Read it before they’re finally embarrassed enough to remove it from their blog. The right-wing group Liberty Institute today apparently decided that civility is beneath them. In a sneering and insulting Internet post, the group attacked faith leaders who today called on the State Board of Education to respect religious freedom and tolerance, referring to them as simply “a handful of ‘Keep Austin Weird’ pastors.”
The Texas affiliate of the national group Focus on the Family launched its verbal assault after members of the Texas Faith Network spoke at a press conference this morning. Clergy at the press conference condemned a proposed resolution before the state board that attacks Islam and falsely claims that social studies textbooks that the Republican-dominated board itself has approved for use in public schools are suddenly anti-Christian.
Bizarrely accusing clergy speakers of somehow violating the separation of church and state by calling on elected leaders to practice religious tolerance and respect religious freedom for all, the Liberty Institute couldn’t hide its contempt:
“Once again, the double standard plagues the liberal left, particularly this same group of a handful of “Keep Austin Weird” pastors.”
“‘Keep Austin Weird’ pastors”? Clergy at the press conference came from a number of longtime, mainstream Austin congregations, including University Baptist Church, University Methodist Church and Congregation Agudas Achim. In addition, one of the speakers is superintendent of the Austin District of the United Methodist Church. But Liberty Institute apparently believes any clergy members who oppose its intolerant agenda are weird, wild-eyed hippies.
Liberty Institute wasn’t satisfied with smearing clergy members for defending religious liberty and opposing anti-Muslim bigotry either. The notoriously anti-gay group also attacked University Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches of the USA, for its supposedly “agressive [sic] support of homosexuality”:
“UBC has time and again been expelled from various Baptists organizations for its homosexual views that are nowhere near mainstream, and even more rejected in the Christian community itself.”
The Christian community is hardly uniform in its views on homosexuality. Many congregations of various Christian denominations long ago began welcoming gay men and lesbians and treating them with dignity and respect. For the zealots at Liberty Institute, apparently, such congregations have no place in the Christian community. And neither, apparently, do opponents of those who promote fear and prejudice of people of other faiths.
The Liberty Institute owes pastors at today’s press conference an apology. But don’t hold your breath waiting for one.