In the last couple of years, during his ongoing crusade (or is it jihad) against The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Jesus' special BFF, Todd Starnes, made several claims about the organization which, according to the legal letters sent to Fox News, were "outright false statements portrayed as fact" and "inflammatory." While we don't know if the inaccuracies, promoted by Starnes, were the result of sloppy research or, as claimed by Mikey Weinstein's attorneys, a deliberate attempt to malign Weinstein and his group, it is apparent that Starnes continues to make factual errors, not all of them involving the MRFF. His most recent "fact," in yet another screed about persecuted Christians, is not accurate. The old adage about being entitled to one's opinions but not one's facts comes to mind! But then again, Starnes works for Fox News!
In 2011, Weinstein's attorneys sent a letter to Fox News in which they detailed how Starnes confused a Texas nativity scene controversy, which involved the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to a situation at Travis AFB which involved the MRFF. In 2012, the same attorneys contacted Fox about one of Starnes headlines which described the MRFF as "an atheist group," a lie still being touted on Fox News. (96% of those represented by the MRFF are Christian.) In addition to the erroneous headline, "Military Halts Use of Trademark on Bible on Bibles As Atheist Group Demands Their Removal," Starnes erroneously linked his reference to the MRFF to the Freedom From Religion Foundation." Under pressure, Starnes, without explanation, did change the headline to "Group Calls Military Bibles a Security Threat" and correct the erroneous link.
In January of this year, Starnes and Steve Doocy promoted the bogus story, reported by Starnes in his column, that the Daughters of the American Revolution are taking out all references to God and Christianity from their official prayer books. The DAR wasn't too pleased about "false and incorrect information." After the release of their detailed statement, Starnes did publish an update to his original story to indicate that the DAR "Denies They Are Censoring Prayers." But by that time, the bogus bullshit had made its way to the usual pitchfork wielding suspects in the far right loonosphere.
Yesterday, Starnes reported that an Arkansas school is canceling its sixth grade graduation because of a "prayer controversy." (What else!?) He wrote that this was done after an out of state organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, threatened to sue the school over student led prayer. Fox Nation has a link to his story.
Fact Check - According to an Arkansas Fox affiliate, the ceremony has been opened and closed with a prayer from a local pastor - ergo, not "student led."
Fact Check - According to the *Freedom From Religion Foundation, they did not threaten to sue.
Guess if you live in a faith based world, you don't need no stinking facts! Praise Jesus?
*Correction - My original post stated that news sources reported that only the ACLU had issued a complaint. While news reports cited only the ACLU and said nothing about the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Starnes' claim, that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is involved in this matter is correct. NewsHounds was informed by FFRF Staff Attorney, Patrick Elliott, that his group sent a letter of complaint on April 13th. A copy of that letter was sent, yesterday, to Starnes. The letter cites court decisions involving unconstitutional school sponsored prayer. The letter also neither states nor implies that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is intending to, as stated in Starnes article, file a lawsuit. It will be interesting to see if Starnes will correct his post after he receives his copy of the FFRF letter.