Fred Clark at Slacktivist and Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism have reminded us of that curious and tasteless “Letter” Focus on the Family sent out during the 2008 elections warning us of the grave dangers we might face if Obama was elected president. The fictional letter from a Christian writing in October of 2012 describes how terrible everything is because of the ultra-liberal Obama. It lists 34 ways Obama has ruined America, everything from the abolishing of decency laws to the banning of guns. Clark concludes that Focus on the Family accurately predicted 0.5/34 of these events.
Clark highly praises Libby Anne’s post because it is “impressively thorough and methodical” in the way it goes through each of the 34 items. The problem is Libby Anne’s post is not thorough or methodical, except in its derision and mockery. By my count, she covers only 18 of the 34 points, and some of the ones she leaves out are contentious. For example, she skips over #12, which predicts that churches will no longer be able to meet in public schools. Of course, over the last year there have been a few court cases dealing with this very issue in New York where a number of churches were going to be evicted, so is it really fair to dismiss this fear as nonsense?
There are other problems with these criticisms of the letter. When Libby Anne dismisses the issues Focus on the Family raises, she fails to provide supporting citations, as if her claims were obviously correct and needed no support. And although Clark describes Focus on the Family’s letter as a “prediction” and a “prophecy,” they very clearly denied this in the opening of the letter:
This letter is not “predicting” that all of the imaginative future “events” named in this letter will happen. But it is saying that each one of these changes could happen and also that each change would be the natural outcome of (a) published legal opinions by liberal judges, (b) trends seen in states with liberal-dominated courts such as California and Massachusetts, (c) recent promises, practices and legislative initiatives of the current liberal leadership of the Democratic Party and (d) Senator Obama’s actions, voting record and public promises to the far-Left groups that won the nomination for him.
In addition, neither blogger mentions the fact that Focus on the Family isn’t making these issues up — each fear is based on some historical precedent which they carefully cite.
That said, Clark and Anne are right to draw our attention to this document and to encourage us to compare it to how events actually unfolded during Obama’s presidency. The list says a lot about how evangelicals engage in politics and what they fear. They are also right that, for the most part, this “letter” reveals Focus on the Family’s political rhetoric to be alarmist and harmful. And I think an actually thorough, methodical, and nuanced look at each of these 34 fears would help us during our current election season in the following ways:
- It would give us a better perspective on Obama’s presidency.
- It would help us to think through what his next four years might be like.
- It would help us to be self-critical about the ways evangelicals use fear to political ends.
I suspect we’ll find that (1) Obama’s presidency turned out to be a lot more conservative in certain areas than we anticipated, (2) his reelection could reasonably result in the fulfillment of a number of these less-radical fears, and (3) evangelicals have shifted their priorities from the homosexual and pro-choice agendas to “Creeping Shariah” and Islam.
What I would like to do is to compile a thorough and methodical analysis of this document by crowdsourcing. I know some of our readers are very knowledgeable about the Supreme Court, religious liberties, Obama’s records, taxes, and so on, and so I suspect that we could quickly and easily create a well-sourced and informative analysis of how Obama’s term compared to Focus on the Family’s “prediction.”
Bellow is the list of 34 fearful “predictions.” If you know how Obama did on a particular item and can back up your knowledge with a reliable source, please leave a comment with the item number and your analysis. As long as your response is reasonable and well supported, I’ll add it to the post. Ideally, we should end up with a very informative overview of Obama’s presidency.
The following is a condensed version of the list. Before you fact-check, please read the PDF and look up the full prediction for your item. Several of these points appear to be innocuous in their abbreviated form, but in the letter you can see that they are tied to much more outlandish claims. For example, #20, restricting home schooling doesn’t necessarily sound awful, but in the letter you see that the state mandates that the parents must be certified by the state, must use state-mandated textbooks, and they cannot teach that homosexuality is immoral.
(1) Boy Scouts: “The land of the free”? The Boy Scouts no longer exist as an organization. They chose to disband rather than be forced to obey the Supreme Court decision that they would have to hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys.
(2) Elementary schools: “The land of the free”? Elementary schools now include compulsory training in varieties of gender identity in Grade 1, including the goodness of homosexuality as one possible personal choice. Many parents tried to “opt out” their children from such sessions, but the courts have ruled they cannot do this, noting that education experts in the government have decided that such training is essential to children’s psychological health.
(3) Adoption agencies: “The land of the free”? There are no more Roman Catholic or evangelical Protestant adoption agencies in the United States. Following earlier rulings in New York and Massachusetts, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that these agencies had to agree to place children with homosexual couples or lose their licenses.
(4) Businesses with government contracts: “The land of the free”? All businesses that have government contracts at the national, state or local level now have to provide documentation of equal benefits for same-sex couples.
(5) Public broadcasting: “The land of the free”? The Bible can no longer be freely preached over radio or television stations when the subject matter includes such “offensive” doctrines as criticizing homosexual behavior.
(6) Doctors and lawyers: “The land of the free”? Physicians who refuse to provide artificial insemination for lesbian couples now face significant fines or loss of their license to practice medicine.
(7) Counselors and social workers: “The land of the free”? All other professionals who are licensed by individual states are also prohibited from discriminating against homosexuals.
(8) Homosexual weddings: “The land of the free”? Church buildings are now considered a “public accommodation” by the Supreme Court, and churches have no freedom to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples.
(9) Homosexual church staff members: “The land of the free”? While churches are still free to turn down homosexual applicants for the job of senior pastor, churches and parachurch organizations are no longer free to reject homosexual applicants for staff positions such as parttime youth pastor or director of counseling.
(10) Homosexuals in the military: One change regarding the status of homosexuals did not wait for any Supreme Court decision. In the first week after his inauguration, President Obama invited homosexual rights leaders from around the United States to join him at the White House as he signed an executive order directing all branches of the military to abandon their “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and to start actively recruiting homosexuals.(11) High schools: “The land of the free”? High schools are no longer free to allow “See You at the Pole” meetings where students pray together, or any student Bible studies even before or after school.
(12) Church use of school property: “The land of the free”? Tens of thousands of young churches suddenly had no place to meet when the Supreme Court ruled that public schools in all 50 states had to stop allowing churches to rent their facilities — even on Sundays, when school was not in session.
(13) Campus ministries: “The land of the free”? Campus organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity, Navigators, Baptist Campus Ministry, and Reformed University Fellowship have shrunk to skeleton organizations, and in many states they have ceased to exist.
(14) Pledge of Allegiance: “The land of the free”? Public school teachers are no longer free to lead students in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States. The 9th Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals heard a new challenge to the phrase “under God” in the Pledge, and, as it had in 2002 in Newdow v. United States Congress, Elk Grove Unified School District, et al., it held the wording to be unconstitutional. Now the Supreme Court has upheld this decision.
(15) Freedom of Choice Act: Congress lost no time in solidifying abortion rights under President Obama. In fact, Obama had promised, “The first thing I’ll do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act” (July 17, 2007, speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund).
(16) Nurses and abortions: “The land of the free”? Nurses are no longer free to refuse to participate in abortions for reasons of conscience.
(17) Doctors and abortions: “The land of the free”? The same restrictions apply to doctors: Doctors who refuse to perform abortions can no longer be licensed to deliver babies at hospitals in any state.
(18) Pornography: “The land of the free”? It’s almost impossible to keep children from seeing pornography. The Supreme Court in 2011 nullified all Federal Communications Commission restrictions on obscene speech or visual content in radio and television broadcasts.
(19) Guns: “The land of the free”? It is illegal for private citizens to own guns for selfdefense in eight states, and the number is growing with increasing Democratic control of state legislatures and governorships.
(20) Home schooling: “The land of the free”? Parents’ freedom to teach their children at home has been severely restricted.
(21) Iraq: “The home of the brave”? President Obama fulfilled his campaign promise and began regular withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, completing it in the promised 16 months, by April, 2010.
(22) Terrorist attacks: “The home of the brave”? President Obama directed U.S. intelligence services to cease all wiretapping of alleged terrorist phone calls unless they first obtained a warrant for each case. Terrorists captured overseas, instead of being tried in military tribunals, are given full trials in the U.S. court system, and they have to be allowed access to a number of government secrets to prepare their defense.
(23) Russia: “The home of the brave”? As Vice President Joe Biden had predicted on Oct. 20, 2008, some hostile foreign countries “tested” President Obama in his first few months in office. The first test came from Russia. In early 2009, they followed the pattern they had begun in Georgia in 2008 and sent troops to occupy and re-take several Eastern European countries, starting with the Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
(24) Latin America: President Obama has also moved to deepen U.S. ties and U.S. trade with communist regimes in Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, regimes that had long enjoyed the favor of far-Left factions in the Democratic Party.
(25) Israel: “The home of the brave”? In mid-2010, Iran launched a nuclear bomb that exploded in the middle of Tel Aviv, destroying much of that city. They then demanded that Israel cede huge amounts of territory to the Palestinians, and after an anguished all-night Cabinet meeting, Israel’s prime minister agreed. Israel is reduced to a much smaller country, hardly able to defend itself, and its future remains uncertain. President Obama said he abhorred what Iran had done and he hoped the U.N. would unanimously condemn this crime against humanity. He also declared that the U.S. would be part of any international peacekeeping force if authorized by the U.N., but the Muslim nations in the U.N. have so far prevented any action.
(26) Health care systems: The new Congress under President Obama passed a nationalized “single provider” health care system, in which the U.S. government is the provider of all health care in the United States.
(27) Limited care for older Americans: “The land of the free”? Because medical resources must be rationed carefully by the government, people older than 80 have essentially no access to hospitals or surgical procedures. Their “duty” is increasingly thought to be to go home to die, so they don’t drain scarce resources from the medical system. Euthanasia is becoming more and more common.
(28) Taxes: Tax rates have gone up on personal income, dividends, capital gains, corporations, and inheritance transfers.
(29) Budget deficit: The federal budget deficit has increased dramatically under President Obama, in spite of higher tax rates.
(30) Union organizing: “The land of the free”? In 2009, Congress passed and President Obama quickly signed a “card check” program that nullified the requirement for secret ballots when voting on whether workers wanted a union shop.
(31) Energy: World demand for oil continues to climb, and prices keep going up, but President Obama for four years has refused to allow additional drilling for oil in the United States or offshore. Gas costs more than $7 per gallon, and many Democrats openly applaud this, since high prices reduce oil consumption and thus reduce carbon dioxide output. But working Americans are hit hard by these costs.
(32) Fairness Doctrine: “The land of the free”? By the summer of 2009, the five-member FCC was controlled by Democratic appointees – including a chairman appointed by President Obama. The “Fairness Doctrine” became a topic of FCC consideration following pressure from Democratic congressional leaders who initially did not have sufficient votes to pass the measure. The FCC quickly implemented the “Fairness Doctrine,” which requires that radio stations provide “equal time” for alternative views on political or policy issues. As a result, all radio stations have to provide equal time to contrasting views for every political or policy-related program they broadcast by talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Dennis Prager, Janet Parshall, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt, and broadcasters like Dr. James Dobson. Every conservative talk show is followed by an instant rebuttal to the program by a liberal “watchdog” group. Many listeners gave up in frustration, advertising (and donation) revenues dropped dramatically, and nearly all conservative stations have gone out of business or switched to alternative formats such as country or gospel or other music. Conservative talk radio, for all intents and purposes, was shut down by the end of 2010.
(33) Christian books: After the Supreme Court legalized same “sex marriage,” homosexual-activist groups targeted three large Christian book publishers that had publications arguing that homosexual conduct was wrong based on the teachings of the Bible.
(34) Criminal charges against Republican officials: In his first week in office, Obama followed President Clinton’s precedent and fired all 93 U.S. attorneys, replacing them with his own appointments, including the most active members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). President Obama argued this was not a selective political action like what President Bush had done, because Obama had fired all of them, conservatives and liberals alike. The Justice Department soon began to file criminal and civil charges against nearly every Bush administration official who had any involvement with the Iraq war.