Presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush are scheduled to appear at this week’s convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston. The NHCLC is headed by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez:
While Rodriguez cultivates a public posture that he is nonpartisan and committed to justice as well as righteousness – he fancies himself a combination of Billy Graham and Martin Luther King – he cemented his position as a member of the Religious Right when he made the wildly anti-gay Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and welcomed Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver onto the group’s board.
Rodriguez does break with right-wing orthodoxy on a couple of big issues, including his support for immigration reform and support for the embattled Common Core educational standards. But not on abortion, marriage, and the Religious Right's religious liberty rhetoric.
Rodriguez has called the push for marriage equality “the war on the biblical doctrine of marriage” and warned that in America “there is an attempt to silence Christendom.” Just last week he joined more than 200 anti-gay extremists in signing a pledge to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The pledge says, in part:
Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.
The conference at which Bush and Huckabee are scheduled to appear will celebrate NHCLC going global through last year’s merger with a Latin American evangelical organization CONELA; a new name for the merged NHCLC/CONELA will be announced. Staver had encouraged Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver traveled to Peru to oppose moves toward LGBT equality there. Staver colleague Matt Barber praised NHCLC for “putting up a firewall” to protect Latin America from a “cancerous invasion of immorality” being exported by the Obama administration and “radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism.”
For the record, Rodriguez’s claims that the NHCLC/Conela merger makes it the biggest evangelical network in the world and the representative of evangelicals in Latin America has been publicly challenged by the World Evangelical Alliance, which recognizes the Latin Evangelical Alliance as the regional representative of evangelicals; the group was formed in 2013 by the presidents of 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America.
This week, Rodriguez announced that the NHCLC is partnering with Trinity Broadcasting Network to launch TBN Salsa, which will feature music and ministry programs aimed at English-speaking second- and third-generation Hispanics.