Donna Pandori

Tony Perkins - Christians are being censored by the government

Filed By Donna Pandori | March 02, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media
Tags: Andrews Air Force Base, Family Research Council, National Prayer Breakfast, Tony Perkins

Religious-right fundamentalist groups are holding up a letter sent to Tony Perkins, president Family Research Council, that rescinded an invitation to speak at Andrews Air Force Base National Pray Luncheon as "Christian censorship"; an infringement on first amendment rights to freedom of religion and speech.

According to CBN the The Joint Base Andrews Chaplain's Office released the following statement to CBN News in response:

"The Joint Base Andrews Chaplain's Office sponsors a voluntary annual prayer luncheon, focusing this year on deployed personnel, families and prayer. The Chaplain's Office retracted Mr. Perkins' invitation after his recent public comments made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable. This was a local decision made by the Chaplain's Office who wanted the luncheon to be inclusive for the entire base community. The Chaplain's Office respects and defends Mr. Perkins right to express his opinions, and regrets any inconvenience to him. We thank and respect him for his prior military service."

CBN's way over the top interview with Perkins is after the jump.

Tony Perkins, a 6-year Marine Corp veteran, had this to say in an FRC press release

As one who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms, I am disappointed that I've been denied the opportunity to speak to members of the military, in a non-political way, solely because I exercised my free speech rights in a different forum. It's ironic that this blacklisting should occur because I called for the retention and enforcement of a valid federal statute.

"I've been denied"? Sorry Tony, you are not the victim here. The luncheon was a voluntary annual prayer luncheon, focusing this year on deployed personnel, families (gay, lesbian, straight), and prayer. The luncheon was sponsored by the Andrews AFB chaplains and they rescinded their invitation to you because a) it is their right to do so and b) recent public comments by you have made many who planned to attend the event uncomfortable.

There are many other individuals who would not be invited to military events because of what they say or do in public. Public comments you make regarding gay and lesbian servicemembers are unjust and demonizing. Carrying a bible doesn't give you amnesty.

I am very concerned, however, that this merely foreshadows the serious threat to religious liberty that would result from repeal of the current military eligibility law. Such legislation would not merely open the military to homosexuals. It would result in a zero-tolerance policy toward those who disapprove of homosexual conduct.

Military chaplains would bear the heaviest burden. Would their sermons be censored to prevent them from preaching on biblical passages which describe homosexual conduct as a sin?

"Preaching on biblical passages which describe homosexual conduct as a sin" Honestly Tony, I don't recall any chaplain preaching this when I was in the Air Force.

Would they remain free to counsel soldiers troubled by same-sex attractions about the spiritual and psychological resources available to overcome those attractions? Any chaplain who holds to the millennia-old tradition of Judeo-Christian sexual morality could be denied promotion, or even be forced out of the military altogether.

I understand the untenable situation that this creates for chaplains and the men and women in uniform. I urge Congress, the President, and the top leadership of our military to place the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty ahead of the fashionable political correctness of a special interest group.

What special interest group? Oh, gays and lesbians whom you are able to judge and marginalize in public because you live in America and can exercise your First Amendment rights.

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The problem is, as usual, the obfuscation employed here by Perkins. First, his right to free speech has not been restricted in any way. He is entitled to go into public and say anything he wants. In fact, isn't his doing that what resulted in the revocation of his invocation (I like that)?

Second, I believe he was INVITED to speak at Andrews AFB. I don't believe the he, or even us evil gay activists, are permitted to just walk on to the base and start giving a speech. So this is not about a free speech issue. Military bases are not the public square, and, of course, as someone who's "put on the uniform," Perkins knows this.

As noted above, lots of people aren't invited to speak on military bases because of their views. Would he demand/defend the rights of the klan to speak at a military base (well, I guess that's possible)? Would he demand the right of Gene Robinson to speak there?

As you say, being Christian doesn't give you a free pass, and I'm growing really tired of this whole christians are oppressed meme.

I would not be just a nuffin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain

If Perkins and the fundamentalists make this a big issue, we should eliminate all government supported chaplins in the military. The level of "evangelization" in the armed forces, especially in the Air Force and at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, is felt to be oppressive by many in the military. Public Television has run specials on this matter. Yet the fundamentalists complain about fears of gays "recruiting".

The irony is just rich that Mr. Perkins makes such a complaint when gay servicmembers "who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms" are "denied the opportunity to speak" to family members, close friends, chaplains, doctors, etc. about their sexuality.

Even though this complaint of his is bogus, I enjoy the schadenfreude in saying: "Welcome to our world Mr. Perkins".

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | March 3, 2010 8:55 AM

So true. And many of those

gay servicmembers "who took the oath to defend and protect our freedoms" are "denied the opportunity to speak"

are "lifers" or have been in uniform a lot longer than the 6 years Perkins wore the uniform.

He has confused his right to freely speak with a compulsion for others to listen. He may speak, he may speak loud and long, but his right to speak does not make it in any way incumbent upon others to listen.
This is why organizers have a right to decide who speaks. It is also why we can decide what a teacher has a right to say to a captive audience.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | March 3, 2010 8:50 AM

This is why organizers have a right to decide who speaks.

Precisely. Mr. Perkins doesn't seem to get this point. He's always proclaiming that "gays" are trying to force everyone to accept their "chosen lifestyle" at the same time he's trying to force everyone else to accept his.

diddlygrl | March 3, 2010 4:48 AM

Pot, calling Mr. Kettle.

Sorry but the RWFC loves to throw up these kind of smokescreens to cover their own involvement in the denial of free speech issues. It is all part of the martyrdom syndrome that fundie christianity thrives on. They are the opressed and burdened masses just trying to be free. At least that is how they see themselves.

The Reverend Doctor Theodore W. Hayes | March 3, 2010 6:28 AM

IMHO, Tony Perkins is solid evidence of the truth of the late Laurence Peter's comment: "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car."

Dakotahgeo | March 3, 2010 10:03 AM

And I, as a devout Christian, am tired of being associated with such drivel as Tony Perkins and his ilk! These guys are not Christians... they are the new "american christian taliban," who strive to be the bully pulpiteers of the radical right agenda!
Watch the christian loooove just flowing out of their 'censored' mouths at any given time! Pure unchristian hogwash! Unnnnnnnnnnngh!!!
Dakotahgeo, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain
PS: As a point in fact, military Chaplains give up all rights to be Christian when they enter the military Chaplaincy and MUST toe the military line of DADT!!

Does he have the right to free speech? Yes.

Do they have a right to rescind a private invitation to speak at an event they sponsor? Yes.

Free speech doesn't mean you can get yourself on any program you want. It's a private event.

Censorship = the government taking away your right to say something. He can still say it. Just not a private event that wasn't sponsored by the government.


Angela Brightfeather | March 3, 2010 1:33 PM

Gee, does this mean that I can go to Tony Perkin's church and get up on the alter and start talking about being GLBT to his people and their hate speech if I want to?


Then Tony and his people can go scratch their proverbial butts when they start talking about free speech.