During a campaign stop for her ill-fated run for a seat in the Ohio state legislature last month, right-wing activist Janet Porter insisted, for a thirdtime, that her prayers flipped the results of the 2000 presidential election and handed the presidency to George W. Bush.
Porter explained that she had faith in God that her campaign for office could succeed because she had seen God work miracles before, like when He reversed the results in Florida in response to her prayers.
"2000 election. It was Al Gore vs. George W. Bush," she stated. "I was in Broward County, Florida, at the time and I prayed a ridiculous prayer. Did you ever pray a sun-stopping prayer?"
"I was part of the recount team in 2000 and on election night, they declared the election for Al Gore," she explained. "I got down on my knees — Right Wing Watch says that I'm the one responsible, but there were a lot of people who prayed — but I got on my knees and I said, 'God, I'm asking for something that has never been done before, I'm asking you' — it's ridiculous, it sounded ridiculous, it was hard to even form in my mouth, but I said, 'God I'm asking you to change the results of this election.' That's what I prayed. And God changed the results of that election."
Back before he dropped out of the presidential race, Mike Huckabee spent an a lot of time blasting the Religious Right for failing to support his campaign as most of the movement leaders lined up behind Ted Cruz, while he was reduced to scrounging up endorsements from fringe candidates like Janet Porter.
Here at Right Wing Watch, we listen to hours of video and audio each day in order to find the short clips that we share with our readers. It’s been a doozy of a year, in which presidential politics has collided with the farthest of the far right, and here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve had the dubious pleasure of witnessing it all. It’s hard to pick our favorite/most horrifying memories of the year, so instead we’ve looked back at the 10 most watched videos and most listened-to audio clips of the year.
10. Sandy Rios Investigates The Amtrak Crash
Days after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in May, killing eight and injuring hundreds, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios pointed out “an interesting part of the story” that was likely “a factor” in the crash: the conductor’s homosexuality.
June was not a happy month for anti-gay activists, as exemplified by Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, who days before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision warned that gay marriage was a satanic plot to destroy Christianity and may very well bring God’s judgment on America.
Televangelist Pat Robertson is not always quite on point with the advice he gives to viewers of “The 700 Club” at the end of every program, such as when he told a bereaved mother who had just lost a young child that the child could have turned out to be the next Hitler .
4. The Gay ‘Jihad’
Ted Cruz went there during a campaign event in Iowa in April.
3. Rick Perry’s ‘Accident’
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a very ill-timed “oops” moment when he called the mass shooting at a church in Charleston an “accident,” in the process of claiming that the crime was the result of drugs rather than guns.
2. Phil Robertson’s Imagination
Back in March, controversial “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson tried to make a convoluted point about atheists supposedly having no moral code by telling a gruesome hypothetical story about a family of atheists getting raped and murdered.
1. Rick Scarborough’s Martyrdom
Nobody took the hysteria over the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision quite as far as Rick Scarborough, who declared a few days before the court handed down its decision that he was ready to burn to death in his fight against gay marriage.
Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter is a longtime anti-gay and anti-choice activist who has embraced a variety of wild conspiracy theories while constantly warning of the looming "criminalization of Christianity."
For years, Porter used her daily radio program and weekly column to promote a variety of conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama's birth, alleging that his election was the result of a massive communist conspiracy. After her prayers failed to prevent Obama from taking office and subsequently cursing America, Porter went to work warning her fellow conservatives that Obama would orchestrate food shortages in order to starve them to death, use a swine flu outbreak as an excuse to lock them up in concentration camps, and use Obamacare to deny them healthcare and eliminate them.
Despite her radical views, Porter managed to host a "Values Voters Debate" back in 2007, which featured Mike Huckabee and other GOP presidential contenders making their pitches to a bevy of radical Religious Right activists. But Porter's star dimmed a bit when her radio program was cancelled in 2010 due to her growing ties to the Dominionist movement, as typified by her prayers that God would give conservative Christians control over the government and the media:
Porter eventually resurfaced in Ohio, where she has spent the last several years organizing a series of stunts and rallies aimed at pressuring the state legislature to pass her radical "Heartbeat Bill" legislation, which would outlaw abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Despite years of intense lobbying, Porter's legislation has never even come close to passage, so now she intends to step up her efforts by running for a seat in the state legislature herself:
The president of a Christian activist organization will challenge incumbent state Sen. Larry Obhof of Montville Township for the 22nd district in the March Republican primary.
Obhof will face Janet Porter, of Hinckley Township, on March 15.
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, no Democrats had filed to run for the seat, meaning the primary winner likely will run uncontested in November.
Porter is president and founder of Faith 2 Action, a Christian organization that says it opposes same-sex marriage. Before starting the organization in 2003, she was the national director for the Center for Reclaiming America for five years and a legislative director at Ohio Right to Life for nine years.
She told The Gazette on Wednesday that she recently finished filming a documentary, “Light Wins: How to Overcome the Criminalization of Christianity,” and she interviewed Kim Davis, a Kentucky court clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer.
“I stand for life. I stand for liberty,” she said. “The family is the nucleus of the state. It’s the basis for business.”
In addition to a pro-life position on abortion and opposition to gay marriage, Porter said she supports tax incentives to small businesses and less government interference.
She said she is also an author of Ohio’s “heartbeat” bill, which prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The bill has been in the Ohio Senate for consideration since last spring. She said she asked Obhof to sign a petition to bring the bill to a vote, but he declined. This encounter was one of the reasons she decided to become a candidate, she said.
“We’re running against the Republican obstructionist establishment,” she said. “There’s more they can do to represent life, liberty and the family.”
Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter was the keynote speaker at the American Decency Association's summer conference last month, where she repeated her claim that her prayers delivered the state of Florida to George W. Bush in the 2000 election.
"In the year 2000, I lived in a county named Broward," Porter said. "Remember election night? Every station had declared the election for Al Gore. Every one, ever Fox. And I did something that was odd — and I know the Right Wing Watchers are telling I'm the one that prayed it in — well, I think there were millions who prayed with me but I do think that God answers prayer and I do think He's honored when you pray ridiculous, sun-stopping prayers. And I said, 'God, I'm asking you to do what has never been done before, I'm asking you to take the state of Florida, where I lived at the time, from Al Gore and give it to George Bush so that unborn children will live and not die.' That was my prayer."
Porter also revealed that a friend of hers was in charge of delivering military ballots to the Florida Supreme Court and that her friend spent the night praying over those ballots and anointed them with oil before delivering them to the court, which then ruled in Bush's favor, as did the U.S. Supreme Court "which changed the outcome of the election."
CitizenGo, the international citizen activism group for which the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown serves as a trustee, is joining the Right’s pile-on of Target for phasing out gender-specific signage in some of its kids’ departments, warning that the new policy will “promote transgenderism among children.”
In a petition circulated by CitizenGo’s US campaigns director, Josh Craddock, the group warns that Target, by removing signs like those distinguishing between “building sets” and “girls’ building sets,” has caved to pressure by “radical gender theorists” and “sexual radicals” who “want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children”:
But now, under pressure from radical gender theorists, Target decided to go "gender neutral" by removing "gender and signs and using gender indicators, especially as it relates to kids" from its stores. The sexual radicals who encouraged Target to reverse its policy ultimately want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children.
Faith2Action’s Janet Porter made a similar connection in promoting a boycott of the retail chain, claiming that the new policy is the result of “Bruce Jenner’s surgery… where he now pretends to be a woman full time.”
Franklin Graham led the Religious Right charge against Target earlier this week when he posted on Facebook that it is “not the gender-neutral people out there” who “made their stores strong”:
I think Target may be forgetting who has made their stores strong. It’s not gender-neutral people out there—it’s working American families, fathers and mothers with boys and girls they love. What’s next? Are they going to try to make people believe that pink or blue baby showers are politically incorrect? I have news for them and for everyone else—God created two different genders. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Matthew 19:4). You can’t get any clearer than that. If you agree, share in the comments below—and let Target know what you think. Let them know that you are perfectly willing to shop where the genders God created are appreciated.
In an appearance on Fox News, Graham declared that “this whole gender-neutral business has gone too far,” accusing Target of “ignoring the millions of customers you have that are just hard-working families with children, and they’re not gender-neutral children, these are boys and girls, the way God made us.”
Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, for his part, worried that the new Target policy would promote confusing among shoppers: “If you go to buy a gift for a boy who's nine or six or a girl who's nine or six, you want to be able to go to that section and pick out a toy they might want. Now you have to sit there and look at a blended area and wonder is this for a boy or is this for a girl?”
As Brian noted earlier this month, Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter is currently leading an effort to pressure Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine "to file a Motion to Rehear Obergefell v. Hodges" with the Supreme Court, so that the recently decided gay marriage case can be reargued, this time without the participation of Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Porter insists must recuse themselves.
The window for filing such a motion closes tomorrow and having received no support from DeWine, Porter is now getting increasingly desperate and has expanded her call to the attorneys general of Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky, sending out an email today warning that they will be responsible when "Christianity is criminalized" and Christians are "carted off to jail" because they failed to get the gay marriage decision overturned:
Janet Porter, the right-wing conspiracy theorist and creator of the anti-gay film “Light Wins,” reveals today that her prayers reversed the results of the 2000 presidential election to ensure that President Bush was the victor in Florida.
Since her prayers got Bush elected president, Porter explains, her prayers can also reverse the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.
Porter is urging Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to demand that the Supreme Court rehear the marriage case, but this time without the presence of Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom Porter believes should have recused themselves because they had officiated at the weddings of same-sex couples.
“[I]f God can change the outcome of a presidential election,” Porter explains, “he can change the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling.”
In the 2000 Presidential election, between George W. Bush and Al Gore, I lived in a place called Broward County, Florida. When they declared the state of Florida–and the election–for Al Gore, I, like so many others, got down on my knees and asked for something that had never been done before. I asked for God to change the outcome of the election. You know what happened: He answered that “ridiculous” prayer. And if God can change the outcome of a presidential election, He can change the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling. Ask Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to file a motion for rehearing the marriage case at: 800-282-0515 . Then, pray to the God of the impossible.
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.”
Faith2Action's Janet Porter was a guest recently on Gordon Klingenschmitt's "Pray In Jesus Name" program, where she warned that a Supreme Court ruling striking down state bans on gay marriage would result in the "criminalization of Christianity."
"We have, at this moment, freedom hanging by a thread," Porter declared. "If the Supreme Court rules wrong, if they homosexualize marriage, with the homosexualizing of marriage comes the criminalization of Christianity. That's what a stake."
As such, Porter is urging people to engage in "high octane" prayer and fasting because "our freedoms are at stake" and also to prepare themselves to disobey the court's ruling because "we need to be able to obey God rather than men."
“I’m telling you that if the court dares to issue another Roe v. Wade, in this case the Roe v. Wade for marriage, we will not obey it,” she said. “We’ll go to jail if we have to go to jail, but we will not bow to this agenda and violate our beliefs in God.”
“It’s happening in the state of Idaho,” she claimed. “They’re going after pastors in Idaho right now and saying, ‘Unless you oversee, participate in a homosexual wedding, we’re going to put you in jail.’”
This isn’t the first time that Porter has warned that advances in LGBT equality will land Christians in jail. In 2009, Porter warned that an LGBT-inclusive hate crimes law would send “ pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech,” a prediction that nearly six years later has not come to pass.
In a press conference today in front of the Supreme Court, Faith 2 Action’s Janet Porter gathered a who’s who of radical anti-gay activists and “ex-gays” to deliver “restraining orders” to the Supreme Court demanding that the justices not hear arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
Far from a far-right pipe dream, Porter’s bill to block federal courts from ruling on marriage was introduced last week by Rep. Steve King in the House and Sen. Ted Cruz in the Senate. “We have appealed to Congress to restrain the judges, and the good news is Congress has heard our cry,” Porter said.
The activists, including Scott Lively, Peter LaBarbera and Bill Owens, also announced that they were filing a motion asking Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from the case because they, in Lively’s words, “deliberately officiated at so-called homosexual wedding ceremonies.”
Ginsburg and Kagan, Lively charged, “have committed an unparalleled breach of judicial ethics by elevating the importance of their own favorite political cause of gay rights above the integrity of the court and of our nation.”
Porter distributed to attendees copies of her new anti-gay documentary “Light Wins,” which features a number of GOP politicians and conservative activists claiming that the institution of equal rights for LGBT people will lead to the “criminalization of Christianity,” a theme heard throughout the press conference.
Greg Quinlan, an “ex-gay” activist, echoed the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins , saying a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality “will bring open season on Torah Jews and biblical Christians, and it will definitely bring open season on those of us who left homosexuality.”
Steven Hotze of Conservative Republicans of Texas, a Roy Moore acolyte who has been advocating for a bill in his state barring the use of funds to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples if the state’s marriage ban is struck down, declared that gay marriage is “not a marriage, it’s a mirage, because it’s counterfeit, it’s a lie, it’s untrue.”
A decision in favor of marriage equality, he warned, “would force individuals to have to condone, accept, even celebrate sexual immorality among certain elements of the population and teach it to the children.”
“It would criminalize Christianity,” he added. “The pastors would be forced to have to marry those of the same-sex.”
Peter LaBarbera, the head of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality declared that the Supreme Court is “poised to nationalize a historical anomaly, so-called marriage based on a sexual perversion, as a constitutional right.”
“A nation cannot simultaneously honor God and codify sexual sin as a supposed civil right,” he said, adding that “apparently the ‘T’ in LGBT stands for ‘tyranny.’”
Bill Johnson, a former state official with the American Family Association who now runs the American Decency Association, warned that a decision favorable to marriage equality would invite God’s "wrath upon America:
Meanwhile, Wiley Drake, a pastor who has prayed for President Obama’s death, was filming the whole event, at one point turning around to tell reporters that America has a Christian “birth certificate.”
“Our nation has a birth certificate. The president doesn’t, but our nation does.”
Yesterday, Rep. Steve King announced the introduction of his "Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015," which would strip federal courts of the ability to hear any case involving the issue of marriage equality:
A Republican lawmaker is trying to keep federal courts from hearing same-sex marriage cases.
Less than a week before the Supreme Court plans to hear arguments in potentially one of the nation’s most influential cases on gay marriage, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced the Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015 to preserve state bans.
“For too long, federal courts have overstepped their constitutionally limited duty to interpret the Constitution.” King said in a news release. “Rather, federal courts have perverted the Constitution to make law and create constitutional rights to things such as privacy, birth control, and abortion. These Unenumerated, so-called constitutionally-protected rights were not envisioned by our Founding Fathers.”
King’s bill strips way Article III of the Constitution, which gives federal courts the jurisdiction to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, any type of marriage. The bill also prohibits federal funds from being used for any litigation in, or enforcement of any order or judgment by, any federal court.
King said his bill would stop the courts from “destroying traditional marriage.”
Porter was also the driving force behind the recent anti-gay documentary "Light Wins," which featured a handful of GOP elected officials and presidential candidates along with dozens of hardline anti-gay activists warning that gay activists seek to criminalize Christianity:
Not too long ago, we produced an overview of just some of the insane things that Porter has said and done in recent years:
A coalition of far-right groups, including Faith 2 Action, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, BarbWire, Vision America Action and the Judicial Action Group, wants Congress to order the Supreme Court and other federal courts to “cease and desist” from ruling on same-sex marriage cases.
In a letter to Congress, which it dubs a “Restraining Order,” the coalition claims that the “judicial usurpation” on marriage “fueled a government assault on Constitutionally protected First Amendment rights of pastors, churches, business and facility owners, employees, public officials, organizations, ministries and citizens.”
Of course, the coalition is asking for as much as $49.95 to send the letters to members of Congress.
Radical Religious Right activist Janet Porter has released yet another trailer for her upcoming documentary "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity," which features a who's who of anti-gay activists as well as several Republican members of Congress and presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee.
"Like a tank in Tiananmen Square," Porter says, as she walks down the middle of a dark street as a pair of headlights bear down upon her, "the homosexual agenda has been running over people since Anita Bryant's courageous stand in the 1970s."
After that, it is nothing but 10 minutes of anti-gay activists calling upon Christians to rise up and fight back against the "homosexual agenda."
Among the participants we immediately recognized in this new clip are Huckabee, David Barton, Gary Glenn, Steven Hotze, Robert Knight, Judith Reisman, Stacy Swimp, Greg Quinlan, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Brian Camenker, James Dobson, Bill Donohue, Scott Lively, Frank Pavone, Dutch Sheets, Phyllis Schlafly, Rick Scarborough, Gary Bauer, Mark Crutcher, Jerry Boykin, and Harry Jackson.
At one point, Gohmert declares that it is the duty of Christians to "love people who engage in homosexualty" because "we all have family members that we think are making major mistakes with their lives, but you can still love them."
Later, Pastor Steve Witt declares that just as God would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah if only 10 righteous people could be found, so too can most American cities be spared, but only if thousands of people will take a stand against homosexuality.
At the end of this new clip, Porter is shown in an empty football stadium, warning that "the battle for our freedom is being fought while most Christians are on the sidelines. We need to get out of the stands and into the game because the Super Bowl for our country is being fought and our team is not even on the field."
Last week, we noted that fringe Religious Right activist Janet Porter was readying the release of a new anti-gay documentary she produced called "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity" that was reported to feature a variety of members of Congress and Republican presidential hopefuls.
At the time, there were only two clips from the movie available and the only political figure shown in either was Mike Huckabee. Today, Porter released another preview of her film, which contains footage of interviews she conducted with several anti-gay activists as well as with Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Rep. Trent Franks, and Sen. Rand Paul, all attacking the Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and for threatening to utterly destroy the institution of marriage entirely by legalizing gay marriage:
Update: Porter has also released a trailer featuring Rand Paul and several GOP congressmen.
Today, Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter sent out an email to activists excitedly announcing that she is finishing up editing a new anti-gay documentary that she intends to release at the National Religious Broadcaster's Convention in Nashville at the end of this month.
Porter released a separate preview of the film today, featuring a clip in which she blasts the Boy Scouts for having "needlessly caved to a dark sexual agenda" by allowing gay Scouts to join the organization while Knight and Stemberger warn that, as a result, the Boy Scouts will soon face "homosexual scandals" just like Penn State and the Catholic Church:
"Light Wins" reveals the frightening trend not to simply ignore Christian believers, but to rid society of us altogether. This ground breaking, eye opening film will awaken viewers to the fact that being a spectator is no longer an option. One will be part of the solution or part of the problem, and I hope this riveting documentary will cause believers to take notice."
Janet Porter of the right-wing group Faith 2 Action already wants consumers to punish Facebook, Google, Target and Disney for the companies’ stands on LGBT issues, and now she is adding Tylenol to the list.
Similar dire warnings about the federal hate crimes law that was passed five years ago today have proven to be utterly false.
The apocalyptic rhetoric is a reaction to the advances in LGBT rights, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in dozens of states and the passage of non-discrimination ordinances in municipalities across the country. Along with categories such as race, gender, religion, age and ability, more localities are recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity as traits warranting protection from discrimination in the public domain.
As anti-gay politicians lose in the courts, Congress, state houses, town halls, and perhaps most importantly, at the ballot box, many have taken to conflating political defeat with a loss of rights and liberty. Only by depriving other people of their rights, so they claim, can conservatives and people of faith in this nation truly be free.
This month, many Republicans latched onto a complicated legal case in Houston to justify their hyperbolic warnings about impending doom for Christians in America. After Houston passed an equal rights ordinance this year, a pastor-led group tried — and failed — to collect enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on repealing the ordinance. When a group of conservative activists and pastors filed a lawsuit demanding that officials accept the invalid petitions, pro-bono attorneys working for the city subpoenaed several pastors’ communications, including sermons, on petition collecting and related issues like homosexuality as part of the discovery process.
While many groups from the left and right alike called out the subpoenas as overly broad and intrusive, the Religious Right cited the legal move as proof that pastors will be, as the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody put it, “hauled off to jail for a hate crimes because they are speaking for traditional marriage.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who in 2012 warned that America was “at the edge of a precipice” and would soon see non-existent “hate speech” laws used “against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages [or] who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage,” agreed with Brody’s assessment.
(In a similar episode this month, the owners of a for-profit wedding chapel business filed a lawsuit against their hometown over a nondiscrimination ordinance, arguing that city officials have threatened them with prosecution and jail time for denying service to same-sex couples — even though officials haven’t pursued any legal action against the couple.)
We’ve seen this movie before. In 2007, members of a group called Repent America were charged after disrupting a gay pride event and refusing to abide by police orders. The way conservatives tell the story, godly missionaries were punished by law enforcement for exercising their First Amendment rights and “sharing the gospel,” but as court records show, the group tried to disturb the peace and protest inside an event without a permit.
In fact, if Religious Right were correct in their warnings, America should have experienced a wave of arrests targeting pastors, church-goers and Republicans following the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Predictions about the criminalization of the Bible, pastors locked in jail cells and concentration camps for Christians never came true, mainly because these prophecies had no basis in reality.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Law was passed by Congress five years ago today, and so far, the far-right’s twisted and baseless claims about the law have all been proven false. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t stopped making the exact same discredited arguments five years after the bill’s passage:
End of Free Speech
Despite the hate crimes law’s provision making clear that it is applicable only to cases of violent crime and nothing “shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs,” Religious Right activists and their allies in the GOP nonetheless predicted that the 2009 law would bring free speech to an end.
“Gay activists will use it against preachers who present the Biblical view of homosexuality,” Rick Scarborough said at the time. “The federal hate crimes law doesn’t target crime, but free speech.” He also warned that the law’s passage would “criminalize pastors and ordinary citizens who speak out biblically against homosexuality,” telling members of his group, Vision America, that he may face arrest for “speaking out against sexual deviancy.”
Scarborough, a Texas anti-gay pastor and political organizer close to Ted Cruz, hasn’t backed down from his claims even years after the law has gone into effect. At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Scarborough declared that the “infidels” in the Obama administration are “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Christians wouldn’t rise up against the attacks, he feared, “until a bunch of us are thrown into concentration camps.”
The Traditional Values Coalition went as far as to claim that the hate crimes law would imprison Jesus Christ.
“I believe that ‘hate crimes’ is the most dangerous bill in America, it is precisely what they are using to silence Christians around the world,” Janet Porter, a Religious Right activist with the group Faith 2 Action, said in an interview the year before the bill was passed. “How much of a stretch is it, really, to say that because I would say to you homosexuality is a sin or it’s dangerous behavior, before that speech alone is worthy of jail time? And that’s what we’re facing.” Porter told a Washington, D.C., rally shortly after the law was passed that it “criminalizes Christianity” and “sends pastors to prison for biblical positions and speech.”
In an 2009 email message with the subject line, “The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins claimed that “what ‘hate crimes’ legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
He also alleged that the law would “gag people of faith and conviction who disagree with the homosexual agenda” and that it “punishes a person’s beliefs — part of the Left's intolerant agenda to silence the voice of Christians and Conservatives in America and eliminate moral restraint.”
“If federal thought crimes laws are passed, your right to share politically incorrect parts of your Christian faith could become a federal crime,” Perkins warned. At another conservative event, Perkins said hate crimes laws will curtail freedom and breed “chaos in America.”
Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America even encouraged opposition to the law by alleging that “there is a direct connection between the sins and crimes of abortion and the sodomite agenda and the Islamic terrorism that threatens our nation.”
One group of GOP and Religious Right figures claimed the law would be “a savage and perhaps fatal blow to First Amendment freedom of expression.”
E.W. Jackson, a Virginia pastor and GOP politician, told a conservative rally that the law “represents a virulent strain of anti-Christian bigotry and hatred” that is “another step in the process of robbing all Americans of the very freedoms the founding fathers pledged their lives for and the civil rights martyrs gave their lives for.”
Ohio-based televangelist Rod Parsley, best known for his work supporting George W. Bush’s re-election campaign and the passage of his state’s gay marriage ban, said that the hate crimes law would force him out of the pulpit.
“This deceptive ploy of liberal, homosexual agenda begins to lose its allure once you pull the mask back and take a closer look,” Parsley said. “The legislation that’s before our United States senators right now extends to speech and can punish people not for their actions but for their culturally incorrect thoughts. This legislation could become law, and you and I could find ourselves forbidden to speak from God’s word right here in America. I could no longer share my heart with you on critical issues, such as this, through the medium of television, or even in the pulpit of my own church.”
We can report that despite Parsley’s grim predictions, he is still very much “sharing his heart” as a preacher.
Outlawing the Bible
One group of Michigan pastors, joined by local Republican politician and American Family Association state chairman Gary Glenn, filed an unsuccessful legal challenge against the hate crimes law soon after it was enacted. The group’s legal representative, the conservative Thomas More Law Center, contended that “the sole purpose” of the law was “to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.”
Pastor Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ also offered an ominous warning: “If preaching the Bible is now against the law, then let us be arrested.” One WorldNetDaily commentator said the law would “crack down” on Christians for “reading the Bible.”
“Christianity Is Now Outlawed,” declared the Christian Seniors Association, a front group of the Traditional Values Coalition, in a fundraising letter following the law’s passage. “Did you know that the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature?’” the letter continued.
“Most Christians might as well rip the pages which condemn homosexuality right out of their Bibles because this bill will make it illegal to publicly express the dictates of their religious beliefs,” said Andrea Lafferty of the TVC. “The ultimate objective of this legislation is to claim that ‘hate speech’ — criticism of homosexuality — incites individuals to violence and must be suppressed and punished. This will violate the First Amendment rights of any person or group that opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture.”
In the paranoid conservative alternate reality, pedophilia has been legal for five years now thanks to the updated federal hate crimes law.
“The main purpose of this ‘hate crimes’ legislation is to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity,’ ‘either actual or perceived,’ as new classes of individuals receiving special protection by federal law. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality on an ever-expanding continuum. Will Congress also protect these sexual orientations: zoophiles, pedophiles or polygamists?” asked televangelist Pat Robertson.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, similarly charged: “We have a record roll call vote that shows every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee voting to have pedophiles protected.”
King’s colleague Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went one step further and said that as a result of the hate crimes law, courts would “have to strike any laws against bestiality” along with laws targeting “pedophiles or necrophiliacs.” Gohmert went on to warn that the law would effectively turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, for his part, predicted that the law would extend legal protections to “bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality.”
Richard Thompson of the Thomas More Law Center claimed the law “elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”
Porter dubbed the law the “Pedophile Protection Act,” “summarizing” the law by completely making things up: “Pushing away an unwelcome advance of a homosexual, transgendered [sic], cross-dresser or exhibitionist could make you a felon under this law. Speaking out against the homosexual agenda could also make you a felon if you are said to influence someone who pushes away that unwelcome advance. And pedophiles and other sexual deviants would enjoy an elevated level of protection, while children, seniors, veterans and churches would not.”
Pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia are still against the law and such laws have not been affected by the Hate Crimes Act, while declining “an unwelcome advance of a homosexual” is still very much legal. However, we are still waiting with bated breath for Porter’s lawsuit detailing how she was forced and legally bound to succumb to the charms of a homosexual enticer.
Can the Religious Right Be Trusted?
The many frantic, unfounded warnings about the perils the 2009 Hate Crimes Act are just one example of anti-gay activists’ penchant for manufacturing myths and brazenly distorting cases of supposed persecution.
Apocalyptic warnings and blatantly dishonest remarks have always been characteristic of the Religious Right's crusade against LGBT rights and we can expect such activists to continue to engage in such shameless fear mongering and misinformation before the 2014 election.
But, like the Religious Right’s warnings about the effects of the 2009 Hate Crimes Act, these dire predictions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.