Peter Montgomery's blog

Brian Brown Mobilizing Support For Anti-Equality Campaign in Mexico

Marriage equality has been spreading across Mexico as activists have engaged in a long-term strategy challenging discrimination in the federal courts and state legislatures. But after President Enrique Peña Nieto announced this summer that he would like to put marriage equality into the country’s constitution, conservative religious leaders have been mobilizing a backlash. Now, U.S. anti-gay activist Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who became president of the anti-LGBT World Congress of Families earlier this year, is headed to Mexico to show his support.

Anti-equality activists at the National Front for the Family organized marches in multiple cities last weekend that were supported by Catholic Church officials. They’re following up with a national anti-equality march scheduled for September 24. Religious conservatives would like to amend the constitution to ban abortion and sex ed as well as marriage by same-sex couples.

In a Wednesday email from the World Congress of Families, Brown writes:

WCF is launching a petition drive to give you and citizens across the globe the opportunity to add your own voice to the National March for the Family in Mexico City. Even though most people can't be there in person, you can lend your name and voice to the effort to uphold marriage, protect children from "gender ideology" and support the right of parents to direct their children's education according to their own values and principles.

I will personally deliver this petition to the leaders of National Front for the Family, including my friend, Rodrigo Ivan Cortes, when I meet with them in Mexico City.

The National March for the Family has the potential of being the largest single demonstration of support for marriage, children and parental rights in history. Beyond its significance in the domestic affairs of Mexico, this march also can help advance the worldwide movement to support marriage, religious liberty and the truth of gender that we were made male and female.

Both Brown and the World Congress of Families have a long track record of promoting anti-gay policies around the world.

Matt Bevin's Bogus 'Bloodshed' Defense

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin started taking some heat after Right Wing Watch called attention to his Values Voter Summit speech, in which he suggested that the election of Hillary Clinton might require conservatives to shed some blood in order to preserve American freedom, referencing the well-known Thomas Jefferson statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Bevin responded to the criticism by suggesting that his remarks were being misrepresented: “Any intelligent person can understand the message I delivered,” he said in a statement. Bevin told a reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader that his comments were about "military sacrifice" and the need for Americans to back the “thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas.” But, as journalist Matthew Yglesias wrote, Bevin’s actual speech “is completely at odds” with that claim, which The Atlantic’s David Graham called “pure spin.” Bevin, noted Yglesias, was “clearly talking about patriots winning back liberty from the tyranny of Democratic Party governance.”

Bevin has urged his Twitter followers to listen to his entire 15-minute speech. Fair enough. We took another listen, and it doesn’t support Bevin’s after-the-fact explanation. Bevin’s focus was on pushing on culture wars in the U.S., about which he promoted the Religious Right’s narrative that liberals are enemies of freedom who are out to silence Christians:

You wonder, how does this happen? You look at the opportunities for us to be silent. You look at the degradation of things that are happening in our society. You look at the atrocity of abortion. So many have remained silent. It’s a slippery slope. First we’re killing children, then it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Now it’s this gender-bending kind of don’t ask, don’t be a, don’t be a, you know, a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid. Just keep your mouth shut. I encourage you young people, step up and be bold, don’t keep your mouth shut.

Bevin emphasized the urgent need for social conservatives to be passionate and active in this year’s election:

I asked you at the beginning, why are you here? I’m guessing in some measure because you’re worried. You are concerned for the direction of this nation. Perhaps you want a better America, I’m guessing you do. How badly do you want it? Do you want it as badly as the people who came over here on rickety boats, risking their lives for the very freedoms we so apathetically disregard and take for granted? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as the men who, if they were lucky enough in the winter of 1776 to even own shoes, ate their shoes to keep from starving to death? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as… young men who stepped off transport carriers on Omaha Beach, knowing that they wouldn’t be likely to get more than ten yards up that beach, seeing their buddies…Do we want it that badly? I tell you if we don’t want it that badly, we don’t deserve it.

Who are we to think that somehow our generation is going to be the first generation to benefit from all the sacrifices that others have made without giving some modern-day equivalent of our own lives, fortunes and sacred honor? Step up! Be bold. This is not a time to have a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of what? Discipline. Discipline requires an intentional amount of proactivity on our part, to take in but to give back, to make calls like you’ve never made calls, to knock doors like you’ve never knocked doors, to alert people, to sound the alarm, to be the watchmen on the wall because it doesn’t do us any good if we see and we do, because we sit on the wall, what is happening in America and we keep our mouths shut. Sound the alarm! Sound the trumpet! Wake up! Wake others up!

Now, there’s no problem with Bevin exhorting people to take an active role in the political process. The problem, as we reported previously, is that Bevin said that if conservatives aren’t successful fighting for America ideologically, and Hillary Clinton gets elected, conservative activists and their children and grandchildren might have to make it a physical fight:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ.

But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

Bevin made comments similar to those in his Values Voter speech in an interview with LifeZette this week in which he warned Never Trump conservatives, “Falling on one’s sword in principle and dying in a remote corner of the battlefield as the war rages on serves no purpose whatsoever.” In the interview it is also clear that Bevin is talking about the potential for violence if conservative culture warriors aren’t successful politically:

"We’re at a crossroads in America, is what we hear, Bevin said. "But I truly believe that it’s a fork in the road, that it’s not really a crossroad — we don’t have multiple choices — we’re going to go one way or we’re going to go the other way," he said.

 "The values, the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was built upon which Kentucky itself and its constitution was founded are under assault intentionally and unintentionally," he continued.

…"We’re at a fork in the road and we going to go towards a more godless, more corrupt bureaucratic, more authoritarian approach or we have the opportunity to do something different," he said.

"Our founding fathers knew and said that the roots of liberty are watered by the blood of tyrants and the blood of patriots," Bevin said. "If we don’t step up when we have a chance to engage ideologically, philosophically, politically — then we will ultimately find ourselves forced to the point that as a people we will be forced to shed the blood of both tyrant and patriots."

"Could we recover, conceivably so, but it will come at a price that none of us would want to bear nor would we want our children or grandchildren to bear that and that is why this election matters so so much," said Bevin.

Bevin’s comments, of course, are not made in a vacuum. They come after years in which Tea Party activists portrayed President Obama as an America-hater who wants to bring down the U.S. And they come in the context of Religious Right leaders arguing that equality for LGBT people is an attack on faith and freedom.

Anti-government activists have used Jefferson’s “tree of liberty” phrase as warning to the federal government on issues ranging from health care reform to gun control to public land use. In fact, Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with that quote on it when he was arrested 90 minutes after bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman said Bevin’s comments contained “layers of dangerous nonsense.” Wrote Bookman:

In the past few weeks we’ve seen people go all but apoplectic because a black football player simply declined to stand for the national anthem. We’ve seen demands that Colin Kaepernick be fired from his job; Donald Trump even suggested that Kaepernick leave the country.

Yet here we have an elected leader, raised to one of the highest positions of authority in the land, publicly advocating armed insurrection as a valid and even necessary response to political defeat. This isn’t some powerless, frustrated 20-year-old spouting off, this is a 49-year-old governor who has raised his right hand and solemnly sworn to “support the Constitution of the United States” suggesting that violence may be the only recourse of patriots should someone other than his choice be elected president under the terms and processes laid out in that same Constitution…

This is dangerous, volatile and profoundly irresponsible. It is the paranoiac gutter talk of the worst recesses of the Internet given voice by a person in power to an apparently receptive audience in our nation’s capital, and down that path lies disaster.

KY Gov. Matt Bevin: Election Of Hillary Clinton May Call For Shedding Blood Of 'Tyrants' And 'Patriots'

Numerous speakers at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit suggested that the American republic might not survive a Hillary Clinton presidency. During the Obama administration it has become almost routine to hear far-right leaders talk about the possibility of armed revolution against the federal government. But it was still jarring to hear a sitting governor suggest that America might only survive the election of Hillary Clinton through bloodshed.

Matt Bevin, who was elected governor of Kentucky last year after expressing “absolute” support for marriage-refusing county clerk Kim Davis, received the Distinguished Christian Statesman award from the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship on Friday night. Speaking on Saturday, he told VVS attendees that the country is facing a fork in the road: “We don’t have multiple options; we’re going one way or we’re going the other way, politically, spiritually, morally, economically, from a liberty standpoint. We’re going one way or we’re going the other way.”

Bevin recounted a story from his college days about how he confronted a professor who he said mocked Christianity, the way liberals always do: “They try to silence us. They try to get us to shut our mouths. They try to embarrass us. Don’t be embarrassed. We were not redeemed to have a spirit of timidity.” He urged young people, “Be bold. There’s enough Neville Chamberlains in the world. Be a Winston Churchill…There are quite enough sheep already. Be a shepherd.”

American freedom, Bevin said, was “purchased at an extraordinary price,” saying that one and a half million Americans have given their lives in uniform. “America is worth fighting for. America is worth fighting for, ideologically.”

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” said Bevin. “But that may in fact be the case.” He explained that it might take the shedding of the blood of tyrants and patriots for America to survive a Hillary Clinton presidency:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.


Sandy Rios Warns Of Unimaginable Threats To Freedom Under Hillary Clinton Presidency

American Family Association radio host and government affairs director Sandy Rios was one of the speakers at a Friday luncheon at the Values Voter Summit. Like other speakers, she took an apocalyptic tone about this year’s elections.

Rios told attendees she doesn’t think Americans understand how much is at stake in this election, recounting harrowing stories of a woman who had told her about the persecution and lack of freedom she had experienced under communist rule in Romania.

To those who suggest that if Trump loses, “next time we’ll get our guy in,” Rios said, “I am just here to tell you, as a Watchman on the Wall, that is not likely to happen” unless God intervenes “miraculously.”

What was more likely, she suggested, was a loss of freedom under a Hillary Clinton presidency. America is at a crossroads, she said, suggesting that freedom would be threatened under a Clinton presidency. “We have a candidate who said deeply held religious beliefs will have to be changed,” she said.

Without naming Clinton, Rios cited other reasons people should fear her as president. “We can’t even comprehend what life might be like even in a year if we don’t take an active part in this election.”

“Those of you that name the name of Christ will have trouble finding jobs,” she said, and kids won’t be able to get into college without having the “right” opinions.

“There’s going to be trouble,” she warned, including a “totally unleashed” Internal Revenue Service.

“I don’t think people have stopped to think about the price we will pay if we don’t do what we can do,” she said. “It’s an imperfect solution, no doubt, but we cannot stand by.”

She also urged participants to support people working on the culture war’s front lines. “I’m begging you,” she said, “do not desert them.”

The Religious Right Shares Trump's Putin Crush

One of the notable developments in right-wing-watching in recent years has been how enthusiastically many Religious Right leaders have embraced Russia’s anti-democratic president, former KGB official Vladimir Putin. It seems even more remarkable that the Republican Party’s presidential nominee has been lavishing praise on Putin even as Russia maneuvers to diminish America’s influence in the world.

As president, Putin has consolidated his power through attacks on the independent media, the persecution of political opponents, and restrictions on civil society. He has annexed Crimea, supported violent separatists in Ukraine, fostered anti-democratic right-wing forces in Europe, and made the weakening of NATO a major strategic imperative.

None of that has kept Donald Trump from praising Putin and welcoming Putin’s praise for him. In Wednesday night’s forum on national security issues, Trump said, “I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.” When asked about some of Putin’s troubling actions, Trump didn’t criticize the Russian president, suggesting instead that he could “start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time.”

Trump went on to praise Putin’s leadership and pooh-pooh concerns about Putin’s authoritarianism: “I mean, you can say, oh, isn’t that a terrible thing—the man has very strong control over a country.” Then on Thursday, Trump appeared on RT, a network operated by the Russian government, to slam American media and U.S. foreign policy and dismiss as “unlikely” the idea that the Russian government was involved in hacking the DNC’s email as American intelligence agencies believe.

Some conservatives have criticized Putin’s anti-democratic actions and strategic aims, and some Republicans were not happy about Trump’s recent remarks. But his running mate Mike Pence said it is “inarguable” that Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a Trump supporter, told CNN that Putin is a better leader for Russia than President Obama has been for the U.S., praising the increase in “hyper-nationalism” in Russia. Conspiracy-theory-promoting radio host Alex Jones, whose “amazing” reputation Trump has praised while appearing on his show , has expressed his admiration for Putin’s promotion of homeschooling and “masculine men.”

Trump will find himself in friendly company at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, an annual political gathering for the Religious Right. As Right Wing Watch has documented extensively, many U.S. religious conservatives have been cheerleaders for Putin because of his government’s anti-gay policies and his public support for “traditional values” and “Christian civilization.” Brian Brown, who heads both the National Organization for Marriage and the World Congress of Families, actually traveled to Russia a few years ago to testify on behalf of anti-gay legislation there.

As Right Wing Watch noted last year:

Evangelist Franklin Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue”; Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called upon U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions; Matt Barber marveled that Putin was able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation”; Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world”; Scott Lively lavished praise on Putin for “ championing traditional marriage and Christian values ”; and Rush Limbaugh applauded Putin for stopping “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”

In fact, Franklin Graham went to Russia just last fall, where he met with Putin, slammed President Obama for supporting “policies that contradict the teachings of God” and praised the Russian president for “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda.” Graham reportedly said, “I call for prayers for the president of Russia, who is protecting traditional Christianity.” Graham also praised Russian involvement in Syria, which the Russian Orthodox Church has called a “holy battle.”

Putin has developed a mutually beneficial partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church, promoting Orthodoxy as a crucial element of Russian nationalism and a vehicle for extending Russian power and undercutting U.S. influence. Some American Religious Right leaders are taken with Putin’s promotion of a Christian state; the director of last year’s World Congress of Families summit, Janice Shaw Crouse, embraced the blasphemy-law prosecution and jail sentences given to members of the band Pussy Riot for protesting in a cathedral.

While many Religious Right leaders suggest that President Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to replace the Constitution with Sharia law and say marriage equality will open the door to polygamy, we haven’t heard them objecting to Putin and his allies actually allowing polygamy and the imposition of Sharia in Chechnya. Similarly, those who cry that LGBT equality represents a dire threat to religious freedom have not raised a big fuss about a new law signed by Putin this summer that severely restricts the religious freedom of faiths other than the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin has also enacted restrictions on evangelism and backed separatist militias that violently attack Ukrainian Protestants.

Perhaps Putin’s strategic partnership with the Orthodox Church has inspired Trump’s promise to conservative evangelical leaders that he will make Christianity more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. So far, it has worked for him, helping him line up support from the leaders of the Values Voter Summit.

David Barton Narrows Down The Five Commandments For Conservative Christian Voters

Even before the long security lines, the singing of the National Anthem, and Tony Perkins’ use of a goofy toy gavel to call the 2016 Values Voter Summit to order, early risers filled the Empire Room at Washington, D.C.’s Omni Shoreham hotel for a breakfast sponsored by United in Purpose, a Silicon Valley-based organization that uses “big data” techniques to help Christian organizations better understand and motivate their supporters and to help boost conservative Christian voter turnout.

The opening prayer at the breakfast was given by Jim Garlow, a United in Purpose board member and anti-gay pastor who made his name in right-wing politics by mobilizing church support for California’s anti-marriage-equality Prop 8. Attendees were given copies of Garlow’s new book, “Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues,” published by Regnery Faith.

A quick glance suggests that the themes of Garlow’s book will be familiar to anyone who has attended a Religious Right gathering or absorbed the “scholarship” of the Right’s favorite self-proclaimed historian, David Barton: The Bible is a guidebook for government policy on everything from marriage to education and tax policy, and America has lost its way because pastors haven’t been preaching these truths aggressively enough. Garlow writes that his book was written to overcome pastors’ resistance to political preaching, which he blames on legal restrictions on church politicking that Donald Trump has vowed to overturn.

The breakfast’s two keynoters, conservative Christian pollster George Barna and Barton, the truth-challenged “historian,” are also, like Garlow, board members of United in Purpose. Barna runs the group’s American Culture and Faith Institute, which is carrying out in-depth longitudinal studies on changing attitudes among church-going Christians.

Barna argued that America was strong when family, church and government were all doing their jobs well and staying in their own “lanes.” But, he said, today is different. He ran through a set of statistics that depressed the people sitting at my table, demonstrating Americans’ lack of basic civic knowledge, lack of trust in the government and the church, and lack of hope in the future. One big problem, he said, is that only nine percent of born-again Christian adults have what he calls a “biblical worldview”—which seems to mean embracing the Barton-Garlow vision that Christians have a duty to vote according to their particular interpretation of the Bible. “That’s what makes it so difficult,” he said, “to be America.” Barna said America is “ripe for another revolution.”

Barton was his fast-talking self, quoting founding fathers, showing slides of colonial-era sermons, and generally contrasting the thundering sermons of revolution-supporting pastors and what he said are whispers coming from today’s pulpits. Barton asserted again that the Bible has policy directives on divorce, the minimum wage, the capital gains tax and just about any other issue a politician might confront.

Barton said Christians should not think in terms of having a right to vote, but rather a responsibility to vote. And, in what felt like a clear pitch for evangelicals to view voting for Trump as a biblical mandate, Barton explained that according to the Bible, a nation’s righteousness is not based on the righteousness of its leaders but on the policies they produce. And nothing is more important than the kind of judges a president will nominate and senators confirm, he said.

God gave the Israelites 613 laws, he said, and then focused them on His “top ten” priorities. Barton’s conclusion: You might care about immigration or climate change, but those can’t be among your top five voting issues because God says the top five must be abortion, marriage, public acknowledgment of religion, judicial nominations and support for Israel.

Ralph Reed: Evangelicals Will Turn Out For Trump & Keep Clinton From Running Away With Election

Last weekend political operative Ralph Reed appeared on the "Journal Editorial Report" on Fox News to talk about evangelical voters (by which he seemd to mean white evangelicals) and Donald Trump.

Asked by The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot how Trump is doing among evangelicals relative to previous Republican nominees, Reed said Trump is “hitting at the industry standard” and possibly “heading, really, to the highest we have ever seen.” Reed said that George H.W. Bush had gotten 82 percent of the evangelical vote in 1988 and George W. Bush got 78 percent in 2004, which was matched by Mitt Romney.

Reed cited four recent polls that he said have reliable data on evangelical voters, saying that they show an average of 73 percent support for Trump and 18 percent for Hillary Clinton. He called evangelical voters “the largest single constituency in the electorate,” saying they constitute between 24 and 27 percent of the electorate, with Catholics who frequently attend mass adding another nine percent. “So this is bigger than the Hispanic vote, bigger than the African American vote, and bigger than the feminist and gay vote combined,” Reed said.

Reed said Trump is winning support by showing up at evangelical events, asking for their vote, and telling them that he shares their values and wants to see their “role in society enhanced.” Beyond that, said Reed, he is winning their support based on:

“…his fealty to their positions on the sanctity of life, on traditional marriage, on support for the state of Israel, on religious freedom, particularly that progeny of cases before the Supreme Court like Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor, and finally, his full-throated opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, which I think resonates powerfully in this community because they consider Iran to be an existential threat to the survival of the state of Israel.

Gigot asked why Clinton was doing so well in traditionally Republican states like Georgia. Reed noted that Georgia has a large number of African American voters, which makes it competitive. Reed said Trump’s trouble in battleground states reflects that he’s had a rough few weeks, but he said he believes Trump has “turned the corner” and he still believes if Trump gets and stays on message, it’s going to be getting “a lot better for him, not only in those red states, but nationally and in the battleground states.”

I’m not in the prediction business, but based on what we’re seeing anecdotally, these voters of faith are gonna turn out, and they’re gonna turn out in huge numbers, and I think he’s gonna to get north of 75 percent of the vote, and if that is baked into the cake, there is no way that she runs away with this election. I think it’ll be competitive.

In an email touting his Fox appearance, Reed wrote that his Faith and Freedom Coalition “is undertaking the most ambitious voter education effort in its history to educate, inform, mobilize and turn out voters of faith in 2016.”

FFC is training hundreds of volunteers in North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and other key states who will staff its 31 field offices in 11 states andknock on over 1 million doors between now and November 8.  Be a part of history!   Sign up for our Volunteer Strike Force…

FFC will distribute 30 million voter guides in an estimated 117,000 churches nationwide, make over 15 million get-out-the-vote phone calls, and reach 2.4 million voters at their homes with personal visits.  If you can’t volunteer door-to-door or do not live or can’t travel to a battleground state, you can still be a part of FFC’s Strike Force by calling voters across the country from your own home…


Rolling Stone Covers Voter Suppression Rock Star Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a right-wing activist who has championed anti-immigrant and voter suppression efforts around the country and has helped to insert right-wing rhetoric into recent Republican platforms.  As Miranda reported this month, Kobach is pushing his fellow Republicans to adopt legislation modeled after the disastrously restrictive voting law he helped push through in Kansas. The September 8 issue of Rolling Stone looks at one of Kobach’s ventures in “The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters.”

The Rolling Stone story by journalist and author Greg Palast examines Crosscheck, a Kobach project that Palast calls “the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud.” The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is ostensibly designed to target a virtually nonexistent form of voter fraud. In reality, it helps promote the Right Wing's bogus voter fraud narrative, which in turn provides justification for otherwise unjustifiable laws that restrict voting. In the worst case scenario, Crosscheck could lead to thousands of people, predominantly people of color and young voters, being wrongly purged from voting rolls in advance of November’s election.

Crosscheck compares voter registration lists in different states to identify individuals who are registered in more than one place. Theoretically, it requires matches on a voter's first, middle and last name, along with birth date and the final four digits of a social security number, but in reality, it doesn’t always work as advertised. As we noted a couple years ago, Crosscheck’s data was so unreliable that Florida and Oregon dropped out of the program

Palast says he was able to get his hands on Crosscheck lists from Virginia, Georgia and Washington state, and found that the lists often lacked a middle-name match and misidentified fathers and sons as the same voter.  He cites database expert Mark Swedlund, who criticizes Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He also notes that U.S. Census data indicates that people of color are statistically more likely to have last names in common, leading to an “astonishing” inherent bias in the results, with “one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans, and one in nine African Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list.” And Donald Trump complains the election is rigged against him!

“God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name if Joseph or Jose,” says Swedlund. “You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”

It is up to each state to decide how it uses the data from Crosscheck; some send the lists to county officials who don’t have the resources to verify their accuracy. Rolling Stone reports that Crosscheck “has flagged close to half a million voters” in Ohio, and that 41,000 people were knocked off voting rolls in Virginia when it was under Republican control.

Even if state and local officials don’t end up using the data to initiate major purges, Crosscheck’s inflated numbers can be used to buttress false right-wing claims that voter fraud is a big problem. That mythology has been particularly damaging in the aftermath of rulings from conservative justices on the Supreme Court dismantling key Voting Rights Act protections, which allowed Republican officials in many states to pass laws aimed at making it harder for some people, particularly people of color and young people, to register and vote. And, says Palast, gutting the Voting Rights Act also meant dropping the requirement for covered states to keep racial data on voters, making it harder to document discriminatory practices.

A New Regnerus? Anti-Equality Groups Promote New Study on Sexual Orientation and Gender

Anti-equality organizations are enthusiastically promoting a new study on sexual orientation and gender, hoping it will be new culture war ammunition.

The study by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh appears in “The New Atlantis,” a journal co-published by the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Center for the Study of Technology and Science, which shares an address with EPPC. The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed journal, and has critiqued peer review, widely considered the gold standard in scientific publishing.

Among the authors’ contentions are that the belief that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate or fixed properties is “not supported by scientific evidence.” The study also says that the stress of social stigma is not a sufficient explanation for higher rates of mental health and substance abuse problems in LGBT communities.

In his preface, co-author Mayer dedicates his work to the LGBT community, “which bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared the population as a whole,” and to “scholars doing impartial research on topics of public controversy.” He declares himself a supporter of equality and opponent of anti-LGBT discrimination.

Mayer says that McHugh initially approached him to review a monograph he had written and the project expanded from there. The prominent but controversial McHugh is a Catholic in his mid-80s who has described himself as “religiously orthodox, politically liberal, and culturally conservative – a believer in marriage and the Marines, a supporter of institutions and family values.” The new study builds on a body of work that dismisses the notion of transgender identity. TransAdvocate and others challenged McHugh’s “selective reading of transgender medical literature” two years ago, and ThinkProgress critiqued his work in 2015.

Brian Brown at the National Organization for Marriage can hardly contain his excitement about the new study, writing in a letter to supporters, “The importance of this new study cannot be overstated.” He urges people to “help spread the word” to “make sure that this groundbreaking research gains the wide hearing it deserves despite what will surely be a concerted effort by the media to bury its findings.”

Also participating in the roll-out is the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, one of the most prominent opponents of marriage equality. Anderson says the study’s findings undermine the Obama administration’s requirement that schools accommodate transgender children as well as the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Anderson has written a book and spoken widely about how the anti-equality movement should reject and resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.  Anderson has urged the anti-equality movement to conduct new research (citing  the widely discredited Mark Regnerus study on “family structures”) to create “new insights” that future Supreme Court justices could use as justification for overturning Obergefell.


Christian Nationalist David Lane Plans Massive Pro-Trump Turnout Drive

Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base.

David Lane, the Christian-nationalist political operative who sponsored the event Trump and Marco Rubio attended recently in Florida, has reportedly raised nearly $10 million to conduct a church-based voter registration and GOTV drive in six target states. Lane’s organization, the American Renewal Project, will target Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. Lane has always been secretive about his donors, but as we have reported, the foundations of Texas fracking billionaires Dan and Ferris Wilks have been major donors to his operations. 

Strategists, including GOP operatives Wayne Hamilton and Dave Carney, will meet in Dallas this week to map out the strategy. Like most news about Lane’s operations, the story was first reported by Lane’s mouthpiece, David Brody at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody reports that in the weeks ahead, Trump and Mike Pence will be invited to speak to at least half a dozen similar "Pastors and Pews" events, which are designed to energize politically active conservative evangelical pastors.

We have reported extensively on Lane’s political operations, his ties to the Republican Party and his extreme worldview, including his intensely anti-gay positions and his belief that politics is a form of spiritual warfare designed to bring the United States back to what he thinks is its mission and covenant with God to advance the Christian faith. He’s not shy about expressing that view, as Brody reports:

The central theme behind this effort is a need for spiritual revival in America. Lane recognizes that a president, whether they are republican or democrat isn’t going to save America. This is spiritual warfare playing out in an arena where somebody’s values are going to rule the day. Lane says it’s time for pastors to step up and lead from the pulpit. “Christians founded America, not secularists, agnostics, atheists or multicultural proponents like the current president,” Lane tells The Brody File. “Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians have to engage in 2016 if America is to be saved.”

Lane, of course, is not running the only pro-Trump Religious Right GOTV effort. In a Monday morning email, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition said it has started its 2016 ground campaign and is recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, distribute voter guides and make GOTV phone calls to generate “the largest conservative vote in American history.” The email starts with a recent quote from Jerry Falwell Jr. saying Donald Trump is a leader like Winston Churchill who can save America.

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