When an audience member in a session about abortion rights asked what to do about a pastor who refuses to participate in politics, Connelly responded that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual” and urged pastors to violate rarely-enforced regulations that prevent churches from being involved in partisan politics in order to keep their tax-exempt status.
Referring to cases where businesses have run afoul of nondiscrimination laws by refusing service to gay and lesbian couples, Connelly said, “Who would have thought that a florist or a baker or a photographer or, for goodness sakes, a wedding chapel would be sued when there were competitors that they could have gone to? They’re coming for the church.”
Listen, voter registration is not political, it’s spiritual. Voting is not political, it’s spiritual. So witness and testimony to the community what you believe in. No wonder we get legislation we don’t agree with, no wonder we get candidates and elected officials we don’t agree with, because our people aren’t engaged.
So if your pastor’s saying, ‘It’s a legal issue, I can’t do this,’ ask them how many churches have lost their tax-exempt status. It’s a finite number: zero. By definition, you’re tax exempt. If there’s no freedom of speech in the pulpit, there’s no freedom of speech, brothers and sisters. And if we can’t say the truth from the pulpit, guess what, we can’t say the truth anywhere.
Who would have thought that a florist or a baker or a photographer or, for goodness sakes, a wedding chapel would be sued when there were competitors that they could have gone to. They’re coming for the church.
He ended by asking the audience to “please help us pressure your pastors” to get involved in elections, but adding that “it’s not a party or political issue.”
Later in the same discussion, far-right pastor Rick Scarborough warned that “every pastor is going to be directly assaulted” by the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on marriage equality, claiming that a pro-equality ruling would force churches to “participate in same-sex marriage” or face fines or imprisonment.
In a speech to this weekend’s Awakening conference in Florida, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver declared that a ruling in favor of marriage equality from the Supreme Court would deserve “no more respect than Dred Scott or Buck v. Bell,” court rulings that, respectively, denied citizenship to African Americans and allowed mandatory state sterilization of mentally disabled people.
“I say this: If the Supreme Court can’t get it right, or any judge get it right, on the fundamental, observable, natural created order of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, they can’t get it right on anything, that’s their own opinion, and it deserves no more respect than Dred Scott or Buck v. Bell,” he declared.
He warned the audience that a “clash is coming” between religious liberty and LGBT rights that is “unprecedented in American history.”
“Tax exemption, income tax exemption, property tax exemption, everything is going to be impacted,” he said. “You cannot navigate around this. This is a collision of two trains coming in opposite directions on the same track. We are on the precipice of a collision of unprecedented magnitude.”
Earlier this month, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who’s a leading anti-immigration strategist in the GOP, took a call on his radio program from someone who speculated that President Obama might end criminal prosecutions of African Americans “regardless of the crime.” Rather than simply disagree with the caller’s theory, Kobach responded by claiming that while such a scenario was “unlikely,” it wasn’t “a huge jump” since “it’s already happened more or less in the case of civil rights laws.” “Never say never,” he explained.
The Republican official at first defended his remarks, claiming that “the Obama administration has already done what the caller suggests in the context of voting civil rights statutes.” He cited a right-wing myth about the Justice Department’s handling of a New Black Panthers Party case to substantiate his claim.
“The left wing went crazy,” Kobach said of the hubbub surrounding his comments. “And why did they go crazy? Because they wanted me to call the caller to my show, they wanted me to call him an idiot, they wanted me to call him crazy, call him outrageous, say that he was a numbskull for even suggesting such a thing. And those of you who are regular listeners to the Kris Kobach show know that I am courteous to my callers, even those I disagree with, and I don’t call them names and I don’t denounce them, I will tell them I disagree with them — which I did – but I will not be rude to them.”
“Now here’s the sickness,” he continued, “and here is where so many on the left have forgotten history and they are now doomed to repeat it. Indeed they are repeating it. This is dangerously close to what happened in the Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1971.”
In struggle sessions, he said, “you had to denounce the person who had unacceptable views. And if you didn’t denounce, then you too were unacceptable. That was the evil of the Cultural Revolution, where you had to denounce people who had unacceptable views.”
“What has the left been saying this past week? They’ve been saying that Kris Kobach is bad and is wrong and he’s horrible because he hasn’t denounced a caller to his show,” he said. “He hasn’t humiliated the caller to his show, and therefore Kobach must share the same views and he has to denounce. This is so closely akin to what the Chinese communists demanded during the Cultural Revolution. It’s scary. And I would wager that most of the left-wing nutjobs who criticized me this past week haven’t even heard of the Cultural Revolution.”
Kobach seems to have missed the fact that it was his own comments, not his failure to publicly humiliate the caller to his show, that drew so much criticism.
End Times radio host Rick Wiles warned his listeners last week that they have a year to “get out” and “flee America” before Obama destroys the country.
Saying that he also predicted that “Obama would destroy” Syria, Wiles warned that the president is “a man of destruction, darkness and evil” and will “destroy this nation too.”
“There may be a year remaining in which you can get out and save your family,” he said. “I’m convinced the Luciferian Illuminatus that control this country will dismantle it over the next two years and the Phoenix will ascend to replace the old constitutional republic.”
I prophetically told the Syrian Christians over this radio program in 2011 to flee the country. I repeatedly warned them via this radio program to get out of the country because Obama would destroy it and eventually Damascus would be leveled to the ground according to Bible prophecy. And if you would listen to those 2011 programs, you would hear me say that I was certain the Holy Spirit was speaking to the Christians in Syria to flee while they could still do it.
I’m going to say this to American Christians: Your time to flee America, which is now Babylon, is quickly disappearing. Obama will destroy this nation too. He is a man of destruction, darkness and evil. There may be a year remaining in which you can get out and save your family. I’m convinced the Luciferian Illuminatus that control this country will dismantle it over the next two years and the Phoenix will ascend to replace the old constitutional republic.
Wiles told listeners that Americans are now “taunting God” to strike the country with a “horrific calamity.” He noted that before the 2012 election he foresaw “a black ubiquitous membrane” descending on America to “suffocate the people,” and lo and behold the night that President Obama was reelected he “saw in my spirit a wicked, evil, dark vapor spreading across America.”
I no longer think the American people will repent and turn to God before a horrific calamity strikes the nation. In fact, I now believe they are taunting God, daring Him to do something.
In 2010, the Holy Spirit told me that a black ubiquitous membrane would descend over America and suffocate the people, freedom would be taken away. Tuesday night of November 6, 2012, was creepy. When it was announced on television that Barack Obama had been reelected, I saw in my spirit a wicked, evil, dark vapor spreading across America. I got on my knees and I asked God how and why Obama was reelected and his reply came immediately: ‘The tares now outnumber the wheat.’ It’s just that simple. It’s math. The scales have tipped in favor of wickedness. American now has more people who reject God and his commandments and his ways than who love him and obey him.
Later in the program, Wiles spoke with Tennessee evangelist Perry Stone , who lamented that people like him and Wiles who “are speaking the truth are not received by the general public.”
Stone told Wiles, for instance, that he thought at first that the September 11, 2001, attacks were “really going to help the country” by driving people to repentance, but “we never repented.”
“If we don’t repent, which leads to the enemies coming in your nation — according to Deuteronomy, one of the curses of a nation that disobeys God is I will appoint unto you terrorists,” he said.
Easily the biggest round of applause at this weekend’s The Awakening conference in Orlando came when evangelist Franklin Graham walked on stage. Although the Religious Right event took place at a seemingly generationally and racially diverse megachurch, the attendees were largely older and white, and Graham — the son of evangelist royalty Billy Graham — represented a link to an era of a powerful, politically connected evangelical leaders.
Graham captured the spirit of the crowd when he railed against pastors and churches for giving up on condemning homosexuality and abortion for fear of offending congregants, telling the audience of activists that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you if you speak up and you tell the truth” about those issues.
“Let me tell you something. A lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality. You know why? I’ll tell you why. Because they are afraid that there may be some man or woman in the congregation whose son or daughter is gay,” he said, lamenting that some pastors are tempted to “just shut up” about homosexuality.
“Don’t shut up, guys,” he said to wild applause. “You don’t shut up. If the people that are coming after you, ‘yak, yak, yak,’ and they want to run you out of church, then let them run you out of church. Go to another church, let them have that church. I’ll tell you what, God will bless you and he’ll honor you if you speak up and you tell the truth.”
He added that it was “the same with abortion”: "Don’t shut up. It’s a sin against God, okay? It’s murder.”
“Young people in the church today don’t know that homosexuality is wrong because pastors aren’t speaking up, but they go to school and teachers in the school tell them that it’s okay, that it’s all right, God made them that way, that’s the way they are and it’s a choice,” he warned.
Graham declared that there is a “spiritual battle” to be fought in government as well as the church.
“There’s a battle to fight,” he said. “And the battle, listen, it’s not against flesh and blood, all right? This is a spiritual battle. We’re fighting Satan and his demons and let me tell you something, they have got their way into government, they have got their way into every level of our government.”
After defeating communism, Graham said, “we just began to relax” as “secularism began to make its way into our government, into our churches.”
“There is no difference” between secularism and communism, he added, because “they’re both godless.”
He declared that Christians must run for office at every level of government in order to take back the country from this “godless system.”
Rafael Cruz, the father and frequent campaign surrogate of Sen. Ted Cruz, made a stop at this weekend’s The Awakening conference in Florida to deliver a David Barton-infused American history lesson to a room full of Religious Right activists.
Echoing a theme brought up by many of the conference’s speakers, Cruz told the audience that America was inviting God’s judgment and it was up to them as conservative Christians to become politically active and bring the country back.
“Let me tell you, judgment begins in the house of God,” he said. “But also, the restoration of America begins in the house of God.”
“Let me tell you what I am hearing from the Lord,” Cruz declared. “We are going to see in America a dual revival, a parallel revival. We are going to see a spiritual revival in tandem with a political revival, both together to restore America to the greatness that our forefathers gave it.”
He added his version of America’s founding — which he has laid out a number of times before — that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution “were written by revelation from God” and are therefore divine mandates to “elect righteous leaders.”
“If the righteous are not running for office, if the righteous are not even voting, what is left?” he asked. “The wicked electing the wicked. And we get what we deserve.”
Nobody summed it up quite as well as Ken Graves, a pastor from Bangor, Maine, who declared to the audience sitting in a megachurch in Orlando that they were in a fight against “militant homofascism” that “seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and secular humanists who, in conjunction with militant Islam, want to “destroy everything we have” and establish a “secular humanist caliphate.”
Evoking Seven Mountains dominionism, the doctrine that seeks to deliver control of the “seven mountains” of society to conservative Christians, Graves declared that it is the secular humanists who now “have every major institution.”
He then pulled a Bible out of his pocket and bellowed to the crowd: “Why should we be intimidated if what has been placed in our hands is the very word of God?”
In a speech Saturday to the far-right Awakening conference organized by Liberty Counsel, Rick Santorum told the audience of pastors and activists that it was up to them to save America by, in part, getting Bibles back in public schools.
“We are on a crossroads in American history, a crossroads that looks like we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from,” Santorum warned, adding that the nation needs to return to God.
“The left cannot be successful in a country of God-given rights,” he said. “It can’t. Because they want to be the purveyor of rights, and if God is the purveyor of rights, then they lose. We have an obligation to educate, to form, within our churches to preach, within our families to educate, and to fight within our schools. Why are Bibles no longer in public schools? Don’t give me the Supreme Court. The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let them take them out of the public schools.”
He added a variation on President Obama’s campaign chant: “You say, ‘Well we can’t get them back in.’ Yes we can. Yes we can!”
In the talk, Hibbs warned evangelical Christians against seeking interfaith understanding with Muslims, saying, “Islam is today is being embraced by so-called evangelical churches announcing that we worship the same god and they’re our brothers. Listen: That is not only false, it is a demonic doctrine being propagated by heretics.”
He went on to explain that Satan is using Islam as a "vehicle" in the Last Days before the return of Christ, and that Allah is simply the ancient “moon god” Baal, which is why Islam is represented by a crescent moon.
“Now look, you may hold that view today simply because maybe you’re not a heretic, but you might be ignorant that this is a war against an ancient doctrine, an ancient god with a little ‘g,’ and ancient system that used to go around by the name of Baal,” he said. “It is the moon god of the ancient Babylonian empire. Babylon had 360 gods. The chief god was the moon god. Don’t you think it’s interesting that all around the world, mosques have a moon symbol, a crescent on top of their buildings?”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, after teaming up with Christian nationalist extremists to host his “The Response” prayer rally in Baton Rouge earlier this year, is now continuing his project of endearing himself to the far fringes of the Religious Right by addressing an annual conference hosted by Liberty Counsel this weekend.
Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” event will bring Jindal, along with fellow likely GOP presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, together with some of the most unapologetically extreme Religious Right leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz’s dad Rafael.
With speakers from John Eidsmoe, a founding father of the Religious Right’s current Christian nationalist thought, to Kamal Saleem, the phony ex-terrorist and prolific anti-Obama conspiracy theorist, the candidates are sure to be treated to an exciting array of far-right ideas.
The Awakening is organized by Liberty Counsel, a legal arm of Liberty University founded and chaired by Mat Staver. Staver is particularly invested in anti-LGBT activism both in the U.S. and abroad, where he has spoken out in favor of laws criminalizinghomosexuality. Here at home, he has warned that marriage equality will help bring about God’s destruction of America and will be “the beginning of the end of Western Civilization.”
Staver’s extremism is not limited to LGBT rights. For instance, at the 2010 Awakening conference, Staver agreed with an audience member who asked if the Affordable Care Act created a private army of Brownshirts for President Obama.
Kamal Saleem claims to be an ex-terrorist who worked for a number of Islamist groups before coming to America to build sleeper cells and ultimately converting to Christianity. The fact that Saleem’sstory doesn’t add up — and that he’s suspiciously reluctant to talk about the details — hasn’t stopped him from being a popular speaker on the Religious Right conference circuit, where he impresses audiences with his insider knowledge that President Obama is a secret Muslim out to destroy America.
In 2012, he told The Awakening that when President Obama appeared to be pledging allegiance to the flag, he was actually taking part in an Islamic prayer. The same year, he warned the Values Voter Summit that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be shutting down churches in America within the year:
Eidsmoe has specifically warned that gay rights will bring about divine judgment on the U.S. and wrote a whole book, “Gays & Guns,” arguing against allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, warning that they might molest children.
Eidsmoe, who has gotten in trouble in the past for speaking to white supremacist groups, is currently the “senior counsel and resident scholar” at the Foundation for Moral Law, the Christian nationalist group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a longtime ally.
Rick Scarborough, a Baptist pastor and the head of the Religious Right group Vision America, is one of the most extreme voices in the anti-LGBT movement. Although he insists that he is neither a Democrat or Republican, but a “Christ-ocrat,” he frequently allies with likeminded Republican politicians including Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee to get his followers to the polls.
Scarborough has also dabbled in anti-immigrant nativism, warning that “more non-white families” in the U.S. would lead to fewer Christians and that “if this country becomes 30 percent Hispanic we will no longer be America.”
Graham’s opinion of the Obama administration was only reinforced when he was disinvited from speaking at an event at the Pentagon because of hishistory of anti-Muslim rhetoric. He has since claimed that the White House has been “infiltrated by Muslims” and is being run by Muslims who “hate Israel and hate Christians.” Just this week, he speculated that Obama’s mother “must have been a Muslim,” which he said explains why the president supposedly won’t fight ISIS.
Barber is fond of comparing his opponents to Nazis, calling supporters of reproductive rights “modern day Nazis” and LGBT rights advocates “Rainbowshirts” who have “broken out the long knives” to go after Christians. At the same time, he has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he’d like to see a ban on “gay propaganda” in the U.S., and defending Uganda’s harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.