Family Research Council

Rep. Trent Franks: Civil War Started Because 'The Left Was So Committed' To Slavery

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., compared legal abortion to slavery on Friday, insisting that it was in fact “the left” in America that started the Civil War because “the left was so committed” to slavery.

Franks made the remarks while speaking with Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, who was guest-hosting the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program.

When Piper asked Franks about President Obama’s opposition to so-called “born-alive” bills that are a favorite of anti-choice activists, Franks responded that the president “knows that if this country ever wakes up and realizes that we’re in the center storm of the greatest human genocide in the history of humanity, what we’re doing to unborn children and newborn children, that there won’t be a Democrat left standing in the northern hemisphere… in an election, that is, if there’s ever a realization of what the Democrat Party has stood for.”

“It’s so sad, because we’re just not students of history, Doctor,” he continued. “You know, the left gets very angry when we use the slavery parallel, but the parallel is so profoundly appropriate. Because the Supreme Court said in Dred Scott that the slave was not a person, that they were chattel, and you could do whatever you want.

“And there were a group of people, they called them Republicans, they began to coalesce as a new party, that said, no, these slaves are children of God and we as Americans stand for the notion that we’re all created equal and that includes slaves. And we stood up for them and the left was so committed to it that it precipitated a bloody civil war and we ended up shooting ourselves to doll rags. That’s how committed an irrational conclusion can become when there is an investment of these kinds of political proportions in a certain narrative.”

Franks is far from the first conservative politician to conveniently forget the history of the last half century to declare that today’s Democrats are the party of slavery and Jim Crow.

Religious Right Leaders Vow To Defy Laws On Abortion, 'Sexual Perversion' In 'Declaration Of Dependence Upon God'

A group of Religious Right activists, including prominent advocates of dominionism, have joined together to circulate a “Declaration of Dependence upon God and His Holy Bible” in which signers vow to “refuse any mandate by the government that forces us to fund or support abortion” and to “oppose same-sex marriage, polygamy, bestiality, and all other forms of sexual perversion prohibited by Holy Scripture.

Colorado Springs pastor Andrew Wommack, who wrote the pledge, says that he will spend $500,000 promoting it online and in newspaper ads. On Sunday, Wommack’s ministry bought a pricey full-page ad in the New York Times that showed the full text of the “declaration” and some of its most prominent signers.

Among those who have signed Wommack’s pledge, according to the ad, is Religious Right activist David Barton, who has been teaching students at a Bible college run by Wommack to retake the “mountain” of government in accordance with the Seven Mountains dominionist belief that conservative Christians must take control of the seven areas, or “mountains,” of society.

Other signers are Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; prominent televangelist Kenneth Copeland; leading Seven Mountains advocate Lance Wallnau; prosperity gospel preacher Creflo Dollar; and Kelly Shackelford, whose First Liberty Institute has been at the forefront of the narrative that conservative Christians are losing their religious liberty in America.

Another notable signer is Oklahoma state Sen. Nathan Dahm, who earlier this year sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony in the state, which was vetoed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

Among the signers are some prominent supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Dobson and Copeland are members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. Boykin was recently one of the retired military leaders to sign a letter supporting Trump, which was promoted by the GOP nominee’s campaign. Wallnau is a member of the “National Diversity Coalition for Trump” who has argued that Trump can help reclaim the “seven mountains” from Satan.

In a video message, Wommack says that he believes he was “divinely inspired” to write the declaration, warning that “Satan is fighting for the heart and soul of this nation.”

Another video promoting the declaration shows Fox News pundit Todd Starnes reacting to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, saying, “The Supreme Court’s decision means gay rights now trump religious liberty. If you think the cultural purging of the southern states has been breathtaking, wait until you see what the activists are about to release on American Christians.” In the video, a young girl turns to her grandfather and asks, “Grandpa, we’re Christians, aren’t we?”

Wommack’s declaration reads like a shorter version of the Manhattan Declaration, a 2009 document that joined conservative Catholic and evangelical leaders in a pledge to commit civil disobedience in the face of the supposed impending government persecution of Christians.

Here’s the full text of the “Declaration of Dependence upon God and His Holy Bible”:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Since our Creator gave us these rights, we declare that no government has the right to take them away. Among these rights is the right to exercise our Christian beliefs as put forth in God’s Holy Bible.

We therefore declare that God grants life at conception and no one has the right to take that life unless it is a direct threat to the life of the mother.

Marriage was instituted by God between one man and one woman. The Lord gave only this family unit the responsibility to have children and raise them in the fear of the Lord.

We therefore respectfully reserve the right to refuse any mandate by the government that forces us to fund or support abortion. We also oppose same-sex marriage, polygamy, bestiality, and all other forms of sexual perversion prohibited by Holy Scripture.

We proclaim that Jesus has provided the cure for all sin and therefore reach out to the sinner in love, but do not embrace the sin, knowing its destructive nature.

Therefore, we, the undersigned—not only as Christians but also believing we have the constitutional rights as Americans to follow these time honored Christian beliefs—commit to conducting our churches, ministries, businesses, and personal lives in accordance with our Christian faith and choose to obey God rather than man.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 9/22/16

  • ALIPAC's William Gheen warns that "the violence you are seeing in many cities is not a phase or just protests, but part of a socialist uprising and overthrow that will organize increasing violence from individuals and groups as election day approaches!"
  • David Whitney fumes about laws banning the use of "ex-gay" reparative therapy on minors and court rulings upholding them: "The court has essentially ruled that it is illegal to proclaim repentance to sodomites of a certain age, even if they might want help to rid themselves of that same sex bondage ... So proclaiming repentance has been declared illegal by the Legislature of California as well as by the Federal Circuit Court."
  • Erik Rush wants the government to "revoke the citizenship of each and every naturalized Muslim American and deport them to their native countries, save for giving them the opportunity to renounce Islam in order to escape this fate."
  • Michele Bachmann says that "we’ve lost our rights to free speech now because of what this one-world-order diversity plan has chosen for us, and we’re just supposed to lie down and take it."
  • Finally, FRC prays for North Carolina: "May God give Governor Pat McCrory, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and the members of the entire North Carolina Legislature extraordinary wisdom, moral strength, courage, and steadfastness to stand and withstand what is nothing less than an onslaught of evil. May God protect his people and America from blind leaders who are destroying our nation from within! May our next president have the understanding, the grace, and the will to undo the evil transformation that has taken place in America during the past eight years. And may God snap millions of blinded men and women out of the delusion that moves them to elect and reelect men and women who advocate these things!"

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 9/15/16

  • Since the future of the Supreme Court has been the central justification the Religious Right has used for supporting Donald Trump, the prospect of him naming the "first openly gay member of the Court" must be rather alarming to them.
  • David Barton is not happy that the word "gender-fluid" has made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Glenn Beck's media empire seems to be falling apart.
  • Jane Chastain says that Tim Kaine is "what Lenin referred to as 'useful idiots.'"
  • Finally, FRC prays that "God's people [will] recognize that mass persecution of Christians in America is immediately ahead unless God fearing men and women are elected to a majority of public offices across America in November."

Family Research Council: Vote For Trump & GOP To Put 'Religious Freedom' Above 'Sexual Unrestraint'

As this weekend’s Values Voter Summit got underway, Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, said that he hoped the event would help conservative Christians become “comfortable” with the idea of voting for Donald Trump.

The event ended up being packed with references to the importance of voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton. And, on Saturday, FRC members received a direct mail piece from the organization making an argument for conservative Christians to support the GOP nominee and his fellow Republicans in order to fight Democrats who are trying to put “the priority of sexual unrestraint ahead of religious freedom in every area of our lives.”

While never mentioning Trump or Clinton by name, the mailing, signed by the group’s president, Tony Perkins, makes its point clear.

Perkins first boasts of the FRC’s role in shaping the ultraconservative Republican platform, contrasting it with the Democrats’ platform of “sexual unrestraint”:

[T]he major political parties have confirmed their nominees, and in spite of the understandable misgivings of many true conservatives, this election now presents America with a clear choice:

· One party has declared in its platform that they will continue putting the priority of sexual unrestraint ahead of religious freedom in every area of our lives.

· The other party has committed itself to the most strongly conservative platform of any we’ve seen in a century.

And you had a hand in this platform victory. Your support for FRC Action made it possible for us to bring maximum influence to bear on the Republican Party platform-development process.

With your strong support, I was able to add eight amendments to the platform and was able to work with other delegates on dozens more, many of them designed specifically to champion and protect religious liberty. Your investment in FRC Action produced a tremendous return.

He then moves on to a defense of Trump, citing the GOP nominee’s promise to appoint judges who will uphold the Religious Right’s priorities, his vow to repeal IRS restrictions on politicking by churches that receive nonprofit tax breaks, and his “support for the freedom to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in the public sphere.”

“This is not an evangelical Christian candidate,” Perkins writes, “but these are connection points with evangelical Christians who have seen their beliefs constantly attacked in recent years. These are starting points for a new administration with a renewed friendliness toward Christian values”:

The candidate of one party has consistently reached out to Christian groups. The other has opposed everything we believe and everything we’ve worked for.

· One of these candidates would continue to appoint liberal activist judges and justices who will deny religious liberty for families like the Stormans…continue to use the sexual revolution (new “genders,” redefining marriage, etc.) to attack religious freedom…and will continue allowing the killing of unborn children.

· The other candidate has committed to appointing judges who will adhere to the confines of the Constitution. This candidate has also embraced the cause of religious liberty.

This candidate has specifically called out the Johnson Amendment, which restricts the freedom of churches to address political issues. This candidate has even expressed support for the freedom to say “Merry Christmas” in the public sphere!

This is not an evangelical Christian candidate, but these are connection points with evangelical Christians who have seen their beliefs constantly attacked in recent years. These are starting points for a new administration with a renewed friendliness toward Christian values.

All emphases are from the original.

Tony Perkins On The Alt-Right: Trump Has 'Given Voice' To 'A Lot Of Alternative Voices'

At a press conference outside this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual Religious Right gathering organized by the Family Research Council, Alternet’s Adele Stan asked FRC president Tony Perkins what he thought of the Donald Trump campaign’s increasing embrace of the racist alt-right movement. Perkins has said that he’ll vote for Trump and this year’s Values Voter Summit was in part an effort to convince Christian conservatives to support the GOP nominee.

In response to Stan’s question, Perkins first seemed to indicate that he didn’t know what the alt-right was, but then praised the Trump campaign for giving “voice to a lot of people who feel like their voice has all but been snuffed out under this administration,” saying that “there have been a lot of alternative voices that have risen up” as the Obama administration “has increasingly tried to marginalize people who do not surrender to a progressive, liberal agenda.”

Here’s the full exchange, via Alternet:

AlterNet: I’m wondering what you make of Trump’s hiring of Steve Bannon, who said that he had provided the platform for the alt-right.

Tony Perkins: The what?

AlterNet: The alt-right, which Hillary Clinton—

TP: —I didn’t hear his comment, so I can’t really speak to that. I can speak to the fact that, in the last eight years, this administration, which Hillary Clinton has been a part of, has increasingly tried to marginalize people who do not surrender to a progressive, liberal agenda. And there have been a lot of alternative voices that have risen up, just because Americans feel they are under constant threat by this administration’s policies. So, what has given Donald Trump, I believe, the nomination, is that he has given voice to a lot of people who feel like their voice has all but been snuffed out under this administration.

Conservative Groups Urge Maximum Obstruction Of Hillary Clinton's Judicial Nominees

At a Values Voter Summit panel this weekend, top conservative legal groups promised that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, they will pressure GOP senators to obstruct her judicial nominees to the greatest extent possible, including attempting to prevent her from replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, Phillip Jauregui of the Judicial Action Group, and David Christensen and Mandi Ancalle of the Family Research Council discussed what they would urge the president and the Senate to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency. In the case of a Clinton presidency and a Republican-controlled Senate, they promised maximum obstruction of judicial nominees.

Severino, who once called Judge Merrick Garland “the best scenario we could hope for” in an Obama Supreme Court nominee and said that “of those the president could nominate, we could do a lot worse” than Garland, predictably changed her tune once Obama actually did nominate Garland to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court. At the Values Voter Summit, Severino insisted that senators would “effectively nullify their oath to uphold the Constitution” by voting to confirm Garland.

“Say you’re in a state where there’s no chance on who’s going to win on the president’s side, it’s so important to remember how significant these senatorial races are, because the senators also had an oath to the Constitution,” she said. “They have to uphold and defend the Constitution. That means, when it comes to a vote for a nominee, so even if it is someone who is absolutely not going to uphold the Constitution as it is written, like Merrick Garland even, even if he does come to a vote—and I suspect that if he remains the nominee into the next presidency, he probably would come up for hearings and a vote at some point—our senators simply cannot be voting for someone that would effectively nullify their oath to uphold the Constitution. So I think we have to remember to remind our senators of that.”

Severino dismissed the idea of the Republican Senate confirming Garland in a lame duck session if Clinton wins the election, saying that if Clinton becomes president and renominates Garland or picks someone “more radical” for the court, GOP senators could stall proceedings and “maybe we'll have eight justices for awhile.” When asked how long she thought it would be realistic for a GOP senate to block a Clinton nominee to the court, she said, “I think the court could really function as long as it needed to with eight justices.”

She said that the “best case scenario” under a Clinton presidency would be if Clinton worked with Republicans in the Senate to pick a nominee who “did actually have a record of upholding the Constitution”; it’s unclear who she thinks such a nominee could be, since she previously called Garland the “best scenario” for a Democratic Supreme Court nominee.

Severino’s message that the Senate should obstruct just about any Hillary Clinton nominee contradicts the claims made by her group and others that they are merely blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because the decision on who to appoint to the Supreme Court should be left to the next president. (In the words of a Judicial Crisis Network ad: “This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about your voice. You choose the next president, the next president chooses the next justice.”)

The Judicial Action Group’s Jauregui impressed upon the activists in the room that they would also have to be prepared to “fight vigorously” on nominations to the lower federal courts under the next president, including closely monitoring a President Trump’s nominations. He praised the effort of Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to prevent President Obama’s filling of judicial vacancies in their home state by refusing to turn in “blue slips” giving the go-ahead for hearings on nominees, hinting at an obstruction strategy conservative groups might urge GOP senators to use under a Clinton presidency.

Jauregui urged the current Republican Senate to vow now to keep the current rules barring filibusters of lower-court judicial nominees if they stay in power, no matter who becomes president, saying it would be “foolish to say the best” to do otherwise.

Severino agreed that it would be “just as well” to see the judicial filibuster abolished for good after Senate Democrats invoked the so-called “nuclear option” in the face of entrenched GOP obstruction in 2013. She said that eliminating the filibuster on judicial nominees would probably help conservatives in the long run.

“If you’re not using a weapon, you might as well not have it anyway,” she said. “So now I say, move on, I think we’re living in a world, unfortunately, a post-nuclear world where 51 votes is all you need for a nominee, and that in the long term may actually help in terms of getting some of these constitutionally sound judges on the court.”

Michele Bachmann: Obama Is Scheming To Steal The Election For Hillary

On Thursday, Michele Bachmann told “Washington Watch” host Tony Perkins that President Obama is planning to steal the election for Hillary Clinton, pointing to recent comments by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about how his department can work with states “on how best to secure online data and protect individual polling places from the potential threat of hackers.”

The former Minnesota congresswoman told Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, that “every one of your listeners should worry that this administration could possibly not only seek to federalize these elections but also be aiding and abetting what effectively is stealing an election to ensure the right outcome so that in their minds Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.”

If a federal takeover of the election process occurs, Bachmann said, “we should be screaming from the housetops that the administration is trying to steal this election and put the fix in.”

Bachmann also urged members of Congress to impeach Johnson and other officials who are bent on “nationalizing these local and state elections.”

Congress should even consider shutting down the government over the matter, she said, and should explain to voters “that the president is trying to fix the outcome of this election.”

“Otherwise, why are we bothering to go through these primaries and this huge, long process of electing a president only to have it undermined by having the president steal the election by having the federal government, in an unprecedented, first-ever time, of taking over the state and local duty of running elections?” she asked.

FRC's Agenda For President Trump's First 100 Days: Roll Back LGBT & Reproductive Rights

At a panel at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, activists representing the event’s organizer, the Family Research Council, and other conservative groups laid out what they will press Republican lawmakers to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency.

Under a Hillary Clinton administration, the conservative activists said, Republicans in the Senate should do as much as they can to obstruct her nominees to the judicial and executive branch. If Donald Trump is elected, they had a wish list of priorities for his administration, focusing on rolling back advances to LGBT and reproductive rights that have taken place during the Obama administration.

Mandi Ancalle, the FRC’s general counsel for government affairs, reminded the audience that FRC had helped to shape the Republican Party’s ultraconservative platform at the GOP convention in Cleveland and was hopeful that a Republican president—i.e. Trump—would help to make much of it law.

Ancalle said that the FRC is “working to generate a comprehensive list” for the Trump administration of executive orders, executive guidance and administrative regulations that a President Trump should rescind soon after taking office, and of Bush-era policies that he should reinstate. She said that the group was working with contacts on Trump’s transition team to get their wish list into the GOP nominee’s hands.

Among the priorities that she said FRC is pushing for in the first 100 days of a Trump administration:

  • Rescind the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance assuring that federally funded emergency shelters house transgender people according to the sex with which they identify.
  • Reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which bars U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that provide abortion-related services or advocate for abortion rights abroad, even when those services are not paid for by U.S. government funding. This so-called “ global gag rule” was rescinded by President Obama.
  • Reinstate a rule instituted by President George W. Bush that provided broad “conscience protections” for health care workers refusing to participate in care for religious reasons. According to the Washington Post, the rule “was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women.” In 2011, the Obama administration rescinded much of the Bush-era regulation but maintained conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to perform abortions. Ancalle noted that the FRC wants to make sure that new regulations allow physicians not to care for transgender patients by providing hormone therapy and other treatment.
  • Rescind President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination.

Although Ancalle did not explicitly name them among FRC’s first-100-days priorities, she also criticized the Department of Education’s guidance on access for transgender students in public schools; the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate; the “completely lawless” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on access for transgender people in the workplace; and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

She also indicated that the FRC would urge a President Trump to undo the Obama administration’s work pushing LGBT and reproductive rights abroad, saying that the administration has “in some ways become a lobbying organization” and that “ambassadors that are appointed and sent overseas to represent American values have not only kind of flipped on their head what Americans stand for, what you and I stand for, but have really begun to lobby governments in attempting to accept same-sex marriage, in attempting to accept this gender identity dysphoria and attempting to push abortion acceptance and pro-abortion legislation in those different governments.”

She reminded the activists in the room that executive branch nominees—including nominees for ambassador—can be confirmed or blocked by the Senate, and urged the Senate to broadly exercise its power to block these nominees, whoever becomes president.

“It’s important that as we maintain a majority in the Senate that we’re encouraging our senators to not defer to what the president—honestly, whether it’s a Trump or a Hillary Clinton presidency—not to just defer to the president,” she said. “We’ve heard some senators say ‘elections have consequences’ and just put their stamp of approval on any secretary, on any nominee, and it’s really important that senators are out here in Washington, D.C., representing you all as you’re back at home, and representing your views on who those heads of these very authoritative departments and agencies are.”

Sandy Rios Warns Of Unimaginable Threats To Freedom Under Hillary Clinton Presidency

American Family Association radio host and government affairs director Sandy Rios was one of the speakers at a Friday luncheon at the Values Voter Summit. Like other speakers, she took an apocalyptic tone about this year’s elections.

Rios told attendees she doesn’t think Americans understand how much is at stake in this election, recounting harrowing stories of a woman who had told her about the persecution and lack of freedom she had experienced under communist rule in Romania.

To those who suggest that if Trump loses, “next time we’ll get our guy in,” Rios said, “I am just here to tell you, as a Watchman on the Wall, that is not likely to happen” unless God intervenes “miraculously.”

What was more likely, she suggested, was a loss of freedom under a Hillary Clinton presidency. America is at a crossroads, she said, suggesting that freedom would be threatened under a Clinton presidency. “We have a candidate who said deeply held religious beliefs will have to be changed,” she said.

Without naming Clinton, Rios cited other reasons people should fear her as president. “We can’t even comprehend what life might be like even in a year if we don’t take an active part in this election.”

“Those of you that name the name of Christ will have trouble finding jobs,” she said, and kids won’t be able to get into college without having the “right” opinions.

“There’s going to be trouble,” she warned, including a “totally unleashed” Internal Revenue Service.

“I don’t think people have stopped to think about the price we will pay if we don’t do what we can do,” she said. “It’s an imperfect solution, no doubt, but we cannot stand by.”

She also urged participants to support people working on the culture war’s front lines. “I’m begging you,” she said, “do not desert them.”

Jerry Boykin: God Used The Iran Hostage Crisis To Bring Us Ronald Reagan

Family Research Council official Jerry Boykin was previously a lieutenant general in the Army, where in 1980 he participated in the disastrous attempt to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, which ended in failure and the deaths of eight service members.

In an interview this morning with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios at his group’s annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Boykin explained that while the failed rescue mission was “tragic” and “the most devastating thing in my life,” it did have a “real positive” in that it “brought down Jimmy Carter” and helped lead to the election of Ronald Reagan.

Rios asked Boykin if the next president will be able to undo the “decimation” of the military under President Obama, like she said George W. Bush was able to do after Bill Clinton’s presidency.

“That’s a good example,” Boykin replied, “but you know what’s a better example, at the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Ronald Reagan came in. Look, I was part of the failed rescue attempt in 1980 where we were trying to go into Iran and rescue 52 Americans that were being held in the embassy there. I was part of that operation. I watched eight good men die in the desert 100 miles from Iran and it was the most devastating thing in my life.”

“But you know what?” he said. “Two things that came out of that. Number one, it brought down Jimmy Carter and that was a real positive. Number two, it brought in Ronald Reagan. So even in that kind of tragic situation, there is something positive, God uses those things for good. And we brought in Ronald Reagan and his focus was to restore our military and think of what he did. I mean, he went on a determined campaign to make sure that did not happen again. And what we have today is an incredible military, particularly special operations, that is now in decline again because of the Obama administration and the next president is going to have to come in and do exactly what Ronald Reagan did.”

Boykin also warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, she would implement unconstitutional hate speech prohibitions.

He told Rios that at a strategic planning meeting more than a year ago, the FRC had decided to spend “50 percent of our time on religious liberty” and warned that “times are going to be even more difficult for Christians” if Clinton is elected.

He pointed to the United States’ support for a UN resolution on “religious tolerance” while Clinton was secretary of state as evidence that Clinton supports imposing blasphemy laws and speech restrictions in the U.S. In fact, Clinton worked to remove support for blasphemy laws from the resolution, although some critics say that the resolution’s wording on the subject still left too much wiggle room for governments wishing to impose speech restrictions.

Boykin told Rios that the “biggest thing that Americans need to be concerned” with a Clinton presidency “is the First Amendment.”

“You just said it, hate speech,” she said. “She has, in fact, agreed to UN Resolution 16/18 which says that if you say anything disparaging about Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, you can be taken to jail. And by the way, that’s happening in Europe right now. People are being arrested for what is considered hate speech because they are speaking out against what’s happening there, they’re speaking out against the rapes and the murders and the pillaging of the cities there and the terrorist attacks and some of them have been arrested for hate speech. That’s coming to America if Hillary Clinton is the next president.”

David Barton Narrows Down The Five Commandments For Conservative Christian Voters

Even before the long security lines, the singing of the National Anthem, and Tony Perkins’ use of a goofy toy gavel to call the 2016 Values Voter Summit to order, early risers filled the Empire Room at Washington, D.C.’s Omni Shoreham hotel for a breakfast sponsored by United in Purpose, a Silicon Valley-based organization that uses “big data” techniques to help Christian organizations better understand and motivate their supporters and to help boost conservative Christian voter turnout.

The opening prayer at the breakfast was given by Jim Garlow, a United in Purpose board member and anti-gay pastor who made his name in right-wing politics by mobilizing church support for California’s anti-marriage-equality Prop 8. Attendees were given copies of Garlow’s new book, “Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues,” published by Regnery Faith.

A quick glance suggests that the themes of Garlow’s book will be familiar to anyone who has attended a Religious Right gathering or absorbed the “scholarship” of the Right’s favorite self-proclaimed historian, David Barton: The Bible is a guidebook for government policy on everything from marriage to education and tax policy, and America has lost its way because pastors haven’t been preaching these truths aggressively enough. Garlow writes that his book was written to overcome pastors’ resistance to political preaching, which he blames on legal restrictions on church politicking that Donald Trump has vowed to overturn.

The breakfast’s two keynoters, conservative Christian pollster George Barna and Barton, the truth-challenged “historian,” are also, like Garlow, board members of United in Purpose. Barna runs the group’s American Culture and Faith Institute, which is carrying out in-depth longitudinal studies on changing attitudes among church-going Christians.

Barna argued that America was strong when family, church and government were all doing their jobs well and staying in their own “lanes.” But, he said, today is different. He ran through a set of statistics that depressed the people sitting at my table, demonstrating Americans’ lack of basic civic knowledge, lack of trust in the government and the church, and lack of hope in the future. One big problem, he said, is that only nine percent of born-again Christian adults have what he calls a “biblical worldview”—which seems to mean embracing the Barton-Garlow vision that Christians have a duty to vote according to their particular interpretation of the Bible. “That’s what makes it so difficult,” he said, “to be America.” Barna said America is “ripe for another revolution.”

Barton was his fast-talking self, quoting founding fathers, showing slides of colonial-era sermons, and generally contrasting the thundering sermons of revolution-supporting pastors and what he said are whispers coming from today’s pulpits. Barton asserted again that the Bible has policy directives on divorce, the minimum wage, the capital gains tax and just about any other issue a politician might confront.

Barton said Christians should not think in terms of having a right to vote, but rather a responsibility to vote. And, in what felt like a clear pitch for evangelicals to view voting for Trump as a biblical mandate, Barton explained that according to the Bible, a nation’s righteousness is not based on the righteousness of its leaders but on the policies they produce. And nothing is more important than the kind of judges a president will nominate and senators confirm, he said.

God gave the Israelites 613 laws, he said, and then focused them on His “top ten” priorities. Barton’s conclusion: You might care about immigration or climate change, but those can’t be among your top five voting issues because God says the top five must be abortion, marriage, public acknowledgment of religion, judicial nominations and support for Israel.

Donald Trump And The So-Called 'Values Voters'

Countless articles have been written on Donald Trump's relationship with the Religious Right, often by those who argue that his rise reveals the movement's increasing irrelevance. After all, how could social conservatives ever get behind a thrice-married failed casino mogul who is more comfortable at the Playboy Mansion than at church? He has bragged that he has never asked God for forgiveness, insisted that Jesus Christ had a massive ego (in an interview with Playboy) and, in an episode that carries obvious symbolism, threw cash on the communion plate in an Iowa church.

It's almost as if the Religious Right cares more about gaining political power than defending Christian teachings.

Trump is slated to make an appearance today at the Values Voter Summit, the annual Washington, D.C., convention organized by the Family Research Council that's the marquis event on the Religious Right's calendar. Trump's appearance at the summit isn't discordant; as his campaign has progressed, it has become clear why the movement has rallied behind him and why he has relied on its support.

Trump once told a crowd at a Christian university not to forgive their enemies but to "get even." The leaders of today's Religious Right have been preaching that message for years, treating politics as a no-holds-barred battle against opponents who they regard not just as people with different points of view, but as spiritual enemies.

For instance, Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council (FRC), has described supporters of LGBT rights as pawns of Satan.

Just as Trump championed the birther movement, arguing that President Obama is neither an American nor a Christian, Perkins has suggested that Obama is not a true Christian (and is most likely a Muslim) and raised questions about his birthplace. Obama supporters, according to Perkins, must repent for voting for him. One past Values Voter Summit speaker even told the crowd that Obama would shut down all of the country's churches before leaving office.

Trump's demagogic, hateful rhetoric has nothing on the Religious Right, whose leaders have been belittling and denigrating LGBT people, religious minorities and Christians who don't agree with their right-wing political ideology for years.

It wasn't surprising that most Religious Right leaders who talk a big game on religious liberty either stayed silent or were openly supportive when Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. A spokesman for the American Family Association, a cosponsor of the Values Voter Summit, had called for a Muslim ban long before Trump ever did.

While many evangelicals, along with Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants, have worked tirelessly to reform the country's immigration system, conservative Religious Right groups like the FRC and the AFA have denounced immigration reform.

Trump and Religious Right groups have also joined together in portraying American Christians as a marginalized group under constant persecution thanks to the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits houses of worship and other nonprofits from explicitly endorsing candidates if they want to maintain their tax-exempt status, and injustices like the "War on Christmas," with Trump even claiming that he was personally a victim of anti-Christian persecution because he was subject to a routine IRS audit.

And above all, the movement's leaders are thrilled that Trump has promised to give them the Supreme Court of their dreams, even letting conservative activists hand-pick his nominees.

The Religious Right, with its constant talk of the country's imminent undoing by evil anti-American actors, promotion of conspiracy theories and patently hateful rhetoric, paved the way for Trump's success in the GOP primaries. Now, Trump needs the movement to help put him over the top in November, and will be more than happy to further its agenda if he makes it into the White House.

At the Values Voter Summit, Trump will surely pander to the Religious Right. But he should also thank them.

(This post also appears on the Huffington Post)

Jerry Boykin Hopes Values Voter Summit Will Help Win Conservative Christians To Trump

Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which is hosting this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, said today that he hopes the event will end with conservative Christians becoming comfortable with voting for Donald Trump.

Boykin, who recently endorsed Trump, told Breitbart News this morning that “we’re going to see a lot more people become comfortable with the Trump-Pence ticket” over the weekend and that greater support for Trump is “what I’m hoping we’ll come away with.” He specifically praised Trump’s hire of Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon, who has made the outlet a platform for the racist alt-right movement, saying that Bannon “has been a great influence on Trump.”

What I think we’re going to see this weekend, we’re going to see a lot more people become comfortable with the Trump-Pence ticket. If you notice what Donald Trump has been doing recently, he has stayed on message, he has really, I think, followed a lot of good advice from the people around him, you know, one of which is your president, Steve Bannon, and I think Steve has been a great influence on Trump.

So I think we’re going to have a lot of people here that are coming in still questioning whether they’re going to support Trump and I think it’s going to be an opportunity for them to be convinced that the guy will make a much better president than Hillary and there just are no perfect candidates. So that’s what I’m hoping we’ll come away with.

Boykin also previewed a panel discussion he will be hosting on “jihad in America,” which he said will inform the audience that the U.S. government should be working with Muslims who don’t “want to be involved in jihad” but that the only people we reach out to as a nation are the very entities of the Muslim Brotherhood that want to destroy America, and we basically ignore the rest of the Muslim population.

Anti-Choice Activists With Extremist Ties Given Top Billing At Values Voter Summit

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to address the Values Voter Summit, an annual Washington, D.C., event hosted by the Family Research Council, tomorrow. In doing so, he’ll be sharing the stage not only with extreme anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim activists, but also with activists who are rooted in the radical fringes of the anti-abortion movement.

Trump will address the summit soon after David and Jason Benham take the stage. The Benhams are twin brothers who became Religious Right megastars in 2014 after HGTV cancelled a show they were set to star in following Right Wing Watch’s revelations about their extreme anti-gay, anti-choice activism.

The Benhams’ status as martyrs within the Religious Right has too often obscured the true radicalism of their activism.

The brothers’ activism is rooted in the work of their father, Flip Benham, a North Carolina preacher who took over the anti-abortion protest group Operation Rescue after the infamous Summer of Mercy, in which anti-abortion activists spent weeks laying siege to Wichita, Kansas, in 1991. Benham later changed the name of his group to Operation Save America and expanded its work to include anti-gay and anti-Muslim activism. (The group is now led by Rusty Thomas, although Benham remains involved.)

David and Jason Benham worked closely with their father and Operation Save America but also became activists in their own right. Leading one protest outside a Charlotte abortion clinic in 2013, David Benham told protesters they were standing against the “gates of hell” and the “altars of Moloch.” He has also called abortion “child sacrifice.” David and his wife lead and fund a Charlotte-based group called Cities4Life that leads sidewalk protests outside of abortion clinics and distributes “abortion pill reversal kits.” On its website, the group compares legal abortion to the Holocaust and explains why it uses graphic signs in its protests:

Women are rarely told the truth about abortion. Without the truth, Satan is free to rob, kill, and destroy. It is urgent for these women to know the truth about this hidden evil, done in secret. We must lay bare the demonic lie that an unborn baby is not a human life. When we shine the light of truth about this “legal” procedure, it wakes up the sleeper and moves them to action.

The Benhams continue to associate with the fringes of the anti-abortion movement that their father represents. This spring, for instance, it was announced that they would appear in a movie directed by Patrick Johnston, an Ohio “personhood” activist. In 2008, the Colorado Independent revealed that Johnston had ties to militia groups and once wrote a troubling essay on the website of the violent anti-abortion network Army of God attacking a pastor for criticizing Paul Hill’s murder of abortion clinic doctor John Britton and his bodyguard.

Also speaking at the Values Voter Summit will be David Daleiden, the young activist who’s undercover “sting” videos of Planned Parenthood took the anti-choice movement by storm last year.

Like the Benhams, Daleiden’s work is rooted in the fringe world of the anti-abortion “rescue” movement. Troy Newman, who runs the group now called Operation Rescue—which has been in a years-long feud with Flip Benham’s Operation Save America over its name—helped Daleiden to get his project off the ground. Newman, who moved his group to Wichita in 2002 in order to go after Dr. George Tiller, who was later assassinated, has written that the U.S. government has “abrogated its responsibility” to execute abortion providers and argued that a man who murdered an abortion provider should have been allowed to argue that the homicide was justifiable. Newman’s second-in-command at Operation Rescue is Cheryl Sullenger, who has spent time in jail for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic.

The Benhams and Daleiden have both been embraced by the “mainstream” Religious Right despite their roots in the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement. And now all three are speaking alongside the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

Donald Trump To Convene With Ex-Gays, Self-Styled Knights & The John Birch Society

Donald Trump is set to appear Friday at the Values Voter Summit, a Washington, D.C., conference organized by the Family Research Council that brings together what we’ve called “some of the country’s most extreme opponents of LGBT rights, vocal conspiracy theorists and outspoken critics of the separation of church and state.”

Several of the summit’s organizers and speakers are so radical that they have even backed laws criminalizing homosexuality.

But pandering to extremists is nothing new for Trump. And he himself has found political success by promoting many of the Religious Right’s fears about supposed anti-Christian persecution in America and a pro-Muslim bias within the Obama administration.

Trump will be joining some of the country’s most hateful groups at the Values Voter Summit. Here are just 10 of the convening’s sponsors and exhibitors:

1) Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX)

PFOX is dedicated to promoting ex-gay conversion therapy and “educating society on the facts about sexual orientation in order to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against ex-gays and those trying to overcome same-sex attraction.”

The group’s materials have described coming out as “a kind of murder of the family” and railed against “homofascism.” One of the group’s top officials, Greg Quinlan, has claimed that President Obama and Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan are all secretly gay and has accused gay people of “sexual cannibalism.” Quinlan even blamed suicides among gay youth on gay “recruitment”: “We’re making martyrs out of kids that we’re recruiting to behave as homosexuals when no one is born that way, and that’s the problem and that’s the issue.”

PFOX also has ties to the FRC, the summit’s chief sponsor: FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg is a PFOX board member and the FRC has promoted PFOX’s events.

FRC President Tony Perkins, who has defended PFOX’s work giving “options” to children “struggling” with homosexuality, successfully lobbied the Republican National Committee to adopt a resolution opposing laws that seek to curb the use of ex-gay therapy on minors as part of its 2016 party platform.

2) The John Birch Society

Since its founding, the John Birch Society has been a racist clearinghouse of far-right conspiracy theories.

JBS has accused Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, Civil Rights Movement leaders and advocates of water fluoridation of advancing a communist plot…a plot that goes all the way back to the founding of the Illuminati. More recently, the group linked the Sandy Hook massacre to “the assault on white men” that includes everything “from ‘affirmative action’ to massive Third World immigration,” and attacked the GOP for turning into the “Gay Old Party.”

Jeet Heer of The New Republic writes that the Birchers’ conspiratorial nature helped set the stage for Trump’s nomination: “Far from belonging merely to the lunatic fringe, the Birchers were important precursors to what is now the governing ideology of the Republican Party: Trumpism. Bircherism is now, with Trump, flourishing in an entirely new way. Far from being drummed out of conservatism, it has become the dominant strain.”

3) Americans For Truth About Homosexuality

A former Family Research Council official, Peter LaBarbera founded Americans For Truth About Homosexuality in order to apply “single-minded determination to opposing the radical homosexual agenda” or, as he sometimes calls it, “the hydra-headed monster of the Homosexual/Transsexual Lobby.”

LaBarbera, an outspoken defender of laws criminalizing homosexuality and banning pro-gay speech , has warned about the threat of what he calls “Gayria law” and “homofascism,” calling for “civil disobedience on a massive scale” to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

He has said that the people really being persecuted today are anti-gay activists,comparing himself and others to Jews living in Nazi Germany. He has claimed that anti-LGBT activists like himself can’t help but follow their “natural inhibition against homosexual behavior,” while gay rights advocates use “ political terrorism” to advance “like an insatiable, devouring monster” while promoting “Satan’s plan.”

LaBarbera has lamented that anti-gay violence is no longer “normal,” called pedophilia “a subset of the larger deviance of homosexuality,” said that he’d “love to see” a group organize a class action lawsuit against homosexuality and found it “reassuring” that the gay community is affected by STIs and violence.

In LaBarbera’s ideal America, the government would imprison doctors who perform sex reassignment surgery for transgender people, close the door to refugees who are gay, launch a campaign against “homosexual behavior” just as it did against tobacco products and “re-stigmatize” homosexuality.

4) Family Watch International

With a global focus, Family Watch International has promoted ex-gay therapy and laws criminalizing homosexuality overseas.

One of the most glaring examples of its activism is in Nigeria, where the group’s leadership pushed the country’s lawmakers to adopt a law that “punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison” and “prohibits anyone from officiating a gay union, bans same-sex ‘amorous relationships’ and membership in an LGBT advocacy group.” The law has led to dozens of arrests.

The group has been particularly active in promoting ex-gay pseudo-science and opposing United Nations resolutions calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality. For a time, FWI even worked withMartin Ssempa, an extreme anti-gay activist in Uganda, and praised Iran as “one of the strongest nations in standing up for family values at the UN.”

5) Liberty Counsel

Liberty Counsel is a conservative legal advocacy firm with close ties to Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell. The group recently gained national attention for its work representing Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who defied federal courts by attempting to obstruct the recognition of marriage equality in his state.

Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver has called for mass disobedience against the Supreme Court’s landmark decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage, warning that the ruling will lead to revolution and civil war. Staver, as we’ve reported, has also “predicted that President Obama will impose ‘ forced homosexuality’ upon the nation, regularly likened gay people to terrorists, labeled the gay rights movement as ‘demonic’ and defended countries that outlaw same-sex relationships. Gay equality, Staver warns, will lead to the end of civilization and cause America to ‘implode’ and ‘unravel.’”

Anita Staver, Staver’s wife and the president of Liberty Counsel, recently said that she would take her gun into restrooms in reaction to Target’s decision to let transgender customers use the restroom that matches their gender identity, although she was unable to connect the store’s policy to any criminal acts.

6) Thomas More Law Center

The conservative legal group the Thomas More Law Center, as we’ve noted, is “best known for its unsuccessful lawsuit against Planned Parenthood and the Shepard-Byrd hate crimes law as well as its botched defense of a Pennsylvania’s school’s Intelligent Design curriculum.”

While the group wrongly predicted that the 2009 Hate Crimes Act would “criminalize the Bible,” that didn’t stop it from similarly insisting that marriage equality would lead to the end of “intellectual liberty.” The Thomas More Law Center has also warned that Arabic lessons in school will train kids to become terrorists and claimed that Islam is not a religion but a “Trojan Horse” seeking “to destroy America.”

7) American Family Association

The American Family Association has truly earned its designation as a hate group.

It’s one-time spokesman Bryan Fischer, who still hosts a radio program on the group’s affiliate American Family Radio, has repeatedly called for homosexuality to be outlawed, while cheering on countries like Uganda that criminalize homosexuality, calling for an “Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households” and declaring that God will use ISIS terrorists to punish Americans for their tolerance of homosexuality. Upon learning that the Boy Scouts of America rescinded its ban on gay members, Fischer said that the group should change its name to the “Boy Sodomizers of America.”

Fischer has alsolikened homosexuality to terrorism and blamed the Holocaust on gay people, and said that non-Christians have no First Amendment rights and that non-Christian immigrants should be forced to convert to Christianity. Fischer has repeatedly defended the massacres and expulsions of Native Americans from their lands as divine justice and once lamented that welfare makes African-American women ‘rut like rabbits.’”

The AFA’s current governmental affairs director, Sandy Rios, has linked homosexuality to terrorism, train crashes and pedophilia.

8) Intercessors for America

Intercessors for America, as we’ve reported, has “prayed to stop anti-bullying laws to protect LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth, warning they ‘can only lead to God’s judgment,’ and that support for marriage equality ‘leads a soul to eternal damnation.’” The group also “believes that federal government is developing technology to implant microchips in all citizens as a form of mind control.”

9) Tradition, Family And Property

The Roman Catholic organization Tradition, Family and Property is a group of men who dress up like knights with trademark red capes and costumes and tour the country protesting events they perceive as anti-Catholic, as well as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The group is particularly active in its opposition to gay rights, advocating for colleges to disband LGBT clubs and protesting Desmond Tutu due to his “affirmation of the homosexual agenda.” One of the group’s board members suggested that tornadoes were God’s judgment for gay marriage .

10) Family Research Council

The Values Voter Summit’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, is far from a mainstream group.

FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg has called for bans on homosexuality and the exportation of gays from the U.S., and its executive vice president, Jerry Boykin, has promoted a wide range of bizarre conspiracy theories .

But the group’s most extreme official is its president, Tony Perkins, who has defended Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” bill, connected homosexuality to pedophilia , asserted that same-sex relationships are a government “population control” scheme, depicted LGBT rights supporters as terrorists and minions of Satan bent on murdering Christians, called for a revolution to stop same-sex marriages and denounced anti-bullying efforts for spreading “perversion.” He has also suggested narrowing the definition of religious freedom to exclude Muslims and liberal Christians, and once falsely claimed that it has been a “federal crime” to be a Christian since 2009.

Values Voter Summit Features Extremists on LGBT, Women’s, Religious Issues

Today, People For the American Way (PFAW) hosted a press call detailing the extremist backgrounds of the speakers at and sponsors of Values Voter Summit 2016, the Religious Right conference that begins tomorrow and at which Donald Trump is scheduled to appear.

“The Values Voter Summit doesn’t shy away from the Religious Right’s extremism – it puts it on display,” said PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery, who will be attending the conference. “Donald Trump will be the first one to address this conference as the Republican nominee for president. Among the featured speakers are people who have said Islam doesn’t deserve First Amendment protection, who have opposed every advance in legal recognition of the rights of LGBT people, and who promote outlandish conspiracy theories about President Obama, who, some say, is paving the way for the anti-Christ.”

Montgomery and PFAW Research Editor Miranda Blue detailed the speakers and sponsors of the conference who have advocated for criminalizing homosexuality in the U.S. and abroad. Montgomery provided one example: “Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, the group sponsoring Values Voter, defended Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act – at a time when it was known as a ‘kill the gays’ bill because it included a death penalty – as a ‘laudable’ effort to ‘uphold moral conduct.’” Blue elaborated that FRC along with other groups sponsoring the summit including the American Family Association and First Liberty “all filed amicus briefs supporting Texas’ right to outlaw homosexuality” in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case. Some of these briefs, she said, used “explicitly anti-gay arguments, such as the American Family Association’s claim that outlawing homosexuality would prevent ‘injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy.’ And many continue to hold these views; FRC spokesman Peter Sprigg, who will be speaking at VVS, said in 2010 that he would support outlawing ‘homosexual behavior.’”

Criminalizing homosexuality is far from the only anti-gay stance many of these speakers and sponsors have taken. PFAW Senior Research Analyst Brian Tashman provided examples including that of Sprigg, who has said that “homosexuality is destructive to society,” and James Dobson who in 2012 attributed the Sandy Hook shooting to God’s judgment on America for “kill[ing] fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage [being] right on the verge of a complete redefinition.” Tashman noted that Trump has long courted anti-gay extremists, such as last month when “Trump addressed a conference organized by David Lane, who once said that God will punish America for gay rights in the form of car bombings and the destruction of the country.”

Miranda Blue detailed the anti-choice, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant sentiments and policy priorities of many of the speakers and sponsors of the conference, such as the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, who “recently joined a group of retired generals endorsing Trump and has said that ‘Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections.’” Blue also described how anti-choice speakers like David Daleiden and the Benham Brothers “all came out of the ‘rescue’ movement, which is the extreme clinic-protest wing of the anti-choice movement.” FRC President Tony Perkins has said that President Obama’s immigration actions that aimed to prevent DREAMers and immigrant families from deportation were an “impeachable act.”

PFAW Resources on Values Voter Summit 2016:

A recording of the call is available upon request. Peter Montgomery will be attending the conference this weekend, and he, Miranda Blue, and Brian Tashman are all available for interviews. To schedule an interview, or if you have any questions, please email media@pfaw.org.

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FRC’s Ken Blackwell: Democrats 'Sowing Grounds To Challenge The Election' If Trump Wins

Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who is now a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, writes in a Christian Post column today that Democrats may be raising the specter of Russian tampering with election results in order to create “grounds to challenge the election” if Donald Trump should win.

Even if this is not the case, Blackwell insists, Democrats may be using hacking fears as a pretense to increase federal oversight of elections.

Blackwell is just the latest conservative activist to suggest that election security concerns are part of a ruse to reverse a Trump victory or justify a federal takeover of elections.

Blackwell:

The Democrats are now playing the Russia card. As Donald Trump rises in the polls against an increasingly unpopular Hillary Clinton, Democrats are raising the specter of the nefarious Vladimir Putin. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's famous reset of relations was a bust, but we are supposed to trust her to handle Putin in the future. More important, the Democrats are sowing grounds to challenge the election, relying on their unnatural ability to squeeze, as if by magic, extra votes from the courtroom.

There may be an even more insidious objective, however, than swaying the 2016 result. Outgoing Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, never a fan of election fair play, warned of Russian tampering and called for an FBI investigation. This followed warnings by Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, of potential cyber-attacks come November. He indicated he was considering designating the election system "critical infrastructure."

This would be followed by a Washington campaign to "assist" and "protect" balloting, which inevitably would turn into control. The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky warned that Johnson's action "may be a way for the administration to get Justice Department lawyers, the FBI, and DHS staff into polling places they would otherwise have no legal right to access, which would enable them to interfere with election administration procedures around the country." That would dramatically, and permanently, transform the constitutional balance between the national and state governments.

Trump Cozying Up To Activists Who've Supported Criminalizing Homosexuality

Donald Trump is scheduled to speak this week at the Values Voter Summit, the annual confab hosted by the Religious Right powerhouse the Family Research Council. While Trump has claimed that he will be a better “friend of LGBT Americans” than Hillary Clinton (just “ask the gays”), his appearance at VVS shows the extent to which he has cozied up with some of the country’s fiercest opponents of LGBT equality, going so far as to offer them their pick of Supreme Court justices.

Many of the summit’s organizers and speakers have a long history of anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting anti-LGBT policies, from denigrating gay and lesbian armed service members to falsely linking homosexuality with pedophilia. In fact, a glaring number of VVS participants have defended laws criminalizing homosexuality in the U.S. and around the globe.

While the Religious Right has changed its messaging in recent years to claim that conservative Christians in the U.S. are facing persecution from LGBT rights activists, it was not long ago that many of the same groups were fighting to preserve laws that made gay people criminals—and some still support enacting these policies at home and abroad.

The Family Research Council, which is the chief organizer of the conference, is a case in point. In 2003, when the Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of Texas’ ban on “sodomy” in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, the FRC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state. When the court ruled against Texas in the case, the FRC called it “a direct attack on the sanctity of marriage” and the group’s president, Tony Perkins, declared, “What’s at stake here is the very foundation of our society, not only of America but all Western civilization.”

Not only has Perkins defended state laws criminalizing same-sex relations, he once defended a notorious anti-gay bill in Uganda that at the time he discussed it proposed life in prison or even the death penalty for people who have sex with someone of the same sex. Perkins lauded this bill as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable,” criticizing President Obama for opposing it. The FRC even spent $25,000 to lobby Congress about a resolution denouncing the Ugandan bill—the group later claimed that it didn’t oppose the resolution, it just wanted to make its language less friendly to gay rights. In 2011, FRC asked its members to pray to give Malawi the “courage to withstand U.S. coercion” and maintain its ban on homosexuality.

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the FRC who will have a speaking slot at this weekend’s summit, has perhaps been the most clear about the organization’s views on the subject. Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2010 if he thinks “we should outlaw gay behavior,” Sprigg replied, “Yes.” In a 2008 television interview, Sprigg mused, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”

The American Family Association, another sponsor of the Values Voter Summit, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case, writing in the amicus brief that a law like Texas' could prevent the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy” and would even protect the gay people it targeted by sparing them “illness, disease and death resulting from [their] conduct.” That same year, the AFA published an essay lamenting that the disappearance of sodomy laws showed that “Judeo-Christian views” were being abandoned in favor of “moral relativism.” In 2011, then-AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer said that homosexuality should be a “criminal offense.”

First Liberty, another sponsor of the event, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case (under its previous incarnation as the Liberty Legal Institute), with the group’s leader Kelly Shackelford—also a speaker at this year’s VVS—declaring that there is “no constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy.”

Other figures at the Values Voter Summit have also supported criminal bans on homosexuality.

Rick Santorum, who will have a speaking slot, has boasted of his opposition to the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision. Family Watch International, which is sponsoring a booth at the event, frequently works with some of the world’s most repressive governments to keep LGBT-friendly language out of UN documents and has supported harsh anti-gay legislation in Nigeria. Liberty Counsel, which will also be sponsoring a booth in the summit’s exhibit hall, backed Texas in the Lawrence case and defended a homosexuality ban in Malawi. Radical anti-LGBT activist Matt Barber said on a Liberty Counsel radio program he co-hosts that the U.S. should adopt a ban on “homosexual activist propaganda” similar to Russia’s. Fischer, the former AFA spokesman, also advocated enacting a similar law in the U.S.

Many Religious Right leaders have rallied behind Trump because he has promised to give them their ideal Supreme Court justices and lower court judges. Very recent history shows that these groups aren’t just interested in using the courts to reverse marriage equality—which would be harmful enough on its own—but also to severely roll back years of hard-won legal protections for LGBT people. Trump says that he’d be better for the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton—but we doubt that he’ll bring that message to the Values Voter Summit.

Donald Trump Touts Endorsement Of Far-Right Activist Jerry Boykin

Donald Trump’s campaign released a letter today touting the endorsements of dozens of retired military leaders. High up on that list is retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who joined the Family Research Council after leaving the Army.

Trump, who has built his campaign around anti-Muslim attacks, finds a natural ally in Boykin, whose anti-Muslim views are so extreme that he was reprimanded by President George W. Bush for declaring—while speaking in uniform—that the U.S. was engaged in a holy war against Islam.

Boykin, the FRC’s executive vice president, has engaged in a wide range of bizarre conspiracy theories and extremist rhetoric. As we noted back when Boykin endorsed Trump’s rival Ted Cruz, Boykin:

  • Thinks Christians should act more like ISIS and be “willing to die” for their God.
  • Blamed Obama and his supporters for the shooting at an Oregon community college, adding that we here at Right Wing Watch use “the exact same tactics” as ISIS and Al Qaeda to encourage attacks on Christians.
  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction” of our military.
  • Said that “God’s army” must fight the “evil” of gay rights.
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