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Religious right misleads its followers in massive email blitz about weekend peace march

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What a surprise. Two of the largest and angriest groups of the religious right, the American Family Association (known for its failed boycotts of American companies that support civil rights) and the Family Research Council (known for its obsessive homophobia), were caught misleading their followers this week in an effort to denigrate the United States Capitol Police, the folks risking their lives to protect our members of Congress.

In separate emails, the AFA and FRC defamed the United States Capitol police by claiming that they knowingly permitted a small handful of individuals to deface the US Capitol during this weekend's anti-Iraq-war protest. AFA and FRC even urged their followers to contact Speaker Pelosi's office to complain about the apparently deficient police officers defending our nation's capitol. (One group even suggested that perhaps Pelosi herself had ordered the police to allow the graffiti!)

Only problem? The AFA and the FRC got the story totally, 100%, wrong. The two far-right groups siced their alleged millions of members (that's what AFA claims, though we don't buy it) on the Capitol Police, berating them for not doing their job. That's why the Capitol Police were now forced to respond and set the record straight.

First off, before we hear from the Capitol Police, let's see what AFA and FRC alleged (untruths in bold).

From an AFA email sent today:

War protesters allowed to spray paint the U.S. Capitol

Capitol Chief of Police tell officers not to arrest anyone

Dear xxxxx,

During last Saturday's Washington rally protesting the war in Iraq, hundreds of anti-war protesters were allowed to desecrate government property by spray painting the Capitol with anarchist symbols. I did not see or hear any report of this in any of the mainline media outlets!

Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse ordered his officers to fall back and allow the protesters to exercise what he called "their First Amendment rights" to spray paint the Capitol steps with graffiti. Defending his actions, Morse said, "The graffiti was easily removed by the staff. It is our duty and responsibility to protect the Capitol complex, while allowing the public to exercise their freedom of speech." He even ordered his officers not to arrest anyone!

The war protesters were given access and leniency to deface government property. According to Family Research Council, public employees had to come in on their day off, at taxpayers' expense, to clean up the mess the protesters left behind.
And here is what the Family Research Council told its followers:
...the anti-Bush protestors were given unprecedented access to the U.S. Capitol grounds, and some of them used that access to publicly deface taxpayer's property. According to the local newspaper, The Hill, the protesters were allowed to take the Capitol steps and they began to spray-paint "anarchist symbols" and phrases such as "Our capitol building" and "You can't stop us" around the area.

For any other group, such acts would mean immediate arrest. This time, the Capitol police's hands were tied because they were ordered to stand down by their Chief of Police, who answers to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)....

According to the news reports the rank and file police officers were "livid" that they were ordered not to arrest anyone. Since the Capitol police answer to Speaker Pelosi, the question arises, did the Chief of Police give the "no arrest" order or did it come from someone else? Whoever is responsible for the order needs to explain why the physical destruction of taxpayer property is acceptable.
Too bad that most of what they wrote their followers isn't true per the Capitol Police themselves. Let's walk our way through the charges, and then see what the Capitol Police chief had to say:

1. ALLEGATION: The Capitol Police "allowed" the protesters to spray paint the US Capitol - the police saw the protesters defacing the property and did nothing about it because the chief of police ordered his fellow officers to let the evil protesters do whatever they wanted.

TRUTH: The Police had no idea that a small group was defacing anything, and had they seen the defacement, there would have been immediate arrests. And I quote the chief of police:
Some members of this group did covertly mark the pavement on the Lower West Terrace during their confrontation with us. Had this been observed, I would have directed arrests to be made. However, the size and continual movement of the crowd provided concealment and made detection of their actions impossible. Once the crowd dispersed, I was appalled and disgusted that any individual, whatever their cause, would deface the grounds of the Capitol. Fortunately, due to the notable efforts of the staff of the Architect of the Capitol, their signs of disrespect were quickly washed away.
2. ALLEGATION: The protesters were permitted to take to the Capitol steps where they painted the steps with graffiti.

TRUTH: From the chief, "We held our lines; no one entered into secure areas; and no one climbed the steps of the Capitol or even got close to any of the doors or windows."

3. ALLEGATION: The anti-Bush protesters were given "unprecedented access to the Capitol grounds."

TRUTH: From the chief, "At the end of the day, the splinter group was only allowed to be in areas that are otherwise open to the public at anytime of the day or night."

And now, the right wing blogs are getting involved, spurred on by the religious right groups, and they're asking their readers to harass the Capitol Police. Imagine that, trying to close down the phone lines of a police department - and not just any police department, but the police department in charge of protecting our members of Congress from the terrorists.

The untruths spread by the likes of the American Family Association and the Family Research Council are now quite literallly endangering the ability of the Capitol Police to do their jobs.

So there you have it. Whether they're simply sloppy with the truth, or outright liars, the religious right has proven again why it simply can't be trusted. It always lets its anger, rather than its heart, guide its action. Not very Christian.

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