Peter Montgomery's blog

The Unimpressive Result Of Bill Kristol’s Valiant, Desperate Effort To Stop Trump

Desperation can lead people to do desperate things. Bill Kristol has been pleading for major Republicans like Mitt Romney to enter the presidential race as an independent to give conservatives an alternative to the unserious, unbelievable, unpredictable huckster at the top of the ticket. Over the weekend Kristol tweeted, “There will be an independent candidate — an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.”

The prospect was titillating to political junkies, but the reality has been far less so. Turns out, according to some news reports, that all the political figures Kristol approached turned him down, leaving him with David French, a far-right lawyer and pundit with no experience in public office and near-zero name recognition outside the sphere of conservative media.

As MSNBC’s Steve Benen has noted, one of Kristol’s needs was to find “someone who could appeal to #NeverTrump neoconservatives and #NeverTrump evangelicals, simultaneously.” French certainly fits that bill.

Now a staff writer at National Review, French has worked for two of the Religious Right’s major legal groups, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Center for Law and Justice. Working for ACLJ and ADF certainly gives French the anti-LGBT cred he needs to win support from the Religious Right. He has argued that it was wrong for society to destigmatize homosexuality. He has declared that “when you’re talking about the conversion of marriage from a God-given and God-created institution into a contract between consenting adults, the victim is our culture.”

French has also argued that government anti-poverty programs have been harmful because they reduce poor people’s dependence on churches. He said that “in many circumstances, particularly in this country, poverty is the result of an awful lot of bad choices.” Here’s more:

A lot of our poverty is the result of behaviors that often require heart-level repentance to change. Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps are not going to get you to turn away from behaviors that are destroying your life, but the Gospel will.

It’s a problem, he said, that government assistance prevents poor people from having to seek help from the church, which could also provide them with “the much more important spiritual sustenance.”

In a troubling sign for Kristol’s effort to find a candidate with a commitment to reality, French has appeared repeatedly on David Barton’s WallBuilders show. Barton is the self-styled historian whose popularity among Religious Right leaders seems impervious to evidence that he has repeatedly misrepresented American history, other issues, and apparently even his own life. His Christian publisher withdrew his book about Thomas Jefferson after Christian historians were among those who challenged its accuracy. But French praised Barton in 2012 for “bringing truth about America’s heritage into the public square.”

French also has the neo-cons covered. He’s an unrepentant supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and a defender of Islamophobia-promoting hardliners like Robert Spencer and David Horowitz.

Romney has made some initial supportive comments about French, who just last week was urging Romney to run again, saying, “You’re the only man who can save us from future calamity.” French had “worked tirelessly” for Romney in 2008 and 2012; he and his wife even launched Evangelicals for Mitt. French, then at ACLJ, praised Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan, “a man completely committed to the cause of life,” for his running mate.

French has been sharply critical of conservative supporters of Trump, saying that “their much-vaunted conservatism” has been revealed to be “a mere means to an end.” Added French, “Virtually every character defect or ideological blind spot they condemned in others, they overlooked or even justified in Trump.”

Back in 2012, French had similarly strong opinions about Newt Gingrich and the conservatives who were backing him. In fact, French could repurpose those words for Trump with little if any alternation necessary:

If character counts, then so do values like fidelity, honesty, humility and charity. Sadly, Gingrich fails on all these counts ... Churchgoing evangelicals have one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. Gingrich is a thrice-married, serial admitted adulterer.

While the former House speaker tries to change the subject, biblically literate Christians understand that his conduct is a real and present issue. Simply put, a man doesn’t cleanse the moral stain of adultery by marrying his mistress….

[I]s there a more arrogant public figure in American political life than Gingrich? His self-regard is legendary…His self-congratulatory statements fill press releases, and former colleagues tell tales of his erratic and bullying behavior. Is that the right witness for evangelicals?

It’s awfully hard to imagine French gaining much traction, even if some of the Trump-resistant funders and backers of Ted Cruz were to rally around him. Still, you have to give Kristol some credit for not joining Marco Rubio and the pathetic parade of conservative leaders who are abandoning their principles to back Trump, a spectacle that former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson has called the “most depressing moment of the 2016 race.” Well, it’s early. 

The Movers Behind The Anti-LGBT 'Religious Liberty' Movement

In the first few months of this year, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures, many of them promoted under the banner of protecting religious liberty.  A new report by People For the American Way Foundation, “Who is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?,” explains that “it takes a right-wing village to turn a cherished American principle into a destructive culture-war weapon.”

The report makes clear that the wave of anti-equality legislation promoted in the name of religious liberty is not an outgrowth of local conflicts but the latest step in a long-term campaign by national Religious Right legal and political groups to resist legal equality for LGBT people. As Americans have come to know and embrace their LGBT family members and friends, harsh anti-gay rhetoric has become less effective, says the report, leading social conservatives to try to reclaim the moral and political high ground by reframing debates over marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections as questions of religious liberty.

These efforts are being promoted by “a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people,” notes the report, which profiles some of the leading organizations while noting that they “represent the tip of the iceberg of a much larger movement that is trying to eliminate legal access to abortion and roll back legal protections for LGBT people, couples, and families — and trying to do so in the name of religious liberty.”

The groups covered in the report include:

·         Family Research Council and FRC Action

·         Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action

·         National Organization for Marriage

·         Alliance Defending Freedom

·         Liberty Counsel

·         American Family Association

·         Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

·         American Principles Project

The report includes links to additional resources on the organizations behind the Right’s use of religious liberty as political strategy for resisting equality. 

RNC Faith Liaison: Supreme Court Will Bring Religious Right Voters To Trump

The Republican Party’s faith outreach director, former South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly, says conservative Christians will vote for Donald Trump based on the future of the Supreme Court.

The biggest thing on evangelicals’ minds, I think, is the fact that we’re gonna be looking at a Supreme Court that could be vastly different going forward. And electing somebody like Hillary Clinton, who is obviously biased against the things that most evangelicals, Christians believe in, would be disastrous for religious liberty, for property rights, gun rights, religious freedom and stuff like that. I think it’s gonna settle out just fine and our folks will go our way.

Connelly told CBN’s Heather Sells that his friends and fellow church members had been split among Republican candidates, but that voters have now “given us two choices.” Trump’s plans to meet with Religious Right leaders and activists next month are, said Connelly, a sign that Trump knows you “don’t leave anybody out, especially not the base.”

Connelly travels the country encouraging pastors to register their congregants to vote and convince them to cast ballots based on a “biblical worldview.” Like speakers at virtually every Religious Right gathering, he said that what’s happened to the country “is literally our fault” because pastors haven’t preached aggressively enough. “Voting is not political,” he said, “it’s spiritual. It’s our witness and testimony to the community of what we believe in.”

He said he doesn’t think conservative pastors going to sit on the sidelines any more. He tells pastors, “Get your people registered and talk to them about the issues of the day and then make sure they go vote those issues in the voting booth.”

I spoke at a church…not long ago where the pastor kind of apologized to his congregation before he introduced me. He said he’d been preaching for 39 years and had never tried to connect the dots of the things going on with biblical worldview, and he said, “that’s gonna change.”

Asked whether Trump should apologize to Latino Christians who have been offended by his rhetoric, Connelly said, “I’ll leave his campaign decisions to him” and pivoted back to the Supreme Court.

I’ve been with Latino and African American and Anglo pastors all over the nation and they see this Supreme Court deal as a very big thing. You know the next president’s gonna probably appoint two, maybe three, and potentially four Supreme Court justices. That’s a 50-year decision for Christians out there.

To those conservative Christians who aren’t happy with their choices, Connelly says, “no man’s perfect.” But he says that people who are upset about Planned Parenthood and “judges rewriting God’s definition of marriage” should realize that “the Republican Party is the natural home for people of faith.”

Says Connelly, “I mean, let’s face it...it may be 100 years before the other party swings back and pays any attention to Christian values and biblical values like you and I care about.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd also cited the Supreme Court in defending his decision to meet with Trump in June:

This election is about who will appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices. This election is about the dignity of human life from the womb to the tomb. This election is about the most significant religious freedom concerns in American history. I'm not about to sit at home on Election Day because I'm accountable to God and, I believe, I am accountable to my fellow Americans to vote. This is why I am meeting with Donald Trump, and why I would be willing to also meet with Hillary Clinton.

FRC And Focus On The Family's 'Scientific' Denial Of Transgender Identity

Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton spoke at the Family Research Council Monday on “The Scientific Objectivity and Universality of Gender Difference.” The context, explained in FRC’s promotion for the talk, was the Obama administration’s directive on transgender students’ access to facilities that match their gender identity — or, in FRC’s words, the administration’s “working to elevate the cause of these individuals who believe their observable, biological sex does not match their gender identity.”

In other words, FRC asked Stanton to validate the organization’s belief that there is no such thing as a transgender identity. FRC’s Peter Sprigg, who introduced Stanton, has written, “Virtually all people have a biological sex, identifiable at birth and immutable throughout life, which makes them either male or female. The transgender movement represents a denial of this physical reality.” It is the trans version of the Religious Right argument that there is no such thing as a gay identity, only a person who experiences “same-sex attraction.” Stanton has previously called homosexuality “a pernicious lie of Satan” and said “there is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is that homosexuality is just who we are.”

Stanton, whose education is in philosophy and religion, spent the better part of an hour making his case, drawing on a New Yorker cartoon as well as a series of books and scientific studies by socio-biologists, evolutionary psychologists, and “secular anthropologists” to argue that there is “a universal male and female nature.”

Stanton discussed books on differences between male and female brains, suggesting that the gender divide in Silicon Valley does not reflect sexism but the fact that the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, while the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. Among other differences he said hold true across cultures: women smile more; women see danger where men see challenges; men are more interested in the world outside their village; women attempt suicide more often but men do so more violently and successfully.

But Stanton utterly failed to link all this to the conclusion that he and FRC are drawing about gender identity and public policy. In fact, the whole exercise left me thinking: So what? How would the existence of some predominant traits in men and women deny the reality of those whose sexual orientation or gender identity falls outside the norm? And how would it justify denial of humane treatment or legal equality?

It may be true that some traits predominate across cultures in men more than women. But that hardly makes them “universal.” There are male pacifists and female warriors; effective female executives and happy stay-at-home dads. Stanton acknowledged that there are many ways to be male — mentioning Clint Eastwood and Mr. Rogers. And, he said, some women can do “man things.” He cited Richard Simmons as someone who intentionally presents himself in a way that doesn’t clearly fit the “objective” way to be male and female. But he brushed all those aside, saying they do not challenge the universal binary norm.

Similarly, in response to a question about Native American cultures that recognized androgynous figures, and even considered them to play a sacred role, Stanton acknowledged the existence of such figures, such as the berdache, which he said have been “co-opted by the gay and lesbian community.” But he clearly could not make this reality fit his universalizing theory.

“Typically,” Stanton said, “that individual tends to be more of a she-male. It’s sort of, if you will, the Richard Simmons type, maybe the Mr. Rogers type, a man who is physically male, but he’s got clear kind of identities for the feminine. He’s — we would call, not in a nice way, in our culture, the Nancy boys, growing up.”

Furthermore, Stanton said, “They do not fit either in the male or the female category, but they are a mix of the two.” But rather than admitting that such a figure undermines his thesis, he claimed that they somehow “prove the rule” because “we understand them based on the binary.”

If you are feeling justifiably skeptical of Glenn Stanton’s claims for the “scientific objectivity and universality” of his views on gender identity, you might read what the American Psychological Association says about transgender identity, or check out some of the many resources available for transgender people and their allies. 

Trump Offers No Apologies For Rhetoric, But Some Conservative Latinos Warming To Him

As we reported last week, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez gave Donald Trump a chance to “redeem the narrative” with Latino voters by showing a videotaped message from the candidate to attendees at an NHCLC gathering last Friday; a video from Hillary Clinton was also played. Rodriguez has criticized Trump’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and mass deportation plan, but has also given him political cover, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last month that Trump is not a racist and blaming such a characterization on “liberal media.”

Rodriguez has said he hopes Trump will apologize for his “hurtful, erroneous, and dangerous statements” about Latino immigrants. And he said earlier last week that he would only show Trump’s video if he deemed it sufficiently conciliatory and respectful.

Conciliatory and respectful are clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Trump’s two-and-a-half minute video, apparently shot on a cell phone while he sat in his private jet reading from a piece of paper, included no apologies for any of the harsh rhetoric that Rodriguez has complained about.

Instead, Trump made the kind of broad promises that have characterized his campaign — creating good schools, safe communities and providing “massive tax cuts” for the middle class — without many details about how he would do so, other than controlling immigration and making “great trade deals.” Hillary Clinton’s video did address Trump’s rhetoric without mentioning him by name, saying, “That is not who we are as a people.”

Trump told Hispanics that poor people would pay nothing under his tax plan: “You’re going to start paying taxes after you’re making a lot of money, and hopefully that is going to be soon.” Other tidbits from his video:

  • “The world is taking our jobs and we’ve got to stop it. We’re going to take care of minority unemployment. It’s a huge problem, it’s really unfair to minorities, and we are going to solve that problem.”
  • “National. Hispanic. Christian. Three great words. We’re gonna to take care of you, we’re gonna work with you, you’re gonna be very happy, you’re gonna like president Trump.”
  • “I’m going to win and we’re going to take care of everybody. Our country is going to be unified for the first time in a long time”

Before the NHCLC conference last week, Trump met privately with some evangelical leaders, in a meeting arranged by Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Representing NHCLC at the meeting was Mario Bramnick, who praised Trump’s “genuineness.”

“Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants,” he said. “We all came out really sensing his genuineness.”

He added: “We didn’t get into specifics other than that he wants to work with us, work with the Hispanic community, Hispanic leadership on substantive policy regarding immigration.”

Bramnick also said Trump embraced the Religious Right’s “Christian persecution” narrative, telling Charisma:

"He told us in the meeting that he's very, very concerned that Christians are losing their rights in America, that we no longer can even speak or express what we believe," Bramnick said. "And he did say that if he becomes president, he's going to change things to make sure that we as Christians have our religious liberties restored. He said he's concerned about Christians, he's concerned about Jews, and he wants to help."

In March, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s “Awakening” conference, quoting Cindy Jacobs’ prophecy that Florida had determined that George W. Bush would be president and that God would use Florida to shift the nation again. “God by his Holy Spirit can appoint the president that God has ordained,” said Bramnick.

At the Awakening conference, Bramnick prayed:

Father, awaken the sleeping the church. Unite us. We come against the diabolic spirit of division in the body of Christ, that spirit that would put us to sleep, spirits of anti-Christ and witchcraft, and we declare out of Orlando, the church of Jesus Christ is arising, not by power, not by might, but by your spirit. And father we declare out of Orlando, shift for Florida, shift for the United States, and 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…

It’s not just the NHCLC giving Trump another look. Some other Latino conservatives are showing some willingness to rally around him. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar noted over the weekend that last October, Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush White House official who now heads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said Trump was “done” in the eyes of the Latino community. Aguilar declared, “If Donald Trump is the GOP candidate, we won’t work to support him and we are sure he will lose the general election because there’s no way a GOP candidate can win the White House if they don’t get more support from Latino voters.” But now that Trump is the nominee, Aguilar is singing a different tune, saying that if Trump were to “seek my support and show he’s willing to change his tone and be open to some form of legalization, I would be willing to reconsider my position.”

BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo recently noted that there are a lot of major conferences coming up. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have both sent formal invitations but “have had difficulties getting responses from the Trump campaign.” The National Council of La Raza has not yet decided whether to invite Trump to its July conference.

 

 

Dominionist Prayer Rally Planned For Eve Of Republican Convention

Christian-nation advocate David Lane and dominionist Doug Stringer have organized a series of prayer rallies with Republican governors, starting with the 2011 event in Houston that served as an unofficial launching pad for Rick Perry’s failed 2012 presidential bid. Now they’re planning their next one in Cleveland, Ohio, just before the Republican convention.

On Thursday, Stringer and other organizers held a conference call to discuss plans for the Cleveland rally — like others it is going by the name “The Response” — and to ask pastors to get their congregants to take part. “There is a battle for the soul of a generation,” Stringer said, “the soul of our nation.”

Stringer, a far-right preacher who once linked the September 11 attacks to homosexuality, told pastors that the Response is not about promoting politicians or political agendas, only about lifting up the name of Jesus, repenting as individuals and as a nation, and praying for God’s mercy and blessing on the country. This is the “bait” part of the “bait-and-switch” nature of these Response events, as we have previously described:

The rallies are in effect a series of bait-and-switch events. They are disingenuously promoted as non-political gatherings to create Christian unity by bringing people together across denominational and racial lines to pray for the state and the country. And while that promise of ecumenical prayer and worship is undoubtedly what brought many people to the event in Charlotte, the “non-political” veneer was discarded almost immediately.

Lane and Stringer took the Response to Charlotte, North Carolina, in September 2015. At this “nonpolitical” event, Religious Right rock star David Benham talked about gay rights groups who he said were out to “force” their agenda on the country, portraying a “spiritual battle that is now waging before us in this nation, the home of the brave and the land of the free.” Lane opened the “nonpolitical” North Carolina Response rally with a prayer that talked about the lack prayer and Bible reading in the public schools, abortion, and “homosexuals praying at the inauguration.” Another speaker prayed for God to “help us be like Kim Davis, obeying the Constitution and defying federal criminals.”

It’s not surprising that the events take on a political cast given that organizer David Lane is a self-described political operative who is recruiting “an army” of conservative pastors to run for office in an effort to boost engagement and voting by conservative Christians. Lane is putting his faith in Trump, according to TIME Magazine:

“I’m going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top 4 presidents in American history,” he recently wrote to his followers. “We intend Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians to bring biblical-based values to the public square, bucking up a Trump Administration willing to confront totalitarian ‘Political Correctness.’”

Previous Response events have been organized and promoted by extreme anti-gay, anti-choice, and religiously divisive groups and leaders. One of the videos promoting the Cleveland Response features E.W. Jackson, a failed Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia; Jackson has called the Black Lives Matter movement “demonic,” said promotion of LGBT equality is “spitting in the face of Almighty God,” and accused President Obama of being more interested in “defending Islam” than “defending America.”

Stringer said participants would be supported by more than 2 million prayer intercessors from around the world. Another organizer asked people to consider joining the prayer force that would be engaging in weeks of prayer ending in a fast.

But the Response is going to have some competition. Stringer said on the conference call that God is calling people to be in Cleveland, and that some who had planned to attend the Reset prayer gathering in Washington, D.C., on July 16 will go to Cleveland instead. Reset is being organized by a number of ministries, including Lou Engle’s TheCall, and organizers hope it will “fill the mall” with a million people for “a historic gathering and a time of spiritual healing for our nation.” A similar situation — dueling prayer rallies on the same day — took place in April, when Engle and friends had a day-long rally in Los Angeles while others met at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

 

Liberty Counsel: Send Money To Help Roy Moore Resist Supreme Court Marriage Tyranny

Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group that is actively promoting efforts by right-wing judges, lawmakers and activists to nullify U.S. Supreme Court rulings on abortion and marriage equality, is raising money for its ongoing support of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. As Miranda reported yesterday, Moore’s backers are holding a rally on Saturday to support his defiance of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. 

In a direct mail letter, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver warns that Moore and other Christian leaders “are facing intense backlash for upholding God’s unwavering TRUTH.”

“In Alabama and across America, state judiciaries and legislatures are standing up against the federal judiciary, resisting tyrannical rule and upholding the moral law of God,” writes Staver, who asks for money to “defend Christian leaders who are being targeted by deep-pocketed, radical activists.”

Staver says “you and I must continue to pray and take an active stand against the forces destroying the foundations of our nation.” More from his letter:

I support Chief Justice Moore’s action that sends a “shot across the bow” regarding the Supreme Court’s egregious 5-4 marriage opinion on same-sex “marriage.” The United States Constitution does not prohibit states from affirming the natural crated order of one man and one woman joined together in marriage.

Like Daniel in the lion’s den, Chief Justice Moore is being persecuted for his faith by liberal legal professionals and radical LGGBT activists. But like Daniel, Chief Justice Moore will not bend, having faith that God will protect those who seek and follow His Word.

Staver asks recipients of the letter to sign and return (along with some money) a “Vote of Confidence” letter to Moore, which says in part:

Thank you for not bowing your knee to the U.S. Supreme Court’s egregious 5-4 marriage opinion on same-sex “marriage.” No civil authority, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has the authority to define marriage as anything but the union of one man and one woman!

I pray that God continues to guide and protect you, and to give you and other Christian leaders the continuing strength to turn the tide of immorality sweeping our nation.

Staver also includes a card reminding people to pray for Moore that he suggests placing in your Bible or on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

 

Samuel Rodriguez Gives Trump Chance To 'Redeem The Narrative' With Latinos

Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians.

You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to encourage Hispanic evangelicals to support the Republican candidate. He has said Trump blew it with his early campaign rhetoric and that the candidate must “redeem the narrative” with Latinos.

This week Bloomberg reported that Trump would be delivering a videotaped message to be shown at this weekend’s meeting of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which Rodriguez heads, and whose board includes Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. The pro-immigrant group America’s Voice called on Rodriguez not to let Trump deliver a message to the group given Trump’s “hateful, incendiary rhetoric directed at our communities.”

(Just days ago, Trump attacked NHCLC board member Russell Moore, a leading Southern Baptist official, as a “nasty guy with no heart.” Rodriguez, who co-authored with Moore a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Trump’s immigration rhetoric and policies last July, said at the time that “an attack on Russell Moore is an attack on the entire evangelical community.”)

Rodriguez told the Washington Post earlier this week that he would wait to see if the message was “respectful” before deciding whether to show it. Today it is clear that Trump has satisfied Rodriguez, because the NHCLC put out a press release saying the group would show video messages from Trump and from Hillary Clinton on Friday evening.

While Rodriguez says he will not endorse a candidate, it’s hard to take him seriously as some kind of honest broker between the staunchly pro-choice Clinton and the muddled punish-the-woman Trump, who has said he would nominate Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  As we recently noted, Rodriguez has said, “I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists, that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.” And he has made it clear that he believes Hispanic Christians must make opposition to abortion, not support for immigrant families, the basis of their vote.

In an interview being promoted by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze today, Rodriguez doubles down on that message, saying it would be “morally reprehensible” for Christians to vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood, saying they would need to “repent.”

“I want to speak to every single African American, Latino, and Anglo Christ follower who believes in biblical orthodoxy — how can we justify supporting anything — be it Republican or Democrat — that in any way, form or shape defends Planned Parenthood?”

Trump has repeatedly praised Planned Parenthood but says he wants to defund the women’s health organization unless they agree to stop providing abortion services.

Rodriguez told The Blaze that it would take “a miracle” for Trump to win over the Latino community, but suggested it could be possible if he apologizes and chooses a Hispanic running mate, mentioning Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Ted Cruz.

The supposedly nonpartisan Rodriguez has filmed a video promoting the Republican Party’s faith-outreach project. Only 16 percent of American Latinos identify themselves as evangelical, according to the Pew Research Center, but they are more likely than other Hispanics to vote Republican.

Anti-Gay Activism Trumps Religious Freedom At UN 'Family' Event

Religious Right activists say they’re fighting to save religious liberty in America from the gay rights movement, but many of the same leaders are happy to partner with the most religiously repressive regimes in order to resist advances toward LGBT equality around the world.

Consider Monday’s “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World” event at the United Nations. It was sponsored by anti-gay and anti-choice groups like the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and Family Watch International, which work to keep LGBT-friendly language out of international documents and agreements. Their cosponsors included the 25 countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF), a coalition of UN member states created last year to “reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Among the freedom-loving members of GoFF whose representatives spoke at Monday’s “high-level event” was Iran, which the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has just accused of seeking to “eradicate” the country’s Baha’is.

In fact, there’s a lot of overlap between GoFF members and countries identified by the Commission, currently chaired* by social conservative strategist Robert George, as the worst in the world for religious freedom: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iraq. Also included in GoFF are countries where anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have been generating hostility and threatening the lives and freedoms of LGBT people, including Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

But there was no talk of that unpleasantness at Monday’s three-hour event, which featured GoFF delegates pushing to have the U.N. emphasize “pro-family” policies in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The GoFF “Statement in Support of the Family” was presented by Valentin Rybakov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus, where, according to Human Rights Watch, authorities “pressure and arrest human rights activists and critics on spurious charges” and “regularly harass independent and opposition journalists.” Of course, there’s a similar situation in Russia, which doesn’t keep American Religious Right groups from swooning over Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies.

One of Putin’s defenders is C-Fam’s Austin Ruse. In a Monday email to his supporters, Ruse bragged that C-Fam “was asked by a number of Member States to organize this conference,” adding that “the family is under extreme pressure at the UN from those who want to redefine the family and to accept the notion that two people of the same sex can create a family and adopt children.”

At the UN, Ruse singled out Sudan and Saudi Arabia for praise, citing situations in which their representatives had “saved” UN documents from unwanted language on the family. For the record, the USCIRF calls Saudi Arabia “uniquely repressive” when it comes to religious freedom and says Sudan’s government “represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.”

During his remarks at the event, Ruse said the powerful force that “family” advocates are up against is the sexual revolution, which portrays family as a “patriarchal prison where pleasure and freedom go to die.” Without any apparent sense of irony, he declared that “tyrants have always known” that the family is “the real enemy to what they want” and its destruction is “how they get to the individual.”

Ruse announced the creation of a new coalition, Civil Society for the Family, which he said would be active in supporting GoFF’s work in defense of “traditional morality.”

The event also featured remarks from C-FAM’s Susan Yoshihara, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, Human Life International’s Shenan Boquet, CitizenGo and HazteOir’s Gregory Mertz, the Institute for Family Policy’s Lola Volarde, and anti-marriage-equality activists Sherif Girgis and Helen Alvaré. Religious leaders who spoke included California pastor and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens and Catholic Bishop John O’Hara of the Archdiocese of New York, who assured the group that they have Cardinal Dolan’s “enthusiastic support.”

A few highlights from other speakers:

  • Sharon Slater, representing Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Caucus, said she is deeply concerned about the “global assault” on the “health and innocence of children” from comprehensive sexuality education, which she called a “war on children and our families.”
  • FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that attempts to create a new definition of marriage that distances it from its roots in the “order of nature itself” are inconsistent with countries’ responsibility to protect and support the institution. Marriage, he said, “predates all other forms of government” and “it is not the place of government to redefine or interfere with the natural family.”
  • Gregory Mertz, representing what he said are the 4.3 million members of CitizenGo and HazteOir, online organizing platforms for social conservatives, said the definition of family is “routinely under attack” and that the U.N. ignores its obligation to protect it. Last year when GoFF’s creation was announced, CitizenGo asked people to sign a petition praising these “brave governments” in order to “show these courageous countries” that “we stand behind them 100 percent.”
  • Sherif Girgis, co-author with Robert George and Ryan Anderson of a book on marriage, said that undermining the “stabilizing norms of marriage” will hurt “every aspect of the common good that a stable marriage serves.”
  • Susan Yoshihara told a story about being shut down by school officials when she wanted to opt her young daughter out of a reading of a book that talked about families with two dads or two moms. She said there would have been more of a conversation before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, but that officials’ attitude now is “we won, you lose” — which she said was an example of why the law matters, and why it is important to resist changes in international law.
  • Helen Alvaré described defense of the family as both a rational and noble calling and said one can simultaneously affirm the “radical equality” of men and women while also recognizing their intrinsic complementarity, the topic of a 2014 Vatican conference for which Alvaré served as spokesperson. 

The statements from GoFF representatives were short and often repetitive statements about the centrality of the family to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Russian delegate discussed Putin’s promotion of “traditional family values” and noted that the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics, has named 2017 the Year of the Family. The Russian representative also said it is important to UN organizations to stay within their mandates and for countries that support traditional families to speak up so that silence isn’t considered an acceptance of “dangerous trends.” He made a reference to pro-LGBT stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration in February, which infuriated some “traditional family” supporters. He said supporters of the traditional values need to be more active at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The representative of Sudan also talked about the divinely created complementarity inherent in “the nature of each sex.” He complained that many international documents on women do not recognize the natural family but “deliberately seek to weaken and erode it.” Efforts to promote alternative forms of the family are incompatible with universal principles in human culture “which distinguish us humans from the rest of God’s creation.”

The event had a bit of theater as well. A short video from Family Watch International showed a succession of people saying nice things about families, including Janice Shaw Crouse and Alexey Komov — who are currently attending another global social conservative event, the World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia — among others. In addition, half a dozen children took turns reading “A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families: A Call from the Children of the World,” a document promoted by the UN Family Rights Caucus that they say has been signed “by thousands of children from every continent of the world.” Among its claims: Every child has a right to a married mother and father and the “right to innocence and childhood”— which is cited to attack sex ed programs and could be used to defend the kind of anti-gay “propaganda” laws that Russia and other countries are using to squelch advocacy for equality in the name of protecting children.

* UpdateHouse Speaker Paul Ryan announced on May 18 that Robert George has completed his second term and has been replaced on the Commission by the executive director of the Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz.

Samuel Rodriguez: Getting Conservative SCOTUS Trumps Immigration Reform

As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform.

But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations.

While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’s all-but-certain nomination, Rodriguez makes it clear that he is first and foremost a Religious Right culture warrior.

Rodriguez pushes the Religious Right line that religious freedom is threatened in America. There is an attempt to “silence Christians” in America, he says, and Christians cannot sit out elections because “today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.” He also believes there is a spiritual battle under way to “annihilate” the family.

In the end, his advocacy for immigrant families takes a back seat to his opposition to legal abortion and marriage equality. He said as much at an Evangelicals for Life event in January, telling Latinos that it’s fine to march for immigration reform —“as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” — but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

Although Rodriguez manages to cultivate a public image as a nonpartisan bridge-builder, he regularly partners with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right. The stridently anti-gay Liberty Counsel serves as NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver serves as an NHCLC board member and its chief legal counsel. Last fall Rodriguez called Cindy Jacobs, who has predicted a new civil war between God-loving and gay-loving states,  “one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God.”

In a story last week by right-wing pundit Todd Starnes of Fox News, Rodriguez dismissed talk by some evangelical leaders that Christians should, in the words of pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Of evils choose none.” Rodriguez says not voting is “sacrificing your Christian worldview on the altar of political expediency. It is silly to talk about not voting for either candidate. Every single Christian should vote.”

And while Rodriguez doesn’t mention Trump by name, it is clear that he will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders:

“I will vote my Christian values,” Rodriguez said. “It’s life, the family ethos, it’s religious liberty, it’s limited government. That’s the person I’m going to vote for.”

Rodriquez conceded that the 2016 candidates are not his “dream team” – but he’s only concerned about one issue – the Supreme Court.

“I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists – that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.”

This is a very different message than Rodriguez conveyed in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in July, which he co-wrote with Southern Baptist official Russell Moore, where he described Trump as an unchristian, unethical and unelectable politician.

Trump tweeted earlier this week that Moore is “a terrible representative of Evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart!”

Unlike Rodriguez, Moore is standing by his opposition to Trump.

 

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