The Family Leader

Religious Right Cheers On Vladimir Putin As Anti-LGBT Violence In Russia Surges

While most of the news on Russia this week has been focused on the country’s ongoing financial collapse, it is important to highlight a report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday documenting the rise of anti-LGBT violence in Russia along with the ways the government, which recently passed new laws curbing LGBT rights, has ensured virtual impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks. Following the report’s release, Russia added a LGBT legal aid group to a list of NGOs that must register as “foreign agents.”

The uptick in violence against LGBT Russians certainly won't discourage Religious Right activists from supporting Putin, many of whom also seem more than willing to ignore his deadly incursion into Ukraine , support for laws curbing the freedoms of Russian evangelical Christians and other human rights abuses.

Nothing, it seems, can dissuade many of Putin’s American supporters, several of whom recently attended an anti-LGBT conference at the Kremlin, from believing that the U.S. should adopt anti-gay laws modeled on Russia’s, such as a ban on gay “propaganda” and adoption by same-sex parents.

In fact, many Religious Right activists in the U.S. believe that Putin is on a mission from God to save Russia, and the world, from the LGBT community.

Crush on Putin

It is no secret that many conservatives have fallen under Putin’s spell.

Matt Drudge has called Putin the “leader of the free world.” Sarah Palin has fawned over the Russian leader’s wrestling abilities. Franklin Graham has hailed Putin for “protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda” and having “taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.” Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families, the group that helped organize the Kremlin meeting, praised Putin last year for “preventing [gay people] from corrupting children.”

Religious Right leader and Iowa GOP kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats has upheld Putin as a world leader in morality. Josh Craddock, who represents Personhood USA at the United Nations, came back from the Kremlin conference cheering on Russia as a “light to the world.” Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver expressed offense last year that Obama would dare criticize Putin.One Fox News host wished that Putin could be president of the United States, even for just 48 hours.

Any violence against Russian gays, one Religious Right group explained, is probably “provoked by homosexual activists.” Massachusetts-based pastor Scott Lively, who has taken credit for inspiring Russia’s “propaganda” law, dismissed anti-LGBT violence in Russia as a “hoax” and told right-wing radio show host Linda Harvey that if violent anti-gay incidents occur, other gay people were likely the perpetrators.

God Will Favor Russia Instead Of America, Thanks Obama

Anti-gay activists think that God has decided to bless Russia, thanks to Putin’s leadership, while punishing the U.S. for passing rebellious gay rights laws. Pat Buchanan clearly articulated this mindset in a column in April titled “Is God Now On Russia’s Side?,” in which he likened the U.S. and Western Europe to Sodom and Gomorrah and cheerfully proclaimed that “Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.”

In a February column, Don Feder of the World Congress of Families gushed that Putin had become the new Ronald Reagan: “As my friend and Russian pro-family leader Alexey Komov likes to say: 'Under Reagan, America helped to save us from communism. We'd like to return the favor.'”

Lively made the case last year that Putin is “the only world leader capable of standing up to the West” and could “inspire all the morally conservative countries of the world to adopt a similar law that he just adopted.” In the same interview, Lively called Obama the Antichrist.

“The country that’s acting like it’s part of the kingdom of the Antichrist is the United States of America, and Russia is standing against homosexual marriage, they’re standing for traditional family values,” Religious Right radio host Rick Wiles said in September. “The United States is exporting its wickedness, we’re using our power and might to force nations to change their laws to accept abortion, to accept homosexual marriage and homosexual rights, so which country is part of the Antichrist system and which is not?”

Wiles even predicted that the U.S. would soon go to war against Russia “with an atheistic, Jesus-hating, pro-homosexual, pro-lesbian, pro-transgender military and we're going to go up against another military carrying a Christian cross.”

Bring Anti-Gay Laws To The U.S.

Anti-gay activist Matt Barber said earlier this year that it was “encouraging” to see more anti-gay measures coming out of Russia, adding that he would like to see laws that “stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States.”

Peter LaBarbera called Russia’s “propaganda” law an “acceptable” and necessary way to stop companies like Disney from “promoting lesbianism to kids,” while American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios said the speech-inhibiting law was just “common sense.”

One of Putin’s most vocal cheerleaders, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, has called him a “lion of Christianity” and repeatedly demanded that the U.S. enact similar bans on gay “propaganda.”

Since the U.S. hasn’t embrace such an anti-gay crackdown, Religious Right activist William Murray writes, Americans are now “fleeing” to Russia in order to avoid LGBT equality at home.

Steve Deace: Gay Rights Advocates Seek 'Validation' Through Marriage And 'Pro-Sodomy Propaganda'

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace was, to say the least, livid at the news this week that the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of a number of lower-court marriage equality rulings, thus allowing same-sex couples in several new states to begin marrying.

Deace spent a good part of his interview Monday with Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats railing against the LGBT rights movement, which he declared is “not about ‘I want to visit people I love in a hospital’ or ‘I want to pass on to people I care about an inheritance’” but is instead about a search for “validation and ‘I want someone to validate my desires that my conscience tells me are wrong, that my conscience tells me go against the way I was made.’”

“‘To validate these desires and impulses that I don’t think I can control, and I want you to tell me that I’m okay just the way I am,’” he continued, in the voice of an imaginary gay-rights activist. “‘And if the God who made me, who I ultimately desire validation from…if that God will not validate me, then I will go to the next most powerful force on earth and try to get them to do it, and that is government.’”

He added that “the onslaught of pro-sodomy propaganda in our culture” is yet another step in this search for validation: “You will be made to care when your kids watch the Disney Channel. You will be made to care when you watch ESPN. There is nowhere for you to go. Consider the onslaught of pro-sodomy propaganda our culture has been deluged with and the numbers in that Pew research poll. There’s a backlash.” (He was referring to a recent Pew poll showing a downtick in support for marriage equality.)

Vander Plaats agreed with Deace’s assessment: “This isn’t about Mary and Susy having a garden next door anymore. This is about saturating every piece of life with this very issue for what you talk about, and I think you’re right, Steve: validation.”

RNC Committeewoman Warns Muslim Refugees Waging 'Stealth Jihad' Against America

RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, who also runs the Iowa state chapter of Concerned Women for America and works with the influential group The Family Leader, spent a good part of her weekly radio program on Wednesday interviewing Leo Hohmann, a WorldNetDaily reporter who wrote an unhinged article last month about how a plan to offer asylum to Syrian refugees is in fact part of a “stealth jihad” to take over America.

Scott was quite impressed by Hohmann’s article, asking him, “So if I put on my Facebook… ‘Leo Hohman reveals stealth jihad with thousands of Muslims being brought into the U.S. under refugee resettlement program, receiving welfare, Medicaid and other taxpayer moneys while refusing to assimilate to American culture,’ that’s not an understandment?”

“No,” Hohmann assured her.

Later in the interview, Hohmann explained the difficulty he has in his “reporting” because “if you’re not listening carefully or if you come to this story from a different worldview, it can sound like we’re being racist or somehow bigoted.” But, he explained, he isn’t being bigoted because Islam is not a religion and Muslim-Americans are lying about their plan to become the majority in America and institute Sharia law.

“The problem is, Leo, is that we call it a religion, but you and I both know that it’s a political system and a military system, not just a religion, so that’s part of the danger,” Scott said of Islam later in the interview.

She then went on to praise Michele Bachmann’s furious search for Muslim Brotherhood agents in the U.S. government, which she implied was somehow precient of the 2012 attack on U.S. officials in Benghazi.

GOP Committeewoman Warns Child Migrants 'Highly Trained As Warriors,' Could 'Rise Up Against Us As Americans'

On her weekly radio show yesterday, RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott of Iowa warned that child migrants from Central America may have been “highly trained as warriors” and could “rise up against” U.S. citizens.

“When we see these kids, you and I think young kids, we think maybe 12-year-olds, maybe homeschoolers — excuse me, middle-schoolers,” said Scott, who is also Concerned Women for American’s Iowa state director and works as a lobbyist for the conservative group The Family Leader. “But we know back in our revolution, we had 12-year-olds fighting in our revolution. And for many of these kids, depending on where they’re coming from, they could be coming from other countries and be highly trained as warriors who will meet up with their group here and actually rise up against us as Americans.”

Mary Huls, leader of a Texas-based Tea Party group, agreed, warning that the children could have been trained in Venezuela to work for Hezbollah or Hamas (never mind that most of the children are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador). “They are being trained as warriors, you’re absolutely right,” she said.

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Preview 2016 Campaign

On Saturday, Republican presidential hopefuls and other conservative figures converged on Ames, Iowa for the Family Leadership Summit. The event was organized by Bob Vander Plaats, the Religious Right activist who led campaigns to purge the state Supreme Court of justices who supported marriage equality.

The all-star line-up included Sen.  Ted Cruz, Gov. Bobby Jindal. Gov. Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. Joining them were State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat from Iowa; Rep. Tim Scott; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds; Ken Cuccinelli of the Senate Conservatives Fund; and regulars on the Religious Right speaking circuit, including David and Jason Benham, Josh Duggar of Family Research Council Action, Alveda King, and Rev. Rafael Cruz, Ted’s incendiary father.

Radio Iowa posted audio of the speeches by potential presidential candidates Huckabee, Santorum, Cruz, Jindal, and Perry. Taken together, they provide a preview of the 2016 primary campaign that will begin in earnest as soon as the 2014 elections are over. If the speeches in Ames are any indication, GOP voters will be hearing that America is on the verge of self-destruction, but can be returned to greatness with God’s help and the Republican Party in power.  It is clear that between now and then all these conservative leaders will all be trying to give Republicans a majority in the U.S. Senate, in part by getting Joni Ernst elected.

As you would expect, the speeches were generally long on Obama-bashing and empty rhetoric. Bobby Jindal’s answer for the problems at the U.S.-Mexico border, for example, was to tell President Obama to “man up.”

“I’ve got a very simple message for the president of the United States. We don’t need a comprehensive bill. We don’t need another thousand page bill. He simply needs to man up. He needs to secure the border and he needs to get it done today,” Jindal said. “There are no more excuses. No more delays.”

Jindal complained that President Obama is engaged in a relentless effort to “redefine the American Dream.” Obama’s version, he said, is based on class warfare, and expansive and intrusive government – he was not the only speaker to accuse Obama of trying to make America more like Europe. Jindal said in contrast he’s pursuing the real American Dream in Louisiana by cutting taxes, cutting government jobs and spending, and privatizing (“reforming”) education.

Jindal also complained about an “unprecedented assault on religious liberty” in the United States, recycling the Religious Right canard that the Obama administration wanted to protect only “freedom of worship.” He bragged about having coming to the defense of Duck Dynasty when Phil Robertson was criticized for making offensive remarks.

Jindal said he couldn’t figure out whether the Obama administration is “the most liberal, ideologically extreme administration” in our lifetime or “the most incompetent,” before asking, “What difference does it make?”  But he is confident that our best days are still ahead of us because “there’s a rebellion brewing.”

Rick Santorum said Republicans should focus on their vision rather than on bashing Obama, but he couldn’t resist. He called the president the “divider-in-chief” and denounced the “Obama-Clinton-Kerry regime,” which he says has turned its back on Israel.

Santorum’s speech suggests that he’ll be campaigning on themes in his most recent book, “Blue Collar Conservative.”  He said the Republican Party focuses on too narrow a group of people – business owners and entrepreneurs – when most people don’t own businesses, but work for someone else. They are hurting, he says, but nobody is speaking to them.  In addition to cutting taxes and government, he called for more investments in vocational education and greater restrictions on legal as well as illegal immigration, which he said are causing distress in labor markets.  Santorum’s biggest heresy against Republican dogma may have been saying it was time to stop invoking Ronald Reagan, who was elected almost 35 years ago. It would have been like candidate Reagan invoking Wendell Willkie, he said.

Ted Cruz started his upbeat speech with Washington- and Obama-bashing jokes. He’d spent much of the past month in Washington, he said, and it’s “great to be back in America.”  He described “the Obama diet” as “every day, you let Putin eat your lunch.” Cruz said he was optimistic that Republicans would re-take the Senate this year and the White House in 2016, and described five conservative victories and two victories-in-waiting.

1.       Killing gun control legislation in Congress

2.       The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision

3.       Blocking entry to the US for Iran’s chosen ambassador

4.       Grassroots activism leading to freedom for Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim

5.       Overturning the FAA’s temporary ban on flights to Israel

He described two “fixin’ to be completed” projects that Republicans would be able to finish when they take control of the Senate and then the White House

1.       Ending Obama administration “lawlessness” on immigration

2.       Repealing “every single word of Obamacare.”

Rick Perry declared that it is “easy to govern” and bragged about the success that red state governors are having by limiting regulation, restricting lawsuits, holding public schools accountable, and getting out of the way so the private sector can help provide people with jobs so they can take care of their families. (As Sam Brownback’s experience in Kansas makes clear, passing right-wing policies is no magic bullet.)

Perry denounced the president for not securing the border and declared that Texas would. Similarly, he told the audience that they have all been “called to duty” in the face of activist judges and assaults on the unborn. “Somebody’s values are gonna be legislated,” he said. “The question is whose values are going to be legislated.”  The future is bright, he said, because God is still alive and still impacting this country.

Mike Huckabee’s closing speech was in part a reprise of the one he gave at the Faith and Freedom coalition conference in June, in which he denounced “judicial supremacy” and compared the Chinese government’s systematic erasure of the Tiananmen Square massacre with the fact that American textbooks do not teach children that America’s founding was dependent on the hand of God.

Huckabee demonstrated his penchant for simplistic, inflammatory rhetoric. The IRS is a “criminal enterprise” and should be abolished. The 16th Amendment should be repealed. The Obama administration isn’t supporting Israel because it hasn’t “seen enough dead Jews to make them happy.”

Politics won’t fix the country, Huckabee said, unless there is a “spiritual transformation,” because “what has to happen first in America is that we get our hearts right, and then we’ll get our politics right. It rarely works the other way around.”

 

The Family Leadership Summit: Right-Wing Activists Converge On Iowa

This weekend, a who’s who of far-right activists and politicians will convene in Iowa for the 3rd annual Family Leadership Summit, hosted by anti-gay and anti-choice organization The Family Leader and sponsored by Religious Right groups including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council’s political wing, Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink.

In an effort to establish themselves with social conservative voters, potential Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are joining a roster of speakers who push far-right views on LGBT rights, women’s equality and religious pluralism.

Below is an introduction to the sponsor and some of the featured speakers at The Family Leader Summit.

The Family Leader

The Family Leader is conservative political advocacy group based in Iowa that serves as the parent organization of The Family Leader Foundation, Marriage Matters, Iowa Family PAC, and Iowans for Freedom. The group is currently run by three-time failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, who made a name for himself when he led the successful 2010 campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined a unanimous marriage equality decision.

Under Vander Plaats’ leadership, The Family Leader has become influential in national GOP politics, helping presidential hopefuls to court Religious Right activists in the first-in-the-nation caucus.

The Family Leader has:

  • Defended the Boy Scouts’ ban on openly gay members and leaders as a “policy designed to protect Scouts from sexual abuse.”

Vander Plaats has:

  • Compared same-sex unions to polygamy and asserted that recent marriage equality laws will pave the way towards marriages between parents and children for the purposes of tax evasion.
  • Implied that same-sex marriage produces a threat to the United States equivalent to terrorism.Said that God won’t “bless the country” if the U.S. continues with marriage equality and legal abortion.

Tony Perkins

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins — whose organization is a major sponsor of the Family Leadership Summit — is one of the far Right’s top spokesmen in the national media.

Perkins has:

  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a Holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill condemning homosexuals to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Agreed with a caller on his program that Obama might attempt a “hostile government takeover” that would cancel the 2016 presidential election.

The Benham Brothers

Jason and David Benham are twin brothers, Religious Right activists and entrepreneurs who operate Benham Companies, a conglomerate providing real estate, property management and marketing services, as well as the Benham Foundation, which channels company profits towards conservative social causes.

The brothers were catapulted to national attention after an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause celebre for the Religious Right movement, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
  • Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking America.”Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual war” between God and Satan.Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”

Rafael Cruz

Rafael Cruz is an evangelical Christian pastor who currently serves as the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry, an organization that espouses Christian dominionism and advocates for a theological grounding in government and public service. Cruz rose within the ranks of conservative far-right activism largely thanks to his son, Ted Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas and darling of the Tea Party movement, and has made a name for himself as a frequent public speaker and political commentator. The elder Cruz is a frequent campaign surrogate for his son.

Rafael Cruz has used his sudden prominence to:

  • Lament that the admission of openly gay members to the Boy Scouts would expose children “to sexual predators.”
  • Promote the theocratic Seven Mountains Dominionism theory, asserting the need for Christian leadership to have “an influence upon every area of society, upon arts and entertainment, upon media, upon sports, upon education, upon business, upon government.”

Alveda King

Alveda King is a conservative activist and Christian minister who serves as a Pastoral Associate and the Director of African American Outreach for Pastors for Life, an organization that opposes reproductive rights. The niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., King also campaigns against LGBT equality. King has:

  • Compared the murder of Trayvon Martin to legal abortion.
  • Condemned the wife of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, for her pro-choice and pro-equality stances, saying the stances would bring “curses on your house and your people…cursing, vexation, rebuke in all that you put your hand to, sickness will come to you and your house, your bloodline will be cut off.”
  • Denied that her uncle supported legalized abortion, despite his acceptance of an award by Planned Parenthood and public support for family planning.
  • In response to a plaque commemorating African American slaves, said, “If Congress really wants to honor African Americans, they can start by ending federally funded programs that allow abortion.”

Joel Rosenberg

Joel Rosenberg is a conservative activist, author and former political strategist who is widely known for writing End Times-themed books.  Rosenberg is also the founder and president of the Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization that proselytizes to Israeli Jews and attempts to convert them to Christianity. A familiar presence on the right-wing talk show circuit, Rosenberg has repeatedly linked disasters and public tragedies to secular government. Rosenberg regularly employs apocalyptic prophecies to help enact an aggressively conservative social agenda. He has: 

  • Depicted the Newtown, Conn. shootings as divine punishment for Americans waging a “cultural war against Jesus and Christmas” and trying to “drive [God] out of our society.”
  • Written that Hurricane Sandy was a response to  the legalization of abortion and part of God’s plan to “get our attention and call us to repent of our sins and turn back to faith in Jesus Christ and back to reading and obeying the Bible”. 
  • Implied that legal abortion is a greater sin than exterminations during the Holocaust, predicting that since the Roe v. Wade decision “we have killed ten times more Americans than the Nazis killed of the Jews.”
  • Following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, pointed to home foreclosure as one feature of the Rapture, creating a “ripple effect” that will lead to the “implosion of America.” 

Bob Vander Plaats Links Terrorism, Gay Rights, Pot Legalization

Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader, held a revival event yesterday that also happened to be a good marketing opportunity for his new book about the “urgent call for revival” in America.

Vander Plaats introduced the event — which also featured a Q & A with Chuck Norris and a performance by the Christian rock band the Newsboys — by showing a video of the “darkness” in America that he identified as calling for a spiritual revival. Featured in the video are images of terrorists attacks and mass shootings….along with images of same-sex weddings, the Boy Scouts’ admittance of gay members, Justice Anthony Kennedy, gambling and rallies on behalf of legalizing marijuana.

Vander Plaats mentioned at the end of the video that many of the national leaders he frequently speaks with share these concerns. He’ll have a chance to discuss them in more depth next month, when GOP leaders including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Tim Scott come to Iowa for Vander Plaat’s annual Family Leadership Summit.

Fresh From Celebrating Hobby Lobby, Bob Vander Plaats Calls Judicial Review 'Nonsense'

It is truly amazing how conservative activists continue to harp on “judicial activism,” while supporting sweeping judicial decisions that happen to go their way.

For instance, just a couple of weeks ago, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader was celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case but today he talked with James Dobson about how when it comes to gay rights cases “the Supreme Court is starting to believe that they are the Supreme Being” and calling the principle of judicial review “nonsense.”

Vander Plaats and Dobson both lamented the Supreme Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of judicial review, which Vander Plaats said meant “we’ve had 50 years of law school teaching the lawyers that no, the courts do make law, which is complete nonsense. And God help us if that ever becomes the rule in our day.”

Vander Plaats and Dobson echoed Mike Huckabee, who insisted last month that "this notion that when the Supreme Court says something it’s the last word is fundamentally unconstitutional and wrong."

Later the “Family Talk” interview, Vander Plaats told Dobson that Americans’ pursuit of “all sort of lustful living” has made us God’s “prodigal son.”

"I just hope we're not feeding with the pigs when we decide to turn back to Him," he added.


 

Iowa GOP Senate Candidates Vow To Block Judges Who Won't Follow 'Biblical' Law

The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”

Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”

He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.

“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country," he concluded.

Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”

Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has  “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”

Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”

Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”

“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”

This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the "law of nature."

The Family Leader Cites Satirical Column To Warn of Gay Anti-Christian Holocaust

It’s not just Matt Barber who didn’t get that William Saletan’s Slate column calling for the “purging” of every single person who had donated to the Proposition 8 campaign was an obvious satire skewering critics of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich.

The Saletan column is still making the rounds among conservative activists, and today it's featured in a breathless blog post from the Family Leader, the Iowa conservative group run by Bob Vander Plaats that will be hosting a forum for Iowa’s Republican US Senate candidates later this week.

The Family Leader cites the satirical column to warn that “according to this well-read author, if you believe marriage is between a man and a woman and the natural/God designed parameters for sexuality, you must be purged. You must be eliminated.”

“Will the Church remain silent? They’re coming for them next,” the group adds.

Illustrating the post is a photograph of a concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Culture Warriors Danny Carroll & Gopal Krishna Picked To Head Iowa GOP

Last month, we wrote that the Iowa Republican Party had picked a new co-chair , Danny Carroll, a social conservative culture warrior who serves as a lobbyist for The Family Leader.

Shortly after Carroll became co-chair, the state party chairman, libertarian-leaning A.J. Spiker, announced that he was resigning from his position. And this weekend, Carroll was elected to replace him as the chairman of the Iowa GOP.

It’s unclear how long Carroll’s reign over the state party will last and if he will still be at its helm in 2016, when he would be in charge of running the Iowa caucuses. New state central committee members will be seated in June, and could possibly then oust him as chairman.

But in the meantime, Carroll’s election seems to show that the Iowa GOP has no intention of softening on social issues.

Here is Carroll opining last year that banning gay marriage will help fix “just about every problem facing society today”:

And here he is in 2010 blaming teen suicides on the end of school-sponsored prayer:

And let’s not forget the new co-chair of the Iowa GOP, elected this weekend. Gopal Krishna of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition (the state branch of Ralph Reed’s group) will succeed Carroll as the state party’s number two. Krishna, who boasts that "the first three letters of my name are G-O-P,"  looks to be just as much of a culture warrior as Carroll.

For instance, here’s Krishna in 2011 warning that the United States has become “a multicultural haven for every weird and kinky lifestyle”:

Vander Plaats: Gay Rights Advocates 'Throw Stones' Because of Satan

Anti-gay activist Bob Vander Plaats said today that gay rights activists are “always going to throw stones” because Satan “wants to discourage” conservative Christians.

The Family Leader head made the comments in an interview with American Family Radio at the National Religious Broadcasters convention today.

“The opposition is always going to throw stones, and that’s they’re way of discouraging,” he said. “I mean, Satan’s ways are not new under the sun, he wants to discourage, he wants to disappoint.”

Iowa Republicans Pick Anti-Gay Crusader And Roy Moore Backer To Co-Chair Party

Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Michigan GOP committeeman Dave Agema to resign over anti-gay, anti-Muslim comments. Apparently, the Iowa Republican Party didn’t get the message. Barely a week after the Agema controversy broke, the Iowa GOP picked an anti-gay crusader to be the state party co-chair.

Danny Carroll, a former state representative who took over as the Iowa GOP’s co-chair on February 3, is a lobbyist for The Family Leader, the right-wing social issues group run by Bob Vander Plaats, who is considering running for Senate. While Vander Plaats’ over-the-top rhetoric is better known, Carroll is equally adamant in his opposition to gay rights and his Christian-nation view of government.

Back in 2010, Danny Carroll, then the head of Iowa Family Policy Center, refused to endorse the candidacy of Republican Terry Brandstad even after he won the gubernatorial primary because of what he saw as Brandstad’s insufficient opposition to gay rights. Brandstad merely wanted to pass a state constitutional amendment overturning the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 marriage equality ruling; Carroll’s preferred candidate, Vander Plaats, led a campaign to target and oust the judges behind the ruling. Carroll assured Vander Plaats’ supporters that they were “answering to God Almighty.” After the election, Vander Plaats was hired to head The Family Leader, a new umbrella group that encompassed the Iowa Family Policy Center.

At a Family Leader conference last year, Carroll insisted that more important than the breakdown of families was the “crisis is in the definition of family” – that is, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. He said the group was pushing for a state constitutional amendment on marriage equality because “just about every problem facing society today could be fixed, eliminated or significantly reduced if we held up marriage between one man and one woman for life.”

Over the past several years, Carroll has used his influence in Iowa to back candidates who share his far-right views. In 2008, he co-chaired Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in Iowa. In 2012, he went for Michele Bachmann, who he declared was “biblically qualified” for the presidency.

But Carroll’s first choice in 2012 was maybe even further to the right than Bachmann: He backed the short-lived presidential campaign of Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who became famous for defying a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a government building, and who now wants to hold a Constitutional Convention to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage. When Moore dropped out of the race, Carroll lamented, “He’s a great guy. I love him and respect him. He’s a hero, that’s for sure. And he’s an honorable person. I can’t say anything negative against Judge Moore. Just the reality of politics, I guess.”

Carroll seems to share Moore’s leanings. In a speech in 2010, Carroll blamed the Supreme Court ruling banning school-organized prayer for recent teen suicides in Iowa and railed against legal abortion and gambling. He said these trends could only be reversed by electing people “who will stand up and unashamedly and without apology assure us that they will be guided by absolute and timeless Christian morals that comes from a regular reading of God’s Word.”

“I am through apologizing for what this country was founded on: a firm conviction that a free people cannot be self-governed unless they have a strong conviction to religion and morality,” he added.

In an interview with radio host Jan Mickelson earlier this month, Carroll agreed with Mickelson’s assessment that his appointment to serve alongside the Ron Paul-supporting state party chair A.J. Spiker represented “a marriage between the Paulistas and the evangelicals, or the Teavangelicals” in Iowa. In a possible signal that the party was patching things up, Carroll last week endorsed Brandstad’s reelection bid.

Carroll is hardly alone as a hard-right social conservative in the state-level leadership of a party that just last year proposed softening its image to expand its base. As Brian noted last month, it was odd that Priebus singled out Agema, since anti-gay sentiment is a common feature among RNC committee members. In fact, in Iowa, Carroll will be serving alongside RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, who once warned that gay marriage will lead to man-Eiffel Tower marriage and who blamed the recession in part on legalized same-sex marriage.

6 Things To Know About Potential Iowa Senate Candidate Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the right-wing group The Family Leader, told The Hill yesterday that he is still weighing a run for U.S. Senate in his home state of Iowa to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.

We’re not entirely convinced that the Religious Right activist isn’t just putting his name out there to get attention – one Iowa GOP strategist said in 2010 that he had “never witnessed an ego the size and proportion of Bob Vander Plaats” – but he certainly has the connections to raise money and early polls show that he would at least be a contender for the Republican nomination.

Vander Plaats, who lost three consecutive gubernatorial elections in the last decade, is a small-time kingmaker for socially conservative national Republicans. Vander Plaats helped to spearhead Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s presidential caucus victories in 2008 and 2012 and hosted a 2012 Republican candidates’ forum that attracted every major presidential candidate except for Mitt Romney.

His biggest political victory to date was in 2010 ,when he ran a successful recall campaign against three state supreme court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality the previous year. An attempt to oust another justice two years later was a bust.

Vander Plaats insists that he isn’t too extreme to win a general election in the swing state. “I don’t think I’m an extreme in America in regards to valuing human life, the foundation of family with one-man, one-woman marriage, and religious liberty,” he told The Hill.

We’ll believe that when we see it. Here are just six of the most extreme right-wing items on Vander Plaats’ resume:

1. Suggested African American Families Were Better Off Under Slavery

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Vander Plaats took advantage of Iowa’s outsized influence to convince Republican candidates to participate in a debate hosted by his group and to sign the group’s “Marriage Vow.”

The pledge — signed by Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry — suggested that African-American families were better off under slavery than in present day: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

The language was eventually removed, but now Vander Plaats has moved on to comparing marriage equality to slavery and the Dred Scott ruling.

2. Favors Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown

After launching a campaign to encourage stronger conservative leadership, Vander Plaats hailed Russian president Vladimir Putin as a great leader for his criminalization of “homosexual propaganda.”

While Vander Plaats commends Putin’s anti-gay crackdown, the conservative crusader hasn’t mentioned if he thinks Putin’s bold leadership includes his suppression of dissent, human rights activism and religious freedom .

3. Uses Toxic Anti-Gay Rhetoric

Vander Plaats has likened homosexuality to second hand smoke, a point emphasized by a Family Leader seminar demonstrating that homosexuality, like smoking, represents a “public health crisis.” He defended the comparison, saying, “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle.”

Vander Plaats has even linked homosexuality to the national debt and said that an anti-bullying youth conference dishonors God because it tackles the issue of the bullying of LGBT youth.

According to Vander Plaats, same-sex marriage is akin to polygamy and incest and any marriage equality law is unconstitutional because it “goes against the law of nature.”

4. Loves A Good ‘Faggot’ Joke

Exhibiting great leadership, Vander Plaats burst into laughter in response to a joke about “fags” marrying. When asked why a homophobic joke made him crack up, Vander Plaats explained he was merely trying to “love people” and “speak the truth in love.”

5. Wants to Outlaw Pornography

Vander Plaats wants to outlaw pornography, a principle which he attempted to have presidential candidates endorse in his 2012 “Marriage Vow.” In his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Vander Plaats cited the work of prominent pornography-ban advocate Judith Reisman.

6. Promotes Birther Conspiracies

A big fan of Donald Trump’s “bold” birther crusade, Vander Plaats remains unconvinced that President Obama has a birth certificate proving his U.S. birth.

Potential Iowa Senate Candidate Vander Plaats Explains Christian Nationalist View Of Government

Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the social conservative group The Family Leader, will reportedly be deciding in the next few weeks whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin this year. While he hasn’t made a final decision yet, Vander Plaats is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination if he enters the race, and already seems to be selling himself as a candidate.

Progress Iowa shares a video of Vander Plaats speaking at The Family Leader’s annual “Life, Marriage & Family” rally yesterday, in which Vander Plaats lays out his Christian nationalist view of government. Speaking about recent court decisions in favor of marriage equality, Vander Plaats – who led the effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled for marriage equality in 2009 – claimed that “rogue justices” and President Obama (“who is in over his head”) have “forgotten” that the American government is actually an instrument of God.

“God institution (sic) government,” he said. “He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government.” He went on to explain that “the purpose of government: to promote righteousness,” which he counts as following “God’s principles and precepts” on everything from economics to family policy to foreign affairs.

Vander Plaats frequently portrays the Constitution as an extension of the Bible, claiming that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it “goes against the law of nature’s God” and that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision provoked a “constitutional crisis” by “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

The remarks start about three minutes into the video.

I happen to believe the reason you will see a leader who is in over his head, why you will see a Congress with a nine percent approval rating, and why you see rogue justices taking authority that isn’t theirs to take, is that they have forgotten, many of them have forgotten who is the Lawgiver. That God institution (sic) government. He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government. Where those three intersect, that is the focus of The Family Leader. That is where we focus our attention, we focus our crosshairs.

God instituted government. That’s why we have the founders who referenced in the Declaration of Independence, ‘the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.’ Because they knew when you start walking away from the law of nature and the law of nature’s God and you start implementing your own laws about what’s best for Bob, what’s best for Greg, what’s best for Tamara, what’s best for Nancy, you will have a train wreck. there has to be a higher standard. And that’s the standard that we try to achieve here at the Family Leader, we try to promote at the Family Leader. The purpose of government: to promote righteousness.

All you have to do is look at God’s principles and precepts. They are for our good and our benefit, not our harm and our destruction. You apply his principles and precepts to economics, then your economic house is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to marriage and the family, well marriage and family is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to foreign policy, and foreign policy is in order. So, when you’re looking for the solutions, where should we look? We should look up, and not to the sides, and definitely not to the poll of the day.

Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality Unconstitutional Because It's 'Against The Law of Nature'

Last year, Religious Right activist and possible 2014 Iowa Republican Senate candidate Bob Vander Plaats claimed that the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling had provoked a “constitutional crisis” because it defied “the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.”

In an interview on the Steve Deace show last week, Vander Plaats elaborated on this constitutional analysis, claiming that a Utah federal judge’s ruling legalizing marriage equality was wrong because same-sex marriage “goes against the law of nature” and therefore is “against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats also encouraged Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to simply ignore the court’s ruling and issue an executive order staying the decision until it’s put to a popular vote. 

He warned guest host Jen Green that the Utah ruling was the first step on a slippery slope to tyranny, showing the need to put judges “in their place” as he did in Iowa in 2010.

Vander Plaats: First of all, Justice Shelby, there’s a lot of issues with his ruling. Number one is, you had the people of Utah already amend the Constitution to what marriage is. And you’re supposed to uphold the Constitution, not redefine the Constitution. So, that’s number one.

Two is, there is no research on it, there is no data on it. Why? Because it never existed before. So all there is is speculation. But what we know is it goes against the law of nature, and the law of nature’s God, which means, again, it’s against the Constitution.

My suggestion to Gov. Herbert: Don’t overcomplicate this. Don’t over-study this or analyze this. Lead on this. Issue an executive order from the governor’s office that places a stay on this judge’s decision until the people of Utah resolve this, either through the legislature – the people’s representatives – or through another vote, if you need to go through another vote. But you don’t allow an activist judge to have his way to inflict same-sex marriage on the entire state of Utah.

It is We the People who are the final arbitrators of this deal. They gave us the power of the king. The governor is the executor. He’s got the executive branch, he’s the one who gets to enforce or not enforce. By him staying silent, he’s really enforcing this judge’s opinion. That’s why he needs to step up and lead, and what I’d say, issue that executive order.

And for the Lead or Get Out of the Way members and audience, and especially those in Utah, what really has to concern you here is that if they will do this to the institution of marriage, they won’t even blink an eye when they take your private property, tell you how to educate your kids. If you really want to have tyranny, keep allowing activist judges to keep activism alive. You need to put them in their place. That’s what I’d encourage Gov. Herbert to do.

Green: You will be made to care.

Vander Plaats: You will be made to care. But Gov. Herbert could make that judge made to care. Just like in Iowa, we made the judges, that they should care about what they’re doing.

Vander Plaats: Gay Marriage, Utah Polygamy Ruling Will Lead To Parent-Child Marriage

Count Bob Vander Plaats among the Religious Right activists responding to a court decision decriminalizing polygamy in Utah by crowing that they “correctly” predicted that marriage equality victories would lead to legalized polygamous marriage.

Iowa Group Threatens Recall Campaign Against Judge In Abortion Rights Case

The Iowa Religious Right group that successfully campaigned to unseat three state supreme court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality has set its sights on a new target: a judge who granted a stay in an influential abortion rights case.

The Family Leader, run by prominent conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, gained national attention in 2010 when it ran a successful campaign, with plenty of funding from national Religious Right groups, to oust three state supreme court justices in retention elections after the court ruled unanimously to legalize marriage equality in the state. The group tried its luck against another justice last year, but the tide had turned enough that the judge held on to his seat.

Now, the group is taking aim at a District Judge Karen Romano, who ruled this week that Planned Parenthood could continue to use video conferencing to guide women through early-term abortions using abortion-inducing drugs – drugs that are widely considered safe to take at home during the early weeks of a pregnancy – while a ban on the practice is appealed. Planned Parenthood had challenged a ruling by the Iowa Board of Medicine banning telemedicine for chemical abortion,  but for no other medical practice. Judge Romano did not rule on the merits of the case.

Vander Plaats’ group issued a statement yesterday claiming that Judge Romano had “not learned a lesson” from the 2010 election and urged voters to remember the judge’s “activism” in her 2016 retention election.

The Family Leader’s Chuck Hurley told the Des Moines Register that his group is “open” to a recall campaign against Romano but hasn’t decided yet whether to go beyond the barely-veiled threats in its press release. Hurley did take the opportunity, however, to allege that Romano was biased because she was appointed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack who “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

Romano said Wednesday afternoon that she was not shocked by the Family Leader’s statement.

“I think in the current climate, it doesn’t really surprise me,” she said in a brief interview.

She added, “I understand that the issue the case deals with is a volatile issue.” She said she couldn’t comment any further.

Chuck Hurley, the Family Leader’s vice president, said Wednesday that the group hasn’t decided whether to mount a recall campaign against Romano. “We are definitely discussing it and are open to it,” he said.

He added that he didn’t know much about Romano’s personal views, but he knows she was appointed in 2001 by former Gov. Tom Vilsack. Hurley said Vilsack, a Democrat, was “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

UPDATE: The president of the Iowa State Bar Association has denounced Vander Plaats' move, calling it "political bullying," and the Des Moines Register spoke out against his "not-so-subtle" threat to Romano in an editorial

UPDATE 2: After telling the Register that his group would be "open" to launching a recall campaing against Romano, Hurley followed up with the paper and "clarified" that he in fact meant "we are not launching a campaign against Judge Romano nor do we have any plans to do so at this time. We were simply pointing out that it was this kind of judicial activism by Iowa judges that led to Iowans voting out three Iowa Supreme Court judges in 2010.” 

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/5/13

  • Liberty Counsel is representing parents who are challenging New Jersey's ban on "ex-gay" therapy for minors.
  • The Blaze debunks another right-wing myth, which means it is only a matter of time before Glenn Beck repeats this myth on the air.
  • Teaching yoga in schools is turning students into "religious guinea pigs" who are being subjected to "misguided religious experimentation" by the state.
  • Steve Deace says that if Hillary Clinton runs for president, she'll run a "personality-based campaign and not an issue-based campaign because the issues will not be in her favor."

Vander Plaats: DOMA Decision Provoked A 'Constitutional Crisis' Because It Defied the Bible

Leading Iowa religious right figures Bob Vander Plaats and Steve Deace got together on American Family Radio today to discuss potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates and how they can move them even further to the right, as they did in 2012.

Eventually, the discussion moved to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who provoked conservative ire when he said that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act was appropriate and would help avert “a culture war.”

Deace said that Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the case was actually “an anti-Christian polemic” that he would “expect to be reading…at Mother Jones.”

Vander Plaats agreed, saying that Kennedy had in fact provoked a “constitutional crisis” by “defying the law of nature and the law of nature’s God” and “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

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