Before criticizing President Obama as a “tyrant” hell-bent on destroying America, Rick Santorum told a conservative conference in South Carolina this weekend that the president is allowing “evil” to flourish across the globe.
“I can spend an entire speech talking about how this president has ignored evil, has misinterpreted evil, has maybe even intentionally turned his back to evil and let it prosper around the world,” Santorum said, in remarks first reported by The Hill.
Santorum added that war is on the horizon since “this president is doing everything that is necessary to create conditions for evil to expand and for war to break out.”
When Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz decided to speak at a South Carolina summit over the weekend hosted by birther, anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, it was no surprise that they encountered activists who were, let’s say, a bit on the fringe.
For example, one attendee asked Santorum why Republicans in Congress did nothing to stop “communist dictator” Obama from “destroying my country,” mentioning the president’s executive actions on immigration and the time when “Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago.” (In case you aren’t familiar, several far-right outlets and pundits have embraced a bizarre claim that Obama tried to nuke Charleston as part of a potential false flag operation). “I want him out of the White House, he’s not a citizen and he could’ve been removed a long time ago,” she added.
Santorum told the questioner that congressional Republicans are showing a “complete lack of leadership” in failing to stop Obama’s “dangerous” immigration actions: “As you’ve mentioned, the word tyrant comes to mind.”
He said that just as the courts have embraced “judicial supremacy,” Obama is now seizing powers from Congress, whose members don’t realize that “there is a fire ranging that’s going to burn the whole forest down as you worry about the tree in front of you.”
“This is the unraveling,” Santorum said, explaining that Republicans should have “shut down the government,” refused to confirm any nominee or “pass any bills” in order to have “hearing after hearing after hearing on the unconstitutionality of what this president has done.”
Later in the summit, an attendee told Santorum that Obama is an “Iranian plant” who is working with Valerie Jarrett to secretly help the Iranian regime.
Rafael Cruz, the father and frequent campaign surrogate of Sen. Ted Cruz, made a stop at this weekend’s The Awakening conference in Florida to deliver a David Barton-infused American history lesson to a room full of Religious Right activists.
Echoing a theme brought up by many of the conference’s speakers, Cruz told the audience that America was inviting God’s judgment and it was up to them as conservative Christians to become politically active and bring the country back.
“Let me tell you, judgment begins in the house of God,” he said. “But also, the restoration of America begins in the house of God.”
“Let me tell you what I am hearing from the Lord,” Cruz declared. “We are going to see in America a dual revival, a parallel revival. We are going to see a spiritual revival in tandem with a political revival, both together to restore America to the greatness that our forefathers gave it.”
He added his version of America’s founding — which he has laid out a number of times before — that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution “were written by revelation from God” and are therefore divine mandates to “elect righteous leaders.”
“If the righteous are not running for office, if the righteous are not even voting, what is left?” he asked. “The wicked electing the wicked. And we get what we deserve.”
Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace is furious about the decision of a Michigan Planet Fitness to revoke the membership of a woman who repeatedly complained about a transgender woman who hung her coat in the women’s locker room.
Deace, who frequently has Republican presidential hopefuls appear on his radio program, laments in a BarbWire column today that “we just got done fighting a fake war on women because one spoiled brat didn’t want to pay for her birth control pills, but now a woman who wants a women’s locker room to be free of creepy naked men gets tossed into the Rainbow Jihad’s leper colony.”
“So instead of getting the handcuffs put on him, the gender-confused individual was protected by the gym’s ‘no-judgement’ policy,” Deace writes, teasing that it “turns out cross dressers and trannies are now elevated to the status of Rosa Parks in our crazy new normal.”
Deace adds that people fighting rape and sexual assault should be worried that transgender people are allowed to enter Planet Fitness locker rooms since when he was a teenager he “could’ve been quite ‘sincere’ about my gender confusion if it meant an eyeful in the girls’ locker room.”
Turns out cross dressers and trannies are now elevated to the status of Rosa Parks in our crazy new normal. A Planet Fitness in Michigan gave us our latest example of how far down the rabbit hole goes, when a woman had her gym membership revoked because she complained about a man using the women’s locker room.
Of course, 15 minutes ago such a man would’ve been arrested on site. But “the right side of history” evolves fast, my friends. Best to put down those Bibles and constitutions weighing you down so you can keep up.
So instead of getting the handcuffs put on him, the gender-confused individual was protected by the gym’s “no-judgement” policy. The crucial part of that policy states that a “sincere, self-reported gender identity” will be respected in place of things like, say, sanity. It’s too bad this lunacy wasn’t in place when I was a teenage boy, because I could’ve been quite “sincere” about my gender confusion if it meant an eyeful in the girls’ locker room.
It’s becoming so hard to keep track of which sacred cow is the most super-duper sincere, and thus the trump card in our game of Russian identity roulette. We just got done fighting a fake war on women because one spoiled brat didn’t want to pay for her birth control pills, but now a woman who wants a women’s locker room to be free of creepy naked men gets tossed into the Rainbow Jihad’s leper colony.
Yvette Cormier, the gal who needs to find a new health club, must wonder what planet she’s living on. A rape is supposed to be happening around every corner on college campuses, and I’m told awful men keep taking 23 cents away from hard working girls, but a dude puts on some lipstick and stockings and voila!
Last week, End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles said that President Obama is possessed by demons and is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, and decided to invite right-wing author Dinesh D’Souza onto his radio show to discuss “Barack Obama’s agenda to remake America.”
After the “Trunews” host asked D’Souza’ why the so-called liberal media “hates” him, the conservative pundit claimed that the Left despises him “precisely because I am a non-white, immigrant, patriot that exposes a lot of the Obama administration running amok, all of this craziness that masquerades under the name of progressivism or progress. I’m blowing the whistle on these scoundrels, so naturally they’re unhappy with me, and I’m happy about that.”
D’Souza said that “old America” — the land of traditional, patriotic values — is “under siege” by “a government that is aggressively attacking the values of that America, trying, in Obama’s words, to remake America. I am here to try to stop that remaking, I kind of like the America that the founders designed.”
Last week, 11 new towns in New Hampshire passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United v. FEC. The resolutions direct state and federal legislators to guarantee that Congress and states can once again regulate political spending, and also make it clear that corporations do not have the same constitutional rights as people to spend money to influence elections.
People For the American Way – along with Open Democracy – has been working with New Hampshire citizens to collect signatures and organize in support of the town resolutions.
“After decisions like Citizens United allowed an unprecedented amount of money into our elections, citizens across New Hampshire are raising their voices in favor of amending the Constitution,” said Lindsay Jakows, New Hampshire Campaign Coordinator with People For the American Way, who has been working with town meeting resolution organizers statewide. “The energy behind this push is enormous, and it’s growing nationwide. Citizens in 16 states and over 600 municipalities across the country have already passed resolutions in favor of such an amendment. Everyday Americans want to see real change and are willing to organize resolutions in their own towns to get us closer to a democracy truly of, by, and for the people.”
The towns that passed resolutions last week included Bedford, Canterbury, Gilmanton, Greenville, Madbury, Mason, Plainfield, Rye, Sandown, Walpole, and Westmoreland. In response to a citizen petition, the Derry Town Council also approved a resolution on January 20 by a 7-0 vote.
Fifty-six New Hampshire towns passed resolutions in previous years, including: Alstead, Amherst, Andover, Atkinson, Barrington, Bradford, Bridgewater, Bristol, Chesterfield, Conway, Cornish, Danville, Deerfield, Dorchester, Dublin, Durham, Eaton, Exeter, Francestown, Groton, Hampstead, Hancock, Hanover, Harrisville, Henniker, Hollis, Hudson, Jaffery, Keene, Kingston, Lee, Lyme, Milford, New Boston, New Durham, New London, Newfields, Newmarket, Northwood, Nottingham, Pelham, Peterborough, Piermont, Plymouth, Rindge, Salem, Sanbornton, Sandwich, Sharon, Stratham, Tilton, Wakefield, Warner, Waterville Valley, Webster, and Windham.
The city council of Franklin and town of Newport will vote on similar petitions in April and May, respectively. City councilor Rob Werner is also working to pass a resolution through the Concord City Council, and other cities may follow Concord’s lead.
This weekend’s Awakening conference, an annual event hosted by the Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel and attended by any number of far-right activists and a few GOP presidential candidates, was dominated by the theme that the Christian Right is in a spiritual war against a satanic coalition of LGBT rights, Islam and progressivism.
Nobody summed it up quite as well as Ken Graves, a pastor from Bangor, Maine, who declared to the audience sitting in a megachurch in Orlando that they were in a fight against “militant homofascism” that “seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and secular humanists who, in conjunction with militant Islam, want to “destroy everything we have” and establish a “secular humanist caliphate.”
Evoking Seven Mountains dominionism, the doctrine that seeks to deliver control of the “seven mountains” of society to conservative Christians, Graves declared that it is the secular humanists who now “have every major institution.”
He then pulled a Bible out of his pocket and bellowed to the crowd: “Why should we be intimidated if what has been placed in our hands is the very word of God?”
Pat Robertson told a “700 Club” viewer today that she should not “enable” her gay son’s “lifestyle,” just as she wouldn’t enable a drug addict.
When the viewer asked the televangelist about her son’s decision to come out of the closet, Robertson responded that she must continue to love him by treating him like someone who is an addict.
“You cannot go along and say, ‘I agree with your lifestyle,’” he said. “So don’t be an enabler, any more if he’s a drug addict, you don’t enable people to continue in their drug habits. But you let him know you love him.”
The New York Times profiled David Lane today and his effort to bring Republican presidential candidates, conservative pastors and Religious Right activists together, hoping that his effort will culminate in 1,000 pastors running for elected office.
Lane has brought GOP hopefuls and activists, such as members of the Republican National Committee, on trips to Europe and Israel and convened “Pastors and Pews” events in early primary states, all which he hopes will spawn a stronger movement and move candidates to the right:
“An army,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
And Mr. Lane is positioning himself as a field marshal. A fast-talking and born-again veteran of conservative politics with experience in Washington, Texas and California, Mr. Lane, 60, travels the country trying to persuade evangelical clergy members to become politically active.
What Mr. Lane, a former public relations man, does have going for him is a decentralized landscape in which a determined believer with an extensive network of ground-level evangelical leaders and a limitless capacity for talking on the phone can exert influence on Republican presidential candidates eager to reach evangelical voters.
In an interview with the Times, Lane did chide one top Republican, Jeb Bush, for hiring an openly gay spokesman.
Of course, Lane doesn’t want to elect just any Republican candidate for president, but one who is loyal to the Religious Right when it comes to issues such as abortion rights, LGBT equality and judicial nominees. It appears that his criticism of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith during the 2008 primary race hasn’t affected his relationship with Republican leaders.
In Lane’s vision for the U.S., the country must do away with the separation of church and state and stop tolerating gay people in order to avoid divine punishment.
As we’ve reported, Lane has:
- Argued that “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” of President Obama in 2013 will provoke God’s wrath in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.”
- Feared that God might destroy the U.S. just as he punished Nazi Germany: “If we get judgment like Nazi Germany, I’m assuming we go to rebel, and God says ‘I’m done.’”
- Urged conservative Christians to prepare for martyrdom in their fight to “save the nation from the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage [and] homosexual scouts.”
- Warned that homosexuality has created an unparalleled “moral crisis” and “threatened our utter destruction.”
- Predicted that homosexuality will lead to the destruction of America: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and — more so — is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.... The mark of a decadent society is the exaltation and normalization of sin — which leads to the death.”
- Attacked gay Republicans Richard Tisei and Ken Mehlman along with GOP marriage equality supporters Rob Portman, Laura Bush, Barbara Bush and Cindy McCain for trying “to impose homosexual marriage — and indecency — on Christian America.”
- Compared Republicans who support marriage equality to politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.
- Called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.”
- Said America needs a “thorough cleaning from pornography, abortion, homosexuality, filth from TV and Hollywood, racism, and injustice.”
- Disclosed that “our long-term strategy must be to place the Bible in Public Schools as the principle [sic] textbook of American education.”
In a speech Saturday to the far-right Awakening conference organized by Liberty Counsel, Rick Santorum told the audience of pastors and activists that it was up to them to save America by, in part, getting Bibles back in public schools.
“We are on a crossroads in American history, a crossroads that looks like we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from,” Santorum warned, adding that the nation needs to return to God.
“The left cannot be successful in a country of God-given rights,” he said. “It can’t. Because they want to be the purveyor of rights, and if God is the purveyor of rights, then they lose. We have an obligation to educate, to form, within our churches to preach, within our families to educate, and to fight within our schools. Why are Bibles no longer in public schools? Don’t give me the Supreme Court. The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let them take them out of the public schools.”
He added a variation on President Obama’s campaign chant: “You say, ‘Well we can’t get them back in.’ Yes we can. Yes we can!”
As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of potential Republican presidential candidates. In this new series, we’ll be looking at the records and promises of the Republican Party’s leading presidential prospects. Next up is Bobby Jindal:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the self-styled policy wonk who once lamented that “dumbed down conservatism” is turning the GOP into “the stupid party,” has quickly embraced the Republicans’ increasingly frantic talking points about the imminent end of liberty and freedom in America. Capturing the mood of Tea Party activists this year, Jindal touted his support for a “rebellion” and a “hostile takeover” of the government to stop the “radically, extremely liberal, ideological president.”
Jindal also jumped on the controversy surrounding Phil Robertson, star of the Louisiana-based A&E reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” to position himself as a defender of conservative Christian values against a tyrannical government and secular media. Jindal, along with other conservative figures, turned Robertson into a cause célèbre when his show was temporarily put on hiatus after he made statements attacking gays and lesbians and defending Jim Crow. Jindal alleged that A&E violated Robertson’s First Amendment rights when it put the star on leave, and has since cited the “Duck Dynasty” fracas to warn that the rights of same-sex marriage opponents are under “assault.” The Obama administration, gay rights advocates and the courts, Jindal told graduates of the conservative bastion Liberty University this year, are all waging a “war on religious liberty — on your freedom to exercise your religion, on your freedom to associate on your freedom of expression.”
“The same liberal extremists that want to come take our guns are the same forces that want to take away our religious liberty,” he told a National Rifle Association gathering the month before. He added: “Our freedom is under attack. Our opponents don’t believe in individual freedom…They believe the individual is subordinate to the state, subjects of the elite…We cannot let them change who America is.”
He also alleged that freedom is under attack across countries like the United Kingdom due to Sharia law no-go zones, or areas governed by Islamic law that he believes are coming to America. When asked by a reporter where in the U.K. such no-go zones exist, Jindal was unable to name a single location. While Fox News retracted its claims about such zones after experts said that the charges were completely baseless, Jindal has turned the belief in no-go zones into a major campaign theme.
An opponent of abortion rights “with no exceptions,” Jindal signed legislation that would have shut down all of his state’s abortion clinics if not for a federal judge’s decision to halt its enforcement. He also signed laws limiting insurance options for women seeking abortion care and mandating that a woman undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound before being allowed to have an abortion.
Jindal has led an aggressive push in his home state for the privatization of public education and the taxpayer funding of religious schools, even directing taxpayer dollars to schools espousing Creationism, which he said would let kids “be exposed to the best facts.” Unsurprisingly, these policies have failed to improve education outcomes in the state.
Jindal was at one time a strong supporter of the Common Core education standards: He once called Common Core’s adoption a key part of his education policy and was featured in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce advertisement promoting the standards. But Jindal has since done an about-face to get behind the growing Tea Party and Religious Right hostility to Common Core. The Louisiana governor is now touting his opposition to Common Core in front of conservative audiences and implying that the standards entail a surreptitious socialist agenda. Jindal’s new line on Common Core plays right into conservative conspiracy theories about the standards, including claims that they represent a federal government takeover of the education system and will indoctrinate students into left-wing politics. Louisiana’s state board of education has ignored Jindal’s reversal and is implementing the Common Core standards anyway.
Jindal’s desire to appeal to right-wing conspiracy theorists has even led him to wade into the issue of President Obama’s citizenship, supporting a “birther bill” under consideration in the state legislature in 2011. Jindal has repeatedly suggested that Obama neither understands American values nor loves America.
While Jindal works on burnishing his image for national audiences, he remains deeply unpopular among his own constituents. A majority of Louisiana voters, including Republicans, disapprove of the job Jindal has done as governor and say he shouldn’t run for president. Jindal is especially unpopular on pocketbook issues, as his economic agenda has led to a collapse in the state’s fiscal health. His policies have been so damaging that even Republican lawmakers in the state consider his policy program to be “insane.”
In the talk, Hibbs warned evangelical Christians against seeking interfaith understanding with Muslims, saying, “Islam is today is being embraced by so-called evangelical churches announcing that we worship the same god and they’re our brothers. Listen: That is not only false, it is a demonic doctrine being propagated by heretics.”
He went on to explain that Satan is using Islam as a "vehicle" in the Last Days before the return of Christ, and that Allah is simply the ancient “moon god” Baal, which is why Islam is represented by a crescent moon.
“Now look, you may hold that view today simply because maybe you’re not a heretic, but you might be ignorant that this is a war against an ancient doctrine, an ancient god with a little ‘g,’ and ancient system that used to go around by the name of Baal,” he said. “It is the moon god of the ancient Babylonian empire. Babylon had 360 gods. The chief god was the moon god. Don’t you think it’s interesting that all around the world, mosques have a moon symbol, a crescent on top of their buildings?”
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
This week, we learned from the Right that gay people and immigrants are out to destroy our freedoms, with the help of President Obama, who is secretly preparing to stay in office for a third term.
5) Gay Marriage Threatens Freedom
Speaking with an Iowa talk show host this week, Sen. Ted Cruz once again appealed to the anti-gay Right when he railed against judges, like the members of the Iowa Supreme Court, who strike down bans on same-sex marriage. Cruz alleged that such rulings pose “ a real danger to our liberty” and are in defiance of the Constitution:
Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council also described marriage equality as a threat to freedom this week, writing that the Supreme Court is “headed for another Dred Scott opinion” if it finds same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional, referring to the ruling which said that African Americans could not be U.S. citizens.
“If the Court overturns marriage, it will not only further delegitimize itself as an institution, it will gravely damage American society,” he said. “And it will undermine the ‘consent of the governed’ — the only basis for just laws.”
Blackwell, notorious for his efforts as Ohio’s secretary of state to stifle voting in the 2004 election, went on to compare judges who rule in favor of marriage equality to officials in the Jim Crow South who restricted the voting rights of African Americans: “We should remember Selma and the ‘Bloody Sunday’ that was necessary to achieve the too-long-denied equal voting rights for all our citizens. Today, rogue federal judges are engaged in the most massive case of voter suppression we have seen since the days of Jim Crow! Across the country, but especially in the South, black Americans joined other citizens in voting to affirm true marriage.”
But neither Blackwell nor Cruz can claim the prize for the most distraught outburst against gay marriage of the week, as that honor belongs to Indiana politician John Price, who suggested that Americans should “flee” the U.S. before the Supreme Court rules on marriage rights.
4) Gay Twilight Zone
So how exactly does LGBT equality threaten freedom?
Well, according to Texas GOP Chairman Tom Mechler, writing in an op-ed titled “ Free speech, rights are under attack,” the LGBT rights movement is threatening his freedom not to see photos of gay people:
I’ve watched with dismay the controversy surrounding Amarillo Town Club’s family membership policy, which was placed prominently before our community by the Amarillo Globe-News on March 2 with its front-page article showing a picture of two angry-looking homosexual women.
The story was also mentioned by a reader in a letter to the editor (Letter: Shame on Amarillo Town Club, March 6, amarillo.com) who believed the business’ conduct was “shameful.”
Shameful? Sometimes I feel like we are living in the twilight zone.
Mechler went on to write that people who criticize his view that same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legalized are actually attacking the freedom of speech: “What I find troubling is the incredible attack that has been launched on free speech. I love this country, and as an American the Bill of Rights gives me the right to say what I please.”
3) Immigrants Will Take Your Guns
Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt is a staunch opponent of immigration reform since he believes that new citizens will vote Democratic and “take away our guns.”
Pratt expanded on this theory in an interview with Armed America Radio recently, explaining that immigrants have a “dependent mentality” and thus don’t understand what it’s like to want to protect yourself from bodily harm.
“A dependent class that depends on the government for their income, for all kinds of financial and other assistance, is not generally of a mind to be able to protect itself, which is after all the most important part about living, is staying alive from one moment to the next in case some dirtbag wants to try to terminate you,” he said. “And if you don’t think enough of your own freedom to take charge of that aspect of your existence, then of course you’re likely to expect handouts and ‘more, more, more’ because you have a dependent mentality.”
2) Another Petraeus Conspiracy Theory
When David Petraeus resigned as CIA director in response to allegations, to which he has since pled guilty, that he leaked classified information to a woman with whom he was having an affair, several conservative pundits rallied to his defense. According to these commentators, along with at least one GOP congressman, Petraeus was actually the victim of an Obama administration plot to stop him from exposing the truth about the 2012 Benghazi attack. In reality, since leaving the CIA, Petraeus has dismissed conspiracy theories surrounding the Benghazi attack and praised then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response.
On Wednesday, as Media Matters notes, Rush Limbaugh made a similar claim, alleging that administration officials knew Petraeus was leaking sensitive material but “kept it in reserve” and acted on it only “when Petraeus refused to go out and spout the company line on Benghazi.” Limbaugh said that Clinton knew that this cover-up of the cover-up occurred, and that is why she used a personal email account at the State Department: “And so Mrs. Clinton knew that they knew, because she was secretary of state when they sent Petraeus out there to spout the company line and refused to do it. Plus she knew Obama — so that server is to keep things from Obama.”
1) Obama’s Third Term!
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah wants his readers to know that he takes very seriously concerns “out there across the fruited plain” that President Obama will defy the U.S. Constitution and remain in office after the end of his second term. In fact, WND is so worried about this conspiracy theory that it even asked potential GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson how the American people can stop Obama’s (non-existent) plot.
Since “Obama himself may not even be constitutionally eligible for office,” according to Farah, there is reason to believe that “he and his family might remain in Washington after leaving office” since he has no respect for the Constitution anyway. After all, Farah believes that the Obama family enjoys lavish vacations and is “living it up” on the taxpayers’ dime so much that they may refuse to leave the White House.
Farah even suggested that groups like People For the American Way are paving the way for the third Obama term since there is “simply no organized opposition to Obama’s illegal, criminal actions and behavior.” The only one who can stop Obama, Farah writes, may be Hillary Clinton.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, after teaming up with Christian nationalist extremists to host his “The Response” prayer rally in Baton Rouge earlier this year, is now continuing his project of endearing himself to the far fringes of the Religious Right by addressing an annual conference hosted by Liberty Counsel this weekend.
Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” event will bring Jindal, along with fellow likely GOP presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, together with some of the most unapologetically extreme Religious Right leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz’s dad Rafael.
With speakers from John Eidsmoe, a founding father of the Religious Right’s current Christian nationalist thought, to Kamal Saleem, the phony ex-terrorist and prolific anti-Obama conspiracy theorist, the candidates are sure to be treated to an exciting array of far-right ideas.
The Awakening is organized by Liberty Counsel, a legal arm of Liberty University founded and chaired by Mat Staver. Staver is particularly invested in anti-LGBT activism both in the U.S. and abroad, where he has spoken out in favor of laws criminalizing homosexuality. Here at home, he has warned that marriage equality will help bring about God’s destruction of America and will be “the beginning of the end of Western Civilization.”
Staver’s extremism is not limited to LGBT rights. For instance, at the 2010 Awakening conference, Staver agreed with an audience member who asked if the Affordable Care Act created a private army of Brownshirts for President Obama.
Kamal Saleem claims to be an ex-terrorist who worked for a number of Islamist groups before coming to America to build sleeper cells and ultimately converting to Christianity. The fact that Saleem’s story doesn’t add up — and that he’s suspiciously reluctant to talk about the details — hasn’t stopped him from being a popular speaker on the Religious Right conference circuit, where he impresses audiences with his insider knowledge that President Obama is a secret Muslim out to destroy America.
Saleem uses his literally unbelievable personal story to sell a wide range of conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama attends a mosque in Washington, DC, on Christmas (while he is simultaneously in Hawaii) and that Islamists are working through Sasha and Malia Obama’s babysitters to establish a shadow government.
In 2012, he told The Awakening that when President Obama appeared to be pledging allegiance to the flag, he was actually taking part in an Islamic prayer. The same year, he warned the Values Voter Summit that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be shutting down churches in America within the year:
John Eidsmoe is one of the leading voices behind the Religious Right’s effort to rewrite American history and law to reflect a specific “biblical worldview.” Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was a research assistant on Eidsmoe’s influential 1987 book “Christianity and the Constitution,” cites him as an in influence and his work has permeated the segment of the Religious Right that seeks to take “dominion” over America to avoid God’s judgment.
Eidsmoe has specifically warned that gay rights will bring about divine judgment on the U.S. and wrote a whole book, “Gays & Guns,” arguing against allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, warning that they might molest children.
Eidsmoe, who has gotten in trouble in the past for speaking to white supremacist groups, is currently the “senior counsel and resident scholar” at the Foundation for Moral Law, the Christian nationalist group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a longtime ally.
Rick Scarborough, a Baptist pastor and the head of the Religious Right group Vision America, is one of the most extreme voices in the anti-LGBT movement. Although he insists that he is neither a Democrat or Republican, but a “Christ-ocrat,” he frequently allies with likeminded Republican politicians including Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee to get his followers to the polls.
Scarborough maintains that AIDS is God’s “judgment” for “an immoral act,” warns that the appointment of gay ambassadors would be perfect justification for God to nuke America, and once suggested filing a class action lawsuit against homosexuality.
Scarborough has also dabbled in anti-immigrant nativism, warning that “more non-white families” in the U.S. would lead to fewer Christians and that “if this country becomes 30 percent Hispanic we will no longer be America.”
Franklin Graham, a son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, couples his international humanitarian work with an apocalyptic approach to American politics. He predicted that President Obama’sreelectionwould bring about God’s destruction of America and railed that Americans “turned our back on God” by reelecting the president.
Graham’s opinion of the Obama administration was only reinforced when he was disinvited from speaking at an event at the Pentagon because of hishistory of anti-Muslim rhetoric. He has since claimed that the White House has been “infiltrated by Muslims” and is being run by Muslims who “hate Israel and hate Christians.” Just this week, he speculated that Obama’s mother “must have been a Muslim,” which he said explains why the president supposedly won’t fight ISIS.
While he may worry that God is getting ready to judge America for President Obama, Graham has implied that the Almighty is smiling on Russian President Vladimir Putin because of his crackdown on LGBT rights in his country. Graham, who has long claimed that Christianity is on the road to being criminalized in the U.S., said last year that pastors must be prepared to get their “heads chopped off” in the fight against gay rights.
Matt Barber, a former Liberty Counsel official who still hosts a daily radio program with Staver, is best known for his over-the-top bigoted anti-gay rhetoric.
Barber often frames his battle against LGBT equality and reproductive rights as a “spiritual war” in which he is on the side of God. He has called marriage equality the “bidding of the Devil” and warned that by legalizing same-sex marriage, America is “ tempting the wrath of God.” He claims that HIV/AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality.
Barber is fond of comparing his opponents to Nazis, calling supporters of reproductive rights “modern day Nazis” and LGBT rights advocates “Rainbowshirts” who have “broken out the long knives” to go after Christians. At the same time, he has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he’d like to see a ban on “gay propaganda” in the U.S., and defending Uganda’s harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.
We didn’t see this one coming. Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa Religious Right powerhouse The Family Leader, came out in favor of legalizing some medical marijuana products yesterday, testifying in favor of a bill that would legalize production and sale of medical cannabis oil in the state.
Vander Plaats, emphasizing that he was speaking in his personal capacities and not on behalf of The Family Leader, told the Des Moines Register that he and his wife were "applauding and cheering silently from the sidelines" when the state decriminalized possession of medical cannabis oil and wanted the state to “finish the job” by legalizing its production and sale. The two said they were inspired to support the law by raising a developmentally disabled son.
Even limited support for medical marijuana comes as a surprise from Vander Plaats who, as the leading Religious Right figure in Iowa, works to press Republican presidential candidates to the right on "family" issues like LGBT equality, abortion rights and legal pornography. Last year, the group even produced a video showing people smoking pot as part of a montage of events including gay rights and terrorism that they alleged are leading to the End Times.
Watch the KTIV report on Vander Plaats’ testimony:
Retired Navy Admiral James “Ace” Lyons, an author of the Center For Security Policy’s “Team B II” report on Islam in America and a member of the Citizens Committee on Benghazi, claimed in a radio interview this week that 80 percent of American mosques “preach sedition” and urged an end to Muslim immigration and a ban on the building of mosques.
Lyons told Joe Miller, the former Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Alaska who now hosts a far-right radio program, that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama administration to the point where “I would consider them a de facto cabinet member."
Lyons said that he would undo the supposed infiltration by electing an “administration that puts America first,” but added that the Muslim Brotherhood “penetration” has been going on for decades and the real solution is to crack down on American Muslims.
“Just a change in administration is not enough,” he told Miller. “There has to be a significant education program, and we haven’t touched on it. Our borders must be secured. This is unconscionable what’s going on. And the immigration of the Muslims under the Obama administration that are pouring into this country must cease.”
“Actually, 80 percent of the mosques in this country preach sedition,” he claimed. “Their imams and those mosques should be closed down, they should be expelled to the countries where they came from and we should stop building mosques, just like Switzerland has stopped building them there and now some of the countries in Europe are starting to wake up to the threat that they’ve been so benign to.”
As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of potential Republican presidential candidates. In this new series, we’ll be looking at the records and promises of the Republican Party’s leading presidential prospects. Next up is Rick Perry:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly won support from conservative activists, especially from the Religious Right, when he made a late entry into the 2012 presidential election, unofficially launching his campaign with a prayer rally packed with Religious Right extremists. Perry came into the race midway through his third term as governor, armed with a record of right-wing economic policies; close ties to the oil industry and opposition to regulations on polluters; antagonism to the federal government; and hostility to LGBT equality and abortion rights. Portraying himself as a candidate to the right of Mitt Romney but more electable than the rest of the GOP field, Perry gained traction until his campaign self-destructed thanks to a series of horrific debate performances and unforced errors.
Perry, who has floated the idea of secession from the United States and signed constitutionally dubious legislation defending the right of states to nullify federal laws, wants to repeal the amendments to the U.S. Constitution allowing for a progressive income tax and requiring that U.S. senators are elected directly by voters.
He believes states should be able to opt out of programs like Social Security — which he called a “Ponzi scheme” — and Medicaid. His decision to refuse Medicaid expansion in Texas has cost the state tens of billions of dollars and left millions without insurance. A staunch critic of federal economic policies who once threatened the “almost treasonous” chairman of the Federal Reserve, his opposition to the 2009 federal economic stimulus package didn’t stop him from using stimulus dollars to balance Texas’ budget and stave off a massive shortfall. But it’s unclear how much power Perry thinks economic policy actually has: he once suggested that the 2008 economic crisis was an anti-government message from God.
Perry has played with the conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama’s birth, citing Donald Trump as his source of information on the legitimacy of the president’s citizenship and saying that the conspiracy theory surrounding the president’s birth certificate is “a good issue to keep alive.”
The Texas governor has also dabbled in other anti-Obama conspiracy theories, including alleging that the Obama administration orchestrated a humanitarian crisis on the southern border for political purposes. He made waves with his decision to send the National Guard to patrol the border against Central American children, a plan he unveiled while campaigning in Iowa.
While he will likely ground his candidacy in issues relating to immigration and the economy, Perry is also a social issues warrior. As governor, Perry championed Texas’ law criminalizing consensual sex between adults of the same gender, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case. He made anti-gay animus a central part of his presidential campaign, running a desperate TV ad attacking gay military service members. After his presidential campaign, Perry became an outspoken opponent of a policy change allowing gay youth to join the Boy Scouts, likening that fight to the fight to end slavery. Earlier this year, he defended his state party’s decision to endorse pseudo-scientific ex-gay therapy by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.
As governor of Texas, Perry enacted some of the most sweeping anti-abortion rights laws in the country, even going so far as to call an emergency session of the state legislature to pass a bill to force the closure of most of the state’s abortion clinics, though a federal judge has temporarily blocked portions of the new restrictions. Perry mocked one of the bill’s principal opponents, state Sen. Wendy Davis, saying “it is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example” of being a teen mother.
Perry was recently indicted on charges that he abused his power as governor to defund an investigative unit that was looking into a project that he had championed. Despite his best effort to portray himself as the victim of a political witch hunt, a judge declined Perry’s attempt to have the indictments thrown out.
This op-ed by Randy Borntager, Political Director of People For the American Way, was originally published at The Huffington Post.
After the vast majority of Republicans voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security to oppose President Obama's immigration actions, and with Republicans blocking any hope of real immigration reform this Congress, it seems the anti-immigrant movement has instead decided to refocus its efforts on revoking the constitutional right to birthright citizenship.
Earlier this week, Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana decided to introduce a birthright citizenship amendment to the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. The amendment so far has just one cosponsor -- Sen. David Perdue of Georgia -- and it's unlikely that it will be included in the final bill, but this decision to tack an unconstitutional, anti-immigrant measure onto an important bill shows the priorities of Sen. Vitter and the Republican Party.
Sen. Vitter claims that his birthright citizenship amendment would help curb the issue of "birth tourism," recently in the news surrounding Chinese mothers coming to California -- often committing crimes in the process -- so their children can be born in the U.S. It would seem more sensible to tackle this issue through targeting the middlemen who NBC reports "pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars tax-free," and the visa, tax, and marriage fraud that are often a key part of "birth tourism." Instead, Sen. Vitter and the many Republicans who support ending birthright citizenship are trying to use the issue as cover for their attacks on immigrants and attempts to revoke a core constitutional right.
The flaws of the conservative attacks on birthright citizenship have been well documented. First, it's blatantly unconstitutional. It's clear that the drafters of the 14th Amendment intended it to guarantee citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. The only exception -- in the words of one of the amendment drafter's, Sen. Jacob Howard -- is for people "who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States," as they are not, as the 14th Amendment requires, "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. Conservatives from Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush adviser, to the anti-immigrant Lou Dobbs have viewed attempts to undermine birthright citizenship as unconstitutional.
It's also a terrible idea. Gerson wrote, "Anti-immigration activists often claim that their real concern is to prevent law breaking, not to exclude Hispanics. But revoking birthright citizenship would turn hundreds of thousands of infants into 'criminals'--arriving, not across a border, but crying in a hospital." The Migration Policy Institute also found that rather than decreasing the number of undocumented immigrants in America, as birthright citizenship activists claim, revoking the right would "likely increase dramatically" the number of people in the country without authorization, leading to the "establishment of a permanent class of unauthorized persons."
Sen. Vitter is not the only Republican promoting anti-immigrant bills instead of trying for real, bipartisan solutions on immigration. In January of this year, Rep. Steve King of Iowa re-introduced a bill aiming to repeal birthright citizenship. Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Rep. Mike Coffman, and Rep. Joe Heck have all backed plans to revoke birthright citizenship in the past.
We need immigration reform. From improving the economy while reducing the deficit to ensuring that DREAMers and their families can live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, the benefits are endless. Not only have Republicans blocked comprehensive immigration reform when it had a real chance of passing, they're now trying yet again to bring up unconstitutional bills to drive their point home. That's not what responsible governing looks like, and for a party that says they're trying to attract more Latino support, they're certainly not shy about attacking immigrants for short-term political gain.