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ERLC’s Richard Land deserves ‘Lie of the Year’ recognition

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land is closely identified with the lie that President Barack Obama’s plan to overhaul the American health insurance system is a government takeover of health care that he deserves dishonorable mention.

A well-constructed Google search finds more than 9,000 ties between Land and that argument.

His most extravagant stunt in service of that lie was an alleged 1.3-million signature petition by the National Center for Policy Analysis/Salem Radio Network (for which he is a show host). At the time, he said:

This petition is indicative of a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest against a government takeover of the American health care system.

More extravagantly, on March 11, 2010, Land argued in an open letter:

… President Obama and the liberal congressional leadership are trying to ram through a takeover of nearly one-sixth of the U.S. economy with a new strategy.

Yet the St. Petersburg Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact service concludes in naming the 2010 Lie of the Year:

Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year’s most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)

By selecting “government takeover’ as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover” has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’ “

They document the fallacy of the claim point by point, and its origin in a Republican strategy memo, here.

The SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s full-throated voice of a falsehood is not a new. In 2009, Land was likewise owed honorable mention (below Sarah Palin} for the PolitiFact Lie of the Year award trophy for elevating fictitious “death panels” to a topic of frenzied national debate.

Indeed, Land promoted both the falsehood that health reform involves eugenics programs, like those instituted in Nazi Germany, and the “death panels” myth which is part of those partly retracted claims.

Like Fox News, ERLC so often fosters misinformation that relying upon them has meant being misled on matters of historic significance.

Addendum:

Bold Faith Type offers a few other examples of Religious Right promotion of the falsehood:

  • The Family Research Council held a webcast called “Government Takeover of Healthcare: Counting the Cost.”
  • The Susan B. Anthony List took out radio ads alleging that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) “cast the deciding vote to allow the government takeover of health care.”
  • FRCAction PAC ran campaign ads accusing numerous Democrats of supporting “big government” that is “taking over our health care.”

December 17, 2010 Posted by | Churches, Religion, SBC | , , , | 6 Comments

   

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