As we’ve reported, Fox News pundit Todd Starnes has reacted with fury over attempts to remove the Confederate flag and other monuments to Confederate and Ku Klux Klan leaders from government property in various states.
A new report from New America, released a week after a white supremacist gunned down nine people in a black church in Charleston, finds that since the September 11, 2001, attacks, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”
The New York Times reports that this threat is “familiar to police officers,” three-quarters of whom list antigovernment extremism as a greater threat to their communities than “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence:
If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.
“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.
We haven’t heard any right-wing reaction to this report yet. But we aren’t incredibly optimistic that it will be reasonable.
Liberty Counsel, the Religious Right legal group, even went so far as to print out cards for its members to show their solidarity with the violent right-wing extremists supposedly attacked by this report:
Other right-wing groups started an ad campaign demanding that then-DHS chief Janet Napolitano resign for supposedly having labeled George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and the pope as “the new terrorists”:
Under pressure, DHS ultimately retracted the report and cut back its team investigating non-Muslim violent extremism, infuriating the self-described conservative Republican analyst who had written the report.
As recently as February, Rep. Ted Poe, Republican of Texas, was complaining on the Family Research Council’s radio program that the Obama administration is “more aggressive toward Americans, Republicans, conservatives, Christians, and concerned about them being threats to the country, which they’re not, than they are about the real threats to our country.”
Never mind that the report focused exclusively on the actual threat of violent, far-right extremism — something that even their strongest detractors aren’t accusing groups like Liberty Counsel and the AFA of being involved in. The Right saw an opportunity to stir up a fake controversy in order to raise money, reinforce the narrative of conservative activists as victims and provoke animosity toward President Obama. In the process they helped make it harder for DHS to investigate a very real threat to American security. But they ended up with a meme that lives to this day.
After it was discovered that the man who shot and killed nine people at a black church in Charleston last week cited the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens in his racist manifesto, GOP politicians have been scrambling to return campaign donations from the group’s president, Earl Holt.
In response, CCC released a statement condemning the murders but defending the shooter’s “legitimate grievances” against African Americans. Holt released his own statement saying that the shooter had merely “gleaned accurate information” from the group’s website about “the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder.” (The Charleston murderer reportedly told his victims that “you've raped our women, and you are taking over the country.”)
But it turns out that the statement that Holt distributed wasn’t all he had to say. In an interview Saturday with the Political Cesspool, a white supremacist radio program hosted by CCC board member James Edwards, Holt read an early draft of the statement, which he said he was waiting for his webmaster to post online.
The statement Holt read on the Political Cesspool was virtually identical to the one that CCC ultimately distributed to the media, except for these paragraphs attacking the media for being “perverts, liars and Marxists,” which for some reason seem to have been removed before the statement was distributed to press:
The C of CC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website … For the corrupt leftist media and its minions to suggest otherwise is why they are almost universally viewed as dishonest, biased, and irredeemably contemptable.
The C of CC does not advocate illegal activities of any kind, and never has. In fact, the CofCC has always scrupulously observed the law even when our leftist enemies have demonstrably and flagrantly violated it. I would gladly compare the honesty, integrity and law-abiding nature of our membership to that of any group, particularly the perverts, liars and Marxists who comprise the corrupt leftist media.
Yesterday 130 senators and representatives urged President Obama to issue an executive order requiring companies that receive government contracts to disclose their political spending. A letter signed by more than one hundred representatives highlighted the lack of transparency in our current system and the important steps the president can take to help fix this:
Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is spent and you have the power to ensure that the American people can obtain this information. With public funds come public responsibilities, and any company receiving federal tax dollars should be required by executive order to fully disclose their political spending in a timely and accessible manner.
In our view, campaign finance disclosure is another issue that demands immediate action to restore the public’s faith in our democracy.
It’s not just members of Congress who are calling on the president to act. More than 83,000 PFAW members and supporters have signed our petition to the president urging him to issue an executive order. Several thousand more contacted their members of Congress asking them to sign on to the letters sent yesterday.
Right now corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, and they can do so in secret by funneling that spending though “dark money” groups. But if President Obama were to issue an executive order, some of the nation’s biggest corporations – like Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, and any other government contractor – would have to disclose their political spending.
President Obama himself has called for a more transparent and accountable democracy. In his State of the Union address in January, he criticized “dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter” and called for a “better politics.” Now is the president’s chance to help create that “better politics.”
A number of prominent figures on the Religious Right have also spoken to or defended the CCC, in a sign of the uneasy and often hiddenalliancesbetween the Religious Right and racist groups.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a GOP presidential candidate, submitted a video presentation to the CCC’s 1993 national convention, which the group’s newsletter later reported was a smash it. TPM:
Then-Lt. Gov. Huckabee was invited to speak at the group's 1993 national convention by the its founder, Gordon Lee Baum, according to a 2008 Huffington Post report. Baum told The Huffington Post that Huckabee "sent an audio/video presentation saying 'I can't be with you but I'd like to be speaker next time'" because he was compelled to remain in Arkansas during the convention while then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) travelled out of state.
The group's 1993 newsletter, which was obtained by Edward Sebesta, who researches neo-Confederate groups, hailed Huckabee's videotaped address as a smash hit.
"Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," the newsletter read.
Huckabee agreed to speak in person at the group’s convention the next year but canceled after a human rights group told him that he’s be sharing the stage with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.
Back when he was a Louisiana state legislator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to a 2001 meeting of the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. When asked about it several years later, Perkins said he could not “remember speaking at the event.” Unfortunately for him, there’s a picture:
Perkins also has ties to David Duke, a Louisiana politician and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Alabama chief justice, a Religious Right hero who is currently battling the federal courts in an effort to stop marriage equality in his state, addressed CCC’s national conference in 1995, reports Buzzfeed.
This is hardly Moore’s only troubling racist tie. Much of his career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who shares many of his views on the role of “biblical law.” (SPLC reports that the League of the South’s and CCC’s “membership rolls overlap a good deal” and that the two groups have collaborated on events.)
John Eidsmoe is the intellectual godfather of a strain of Christian nationalism that takes to an extreme the idea that “God’s law” must always be put before “man’s law.” He is a former legal advisor to Justice Moore and now works for the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that Moore founded. He is also famously a mentor of former Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Perhaps even more than the Religious Right, the anti-immigrant movement sometimes has a hard time drawing a line between itself and the explicitly racist white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For instance, the work of white supremacist Sam Francis, an editor for and enthusiastic endorser of the CCC, occasionally ends up cited in the work of more “mainstream” anti-immigrant activists.
Coulter took it upon herself in her 2009 book “Guilty,” to defend GOP politicians who had spoken to CCC, writing that the group’s statements in opposition to “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind” were in no way endorsements of segregation:
Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America, which were founded in 1954. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its “Statement of Principles” offers that the organization opposes “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an “America First” trade policy.
Another prominent anti-immigrant activist with ties to CCC is Roy Beck, head of the influential lobbying group Numbers USA, who addressed the group in the late 1990s. The Center for New Community dug up this photo:
Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson told one concerned viewer not to become friends with his Wiccan neighbors because they will “destroy your children.”
The televangelist said that Wiccans will “corrupt you,” warning the viewer not to be fooled even if his neighbors “seem to be very pleasant people.”
Robertson has previously advised a viewer to cut ties with her mother-in-law who “practices witchcraft and palm readings” because she is “Mrs. Devil” and also castigated feminists as supporters of “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
Vallely’s remarks even earned the praise of right-wing musician and NRA board member Ted Nugent, who wrote on Facebook: “Well listen everybody to what I gotta say, there's hope for tomorrow if we wakeup [sic] today!”
Calling on U.S. generals to stand up to Obama, Vallely told “The Real Side” radio program that it may soon be time to “arrest” Obama for “treasonous activities.” He cited the work of the conspiracy-theory-ridden Citizens Committee on Benghazi as evidence that there are grounds to arrest Obama for purportedly helping the Muslim Brotherhood.
“There’s a whole list we have put together at the Benghazi Citizens’ Commission on treasonous activities not only by him but by Kerry, by Clinton, the lying deceptions of Panetta, of General Dempsey, as well as Hillary Clinton,” Vallely said. “[He’s] tyrannical and that’s his communist upbringing because that’s the way they develop and take over countries and put in a tyrannical leader. We’ve seen that since World War II, all over Europe and now we have socialism gaining in South and Central America. I mean it is just unbelievable that we could let this country go down and commit national suicide that we’re doing.”
He added that Obama would have been arrested already if it wasn’t for the fact that “the Republicans are afraid of a black backlash” to such a step. “He’s black and white, he’s not just black, but they’re afraid of a black uprising, that’s the word I get,” he said.
While discussing the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory, Vallely said that “Obama would declare martial law at the earliest opportunity if he could.” He also urged military officials to be ready to stand up to Obama to stop him once he imposes martial law.
In a radio interview on Monday, Gun Owners of America official Erich Pratt tied the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston to the transgender rights movement, saying both are products of a school system that teaches that “there is no absolute right or wrong.”
“Sadly, I think for a lot of the education that takes place in our country, the kids are being taught, ‘You decide, you decide your own morality.’” he said. “We’re being told that you decide everything from your gender to your own morality.”
This, he said, was the root of the thinking of the Charleston shooter and of Hitler: “Well, if you are in that position where you are autonomous and you decide what’s right and wrong, in this guy’s mind, as sick as it is, he might have thought he was actually doing society a favor. Certainly Hitler did, with his mass murders, he really thought he was doing society a favor. And that’s the problem, if there is no absolute right or wrong. And as we know, that’s not being taught.”
Just one day after the attack in Charleston, Pratt, publicly condemned the church’s slain pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, for his “anti-gun” activism as a state senator. Erich’s father, GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt also blamed Pinckney for leaving his congregation “defenseless” against an attacker.
Fox News pundit Todd Starnes has spent the past few days attacking pastors and elected officials, Republican and Democratic alike, who have called for the removal of the Confederate flag and other Confederate memorials from South Carolina state property following the Charleston church shooting.
“Maybe they could just paint a rainbow flag on top and call it the General Sherman,” Starnes wrote on Fox Nation yesterday. “He culturally cleansed the South, too.”
Starnes followed this article with a complete meltdown on Twitter, defending not only the Confederate flag but also statues honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He likened the removal of the Confederate flag to the violence and destruction of shrines perpetrated by ISIS, along with actions taken by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
“Sadly more than a few Republicans ran for the hills, including more than a few candidates who are running for president in 2016,” he said. :Some of them chose that exact moment to go rearrange their sock drawer.”
But Ted Cruz, said Cruz, was made of stronger stuff.
“In my view, Indiana was a time of choosing. In my view, Indiana was, as William Barret Travis at the Alamo said as he drew the line in the stand, it was a moment to choose which side of the line you stand.”
Cruz previously referred to opposition to Indiana’s measure as a gay “jihad.”
American Family Association official Sandy Rios, speaking on her radio program last week, accused President Obama of “using” the Charleston church massacre “to try to whip people into an emotional frenzy about disarming the American people.”
Rios, who previously said that Obama “enjoyed” the shooting because it offered him an opportunity to “remove guns from the hands of the American people,” told a caller that the president is “dangerous” and “stirred a lot of this unrest up.”
She said that not only has Obama “made racial tensions much worse,” but he has also released tens of thousands of immigrant “murderers” and “robbers” onto “our streets.”
Rios also spoke to a caller who claimed that the Sandy Hook and Aurora massacres were false flag events designed give the government “another reason to get the guns,” blaming the Aurora movie theatre shooting on a government “mind control program” that peddled “reuptake inhibitors.”
“Mao did it, Lenin did it, Stalin did it, Hitler did it, Pol Pot did it, when they take the guns, it’s over,” he said.
Rios responded that “everything you said was true, I don’t know about the inhibitor part, but certainly what Mao did with the guns and the whole move to remove our ability to protect ourselves and that it is the only thing standing between us and tyranny.”
Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who is now an official at the Family Research Council, joined former Alaska GOP politician Joe Miller on his radio program this week, where he warned that the “rapid expansion of the welfare state under the Obama administration is not unlike any of the welfare state expansions, totalitarian regimes, throughout human history.”
Totalitarian regimes, he said, “have done two things,” namely “weaken the family” and “silence the church.”
“And sure enough, that’s what the Obama administration is doing,” he said. “He’s weakening the family and he’s trying to marginalize the church by attacking religious liberty.”
Sen. Ted Cruz’s dad, Rafael Cruz, joined right-wing Florida radio host Joyce Kaufman yesterday to promote his son’s candidacy. In response to a caller who wondered whether “our Hispanic immigrants” are falling for “some type of deception” from Democrats, Cruz responded that immigrants and others are being tricked by Democrats into being “locked into a slavery relationship with the government” through government assistance.
“I think that deception is the way that this administration operates in every area,” he said. “Look how people have been deceived into becoming dependent upon the government and having the government telling them that they’re going to take care of them from the cradle to the grave. It has destroyed the American dream, destroyed these people’s lives, they no longer strive to better themselves and to provide for their family.
“So it is just, you have realize the following: For Democrats to win, they have to lie because their policies do not work. Their policies have been a failure throughout history. So if their policies of bigger government, more control, less freedom, more taxation, more regulations don’t work, they have to lie to the American people. And unfortunately we have many, many people in American have drank the Kool-Aid.”
Kaufman interjected with a story about the owner of a Florida bodega offering to point her to government services.
“I keep going back to how that destroys the American dream, that destroys the incentive for somebody to better themselves,” Cruz responded, “and they become serfs of the government, and that just makes them locked into a slavery relationship with the government.”
Yesterday, Mike Huckabee chatted with Iowa radio host Steve Deace and Religious Right organizer Bob Vander Plaats, who led Huckabee’s 2008 campaign in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, about the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on gay marriage.
He said that if elected president, he would simply ignore any Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality until Congress passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide…which he would then veto.
“Until the Congress of the United States puts on my desk a bill that basically defies the laws of Nature and Nature’s God and defies the longstanding tradition of marriage, the federal government will not recognize same-sex marriage because there is no law that requires it and that would be true for the military and it would be true for all federal institutions,” Huckabee said. “If the Congress decides that they want to pass enabling legislation, they could put it on my desk and I would veto it, and they can attempt to override it. That’s the process.”
Huckabee said that even his detractors should sympathize with his anti-gay-marriage stance: “If liberals were subjected to a conservative court that forced them to tithe their income to scripture or forced them to go to church or forced them to believe something that they don’t want to believe, they would say, ‘We can’t do that, that would go against our conscience.’ And I would say, ‘You are exactly right and we can’t have such a ruling. This is why I find this very unsettling is because liberals will rue the day when the sword they use to enact their agenda is the sword of the court rather than to do it by way of the people’s elected representatives.”
Of course, legalizing gay marriage won’t force opponents like Huckabee to marry someone of the same sex or officiate a same-sex couple’s wedding.
“There can be no surrender on the point of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage,” Huckabee said, claiming that the ruling “goes to the heart of who we are as Americans and whether or not religious liberty lives or dies.”
He vowed not to “surrender to a tyranny that frankly would defy everything we are as a country,” lamenting that even people who went to law school have decided to “acquiesce to this judicial supremacy.”
On Friday, right-wing radio host Michael Savage compared both President Obama and Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to Charles Manson, claiming that both the president and the shooter are trying to create a race war in America.
“It’s the scenario that Charles Manson wanted, to start a race war, which he called Helter Skelter, which was committing these horrible murders in the Hollywood Hills and then blaming it on blacks and then there would be a murderous rampage against blacks by frightened whites,” Savage said. “Well, now it’s the reverse and we’re all fearing a murderous rampage against whites by blacks to provoke an internecine war of near extermination. That is what we could have happen here in this country right now.”
Savage said that like Roof, Obama is trying to “stir the people up” and foment racial violence. While debating with a caller, Savage said that Obama is “a diehard, divisive man who has wrecked the country with his Helter Skelter, he may as well be Charles Manson.”
As Savage explained, public schools and secular government are also to blame for the attack because Roof was “raised on the liberal credo, the credo of Obama and Hillary Clinton, which is ‘do what you feel like doing,’ that there is no Christianity, ‘if it feels good, do it, want to engage in sex, go ahead, want to be a woman while you’re a man, go ahead, you want to use drugs, go ahead, you don’t feel good, pop a pill, you don’t feel good, go to the crackpot with a stethoscope and he’ll give you some drugs.”
“You see, all Christian values have been driven out of the schools and the culture by the liberals, they’ve been replaced by a vacuum, do as you please and do whatever you want,” he said.
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
In an interview with Boston Herald Radio last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attacked Hillary Clinton for her advocacy for equal pay legislation, saying that she was just following in the footsteps of President Obama in trying to “pit one group of Americans versus another.”
When the program’s host, Adriana Cohen, asked Walker about misleading statistics from the conservative website Washington Free Beacon purporting to show a gender pay gap in Clinton’s Senate office, Walker agreed that it was “part of that amazing double standard.”
“But I think even a bigger issue than that,” he said, “and this is sadly something that would make her consistent with the president, and that is I believe that the president and now Hillary Clinton tend to think that politically they do better if they pit one group of Americans versus another.”
He said that, in contrast, “Americans are hungry” for leaders who will “make every American’s life better” rather than those who want to “pit one group against another group out there.”
He added that equal pay legislation is part of the liberal plot to get Americans “dependent on the government”: “For them, their measure of success in government is how many people are dependent on the government, how many people are dependent, on whether its Medicaid or food stamps or health care or other things out there.”
Larry Pratt, head of the far-right gun group Gun Owners of America, predictably reacted to last week’s horrific mass shooting at a church in Charleston by blaming the church’s pastor — one of the victims of the shooting — for his vote against a concealed carry law in the state senate and urging his group’s members to start showing up at church armed.
Pratt also lashed out at President Obama for alluding to the difficulty in passing even mild gun regulations in Congress, warning in an interview with WorldNetDaily on Friday that the president is “so incredibly ideologically driven” that he’ll start pushing for tighter gun laws because “he’s only got now less than two years to try to snap the socialist vise on the country.”
“I look at it as a time when we’re going to have the fight of our lives,” he warned.