Posts Tagged ‘Bob Unruh’


As I said in my post two days ago, Monday would be interesting in Alabama with all the legal stuff (and, I would argue, illegal stuff) going on. I think the headlines are what really tell much of the story.

From World Net Daily, we have these, all written by Anti-Homo-in-Chief Bob Unruh (all comment counts are preliminary since these are less than 24 hours old):

*This story has gone through at least four different headlines. The first was, “Drastic Measure Taken on ‘Gay’ Marriage.” The second, I didn’t copy down. The third was “Supremes Won’t Stop ‘Gay’ Marriage,” and the last one I saw was “Alabama Begins Marrying ‘Gay’ Couples.”

And, I have lots of headlines from other news outlets, including many from blogger Joe Jervis at “Joe.My.God” or “JMG” for short. These are in temporal order, starting late Sunday night, and by reading the headlines, you’ll be able to tell a lot of what happened.

That is a lot of news coverage. To try to summarize for y’all who don’t want to even skim that list, there was a basic sequence of events:

  1. Judge Roy Moore on Sunday night sent a letter to all probate court judges telling them NOT to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He stated in the letter that the Governor could take action against them if they did, though the Governor’s office said they had no idea what Moore was talking about. Because, you know, The Bible. And Icky Stuff.

    “The U.S. district courts have no power or authority to redefine marriage. Once you start redefining marriage, that’s the ultimate power. Would it overturn the laws of incest? Bigamy? Polygamy? How far do they go? A lot of states in this union have caved to such unlawful authority, and this is not one This is Alabama. We don’t give up the recognition that law has bounds. I disagree with standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent blacks from getting equal education. We’re talking about a constitutional amendment to preserve the recognition that marriage is one man and one woman, as it has been for centuries.” – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, speaking this afternoon to NBC News.

  2. This created a patchwork of counties in Alabama that were offering licenses to everyone (few), offering licenses only to opposite-sex couples (more), or none at all (most).

    Alabama Counties Status of Marriage Licenses, February 10, 2015

    Alabama Counties Status of Marriage Licenses, February 10, 2015

  3. The Governor came out and said that he wasn’t going to do anything against probate judges who followed Moore’s directive or who followed the Federal court’s directive. But he did NOT want to be compared to Gov. George Wallace who, half a century ago, stood in the way of National Guard troops after the Federal courts ruled against desegregation. (This comparison was being made a lot yesterday.)

    Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the issue should be “worked out through the proper legal channels” and not through defiance of the law. The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

  4. Some judges refusing to comply with the the Federal order were mocked.
    Alabama Probate Judge Refusing to Follow the US Constitution

    Alabama Probate Judge Refusing to Follow the US Constitution

  5. Others were sued, but the Federal judge did nothing:

    Probate Judge Don Davis is not a party in this case and the Order of January 23, 2015, did not directly order Davis to do anything. Judge Davis’s obligation to follow the Constitution does not arise from this court’s Order. The Clarification Order noted that actions against Judge Davis or others who fail to follow the Constitution could be initiated by persons who are harmed by their failure to follow the law. However, no such action is before the Court at this time.

  6. So, the actual plaintiffs are now suing.

That’s kinda where we are today, or as of noon today. I could talk about a lot of issues here. Including Judge Moore making many of his arguments on Facebook, and then deleting them, like the one below.

One of Roy Moore's Rants on Facebook that Were Deleted

One of Roy Moore’s Rants on Facebook that Were Deleted

Or that this is a huge case of judicial activism, which I thought conservatives were against. Or questions about authority, and whether Moore actually has any authority over probate judges. Or the apt or inapt comparisons to George Wallace. Or that in the refusal of the Supreme Court of the United States to grant a stay of the Federal judge’s order could be interpreted (by Justice Thomas’ own remarks) as the tacit admission that that is how the Supreme Court will rule later this year.

Instead, I think I’ll just point out the real effect here: In all this posturing, to try to uphold their religion (and let’s be honest: There is no reason to be against this other than religion, and it’s what’s been the focus of all Moore’s (and others’) arguments), they are hurting real people. People who love each other and just want the recognition of the state that opposite-sex couples have always enjoyed. This isn’t just some vague issue. It’s a real one with real victims.

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This is a long post, and a developing situation at that. I first became aware of Judge Roy Moore, the “Ten Commandments Judge,” a decade ago when I was in college. He refused to comply with a court order to remove a massive monument of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse, and because of that, he was stripped of his judgeship.

For this, he was made both into a martyr for the cause and something of a minor celebrity among the far-right who are über-religious.

Then, a little under a decade later, the (adjective removed) people of Alabama decided to elect him yet again to be the Supreme Court Chief Justice (of Alabama). Seems to me that a man who refuses to follow the ruling of the courts has no business being a judge.

And, he’s at it again. Specifically, the Federal court in Alabama ruled as every single other court (except the 6th Circuit) has for the past few years: the state ban on issuing marriage licenses to two people of the same gender is unconstitutional. Moore is all about nullification.

This post is made from several WND posts:

It is also made from several posts on other sites:

Really, that first news snippet lays out the entire initiation:

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has released a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley saying that he intends to continue to recognize the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and urging the governor to do so.

Moore’s office released the three-page letter that was delivered to the governor this morning in response to a federal judge’s ruling Friday striking down the ban.

“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore wrote.

The problem is that legally (by court precedent, by federal law, and, well, the results of the Civil War), federal law trumps state law. Federal courts trump state courts. Federal Constitution trumps state constitution. There’s something called the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution about this. But, Moore seems to think that only the Supreme Court can void a state law: “Moore said court precedents from throughout the state’s history make it clear that only the U.S. Supreme Court can overturn the highest court decision in the state system, so Granade’s decision, and a temporarily delayed order implementing it, was out of line.” FYI, this particular District Judge was an appointee of former President George W. Bush.

Pretty much everyone disagrees with him. For example: “Ronald Krotoszynski, a constitutional law expert at the University of Alabama School of Law, said Moore’s words carry little legal weight, as federal constitutional law trumps that of states. “There is no credible legal argument that an order from a federal judge with jurisdiction over a matter isn’t binding on a state government,” he said.””

As a side bar, Moore founded a group called the Foundation for Moral Law. It’s now run by his wife. Officially, the group has not responded to Moore’s letter to the governor, though it has said this:

“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

As another (completely gratuitous) side bar, Judge Moore’s son isn’t as clean-cut as his papa, as JMG pointed out on January 29. His Twitter feed was quickly made private, but that was after people grabbed screenshots of him writing such illuminating things as: “Happiest of days to you my man @Tcopeland4 may much poon come your way #birthdaybash2014” or “I would love to meet the folks who think they go harder than these niggas #thecrew @Tcopeland4 @woods457 @JLHrastamon @Kyul_Landers” And lots of pictures of him with lots of alcohol.

Back to the story … In response to Moore’s letter urging the Governor to ignore the federal court ruling, the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has filed a formal judicial ethics complaint against Judge Moore:

over his public statements urging the governor and Alabama judges to defy federal law and enforce Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages. The complaint was filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama, which could recommend that Moore face ethics charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. That court removed Moore from the office of chief justice 12 years ago after he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

“Moore is once again wrapping himself in the Bible and thumbing his nose at the federal courts and federal law,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “As a private citizen, Moore is entitled to his views. But as the chief justice of Alabama, he has a responsibility to recognize the supremacy of federal law and to conform his conduct to the canons of judicial ethics.”

JMG points out, “It was the SPLC’s 2003 complaint that first got Moore booted off the Alabama Supreme Court. He was reelected in 2012.”

At the same time as this, probate judges in Alabama were hoping for what the county clerks of Florida did, as well, but ultimately didn’t get: That maybe the Federal judge’s ruling would only apply to those particular plaintiffs and/or that particular county. No such luck, as the second JMG post I linked to points out: “Federal Judge Granade today clarified her ruling from last Friday, stipulating that it does indeed apply to all Alabama counties. […] Granade’s clarification cites federal Judge Robert Hinkle’s similar ruling in Florida.”

And, “The Alabama Probate Judges Association said it would follow her judgement.”

Moore, however, is not backing down. In response: “Alabama’s chief justice is telling probate judges that they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a federal judge’s decision overturning the state’s gay marriage ban. Roy Moore sent a letter Tuesday to probate judges, saying the judge’s decision isn’t binding on them.”

And, in response to that, the SPLC filed another ethics charge against Moore.

Besides interviews to such fair and balanced outlets as World Net Daily, he’s been on radio programs such as with Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” (Perkins is president of the Family Research Council), and with Sandy Rios on the American Family Association’s show. These may not help him if he is brought up, again, on ethics charges. This quote deals with his appearance with Perkins:

His latest appearance may turn out to be a gift to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which earlier this week filed a complaint against the Chief Justice after he first pledged to ignore pro-equality rulings. SPLC pointed out that Moore’s declaration constitutes numerous ethics violations, such as commenting on a pending case and encouraging lawlessness.

In his conversation with Perkins, Moore also lamented that the country no longer arrests and imprisons gays and lesbians, approvingly citing the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, which legitimized anti-LGBT harassment by police. The FRC filed an antigay brief in the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the Bowers ruling.

But, it’s not just the SPLC that is getting into this. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has started a petition that demands the Judicial Inquiry Commission take action against Judge Moore.

I’m getting this post out today because tomorrow, Monday February 9, the stay on Judge Granade’s order is lifted, and probate judges must begin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or be in contempt of that court order.


I’m at the point that when I see Aaron Klein’s name in the byline of a WND story, I assume it’s fake. It may not be a completely accurate heuristic, but it’s developed over the lifetime of this blog. Let’s start this time with the debunking itself, and then get into Klein’s claims: “Right-Wing Smear Baselessly Links Obama Admin to Anti-Netanyahu Campaign” by Hannah Groch-Begley on Media Matters.

Hannah comes out swinging, debunking the claim – or at least mollifying it – in the first paragraph, by pointing out “American political consultants from both parties have been independently working in Israeli campaigns for decades — including former Obama aides who have worked for Netanyahu.” I actually recommend reading Hannah’s article in full because it points out the path of the “Chinese Whispers” that have been blown out of any proportion or context due to a desire to undermine President Obama for any reason – real or not. (And to be fair, I don’t think everything President Obama does is good or fair or reasonable, I’d just rather dislike his actions if they’re real, rather than dislike his actions that are shown to be fake.)

Here’s the basic idea, or claimed evidence: “[… A] former Obama campaign staffer went to Israel “to oust Netanyahu,” suggesting the former staffer would not do this work “if he thought Obama opposed it” and implying the administration was “actively working to defeat Netanyahu.””

Here’s the reality: “Two policy groups in Israel, OneVoice and Victory 15, are currently working together to promote platforms that reportedly “are not friendly” to Netanyahu ahead of the upcoming election. The groups have also partnered with American consulting group 270 Strategies, which is headed by Jeremy Bird, a former Obama campaign staffer. OneVoice began working with 270 Strategies in 2013, long before the Israeli elections were announced.”

But, as she stated at the beginning: “There is a long history of U.S. political consultants from both parties working for Israeli political campaigns.” She then lists ones from US presidential campaigns that have worked both for and against various parties in Israel. But, apparently, this one is somehow different. The rumor that it’s different is possibly in response to House Speaker John Boehner inviting Netanyahu to address Congress — a major faux pas in Washington because foreign dignitaries are supposed to be handled by the State Department, part of the Executive Branch. This was seen as a major snub to Obama both by the House for offering it and Netanyahu for accepting. And so, “Conservatives claim that 270 Strategies’ work with OneVoice proves Obama is either retaliating against Netanyahu or engaging in a similar effort to meddle in foreign politics; but again, 270’s work on the ground in Israel began long before this most recent disagreement, and it is typical for American political consultants to engage in Israeli politics.”

This was then hyped by the Drudge Report, by Sen. Ted Cruz on Brietbart, and even Megan Kelly on Fox “news” who suggested “that the administration sent an Obama “field general” to help Israel “elect Netanyahu’s opponent.””

This took another twist because of money: “Many of the media outlets took the smear further, by also claiming that tax-payer dollars were funding the campaign. OneVoice briefly received a one-time grant for about $200,000 from the State Department, which ended in November 2014. As State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki noted in a briefing, the grant “ended before there was a declaration of an Israeli election.””

So, because some organization got a grant at one time, that means everything they do in the future is linked to that funding source? Uh huh …

That’s the extent of that. So, now we have WND:

*Reposted under the headline, “FOR TRAINING ONLY – Netanyahu fires back at U.S. election meddling” on February 6, but the link on February 6 returns a 404 Error (file not found).

Really, you can read down those headlines and check off each conspiracy that I explained above. But, with very sensationalistic headlines. For example, with the “Cruz Grills Kerry” one, it’s not a grilling. It’s a letter that Sen. Cruz sent to Sec. of State Kerry asking to make sure that no US taxpayer funds are being used. That’s it. Oh, except that in the WND story, there are many quotes from anonymous internet commenters who are opposed to what they are being mislead to think is going on.

The only one not in there is the one about Netanyahu “firing back” at an “Obama Army.” To quote from WND: “During a press conference Sunday, the Likud Party officially accused V15 and other related nonprofits of being supported “through millions of dollars funneled from Europe, the U.S. and the New Israel Fund and international factors interested in bringing down Prime Minister Netanyahu” who think “that all means are appropriate.” The Likud further called for Israel’s Central Elections Committee to outlaw V15′s activities to “ensure the integrity of the election.””

It may be a tu quoque fallacy on my part, but I would like to point out that there is plenty of foreign money in US politics, too. Something that is generally advocated for by conservative groups by trying to remove caps on spending and general accountability, and/or lessening funding for groups meant to watch for potential campaign spending violations.

In the end, what makes more sense? Scenario 1 is a vast, nefarious plot of one world leader plotting against the leader of an ally state. Which takes pace in a scenario where the former world leader’s every move is being watched by an incredibly hostile group of lawmakers. Or, Scenario 2 which is where a political campaign team that has a proven track record is either hired by or volunteers to help the campaign of someone else. Just happens to be that the new campaign is in a different country.

One of the reasons that I consider myself part of the modern scientific skepticism movement is because of crap like this. You need to question things. You need to look into sources and look for the story behind what you’re being told. You need to look at the evidence and get beyond the hype. Otherwise, you’re just a drone. And WND commenters are mainly drones. They just get riled up because they’re supposed to by stories like this. As “Envoy Master” wrote, “A sitting US president actively trying to cause a regime change in an ALLIED country is arguably treasonous as such an act is likely to benefit our enemies.” Yup, WND has done its job.


Lots of travel in the next two weeks, so expect me to try to catch up on some posts while 35,000-40,000 ft in the air.

First up, we have an update on Gordon Klingenschmitt. I tried to capture the idea behind the man in the title of this post. He is a religious bigot of the extreme kind, having been fired from the Navy chaplaincy program due to his statements and actions against homosexuals and non-Christians. Well, that and this: “It was in 2006 when WND reported Klingenschmitt was dismissed from the Navy when he insisted his religious-freedom rights allowed him to pray “in Jesus name,” which conflicted with Navy policy requiring chaplains not to reference Jesus in their prayers.”

He runs a weekly radio program that spouts his beliefs including statements about how gays are demon-possessed (but don’t worry, he is able to cast those demons out and cure lesbians).

And, he was voted into the Colorado statehouse as a Representative in our last election. During his candidacy, he wouldn’t even agree to meet with concerned prospective constituents unless they paid for body guards because he was afraid of attack. So much for representatives being accessible.

Okay, so that takes care of Michael Carl’s WND story from November 8, 2014: “Navy Chaplain Who Fought for Prayer Elected in Colorado.”

That aside, the story a month later came from Bob Unruh: “Lesbian Judge Takes on Jesus in Court.” Ummm …. huh? That headline is just stupid and gives you no idea what’s going on. In fact, I only found it after reading Right Wing Watch’s story: “WND: Klingenschmitt Lost Because the Judge Was a Lesbian!” Okay, now at least I know what the real point of the story is.

But here’s how Bob (who gets most of the anti-gay stories on WND) decided to spin it. Starting from the beginning:

An openly lesbian federal judge whose appointment was opposed by dozens of U.S. senators has ruled against a Christian former Navy chaplain who alleged his superiors engineered his dismissal from the service because he was not “ecumenical.”

The decision by Elaine Kaplan of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims rejected the allegations of former chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who recently was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives.

He had routinely prayed “in Jesus name” as part of his work as a chaplain.

The next five paragraphs are about how the Judge was opposed “by 35 GOP senators” and more about her being a lesbian. Oh, and almost inconsequentially, the next paragraph states, “Klingenschmitt told WND he likely will appeal the decision.”

This story has 1028 comments, with the highly rated ones being as you would expect for fear of The Gays. And I do mean fear, which I don’t normally use when I disagree with other people. But, when you have “El_Sluggo” writing, “Let’s face it. The entire LGBT movement is a demonic ideology based purely on the rejection of and a hatred for God.” Well, I’d say that’s fear of the demonic and fear of rejecting this particular person’s particular interpretation of the Christian God.


Background: Ken Ham runs the Answers in Genesis ministry. He and his ministry preach young-Earth creationism. They are therefore incredibly conservative, religiously. They operate the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

And that’s fine. They have a private museum, built with private funds, and they are a private entity. They can preach whatever they want. They can even require employees to have a religious affiliation and religious beliefs. Private. Simple.

Then, they decided they want to build a theme park about Noah’s Ark. And, they applied to the state of Kentucky’s tourism board to waive around $16M in taxes once it’s operational because they’ll bring in tourism money to the area. Now we get more complicated.

To get this money, they cannot enforce religion on their employees. That’s because they are now getting state rebates, therefore the state is effectively helping them, and therefore they must abide by state laws for the public money. Since the government cannot enforce a religion on someone, the entire project must abide by those rules.

AiG was told about this. They ostensibly agreed to it. Otherwise they couldn’t get the money. And we all knew that AiG wouldn’t be able to do it, and we were watching.

And, of course, AiG didn’t disappoint. There was a job posted on the AiG site for the Arc Encounter that required AiG’s standard: You had to be Christian, you had to submit a statement of faith or belief in their version of young-Earth creationism, etc. Clearly violating the rules. And, people brought it to the attention of Kentucky’s Tourism Board, as WND reported on October 9, 2014: “Noah’s Ark Theme Park Warned Over Hiring Practices.” The subtitle is, “‘We expect all of the companies that get tax incentives to obey the law.'”

The way AiG tried to skirt the rules was by saying that all people working for Ark Encounter were employees of AiG, even though Ark Encounter was not part of AiG … somehow.

And, if AiG had followed what top-commenter “The Guest” wrote, they’d’ve been fine: “Time for real Christians to say, “No thank you. God doesn’t need your help. You can take your 501c3 tax status (shackles) and throw it in the garbage where it belongs.” No one owns God, and no one can take Him and His word away from us. In the rest of the world they discriminate against Christians by prison, torture and beheadings. Here they do it by using the laws (which they make) and public pressure (discrimination).”

While I disagree with that last sentence, the overall idea is one I agree with: If you don’t want to abide by the non-religious-discrimination laws that are required when receiving any public money, then don’t take the money (tax waivers). Plain and simple. And “hmolsen” had a similar comment to “The Guest”: “What’s more important to the owners of this theme park? Their faith or their tax credits? Tell the authorities to take the tax credits and stick them where the sun won’t shine.”

I also like “Lowe Webber”‘s response to “The Guest”: “I agree on the tax statement you have made, but of course they don’t deserve it in the first place. I am certain God can fund his own projects.”

Then, in mid-December, Kentucky basically told AiG that they blew it. WND’s Bob Unruh got the easy story on December 11, 2014: “Kentucky Goes ‘ACLU’ on Noah’s Ark.” Right Wing Watch (among others) posted about this, and they headlined it as, “Ken Ham Demands Taxpayers Pay for ‘One of the Greatest Evangelist Outreaches of Our Day.'” Kinda sounds different when you put it that way, and a little less legally defensible.

I’m going to quote extensively now from the WND story:

A Christian organization building a replica of Noah’s Ark has announced possible legal action against Kentucky after state officials demanded it give up certain religious rights in order to participate in a tax-incentive program for organizations that attract tourists to the state.

Answers in Genesis, which is building the life-size version of Noah’s Ark – 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and three stories high – announced Thursday it was informed by the state that it could participate in the tourism program on two conditions.

The organization is required to “waive its right to include a religious preference in hiring” and “affirm that it will tolerate no ‘proselytizing’ at the theme park.”

Not possible, AiG responded, on billboard messages and elsewhere.

AiG said Kentucky officials bowed to pressure from secularist groups when it denied the Ark Encounter theme park an opportunity to participate in a popular tax rebate incentive program offered by the state’s tourism office.”

The restrictions demanded by the state are “unlawful,” AiG asserted.

There are several issues here to point out. Well, two. First, the law is very clear, in place because of of the First Amendment: Government must stay out of religion, therefore government money cannot be used for religion which means that if you’re getting the money, you can’t discriminate on the basis of religion. That’s in direct contradiction to the last sentence in the above quote.

Second, while I know that atheist / separation of church and state organizations brought this to Kentucky’s Tourism Board’s attention, the “pressure” (if there was any) was to enforce their own rules and the law. This wasn’t a capricious decision. AiG has to follow the rules that everyone else does.

And yet, somehow, Ken Ham is playing the victim card: “Moreover, the government cannot show hostility toward religion or discriminate against persons or organizations who express religious viewpoints.”

Then, there was this: “We have been working on this project with Kentucky for more than two years, so this just-received denial announcement is as disappointing as it is costly for our ministry without the expected rebate,” he said. “Our construction has already begun at the Williamstown, Kentucky, site, and it must proceed. We are fully prepared to defend our fundamental rights in court if necessary, as this issue is of huge importance, not only to us, but to every religious organization.”

One wonders (I do, anyway), why they need this for construction purposes? The money (tax waivers) only come after the park opens and they take money. They get to keep some of the state tax that is charged on purchases, like entry. That’s how this works. So how were they going to build it to begin with? This development doesn’t change anything. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps they had taken out loans and needed to repay them by a certain time and they won’t be able to do that without the tax waivers. Maybe.

Oh, and I should add that when the tourism board announced this, the Republican governor came out and stated that he fully supported the board’s decision.

The story has 538 comments, the most recent being posted a month ago so that’s not going to change. The next-to-last poster, “LDScowboy”, kinda echoes my sentiment: “Oh poor Ken Ham is crying religious persecution because he can’t have his millions of dollars of tax payer subsidies for his religious theme park. The man needs to grow up. Disneyland and other similar theme parks pay taxes. So should he and his ridiculous theme park.”

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately since this post is already over 1200 words, the top comments are run-of-the-mill WND. Many of them refer to an almighty god who shall not be mocked. Which raises an interesting question, now that I know that I have at least one semi-regular reader who is a proud Christian and self-described/titled Tea Partier: Isn’t demanding that the state help pay for your religious theme park mocking God in itself? Why does he need state support for his religious endeavor? Why should he get state support for his religious endeavor? How is it mocking God by rescinding tax waivers when Ham refuses to comply with the law, which (assuming he agreed originally in order to get the offer originally) means he bore false witness by lying or being misleading to originally get the money?

Edited to Add (January 21, 2015): I should’ve waited a day before posting this, apparently. The Friendly Atheist has a post that explains that Ken Ham apparently has lied about this Ark Encounter before, not just in what I wrote above, but in the projected attendance of the park. He had to do studies to show how many people they expect per year to attend in order to qualify for the tax waivers. Those numbers are in the 100s of thousands. And yet, publicly, he has stated he expects 1.6-2.0 million people per year. As Hemant points out, Ham usually has issues with shrinking numbers, but here he’s clearly inflated them.

Edited to Add (February 3, 2015): Aaaaannnndddddddd … Ken Ham is suing Kentucky to get the money. Which, again, wouldn’t have any impact on funds now, just potentially on other loans due to tax offsets after the park opens.

Edited to Add (February 6, 2015): Hemant at The Friendly Atheist blog has more on Ken Ham’s whining and trying to spin this into religious oppression.


One of World Net Daily’s non-trademarked trademarks is to write purposely inflammatory headlines that distort the story to make their readership pissed off and riled up. The latest by Bob Unruh (January 8, 2015), is no exception: “Firestorm: U.S. School Makes Girls Follow Islamic Dress Code.”

That headline sounds as though a normal school in the US is making girls cover up from head to toe with only a slit for their eyes. Then I thought, “Okay, maybe this is a private, religious school,” in which case they would be permitted to do that because religious schools have a lot of leeway. In which case it’s no worse than nuns hitting students with rulers (I’d say its less worse) or the other kinds of dress codes. This is America where parents have the religious freedom to send their students to religious schools that have dress codes.

But, this story isn’t even that. This story is about an elective social studies class on world religions, that has a non-required field trip to different religious places of worship. And, the school sent a letter home with students that explained to parents that the students who were going to go on this field trip would be required to follow the dress codes at each place of worship. But, I don’t see anyone complaining about yarmulkes for boys going to the Temple/Synagogue.

In fact, the WND article says (sort of) as much in the first two paragraphs:

The Douglas County School District in Colorado, under fire for saying that schoolgirls might have to cover up from head to ankle for a field trip to a Muslim mosque, has confirmed that such Shariah requirements will be enforced on the outing.

“Students who choose to attend the [Rocky Heights Middle School] world religion field trip are expected to respect the dress code of the host facility,” the school said in a statement posted online.

Maybe I’m a left-wing crazy, but to me, this does not seem like a ridiculous requirement. The students will be -for all intent and purpose – a guest at each place of worship (“the Denver Mosque, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and the Rodef-Shalom Synagogue”). If you are a guest, you should be following the rules.

Part of the problem, however, is that Islamophobe-in-Chief (and WND Commenter) Pamela Geller got wind of this:

The note sent to families, according to a report from Islam expert and commentator Pamela Geller, said: “The world religions field trip is next Tuesday, January 13. We will be visiting the Denver Mosque, the Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and the Rodef-Shalom Synagogue. We will then eat lunch at Park Meadows Food Court. Students must either bring a sack lunch or money to purchase lunch at the food court.”

It continued: “THERE IS A DRESS CODE FOR THIS TRIP: All students must wear appropriate long pants. Ankles must be covered. Girls must bring wide scarves or hooded sweatshirts for the mosque.”

Geller said the “subjugation and oppression of women are enshrined under the Shariah.”

“Young school girls should not be forced to ‘respect’ a dress code that represents honor violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, et al,” she wrote.

I would ask Ms. Geller to read Leviticus in her Bible before casting judgement on the literal tenants of strict Islam. There, she would find such light reading as, if you have sex with your neighbor’s wife, both are to be killed (Leviticus 18:20). Or, just general blasphemy is punishable by stoning to death (Leviticus 24:14).

But, back to the article, even Bob Unruh apparently felt the need to be somewhat fair and point out that the field trip is optional:

Officials explained the field trip is an option, not a requirement.

“If the decision is made to not participate in a field trip, alternative educational opportunities are provided,” the district said. “This is true for any DCSD field trip, including the RHMS world religion field trip.”

If students do choose to participate in the field trip, they are subject to the Shariah dress requirements of the mosque, the school said.

“As part of providing an authentic learning opportunity for students, DCSD provides an optional field trip to further support the world religion course, thus allowing students who choose to participate to discuss what they experienced on the field trip with their family members and eventually leading to the development of their own views,” the school district said.

Geller observed: “Here again we see that anywhere American law and Islamic law conflict, it is American law that has to give way.”

But again, we see the over-reaction by Pamela Geller. This is not a case of American law versus Islamic law. This is a case of an optional field trip for students in an optional class to better understand world religions. This has nothing to do with American law, and I would almost say this has nothing to do with Islamic law but rather moderate Islamic customs when in places of worship.


I feel sorry for the child of Missouri state rep Paul Weiland and his wife, Teresa Weiland. Why? Well, they’re suing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor and Treasury departments because they are required to have an insurance plan that would include contraception as a benefit: “Couple Fights Obamacare Over Birth Control.”

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Birth control is not abortion. Despite what “personhood” people want you to believe. Post-intercourse birth control tends to work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb, such that it will not gestate and will be removed with normal removal processes (yes, I’m a tad squeamish about this). It’s like not planting a seed. I would not consider not planting a pepper seed from the pepper I just ate to be the same as uprooting a baby seedling that had just sprouted.

But, this couple is so religious, so Catholic, that not only would they never even consider using birth control (il Papa still says Catholics can’t even use condoms because Every Sperm is Sacred) that they can’t even have a health care plan that would let them have access to it for reduced or no cost.

And not them, but their daughters:

The Wielands’ daughters, though no longer living at home, were covered by the couple’s insurance. And that’s why the coverage for birth control became objectionable, he said.

“If Barack Obama and his HHS want to send a package of contraceptive tablets to our college-age daughters every month, they can do that,” he said.

But Belz said the parents should not be made co-conspirators with the administration.

Belz here is their lawyer, Timothy Belz, of the Thomas More Society of Chicago.

So, let’s repeat that: These two are so against any form of birth control that they are suing the federal government to prevent the couple from getting an insurance plan that would cover birth control for their college-aged daughters.

I actually feel sorry for their daughters.