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Ellison confronts King on planned Muslim investigations

Photo via Facebook
By Andy Birkey | 12.21.10

Republican Rep. Peter King of New York says he wants to hold investigations into the “radicalization” of American Muslims in his new position as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, but Rep. Keith Ellison said on Monday that targeting one community would hamper homeland security efforts.

Bachmann’s payroll jumped 16 percent in 2009

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By Andy Birkey | 12.20.10

Rep. Michele Bachmann has been outspoken in her assertion that federal employees make double the salary of those in the private sector, but the Associated Press noted on Monday that Bachmann has increased her own payroll 16 percent between 2007 and 2009. She has called for a freeze on federal employee salaries, but the Minnesota Independent took a look at her own office and found that her employees enjoy frequent raises. But despite those increases, Bachmann has the lowest congressional payroll in the Minnesota delegation after freshman Rep. Erik Paulsen.

Anti-gay bullying continues to be a contentious issue in Anoka-Hennepin School District

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By Andy Birkey | 12.16.10

Monday night’s meeting of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board was a contentious one as the issue of bullying and suicide in the district again came up. The state’s largest school district opened an investigation into the suicides of nine students over the past year — some by students who were allegedly bullied for their sexual orientation — and said that it found no evidence that any of the nine were bullied. Students and parents criticized the district for its statement — at times the conversation devolved to shouting — while district officials said there’s not much they can do if students and parents don’t report incidents to the schools.

Reproductive rights groups anticipate tough legislative session

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By Andy Birkey | 12.16.10

Advocates for reproductive rights are concerned that new socially conservative leadership in the Minnesota Legislature could curtail those rights in the upcoming biennium. While Republicans, who’ll control both houses, say that jobs and the economy will come first, there’s little doubt that they’ll also press for restrictions on abortion within the next two years — especially with Sen. Michele Fischbach as President of the Senate. Fischbach’s husband, Scott, is the executive director of Minnesota’s largest anti-abortion group, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.


Generation Joshua aims to boost religious right successes at ballot box

By Andy Birkey | 06.16.10 | 11:56 am
Minnesota Independent file photo

Bachmann was the beneficiary of campaigning by 64 GenJ youth teams in 2008. Photo: Chris Steller

Later this month, Rep. Michele Bachmann is set to headline a political training for conservative Christian homeschoolers called Generation Joshua. “GenJ” trains homeschooled Christian teens to get involved with political campaigns through door-knocking, phone-banking and other activities in order to “help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations.” Bachmann has used these teams to win her own campaigns for Congress.

Founded in 2003, Generation Joshua “is designed for Christian youth between the ages of 11 and 19 who want to become a force in the civic and political arenas.” GenJ sprung out of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), an association that lobbies for conservative Christian home school causes. GenJ Student Action Teams (SAT) are set up in a number of states and often do campaign work for candidates endorsed by the HSLDA.

“Quite frankly with the hymn ‘Soldiers of Christ, Arise’ running through my head, I want to inspire young Christians to fight for what is right,” said Ned Ryun, co-founder of GenJ, at the time of the organization’s founding. “There are many issues facing us today that will impact America for generations, same-sex marriage being a key one.”

Bachmann spoke at the GenJ training, called iGovern, in 2009. This year’s event will also feature Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Government and Public Policy for Focus on the Family; Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA); and Republican Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana.

Bachmann was endorsed by HSLDA in 2006 and benefited from the homeschool teams in that election.

In 2008, Bachmann praised the efforts of the GenJ students who made up 64 young Christian outreach teams working on behalf of her campaign. They made 6,000 calls and knocked on some 60,000 doors in the course of the campaign.

Bachmann isn’t the only politician to benefit from GenJ’s outreach teams. Last fall the group campaigned on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York’s special election. (Bachmann endorsed Hoffman over GOP-endorsed candidate Dede Scozzafava in October.) GenJ says it impacted 17 races in 2008, contacting over 500,000 voters.

Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, credits GenJ with his winning a speaker in California in 2008. “Generation Joshua fielded over 100 volunteers who walked precincts in a driving rain, and made thousands of phone calls throughout the weekend to every targeted voter in the district,” McClintock told Robert Kunzman last week. “I can confidently say that those 2,000 votes were Generation Joshua votes.”

The Minnesota Independent asked GenJ director William Estrada if the group had plans to organize again in Minnesota this year for Bachmann or other candidates. He declined to give specifics on this year’s plans, but replied with a statement: “Many Minnesotan Generation Joshua students have volunteered with the Congresswoman’s campaigns and we are very proud of these students’ successful efforts.”

Organizations that keep tabs on religious right groups say that although GenJ may have an extreme agenda, it’s proof that the democratic system is set up to provide outlet to many views.

“Obviously, they have every right to participate in the electoral process to push their ultra-right wing agenda in the marketplace of ideas; that is the very nature of our democratic system,” said Kyle Mantyla, senior fellow with People For the American Way. “That said, we certainly don’t agree with their agenda, goals, or values.”

Mantyla added that the GenJ movement seems to be picking up important support among religious right heavy hitters. “It is surprising to see them bringing in groups like Focus and CWA — that is proof that they not only have ties to establishment religious right groups but are also taken seriously by the establishment,” he said. “Minnery and Wright are highly influential religious right leaders and their participation in this training can only help to increase the influence of Generation Joshua and its activists within the movement.”

GenJ has produced several videos about the program and their successes.

GenJ video overview of the program:

William Estrada talks about the electoral successes of GenJ:


Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

True colors; the only people of color in the GenJ intro video are dead.

Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

Target kids as young as 11 years old?
Minority rule?

This is a cult indoctrination program aimed at fundamentally altering America to fit their imagined, extreme ideal.

They pick and choose their Founding Fathers with the same prejudice that they pick and choose the liberties they would support or deny.

The Founding Fathers did not sit down and thumb through a bible when designing the Constitution, they looked to things like the Magna Carta and the writings of John Locke for inspiration.

This Judeo-Christian talk is just the hubris of religious zealots, the same disease that infects the Taliban.

Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

I know exactly what to tell them should they show up at my door: GET LOST

I refuse to spend any time dealing with “c”hristians who hate others, have no compassion for others, and are only interested in gaining power for political/personal gain and in service to mankind.

Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

**instead of in service to mankind***

Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 8:40 pm

Well, one thing about being a democrat, you don’t have to worry about being accused of being one of those icky Christian people who believe in God and such.

Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

So, Dennis is okay with ““c”hristians who hate others, have no compassion for others, and are only interested in gaining power for political/personal gain and in service to mankind.”

They make good conservatives, don’t they!!!

Comment posted June 16, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

**instead of in service to themselves***

Comment posted June 17, 2010 @ 8:58 am

Great Article, well researched and well written.

I have worked with this organization in the last couple of years and have been pleasantly surprised that for an organization that takes so much flak for being indocrinating haters…(see above comments)…The students that are part of it are intelligent and do not harbor any bitterness against the people who say such nasty things against them. It is proof that they are being taught the true nature of the democratic process – you are allowed to disagree with people, that doesn’t make them evil.

Comment posted June 17, 2010 @ 10:22 am

@M.Z., it’s okay to disagree, but definitely not okay to abuse the democratic process to put into power self-serving, self-deluded demagogues who would do their utmost to oppress minorities and institute myopic policies that have nothing to do with reality and that actually cause great harm in the long run to everyone including those intelligent kids and their children and grandchildren. Don’t delude yourself that I am resentful or bitter; instead, I am telling you that I am very wary – and with good cause.

Comment posted June 17, 2010 @ 11:41 am

Woohoo. GenJ in the news. It’s always exciting to see how this organization is portrayed, but my favorite part is always the comments left by readers of the article.

I am one of those kids that got sucked into this cult of ‘Christians’ when I was only 15 years old and I am so happy that I did. Generation Joshua has taught me so much about politics and civics. It got me excited about finally being able to vote and about making my voice heard as I worked to get those with whom I agreed elected. Think what you may, but Generation Joshua is a superb organization.

Comment posted June 17, 2010 @ 11:47 am

This group is a perfect example of why abortion will never be outlawed in America. Without that wedge issue the Christian Right would be forced to actually support feeding the hungry and clothing the naked as Jesus commanded. Instead they get to indoctrinate young people in foolish made up issues like gay marriage, electing certain opportunists and donating time to specific Republican causes.

Comment posted June 17, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

“the Christian Right would be forced to actually support feeding the hungry and clothing the naked as Jesus commanded.”

The “Christian Right” does feed the hungry and cloth the naked as Jesus commanded. They just don’t expect the government to do it, but instead do it themselves, directly. As Jesus wanted. The foodshelves in this town are manned by neither liberals nor government bureaucrats.

Thomas Butler
Comment posted June 18, 2010 @ 9:56 am

Dennis –

I don’t think you know very much about who operates or mans the food shelves “in this town” – whichever town this may be.

Comment posted June 18, 2010 @ 11:40 am

Instead of focusing on the Christian right, let’s focus the Christian God. Christians are as imperfect as those who are not Christians. But God never fails.

Comment posted June 18, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

GenJ is the hope of the future. Without them, tyranny will soon take over and run the US into the ground.

Comment posted June 19, 2010 @ 8:57 am

The Christian Right is a dark shadow over a bright future. If they get their way, tyranny will soon take over and run the USA into the ground.

Comment posted June 19, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

@Tim and @Dave:

You mean we get Tyranny either way? Crap!

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