Peter Montgomery's blog

E.W. Jackson: A Vote for Me is a Vote for 'Glory of God'

Virginia’s new Republican Lt. Gov nominee E.W. Jackson made an unsuccessful run last year for the GOP nomination to the U.S. Senate. In this “message to the church” from that campaign, Jackson said there was a “calling on his life” to run for the Senate seat. He warned that “our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity” and he criticized Rep. Bobby Scott, a strong advocate of church-state separation. Jackson urged Christians to “rise up,” go to the polls, and “cast a vote for the glory of God,” i.e., for his Senate candidacy. The section quoted below begins at 2:35.

“This is an emergency, a critical point in American history. Continuing down the path we are on will result in escalating persecution of Christianity, but even worse, risk losing the favor of God on our country, which would be an unimaginable horror. I am asking Christians to unite on the biblical principles which founded our country and help me take those principles to the United States Senate. Those who understand the history of our country know the vital role the church played not only in the establishment of hospitals, colleges, and a host of other charitable organizations, but in the revolution which established this great nation. If Christians do not rise up, the future of our country is bleak. I ask you to go to the polls on June 12 and cast a vote for the glory of God. I’m not a perfect man, but I love the Lord, and I love this country, and I will always be grateful that He has saved me and gave me citizenship to the most free and prosperous nation in history. I will fight to see to it that it stays that way. As a brother in Christ, I ask for your prayers, your support, and for your vote on June 12 in the Republican primary.…"

Right-Wing 'News' Outlet: 'Obamacare Just Killed its Millionth Person'

An email sent from Charisma media, a Pentecostal media company, brings the “news” that Obamacare has killed its millionth person. Amazingly, this milestone was reached even before health care reform has been fully implemented. The claim is not documented or explained in any way. It seems to be mostly an attention-grabbing way to promote some right-wing hucksterism.  Here’s how the letter starts:

Obamacare Just Killed its Millionth Person...

Dear Concerned Citizen, 

The eleventh hour is upon us.

In the coming weeks, the full impact of Obamacare will take effect. 

I've seen what's coming and it's scary. It's a lethal dose of socialism being injected directly into the heart of the American health insurance market.

Heck, it's already wreaking havoc. By our estimates, Obamacare has already killed a million people by further straining an already weak healthcare system. 

The letter pitches an anti-Obamacare petition and promotes “Capitol Hill Daily,” an electronic publication launched this year. Capitol Hill Daily’s “Chief Political Analyst” is right-wing activist Floyd Brown, a co-founder of Citizens United and infamous as the political operative behind the Willie Horton ad deployed against Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential race.

Capitol Hill Daily produces reports, such as From Policy to Profit: How the World's Biggest Profit Opportunity is Hiding Inside of Capitol Hill , that purport to teach people how to make “enormous sums of money”  based on the kind of “political intelligence” available to members of Congress and hill staffers.  

Ted Cruz, Archbishop Lori Will Address FRC's 'Watchmen' Pastors

The Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference is an annual gathering for pastors and other church leaders to hear from a panoply of right-wing speakers and get motivated to “transform America.” Our coverage of last year’s event highlights speakers’ attacks on evolution, secularism, Islam, LGBT people, and other tools of Satan.

This year’s conference, which takes place in Washington DC May 22-24, has been promoted by FRC for months.  In April, FRC sent an excited alert that Sen. Ted Cruz, a Tea Party and Religious Right favorite who is reportedly mulling a 2016 presidential bid, had confirmed.

Based on other confirmed speakers, it seems likely that there will be two major themes to this year’s gathering: 1) religious liberty in America is under attack by Obama and his gay allies; and 2) only the church – led by uncompromising fired up pastors – can save freedom and America.

A notable addition to the cast of conservative evangelicals is William Lori, Archbishop of the Diocese of Baltimore and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. Lori has led the bishops’ attack on the Obama administration’s proposed regulations requiring insurance coverage of contraception.  Lori, who believes that “aggressive secularity” is “becoming the established ‘religion’ in our country today,” will be right at home with his friends at the Family Research Council. A typical FRC Action mailing from Tony Perkins earlier this year said President Obama is out to “crush freedom.” The same letter warns about “death panels” under Obamacare, which Perkins calls “the tip of the tyranny-iceberg.”

Also entertaining the Watchmen will be Rep. James Lankford, who earlier this year blamed gun violence on “welfare moms” overmedicating their kids with psychiatric drugs because they “want to get additional benefits.”  At FRC’s Values Voter Summit in September, Lankford said of the dispute over contraception coverage, “this is not a war on women, this is a war on people of faith.” 

Also confirmed is Ergun Caner, who lost his position at Liberty University after Muslim and Christian bloggers, and then journalists, began to expose the falsehoods in the Jihadi-to-Jesus life story that Caner had used to make a name for himself in the post-9/11 evangelical universe. Caner will probably echo his remarks at the 2009 Values Voter Summit, where his message to Christians who were not being outspoken enough on the issues of the day: “You need to preach, teach, and reach, or just shut up and get out of our way.”

Anti-gay activist Harry Jackson is quick to invoke Satan and other demonic powers as the forces behind the gay rights movement, which he portrays as an enemy of religious freedom. He has charged that a “radical” gay element is trying to “close down every church in America.” In fact, one of his columns was titled,” Why do Gays Hate Religious Freedom?”  Jackson’s apocalyptic anti-Obama rhetoric did not convince many Black Christians to vote against Obama, but Jackson thinks they’ll be sorry. God, he says, will “take out” those who chose “race over grace.” Jackson is a long-time FRC ally; he and Perkins co-authored Personal Faith, Public Policy, which calls Supreme Court rulings on church-state issues “assaults” on Christianity.

Jim Garlow, a California pastor who led church backing for Prop 8 in California and was then tapped by Newt Gingrich to run one of his political groups, had warned before the election that an Obama reelection would destroy the country.  During an FRC post-election special Garlow said that Christians should expect massive persecution from the government.  At last year’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, Garlow spoke at a press conference attacking President Obama’s use of religious language to describe his support for marriage equality. Evoking the words of a colonial preacher, Garlow said, “if necessary, here we die.” In an FRC DVD promoting Watchmen on the Wall, Garlow says an FRC-produced video was crucial to the Prop 8 win.

Richard Land is retiring in October after 25 years as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty commission; he was dogged by controversy during the past year over plagiarism charges and racially inflammatory remarks he made regarding the Trayvon Martin killing.  Land has charged that the only reason the Obama administration proposed regulations on contraception coverage was to "set the precedent of ramming this down our throats and forcing us to surrender our First amendment freedom of religion." Land says God will unleash judgment on America for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Watchmen will also hear from Jacob Aranza, whose 1983 book Backward Masking Unmasked warned that rock music was encoded with satanic messages that would entice teens into drug use and abnormal sexual behavior. Aranza says he burned “hundreds of thousands” of albums in those days. More recently, Aranza was an endorser of Rick Perry’s “Awakening” and participated in Religious Right strategy sessions convened by James Robison to try to prevent Obama’s re-election. In 2011, Aranza and Perkins appeared together on Robison’s television show, and Aranza gushed about Perkin’s work to mobilize pastors:

Tony Perkins is one of the great heroes in America today. He is a hero because it is unseen. He is uniting and equipping the most important people in America, and that's the pastors in America. If the local church is the hope of the world then pastors are the hope of the local church. Tony Perkins exists to encourage them and to equip them and to empower them. He's taking regular pastors -- the average church in America, James, as you know is less than 200 people; 80% of the churches in America are 200 or less -- and he is taking men like that and he is turning them into absolute heroes, just like pastors in Maine who are literally changing the moral fiber of an entire state because he has equipped them and empowered them and told them they're the people that are supposed to be the hedge of builders, and he is encouraging them to do just that.…I believe that as you speak you are literally trumpeting a sound that is encouraging pastors across America and families across America that are Christians to unite together to see God once again bring spiritual awakening to our nation.

JC Church is one of FRC’s pastor leaders “networking churches in Ohio to answer the call on moral issues.”  His 3 Cord Alliance, which is affiliated with FRC, teaches pastors “how to bring sound scripturally based influence and change to your community.” Church has been praised by Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values: “I believe that if all the pastors in Ohio were like Pastor Church, we would have an army that Satan could not stop. He understands that America is led by the pulpit and we count on him to unite fellow pastors and their congregations to be the salt and light we so desperately need in the world today.”

Jack Hibbs is a California-based preacher who also pushed Prop 8; in 2011 he helped lead an unsuccessful effort to overturn the state’s SB 48, which he charged would lead to public schools indoctrinating students.  In a video urging pastors to get involved, he said it is not enough to teach and preach the word of God, pastors needed to be “culture changers for Christ.” Leading into the 2012 election Hibbs was outspoken about the fact that Christians should vote for Romney over Obama. In a radio show the day after the 2012 elections, He says he was on the phone with Tony Perkins on election night and they had both believed that the outcome was up to the church: “The answer wouldn’t be determined in the White House or the statehouse….the answer for righteousness or unrighteousness, for light or for darkness, for liberty or tyranny, would be decided by the pastors.” Given the way things turned out, Hibbs says “I believe the responsibility, the outcome, and the fallout falls into the hands of the pulpits of America’s pastors who did not speak up….” Hibbs also echoes Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks: “those who are looking for handouts, they don’t want to work, they want the government to give things to them, overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama.” Hibbs said he was disappointed but not discouraged, because “God’s on the throne” and therefore “God has appointed him to be our president for God’s purposes – OK that means God has got some pretty gnarly purposes coming for America.”

There’s a special role at the conference for FRC’s executive vice president, retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin.  Boykin retired from the military after being reprimanded by then-President Bush for making speeches depicting the war on terrorism as a Christian holy war against Islam. FRC hired Boykin last year after he was disinvited from speaking at West Point after faculty and cadets objected.  Boykin and his Religious Right allies portrayed his mythical martyrdom as an attack on freedom of speech and religion. At last year’s Values Voter Summit, Boykin invoked Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler in denouncing what he said is an effort to move Americans away from belief in a sovereign God.  He says everything President Obama is doing is right out of the” Communist Manifesto.”

Perkins seems to be counting on Boykin to strong-arm pastors at the conference into making a concrete commitment to political activism. In an insert in a packet mailed to pastors, Perkins says Boykin will offer the “concluding challenge” – and he insists that pastors book their flights home no earlier than 4pm so that they can stay.  “During the Briefing, we will share details of the strategic plan the Lord is using to bring revival and renewal in communities around the nation through the engagement of pastors. At the end, we have a ‘call to decision’ or ‘invitation’ sort of like many of you do in a worship service. Just as you want those attending your worship service to stay and respond, we would respectfully ask the same of you.” Perkins has some leverage – FRC picks up most of the tab for one pastor from each church.

FRC launched Watchmen on the Wall in 2004. A 2010 promotional DVD said the group was up to 14,000 pastors; it said Perkins’ goal was to have 40,000 Watchmen pastors by 2015. Pastors who sign up get access to regular briefings, model sermons, and other toolkits for mobilizing their congregations and communities.  The same promotional video contains a clip of “historian” David Barton quoting 19th Century preacher Charles Finney saying, in effect, that if the country is going to hell, it’s pastors’ fault.  The notion that America can only be saved by more aggressive preachers is a recurring theme at Religious Right gatherings, including Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference.

Bachmann Urges 'Spiritual Warfare' to Enforce Right-Wing Policies

Last week, RWW posted video of Michele Bachmann calling the 9-11 and Benghazi attacks God’s judgment on America.  A few weeks earlier, at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference, Bachmann insisted that public policy should reflect what she thinks God says – and she urged American Christians to focus on “spiritual warfare” in order to promote right-wing policies.

Watch:

You see if we retreat from our values and fail to make the case on issues like marriage – because it is one man, one woman – because God said it is. Not because it’s poll tested – because God said it is. And life – not because it’s poll tested, because God stands for life. He made us in his image and likeness. And if we tread too softly on issues, like taking on Islamic jihad, and if we fight too timidly, and if we strive too meekly, then I think we all understand we very easily could come face to face with defeat, and then our nation would in fact pay a great and a lasting price, one that none of us wants to face.

...

Because we need to recognize the desperate situation of our condition, not only in the natural but also in the supernatural. Because as the scripture was read from the pulpit at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, we fight not against this world, we fight against the powers and principalities and 'Prince of the Air,' that’s where we need to focus as well, is on spiritual warfare…

Boykin: America on 'Precipice of Total Destruction' Due to 'Silent' Church

Retired Gen. Jerry Boykin – anti-Muslim crusader, Religious Right folk hero, and Family Research Council Vice President – was one of the speakers at Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference. Boykin, who has accused Barack Obama of turning the U.S. into a “Marxist nation,” told Awakening attendees that the country is “on the precipice of total destruction” and he blames the church for not standing up and being “the dominant influence on our society.”

The Bible tells us, woe unto you who call good evil and evil good. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in America today. We’re calling good evil and evil good, and we’re paying the penalty for it because we’re losing our nation. Our values are changing so rapidly. We’re on the precipice of total destruction if we don’t turn this around and I mean that. I’ll say it again, we’re on the precipice of total destruction if we don’t turn our value system around….The question that we have to ask ourselves, and I ask you to ponder this, where is that church that Alexis de Tocqueville talked about in America today? Where is that church that should be the dominant influence on our society, that should influence everything that we do, the way we think, the way we act. Where is that church today? … Across the nation the church has been silent. The church is not the dominant influence in America today. It doesn’t shape our values because the church has been silent, where we’re now calling good evil and evil good even inside the churches across America today, and it’s killing us as a nation.

Bradlee Dean: Public Schools Evil, Obama Emulating Mao

Right-wing rock musician and radio host Bradlee Dean, a Michele Bachmann ally, was part of a panel on the Millennial generation at Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference. Dean’s You Can Run But You Can’t Hide ministry, designated an anti-gay hate group last year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, works to bring Dean’s right-wing-values presentations into public schools.

Dean – who has suggested that the federal government was behind the shootings in Sandy Hook, Aurora Springs, and Columbine, along with the Oklahoma City bombing and 9-11 – not surprisingly pushed conspiracy theories about public education, including the notion that the rigorous International Baccalaureate program is part of a global scheme to disarm Americans and indoctrinate students in a homosexual agenda.

During the Awakening panel, Dean ranted that public school students know nothing about the Constitution and said that Christian parents have no excuse for having their children in public schools. He cited the Common Core, a curriculum standard developed by state education officials, as evidence that President Obama is acting like Mao Tse-Tung. He said Supreme Court rulings on church-state issues had opened the door to Satanism.   Some excerpts:

“In 1962, said we don’t want prayer, and we don’t want the Ten Commandments in 1980, guess what you did, you just opened the door to Satanism, and call it for what it is....

You can’t justify having your kid in a public school. You can’t. You can’t do it. [Other panelist: “Unless you hate ‘em”]. Unless you hate ‘em, that’s exactly right. No, guys, just hang on, there’s nothing funny about this. Here, let me tell you this, this is how funny it is, guys.  In public schools right now they’re teaching your kids, for those that didn’t know, International Baccalaureate. For those that didn’t know, it started in 1968 under a global educational scheme called International Baccalaureate. They’re teaching your kids to disarm, they’re teaching your kids to accept homosexuality, homosexual marriage, which has never been in the history of mankind. By the way, gay marriage and homosexuality? It’s only there to take away your sovereignty.  So for those that want to sit there and play games with the homosexual community, let me tell you something: they ain’t playing….

They’re teaching No Child Left Behind. Now they’re teaching something called Common Core. Folks, this president is emulating dictators. Do you not understand that he is not playing games? If you look at Mao Tse-tung, this boy is emulating Mao Tse-tung to a T. You know what Mao Tse-tung did, he went to the younger generation, he overthrew the Republic of China to implement what? Democracy. Who is the last president that actually acknowledged that we were a republic? Reagan. Every president since has continuously inundated the next generation with the fact that we are a democracy. That is dangerous, guys.”

Dean, who last year was ordered to pay attorney fees in an unsuccessful-to-date $50 million lawsuit against MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and the Minnesota Independent’s Andy Birkey, earlier this year threatened a defamation suit against Wonkette.

Religious Right Panelists: Gay Rights Activists are Christ-Hating Fascists

At Liberty Counsel’s recent Awakening conference, gays were portrayed as enemies of religious freedom who are bent on turning public schools into indoctrination centers using the issue of bullying as a “Trojan horse.”  Greg Quinlan, president of Parents and Friends of ExGays and Gays, who describes himself as ex-gay, complained that New Jersey’s new anti-bullying law is being used to bully Christian students, and hollered that the law is actually fascism.

You don’t need a law, inculcated and put into code, to talk about bullying. What this bully bill is is behavior modification. That’s the job of the parents and the teachers and we don’t need that put into law. This is fascism! This is fascism! We need to put a swastika on it!

Quinlan complained that public officials, including Gov. Chris Christie, would not listen to Religious Right objections to the bill because gay rights advocates had exploited the suicide of a bullied boy:

Because one boy -- and the homosexual agenda is extremely good at this, when there’s a disaster -- one boy jumps off the George Washington Bridge, kills himself in the Hudson River. And they seized that moment and they took it and used it to their advantage. And what did we do? We said “Oh, that’s terrible that that happened,” but we don’t have any statements to make when these issues do happen. This is where we have to have better messaging.

Matt Barber, one of the most ferociously anti-gay voices in public life, used a question about the treatment of an anti-gay protestor to charge that gays are motivated by hatred for Jesus Christ and that the “homosexual lifestyle” is a sin-condemned “culture of death.”

The question was, an elderly woman was at a homosexual rally and she was carrying this big styrofoam cross and she was knocked around, it was caught on film, no charges were filed, they took her cross, and stomped it, and crushed into tiny bits. That is a microcosm of what we’re up here – and I thought, something that immediately occurred to me was, wasn’t that a metaphor for what we’re up against. It’s about the cross. It’s about the cross and a hatred of Christ, who is what? The way, the truth, and the life.  They hate the way, which is Christ, they hate the truth, which they are in conflict with, and they hate life. This is a culture of death we are talking about here, and the wages of sin is what? Is death. The homosexual lifestyle astronomically, from a statistical standpoint, leads to death. The wages of sin is death.

Other speakers on the panel were Rena Lindevaldsen, a Liberty University law professor and associate dean, and Cynthia Dunbar, a Religious Right activist who served on the Texas state board of education and who is now also a law professor at Liberty. Dunbar bragged in her conference bio that her work has earned her a “position” on Right Wing Watch.

The Myth of American Christians as Persecuted Minority, part 256

The claim that American Christians are facing horrible persecution for their religious beliefs – and are on the verge of being rounded up and thrown into jail by tyrannical secularists – has been a staple of Religious Right groups’ rhetoric for decades. And as conservative evangelicals’ anti-gay views have lost popular support, they’ve doubled down on their claims that gay rights are incompatible with religious liberty. In recent years, conservative Catholics have joined in crying “religious persecution” in response to the advance of marriage equality for same-sex couples and the Obama administration’s requirement for insurance coverage of contraception.

On CNN’s Belief Blog, correspondent John Blake has given voice to these claims in a post titled “When Christians become a ‘hated minority.’” That headline hinted that this piece would be problematic. And that was confirmed with the opening sentence, which cites the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, who goes on to say that anti-gay Christians are victims who are being forced into the “closet.”

Where to begin?

We could start with the problem of Peter Sprigg being a spokesperson for tolerance. In Blake’s story, Sprigg is quoted saying “Maybe we need to do a better job of showing that we are motivated by Christian love” and “Love is wanting the best for someone, and acting to bring that about.” It’s hard to square Sprigg’s assertion that he is motivated by the best interests of gay people, given that he:

  • has called for the criminalization of homosexual conduct both in the U.S. and abroad;
  • said he would like to “export” gays from the U.S. rather than support legislation to give same-sex couples equal treatment under immigration law;
  • dislikes the idea of a gay judge, because he says gays don’t make good role models;
  • opposes making children raised by a same-sex couple eligible for social security benefits if a parent’s spouse dies;
  • dismisses anti-bullying and safe-school programs as attempts to indoctrinate impressionable children
  • has suggested that schools should be allowed to fire openly gay teachers and coaches;
  • has cheered the kidnapping of a child by a mother who refused to abide by a court’s order to share custody with her former partner.

Sprigg says the “real goal of homosexual activists” is not protection from discrimination or marriage equality, but is “to create a society in which it is unacceptable for anyone, ever, anywhere to say that homosexual conduct is wrong, or that homosexual relationships are anything other than fully equal to heterosexual ones.” The CNN piece also cites Bryan Liften, a professor at Moody Bible Institute, saying Christians should be able to publicly say that God designed sex to take place within a marriage between a man and a woman.

Should be? If you haven’t noticed, plenty of Christians have been saying that loudly and proudly and with millions of dollars they have used to enshrine that belief into a majority of state constitutions. People like Sprigg and his boss Tony Perkins, Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage, and any number of conservative evangelicals and Roman Catholic bishops have pretty much an open invitation to say so on national television and before state legislative and congressional committees. Not to mention through their own radio and television networks and vast church networks. Or from the platform of the Republican convention.  Freedom of expression, including anti-equality expression, is alive and well.

The CNN post does include Christians with differing views on gay rights, and who acknowledge that simply claiming religious backing for one’s beliefs does not insulate those views from criticism in the public arena. Neither does disagreement equate to discrimination or persecution. Conservative Christians did not see it as a form of religious discrimination to enshrine their view of marriage into laws and state constitutions; but as public opinion shifts and more states make equality the law, they warn of dire threats to their freedom.

Among the Religious Right horror stories linked to in the CNN piece are complaints about pastor Louie Giglio’s withdrawal from President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony in the face of criticism about anti-gay remarks that surfaced online. Criticism of those remarks – even anger and disappointment among pro-equality Obama supporters over Giglio being given a place of honor at the inaugural – does not mean, as some pundits claimed, that people of faith are no longer welcome in the public square. Anyone who heard the prayers, music, and speeches at the inaugural would see that such claims are ludicrous.

It should be noted that Religious Right groups made similarly shrill claims that the addition of sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws would result in preachers being thrown into jail for quoting scripture on homosexuality. And they claimed that allowing gay members of the armed forces to serve openly would destroy the military. Those claims have been proven to be not just wrong but ridiculous.

Baker quotes evangelical blogger Joe Carter (who used to work at Family Research Council), warning that young people will abandon anti-gay churches “for fear of being called haters.” What is far more likely is that many young Christians will leave anti-gay churches because they have gay friends and disagree with both the anti-gay theology and anti-equality policy positions of the Religious Right. And some may continue to hold traditional theological views on homosexuality while supporting legal equality as a civil matter. Polling shows that the generation gap on LGBT issues is huge within as well as outside the evangelical community – and that many young Christians are disillusioned with the anti-gay fixation of many church leaders.

The CNN piece finishes blogger Carter saying “he foresees a day when any church that preaches against homosexuality will be marginalized. Just as many churches now accept divorce, they will accept sexual practices once considered sinful.”

So let’s end with a consideration of divorce. The Catholic Church denies its religious blessing to divorced couples who get remarried without obtaining a religious annulment of their previous marriage. Many evangelical churches also frown on divorce. But all marriages – first, second, third, or fourth – are treated equally under civil law (good news for Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh!).  Yet no one is arguing that the status quo on divorce amounts to an attack on religious freedom – or that Christians who oppose divorce have been marginalized or hounded out of the public square. Their religious beliefs about divorce coexist with public policy that reflects societal reality and the opinions of a religiously diverse America. 

Dominionist 'Apostle' Promotes David Barton's Distorted History

Among the many publications distributed at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference in April were two booklets examining Democratic and Republican party platforms. They were produced by Justice at the Gate, a group that describes its vision as “Building strategic partnerships to mobilize Christians to pray effectively and to vote righteously.”

The two publications are both titled “Democrats & Republicans In Their Own Words.”  One of them is subtitled, “National Party Platforms on Specific Biblical Issues.”  I’m not sure where in the Bible they find school prayer and “school choice and faith-based education,” but those are listed as biblical issues, along with abortion and homosexuality.  This booklet includes side-by-side excerpts from party platforms between 1976 and 2000. Other notable issues covered in the Bible, such as poverty, are nowhere to be found.

The other “In Their Own Words” booklet features an African American couple with a young child on the front cover. It is subtitled, “A 124-Year History of Major Civil Rights Efforts Based on a Side-by-Side Comparison of the Early Platforms of the Two Major Political Parties.” Apparently, racial justice and civil rights do not count as “biblical issues,” since they aren’t mentioned in the other publication. The side-by-side comparison in this booklet goes back to old anti-abolitionist planks in Democratic platforms from the 1840s, before the Republican Party was even formed.  The booklet takes 13 pages before it even gets to the 20th Century -- and that part of the booklet, which focuses on Southern Democrats’ support for segregation, stops in 1964.

In other words, this supposed history of racial justice and the political parties finds no room for a discussion of the Republican Party’s post-civil-rights-era southern strategy, which built power by fomenting racial resentment among southern whites, or for any of the political parties’  positions on racial justice and civil rights over the past 50 years.

Why does that sound so familiar? The answer lies inside the front cover: “Historical footnotes and annotations by David Barton, President of WallBuilders.” Barton has been peddling the notion that Republicans are civil rights heroes for more than a decade. He made the same kind of distorted and truncated history the centerpiece of his 2006 DVD, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White,” and in the outreach he has done to African Americans on behalf of the GOP.  (For those just joining us, Barton is a right-wing “historian” whose book on Jefferson was disavowed by its publisher last year after complaints about its inaccuracies.)

Who or what is Justice at the Gate?  It’s a vehicle for Alice Patterson, who is among the Religious Right leaders hoping that the right kind of outreach will get African American Christians to start voting more conservatively. Patterson is an “apostle” affiliated with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation who believes the Democratic Party is controlled by demons. Her mission has been described as bringing NAR’s views into government, which is why she organized The Response, the dominionist-heavy prayer rally that was supposed to launch Rick Perry into the White House.  

The Awakening: More Right-Wing Preaching Needed to Save America

This past weekend’s “Awakening” conference, sponsored by the far-right legal and advocacy group Liberty Counsel, attracted several hundred people to First Baptist Church in Oviedo, a suburb of Orlando, Florida. While the turnout was not big enough to fill half of the sanctuary, the event gave an insight into the state of mind of America’s Religious Right leaders.

The overall message of the weekend was that America is in spiritual decline and on the verge of total destruction at the hands of dictator-emulating, jihad-enabling socialist President Barack Obama and his religious-freedom-hating allies in the radical homosexual lobby. Many of the speakers reveled in recounting their tales of being persecuted for having the courage to take on left-wing radicals.
 
Other major themes:
  • America, or conservative America, is at war – at war with militant Islam, secular humanism, abortionists, a “radical homosexual activist movement,” and with Satan, who inspires those movements.
  • President Obama is leading America down the road to socialist tyranny.
  • Public schools are left-wing indoctrination centers and there’s no excuse for Christian parents to send their students to a public school. Christian educators should treat public schools as a mission field.
  • Conservative political losses among Hispanics and youth are due to lousy public education, media bias, and bad messaging by conservatives. Conservatives can win them over with better messaging and outreach.
  • Political action alone will not be enough to save America – only a religious revival and Great Awakening will turn America around, and that requires conservative preachers to be much more aggressive in their preaching, since so much of the church is lukewarm and preaching a useless “happy-clappy” Jesus.
In addition to the Religious Right leaders profiled in our preview of the conference, participants heard from Sen. Marco Rubio (via video) and from Rep. Michelle Bachmann (in person). Rubio thanked people for their activism on behalf of “traditional values” and encouraged them to keep at it. Bachmann, who received the “Great American Patriot Award” from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, continued her well-documented record of blithely lying about her political opponents, saying that President Obama did not send a delegation to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, which Bachmann attended as part of a House of Representatives delegation. (In fact the Obama administration sent former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker to the funeral, along with other diplomatic representatives.) Bachmann said Americans have to choose between a free America and an oppressive America. “We need to recognize the desperate situation of our condition,” she said, and need to focus on “spiritual warfare.” She called on Christians to make September 11, 2013 a day of fasting and humbling themselves before God.
 
Loving the Hispanic People
 
Like last year’s Awakening, the opening session focused on the importance of reaching out to the growing constituency of American Latinos. Salem radio official and conservative activist Tony Calatayud warned that American elections will be decided by Hispanics for decades to come. American Hispanics, he said, have been “kidnapped” by the Left; he lamented the fact that Cubans in Miami are no longer voting overwhelmingly for Republicans.
 
Speakers at right-wing events are fond of claiming that Hispanics are “naturally” conservative and should be voting for Republicans, despite repeated polling evidence to the contrary. Calatayud said Hispanics “have this crazy notion that a man should be married to a woman.” (In reality, a majority of Latinos favors marriage equality, though most Hispanic evangelicals are opposed.) Staver said the Hispanic community could be a “firewall for our values.” In the real world, Hispanic voters did indeed provide a firewall in 2012, but it was on behalf of Democratic senators in key states.
 
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, gave a version of the same stump speech he has been giving for years, including his line that Hispanics are in America “to bring panic to the kingdom of darkness in the name of Jesus Christ.” Echoing Rodriguez, “prophet” Cindy Jacobs said God had brought Latinos to America to teach “us” something. “God has given them the playing field,” she said, and Anglo Christians need to be humble and willing to learn from them. Christians are a family that needs to learn to function together as a family, she said, and that includes voting “consistent with our Father’s family values.” Rodriguez, who is formally allied with the far-right Liberty Counsel but promotes himself as a Latino mash-up of Martin Luther King and Billy Graham, is among evangelicals who are pushing for comprehensive immigration reform in the hopes that its passage would clear the way for more Latino citizens to vote Republican.
 
Neither Rodriguez nor Rubio made much mention of immigration reform, but a questioner made the division among conservatives evident when he cited Rush Limbaugh’s assertion that reform would create 11 million new Democratic voters. Calatayud’s response was that they wouldn’t all vote for Democrats if Republicans did a good job reaching out to them. He said conservative Salem broadcasting now has seven Spanish language radio stations and he hinted at a much bigger project in the works, a conservative TV station or network along the lines of a Spanish language Fox News.
 
Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico, a member of the Tea Party caucus in the House of Representatives, said he gets elected in his heavily Hispanic district by spending a lot of time in the community; he was refreshingly blunt about the fact that many of his congressional colleagues don’t “get it” and aren’t likely to. The solution, he said, was to elect more people like him who do.
 
Not-so-loving the Gays
 
Many speakers insisted that there can be “no compromise” on civil unions or marriage equality because it is a “zero sum game” in which advances in LGBT equality come at the expense of religious liberty.
 
Rena Lindevaldsen, an associate dean at Liberty University law school, talked about Christian business owners getting into trouble for violating anti-discrimination laws by refusing to serve gay couples and warned things could get worse. “If civil government has the authority to fine you,” she warned, “the same authority can put you in jail.”
 
Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber complained that young people have bought gays’ “hijacking” of the civil rights movement “hook, line, and inker.” Barber said gay activists are “shamelessly using” bullying as a “Trojan horse” to get their indoctrination into the schools. Same-sex marriage, he said, is the head of the spear in the culture war, a “hammer” to destroy religious freedom and silence dissent. It’s not really about marriage for homosexuals, he said. “Their goal is not to have the white picket fence, their goal is to burn down the white picket fence.”
 
While Awakening speakers did assert that their opposition to gay rights was an expression of their “love” for “people with same-sex attraction,” they didn’t try to pretend, as NOM often does in the political arena, that their opposition is not grounded in religious belief. “It’s all about God,” said Barber. “It’s all about an attack and rebellion against God, against God’s plan for humanity.” Bachmann said marriage “is one man, one woman – because God says it is. Not because it’s poll tested – because God says it is.” Lindevaldsen said “there is no compromise…once you start down that path you are condoning that which God says is sinful and you are putting the government with the authority to now say that which is sinful is good.” Rick Scarborough said, “now we debate whether marriage shall be between a man and a woman. That’s been settled already. That decision was handed down by the supreme judge of the universe, and no court has a say in that.”
 
Matt Barber said gay activists’ attacks on Christians reflect their hatred of Jesus. “They hate the way, which is Christ, they hate the truth, which they are in conflict with, and they hate the life.” He added, “the wages of sin is death,” adding, “The homosexual lifestyle astronomically from a statistical standpoint leads to death.”
 
Greg Quinlan, a self-described ex-gay who heads PFOX, asserted that homosexuality is “outside God’s intention.” He complained about the “Demoncrats” support for anti-reparative-therapy laws. Asked about anti-bullying laws, he said: “This is fascism! This is fascism! We need to put a swastika on it.” He complained that New Jersey activists had exploited gay boy’s suicide. “One boy jumps off the George Washington Bridge,” he said, and gay activists seized the moment and turned it to their advantage.
 
Public Schools = ‘Cesspool of Indoctrination’
 
Several speakers said Christian parents have no business sending their children to public schools. Right-wing radio personality and anti-gay activist Bradlee Dean, who markets his presentation to public schools, called public schools a “cesspool of indoctrination” and said “you can’t justify having your kid in a public school.” Taking the Bible out of schools, he said, opened the door to Satanism. He warned that the International Baccalaureate program used in some schools is teaching children to disarm and promoting homosexuality.
 
The Southern Baptists’ Richard Land also said Christian parents should not hand their children off to public schools, which are “a lousy place for Christian kids.” Rodriguez said Christian schools and the homeschooling movement are a kind of firewall against the public education system. He added that “serious Christ followers” are needed as teachers, principals, and administrators, who should view the schools as mission fields.
 
Cynthia Dunbar, who was part of a Religious Right group on the Texas Board of Education during recent textbook battles, said education is the most important battleground, because conservatives can’t win when the vast majority of children are being indoctrinated in a “socialized” education system.
 
Several speakers and activists denounced the Common Core standards, developed and adopted by many governors and state education officials. As RWW has reported, the Common Core is a new target of right-wing conspiracy theories on public education.
 
Obama = Evil
 
Anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller warned that Obama has “enabled and empowered” the ideology of jihad. It was no accident, she said, that the Obama administration supported a “Muslim brotherhood revolution” in Egypt to replace the former secular government there.
 
Bradlee Dean said that Obama was emulating Mao:
“This president is emulating dictators. Do you not understand that he is not playing games? If you look at Mao Tse-tung, this boy is emulating Mao Tse-tung to a T. You know what Mao Tse-tung did, he went to the younger generation, he overthrew the Republic of China to implement what? Democracy. Who is the last president that actually acknowledged that we are a republic? Reagan. Every president since has continuously inundated the next generation with the fact that we are a democracy. That is dangerous, guys.”
Dean talked about those killed in 20th Century wars, saying “many of those boys in those graveyards, hundreds of thousands of them all across the country, fought, bled and died fighting against the ideology that the American people are tolerating today.”
 
God and Guns
 
Jan Morgan, a right-wing social media pro-gun activist, was a late addition to the program. She almost didn’t make it because of an unfortunate incident at the airport when TSA found a few stray bullets and a couple of four inch folding tactical combat knives in her purse (she teaches self-defense classes). She railed against the Obama administration, liberal media, and the “gun grabbers.” She said mass murders take place in gun-free zones (but she didn’t mention the signs on doors of the church that said no firearms were allowed inside). Morgan even seemed to take issue with some gun advocates’ attempt to shift the focus to mental health issues, saying she didn’t want the federal government deciding who is fit to own a gun; soon she said liberal doctors empowered by Obamacare would say anyone who believes in Jesus Christ could not be mentally stable.
 
Abortion
 
The Duggars, Jim Bob and Michelle, a couple made famous by a reality TV show focused on their ever-growing family, spoke about their efforts to outlaw abortion. Jim Bob Duggar praised Janet Porter’s efforts to promote a “heartbeat bill.” Although Porter has failed to win its passage in Ohio, Duggar celebrated the passage of similar legislation in Arkansas and North Dakota.
 
Keith Fournier, representing conservative Catholics at the conference, said “life” is the lens through which all issues should be examined, calling it the first pillar of collaboration between conservative evangelicals and Catholics.
 
Politics, Pastors and the Third Great Awakening
 
A major theme of the Awakening conference was the need for conservative Christians, especially pastors, to be more politically active, but that in the end politics could not save America unless there is a third Great Awakening. The notion that “the next Great Awakening starts here” has been a staple of Religious Right gatherings in recent years, as has the idea that the fault for America’s problems is a “lukewarm” church with pastors who aren’t living up to the example set by earlier Religious Right leaders like Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy.
 
Fournier said America had slipped from secularism into a “new paganism” and called for Christians not to view America as “post-Christian” but as “pre-Christian,” primed for a new missionary period.
 
Rick Scarborough said, “In a nation such as this it is a sin for a preacher not to be speaking to the great political issues of our day. That’s not an option. And if your pastor will not do that, bless him with your absence.” Land said “there’s nothing wrong with America that a good old-fashioned revival won’t fix.”
 
Boykin warned that the country is “on the precipice of total destruction.” The church, he said, should be the dominant influence in our society, but instead it is calling good evil, and evil good, and “it’s killing us as a nation.” It is time, he said, for the church to “rise up.”
 
Harry Jackson said “we as a nation are under the chastening hand of God” because of “bad choices” Americans, including Christians, have made.
“We’re at a place now where the GOP can’t help us. And the Democratic Party doesn’t want us. And we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and we’re going to need a visitation from the Holy Spirit to see America transformed…Repentance is in order because the church has become the carnal church in America….What we need now is that revival and awe to be the substructure or the foundation of what we do. Nothing else will do. We don’t need another television personality, we don’t need radio ministries that awe and get us inspired. We need church planting, but church planting without the fire of God will not make a difference. We don’t need prophetic preaching unless it turns the hearts of masses of men. We need the kind of authoritative pulpits thundering the glory of God that will see whole cities shift in our land.”
More to Come
 
If you missed the Awakening, have no fear. The Family Research Council’s conference for pastors who want to “transform America,” Watchmen on the Wall, takes place in DC May 22-24. Religious Right activists and Republican allies will gather at the "Road to Majority" conference sponsored by by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington on June 13-15. And the biggest Religious Right political event of the year, the Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council and a collection of other far-right groups, will be held in Washington October 11-13.
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