Peter Montgomery's blog

Klayman Rally Speaker: America Under God's Judgment, Must Repent

Among the speakers at Larry Klayman’s rally in Washington was Brooke McGowan, a Tea Party activist from North Carolina. She had also spoken at the “We the People” rally on Veteran’s Day. McGowan, who was introduced as a representative of the Tea Party News Network, devoted her remarks to the need for national repentance, declaring that “we are in dire trouble today in America. We are a nation under judgment.” Among the reasons McGowan cited were abortion, religious pluralism, and church-state separation:

“In this nation we have turned away from the God of the Bible, and we’ve told Him He’s simply not welcome here. We have welcomed pluralism, atheism, secular humanism, Wicca, and even Islam, but we’ve told the Holy God to stay away. Legally, we removed God from the public schools over 50 years ago, and then 40 years ago through a court of nine justices, though not unanimous, we determined that His very image, precious life in the womb, could now be legally torn apart, killed, and discarded. Legalized murder began our rapid moral downfall....Now, how can we expect as a nation to stay blessed or even prosper when we willingly stay under this curse?”

McGowan cited the theories of Jonathan Cahn, whose book The Harbinger and movie Isaiah 9:10 Judgment argue that America is experiencing the end-times wrath of God in ways that were foretold in the Old Testament. According to Cahn, the 9/11 attacks were a wake-up call from God, but America didn’t repent, so the 2008 financial crisis was sent our way, but still we as a nation have not repented. If we don’t repent now, we’re looking at a military takeover in 2015.

McGowan pushed right-wing “war on Christianity” themes and a couple of false myths meant to prove it. “Today there is a cold war on Christianity, a civil war,” McGowan said. “Will we repent? How far does it have to go before we give in to His call for repentance?”

“At Walter Reed hospital down the road where our broken and mangled servicemen and women lie, you can’t even speak the name of Jesus or take in a Bible,” she said. “This is a disgrace!”

Actually, it’s a lie.

Biker Belinda Bee: God's People Taking Country Back

One of the speakers at Larry Klayman’s rally launching the Second American Revolution was Belinda Bee, a coordinator of 2 Million Bikers to DC. The group initially came together in protest of a 9-11 event called Million American March Against Fear (which some dubbed the Million Muslim March). At the time the biker group was denied a permit to protest, which Bee told Fox News was part of a “political agenda.” In the end, thousands of bikers did roll through Washington that day. At Klayman’s rally, Bee expressed contempt for President Obama – she referred to him as “whatever it is in office over there” – and for the federal government.  “We are homeland security. We are our own government. The government does not tell us what to do. We’re supposed to tell them.”

By teaming up with Klayman and his call for Americans to overthrow the current government and start over, the biker group seems to have expanded its vision far beyond an annual 9-11 protest. Bee’s remarks were heavily focused on America’s relationship with God, and she seemed to call for abandoning every constitutional amendment after the first ten:

Our mission statement starts off with: We at 2 Million Bikers to DC do believe in God, Country, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights – as written. That means there should not be change. We don’t care about all of those Bill of Rights that came after the original. We want to go back to our Founding Fathers’ views and beliefs. We are one nation under God, and without God, we are not America. I’m gonna tell you right now, the first thing that I hear somebody talk about is ‘I have freedom from religion.’ No sir that’s not what it says, it says freedom of religion. Do not preach to me about this not being a God country. It was founded on God. They came over here and left to come here to be able to have the freedom to be a Christian, and to have the God that we have, that brought this country together, that this country was created after.

Bee may want to think through her position: getting rid of all those later amendments and returning to the vision of the founders would not only make slavery legal and abolish women’s right to vote, it would also allow President Obama to run for a third term.

Bee also targeted the supposed threat of Sharia law and churches that accept “perversion” – presumably homosexuality.

You know what, y’all? I want to explain something. This is no longer about Democrat. This is no longer about Republican. This is about getting rid of those who are trying to enslave us. This is about getting rid of those who are trying to push their Sharia law on us. Let me tell you something. [audience: “Christian blood in this earth!”] That’s it. We are God’s people and if we don’t get our own churches to stand up and quit submitting and talking about, it’s ok for us to be different. Perversion is perversion and per the Bible it is not acceptable in God’s eyes. And we’ve got to quit letting others tell us it’s ok. It’s not. … And who are we?  We are God fearing Americans. We are homeland security, and we’re taking our country back.

Bee and a colleague said the group is launching political organizations in every state, will mount a major campaign in 2014, and is preparing to launch a social networking site that will be based outside the United States and therefore beyond the prying eyes of the NSA.

Evangelicals Opposed To Evangelicals For Immigration Reform

Today’s Heritage Foundation event featured conservative evangelicals who are unhappy with other evangelicals who are promoting comprehensive immigration reform. Our “who’s who” of the speakers turned out to be a good guide to what they had to say.  Speakers repeatedly (falsely) characterized the Senate immigration bill as “amnesty.”

James Hoffmeier, author of a book on immigration and the Bible, said he objects to people using the Bible to talk about immigration “the wrong way” and “misuse the scriptures to advance a cause.” He argues that undocumented immigrants are not the kind of people referred to in Bible verses about being welcoming to strangers.

Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy griped about mainline denominations demonstrating a lack of concern for border security.  He credited evangelicals endorsing comprehensive immigration reform for citing a need for border security, but criticized them for supporting the “mass legalization” in the Senate bill, which he characterized as legalization first, border security later.

Kelly Kullberg organized Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration as a counter to the Evangelical Immigration Table, which energetically backs the Senate bill.  She is also, like Tooley, a founder of Christians for a Sustainable Economy (CASE), a group that criticized Christians calling themselves the “Circle of Protection,” who had argued against cuts to federal programs that serve the poor.  (In a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders, CASE asked, “Whom would Jesus indebt?” and declared “The Good Samaritan did not use a government credit card.”) Kullberg made similar points about the immigration bill, saying America is a “near-bankrupt welfare state living on borrowed money” and cannot afford “amnesty” and “an influx of foreign labor.” She said “Kindness to foreigners should not be theft or injustice to citizens.” She also said that nowhere in scripture do we see “blanket amnesty or asylum.”

Carol Swain, right-wing author and law professor, argued that Christians should support respect for the rule of law. Swain warned “We’re welcoming people who totally reject who we are as a people,” and said we create problems for ourselves “if we bring in people who are not easily assimilated.” She declared, “There is no place in America for Sharia law in the U.S. Constitution.”  But Swain said she favors immigration reform if it is done the “right way” and encouraged people to read her book, Be the People, to find out how.

 

Religious Right Leaders Defend Russia's Anti-Gay Law

As Miranda reported earlier, House Speaker John Boehner’s office stepped in to provide space to the anti-gay Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society for its symposium on what Americans should learn from other countries when it comes to “family policy.” Sen. Mark Kirk, who had originally sponsored the group for a room, withdrew his support last night saying he doesn’t affiliate with groups that discriminate.

The Howard Center’s Allan Carlson, who described himself as a historian by training, saw fascism at work: “The parallel I see here is what happened in Italy, Germany, other lands in the 1920s and 1930s as fascism began to impose its fear-driven grip on debate, on conversation, and on policy-making.”

[UPDATE: Concerned Women of America has posted videos of the event]

Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America boasted about having been a speaker at all but one of the World Congress of Families summits – annual events organized by the Howard Center and attended by conservative religious activists from around the world. Crouse acknowledged that “things don’t look so good” to activists watching the advance of same-sex marriage in Europe and the U.S., and public opinion in many countries shifting to “quote LGBT rights.”  But, she said that’s not the whole story, and praised countries that have outlawed gay marriage and other groups of citizens who are “with the help of God” changing the world.

Crouse is particularly excited about what is happening among opponents of marriage equality in France, which she portrays as a “David v. Goliath” battle of plucky pro-family activists fighting the French government and media. She mentioned activists in Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Nigeria. She encouraged the small number of attendees to “take heart” and count on the power of truth and faithfulness.

Austin Ruse, the enthusiastically anti-gay head of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, devoted much of his remarks to supporting Russia’s new anti-free-speech and anti-gay propaganda law.  He read from a statement of support from “pro-family groups” defending Russia’s new law. The letter claims that “the Russian law protects the innocence of children and the basic rights of their parents recognized in the international legislation and treaties.”  More from the letter:

With its new law Russia is protecting genuine and universally recognized human rights against artificial and fabricated “values” aggressively imposed in many modern societies….We thus call for respect of the sovereignty of the Russian people and we invite all organizations and people who feel responsible for the protection of the innocence of children and their rights, the natural family and parental rights to stand up for Russia, as well as for Ukraine and Moldova suffering the same pressure due to similar laws.

Ruse, who has been spending time in Russia to prepare for the World Congress of Families 2014 summit, being held in Moscow, said western LGBT rights advocates were guilty of overheated rhetoric and “propaganda” about the status of gays in Russia. He saw gays everywhere in Moscow! They can enjoy themselves “hassle-free” at clubs.  Russians, he said, accept that homosexuality exists, but they believe the political movement to celebrate and regularize it is harmful to children.

Speakers actually seemed envious of Russia in some ways.  Ruse said that with the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church, “Christians over there are truly dominant.” In the U.S., though, there is “an increasingly hostile atmosphere toward people with traditional values” and a “vicious totalitarianism that is loose in the land.” And “there’s more trouble coming” with the Employment Non Discrimination Act.  Crouse said American gay-rights activists are “turning into thugs who are destroying freedom of speech, destroying religious liberty.” It’s very “refreshing,” she said, to see that’s not the case in other countries.

Ruse acknowledged that anti-gay violence and thuggery is a problem in Russia. He denounced such violence and said he has urged Russian officials to do more to stop it. But when he was asked whether the conversation about the anti-gay propaganda law and protecting children from gay people might encourage such violence, he said anti-gay violence in Russia has been going on for a long time and didn’t think the new law was to blame. And he said blaming religious conservatives for creating a climate of hate is a tactic of gay-rights groups, a “maneuver to silence people.” 

Carlson said he cuts Russia a lot of slack because the country is “trying to put decent moral society back together” after both Communism and some of the “bad things” – like a “libertine approach to sexuality” – that poured into Russia from the west after the fall of Communism.

Who's Who at Heritage Foundation's Rebuke to Pro-Immigration Reform Evangelicals

In recent years, a growing number of conservative evangelicals have joined more progressive Christians to embrace comprehensive immigration reform.  Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table have been making the case for reform at Religious Right events in recent years; one prominent conservative evangelical, Sam Rodriguez, recently announced a 40-day fast to advance reform legislation.

As RWW has reported, getting conservatives on board has been a hard sell, particularly for the “Teavangelical” wing of the Religious Right, whose members tend to stand with hard-right anti-immigration politicians. In particular, some conservatives aren’t happy about having the Bible quoted by those lobbying for passage of the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year.  In response, conservative activist Kelly Monroe Kullberg started a competing group, Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration.  

This Friday, her group is getting a boost from the Heritage Foundation, which is hosting “Doing Good to the Stranger and the Citizen: Evangelicals Discuss Immigration Reform.”

Here’s a quick look at the speaker line-up:

Kelly Monroe Kullberg

Kullberg is a founder of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration. She accuses leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table of being “deceptive and manipulative.” She complains that reform backers are supported by “atheist globalist and open border advocate George Soros.” She says the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill “does not reflect balanced biblical teaching” and would “make asylum easier for people like the Boston Marathon bombers.”

Kullberg decries “easy sloganeering” by reform advocates and says the U.S. cannot afford more immigrants. She says Jesus and biblical passages encourage the welcoming of some, but not all, strangers – those willing to assimilate culturally and religiously – and “also remind us to love not only the foreigner who comes to us in need, but our neighbors, such as those in Arizona, whose needs are being ignored.”

In a June letter Kullberg wrote:

The ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill will increase debt and danger in America for both citizens and guests, thus further precipitating the decline of the America we love and steward. In Scripture we are taught to make wise distinctions between the well-meaning sojourner (the 'ger' in Hebrew) and the foreigner who does not advance a nation’s faith, values and story (the 'goyim').

Kullberg recently spoke to American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios where she warned of the dangers that an immigration reform bill would case people of “other faiths” and “incompatible worldviews” to flood into the United States, diminishing respect for the value of human life and leading to an increase in human trafficking.

Carol M. Swain

Swain is a professor at Vanderbilt Law School who has edited books on immigration and white nationalism.  She has created a non-profit group to help her promote her conservative views. When she showered praise on a “documentary” film called “A Conversation About Race,” the Southern Poverty Law Center called her “an apologist for white supremacists.” She and her supporters at the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies lambasted SPLC – she calls it a hate group that “harasses conservatives” – but even her fans at the Wall Street Journal, which came to her defense, found parts of the film “inflammatory and invidious.”  And they noted that on immigration, Swain’s views “are closer to Lou Dobbs’s than to ours.”

Swain’s most recent book, 2011’s Be the People, places her firmly in the right-wing activist camp. She says the book is “a call to action for We the People to reclaim our nation’s faith and promise.”  The blurbs at the front of Be the People let you know what you’re in for. Among the right-wing stars praising the book are Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tony Perkins, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Robert George, Harry Jackson, and Jesse Lee Peterson. 

No wonder they love Swain: she writes respectfully of those who question President Obama’s faith and about birthers – she calls the term itself “pejorative” and an “epithet. Part of the book is a Christian-nation screed that would make David Barton proud. “We are engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation,” she writes. She slams the Supreme Court’s rulings on separation of church and state, saying, “The expulsion of God from public schools was a blow to civil religion and a clear repudiation of what Jesus proclaimed to be the greatest commandment.”

She cites Stephen Keillor, who says the 9/11 attacks might have been God’s judgment against the United States, which we well deserve. “We are being confronted with numerous national disasters and freak weather patterns. Could some of these occurrences be related to our decision to reject biblical injunctions against abortion, greed, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery?” While Swain calls her book a “rallying cry” for people to get involved, she also says it may be too late for America to escape God’s wrath for having violated the covenant its founders made with God.  “Accept the fact that no matter what Christians and other believers do, it may be too late to save the United States of America….As it stands, we do not know if judgment has been determined for our nation.”

In the chapter on immigration reform, SWain mentions testifying on immigration before a congressional committee. She was outnumbered on the panel, she says, but was encouraged by friendly faces like those of Reps. Steve King and Lamar Smith. She writes, “In light of the high unemployment in the US, no sensible argument can be made for legalizing millions of undocumented persons currently holding jobs to which they are not entitled.”

Swain also takes on the interpretation of scripture by pro-reform evangelicals, saying that the “stranger” in Old Testament injunctions does not apply to people in the U.S. illegally. She even impugns Catholic leaders for supporting immigration reform efforts, suggesting they are motivated by a desire to boost church membership. Among the specific proposals in her definition of reform are that Congress should “flex its muscles” and legislatively close the “loophole” of birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment.

Mark Tooley

Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a rght-wing group dedicated to attacking progressive elements within mainstream and evangelical Christianity and resisting the advance of LGBT equality at home and abroad. IRD calls the Evangelical Immigration Table a front group for George Soros and derides the Evangelical Immigration Table's “I was a stranger” campaign as “a masterful piece of emotional blackmail.” IRD has suggested that EIT is trying to manipulate evangelicals, which would be “a sad betrayal of a flock by its shepherds.”

IRD has also  insinuated that religious backers of the Senate immigration reform bill are just eager to get their hands on a “slush fund” of taxpayer dollars the bill includes for organizations that assist immigrants.

Tooley has criticized pro-reform leaders’ “superficial ‘God-talk’” and suggested that religious leaders should not be spending their time on immigration reform, which he says is not of the same “moral order” as “marriage, human life, and religious liberty.” In speaking about immigration, Tooley says it is “very problematic when people of faith start to claim that the Bible gives them very direct guidance on a particular contemporary political issue.” Well, that will certainly be news to the folks at the Heritage Foundation and the conservative evangelicals who are presumably the target for Friday’s event.

James Hoffmeier

Hoffmeier is Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible, a book that seems to be the basis for other speakers’ claims about the Old Testament. Hoffmeier summarizes his book in “The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate,” which is published on the website of the Center for Immigration Studies, which along with FAIR and NumbersUSA form a trio of anti-immigrant groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the core of the nativist lobby in America.” He says the Old Testament makes a distinction between strangers – equivalent to a resident alien who agreed to abide by the law – and foreigners, who did not have the same legal protections. Hoffmeier criticizes the “sanctuary” movement in America, saying, “So when American cities offer their cities as sanctuary from federal law, or when churches offer their facilities as a refuge for illegal immigrants who have been tried and order deported, they are neither following the letter or spirit of the OT law.” Or in other words, “American cities that use their communities to circumvent the law to help the illegal alien in the name of justice are doing a gross injustice to the letter and spirit of the biblical law.”

From a Publisher’s Weekly review of his book:  

“The book offers little in the way of sociological, political or economic insight into the circumstances surrounding modern-day illegal immigration, beyond advocating for a law-and-order approach. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of the Bible as a prophetic document more concerned with larger issues of justice. Still, Christians looking for a biblical justification for strict federal enforcement of immigration laws may find much to like.”

Ted Cruz Meeting David Lane's Religious Test For The Presidency

We’ve been covering the political organizing of Christian-nation advocate David Lane, and the way that Republican presidential hopefuls flock to his events in important primary states like Iowa and South Carolina. Recent news reports make it even clearer that one of Lane’s goals is to establish a de facto religious test for the Republican presidential campaign – a violation of the spirit of the U.S. Constitution and the first of our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s “12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics.”

Ted Cruz, who appeared at a Lane-organized event in Iowa this summer, spoke at Lane’s “Rediscovering God in America” event in South Carolina on Monday along with an array of Religious Right figures. Before the event Lane had described the goal:

“Everyone knows what they’re running for,’’ Lane said. “We want to know where you are coming from. What we’re looking for is what’s behind the curtain.’’

Thanks to Cruz and his father, it’s pretty clear “what’s behind the curtain” when it comes to Cruz’s faith – a belief that he has been anointed by God to help lead America.  US News reports on Monday’s event in South Carolina:

…during a gathering of 400 South Carolina pastors here Monday, attendees laid their hands upon Sen. Ted Cruz and asked God to grant him the strength to continue to be “as bold as a lion” and “fearless before all men.”

The Texas freshman now famous for his role in the government shutdown gave every indication he’d do all in his power to make sure their prayers are answered.

In his speech, Cruz delivered a clarion call to defend a litany of important causes to the evangelical leaders in the room: From the Ten Commandments and ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance to standing with Israel, in support of traditional marriage and against abortion.

The religious standard to which Lane plans to hold presidential contenders, and his fondness for Cruz, were even more explicit in comments reported in the New York Times this weekend. Lane is describing the Iowa event at which Cruz and Rand Paul appeared:

“One of the pastors said to Rand, ‘We’ve beat all around this, I don’t want to beat all around this anymore, let’s be real specific: Would you define yourself as born again?’” recalled David Lane, a Christian conservative organizer. “He said, ‘I’m born again.’ ”

Still, Mr. Lane underscored the advantage Mr. Cruz has with some evangelicals. Asked about the Texas senator’s faith, he responded, “Cruz is obviously born again and goes to First Baptist Houston.”

Lane wants to make sure that there’s no repeat of the GOP’s nomination of anyone who is not “born again” in a manner that meets his approval. During the last presidential campaign, Lane was deeply troubled by Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. When Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress made anti-Mormon statements, Lane wrote that “juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false god of Mormonism, is very important in the larger scheme of things.”

If Cruz or any of the Republican presidential hopefuls has any problems with Lane’s divisive approach to religion and politics, they’re keeping it to themselves.

Anti-Gay Groups Rev Up Anti-ENDA Rhetoric As Senate Vote Nears

As RWW has been documenting, anti-gay groups have been getting wildly over the top in their denunciations of the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would add to federal anti-discrimination law protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  With a procedural vote in the Senate scheduled as early as Monday evening, anti-LGBT groups are getting increasingly shrill.

On Friday night, the Family Research Council blasted out a breathtakingly dishonest alert charging that under ENDA “employers would be forced to reward workers based on their sexual preferences.” FRC’s Tony Perkins called ENDA a “republic-altering piece of legislation that has the power to fundamentally destroy Americans' First Amendment rights.”

Through ENDA (which FRC has blocked for a decade), businesses would be ordered to make hiring, firing, and promotion decisions -- not based on a person's qualifications -- but on their sexual expression. Homosexuals, cross-dressers, and transgendered workers would automatically qualify for special treatment that other workers would not. Can you imagine walking into your child's classroom and meeting a teacher dressed in drag? Neither can most Americans. But unfortunately, that's just one of the many consequences of adopting a law as dangerous as this one. Preschools, daycare centers, summer camps, religious chains like Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A -- they'll all be subject to the law, regardless of their personal beliefs and workplace standards.

Also on Friday, the National Organization for Marriage blasted ENDA, calling it “a Trojan horse built to attack the foundational institution of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s the same line taken a day earlier by Ryan Anderson, a protégé of Robert George and the Heritage Foundation’s answer to young Americans’ support for LGBT equality. Anderson wrote in National Review online that “ENDA would create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity, backed up by coercive enforcement.” Anderson also says “ENDA would further weaken the marriage culture and the ability of civil society to affirm that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human.”

Anderson and others call ENDA a threat to religious liberty even though the bill in fact includes a broad exemption for religious organizations, an exemption that is broad enough to raise concerns among some backers of the law. But for Anderson, even that religious liberty exemption is “inadequate and vaguely defined.” He says ENDA would interfere with the rights of business owners to run their businesses the way they want.

That was also the theme of a hyperventilating alert send on Sunday by former military chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt warning that the Senate was preparing to vote “to punish Christian Business Owners.” He says ENDA will trample religious freedom and “will force Christians into bankruptcy and lawsuits if they refuse to hire homosexuals that oppose their corporate mission.”

In reality, ENDA has broad support in the business community and is backed by large majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Not only that, but majorities of all religious groups – including white evangelical Protestants – support laws to protect gay and lesbian people from workplace discrimination. So clearly, ENDA’s opponents do not speak for all Christians, or even all evangelical Christians, most of whom agree that fairness on the job is an American value that is worth upholding in law.

As President Barack Obama notes in an op-ed published in the Huffington Post on Sunday, ENDA is a concrete expression of America’s ideal of equality under the law:

America is at a turning point. We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals. As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character." That's what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.

Larry Taunton At FRC: US Must Choose Between Christianity And Tyranny

Larry Taunton, an author whose Fixed Point Foundation is devoted to advocating for the truth of Christianity in the public arena, spoke at the Family Research Council Wednesday on the topic of “Combating Secularism in the Public Square.” Having recently injured his foot in a stumble, he joked that he wished he had a better story, that he’d been “kicking around a few liberals.” 

Taunton’s FRC speech  recycled much of the language in an article he wrote last year mocking the “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C. as the “Rally for Nothing in Particular.” It reiterated the main thrust of his book, The Grace Effect: societies do better when there are enough Christians around to bring grace to the culture, and societies are in danger when they no longer have Christianity at their center.

Citing “new atheists” such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins (whose books he called “sheer nonsense”), Taunton argued that there is “growing hostility toward Christianity” and an effort to “drive Christianity from western life and culture.” Like many speakers at Religious Right events, he argued that a big source of America’s problems is that Christians and the church are not outspoken enough.

Taunton argues that how people answer questions about God determines our view of mankind and our view of government, particularly whether government is meant to serve man or man to serve the state. He warned that “we live in a time when the state is deemed to be the answer to all things.” The notion that “all men are created equal,” he said, makes sense only in a Christian context. And he warned that “we cannot dismiss God from public life and retain human dignity, worth and meaning, because those things can only be given by God.” More explicitly, he said, “society cannot and will not stand in the absence of belief in God.”  Taunton says some secular societies, like those in Western Europe, are “still running off of their accumulated Christian capital. But beware. When the fumes in that tank are spent, tyranny cannot be far away.”

In a response to a question from FRC’s notoriously anti-gay Peter Sprigg, Taunton expressed a sort of grudging admiration for the “gay and lesbian lobby,” which he said has changed America’s cultural conversation even though it represents a “tiny percentage” of the population.  He said many young people who identify as homosexual see God as a “cosmic spoilsport” and the church as hostile.  Citing research he did for an Atlantic article on young atheists, he said one young lesbian viewed Christians not as a group but as a “gang.”  Taunton said that in reaching out to people, he does not believe in compromising the gospel, but he encourages Christians to consider whether they are “projecting grace” in the way they communicate.  Odd, then, that he praised the Family Research Council, whose approach to LGBT people could hardly be any less grace-projecting.

At VVS Heritage Predicts 'Massive Upheaval' and Right-Wing Takeover of GOP

Dissatisfaction with “establishment” Republicans has been a consistent theme at this year’s Values Voter Summit, and it reached new heights at a Saturday morning breakfast session hosted by the Heritage Foundation and its more overtly political arm, Heritage Action.

Sen. John McCain has been a favored punching bag, no doubt for having had the temerity to criticize the “Teavangelical” favorite son, Ted Cruz.  An audience member asked whether Heritage was planning to do something to take out South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, referred to by the questioner as “John McCain’s lapdog.” Heritage Action Chief Operating Officer Tim Chapman said that Heritage Action has “steered clear” of primaries since its bread and butter is working on Capitol Hill, but said the group’s materials are often used in primaries, and he praised the work of groups like Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. 

Regarding Graham, Chapman told the questioner “I am with you” and said he would like to see some “good accountability" applied to Graham. He said he hoped one of the conservative members of the South Carolina House delegation might step up to take on Graham. Chapman slammed Republicans in Congress as “close to failing," saying the average Republican score on the group's congressional scorecard is only 67 percent, something that has "rankled a few feathers on Capitol Hill."

Chapman complained that Republican leaders were preparing to cave to Obama in the current standoff: “As we speak, Republican leaders are speaking to the White House and they are cutting a deal and I promise you the deal is going to be total garbage.”

“We are at the point right now where we are seeing a complete cleavage away from the Republican Party of the conservative movement,” he said. “You are going to see massive upheaval in the next election on all fronts…We have an opportunity to take over the party and it will be in the next election cycle.”

AFA Lunch at VVS: Call for 'Aggressive' and 'Offensive' Church in Culture War

The American Family Association hosted a luncheon on Friday at the Values Voter Summit. The featured speaker, Rep. Randy Forbes, was a no-show, though the audience was assured his non-appearance had nothing to do with ads being run in his district urging him to stay away.  Whatever was keeping Forbes so busy that he couldn’t break away didn’t prevent Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) from making it to the VVS hotel to give some opening remarks. Aderholt praised the activists, saying that the only way for America to be saved is for the country not to forget its founding values.  In Forbes’ absence we also heard from Jerry Boykin, the retired general who is now a VP at the Family Research Council, and Lea Carawan, the director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation.

Boykin was his blunt self, asserting, “we are in a culture war today like America has never been” and complaining that the problem was with the church in general and with “Christians in name only” in particular.  “The majority of the Christians in America today are dead, asleep,” he groused. “They are not involved in what’s going on in our culture. They’re not engaged in this culture war. They are not putting their faith into action.”  He said it was the church that brought about the Revolutionary War and the abolition of slavery through the Civil War.  When he looks at America today, he said, “There is no other solution to our ills than for the church to wake up, get off your dead behinds and get in this culture war that we’re involved in.”

Carawan picked up on Boykin’s message, saying that members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and affiliated members in state legislatures are disappointed that they aren’t getting more backup from churches.  For example, she said, members of the Maine legislature have had to do the organizing to get pastors involved in a push for a “religious liberty” bill.  Carawan said the caucus was committed to an “offensive strategy” – one example she gave was Pennsylvania legislation requiring the display of “In God We Trust” in all the state’s public schools. 

Carawan said the prayer caucus favors a neutral public square and religious liberty for all Americans, but in the next breath said “we are equally committed to advocate, aggressively engage the public for advocating that Judeo-Christian values be reflected in our laws and policy, because somebody’s values are going to be reflected in laws and policies.” The founding fathers, she said, fought “so that we could have Judeo-Christian values reflected in our government, laws, and policy.” The founders understood, she said, “that it is only Christianity, Judeo-Christian principles, that provides the only valid moral basis that will secure freedom for all Americans.”

Carawan warned that “the strategy of the secular progressive agenda is simple and dangerous:  use the limitless financial resources at their disposal and the power of government to overwhelm and bury religious freedom in the ash heap of history. And that’s their plan. Not on our watch. Not on our watch. We’ve relied on defending our freedom in the courts. But this isn’t sufficient. We have to go on the offensive. We have to be aggressive. We have to stand up. We have to be intentional and strategic.”

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