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Fox News aired a video of conservative attorney Jordan Sekulow claiming an imprisoned pastor's conversion to Christianity is the reason President Obama has "been silent" on the case, even after Sekulow praised statements from the White House and State Department in support of the pastor.
On Fox & Friends, Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes aired a video of Jordan Sekulow, a frequent Fox guest and Executive Director of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), discussing the case of pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran, reportedly due to his Christian faith. In the video, Sekulow interviews Abedini's wife who had not been contacted directly by President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry.
After the interview, Sekulow declared: "I believe the government's been silent on this case with Pastor Saeed Abedini, the reason why the actual executive branch leaders have not spoken out [...] [is] because he converted from Islam to Christianity." The following voice-over claims that "the only public acknowledgement came in December, when the administration said they were aware of the case and called for his release." Starnes also highlighted the claims in a post on his blog titled "Obama Ignores American Christian Held By Iranians."
But Fox failed to note that both the White House and State Department have issued statements in support of Abedini's release, statements that Sekulow himself praised in a January 25 article on the ACLJ website: "we applaud both the State Department and the White House for these very strong statements. [...] Thanks to the State Department and White House for their statements today and involvement to secure Pastor Saeed's freedom."
[W]hen Rep. Peter King (R-NY) announced that as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, he will hold hearings on "radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism," how did the Council on American-Islamic Relations respond? CAIR calls the coming hearings a "witch hunt" that "is just going to further marginalize American Muslims and demonize Islam."
Instead of attempting to "demonize" Americans concerned with homegrown radical Islam, Muslims should actively participate in these hearings to discuss how their faith is combating terror.
These hearings are an opportunity for American Muslims to demonstrate their commitment to the United States and fighting terrorism. Missing this chance to impact the discussion would be a gross miscalculation.
It seems rather unlikely that the Washington Post would retain the services of a blogger who writes that, say, Jewish Americans should "demonstrate their commitment to the United States." American Muslims, however? They're fair game for loyalty tests at the Post.
In response to the Washington Post's unfortunate decision to grant anti-Muslim gay-bashing bigot Jordan Sekulow his own blog, Think Progress noted last week that Sekulow had "shared [a] stage with far-right anti-Islam activist Geert Wilders," adding that by giving Sekulow a platform, the Post is "legitimizing" bigotry. Wilders, for those unfamiliar with him, is perhaps best known for wanting to ban the Quran, new mosques, and Muslim immigrants in The Netherlands.
In response, Sekulow has tweeted that though he didn't meet Wilders, he was "proud" to share a stage with him:
At Religion Dispatches, Sarah Posner notes Sekulow "describes himself as a 'human rights attorney' yet is proud to share a stage with someone who calls Islam 'the ideology of a retarded culture' and likens the Quran to 'Mein Kampf.'" Sekulow himself says America is at war with Islam and that "Muslim political leaders have forfeited their seat at the discussion table." And he backs Oklahoma's nutty ban on Sharia law, which even former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson -- the relentlessly pro-war author of the infamous "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" argument -- says is nothing more than an effort to "taunt a religious minority."
The Washington Post's On Faith describes itself as an effort to bring together people of diverse faiths in "intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation." That goal is fundamentally incompatible with giving Jordan Sekulow a blog. He believes "Muslim political leaders" should not have a "seat at the discussion table," and is "proud" of his association with a man who wants to ban the central text of a religion practiced by more than a billion people and compares it to the work of Adolf Hitler. Sekulow doesn't want a conversation; he wants war with Islam.
As long as current military leaders disagree about DADT, Congress should not interfere. Our country is engaged in two wars. This policy-reversal has the potential to negatively impact our military. It is simply a case of bad timing.
In the process, Sekulow made clear that if DADT is repealed, he thinks military chaplains should join in his gay-bashing:
If DADT is repealed, the American Center for Law & Justice is committed to advocating for the ability of military chaplains to do their job according to the dictates of their faith. The ACLJ has a long history of defending military chaplains.
While that paragraph may seem innocuous, Sekulow also linked back to a previous post in which he made clear that he believes the "dictates of their faith" include declaring gays an "abomination" and "shameful."
But now, perhaps recognizing that 70 percent of white evangelicals disagree with him, the Post's new Religious Right Now blogger has changed his tune on Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
No DADT, no problem
The outdated, unworkable "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law will likely be repealed in the next few days. As a Christian conservative broadcaster, attorney, and activist who recently discussed DADT and my opinion about it on-air, I can say that for the most part, social conservatives are not enraged about the end of DADT. In fact, the grassroots has not been engaged on this issue for a long time.
I wrote about this previously for On Faith, arguing that DADT does not violate the Constitution and could be defended in court. But after much public debate and a repeal imminent, it has become clear that there is no reason for DADT; there are more important issues.
Even more striking: Rather than repeat his implication that military chaplains should continue to denounce gay service members, Sekulow adopts a far more conciliatory tone:
Close bonds form in the military. How can we expect people serving long tours of duty and fighting two wars to act as if their personal life at home does not exist when talking to their co-defenders of freedom? If you're concerned about problems developing, remember that the military has strict rules on troop relationships and harassment. Those rules won't disappear with the repeal of DADT.
We live in a new time. As a young member of the "religious right," if a gay friend or family member came to me and said they wanted to join the military, I would gladly be the first to congratulate and thank them. I do not believe they should be barred from serving because of their sexual orientation.
When even Jordan Sekulow is praising the repeal of DADT, you know the times are a-changing -- which makes the Washington Post's hospitality to an endless parade of anti-gay bigots all the more bizarre.
On Monday, in response to Frank Rich's argument that "in establishment Washington … homophobia is at most a misdemeanor" I noted that at the Washington Post, it is not even a misdemeanor. As it turns out, that was too kind: At the Washington Post, homophobia is a job qualification.
The Post's On Faith microsite, which has long promoted the bigoted rantings of homophobes and Muslim-bashers, and endorsed this hateful rhetoric as the mark of "respectful" dialogue by "distinguished" panelists, has now created a new blog, Religious Right Now for Jordan Sekulow.
Sekulow has previously used his status as an On Faith panelist to approvingly quote biblical references to homosexuality as an "abomination" and "unnatural" and "indecent" and "perversion." And to attack Islam and endorse loopy claims about Sharia Law coming to Oklahoma.
The Post's announcement of Sekulow's new blog is all the more striking in light of the Post's revelation this morning that fully 70 percent of white evangelicals support allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Jordan Sekulow, whose new blog is supposed to represent the religious right to Post readers (as if that perspective was going unrepresented!) does not.