Peter Montgomery's blog

Right-Wing Republican Platform Committee Affirms Opposition to LGBT Equality

We noted yesterday that Religious Right leaders had spent months making sure that the Republican platform committee would be stacked with “strong conservative voices” in order to resist an organized effort by pro-equality Republicans to replace anti-gay language in 2012’s far-right platform with something more inclusive. Yesterday’s platform committee session made it clear that the Right Wing was successful, as efforts to amend the draft platform language were repeatedly batted down.

Instead the committee affirmed the party’s support for marriage only for one man and one woman. The platform specifically rejects the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and calls for its reversal “whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

A delegate from D.C., Rachel Hoff, identified herself as the first openly gay member of the platform committee and joked that as she hadn’t been raised in a Republican family, she wasn’t “born this way” and chose to be a Republican. But her colleagues were unmoved by her heartfelt plea for a more inclusive platform and rejected language that would have encouraged a “thoughtful conversation” and  recognized the growing support among Republicans for marriage equality (a 2014 Pew poll found more than 60-percent support for marriage equality among Republicans under 30).

There were a few libertarian-leaning voices on the committee, and they tended to appear younger than the average member, but they were out-gunned on LGBT issues as well as challenges to drug war orthodoxy and support for medicinal marijuana. Perhaps in deference to the twice-divorced and thrice-married Donald Trump, platform committee members did vote down an amendment condemning no-fault divorce. The committee voted to keep in language calling on government officials to encourage schools to teach the Bible as literature.

Some of the debate was spirited even if the results were ultimately one-sided. When a conservative delegate proposed inserting “traditional” before “two-parent families” in a section about what is best for children, a couple of delegates called it an extra slap in the face to LGBT people and an insult to single parents, but the amendment passed. When a New York delegate challenged language supporting the First Amendment Defense Act — a federal bill to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination — a Virginia delegate accused her of calling the bill’s supporters bigots, language she had not used.

Among the members of the committee who have worked to make sure the platform keeps the party’s social conservatives happy: the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins; discredited Christian-nation “historian” David Barton; former Texas Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar; Eagle Forum political chair Sandy McDade; right-wing attorney James Bopp; and Center for Arizona Policy founder Len Munsil.

Munsil, who now heads Arizona Christian University, gave the prayer to open today’s platform committee session, which began a little after 8 a.m. with a discussion of the platform’s economic policy section. Munsil’s prayer had echoes of the Christian-nation rhetoric of activists like Barton and David Lane; he referenced the Mayflower Compact, said God has blessed America because “we have honored You and Your word,” and prayed, “in the mighty name of Jesus,” for “an awakening among our leaders.”

Richard Land: Trump Can Get Evangelical Votes By Promising To Put Ted Cruz On Supreme Court

Evangelical seminary president Richard Land told the American Family Association’s One News Now today that Donald Trump could help himself “enormously” with social conservatives “if he were to hold a press conference and say that if he is indeed elected president, that he will nominate Ted Cruz to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.”

Land has previously promoted some pretty extreme ideas about the federal courts. Just after the November 2014 elections in which Republicans took control of the Senate, Land called on Republicans not to confirm a single federal judge for the final two years of Obama’s term.

Land, who was president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission for 25 years, is serving on a religious advisory panel for Trump even though last October he said he was “dismayed” by Trump’s “mystifying and somewhat depressing” popularity among evangelicals. At the time, he called support for Trump “a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people.”

His earlier lack of enthusiasm for Trump was in spite of sharing some similar personal history. In 2012, Land announced his retirement from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in the midst of a controversy over inflammatory comments he made saying that President Obama was using the Trayvon Martin killing “to try to gin up the black vote” for his re-election. Although Land eventually apologized, his initial response to criticism was defiant, saying that he had been “speaking the truth in love” and would not “bow to the false god of political correctness.”

David Lane Keeps Pushing Gingrich As VP, But He’d Take Huckabee

David Lane, the Christian-nation activist who has been recruiting conservative evangelical pastors to run for political office, appeared on Jan Mickelson’s radio show last week to talk about his recent column touting Newt Gingrich as a “dream” vice presidential candidate for Donald Trump. Jaime Johnson was guest hosting. Lane, whose American Renewal Project is hosting the “nonpolitical” The Response prayer rally in Cleveland on Saturday, recently declared that “America is following Nazi tactics to eradicate Christians.”

When Johnson noted that many Christians don’t view Gingrich as someone who reflects “the embodiment of a lifetime of proper behavior,” Lane admitted that Gingrich isn’t perfect, but recounted that in 2007 Gingrich had said to James Dobson, “I’ve gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness.” Lane quoted Tim LaHaye calling Gingrich the “best prepared to be president.”

Lane complained that Republican leaders had told voters that if they were given majorities in the House and Senate, they would “storm the gates of hell with a water pistol.” But, he said, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell didn’t do anything with the majorities they were given.

Lane said he has been working his way through the biblical book of Isaiah, and said that has convinced him that “a judgment of God on a nation is the removal of military, political, and religious leaders, on a nation that has left Him, and He leaves the nation with docile, weak leadership. I think that’s where America is at this point.” Lane ticked off a list of Democratic political figures, along with Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor, saying “we’re being ruled by children.”

By nominating Gingrich, Lane said, Trump could show that he’s bringing “adults” to the table. “Newt, when he walks into the room, and I don’t care which room, he’s the smartest guy in the room,” Lane said, urging listeners to contact Trump’s campaign or speak out publicly on Gingrich’s behalf. Asked by Johnson how he would feel about Mike Huckabee as a VP nominee, Lane said Huckabee would be “tremendous.”

Lane portrayed the choice facing voters this fall as “who’s going to do the least damage to America at this point?” 

“I don’t have a clue” what Donald Trump is going to do, he said, but Hillary Clinton would “stack the court with progressives,” leading to a loss of religious freedom and the right to bear arms. He warned that “homosexual marriage” and “transgender bathrooms” are just the beginning of what “secularist, liberal judges” would impose on the country under a Clinton administration. It’s important for “evangelical Christians and pro-life Catholic Christians” to engage politically, he said, because “somebody’s values are going to reign supreme.”

As he likes to do, Lane cited the Mayflower Compact to assert that “America was founded by Christians for the advancement of the Christian faith.”

Lane also talked about his project to recruit conservative pastors to run for political office, which had a goal of getting 1,000 pastors to run for office in 2016 in order to generate hundreds of thousands of evangelical volunteers doing voter turnout work. Lane’s efforts have fallen short of that goal; he told Johnson that 200 pastors are running this year and another 200 are committed to running in 2017 and 2018.

 

Is Trump Letting Religious Right Leaders Have Their Way With GOP Platform?

The Republican Party’s platform committee started meeting in Cleveland this morning to hash out final language that will be presented to delegates at the Republican National Convention next week. Religious Right activists have been gearing up for months to make sure that the platform keeps the anti-gay and anti-abortion language they say will be needed to secure social conservatives’ loyalty to the GOP in November. A draft shared with members of the platform committee on Sunday night reportedly keeps the party’s anti-abortion position intact and continues the party’s opposition to marriage equality, though the draft reportedly abandons a previous call for a constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples nationwide in favor of leaving the decision on marriage to the states.

In May, right-wing Iowa Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told Fox News that his goal was “to get as many solid, constitutional conservatives to Cleveland and onto the platform and rules committees.” That same month, The New York Times reported that Ted Cruz supporters, including former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, were out to “fill the Rules and Platform Committees with strong conservative voices.”

In 2012, platform committee deliberations were dominated by a handful of right-wing activists who stripped out or batted away any moderating language, including tepid language about treating all people equally under the law. A Religious Right stalwart, then-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, chaired the committee and made it clear that he wanted no distracting fights. The final result was the most conservative platform ever, calling for the criminalization of all abortions without exception and decrying marriage equality as “an assault on the foundations of our society.”

It looks like Trump may be following the same strategy of keeping the Religious Right happy by letting them have their way with the platform. On Sunday, the Times’ Jeremy Peters reported that Trump is keeping his distance from battles that have been brewing over the platform’s anti-gay language.

Overseeing all this is Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has been assuring social conservatives that Trump “is not wanting to rewrite” the platform. Trump adviser Paul Manafort has sent the same message.

Social conservatives praised the May announcement that the platform committee would be led by anti-choice Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming along with co-chairs Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. At the time of the announcement, Barrasso said “it’s going to be a conservative platform that reflects our values, freedom, liberty and limited government.”

All the co-chairs have solid right-wing records. Foxx, for example, has fought marriage equality and sought to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding; last month she told attendees at Ralph Reed’s Road to Majority conference, “If people of faith are not involved in political life, then you’re leaving it to the Philistines.” Fallin has been mentioned as a potential VP pick for Trump even though she angered some anti-abortion activists when she vetoed a patently unconstitutional bill that would have made it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion.

Some of the same activists who wrote 2012’s  far-right platform are back on this year’s committee, which consists of two delegates selected by each state party and leaders chosen by the RNC. Among the members of this year’s platform committee:

Among others identified by the New York Times:

There is Cynthia Dunbar of Virginia, who has compared the gay rights movement to Nazism. Hardy Billington, a committee member from Missouri, placed an ad in a local paper asserting that homosexuality kills people at two to three times the rate of smoking. And Mary Frances Forrester of North Carolina has claimed that the “homosexual agenda is trying to change the course of Western civilization.”

In the spring, after Perkins was elected to represent Louisiana on the platform committee, he bragged:

In 2012, my role as a delegate gave me the opportunity to play a key role in amending the marriage plank, which led to the committee approving a much stronger version than 2008’s. We also tightened language on obscenity and pornography, protected conscience rights, explained how abortion hurts women, and supported the Second Amendment in DC.

In a June fundraising letter, Perkins touted his return to the platform committee while warning that “homosexual activist groups, pro-abortion groups, and special interests are trying to transform the Republican platform” to make it more like the “anti-Christian, anti-religious, radical humanist-secularist viewpoint” he said was reflected in the Democratic platform:

Never before have we planned to exert so much influence on a political party's convention as we are regarding the Republican Convention less than 50 days from now in Cleveland…I will serve as an official member of the 112-member Platform Committee, with our entire Action team supporting me, in order to make the greatest impact possible--again, regardless of the nominee -- for faith, family, and freedom…What goes into the official Party platform could make a monumental difference in shaping public policy decisions for our nation in the next four years, and as a result it will impact our lives and the lives of our families and our churches.

Here’s how the battle has been shaping up on LGBT equality and reproductive choice:

LGBT Equality

After anti-gay Religious Right activists got what they wanted in the 2012 platform, LGBT Republicans and their allies launched an organized and well-funded campaign to get better language in the 2016 platform, an effort that conservative leaders have vocally resisted:

“Conservative forces need to understand there is a serious challenge, and they need to take it seriously,” warned Jim Bopp, a social conservative activist who was influential in designing the 2012 GOP platform.

Similarly, Eagle Forum president Ed Martin said, “We’re prepared for the fight. It’s hand-to-hand combat.”

Some pro-LGBT Republicans have seen Trump’s primary victory as an opportunity, since he does not seem to share the Religious Right’s anti-gay ideological convictions, though he has publicly supported their opposition to marriage equality and pledged to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court. But Trump seems uninterested in standing up for LGBT people if it means picking a fight with his new pals in the Religious Right. For example, Trump has retracted his earlier criticism of North Carolina’s recently passed anti-LGBT law, saying that he now supports it.

Some change in the platform language will be required to deal with the changed reality caused by the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land. CBS News reported over the weekend that “moderate Republicans are drafting an amendment that would soften the GOP’s official position on gays and lesbians.” According to CBS, some conservatives may be willing to accept general “equality for all people” language that they rejected in 2012 as a way to “keep the fighting at a minimum.” David Barton told CBS that there might be “rhetorical changes in how it’s communicated, but I don’t think support for natural marriage will diminish at all.”

The new draft platform that will be debated and amended this week does include an explicit rejection of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, calling for "reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment."

Given the high-profile fight over North Carolina’s HB 2, and social conservatives’ efforts to create panic over the idea of transgender people using bathrooms that match their gender identity, it seems likely that the platform will include some anti-transgender language, something Cuccinelli told The New York Times that he thought delegates should do.

Access to Abortion

Many Religious Right activists are skeptical of []Trump’s commitment to the anti-abortion cause, particularly given comments he made in April that he would like to change the platform to include exceptions to its call for a ban on all abortions for cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is at stake. The current platform adopted in 2012 supports a constitutional amendment and legislation applying the 14th Amendment’s protections to “unborn children.”

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman and other anti-choice activists are planning to have an active presence in Cleveland in order “to ensure that the GOP platform remains strongly pro-life.”

Newman, who has a record of anti-choice extremism, has sounded the alarm:

“Once again, there is a movement within the GOP to not only gut the pro-life planks from the party platform, but silence the voices of pro-lifers who are demanding an end to abortion,” said Newman. “Softening its position on abortion would spell disaster for the Republican Party and for the future of our nation. I cannot support a party that will not defend the innocent, and I know I am not alone.”

“The eyes of the world will be focused on Cleveland, OH this summer as the GOP nominates their candidate for the President of the United States. Decisions will be made at the convention that will influence our nation for a generation. A coalition of pro-life groups and activists is forming to take advantage of this historic opportunity to collectively raise our voice for the pre-born. We demand the Republican Party continue to defend the preborn, but we are also calling our nation to repent for 43 years of unabated child killing,” said Mark Harrington, National Director of Created Equal.

The National Pro-Life Alliance has also been sending out emails warning that abortion “supporters and apologists would like to eradicate the only pro-life language in either party’s platforms.” The group has been collecting signatures for a “Hands Off the Pro-Life Plank” petition.

But anti-choice activist Austin Ruse isn’t worried. Ruse, one of the conservative Catholic leaders who took part in Trump’s June meeting with Religious Right activists, said at the end of June that while he isn’t convinced of the sincerity of Trump’s opposition to abortion, he believes Trump will “let our side do exactly what we want to do” on the issue.

Similarly, right-wing strategist Richard Viguerie told LifeSiteNews this spring that Trump “has zero chance” of changing the abortion plank in the platform.

State Previews

Some state parties had their own versions of these platform battles. In May, for example, delegates to the Illinois GOP convention “overwhelmingly voted to retain” a plank defining marriage as “between one man and one woman,” rejecting proposed language that “non-traditional families are worthy of the same respect and legal protections as traditional families.”

Some states had bigger fish to fry. At the Texas convention in May, the state platform committee initially endorsed a call for a referendum on Texas declaring independence and seceding from the United States, but that language was not embraced by the party as a whole. Still, the Texas GOP platform did call for legislation requiring people to use facilities “that correspond with their biologically determined sex” and, in the words of the Texas Tribune, “included strong disapproval of gay lifestyles and no state restrictions on ‘access to sexual orientation change efforts for self-motivated youth and adults.’”

 

Birther Says Obama Support For Clinton A 'Psyop' Operation And Deal To Secure Pardon

Bradlee Dean is a far-right, anti-gay activist and conspiracy theorist who has claimed that the Sandy Hook killings and other mass shootings were orchestrated by the government. Dean’s Sons of Liberty Media provides a platform for him and others of his ilk. Among them is Suzanne Hamner, a birther extraordinaire who last year questioned the constitutional eligibility of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal to be president. 

Hamner’s enthusiastically unhinged style is apparent from her most recent Sons of Liberty post, in which she slams “Dictator Hussein Soetoro” (her name for President Obama) for campaigning on behalf of “Dictator-in-waiting Hillary Clinton.”

A man who has proven to be a traitor, a criminal, a lawless individual and Godless man is “vouching” for the “trustworthiness and honesty” of another traitor, criminal, lawless individual and Godless woman.  How rich!  Odd isn’t it that Bill and Hillary Clinton first exposed Hussein Soetoro as not meeting the requirements for holding the office of the president according to the Constitution; yet, this man is backing this crime family to occupy the White House.  Hussein Soetoro is not the “forgive and forget” type.  His backing of Hillary has only one purpose – to secure a pardon should he be subsequently charged with crimes against the United States once he leaves office.

Hamner says Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state was “nothing more than an agreement between rival mafia leaders” and calls Obama’s support for her presidential run an “example of the corruption, cronyism, and crooked politics that infests government and the political parties.”

Given half a chance, Clinton would slit the throat of Hussein Soetoro as she smiled in his face while the Dictator-in-chief would stab her in the back, throw her under the bus and blame it on “climate change.”

In other words, this is the biggest ruse and psyop on the American public by two criminal politicians ever in the history of this nation.  Hopefully, the voters will see through this charade for what it is.  If not, there is no helping those who refuse to see.

Dean, the host of Hamner’s diatribes, is a long-time political ally of former Minnesota Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and has been an invited speaker at Liberty Counsel’s annual Awakening conference. At the Awakening conference in 2013, he told participants that Supreme Court rulings on church-state issues had opened the door to Satanism, and said there is no justification for Christian parents to send their children to public schools.

Sons of Liberty’s website, which calls Dean a “preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who speaks the uncompromising truth in an apostolic and prophetic style,” notes that he is a graduate of the Institute on the Constitution, the Christian reconstructionist group led by Michael Peroutka, a longtime ally of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. The Institute teaches that, in Peroutka's words, “the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.”

Why Newt Gingrich is Christian Nationalists’ Dream Veep

Christian-nation extremist and political operative David Lane declared in TIME this week that Newt Gingrich would be Donald Trump’s “Dream Veep,” calling Gingrich “Churchillian” and “still the most feared Republican in America.”

It might seem strange that Christian Right figures would rally around Gingrich, the thrice-married former speaker of the House who abandoned that office nearly two decades ago after an ethics scandal and clear signs that his colleagues were about to drive him from the office. But here’s why: Gingrich has spent the past decade promoting the Christian Right’s revisionist history, beliefs about a divinely inspired American exceptionalism, anti-Obama conspiracy theories and diatribes about the supposed war on Christianity in the U.S.

For example, Gingrich and his current wife Callista, a former Hill staffer with whom he conducted an affair while married to his second wife, published an op-ed in The Washington Times in May ranting that the “secular left” is engaging in a “crusade against the role of faith in our society.”

Newt and Callista have, following in the footsteps of GOP operative David Barton, made a cottage industry out of pushing similar claims. It is certainly no coincidence that an updated third edition of the couple’s 2006 book, “Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation’s History and Future,” has just been published.

The preface to the new edition warns that “the secular Left’s effort to drive God out of America’s public square” has “only gotten worse” since the book’s original publication. And in another sign of Gingrich embracing the extreme views of Christian right leaders and their political allies, the book echoes right-wing leaders’ rhetorical attacks on the federal courts, which Mike Huckabee made a central theme of his candidacy:

For two generations we have passively accepted the judiciary’s assault on the values of the overwhelming majority of Americans. It is time to insist on judges who understand that throughout our history – and continuing to this day – Americans believe that their fundamental rights come from God and are therefore unalienable….

…Judicial supremacy...only survives due to the passivity of the executive and legislative branches, which have refused to use their respective powers to correct the Court…

If we are to truly secure our religious liberty in America, the people and their elected representatives will need to reject the theory of judicial supremacy and passivity as a response to Supreme Court rulings that ignore executive and legislative concerns and which seek to institute policy changes that constitutionally rest with Congress.

And just to make it clear, Gingrich believes a president who isn’t afraid to act can lead Congress in nullifying decisions, such as the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, that he disagrees with:

A president who believes that judicial supremacy is a threat to our freedoms will use any appropriate executive branch powers, by itself and acting in coordination with the legislative branch, to check and balance any Supreme Court decision he or she believes to be fundamentally unconstitutional.

For the past decade, “Rediscovering God in America” has become a major brand for Gingrich, Inc. It’s incorporated into the title of a second Newt-Callista book about the role of God from America’s colonial era through the civil war, and it’s in the title of not one but two Citizens United-produced “documentaries” based on the Gingrich books, a God TV special, and conferences featuring the likes of David Barton and dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle. In 2009, Right Wing Watch reported on one of the conferences and produced a highlight reel, which includes Engle praying that God will protect Gingrich from “the evil schemes of the enemy.”

But Gingrich has been doing more to win Religious Right loyalty than writing books and giving speeches. In 2008, he started an organization called Renewing American Leadership, which launched a project called Pray and ACT. Among the dominionist figures involved in the effort were Lou Engle and Lance Wallnau, who has been saying for months that Donald Trump is anointed by God.

Renewing American Leadership won fans among anti-gay activists when it poured $150,000 into the successful 2010 campaign to unseat Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in the state. Christian nationalist “historian” and GOP operative David Barton was a founding board member of Renewing American Leadership; anti-gay activist Jim Garlow was brought on as president after he made a national name for himself organizing California churches in favor of California’s Prop 8. Gingrich, Garlow and Barton hosted a conference call for pastors gloating about their 2010 victories. In it, Gingrich said that “taking on the judicial class” and telling judges that “we are not going to tolerate enforced secularization of our country” is “one of the most important things we can engage in.”

Gingrich has stuck with his attacks on secularism. In 2011, he spoke at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church and declared that he was "convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

Gingrich’s personal re-branding as a conservative Christian culture warrior explains why some of the same Religious Right figures who are backing Trump are pushing Newt for VP.

When Gingrich was campaigning for the 2012 presidential nomination, Jerry Falwell Jr. was among those who rallied to the former speaker’s side when other religious conservatives questioned his appeal to evangelical voters. (Gingrich had given the 2007 commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University.) Lane was also among those who vouched for Gingrich during that race, as did Wallnau, who “urged adherents to read an eighteen-page treatise Garlow had written outlining the reasons conservative Christians should support Gingrich,” The Nation reported. “Among them: his ‘Churchillian fortitude,’ his ‘understanding of war’ and his talent for taking ‘a verbal chain saw to the hollow trunks of the trees of radical secularism.’”

During that 2012 presidential run, Gingrich appointed dominionist Dutch Sheets a national co-chair of his Faith Leaders Coalition. In a major 2012 story on Gingrich’s appeal to the Religious Right, The Nation’s Mariah Blake reported on Gingrich’s appearances at David Lane’s events for conservative pastors, where his remarks were “an ideological hand grenade” in the context of Barton’s Christian-nation history:

Gingrich adds that he has studied the founding documents, including the Declaration, and believes they call for “a very bold restructuring of Washington, DC, on a scale that nobody in Washington in either party is prepared to talk about.”

Lane is now making a full-court press. Back in May, he declared that Trump “can be one of the top four presidents in American history” and urged him to pick Gingrich in order to “mobilize evangelical and Catholic pro-life conservatives who stayed home in the last election cycle.” And on July 4, a day before his Gingrich endorsement in TIME, Lane was quoted in a Washington Times story raving about Gingrich:

“Newt may be the only living former legislator who can walk in on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, with the working knowledge to orchestrate and drive an agenda for limited government, deregulation of business, lower taxes and return of control to the states,” Mr. Lane said.

“Besides helping pull the wagon to get Trump elected, Newt may be the only adult in the room when it comes to governing with the institutional knowledge and grit to make the hard decisions to save America,” the Los Angeles-based Mr. Lane added.

It’s not clear what Trump sees in Gingrich, beyond his arrogance, narcissism and appeal to an important part of the Republican Party’s base that Trump is actively courting. But it might just as well be Gingrich’s reputation for cutthroat politics. During his heyday in the 1990s, Gingrich did much to encourage ugliness and bitter partisanship in American politics. A now infamous memo from his political organization GOPAC, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” urged conservatives to smear their opponents with words such as “betray,” “corrupt,” “decay,” “disgrace,” “pathetic,” “radical,” “sick,” “traitors” and many more.

Sound familiar?

Hispanic Evangelical Group Throwing Immigrants Under The Trump Train?

One legacy of the 2016 presidential campaign may well be a divide between religious and political conservatives who took a principled stance against the racist campaign of the apparently amoral Donald Trump, and those who jumped on board the Trump train in spite of his long record of lies, abusive and divisive rhetoric, and his shameless, transparently cynical use of religion to promote his candidacy.

Those divides may be clarifying in the wake of Trump’s meeting with hundreds of religious conservative leaders on Tuesday in what organizers had laughably described as a nonpolitical conversation.  At least it seems to becoming clearer where Samuel Rodriguez and his National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) are going to stand. And it’s not with the immigrants who Trump bashes as a core of his campaign strategy.

As we’ve noted before, Rodriguez loves positioning himself as someone who is above partisan politics even while acting as a Religious Right culture warrior whose main political goal is to get more Hispanics to vote for conservative candidates. Rodriguez has spent years telling conservative white evangelicals that they’re wrong to want to deport millions of Hispanic Christian immigrants, telling them that Jesus-loving Hispanic immigrants can help save Christian culture in America. Conservatives are hurting themselves, he has argued, by pushing Hispanics away with harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Along those lines, Rodriguez has publicly criticized Trump’s bigoted language about Mexicans, Latino immigrants, and Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump has accused of being biased because of his Mexican-American heritage. Last November, NHCLC’s Executive Vice President Tony Suarez said, “The only thing more embarrassing than his campaign is watching preachers support Trump and even manipulate scripture to invent false prophecies regarding Trump.” 

In April, Suarez met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders to discuss “the political and spiritual direction of the Republican Party.” According to an NHCLC press conference at the time, Suarez “addressed the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the upcoming election and the spiritual implications surrounding the immigration issue.”

"The members of Congress, specifically those that profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, must prayerfully consider the spiritual implications of mass deportation, as well as the current strategies espoused by both Republican candidates," said Suarez. "If a mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country were to take place, it would virtually close most Hispanic churches in our country." 

After Trump’s perfunctory video message to an NHCLC conference in May included no mea culpa for his anti-immigrant demagoguery, Rodriguez said, “I have no plans on endorsing Donald Trump whatsoever.”

Since then there have been no signs that Donald Trump is willing to reconsider, prayerfully or otherwise, his plans for a “deportation force” or his insistence that he will build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it – a centerpiece of his campaign. And he has not apologized for his despicable smear of Judge Curiel, and by extension all Americans of Mexican heritage.

But politics is politics, and now Suarez, despite his past criticism of Trump, is on Trump’s new “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” while officially remaining uncommitted to him. And even Rodriguez is telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that yesterday’s meeting could be “a tipping point” for evangelicals and Trump, praising the candidate’s “very well-defined, articulated commitment to religious liberty and life, the Supreme Court especially….”

If you were paying attention, you could see this coming. Rodriguez has given Trump political cover before, saying that Trump is not a racist and blaming liberal media for promoting the idea that he is. And last month Rodriguez declared that it is every Christian’s duty to vote and that getting conservative justices on the Supreme Court is more important than immigration reform.

Another NHCLC leader, Mario Bramnick, was among evangelicals who met privately with Trump last month; Bramnick emerged gushing about Trump’s “genuineness” and “tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.” Two months earlier, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference, where he declared in prayer that “the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening.”

Reports from and about the most recent meeting seem to show Trump in typical form, calling himself a “tremendous believer,” questioning the faith of Hillary Clinton, and telling people not to pray for political leaders who “are selling Christianity down the tubes.”  Trump pandered to the conservative Christian activists by saying “You really don’t have religious freedom” and pledging to “get rid of” IRS restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. He said he’d make Macy’s put “Merry Christmas” signs in its store windows. And he promised them Supreme Court justices hand-picked by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.

In putting together this event and building an advisory board without requiring its members to endorse him, Trump’s campaign seemed to be trying to recreate a critical moment in the marriage between the Religious Right and the Republican Party – a day in 1980 in which Ronald Reagan said to thousands of evangelical leaders, “I know you can’t endorse me … but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you’re doing.” In a press release about Trump’s new advisory committee, the campaign said:

The leaders on the executive board were not asked to endorse Mr. Trump as a prerequisite for participating on the board.

Rather, the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from Evangelical leaders, communities and voters, winning the majority of the Evangelical vote throughout the primaries.

The meeting appears to have had its intended effect, and not only with Rodriguez. The conservative Townhall reported that Pastor Michael Anthony felt that God was speaking through Trump to encourage pastors to get more involved in politics to defend religious freedom. “I think that no matter what political party you’re a part of, if you were in this room today, you would have to admit there was a unity and a gentleness in this meeting that were remarkable,” said Anthony. “If we can do this in a room of 1,000, I think there’s hope for the nation.”

D'Souza Calls New Movie A 'Weapon' He'll Drop Like 'A Grenade' Into Democratic Convention

Dinesh D’Souza, who has seemingly abandoned his pretense of being a scholar to become an overt right-wing propagandist, has been pushing his latest movie, “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party,” for months. He bragged back in March that it is so “emotionally powerful” that it will cause Democrats to need counseling.

At last week’s Road to Majority conference, Religious Right activists were subjected to the trailer for “Hillary’s America” three times on Friday. D’Souza described the movie as “a retelling of the whole story of progressivism and the Democratic Party.” In it, he purports to expose the “soul of the Democratic Party.” The trailer features dramatic re-enactments of southern Democrats’ support for slavery, the KKK and Jim Crow.

Sound familiar? This is territory trod a full decade ago by D’Souza’s fellow conservative propagandist David Barton. At the time, PFAW called Barton’s DVD “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White,” “staggeringly misleading” and “one-sided history.” The RNC had been bankrolling Barton’s outreach to African American and Hispanic churches. In Barton’s version of the Democrats-as-the-source-of-all-evil tale, history conveniently ended with passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That allowed him to ignore the past half century, Goldwater’s opposition to civil rights legislation, the GOP’s infamous “southern strategy,” the GOP’s embrace of the segregationist “Dixiecrats,” and the modern Right Wing’s record of inflaming white racial resentment and using racial dog-whistles for political gain — as if it were a complete mystery why African Americans would ever vote for a Democratic candidate.

D’Souza seems to update Barton by portraying Democratic support for social safety net programs as a means of moving “from slavery to enslavement.” After all, what progressivism really means is “social engineering and social control.”

Of course, thanks to the success of his earlier “documentaries,” D’Souza’s film will have Hollywood-level production values, complete with sinister, pounding music to drive the point home. According to a memorable description by Michelle Goldberg, the movie’s “farcical bombast” is “aimed at those who find Michael Bay films too restrained and artful.”

Bombast is in fact D’Souza’s aim. “A movie is a weapon,” he declared at a Friday evening session at Road to Majority. “There’s a much bigger battle. There’s a political battle, but underneath that there’s a cultural battle, and…underneath that is a moral and spiritual battle.” Democrats have controlled the levers of culture, he said, and there’s a “desperate need” for conservatives to “up the ante on all fronts.”  He said his new movie “blows the lid” off the “gangsterism” of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who he said is “at the pinnacle of this whole crime syndicate.”

“What are these Democrats hiding?” he asks in the trailer. “What if the goal of the Democratic Party is to steal the most valuable thing the world has ever produced? What if their plan is to steal America?”

“Hillary’s America” is scheduled to open on July 22, between the two parties’ political conventions. The idea, he said, is to “drop this grenade in the middle of the Democratic convention.”

Of course this isn’t the first time D’Souza has tried to sway the outcome of an election. His 2012 movie, “2016: Obama’s America,” made a lot of money, but failed to prevent Obama’s re-election. D’Souza has been fuming for years that if only more voters had seen the movie, the outcome would have been different, a claim he made again on Friday night. It was part of his pitch for people to take their friends and fellow churchgoers to see his new movie on its opening weekend; he said a good opening would take it from 1500 to 2000 theaters.

“Hillary’s America” is the second of D’Souza’s films aimed at keeping Clinton out of the White House. That was also the goal of 2014’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” which portrayed Obama and Clinton working together to carry out Saul Alinsky’s plan to lead America down the path to national suicide and socialist tyranny. The two movies also appear to have something else in common: D’Souza complaining that he was a victim of political persecution in his conviction for violating campaign finance laws (to which he pled guilty).

Like many Road to Victory speakers, D’Souza closed by making a pitch for people to elect Donald Trump in spite of his obvious shortcomings. Like the Super Bowl, he said, elections come down to two competing teams, and the winner gets to do what it wants with America.

It is a “true and grim fact of politics,” he said, that you have to fight alongside people who don’t agree with you on all things. We are, he said in a “one of these bizarre moments in American politics,” but that is where we are and we have to choose between the actual choices before us:

And so it seems to me that here we are, and the question before us is, do we want this Obama-Hillary machine, which has been grinding us down, not just picking our wallets but in a sense stealing— my book is “Stealing America,” and by stealing America I don’t just mean our money. I mean stealing our freedom. I mean stealing our American dream. I mean stealing our aspirations, stealing our ability to be who we are and pray as we wish and speak as we believe and think as we will.

 

Matt Barber: Christians Must Take America Back From Demonic 'Islamo-Progressive Axis Of Evil'

At last week’s Road To Majority conference sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America, anti-gay pundit and Liberty University law school associate dean Matt Barber promoted his new book, “Hating Jesus: The American Left’s War on Christianity.”

Barber’s remarks were a typically toxic mix, portraying Christians in America as being under assault from the “secular left, so-called progressives, orthodox Islamists and other pagan traditions, as well as fanatical atheists and others.”

Mankind’s enduring culture war, this is something we did not start. It’s nothing new. It first began in a garden, long ago, and today has reached a fever pitch worldwide, and right here in America in our own backyard. The battle lines are drawn, not so much as between conservative and liberal, as many presume, but rather between biblical and unbiblical, between truth versus deception, and in its most distilled form, the culture war is really a worldly manifestation of an otherworldly battle between good and evil.

Barber admiringly quoted Catholic Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has equated “atheistic secularism” and Islamic fundamentalism with Nazism and communism, “almost like the beasts of the apocalypse.” These two movements, he said, have “the same demonic origin.”

Barber said the progressive left is overwhelmingly anti-Semitic and anti-conservative-Christian, and called President Obama an “apologist for radical Islam.” And he repeated the Religious Right’s charge that the LGBT equality movement is somehow allied with radical Islamic jihadists in a war against Christian civilization:

Liberals and Islamists seem to have forged a bizarre and notably incongruous partnership that I call the Islamo-progressive axis of evil. You ever notice? It just defies logic that secular leftists will trip over themselves to make excuses for radical Islamists who, believe me, they’re coming for them too. The only explanation that I can see for this strange connection is best illustrated by the old adage, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ And the common enemy, of course, is who? Christ Jesus. It is the person of Christ Jesus who is truth. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through him. He is the personification, the embodiment of truth, and so they align against him. And so, Christians in America, ladies and gentlemen, are under attack…

Is this George Washington’s America or is this Joseph Stalin’s Russia? It’s starting — the lines are becoming pretty blurred ... We American Christians are now struggling to maintain our fundamental constitutional freedoms, and are now living under the daily threat of legal, reputational and even physical abuse simply for exercising our faith. Now let me be clear here. We are moving from a soft persecution to a hard persecution here in the United States. Now we’re not being beheaded. No, we’re not being burned alive … but we need to be praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.  We are on that trajectory.

Like many speakers at Road to Majority, Barber denounced efforts to protect the ability of transgender people to use facilities appropriate for their gender identity, portraying the issue in apocalyptic terms:

There are wicked sacrileges being forced upon the American people today, things we couldn’t even imagine five years ago, by our own godless government in the name of so-called progress. Things like utterly evil and insane presidential edicts that open up little girls’ bathrooms and showers to grown men terrorizing themselves, violating their privacy and threatening their safety … Things like the sin-centric and oxymoronic notion of genderless marriage; forced taxpayer funding of child sacrifice and forced participation by Christ’s followers in all of the above sins, under penalty of law, to name but a few of these travesties that are being foisted upon us.

Amid the sprint to the election 2016, the secular left’s utter disdain for both Christ and his followers is reaching a fever pitch. Self-styled progressives, and that is America’s cultural Marxist agents of ruin … they typically disguise their designs on despotism in the flowery and euphemistic language of  and you have heard all of these  reproductive health, anti-discrimination, civil rights and their favorite, of course, multiculturalism. But their ultimate goal here is to silence all dissent and force Christians to conform to their pagan demand or, potentially, face even incarceration.

In addition, said Barber, the U.S. has become “a global force for evil” whose chief export is immorality.

On top of this, the United States has become, in many ways, a global force for evil. Once the moral authority of the world, our chief export now is immorality. We are evangelizing against Christianity as a government, official government policy, pushing radical homosexualism, pushing the transgender agenda worldwide, and using the power of the purse to blackmail countries, poor countries, into acquiescing and casting aside their Christian history and beliefs and embracing this evil …

And also like other speakers, Barber promoted the importance of electing Donald Trump to the White House without mentioning him by name, calling the upcoming election “absolutely critical” to the future of the nation. Christians are called to be salt to the culture, said Barber, and when the culture is an open wound, salt is going to burn. America is “ripe for revival,” he said. “We are going to burn people.”

We must fight back as Christians. It’s time to stop being nicer than Jesus … there is such a thing as righteous anger. We need to be angry because righteousness is being trampled and evil is being promoted to your children …

We can set this nation back on a path toward peace and prosperity and, most importantly, a deep love for God, both individually and, as our founding fathers intended, corporately. We can take America back for Christ, but we can only do it with and through Jesus Christ himself.

 

Move Over, Putin: Scott Lively Has A New Anti-Gay Strongman-Crush

Like other Religious Right leaders, American globe-trotting anti-gay activist Scott Lively has long been a vocal supporter of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay policies. A few years ago Lively wrote Putin a gushing fan letter praising his “moral leadership” and “firm and unequivocal stand” against “the seemingly unstoppable spread of homosexuality.” He even tucked in a copy of his infamous book, “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” saying he hoped that the U.S. and Russia would be able to cooperate in the future and “redeem the future of mankind from a Fascist Leviathan, just as we did in World War II.”

But Putin is apparently no longer the only apple of Lively’s eye. On Monday, Lively posted a reflection about his latest authoritarian man-crush, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who Lively calls a modern hero of the Christian faith. Lively seems unconcerned about Orbán’s attacks on religious freedom.

Orbán makes no effort to hide his “illiberal” authoritarian nationalist vision. A year ago, in a Politico article titled “Europe’s New Dictator,” Colin Woodard wrote that Orbán’s “dictatorial tendencies” were laying “the course of a deepening tragedy at the heart of Europe with lasting implications for the west.” Woodard notes that Orbán and his party have purged the civil service, packed the courts with political loyalists, restricted freedom of the press, and rewritten the Constitution to give a sheen of legitimacy to all of his efforts. He’s also gone after government watchdog groups and other nonprofits.

Last fall, Foreign Policy’s James Traub published a series of articles on Hungary’s rightward shift, in which he labeled Orbán a “right-wing demagogue” and quoted an analyst saying that while Orbán is not religious, he “constantly invoked Hungary’s ‘Christian’ culture.”

Lively is particularly offended that former U.S. President Bill Clinton criticized recent anti-democratic trends in Poland and Hungary, “two countries that would not have been free but for the United States and the long Cold War.” Lively fumes:

First of all, it must be pointed out that Bill Clinton has absolutely no right to speak for the generation of Americans that liberated Europe because that generation, including its leaders, was Christian. The “democratic” values it fought to preserve and promote included quite prominently the right to life, the sanctity of marriage and the natural family, and the concept of national sovereignty. The “democratic values” of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are abortion, homosexuality, and global socialism.

If by “democracy” Clinton means the will of the people versus government tyranny he is doubly discredited. The people of Hungary (and Poland and Russia) overwhelmingly support family values and oppose open borders, while the Clinton/Obama cabal are blatantly, tyrannically and lawlessly ignoring the will of the American public by ramming “gay marriage” and the LGBT agenda down our throats and inviting third world invaders to illegally flood across our southern border by the millions.

Under the Christian leadership of Prime Minister Orban, the Hungarian constitution was revised in 2011 to state that human life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one women. More recently, Mr. Orban had shown great courage in defying the European Union’s suicidal “open borders” policies, especially regarding the threat represented by Islamic “immigrants.”

If these Biblically consistent positions that the leaders of Hungary and Poland have taken on behalf of the majority of their citizens make them “Putin-like,” then perhaps the rest of the world should give Putin more respect in comparison to Clinton and Obama. If that’s what it means to be “Putin-like,” the intended condemnation is actually a compliment.

Lively encourages his readers to send Orbán “a note of support and thanks.”

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