Political Science/ History/Civics classes on current issues.�

That�s right. These homophobic McCarthyites consider �Political Science/ History/Civics classes on current issues� dangerous. God forbid students should be informed about current events and issues. After all, they�ll be old enough to vote after graduation or even during their senior year. But perhaps that�s the point: keep them uninformed so they�re more likely to accept platitudes and propaganda. Discrimination�s worst enemy is knowledge; bigotry�s, critical thinking.

Note the nature of the other things RAP considers dangerous: a safe learning environment for all students, equality among public school personnel and, of course, real-world sex education. Their �reasoning� on the last one defies all knowledge and logic: �These lessons assume all students are at risk of AIDS; that all students need to be taught about use of condoms for �safe sex.�� All sexually active students are at risk not only for HIV infection but a host of other STDs. Not informing them about condom use would be nothing short of criminal.

Much of the Risk Audit form is designed to gather specific information about schools, principals, school board members, curricula, and extra-curricular options. All this information is then to be �turned in� so appropriate �action� can be taken.

In one of his anti-gay articles, David Limbaugh had the audacity to assert, �I suppose it�s a matter of one�s perspective, but it sure seems to me that if there is any special-interest group aggressively pushing its agenda on society, it�s the radical homosexual lobby.�

Surely Mr. Limbaugh�s aware of the Marriage Protection Amendment and a host of other passed and proposed faith-based legislation specifically designed to denigrate, demean and disenfranchise gay and lesbian Americans while pushing an ultra-conservative, theocratic agenda.

Surely Mr. Limbaugh�s aware of the boycotts sponsored by �Christian� groups such as Don Wildmon�s American Family Association against any company that dares to treat its gay and lesbian employees equally or to advocate civil equality in any way.

Surely Mr. Limbaugh�s aware of homophobic �Christian leaders� like Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition and James Dobson head of the Focus on the Family syndicate who take pleasure in perverting religion to advance themselves and their political agendas.

Surely Mr. Limbaugh is aware of the Risk Audit Project and its McCarthy-like tactics.

And just as surely Mr. Limbaugh�s alleged �war on Christians,� like the Marriage Protection Amendment, is nothing more than a political ploy meant to rev up religious zealots to help support the failing conservative -- and GOP -- agendas. (And sell some books of course. Nothing like those good �Christian� conservative values of capitalizing on divisive bigotry.)

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