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“You see, all Christian values have been driven out of the schools and the culture by the liberals, they’ve been replaced by a vacuum, do as you please and do whatever you want,” he said.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.
The anti-gay documentary “Light Wins,” just as expected, has been asourceofabsoluteinsanity. GOP leaders like Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee had no problem with appearing in the far-right film, which featured a who’s who of fringe and extreme right-wing activists.
The movie, which attempted to give hope to anti-gay activists fearing the worst, ends with a fun new song reminding people that “no matter how loud its shouted, sin is not a civil right!”
Janet Porter, the creator of the anti-gay film “Light Wins,” says in the “documentary” that opponents of the gay rights movement should look to Ronald Reagan for inspiration. Just as Reagan brought down the Soviet Union, Porter dubiously claims, conservatives can still beat the odds and roll back the tide in favor gay rights.
As Dr. John Diggs adds, communism may be coming to the U.S.: “Political correctness, as people may not recall, is a term that was born in the Soviet Union where thousands if not millions of people died because they tried to quash religion and because they tried to quash political dissent by sending people to gulags. Don’t let this happen in America.”
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality claims that America “will crumble like all civilizations before who embraced and celebrated sexual immorality,” adding that homosexuality is “the only sexual sin that has its own parade.”
Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who appears in the movie along with fellow Republican politicians Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Tim Huelskamp and Louie Gohmert, cites a successful campaign to kick three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench in retribution for their support of marriage equality as a reason anti-gay activists should have hope.
The documentary ends with Porter calling on people to shine their (smart phone) lights in the darkness, “because in the battle between darkness and light, light wins.”
Faith2Action’s Janet Porter warns in her new documentary “Light Wins” that “right now, our freedoms are on fire. The attack against freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion has come to Main Street, the business you own, and the place that you work.”
Panning over a map of America on fire, Porter asserts that “when the government mandates public endorsement of sin, it’s not just the bakers and photographers who suffer.” It is also “the printers, the fire chiefs, adoption agencies, bed and breakfasts, facility owners, counselors, broadcasters, students, teachers, and groups like Inner City Christian Fellowship, the Knights of Columbus, and Salvation Army.” Apparently, “now under attack is anyone who ran for public office and anyone who ever will.”
Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Huckabee, who lauded Porter’s film as “groundbreaking” and “eye-opening,” also makes and appearance in the film.
“What kind of freedom of speech do we have if a person who expresses a biblical viewpoint about a marriage is told they can’t open their businesses in a location?” he asked, referring to Boston’s Mayor Menino’s condemnation of Chick-fil-A for its anti-gay activism. Huckabee recalls his appeal for a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” when “millions of people cropped up across the country to simply buy a chicken sandwich and say, ‘We affirm the right of believers to take a biblical stand.’”
Huckabee provides viewers with a second example of Christian persecution, recalling the suspension of a star of of A&E’s show “Duck Dynasty” after he made racist and anti-gay remarks. Huckabee remarked that while Phil Robertson’s comments “might have been a little on the edge in terms of the manner in which he said them,” they are “consistent again with Christian beliefs of people all over America and the world.” Just like the Christians who supported Chick-fil-A’s right to discriminate against gays and sell fried chicken, the outcry of moral Christians to Robertson’s firing “was such they finally had to reverse that decision.”
Chalking these scenarios up to “a matter of people who were politically correct somehow wanting to tell Christians to just shut up and go away,” Huckabee reminds viewers that “Jesus told his disciples that they weren’t supposed to shut up and go away, and he told them right here in Caesarea in Philippi, so I couldn’t think of any better place to say it than here.”
In the documentary, Porter laments that “prayer, God and his commandments were kicked out of the classroom because they might influence children not to lie, steal and kill,” and now the “void” has been filled by “a dark agenda that robs children of their innocence and puts their life at risk.” “With the redefinition of marriage comes a state invitation to indoctrinate your child,” she adds.
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality says that schools now teach kids “dangerous sexual practices under the guise of equality” and Dr. John Diggs claims that gays will now “groom” young people, “perhaps for their own purposes down the line.”
Judith Reisman, the Liberty University law professor, says that public schools that make “out gay novels” available to students are all violating federal obscenity laws because such schools effectively “groom children for sex.” “We need to get parents a class action lawsuit against the schools, against the school superintendents, against individual teachers,” Reisman says. “We could sue Planned Parenthood off the face of the earth.”
Janet Porter, founder and president of Faith2Action, compares homosexuality to a deadly children’s toy in her new anti-gay documentary “Light Wins,” which features appearances from Republican leaders Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul.
Porter ominously questions: “If hundreds of thousands of people died from a product that’s being marketed to your children, would you want to know about it? A lethal product like that would have more than a warning label, it would be pulled from the shelves and anyone caught selling it would be held legally liable?” The answer would be yes, Porter explained, “unless that product happened to be homosexual behavior, a behavior responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands.”
Anti-gay activist John R. Diggs, Jr. explains to viewers that the facts regarding the deadliness of homosexuality come from “the biggest sources of medicine, whether it be the Center for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, the Journal of the American Medical Association.” For this reason, Diggs suggests that gay people who are angry about what he is saying “speak to the most anti-gay force in the world, and that is Mother Nature herself.”
Religious Right pseudo-historian David Barton also chimes in, saying that in order for a revival to take place, Americans must “address the homosexual issue” and “confront it head-on.” Michigan state Rep. Gary Glenn adds that it is possible to save gay individuals because “there have been thousands of people who have” gotten out of the homosexual “lifestyle.”
Porter laments that her prophesized criminalization of sexual orientation conversion therapy has come to fruition. Now, “licensed counselors in California and New Jersey are forbidden from giving hope to minors who do not want same-sex attractions.” Even if pastors “do anything other than encourage homosexual behavior, they will lose their license to counsel,” she claims. Porter, dramatically positioned in front of a closing iron door, warns that “for those who want help leaving homosexuality, that door is closed.”
In an interview with podcast host Marc Maron that was released yesterday, President Obama took on institutionalized racism by saying that the fight against race discrimination is “not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.”
Shocking nobody, the conservative pundits at Fox News completely missed the point of Obama’s remark and are now attacking him for using the n-word.
Conservative author and Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli called the president the “rapper in chief” who is “dividing our country,” while Fox News pundit Todd Starnes wrote that the president undermined “the dignity of the Oval office” and should remember that he’s “not a hip-hip [sic] artist.”
This post has been updated: The original post listed Douglas Wilson as the author because of the title, "Douglas Wilson’s Glorious Response to Russell Moore’s Racial Grandstanding." However, the post was written by JD Hall.
Yesterday, Fox News pundit Todd Starnes tweeted out an article by conservative pundit JD Hall defending the Confederate flag hanging next to South Carolina’s capitol building in the wake of the mass shooting at a historically black church in Charleston.
Hall criticized Southern Baptist Convention official Russell Moore for calling on the state to take down the Confederate flag, saying that instead of talking about the flag, people should be speaking about the “culture of death” in the U.S.
Hall wrote that Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the Emanuel A.M.E. church and a state senator who was one of the nine people killed in the shooting, is partly to blame for this “post-modern culture of death” since he supported a woman’s right to choose.
“[T]his murderer was carrying out the foregone conclusion of Planned Parenthood and Clementa Pinckney’s worldview,” he wrote.
1. Before evangelicalism’s public relation experts jump on the Charleston shooting like white-guilt on rice, remember that the problem is not a flag, but is sin – and the solution is Gospel. Hashtagging your scolding tweets#TakeItDown as though the problem is symbolism of a bygone era dyed on a piece of cloth not only grossly oversimplifies history and is misunderstanding of abiding heritage, but it places the impetus for change upon the outside, external cup and not the internal hatred of the heart. As Russell Moore is calling for removal of the Confederate Flag, as a wholesale rejection of ALL of the southern state’s shared heritage, he overlooks the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention still has buildings named after slaveholders like Boyce, Broadus and Manly. Why not call for those buildings to be renamed, as they are representative of that same bygone era with a shameful and sinful asterisk belonging to slavery? Would it be because Moore could argue that the heritage left behind by Boyce, Broadus and Manly cannot be reduced to their ownership of slaves? No, he dare not make that argument – the press would devour him! So why not take the log out of your own eye? It’s because that wouldn’t be popular. His Southern Baptist base would crumble beneath his feet. That would receive no accolades.
So, instead of preaching the Gospel as the solution to racial reconciliation, Russell Moore is reaching for the low-hanging fruit of symbolic imagery abused by racist, sinful, maniacs. Evangelicals never cease to amaze me in their ability to overlook the “evangel” in almost every single important, teachable and tragic moment of our culture for the appeal of cheap applause.
2. And this one may be a hard pill to swallow: The problem isn’t the Confederate Flag. It’s a culture of death, in which men like Clementa Pinckney use their political power to fight for the “right” of parents to kill their children because they don’t want them around. It’s a heart bent on sin and fully corrupt that causes a young man to exercise his wicked choice to abort people he didn’t want around, either. The problem is that our post-modern culture thinks a baby is only a live human being if the mother wants him or her. A product of post-modern culture, this church shooter didn’t view these people as human beings deserving to live because he didn’t want them. This is the post-modern culture of death we live in; this murderer was carrying out the foregone conclusion of Planned Parenthood and Clementa Pinckney’s worldview. The problem is systemic and innate and deep, and can’t be summarized by something as simple as a flag. It’s not racism (alone) that is the problem, but our over-all lack of belief in the sanctity of human life, whether or not you want someone around – they’re still a person deserving life. Pinckney’s view and Planned Parenthood’s view and apparently Dylann Roof’s view is that someones’ life is only valuable if you personally want them. THAT, my friends, is the problem. We live in and promote a culture of death, and we get death. (emphasis added)
Right-wing activist and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman knows who is really to blame for the Charleston church shooting: President Obama.
“Obama, Holder and their enablers, like Al Sharpton, have become what they accused President George W. Bush of being: a recruiting tool for terrorists thanks to his invasion of Iraq,” Klayman wrote on Friday in WorldNetDaily. “Obama and company’s biased actions against whites, Christians and Jews have ironically served to draw neo-Nazis and sick Klansman out of their caves and have emboldened them to try to justify criminal acts – people like Dylann Roof. Indeed, Roof was quoted as saying that he struck because blacks had ‘taken over the country.’”
Just as “Obama has fanned the flames” in order to “tear down traditional America,” Klayman warned, “Hillary Clinton is poised to ignite a war between the sexes as a way to win the White House.”
Yet how can we ignore the climate of violence that is sharpening conflicts instead of soothing them? How can we ignore a simple truth: Barack Obama and Eric Holder created much of this atmosphere of anger, bitterness and bile with their disdain of whites and not too transparent belief and actions that we must now pay what are in effect reparations to the black community, even though this generation does not practice or advocate slavery. Obama, Holder and their enablers, like Al Sharpton, have become what they accused President George W. Bush of being: a recruiting tool for terrorists thanks to his invasion of Iraq. Obama and company’s biased actions against whites, Christians and Jews have ironically served to draw neo-Nazis and sick Klansman out of their caves and have emboldened them to try to justify criminal acts – people like Dylann Roof. Indeed, Roof was quoted as saying that he struck because blacks had “taken over the country.”
To fundamentally transform America, Obama, Holder and their fellow travelers have been implementing Saul Alinsky’s and Frank Marshall Davis’ teachings. They have been inciting one group against another group, race against race and class against class.
President Abraham Lincoln warned that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” He was specifically talking about race, a nation half slave and half free. Historically, outside conquerors have ruled over large countries by keeping groups fighting against each other and throwing salt in the wounds of local grievances. To tear down traditional America, socialists and progressives must tear at old wounds.
But this is not a faculty lounge exercise. Obama’s race war, implemented in large part by the likes of Eric Holder, has real-world consequences. Real people get hurt and trampled as collateral damage in the progressive enterprise. From the small, family-owned businesses destroyed in Ferguson, Missouri, to the neighborhoods burned down in Baltimore, to the nine black church members gunned down Wednesday night in Charleston, inciting hatred between America’s races is not just a cheap “get out the vote” trick to elect Democrats.
The Democratic Party’s ownership of black voters is weakening as the failures of progressive policies in the Obama administration and the leadership of inner cities like Detroit become clear. Officials whose policies are harming minorities in America cling to power mainly by inciting this hatred. Hispanics will tell you that in the Spanish-language media they are told that white Republicans hate them – not that Hispanics shouldn’t vote Republican, but that white Republicans hate Hispanics. Where will this race-baiting politics lead? As politicians try to get votes by stirring up hatred, the hatred does not end on Election Day. And Hillary Clinton is poised to ignite a war between the sexes as a way to win the White House. The consequences will boil over in real people’s lives.
Remember when Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency, promising to be a healer among the races, a bridge who could unite and bring us all together? Clearly, by design and not by accident, Obama has fanned the flames instead.
As racists like Dylann Roof watch on the news two police officers being executed by a black man in retaliation for events in Ferguson and rioting by blacks, what affect do we expect on society? When those who burned down their own neighborhoods are not arrested, what signals does that send to the sick unbalanced minds of people like like Dylann Roof?
The Saul Alinsky radicals are promoting racial conflict as a means of promoting political or societal change in the United States. Creating chaos is a path that they hope will lead to tearing down our country so that a new country can be built in its place. For them it is just a cynical game of politics designed to wage their own “Bolshevik” revolution. But for the real people who are damaged or murdered, this is deadly serious business.
“I read I shouldn’t be on the same stage with some governor who is a nothing or senator who is a nothing,” Trump said. “I’m not saying that a senator is nothing or a governor, I’m saying that some of these people shouldn’t be on the stage.”
Boasting of his business skills and reality TV success, Trump said that his fellow candidates aren’t even worthy of shining his shoes: “You go to the best college and you do great and all of the sudden you’re not supposed to be on a stage and you have other people that frankly can’t shine your shoes and it’s okay for them to be on it.”
Responding to criticism from the National Review, Trump said that William F. Buckley, the publication’s founder, “must be spinning in his grave, they have a bunch of lowlifes over there.”
King acknowledged that mass shootings are more frequent in the United States, but said that American has a “higher calling” than preventing “one event of violence” and can only be “the bastion of western civilization” if individual gun rights are unrestricted.
“Yes, we have a Second Amendment,” the Iowa Republican said. “And even if some of this violence could be stopped by confiscating all the guns, we have a charge, our charge is to defend freedom and liberty. We are the bastion of western civilization, and that requires us to be able to defend ourselves against tyranny. That’s the charge that our founding fathers gave us, that’s in our culture, we know that, we’ve had to do that worldwide. So, it’s a much higher calling than believing that somehow we end one event of violence.”
Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolutionand civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.
Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolution and civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.
One recent salvo in this rhetorical campaign was a full page ad in the June 10 Washington Post in the form of an open letter to the Supreme Court. The headline read, “We ask you not to force us to choose between the state and the Laws of God.”
“We are Christians who love America and respect the rule of law,” the ad said, “However, we will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”
Similar statements can be found in the“Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage”put together by the same people behind thePost ad. And it’s not much different from language in the Manhattan Declaration, a 2009 manifesto written by former National Organization for Marriage chairman Robert George (right) and signed by an array of conservative religious leaders. The Declaration declares that its signers will not “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”
The Post ad suggested that a pro-equality ruling would “unleash religious persecution and discrimination against people of faith,” a statement that ignores the many people of faith who do support full equality for LGBT people. The ad was signed by a bunch of far-right anti-gay activists. Here’s just a sampling:
Back here in the U.S., conservative evangelical leaders and their allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops falsely portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as fundamentally incompatible, a zero-sum game. That’s their justification for opposing civil unions as well as marriage equality – even for opposing laws to protect people from being fired just for being gay.
The reality is that religious liberty has continued to flourish, and our religious landscape has grown more diverse, in the decades thatpublic attitudes toward gay people have shifted dramatically toward equality. There has been no effort to require clergy to marry mixed faith couples if their faith prohibits it, and nobody wants to force any church or priest to marry or give their religious blessing to same-sex couples.
Next, let’s consider whether all this line-in-the-sand drawing is really about the supposed need for clergy, organizations, and business owners to enforce their religious beliefs about marriage in the public arena. The Catholic Church does not give its religious blessing to marriages involving people who have previously been married and divorced, unless the previous marriage is religiously “annulled.” But Catholic organizations are not loudly advocating for the right of a Catholic business owner to treat opposite-sex couples differently based on whether or not their marriages have the church’s blessing.
Similarly, many evangelical leaders say marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman “for life.” Yet in spite of the biblical passage in which Jesus says that a man who divorces his wife, for any reason other than sexual immorality, and marries another woman is committing adultery, there is no clamor from Religious Right leaders celebrating discrimination against people in second and third marriages.
It is clear that a different standard is being applied to same-sex couples. But anti-gay prejudice — animus is the legal term – is not an acceptable basis for discrimination, even if it is grounded in religious belief.
Now, there’s a reason Religious Right leaders are trying to make the conversation around marriage be about the grandmotherly florist who was fined when she declined to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding, or the conversation about contraception about the Little Sisters of the Poor, who say they don’t want to facilitate abortion. It’s an effort associate the Right’s agenda with a “live and let live” ideal that is appealing to many Americans, regardless of religion or politics.
But here’s the problem: Once you establish the principle – as Supreme Court conservatives did in their Hobby Lobby decision last year – that business owners as well as individuals and organizations should be able to ignore laws that somehow offend their religious beliefs, you have to figure out how far people will be allowed to run with it. It is not yet clear where the justices will draw the line.
That kind of line-drawing is often challenging when dealing with questions about how the government can accommodate religion without government impermissibly favoring it. Religious denominations and houses of worship have the greatest level of protection against government interference; courts and legislatures wrestle with the status of religiously affiliated nonprofits. Until Hobby Lobby, the Court had never ruled that a for-profit corporation could “exercise religion” in a way that is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but now that door has been opened, it is not clear what kinds of anti-LGBT discrimination it could permit.
Anti-equality religious and political leaders have made it clear that they will continue to oppose marriage equality even in the face of a Supreme Court ruling striking down state marriage bans. Some are calling for massive resistance and urging state leaders to refuse to comply with a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling. Professors Douglas NeJaime and Reva B. Siegel have argued in the Yale Law Journal that in such a situation, in which there is a well-organized movement dedicated to pushing the religious exemption further and further, an accommodation may actually be more likely to extend the culture war conflict than resolve it.
It is worth addressing generally fair-minded people who don’t understand why the gay rights movement won’t just be happy with a marriage win and let a few people with religious objections “opt out.” Some people may think it’s no big deal for gay couples to find another florist or baker. For one thing, that approach discounts the humiliation of being turned away from a business, a violation of human dignity that was a motivating force behind laws banning racial discrimination in public accommodation. And it may not be such a small obstacle in smaller, conservative, religiously homogenous communities, where discrimination may flourish if it is invited by law and encouraged by local religious leaders.
Consider the anti-abortion movement as a cautionary tale.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, laws were passed to allow doctors who had religious objections to performing abortions to refuse to do so without experiencing negative professional consequences. There has been little opposition to such laws. But over the past few decades, at the urging of anti-abortion activists, the scope of that kind of religious exemption has been expanded wildly to include people ever-further removed from the actual abortion procedure, and expanded to include even marginal participation in the provision of contraception. In emergency situations these accommodation could come at high cost, including the life of a patient.
NeJaime and Siegel describe these as “complicity-based conscience claims” – claims that are about refusing to do anything that might make one complicit in any way with another person’s behavior that one deems sinful. They note that the concept of complicity has been extended to allow health care providers not to even inform patients that some potential care or information has been withheld from them based on the religious beliefs of an individual or the policies of an institution.
The resistance to complying with the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover contraception takes the notion of complicity to almost surreal lengths. Just days after theHobby Lobby decision, the Court’s conservatives sided provisionally with religious conservatives who are arguing that it is a burden on their religious freedom even to inform the government that they are refusing to provide contraceptive coverage, because that would trigger the process by which the coverage would be provided by others. Cases revolving around the simple act of informing the government of an objection are working their way back toward the Supreme Court.
Similarly, some advocates for broad religious exemptions argue that organizations taking taxpayer dollars to provide social services to victims of human trafficking or women who have been victims of rape as a weapon of war should be able to ignore government rules about providing those women with access to the full range of health care they may need. Some groups are saying it would violate their religious freedom even to notify the government when they refuse to provide information or care – such as emergency contraception for teens that have been sexually abused by their traffickers. But keep the public dollars flowing our way!
Given what we know about the intensity of the anti-gay movement’s opposition to marriage equality, it is not hard to imagine how far that movement could run with the principle that religious beliefs about “traditional” marriage are a legitimate basis for discriminating against same-sex couples. They themselves have claimed as a model the (dismayingly successful) 40-year campaign since Roe v Wade to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. In the words of the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, “Everything the pro-life movement did needs to happen again, but on this new frontier of marriage.”
Where will a similarly aggressive campaign against marriage equality lead? There is a new law in North Carolina allowing magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples. A new law in Michigan allows adoption agencies functioning with government money to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
Will corporations be allowed to refuse to hire someone married to a same-sex spouse based on the beliefs of the people who run the company? Will Catholic hospitals, which play an increasingly significant role in our health care system, be able to refuse to recognize same-sex spouses in medical emergencies?
The progress that LGBT people have made toward full equality has been remarkable. In my lifetime, the federal government had a formal policy to fire “sex perverts” and prevent them from getting federal jobs. In my lifetime, state laws criminalizing same-sex relationships were used to fire people from government jobs and even take parents’ children away from them. Even today, in a majority of the states, gay and lesbian people have no protection against being fired for who they are – or who they marry, even if the Supreme Court makes it illegal to keep those weddings from taking place. In all too many places, a company could fire an employee who marries a same-sex partner, the way Catholic schools across the country have been doing.
The good news is that Americans are increasingly opposed to anti-gay discrimination. Most of the laws that were proposed this year tolegalize anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious belief failed – often thanks to the pro-equality voices of business and religious leaders as well as the hard work of LGBT people and their friends and families and our advocacy organizations.
Most informed observers think the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality. If that’s what happens, it will be a historic victory and cause for celebration. But as the signers of the recent WashingtonPost ad have made clear, it will not be the end of the struggle.
Huckabee, who recently issued a letter pledging to fight gay marriage, told Starnes that conservatives should wage “civil disobedience” against a government that “acted outside of nature and nature’s God, outside of the bounds of the law, outside of the bounds of the Constitution,” warning that otherwise they will be forced to commit “biblical disobedience.”
“What if no one had acted in disobedience to the Dred Scott decision of 1857?” Huckabee continued. “What if the entire country had capitulated to judicial tyranny and we just said that because the Supreme Court said in 1857 said that a black person wasn’t fully human? Suppose we had accepted that, suppose Abraham Lincoln, our president, had accepted that, would that have been the right course of action?”
Calling a potential gay marriage ruling patently unconstitutional, Huckabee said that “if we’re not going to follow our Constitution, maybe we should loan it to some developing country so that they could try it out if we’re not going to use it anymore.”
Steve Malzberg invited Rep. Steve King onto his Newsmax program on Friday to discuss issues ranging from the church shooting in Charleston, which King blamed on prescription medication, to undocumented immigrants, whom he said have killed “multiples of the victims of the September 11 attacks,” to Caitlyn Jenner, whom he said illustrates “how far this society has gone from rational thought.”
The Iowa Republican also had some thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s slam of Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric in his presidential announcement. King said that Clinton unfairly made the “presumption that perhaps there will be some white people that might discriminate against some not-so-white people on the basis of being inspired by Trump’s speech.”
He also attempted to criticize the former secretary of state for inconsistency: “It’s Hillary that says ‘I’m not going to channel my husband,’ but she would channel Donald Trumps announcement speech instead to try to gain a political advantage out of that.”
On Tuesday, PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney joined Thom Hartmann on his program ‘The Big Picture’ to talk about Jeb Bush’s far-right agenda. Courtney critiqued Bush’s plans to privatize Social Security, his support of legislation that shamed women, and his stance on immigration.
Courtney challenged Bush’s label as a moderate, explaining his similarities to extreme conservatives like Scott Walker and Rick Santorum:
[Bush] has not just a record of rhetoric around these issues, pushing really ideologically extreme positions, but he has a record as governor showing what he’ll do when he’s in power, and I don’t think there’s any reason to assume he’ll be either more moderate or more responsible or more reasonable in the White House than he was in the Florida governor’s mansion.
Bush’s views on immigration fail to match the “kind things” he says about immigrants and their families, Courtney said. The presidential hopeful does not support a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants residing in the country; a recently released Spanish-language ad from PFAW challenges his stance on this issue and on his opposition to raising the minimum wage. Courtney concluded by emphasizing how important it is for communities to realize the true intentions of all 2016 GOP candidates. He explained, “They are pushing radical policies that the Koch brothers love, and we need to make sure people understand that.”
The confessed shooter who massacred members of a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, made it clear that he sought his victims out because of their race and wanted to start a race war. However, Republican politicians and Fox News pundits have either feigned ignorance about the shooter’s admitted motivations or have come up with alternative explanations for the massacre.
While conservative pundits have blasted people for stating that the attack on a black church was a hate crime — based on statements by a witness to the massacre and the shooter himself — many seem to have no problem speculating wildly about other possible explanations. In fact, the only thing they are more angry about is the suggestion that the shooting had anything do with guns.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, furious that President Obama linked the shooting to America’s problem with gun violence dismissed any discussion of the country’s gun laws, saying that the shooter in Charleston was probably drugged-up.
While Perry called the attack “a crime of hate,” he also described it as “an accident.”
Right-wing radio personalities Alex Jones and Michael Savage also wondered if the shooter was on drugs and even part of a government plot to stir up racial violence.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum posited that the attack was part of a larger “assault on religious liberty,” a recurring theme that Santorum and other Republicans use on the campaign trail to blast gay rights laws and the separation of church and state. Lindsey Graham, another presidential candidate, made a similar claim: “There are people out there, looking for Christians to kill them.”
The pundits at Fox News, where many of the GOP leaders get their talking points, were in agreement. Steve Doocy said it’s “extraordinary” that the police called the attack a hate crime since it was “was a white guy apparently and a black church,” positing that the attack was the result of the shooter’s “hostility towards Christians.” Brian Kilmeade said the shooter “hates Christian churches” and Elisabeth Hasselbeck called it an “attack on faith,” all the while ignoring the shooter’s explicit mentions of race.
E.W. Jackson, a Fox News contributor, agreed: “Most people jump to the conclusions about race, I long for the day we stop doing that in our country,” before he himself assumed that the shooter was motivated by hatred of Christians. In a radio show interview, Jackson said that gay people, liberals and President Obama all were culpable since the shooting was likely the result of “growing hostility and antipathy to Christianity” and “the biblical worldview about sexuality.”
RedState founder Erick Erickson had a similar take, even throwing Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition into the mix: “A society that looks at a 65 year old male Olympian and, with a straight face, declares him a her and ‘a new normal’ cannot have a conversation about mental health or evil because that society no longer distinguishes normal from crazy and evil from good. Our American society has a mental illness -- overwhelming narcissism and delusion -- and so cannot recognize what crazy or evil looks like.”
“It’s a lack of value for human life…You kill babies in the womb, kill people in their beds, shoot people on the streets, so now you go into the church when people are praying,” she said.
Alex Jones was upset that “the police and Obama keep talking about how coldblooded it was to go sit down with people in a church, and it was, super coldblooded, but isn’t it more coldblooded to kill babies and then go have lunch?”
Blame The Victims
National Rifle Association board member Charles Cotton had some strong words for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in the shooting, who was the pastor of the church and a state senator: “[H]e voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”
Not to be outdone, the leaders of Gun Owners of America, father-son duo Larry and Erich Pratt, also blamed Pinckney. The younger Pratt, the organization’s communications director, called Pinckney an “anti-gun activist,” while Larry Pratt blasted Pinckney for supposedly leaving his congregation “defenseless.”
Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio similarly accused the pastor of turning the church “into a shooting gallery.”
Jeb Bush opened his remarks today at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority summit by saying that no one can ever really know the true motivation behind the attack. Later, he told reporters that he still doesn’t know why the shooter carried out the attack:
Jeb Bush: "I don't know what was on the mind or the heart of the man" who shot up the church in Charleston