The war to silence any opposition to the Secular and Political Left is now ratcheting itself up.
The clarion calls from the Elite Democrats to silence Christian and Talk Radio are reaching fevered pitch, while the Omnibus Stimulus Pork bill has revealed itself to being a vehicle to ban religious worship.
President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus plan makes a deliberate – and unconstitutional – attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation, according to a lawyer who argued related cases before the U.S. Supreme Court 20 years ago and won them all.
“This isn’t like a convenient oversight. This is intentional. This legislation pokes its finger in the eyes of people who hold religious beliefs,” Jay Sekulow, chief of the American Center for Law and Justice, told WND today.
His was the organization that decades ago argued on behalf of speech freedom on school campuses, winning repeatedly at the U.S. Supreme Court. Since then, the 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School District decision was added, clarifying that restricting religious speech within the context of public shared-use facilities is unconstitutional.
The problem in the proposed stimulus bill comes from a provision that states: “PROHIBITED USES OF FUNDS. – No funds awarded under this section may be used for – (C) modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities – (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.”
The wording that specifically targets religious speech already has been approved by the majority Democrats in the U.S. House – all GOP members opposed it. In the Senate, Jim DeMint, R-S.C., proposed an amendment to eliminate it, but again majority Democrats decided to keep the provision targeting religious instruction and activities.
Critics argued schools would accept any money offered, then impose a ban on religious events.
DeMint warned organizations such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Catholic Student Ministries, Hillel and other religious groups would face new bans on access to public facilities that would not apply to other organizations.
“This is a direct attack on students of faith, and I’m outraged Democrats are using an economic stimulus bill to promote discrimination,” DeMint said. “Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for siding with the ACLU over millions of students of faith.”
“These students simply want equal access to public facilities, which is their constitutional right. This hostility toward religion must end. Those who voted to for this discrimination are standing in the schoolhouse door to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill,” said DeMint.
The senator said the stimulus bill now becomes an “ACLU stimulus” that has the goal of triggering lawsuits “designed to intimidate religious organizations across the nation.”
“This language is so vague, it’s not clear if students can even pray in a dorm room renovated with this funding since that is a form of ‘religious worship.’ If this provision remains in the bill, it will have a chilling effect on students of faith in America,” he said.
DeMint cited Obama’s statement at the National Prayer Breakfast this week that faith “can promote a greater good for all of us.”
“This provision is an assault against both. It’s un-American and it’s unconstitutional. Intolerant and it’s intolerable,” DeMint said.
The ban on religious organizations is linked to the $3.5 billion intended for “renovation of public or private college and university facilities.”
The ACLJ, which focuses on constitutional law, said the provision “has nothing to do with economic stimulus and everything to do with religious discrimination.”
“The thing is I litigated these cases on these exact issues 20 years ago,” Sekulow told WND. “Not only did we win, two of the decisions were unanimous and the other was 8-1.
“We’re seeing a rollback to the 1970s regarding church-state relations,” he said. “That’s what is troubling. It is a complete rollback that now institutionalizes discrimination through targeting religion.”
Sekulow said he already is drafting a complaint that will challenge the constitutionality of the provision, to be used if it isn’t removed.
However, he also warned that the problem is the damage that can be done within the probable four years it would take to get the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court and what that court would look like at that point.
Under Obama, he said, “there will be an ideology shift.” New appointments to the bench by Obama, he said, would be “much more left of where Justices (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg and (Stephen) Breyer are.”
Obama is following the Saul Alinsky rule (in his book, Rules for Radicals) to ‘clothe everything you do in morality’ because this is what most effectively fools the ‘middle class’ into agreeing with what you want to do.”
But the news today does not end there. There are efforts to not only silence Conservative Talk Radio, but to water down and silence Christian radio as well.
As the National Religious Broadcasters convened today in Nashville, an ominous shroud cast by political chatter about the reimposition of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” in the nation’s capital hung over the gathering.
NRB President Frank Wright said he sees the move as a credible threat under a Democrat-dominated Congress and with President Obama in the White House.
“And we have a personal concern,” Wright told Broadcasting & Cable. “The only radio station that ever lost its license under the fairness doctrine regime was a Christian radio station in Red Lion, Pa. We are only responding now to the statements the Democrats themselves are making.”
Representing 1,400 organizations, including large ministries and TV and radio stations, NRB said it is “girding itself for a major battle over broadcasting freedoms,” and was prepared to go to court, lobby Congress, or take its message to the public.
“We have talked before about many of these issues, but now, with the shift in the political landscape, I think these same things have a much higher probability of being enacted or at least having legislation and hearings and debates, and on the regulation side at the FCC,” said Wright.
He said the new political climate doesn’t just threaten broadcasters, but even churches that have no broadcast outlet.
“The fairness doctrine has a tremendous potential for constraining free speech, but hate crimes (legislation) has the potential of criminalizing it,” he said. “In the short run, the fairness doctrine has the immediate threat of being applied to Christian broadcasters and to the church in a very deleterious way. Hate crimes legislation, if that is enacted, will evolve over time and bleed over into speech and have a negative effect, but not right away. The fairness doctrine will have a negative impact the day it is implemented.”
He said he expects religious broadcasters, largely Christian, to be particularly hard hit because of the doctrine’s requirement for so-called “balance.” If an opposing view must be found for every matter of controversy, Christian broadcasters could find themselves in the unenviable and untenable position of seeking out other religious viewpoints – Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist – to counter what ministers of the Gospel say on the air.
“I have had a number of conversations with NRB members who operated under the old ‘Fairness Doctrine’ regime,” he said. “What happens is there is a chilling of free speech because the license-holder tends to take off the air the programmer whose content is deemed to be controversial.
This weekend’s meeting will offer up ideas about fighting back the prospects of government-controlled speech on the airwaves.
“I don’t want to tip our hands on strategy except to say that if the approach taken by the administration is an FCC approach, we believe we can bring enough pressure to bear on the commission at the point of enactment to bring enough heat to get them to see the light, so to speak,” he said. “I don’t think we can stop it in the House or Senate.”
Just last week another Democratic U.S. senator went on record as supporting the reinstatement of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” adding, “I feel like that’s gonna happen.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told radio host and WND columnist Bill Press \ when asked about whether it was time to bring back the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”: “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.”
Stabenow’s husband, Tom Athans, was executive vice president of the left-leaning talk radio network Air America. He left the network in 2006, when it filed for bankruptcy, and co-founded the TalkUSA Radio Network.
Asked by Press if she could be counted on to push for hearings in the Senate this year “to bring these (radio station) owners in and hold them accountable,” Stabenow replied: “I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.”
CC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Bush appointee whose term runs through June, however, warned that Democrats may be adopting a stealthier approach to shutting down conservatives on talk radio.
In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington, Multichannel News reports, McDowell suggested there are efforts to implement the controversial policy without using the red-flagged “Fairness Doctrine” label.
“That’s just Marketing 101,” McDowell explained. “If your brand is controversial, make it a new brand.”
Instead, McDowell alleged, Democrats will try to disguise their efforts in the name of localism, diversity or network neutrality.
McDowell further suggested that the FCC may already be gearing up to enforce the “Fairness Doctrine” through community advisory boards that help determine local programming. While radio stations use the boards on a voluntary basis now, McDowell warned if the advisory panels become mandatory, “Would not such a policy be akin to a re-imposition of the Doctrine, albeit under a different name and sales pitch?”
And while Republicans’ prediction of “Fairness Doctrine” legislation remains unfulfilled and highly speculative, a WND investigation has revealed that McDowell and Walden aren’t just fear-mongering, as some have suggested. A think tank headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, mapped out a strategy in 2007 for clamping down on talk radio using language that has since been parroted by both the Obama campaign and the new administration’s White House website.
In June of 2007, Podesta’s Center for American Progress released a report titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” detailing the conservative viewpoint’s dominance on the airwaves and proposing steps for leveling the playing field.
“Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system,” the report reads, “particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.”
The report then demonstrates how radio stations owned locally, or operated by female and minority owners, are statistically more likely to carry liberal political talk shows.
Therefore, the report concludes, the answer to getting equal time for “progressives” lies in mandating “localism” and “diversity” without ever needing to mention the “Fairness Doctrine.”
To accomplish the strategy, the report recommends legislating local and national caps on ownership of commercial radio stations and demanding radio stations regularly prove to the FCC that they are “operating on behalf of the public interest” to maintain their broadcasting license.
And if stations are unwilling to abide by the FCC’s new regulatory standards, the report recommends, they should pay spectrum-use fees directly to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting “with clear mandates to support local news and public affairs programming and to cover controversial and political issues in a fair and balanced manner.”
In this way, the report concludes, between $100 million and $250 million could be raised for public radio, which will be compelled to broadcast via the old standards established by the ”Fairness Doctrine.”
Since the report’s release in 2007, the Obama camp has twice gone on record advocating positions identical to Podesta’s think tank.
Last summer, in denying the presidential candidate’s support of the “Fairness Doctrine,” Obama’s press secretary said, “Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets.”
Further, the White House website lists on its technology agenda page that the president plans to “encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum.”
The president’s position and proposals match the language of his transition co-chair’s think tank report almost word-for-word.