The Family Research Council’s Craig James said on the organization’s “Washington Watch” program on Friday that gay-rights opponents will face such challenges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling that they should take lessons on “how to handle adversity” from the survivors of the mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
James was interviewing FRC President Tony Perkins, who warned that in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, conservative Christians are “going to have to stand together because there are going to be some who are going to be casualties in this effort if we stand for biblical truth.”
Perhaps, responded James, these Christian casualties are “part of God’s plan.” Turning the fear rhetoric up a few more notches, James prophesied that “something is going to happen monumentally to someone that we didn’t think it would happen to, uh, Pastor Jack Graham or one of these big churches is going to get attacked, and it’s gonna put front and center stage the reality of this decision today. And maybe that’s what gets folks finally engaged.”
Whatever happens next, Perkins asserted, opponents of LGBT rights must continue “in love” to “speak that truth, to let that light shine.”
“In love,” James concluded. “And I guess Charleston is a great example on how they’ve sent a message to the world and to Americans about how to handle adversity.”
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, effectively legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.
Needless to say, anti-gay Religious Right activists and Republican politicians who have repeatedly warned that such a ruling would literally destroy America have not reacted well, as exemplified by Bryan Fischer, who fired off a series of tweets declaring that Satan is now dancing in the streets of America:
"The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.
"This ruling is not about marriage equality, it's about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny."
"The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment."
Governor Jindal said, “The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.
This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.
The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies. That would be a clear violation of America’s long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.
I will never stop fighting for religious liberty and I hope our leaders in D.C. join me.”
Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate. The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.
“But leaders don’t accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country, they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path. Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best. I realized that fact early on and that is why I lead the charge against some in my own party in 2004 to ensure the Federal Marriage Amendment received a vote and I continue to stand for marriage, for families, for freedom.
“As President, I will be committed to using the bully pulpit of the White House to lead a national discussion on the importance to our economy and our culture of mothers and fathers entering into healthy marriages so that every child is given their birthright- to be raised by their mother and father in a stable, loving home. I will stand for the preservation of religious liberty and conscience, to believe what you are called to believe free from persecution. And I will ensure that the people will have a voice in decisions that impact the rock upon which our civilization is built.”
I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges “has been with us for millennia.”
In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas.
As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.
"Five justices on the Supreme Court have overturned the votes of 50 million Americans and demanded that the American people walk away from millennia of history and the reality of human nature.
“In reaching a decision so lacking in foundation in the text of the Constitution, in our history, and in our traditions, the Court has done serious damage to its own legitimacy.
“No court can overturn natural law. Nature and Nature’s God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court.
“Marriage is rooted not only in human history, but also in the biological and social reality that children are created by, and do best when raised by, a mother and a father. No court ruling can alter this truth.
“It is folly for the Court to think that it has resolved a controversial issue of public policy. By disenfranchising 50 million Americans, the Court has instead supercharged this issue.
"Just as with Roe v. Wade in 1973, the courts will not have the final say on this profound social matter. The American people will stand up for their right to have a voice and a vote, especially as they experience the ways in which redefining marriage fundamentally impairs their freedom to live and work in accordance with their beliefs.
“With this ruling, the Supreme Court has set our government on a collision course with America’s cherished religious freedoms, explicitly guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“Americans will not stop standing for transcendent truth, nor accept the legitimacy of this decision. Truth is not decided by polls or the passage of time, but by the One who created time and everything that exists therein.
“We will not lapse into silence but will continue to speak uncompromisingly for the truth about what marriage is, always has been, and always will be: the union of one man and one woman,” concluded [Tony] Perkins.
Though expected, today's decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.
Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.
The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today's ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.
In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is "a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law."
Today's decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.
“This morning’s ruling rejects not only thousands of years of time-honored marriage but also the rule of law in the United States,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “In states across the nation, voters acted through the democratic process to protect marriage and the family. Yet, courts around the country chose to disregard the will of the people in favor of political correctness and social experimentation. And we witnessed firsthand the consequences, as individuals were repeatedly targeted by the government for not actively supporting homosexual marriage. Sadly, our nation’s highest Court, which should be a symbol of justice, has chosen instead to be a tool of tyranny, elevating judicial will above the will of the people.
“There is no doubt that this morning’s ruling will imperil religious liberty in America, as individuals of faith who uphold time-honored marriage and choose not to advocate for same-sex unions will now be viewed as extremists. But to the Court, we send this unequivocal message: We will continue to uphold God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman, and we call on all Christians to continue to pray for the nation, and for those whose religious liberties will be directly impacted by this ruling.”
In the years leading up to the landmark SCOTUS case, voters in 31 states had acted through the democratic process to uphold marriage and the family. Yet, same-sex marriage was legalized in 36 states, due in large part to overreaching judges who chose to disregard the will of the people and cater to those who advocate for homosexuality.
Today goes down in history as the day nine unelected judges kicked the Constitution to the curb — overturning traditional marriage — and put your religious freedom dangerously at risk.
The decision is in. The justices have ruled. Marriage will be redefined to conform to the pro-LGBT view of marriage.
In one appalling decision, the Supreme Court has effectively opened the door to the criminalization of Christianity when it comes to the marriage issue ... and not just Christianity, but every major religion that supports God’s model for marriage and family.
Once again, five Supreme Court justices have invented a right that is nowhere mentioned or implied in the U.S. Constitution. Instead of allowing the states the right to make decisions about marriage, these judges have elected to impose their will on the nation.
Moreover, their reasoning is sociologically illiterate. The idea that marriage is a matter of individual autonomy—and not a social institution—is the most profound flaw in their ruling. In their mind, society is composed of monads.
For people of faith, this decision is ominous. On p. 27, the majority declares that religious Americans “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” It is nice to know they respect our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“The First Amendment,” the five justices say, “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives….” That’s the best they can do? Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, rightly criticizes this genuflection to religious rights. “Religious liberty,” he says, “is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally”—it is not confined to advocacy.
In order to stop the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that refuse to marry two men or two women, Congress needs to pass the First Amendment Defense Act that was introduced last week. Nothing less is acceptable.
A number of prominent figures on the Religious Right have also spoken to or defended the CCC, in a sign of the uneasy and often hiddenalliancesbetween the Religious Right and racist groups.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a GOP presidential candidate, submitted a video presentation to the CCC’s 1993 national convention, which the group’s newsletter later reported was a smash it. TPM:
Then-Lt. Gov. Huckabee was invited to speak at the group's 1993 national convention by the its founder, Gordon Lee Baum, according to a 2008 Huffington Post report. Baum told The Huffington Post that Huckabee "sent an audio/video presentation saying 'I can't be with you but I'd like to be speaker next time'" because he was compelled to remain in Arkansas during the convention while then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) travelled out of state.
The group's 1993 newsletter, which was obtained by Edward Sebesta, who researches neo-Confederate groups, hailed Huckabee's videotaped address as a smash hit.
"Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," the newsletter read.
Huckabee agreed to speak in person at the group’s convention the next year but canceled after a human rights group told him that he’s be sharing the stage with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.
Back when he was a Louisiana state legislator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to a 2001 meeting of the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. When asked about it several years later, Perkins said he could not “remember speaking at the event.” Unfortunately for him, there’s a picture:
Perkins also has ties to David Duke, a Louisiana politician and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Alabama chief justice, a Religious Right hero who is currently battling the federal courts in an effort to stop marriage equality in his state, addressed CCC’s national conference in 1995, reports Buzzfeed.
This is hardly Moore’s only troubling racist tie. Much of his career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who shares many of his views on the role of “biblical law.” (SPLC reports that the League of the South’s and CCC’s “membership rolls overlap a good deal” and that the two groups have collaborated on events.)
John Eidsmoe is the intellectual godfather of a strain of Christian nationalism that takes to an extreme the idea that “God’s law” must always be put before “man’s law.” He is a former legal advisor to Justice Moore and now works for the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that Moore founded. He is also famously a mentor of former Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Perhaps even more than the Religious Right, the anti-immigrant movement sometimes has a hard time drawing a line between itself and the explicitly racist white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For instance, the work of white supremacist Sam Francis, an editor for and enthusiastic endorser of the CCC, occasionally ends up cited in the work of more “mainstream” anti-immigrant activists.
Coulter took it upon herself in her 2009 book “Guilty,” to defend GOP politicians who had spoken to CCC, writing that the group’s statements in opposition to “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind” were in no way endorsements of segregation:
Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America, which were founded in 1954. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its “Statement of Principles” offers that the organization opposes “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an “America First” trade policy.
Another prominent anti-immigrant activist with ties to CCC is Roy Beck, head of the influential lobbying group Numbers USA, who addressed the group in the late 1990s. The Center for New Community dug up this photo:
Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state who is now an official at the Family Research Council, joined former Alaska GOP politician Joe Miller on his radio program this week, where he warned that the “rapid expansion of the welfare state under the Obama administration is not unlike any of the welfare state expansions, totalitarian regimes, throughout human history.”
Totalitarian regimes, he said, “have done two things,” namely “weaken the family” and “silence the church.”
“And sure enough, that’s what the Obama administration is doing,” he said. “He’s weakening the family and he’s trying to marginalize the church by attacking religious liberty.”
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
At this week’s “Future Conference” at Jim Garlow’s church in San Diego, the Family Research Council’s Kenyn Cureton hosted a session on how to set up church “cultural impact teams” aimed at getting churches involved in political battles. But Cureton reminded his audience that as much as they get involved in politics, fights over issues like reproductive rights and LGBT equality are ultimately “a spiritual battle” against Satan, and their adversaries are not “the people who are pushing these ungodly agendas” but the “malevolent master” who controls them:
The battle is a spiritual battle and it’s won or lost on our knees, folks, I’m telling you. When you think about what we’re up against, I mean, who’s behind it? The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood, right? Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion? Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.
So, always remember that those people who are pushing these ungodly agendas, they’re not the real enemy. We need to have compassion on them and love them and try to win them to Jesus and bring them to the foot of the cross so they can be set free by the grace of God, amen, because they are simply pawns in the hand of a malevolent master, they’re caught in the snare of Satan and they need to be set free, right? So we need to be on our knees about this thing, because if we just fight this in the flesh, we ain’t gonna win.
This, he said, means that in addition to working to change public policy, churches should maintain teams of “intercessors” to pray for God’s involvement in their political battles.
Janet Mefferd warns that anti-gay Christians should not be having dialogues with pro-gay Christians: "We are to have no fellowship with darkness. We can’t 'dialogue' with any professing Christian who’s in open rebellion against the Word of God. We can’t 'dialogue' with anybody who is deceiving and misleading the Body of Christ on any sin while claiming to be a Christian!"
Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty says there is "an almost cult-like determination to advance the hyper-homosexualization of the military."
And FRC's Travis Weber agrees, declaring that the government is "requiring certain beliefs about homosexuality," which is a violation of Constitution's prohibition on religious tests for holding public office.
On the Friday edition of “Washington Watch,” Craig James of the Family Research Council discussed a case in New Jersey where an ex-gay therapy organization has been charged with consumer fraud. One caller told James that “the whole homosexual movement is really like a religion and the religion is sex and they worship their own genitals,” which he said is “something that needs to be pointed out in lawsuits by Republicans and anybody in office.”
James added that “there is an agenda” and “the agenda is to shut down” anyone who opposes homosexuality.
“They’re trying to shut down my Christian beliefs,” James said. “That’s the agenda. The proof is in the pudding in the way it’s moving right now.”
Dan Forest, the Republican lieutenant governor of North Carolina, joined Craig James on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday to discuss a new law in his state that allows public officials to temporarily stop performing marriages if they want to avoid marrying a same-sex or even an interracial couple. Forest supported the bill, which the legislature passed over the veto of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
Forest told James that the federal court that had struck down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage had overstepped its role because not only did it say the marriage ban was unconstitutional, it said that officials in the state “have to perform those marriages” and “went so far as to making sure that law was going to be enforced in North Carolina.”
Forest said that far from being unconstitutional, the new law is actually “upholding the Constitution” because the legislature is the one that assigns duties to magistrates. He added that the law “doesn’t discriminate against anybody, instead it does just the opposite” by supposedly protecting the religious freedom of state magistrates.
“Help me out here, because I’m just somewhat of a country boy,” James added sarcastically. “Go find someone else who will perform your ceremony! What’s wrong with that concept?”
The two then predictably declared that opposition to the new law is just anti-Christian persecution.
“You’re not telling them they can’t have a ceremony,” Forest said, “it’s just protecting the religious beliefs of those who don’t want to do it.”
“So, really what this is from the other side, from the left, this is saying that ‘we are not tolerant of you, we’re not tolerant of your beliefs, you do not fit into our great diverse rainbow of diversity here. We will accept everybody but Christians.’” Forest added. “And so that’s really what’s going on here, is it’s very focused on Christians only and so that’s why we’re seeing these issues.”
Linda Harvey wants it made clear that "Bruce Jenner is still a guy, and God is not mocked."
Glenn Beck falsely declares that "you have people now who are being put in jail because they were a baker who wouldn’t make [for a gay couple's wedding] — in jail! Not a fine. Jail."
Finally, FRC prays for this nation because "our leaders are intentionally depleting American military power, converting an institution intended to defend our nation by fighting and winning wars into a massive social experiment. Prompted by the Obama Administration, they are mainstreaming LGBT behavior and thus subjecting our young warriors to an epidemic of homosexual assault – all for the sake of an immoral and blind ideology."
During his remarks at the Pentagon’s celebration of LGBT Pride Month on Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Randy S. Taylor, who has served in the Army for 27 years, introduced his husband to attendees. Predictably, Taylor’s remarks and other speeches by LGBT service members did not go over well with the far-right, including talk show host Michael Savage, who on Tuesday blasted the Pride event and even managed to draw a connection to ISIS.
“So this is the world we’re living in,” Savage sighed. “This is what Obama has done to America, this is what he has done to the military. A man, a general now, introduces his husband at an event like this. Do you have any idea why ISIS is insane as they are? Do you have any idea that you are looking at two sides of a coin here? You see a ninth-century view of the world from a point of view of ISIS, and you see a view of the world that is so warped and so accepted in America as the norm, that most people’s heads are spinning around the world not understanding how a super power became a ‘stupid power’ in one generation.”
Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media was similarly enraged, taking to BarbWire to castigate “Obama’s Orwellian Armed Forces”:
Indeed, the “wife” or “husband” of a top U.S. general was on display during the Pentagon gay pride ceremony on Tuesday, as reported by Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times. He noted that Brigadier General Randy S. Taylor introduced his husband, Lucas, at a Pentagon event on Tuesday. Another top Pentagon official, Air Force General Counsel Gordon O. Tanner, also has a husband.
In Obama’s Orwellian Armed Forces, two men make a marriage, even if one takes the title of “wife” and the other “husband.” Or, perhaps, both are husbands. Who knows? I may have to consult the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association for the latest instructions on the correct terminology.
It appears that over the past several years, Obama has been acting as a seamstress, weaving things into the fabric of America that didn’t exist until he took office.
Left behind in the wake of this exercise in building a new nation are the remnants of the old America—traditional values, a strong military, and a constitutional system based on free enterprise and limited government.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacted to the event by asking members of his group to pray for the “good soldiers” who, he says, are facing discrimination because the Obama administration is “catering to” gay service members:
Back during the congressional debate over DADT, the military's service chiefs were promised that the Equal Opportunity guidelines would not change -- which, like many other assurances, has turned out to be a bold-faced lie that greased the wheels of repeal. As we've witnessed in the four years since, once the camel's nose was under the tent, the dominos started to fall. Under an affirmative action-type system, what troops do in the bedroom will transcend what they do in battle when it comes to key personnel decisions. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that the military will start catering to gays, lesbians, and transgenders at the expense of good soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. As they have with every incremental change, activists will leverage this new standing as a way to demand access and force affirmation.
Faith and military service have been an inseparable piece of the American fabric for centuries. And to watch that fabric unravel at the hands of a radical few is painful -- but not irreparable. Courage, the same kind that led the great men and women of this country to put on their uniform, is needed more now than ever. Pray for our troops -- not only that they would have the fortitude to fight the enemies abroad, but the agenda within. (emphasis added)
WorldNetDaily, a far-right outlet, spoke about the event with conservative writer Paul Kengor, who said that it denigrated religion and lamented that same-sex relationships are no longer subject to discrimination in the military:
He told WND: “What you’re seeing here is the Left’s and Obama’s fundamental transformation of the military. This is the cultural revolution and long march through America’s most cherished institutions that the radical left, particularly the cultural Marxists, have long sought. This is a takedown.
“They were very shrewd. They understood that once you captured culture via education, media, and Hollywood, the rest would fall in due course. And as Americans become increasingly secular and individualistic and relativistic, they’ve been fairly easy prey. The left took the public schools, the universities, media and social media, Hollywood, and now the Boy Scouts and even the military.”
As evidence of this deliberate campaign, Kengor cited the media’s celebration of Bruce Jenner’s transformation to “Caitlyn” and the recent spate of television shows targeted at children and young people celebrating transgenders.
Kengor observes: “I must say that I’m tempted to congratulate them. They’ve worked long and hard and patiently at this. Unfortunately, it’s just such a shame because they’re ruining what was once a great country. The left laughed at Ronald Reagan’s description of America as a Shining City Upon a Hill. Well, they can take comfort in the fact that it ain’t no Shining City no more.”
Kengor believes military culture is simply following the same cultural trends as the rest of society. He notes homosexuality and other sexually deviant behavior was once seen as a reason to deny a security clearance. However, as public morality has shifted, Kengor argues it is impossible to expect the military to remain permanently aloof from society.
“As for military men openly acknowledging gay ‘husbands’ – hey, why not? Once upon a time in America, such a spousal arrangement would have been a huge security risk inviting instant possibility of blackmail,” he said.
“But that’s no longer the case in a culture and country where behavior like this is celebrated as a joyous expression of liberation and self-expression. In the new fundamentally transformed America, these two soldiers are no longer security risks; they’re cultural icons. They’re the new heroes. They are the new G.I. Joes.”
Kengor warns Americans the new sexually progressive military is unlikely to produce the kinds of legendary military heroes prior generations of Americans once idolized. Indeed, Kengor says many heroic Americans would find no place in the armed services of today.
“I guess I’ll be the one to ask the politically incorrect but obvious question: What would George Patton think of this? Of course, we all know that he was a mere hate-filled homophobe whose abiding anti-marriage-equality bigotry should have forever disqualified him from disserving our military.”
More importantly, said Kengor, the transformation of the military into a pro-homosexual and pro-transgender force is only a step toward what he sees as the left’s final goal of driving religion entirely out of public life.
“Marriage is within their grasp. What’s next? The greatest foe of all: God and religion. A victory there would be the secular left’s ideological apotheosis.” (emphasis added)
Blackwell said that how Americans respond to “a wrong decision in this marriage case” will be just as important as the nation’s response to the Civil War, World War II and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Such a ruling would be “another one of those challenging moments, defining moments as to attest of how we response as a nation, but how we also respond as believers, as Christians,” he said.
Blackwell similarly told Tony Perkins, the head of the FRC, on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch” that gay marriage would be a historic wrong, saying that the public must “take a stand” against its legalization “because it is just as pivotal as the Civil War, World War II and our response to 9/11 as a human community.”
“It’s impossible to marry two men to each other or two women, it’s just not possible,” King said. “The two cannot become one. It is biologically impossible, scientifically impossible, emotionally impossible, definitely spiritually impossible. You can actually hold a gun, Heaven forbid, and say, ‘do this marriage,’ now he or she may say, ‘okay,’ or they may say, ‘I won’t,’ but even if they speak the words, it is not possible, it is impossible. We have to be able to articulate that on all the levels we just said: spiritual, physical, science.”
King also gave advice on what to say to gay family members, whom she said are experiencing great “confusion.”
King said that she told her children’s godfather, who is gay – a role she gave him before she “understood the Bible,” she said – that his “lifestyle is not going to work for you in eternity” and that he should remain celibate.
She also explained to a “lesbian who is living openly with a lady” that she only “thinks” she is married since she “really can’t be married.”
After Fournier warned that gay marriage is ushering in anti-Christian discrimination and countless harms to society, Penny Starr of CNS News, a right-wing outlet, asked the panelists how people should speak to their children about seeing gay couples holding hands “out in the public.”
King responded that “little children are often confused” because they know in their hearts that homosexuality isn’t right, but schools are pushing LGBT-inclusive curricula in schools: “It is not healthy and there are many studies, there are probably more studies saying that prove that it is not healthy for the children than there are that say it is okay, but the media will promote the ones that say it is okay but won’t let you see the ones that tell the truth. I personally could really testify about children being harmed and very confused.”
“You can say it until you are blue in the face that this is all going to be great, we’re all going to be free and liberated,” Fournier insisted. “We’re not. It’s going to lead to disaster, ultimately.”
Fournier also predicted that Christians in America will soon, just like the early Christians who lived during the Roman Empire, face persecution and be treated as “enemies of the state.”
Ken Blackwell, an FRC official who previously served as the secretary of state of Ohio, where he notoriously curbed voting access in the 2004 presidential election, said that anti-LGBT activists should take lessons in “direct action of resistance” from “the great Civil Rights Movement” and opponents of abortion rights.
He suggested that LGBT rights victories must be resisted since they are paving the way for a totalitarian form of government: “We are now at one of those pivotal moments in our nation’s history because any survey of human history will let you know that every totalitarian regime throughout human history, every authoritarian regime, every big welfare state regime, from the Bolsheviks to the Chinese to an administration that is growing the state right here in America, there are two things that they do. They destroy or weaken the family because the family, within our experience, is the incubator of liberty. Two, they silence the church and those in the pews of the church.”
The Family Research Council’s Craig James, a former professional football player and sports broadcaster, has a new strategy to win the Black Church to the Republican Party: recruit LeBron James to be a Religious Right spokesman.
James spoke last week with conservative Virginia activist E.W. Jackson on the FRC’s “Washington Watch” program last week, where the two called on Black Church leaders to oppose Democratic candidates and instead back Republican politicians. James hailed Jackson, the 2013 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, who lost by over 10 points, as a “phenomenal candidate” (he wasn’t), and wondered how black pastors can start building relationships with the GOP.
One way black voters will realize that Republicans will help them, James said, is if “role models coming from the sports community” tout their conservative effort: “There’s so much focus on these superstars within our communities and a guy like LeBron James. I like the NBA, I’m a huge fan of LeBron’s, I don’t know him personally, I would be highly disappointed if I’m wrong in the image that he portrays, but someone like LeBron James at some point has to step up in a political manner and say what you’re saying, stand toe-to-toe with you, Bishop E.W. Jackson, in these communities to get the attention and the trust of the folks for the vote.”
Upset that Wells Fargo is running an ad which includes the story of a lesbian couple learning sign language before adopting a child who is deaf, Franklin Graham announced last week that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will no longer do business with the bank.
A bank spokesman said the company hopes to “support the individuals and organizations that broaden our perspectives and strengthen the diverse fabric of our communities. That’s why BB&T is proud to be a part of this day of pride and celebration of the 2015 Legacy Couples.”
Perkins accomplished this sleight of hand once again in an email to FRC members today urging them to donate to the group in exchange for a “Nasrani” pin expressing solidarity with Iraqi and Syrian Christians who are being persecuted by ISIS. But Perkins doesn’t just ask for members to support their fellow Christians in the Middle East who are facing actual, violent persecution — he compares the persecution of Christians at the hands of ISIS to the supposed persecution of Christians in America.
“Please take a stand for persecuted Christians in America….and everywhere!” the email reads.
In an Iranian prison, a man is praying . . . for Christians in America.
In a hidden location in North Korea, a kneeling circle of believers cry out to God . . . for Christians in America.
I know of no stronger evidence of the connection between the persecuted church overseas and the persecuted church in America than this: they are praying for us!
That's why I urge you to allow me to send you a Nasrani Pin as my thank you for your gift to help FRC stand for religious freedom in America as Christian faith comes under growing attack -- and also speak out for the persecuted Christians overseas.
The man in an Iranian prison who Perkins refers to is Saeed Abedini, an American pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. Abedini did indeed send an open letter to Christians in America on the National Day of Prayer saying that he would be praying for America on that day. But he also mentioned several times the “freedom” enjoyed by American Christians to practice their religion. In a letter to President Obama, which the president read during his own National Day of Prayer remarks, Abedini similarly said that he was “proud to be part of this great nation of the United States of America that cares for religious freedom around the world.”
Perkins and FRC should be commended for any work they are doing to free prisoners like Abedini. But using the plight of Abedini and those like him to stoke fear that liberal social policies will lead to the persecution of Christians in America is another thing entirely.
In fact, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Religious Right group that is leading the fight among American evangelicals for Abedini’s release, criticized Perkins in a congressional hearing earlier this year for his over-the-top talking points linking policies he doesn’t like to the real suffering of Christians at the hands of groups like ISIS:
Conservative religious leaders have been delighted to work with parts of corporate America – most notably the Koch brothers’ political networks – to elect candidates who back right-wing social and economic policies. Religious conservatives have championed Citizens United and the demolition of regulations on campaign cash. The Kochs even promote Religious Right leaders who tell their followers that the Bible opposes minimum wage laws, unions, and progressive taxes. But many of America’s biggest companies have also become supporters of equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and that’s making religious conservatives angry.
When a number of major corporations pushed back hard against an anti-gay “religious freedom” law in Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence asked the legislature to amend the law to state that it would not allow businesses to discriminate. And that made the Religious Right furious. Reliably pro-business Republican presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal have been attacking big business support for gay rights in a sometimes awkward attempt at right-wing populist rhetoric.
Today’s mail brought a direct mail letter from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins complaining, “Big Business has joined the anti-Christian bullies!” Perkins warns that “the seduction of Big Business by the homosexual rights movement is the main reason that movement has gained such momentum over our freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs.” Perkins asks for donations to “Stop Big Business’s Assault on Religious Freedom” and to support an FRC initiative to talk to business leaders and bring them around.
Another direct mail piece from Perkins, this time for FRC’s political arm, FRC Action, arrived the same day, in an envelope emblazoned with, “When you can’t make a living because you’re a Christian…THAT’S NOT FREEDOM.” The letter complains that “big corporations are foolishly aligning with the Left’s social agenda” and pledges that FRC Action will help states “create and pass a protective wall of religious freedom laws.” Perkins gripes about business opposition to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
The media published incredible false claims about what the law said and what the law would do. Hollywood celebrities, giant corporations, sports leagues, and even other states became a national lynch mob. They threatened and enacted boycotts of the state.
Tragically the governor ultimately caved in to these pressures. With the corporate community threatening boycotts and economic loss to the state, it appears that many political leaders in the state were more concerned about economic issues than moral truth, religious freedom, and the well-being of the family.
Had the only appreciable opposition to RFRA come from gay rights activists, RFRA would have been a smashing political success for Republicans. It would have made the right enemies while generating gratitude and energy in the base. They did not expect their usual friends in corporate America to join the opposition, which was an idiotic miscalculation given the fact that establishment outrage scuttled the Arizona RFRA last year.
Deneen wrote last year that “The modern corporation and modern marriage are born of the same philosophical roots: rootless individuals seeking self-gratification in whatever way they see fit, short of ‘harming’ another.” In his First Things article, he portrays corporations standing with LGBT groups as a smart business decision given pro-gay shifts in public attitudes. But he calls the gay-rights collaboration between cultural and economic “elites” a dangerous alignment that is “ready to steamroll anyone in their way.” After Indiana, he says, “religiously based opposition to gay marriage is now more likely than ever to be treated by our society as tantamount to a hate crime,” and warns that the “elite-sanctioned attack on ‘bigotry’” will “reach inevitably into the sanctuaries of the churches themselves.”
Several years ago, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins strongly defended a Uganda bill, which at the time included a measure making homosexuality in some cases a capital offense. While the provision was dropped, the Ugandan government still increased the draconian penalties punishing people for being.
So it came as no surprise that on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg — who once called for the U.S. to “ export homosexuals” — criticized Randy Berry, the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, for reportedly traveling to travel to Uganda and Jamaica, where homosexuality is also criminalized.
Sprigg said that Berry and the Obama administration are trying to “force this American-style homosexual agenda down the throats of other countries” such as Uganda, “which is one of the countries which has been most bitterly attacked by homosexual activists around the world.”