Liberty Counsel is a hate group and Mat Staver is a liar

October 7, 2015

A week ago Kim Davis’s lawyer, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, announced that she met privately with Pope Francis to thank her for her “courage” and encourage her to “stay strong.” The Vatican acknowledged that Pope Francis briefly met with her and others, but denied that he knew any specifics about her legal case or that he endorsed what she had done.

In assessing Mat Staver’s credibility, do you believe it would have been helpful to know that last year the Southern Poverty Law Center classified Liberty Counsel as a virulent homophobic hate group?

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,

Founded in 1989 and based in Orlando, Fla., the Liberty Counsel is well known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric. Mat Staver, the group’s president, co-founder and former dean at the Liberty University School of Law, has claimed that with full marriage equality, everyone will decide to be gay and society will “cease to exist.” (He also has linked homosexuality to rampant increases in disease, falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse.)

Human Rights Campaign has identified five examples of his hatred for LGBT:

1. Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said LGBT young people have “confusion” because of “the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser,” so they need to be cured by dangerous attempts to change their sexual orientation – a practice that has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country.

2. Liberty Counsel compared marriage equality to slavery and forced sterilization. Mat Staver said, “It’s shameful for the Supreme Court for what they have done to marriage as it has been shameful in the history of the court with regards to the Dred Scott decision or the Buck v. Bell decision, where they said that the state of Virginia can forcibly sterilize her because of this eugenics idea that they want to eliminate the undesirables of the world. That was the shameful day that we ultimately look back with shame upon and I think this is going to be one of those same kind of situations.”

3. Liberty Counsel has claimed that LGBT hate crimes protections are part of the “radical homosexual anarchist agenda.” Laws aimed at preventing anti-LGBT bias motivated crimes “trample the free exercise of religion,” according to Mat Staver. “Pedophiles find refuge in this so-called hate crimes bill, while veterans and grandmas are left to fend for themselves.”

4. Liberty Counsel calls a bill that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, “one of the most dangerous and discriminatory pieces of legislation in modern times.”  According to them, prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee for being LGBT is actually forcing them to “abandon the biblical and traditional values” in order to protect “those who openly flaunt expressly sinful and demonstrably self-destructive sexual behavior.”

5. Liberty Counsel thinks being LGBT is not only a health hazard, but is also just like being a drug addict, which justifies legal discrimination. They actually said, “Laws that single out those who want to engage in a harmful behavior, like drug laws that discriminate against heroin users, are not unlawful discrimination but rather compassionate public policy.”

On the subject of lying, Media Matters reports,

Since Davis’ release from jail, Liberty Counsel has been embroiled in several PR controversies, almost exclusively attributable to Staver’s own incompetence. During the September 17 edition of Liberty Counsel’s Faith and Freedom broadcast, Staver claimed that the hosts of ABC’s The View had called for Kim Davis to be killed, a blatant falsehood he was later forced to apologize for.

A few weeks later, while speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit, Staver displayed a picture of what he claimed was a 100,000-person prayer rally in Lima, Peru for Davis. The photo was met with immediate suspicion from media commentators, who could find no evidence on social media that such a massive rally had taken place. After days of doubling down, attacking its critics, and revising its defense of the photo’s authenticity, Liberty Counsel was forced to admit that the image actually came from a completely unrelated event in 2014, calling the mix-up “an honest mistake.”

Mat Staver is a liar and the only way to deal with a liar is to assume that they are lying unless independent evidence confirms what they say.


Pope Francis reminds us about what matters

September 24, 2015

Neither building walls nor hunting down and deporting millions of immigrants is the answer to the refugee crisis.

In a speech to both houses of Congress this morning, Pope Francis said,

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”

Deceptively simple, but so very true.

“Do not judge, lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7, 1-3)

“There but for the grace of God, go I.” (Uttered by John Bradford)

May we turn the page today and begin a new tomorrow based on respectful good faith dialogue to reach solutions that benefit the many instead of feeding the greed of the self-interested few.

He also called for an end to the death penalty, respect for all life, an end to income inequality and cooperation to end human-caused climate change.

He praised four Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

Dorothy Day was an American socialist.


Bernie Sanders will benefit from Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change

June 28, 2015

The Republican Party and its clown car candidates are over the hill and irrelevant to most voters. With the exception of Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party and its candidates are not much better. Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudate Si, has made it so. He reminds us that we are a part of the earth’s biosphere and our survival is inextricably intertwined with its survival. He teaches us that we are its caretaker. We have a moral and ethical duty to respect and preserve it for its own sake because it is inherently worthy and deserves our love, attention and care. As it goes, so too do we.

Climate change and global warming are a reality caused by human activity. No amount of denial and wishing it were not so will change that reality. Pope Francis calls on us to accept it and stop exploiting the earth, its biosystems, the poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized for financial gain. Heather Taylor-Miesle, Director of the NRDC Action Fund writes,

Pope Francis stands above this scrum of climate denial and obstruction. He embodies a spirit of hope, humility and service that many are hungry for. A full 70 percent of all Americans — including 68 percent of the nonreligious — view the pope favorably, and 90 percent of American Catholics do, according to the Pew Research Center.

A person who is this admired, who is calling on our better angels and emphasizing our duty to protect creation and the poor who will be most adversely affected by climate change impacts, has the power to shake things up . . .

She reminds us that “Mitt Romney lost young voters by 26 percentage points in the last race, and in the 2014 midterms, voters under 30 favored Democrats by a 13-point margin. Young Catholics who have rallied around conservative social issues may now be throwing their energy behind climate justice and carbon limits. GOP candidates who refute the very existence of global warming will look like dinosaurs to them.”

Pope Francis is coming to visit us this fall and will be addressing both houses of Congress.

Dare we hope Bernie Sanders emerges as the people’s choice?

The stars appear to be aligning.

Let’s do everything we can to make it so.

No one ever knows what they can accomplish until they try.


Pope Francis is a man for our times

July 5, 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Good morning:

I am a spiritual person committed to following the Golden Rule but I do not belong to any religion and I never go to church unless I enter a sanctuary to admire the architecture and sit quietly by myself in peaceful meditation absorbing the feel of the place.

I wasn’t raised in a church, so organized religion has never appealed to me, and I never have felt guilty about not going to church.

The Jesus I know through independent study and life experience would regard present day fundamentalist Christians as an abomination preaching and practicing a twisted and evil perversion of his teachings. And it’s not just the fundies. Mainstream Christians appear to have lost their way or this nation’s values and conduct would be different. Only a blessed few are walking the talk.

I have to say that I am becoming a huge fan of Pope Francis. He took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century patron saint of animals and the environment. He has declared that exploitation of animals and the environment is a sin and he is writing an encyclical on man’s relationship with nature.

Reuters is reporting today,

In an address at the university of Molise, an agricultural and industrial region in southern Italy, Francis said the Earth should be allowed to give her fruits without being exploited.

“This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: to convert ourselves to a type of development that knows how to respect creation,” he told students, struggling farmers, and laid-off workers in a university hall.

“When I look at America, also my own homeland (South America), so many forests, all cut, that have become land … that can longer give life. This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to her give us what she has within her,” the Argentine pope said in unprepared remarks.

He also excommunicated the mafia last week.

He is a man for our times.

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