Following the meeting that Donald Trump held with hundreds of Religious Right activists yesterday, a handful of leaders sat down for a press conference where they took questions from reporters. At this press conference, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and the Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser perfectly displayed just how flimsy their supposed standards are when it comes to backing political candidates.
When it comes to Trump, whose history of unapologetic narcissism, pathological dishonesty and willingness to say whatever benefits him at the moment are undeniable, both Perkins and Dannenfelser made it clear that they simply do not care about any of those things because, right now, Trump is willing to tell them what they want to hear.
Admitting that Trump has a long history of doing things, saying things and taking positions that are in direct contradiction to the supposed values of the Religious Right, Perkins rationalized backing Trump by declaring that forgiveness is the core of the Christian faith.
"One of the things about the evangelical community that people have a hard time understanding," Perkins said, 'is we forgive. We're all sinners, we all have messed up ... When we ask people to say, 'I was wrong, forgive me, I want to do the right thing today going forward,' more than anybody else evangelicals in this country can accept that."
When a reporter pointed out that Trump does not ever actually asks for forgiveness — in fact, Trump once infamously said that he has never asked God for forgiveness — Perkins responded by declaring that "when you look at the leaders that were used throughout scripture in the Bible, almost to a 'T' each and every one of them were flawed in some form or fashion and made bad choices at some point in their life. That's the good thing about the Christian faith is it's going forward, it's not looking back."
Dannenfelser, who earlier this year signed on to a letter urging voters in Iowa "to support anyone but Donald Trump" because "Mr. Trump cannot be trusted" on the issue of abortion, also came to Trump's defense, declaring that the presumptive GOP nominee is working hard "to become the person that he says that he is."
Brushing aside the debacle a few months back when Trump said that if abortion is outlawed, women who receive them should face some sort of punishment, only to then repeatedly flip-flop on the issue, even claiming at one point that he wanted to leave abortion laws the way they are, as he scrambled to do damage control, Dannenfelser spun the episode as something for which Trump deserves a lot of credit.
"To give him a lot of credit, only a person with some humility, which he doesn't get credit for, would go back and correct his comments, which he did," Dannenfelser said. "I've actually found on the abortion issue that he's done that more on that particular issue than almost any other, a willingness to correct himself and move ahead. And I think that shows an ability to become the person that he says that he is."
In the wake of the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made the absurdclaim that he was a better ally of the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton. And nothing better demonstrates just how absurd this claim is than the fact that Tony Perkins, head of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council, completely agrees with Trump on this point.
Speaking with reporters following a meeting between Trump and hundreds of Religious Right activists yesterday, Perkins was asked about Trump's comments and declared that he agreed "100 percent."
"What he was saying is no American, regardless of your political ideology or your life choices, should be living under the threat of a terrorist attack on the streets of the United States of America," Perkins said. "I agree 100 percent with that. No American, no American, which they are under Barack Obama, living in fear because of Islamic terrorists coming to this country; so yes, LGBT, Catholic, Protestant atheist — as one who wore the uniform as a United States Marine and was a police officer, no American, no American should live in fear and that is exactly what Donald Trump was saying and evangelicals believe the same thing."
"That's why our military is filled with evangelicals who are willing to lay down their lives for the rights of people to live in ways they might not agree with, but not to live in fear," he continued. "So, yes, I agree with what Donald Trump said and I think most evangelicals would as well."
The Family Research Council, whichroutinelymalignsgaymilitaryservicemembers, is now attacking a bill that would make it easier for veterans to access fertility services if they have been wounded in combat, claiming that it undermines “pro-life” principles.
The Military Times reports that the group believes the bill may open the door to “human cloning” and “3-parent embryos” and may aid treatments that lead to the destruction of embryos:
A prominent conservative group hopes to derail a congressional effort to give wounded veterans access to fertility services through the VA, saying it could lead to human cloning and three-parent embryos.
The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council sent an email last week to congressional staff working on the final Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, voicing opposition to a provision that would require the Veterans Affairs Department to cover fertility services for former troops with injuries that cause infertility.
In the email, an FRC representative called the language in the Senate bill, penned by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “terrible,” adding that it was "broad enough to cover reproductive technologies from IVF to human cloning to 3-parent embryos.”
“It does not have any restrictions on whether treatment would include the creation of human embryos, the storage of or freezing of human embryos or whether and how embryos that are left over would be destroyed,” according to the correspondence.
Roughly 1,800 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans received injuries to their groins, genitalia or spinal cords that make it difficult to have children without medical assistance, and while the Defense Department provides some advanced fertility treatments to these service members while they are on active duty, the VA is barred by law from doing so.
Since 2012, Murray has pressed her fellow lawmakers to cover fertility services for these veterans, most recently in a rider to the fiscal 2017 VA funding bill.
In the email, the FRC said the Murray provision “violates principles … which pro-lifers have fought to maintain for years.”
On his radio show Monday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that President Obama “fostered this environment” in which terrorist attacks like the recent mass shooting in Orlando can occur by “promoting Islam” and marking Ramadan.
Perkins criticized Obama’s reaction to acts of terrorism in the U.S., saying he “immediately goes to this call for gun control and it’s like he — I don’t know if he’s oblivious to it or he thinks everybody else is and that we won’t remember that he’s the one that celebrated Ramadan in the White House, been promoting Islam on his world apology tour for America, and so on and so forth. I mean, it’s hacking Christianity while promoting the Islamic faith. I mean, where does it stop?”
Perkins claimed Obama has been “promoting” Islam throughout his eight years in office. He said Islam is “more than a religion. It’s an ideology, it’s a political ideology. It’s a military ideology that — look what it’s done. It’s left people dead on our streets and the president needs to be called out for it. The president has fostered this environment.”
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, responded on his radio program Tuesday to the terrorist attack at a gay club in Orlando, blaming President Obama for a “willful” effort to undermine American security.
Perkins repeated the right-wing attack on Obama for not saying the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” claiming that the administration sees Christians, Republicans and veterans as just as much of a threat as radical Islamists, a reference to a phony right-wing scandal involving a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report. “Notice how this administration … when you talk about extremism, they put members of the Republican Party in that category,” he said, “They would label Christians — and have — as extremists. They would [label] returning veterans from combat as those that need to be monitored.”
He said that he hoped that Americans “are waking up that this is a deadly game of political correctness.”
“The thing about this,” he continued, “the president has been promoting both of these groups, the Islamic communities that have given rise to these individuals and the gay community. I would think those in the gay community would be demanding that this president cease his political correctness and protect all Americans, every American … I don’t care their ideology, I don’t care their life choices, they deserve to be protected from terrorists in this country.”
“And the president has failed, the president has failed America, he’s failed to keep our country safe,” he said. “And I think it’s willful by the failed policies that he’s continued to pursue that will not call the threat what it is.”
In her opening remarks, Black acknowledged that she saw the panel as an extension of her efforts to “go after” Planned Parenthood that began even before the Center for Medical Progress released its videos that claimed, falsely, that the women’s health organization illegally profits from the small amount of fetal tissue it donates to medical research. In fact, she said, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion is evidence enough that “we must expose them.”
“Even before last summer’s videos were exposing Planned Parenthood and their role in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts,” she said, “their own annual report told us in black and white why we must expose them and go after what they stood for: They’re the largest abortion provider in this nation. They perform more than 320,000 abortions annually while they receive over $500 million of taxpayer dollars to perform these abortions.” (This last figure is incorrect: Planned Parenthood is barred by federal law from using taxpayer funding on abortions except in very limited cases.)
Black recalled how the very first law she introduced in Congress was a 2011 measure to cut funding from Planned Parenthood in a short-term spending bill but that her project met with “tepid” reception on Capitol Hill until David Daleiden’s videos provided an “opportunity” to further that goal.
Earlier this year, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have cut all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, which Black said means “if we had a willing partner in the White House, this is possible, so we cannot give up.”
She said that the select panel was designed as an alternative to this legislation: “We wanted to focus, since this didn’t become law, on the first steps that we can take to hold the abortion industry accountable that don’t require the signature of a president. And that was the genesis, really, of the [committee.]”
Remarkably, after explicitly saying that the panel grew out of her years-long fight against Planned Parenthood, Black said that the panel is not actually meant to target Planned Parenthood.
“They’ve called us a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, though Planned Parenthood is never named anywhere in the resolution that authorizes the panel’s formation and was not called to testify at either one of our two public hearings that we have head to this point,” she said.
Later in the speech, when asked by an audience member what medical providers can do to help prevent abortion, Black responded that doctors should “help to educate young women with prevention first, using healthy practices to prevent pregnancies before they’re ready for that family” — which is, incidentally, the exact kind of medical care that much of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding goes toward.
Last week, the Family Research Council's Jerry Boykin was disinvited from a prayer breakfast that was to be held at Fort Riley in Kansas, following a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation highlighting his long history of extremism and bigotry.
As usual, Boykin has been playing the victim and took his latest tale of persecution to Glenn Beck's radio program this morning, where he insisted that not only were his First Amendment rights violated by revoking his speaking invitation, but so were the First Amendment rights of those who wanted to hear him speak at the prayer breakfast.
Seemingly unaware that the First Amendment does not guarantee that people can say anything they want without ever facing consequences, nor mean than Christians are entitled to hear their preferred speaker address any event they attend, Boykin predictably blamed the whole thing on President Obama.
"They're robbing the soldiers at Fort Riley of their First Amendment rights," he stated. "They're robbing these soldiers of their First Amendment rights and this is the condition of Obama's military. This is what you should expect. This is what your sons and daughters are living with every day in a military that is now suppressing their First Amendment rights."
"It's part of the environment that Obama has created here in America," Boykin continued. "[When] my talk gets canceled there, what you've done is you've robbed all of those people who wanted to come to that prayer breakfast and hear what I had to say, you robbed them of their First Amendment rights and this is what we're seeing all over our military today and it's a result of the environment that Obama has created."
Boykin declared that the decision to remove him from this prayer breakfast because of a complaint from the MRFF raises the question of "how do you destroy ISIS when you can't stand up to something like this?"
We do have a few quibbles about Perkins’ response, in addition to its Trumpian and not-very-original headline, “People For the UnAmerican Way.”
Perkins says we are wrong to describe FRC as “anti-gay,” explaining, “What we are is a Christian organization that refuses to accept as moral any behavior God declares is immoral and damaging to individuals and society.” Now some might take Perkins’ declaration that gay people are per se immoral and dangerous, like FRC’s support for laws that punish homosexuality with prison terms, to be at least a little bit anti-gay.
Perkins does call us “anti-Christian,” without offering any evidence. It's rather ironic that FRC would label us "anti-Christian" for daring to highlight the bigotry of individual conservative Christian activists and Religious Right organizations, but insist that they are not in any way "anti-gay" even though they openly advocate for discrimination against an entire class of people based solely on their sexual orientation.
It’s good to remember that when Religious Right leaders use the word “Christian,” what they usually mean is “Christians who share my right-wing political beliefs.” Perkins should be careful throwing around the term anti-Christian. After all, he doesn’t believe that gay-affirming Christians deserve legal protection because their views are not sufficiently orthodox.
On the question of religious liberty: We support it. We encourage progressive people of faith to make their voices heard in the public arena so that Perkins and FRC and their allies cannot credibly claim — though they try — to speak for all Christians or people of faith. As FRC’s own actions make abundantly clear, the First Amendment protects their right to preach, publish, broadcast, and advocate for their beliefs about the immorality of homosexuality. We support the Family Research Council’s right to celebrate, as it recently did, the launch of an international “pro-family” group that includes some of the world’s most religiously repressive regimes. And we support Perkins' right to define and defend religious liberty in very selective ways.
But here’s where we differ. We don’t think that supporting religious freedom is the same thing as allowing individuals or corporations to use religious beliefs as a blanket justification for ignoring laws that promote the common good or taking actions that restrict the rights of other people. Religious liberty is a cherished constitutional principle; so is equality under the law.
Oddly, the last paragraph of Perkins’ response to our report is devoted to quoting research that going to church is good for a person’s health, as if our report had somehow suggested that people should not be part of a religious community. As part of his litany, Perkins suggested that being a churchgoer “is one of the greatest ways to treat the modern culture’s disease — of incivility, hostility and general pessimism.” Perkins and his group don’t exactly provide a lot of support for that theory. In fact, incivility, hostility and general pessimism are a pretty good description of the rhetoric FRC uses about LGBT people and their other perceived enemies in fundraisingmail, model sermons and public pronouncements.
In the first few months of this year, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures, many of them promoted under the banner of protecting religious liberty. A new report by People For the American Way Foundation, “Who is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?,” explains that “it takes a right-wing village to turn a cherished American principle into a destructive culture-war weapon.”
The report makes clear that the wave of anti-equality legislation promoted in the name of religious liberty is not an outgrowth of local conflicts but the latest step in a long-term campaign by national Religious Right legal and political groups to resist legal equality for LGBT people. As Americans have come to know and embrace their LGBT family members and friends, harsh anti-gay rhetoric has become less effective, says the report, leading social conservatives to try to reclaim the moral and political high ground by reframing debates over marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections as questions of religious liberty.
On the latest episode of "Truths That Transform" from D. James Kennedy Ministries, the organization's president, Frank Wright, sat down with the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins to discuss "how secularist groups have worked to strip any mention of God and Christianity from the public square," which Perkins complained was resulting in Christians being forced into "spiritual ghettos."
"We are not disqualified from engaging in the public square simple because we're Christian," Perkins said. "And that's where we're at today, where people want us to check our Christian faith at the door of even public service; not just holding public office, but if you're a fireman, a policeman, a teacher, a football coach, you're supposed to leave your faith at home or within the confines of the church. [That is] totally contrary to what the founders envisioned and, I would argue, Frank, totally contrary to what God has called us to do."
When Wright wondered how long it will be before even the private practice of faith is not tolerated by the government, Perkins declared that "we see this administration, we see the left creating these spiritual ghettos where we are forced into, confined to these areas, trying to quarantine faith so it's more easily controllable."
At least week's Watchmen on the Wall conference, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins presented Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant with the first ever "Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award" for having signed a radical anti-LGBT bill into law earlier this year that will allow businesses to deny service to gay people.
While introducing the governor, Perkins said that America’s elected leaders should be "ministers of God," while Bryant praised the hate group leader as something of a modern-day David.
"I remember in Sunday school, reading one of my favorite stories," Bryant said."It was about a giant, a bad giant, who came into a valley one day and he called to the Israelites, 'Send down your champion and let me vanquish him.' We were in that valley, but Tony Perkins was there with us. He was there as surely as Our Lord and Savior, as surely as the God of all gods stood there with us. And I can tell you how fortunate we are in this nation and in this organization to have a man of faith and leadership in Tony. God bless you for what you do."
Later, Bryant recalled how "all of the secular progressive world had decided that they were going to pour their anger" out on him for pledging to sign the legislation, wrongly thinking that he could be pressured into backing down because they were unaware that Christians like him would line up to be crucified before turning their backs on Jesus.
"They don't know us very well, do they?" he asked. "They don't know that Christians have been persecuted throughout the ages. They don't know that if it takes crucifixion, we will stand in line before abandoning our faith and our belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So if we are going to stand, now is the time and this is the place."
Earlier today, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios broadcast her daily radio show live from the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall Summit, where she chatted with FRC president Tony Perkins about the defeat oftheirpreferredpresidentialcandidate, Ted Cruz.
However, “knowing what the alternative and having experienced almost eight years now of Barack Obama’s radical policies, that has truly fundamentally changed America,” Perkins said, “I want to be able to be supportive of Donald Trump.”
“I want to move him to the point where he is acceptable and he’ll make certain commitments,” he added.
Rios said that a Hillary Clinton presidency is far scarier prospect than a White House controlled by Trump, warning that Clinton would undermine the Second Amendment and religious freedom.
“Look at the court,” Perkins interjected. “It starts with the court.”
The two urged conservative Christians to stay involved in the political process, with Rios warning that one day it “will be so bad we’ll be running for the hills.”
“Well, scripture says that’ll be happening in the End Times,” Perkins said. “I think we’ve got to make the best of a bad situation. This is a reflection, I believe, of where I believe our nation has sunk and, in a large part, it’s because the church has taken its hands off, its removed itself from the culture. So we can’t wring our hands and say we’re walking away when in part we’re responsible for the mess.”
In an interview yesterday on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” radio program, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to explained why he is urging public schools in his state to defy the Obama administration’s guidance on the rights of transgender students.
Landry, a former GOP member of Congress, said that his office would intervene to help any school that tries to defy guidelines from the Departments of Education and Justice letter on how Title IX protects transgender students. He repeatedly twisted the facts on issues related to transgender rights, citing a fringe medical group and claiming that LGBT nondiscrimination policies have empowered child predators, to support his decision.
“Look, the American Pediatrics put out a statement that basically says that transgender identity is a mental illness,” he said. “You cannot change biology, you cannot say you were a female and now we’re going to make you a male simply by some sort of operation. It doesn’t work that way. The good Lord doesn’t build us in that particular way. They’re trying to change our sex, who we are, and basically claiming that gender identity can be biological as well as psychological. And if you look at study after study from some of the leading psychologists, Johns Hopkins University put out one, American Pediatrics, all of them said that this is a mental state, you cannot change a person’s biological identity.”
The group that Landry referred to as “American Pediatrics” and whose opinion he cited is a small fringe group called the American College of Pediatricians, not the leading pediatrics group, the American Association of Pediatricians.
As Zack Ford of Think Progress noted, “The 36,000-member American Psychiatric Association, which defines mental illnesses through its Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), says the exact opposite, explaining, 'It is important to note that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder.' It is only distress associated with such an identity that should be treated — and treated with affirmation.’”
Meanwhile, the AAP — the leading pediatric group — called for the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT facilities law, HB2, and said in 2013: “For transgender youth, pediatricians should provide the opportunity to acknowledge and affirm their feelings of gender dysphoria and desires to transition to the opposite gender. Referral of transgender youth to a qualified mental health professional is critical to assist with the dysphoria, to educate them, and to assess their readiness for transition. With appropriate assistance and care, sexual minority youth should live healthy, productive lives while transitioning through adolescence and young adulthood.”
After citing the fringe ACP while passing it off as a legitimate group, Landry told Perkins, a vocal anti-LGBT activist, that nondiscrimination policies have a “tendency” to “create safe harbors for people who want to prey on children.”
“What happens is it supports their criminal behavior, it makes it difficult for people like me and law enforcement agencies out there to take people who prey on children off of the street,” he said.
Next month, Donald Trump will host a meeting with some of the country’s most radical anti-LGBT and anti-choice leaders in New York City.
Trump, who has already recruited a variety of far-right activists and conspiracy theorists to his campaign, is set to take part in a convening organized by Ben Carson, a former rival turned campaign surrogate, aimed at bringing reluctant Religious Right leaders to his side.
According to a copy of the invitation to the event obtained by the National Review, Trump will be joined by Religious Right activists including Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Penny Nance, Jim Garlow, Rick Scarborough, Phil Burress, Ken Cuccinelli, Lila Rose, E.W Jackson, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Cindy Jacobs.
The meeting will be cohosted by the Family Research Council, Vision America and AFA Action, the political arm of the American Family Association, three of the most vicious anti-LGBT hate groups in the country.
Trump has already pledged to use nominees to the Supreme Court to pave the way for the reversal of the landmark rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality and has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, key priorities of right-wing activists.
Here is a brief introduction to some of the far-right extremists Trump will be meeting with next month.
Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton spoke at the Family Research Council Monday on “The Scientific Objectivity and Universality of Gender Difference.” The context, explained in FRC’s promotion for the talk, was the Obama administration’s directive on transgender students’ access to facilities that match their gender identity — or, in FRC’s words, the administration’s “working to elevate the cause of these individuals who believe their observable, biological sex does not match their gender identity.”
Stanton, whose education is in philosophy and religion, spent the better part of an hour making his case, drawing on a New Yorker cartoon as well as a series of books and scientific studies by socio-biologists, evolutionary psychologists, and “secular anthropologists” to argue that there is “a universal male and female nature.”
Stanton discussed books on differences between male and female brains, suggesting that the gender divide in Silicon Valley does not reflect sexism but the fact that the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, while the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. Among other differences he said hold true across cultures: women smile more; women see danger where men see challenges; men are more interested in the world outside their village; women attempt suicide more often but men do so more violently and successfully.
But Stanton utterly failed to link all this to the conclusion that he and FRC are drawing about gender identity and public policy. In fact, the whole exercise left me thinking: So what? How would the existence of some predominant traits in men and women deny the reality of those whose sexual orientation or gender identity falls outside the norm? And how would it justify denial of humane treatment or legal equality?
It may be true that some traits predominate across cultures in men more than women. But that hardly makes them “universal.” There are male pacifists and female warriors; effective female executives and happy stay-at-home dads. Stanton acknowledged that there are many ways to be male — mentioning Clint Eastwood and Mr. Rogers. And, he said, some women can do “man things.” He cited Richard Simmons as someone who intentionally presents himself in a way that doesn’t clearly fit the “objective” way to be male and female. But he brushed all those aside, saying they do not challenge the universal binary norm.
Similarly, in response to a question about Native American cultures that recognized androgynous figures, and even considered them to play a sacred role, Stanton acknowledged the existence of such figures, such as the berdache, which he said have been “co-opted by the gay and lesbian community.” But he clearly could not make this reality fit his universalizing theory.
“Typically,” Stanton said, “that individual tends to be more of a she-male. It’s sort of, if you will, the Richard Simmons type, maybe the Mr. Rogers type, a man who is physically male, but he’s got clear kind of identities for the feminine. He’s — we would call, not in a nice way, in our culture, the Nancy boys, growing up.”
Furthermore, Stanton said, “They do not fit either in the male or the female category, but they are a mix of the two.” But rather than admitting that such a figure undermines his thesis, he claimed that they somehow “prove the rule” because “we understand them based on the binary.”
Last week, we noted that Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin announced that he had been fired from a teaching position he held at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Boykin asserted that he had lost his job because of comments he had made earlier in the year at a Religious Right conference where he had voiced his opposition to transgender protection efforts by declaring that "the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain't going to have to worry about surgery."
Predictably, the incident became a rallying cry for the likes of Ted Cruz, who used it to fundraise for his own Senate re-election bid, and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, who wrote a column decrying the upposed persecution of Boykin.
Thanks to the outcry from Christian conservatives, Hampden-Sydney backed down and rehired Boykin, who called it "a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus."
Interestingly, Andrew Beaujon of The Washingtonian reported today that the entire story of Boykin's alleged firing was apparently an utter misrepresentation of what actually took place and was seemingly whipped up for the purpose of browbeating the college into re-hiring Boykin.
According to Hampden-Sydney College, the position held by Boykin "was created to be a rotating position, allowing Hampden-Sydney to bring distinguished individuals from a wide variety of professional backgrounds to the campus."
The decision not to renew Boykin's contract had reportedly been made back in March, well before concerns had even been raised about his "jokingly" violent remarks:
If the “LGBT community” indeed went after Boykin, its campaign was remarkably incompetent. Asked about the existence of such an effort, Hampden-Sydney spokesperson Tommy Shomo says, “There was a letter from Hampden-Sydney constituents expressing concerns over some of Gen. Boykin’s public remarks, recent and past, and questioning his association with the College.” Shomo says the letter was received in April, after the college had already decided, in March, not to renew.
After discussions with Hampden-Sydney College, Gen. Jerry Boykin has accepted another year's contract to teach in the College's Military Leadership and National Security minor as Wheat Professor. Boykin stated, he "loves the college and its students and would be honored to teach for another year."
Interim President Dennis Stevens said he was pleased that General Boykin will be with Hampden-Sydney for one more year.
At the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, the College will continue with its plan to restore the Wheat Professorship to short-term appointments in order to bring multiple perspectives on leadership to its students.
None of this should come as a surprise, since constantly alleging that he's been the victim of anti-Christian persecution has been a hallmark of Boykin's career.
FRC prays in the wake of the confirmation of Eric Fanning, the first openly gay Secretary of the Army: "May God raise up a president and Congress who will end the exploitation of our military and the sexual assault epidemic that has exploded in all our services since DADT was overturned. May military readiness replace the LGBT agenda as the chief goal of our DOD and military chiefs."
This is the title of Alveda King's latest press release: "There is a Battle for the Seed in the Toilets."
Linda Harvey says that "America must say NO to the gender manipulation of minors. Both physicians and parents need to be held civilly and possibly criminally liable for taking vulnerable children down these roads."
Phyllis Schlafly applauds Donald Trump for his list of possible Supreme Court justices: "I know and like most of them and have a few favorites that I will share with Mr. Trump at the right time."
Finally, Janet Porter remains very bitter over having lost her bid to win the Republican nomination for a seat in the Ohio state senate.
Earlier this year, the Family Research Council's Jerry Boykin spoke at Liberty Counsel's "The Awakening" conference in Florida where he railed against efforts to protect transgender individuals by allowing them to use the facilities that match the gender with which they identify.
"I’ve already said, and somebody’ll be recording this and this’ll be on YouTube before it’s all over with, "Boykin said. "But I will tell you what, the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t going to have to worry about surgery. That’s not right. That is not right. It’s not right. It’s ungodly. But it’s also just unnatural. This is crazy. Where are the Christians that are standing up?"
We posted audio of his remarks back in March and yesterday Boykin posted a message on his Facebook page announcing that he had been terminated from a teaching position he held at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia because of the remarks.
Boykin insists that he was not threatening violence against transgender people, despite his clear reference to sex reassignment surgery, and that his comments were "understood as humor":
Because some of you already know and are contacting me about it, let me make it official and let you all know that I have been terminated from teaching at Hampden-Sydney College after nine years there. Hampden Sydney is the 10th oldest college in America and is one of the two Men's colleges left in #America. Let me begin by saying that it is a fine school with some very good young men who give me hope for the future. There are also a few very good faculty members who I consider to be good friends and true patriots. They stood with me through this whole situation as the school made the decision to terminate me and I appreciate everything that these friends at the school did to try and help.
The bottom line is that I oppose these so called "#Bathroom" bills that let men go into women's locker rooms, showers, and toilets and I have been very public about it. When I said in Orlando that "...the first man who goes in the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery", the LGBT community once again came after me, claiming that I was calling for violence against #transgender people.
Well, that is simply not the case and I have never called for violence against anyone. I was referring to perverts who will use these policies to get into locker rooms with girls and women, and I object to that. My statement was meant to be humor and not a call for violence, which everyone in my audience understood as humor.
Nonetheless, I gave the LGBT community just what they needed to pressure the college leadership to terminate me and they did.
Predictably, Ted Cruz, who made attacking transgender protections a part of his failed presidential campaign, has come rushing to Boykin's defense and is using this incident as an opportunity to raise funds for his own Senate re-election campaign.
Cruz dismissed Boykin’s comment’s as "levity," while lamenting that it has now become "a firing offense."
General Jerry Boykin is an American hero. He was one of the original members of the U.S. Army's Delta Force. A decorated warrior, he commanded Delta Force and he commanded all the Army's Green Berets as well as the Special Warfare Center and School.
Hampden-Sydney College has fired General Boykin. At a time where young people are desperately seeking hope and inspiration, you would think General Boykin (who had taught there nine years) would be one of their most valued faculty. But instead, he fell victim to the PC police.
Referring to President Obama's push to allow grown men into girls' bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms, General Boykin joked, "...the first man who goes in the restroom with my daughter will not have to worry about surgery." That levity, in today's precious academic world, was a firing offense.
Three observations: first, our universities are losing their souls. College should be about learning, and that requires a diversity of views. When I was a student in the 1980s and 90s, surrounded by college and law school faculty members who were militant leftists and even Marxists, I didn't curl up in a ball and plead for a "safe place." Confronting opposing views helped me learn what I myself believe, and helped me understand better how to persuade others. That's the essence of education. Raising coddled, solipsistic children who cannot handle dissent represents a complete failure and abdication of the university mission.
Second, free speech matters. If you disagree with someone, disagree with them. Don't silence or punish them. Censorship is the refuge of the weak-minded (those who cannot defend their views) or the tyrannical (those who simply want to force submission and compliance). If you think it's a good idea for men and boys to be taking showers with little girls -- whether you're the President, a presidential candidate, or a university apparatchik -- tell us why. Make the case, with reason and logic, don't just respond as jack-booted thugs.
Third, young people need heroes like General Boykin. Ironically, Hampden-Sydney's motto is Huc venite iuvenes ut exeatis viri, which translates to: Come here as boys so you may leave as men. This storied institution, founded the year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, has decided that warriors and heroes are no longer welcome on its faculty. If you love our country, this should bother you greatly.
Update 5/20: Today, Boykin announced that he has been re-hired by Hampden-Sydney College:
I am deeply grateful for all the support - through social media, calls and emails - that I have received over the past few days. This situation has been a great reminder of how our #FirstAmendment principles are worth standing up for and defending.
I am pleased to announce that I have been rehired as the Wheat Professor at Hampden-Sydney College. I look forward to returning to Hampden-Sydney in the fall to continue my work equipping the next generation of young men to lead this nation. Hampden-Sydney College is a fine school with a proud history of young men who have led our country, and I am honored to be a part of shaping the next generation of leaders.
With that said, I would like to share some thoughts on this experience.
First, there is strength in unified numbers. The radical Left and LGBT activists completely underestimate the impact of #freedom-loving #Americans banding together to protect our First Amendment freedoms. Many people spoke out on my behalf and I am eternally grateful that they stood with me. Their unified voices allowed me to return to Hampden-Sydney.
Second, never cave in when you know that you are standing for what is right and true, for these are the principles that made this nation great. STAND, even if it means you lose your job. STAND, even if it means you lose your life. The founding principles of this nation are worth defending, even if it costs you.
Third, my reinstatement is a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus. The free exchange of conflicting ideas must be the bedrock of every college campus in America. This essential exchange has been greatly wounded by the PC police, but it can be restored to college campuses around the country if, in unity, freedom-loving Americans speak out. Bottom line: when you stand, freedom prevails.
Finally, I would like to thank the leadership of Hampden-Sydney College for the courage they have demonstrated in reversing their decision and allowing me to remain a part of the Hampden-Sydney community.
Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center have obtained a copy of the 2014 membership list of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins that includes a who’s who of leaders of the Religious Right and the wider conservative movement who work together to influence national politics. (In 2014, Perkins was the group’s vice president.) We’ve known from news reports that CNP’s membership includes a wide range of Religious Right leaders, but one name on the list obtained by SPLC stood out: Michael Peroutka.
Peroutka, who made his fortune with a family debt-collection business, has become a minor benefactor to the Religious Right, including funding anti-choice groups, bankrolling some of the campaigns and advocacy work of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (who is currently suspended for attempting to defy the federal courts on marriage equality), and, maybe most notably, donating a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to a creationist group.
Most troubling, Peroutka has a history as a neo-Confederate activist, including spending time on the board of the secessionist League of the South. In a 2004 speech to the group, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that Maryland failed to secede from the Union during the Civil War. At the group’s 2012 convention, Peroutka led attendees in a spirited rendition of “Dixie,” which he referred to as “the national anthem”:
CNP’s membership list is closely guarded and new members can join only by invitation. This means that Peroutka didn’t just show up unannounced: He was invited to join a group that includes Perkins, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Alan Sears and many other high-profile conservative activists.
We don’t know if Peroutka is still a member of the group. But even by the time CNP’s 2014 membership directory was published, there was already plenty of public information available about his troubling ideology. Why was the leadership of the Religious Right willing to invite Peroutka into their fold?
Religious Right activists say they’re fighting to save religious liberty in America from the gay rights movement, but many of the same leaders are happy to partner with the most religiously repressive regimes in order to resist advances toward LGBT equality around the world.
Consider Monday’s “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World” event at the United Nations. It was sponsored by anti-gay and anti-choice groups like the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and Family Watch International, which work to keep LGBT-friendly language out of international documents and agreements. Their cosponsors included the 25 countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF), a coalition of UN member states created last year to “reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”
Among the freedom-loving members of GoFF whose representatives spoke at Monday’s “high-level event” was Iran, which the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has just accused of seeking to “eradicate” the country’s Baha’is.
In fact, there’s a lot of overlap between GoFF members and countries identified by the Commission, currently chaired* by social conservative strategist Robert George, as the worst in the world for religious freedom: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iraq. Also included in GoFF are countries where anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have been generating hostility and threatening the lives and freedoms of LGBT people, including Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.
But there was no talk of that unpleasantness at Monday’s three-hour event, which featured GoFF delegates pushing to have the U.N. emphasize “pro-family” policies in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The GoFF “Statement in Support of the Family” was presented by Valentin Rybakov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus, where, according to Human Rights Watch, authorities “pressure and arrest human rights activists and critics on spurious charges” and “regularly harass independent and opposition journalists.” Of course, there’s a similar situation in Russia, which doesn’t keep American Religious Right groups from swooning over Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies.
One of Putin’s defenders is C-Fam’s Austin Ruse. In a Monday email to his supporters, Ruse bragged that C-Fam “was asked by a number of Member States to organize this conference,” adding that “the family is under extreme pressure at the UN from those who want to redefine the family and to accept the notion that two people of the same sex can create a family and adopt children.”
At the UN, Ruse singled out Sudan and Saudi Arabia for praise, citing situations in which their representatives had “saved” UN documents from unwanted language on the family. For the record, the USCIRF calls Saudi Arabia “uniquely repressive” when it comes to religious freedom and says Sudan’s government “represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.”
During his remarks at the event, Ruse said the powerful force that “family” advocates are up against is the sexual revolution, which portrays family as a “patriarchal prison where pleasure and freedom go to die.” Without any apparent sense of irony, he declared that “tyrants have always known” that the family is “the real enemy to what they want” and its destruction is “how they get to the individual.”
Ruse announced the creation of a new coalition, Civil Society for the Family, which he said would be active in supporting GoFF’s work in defense of “traditional morality.”
Sharon Slater, representing Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Caucus, said she is deeply concerned about the “global assault” on the “health and innocence of children” from comprehensive sexuality education, which she called a “war on children and our families.”
FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that attempts to create a new definition of marriage that distances it from its roots in the “order of nature itself” are inconsistent with countries’ responsibility to protect and support the institution. Marriage, he said, “predates all other forms of government” and “it is not the place of government to redefine or interfere with the natural family.”
Gregory Mertz, representing what he said are the 4.3 million members of CitizenGo and HazteOir, online organizing platforms for social conservatives, said the definition of family is “routinely under attack” and that the U.N. ignores its obligation to protect it. Last year when GoFF’s creation was announced, CitizenGo asked people to sign a petition praising these “brave governments” in order to “show these courageous countries” that “we stand behind them 100 percent.”
Sherif Girgis, co-author with Robert George and Ryan Anderson of a book on marriage, said that undermining the “stabilizing norms of marriage” will hurt “every aspect of the common good that a stable marriage serves.”
Susan Yoshihara told a story about being shut down by school officials when she wanted to opt her young daughter out of a reading of a book that talked about families with two dads or two moms. She said there would have been more of a conversation before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, but that officials’ attitude now is “we won, you lose” — which she said was an example of why the law matters, and why it is important to resist changes in international law.
Helen Alvaré described defense of the family as both a rational and noble calling and said one can simultaneously affirm the “radical equality” of men and women while also recognizing their intrinsic complementarity, the topic of a 2014 Vatican conference for which Alvaré served as spokesperson.
The statements from GoFF representatives were short and often repetitive statements about the centrality of the family to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.
The Russian delegate discussed Putin’s promotion of “traditional family values” and noted that the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics, has named 2017 the Year of the Family. The Russian representative also said it is important to UN organizations to stay within their mandates and for countries that support traditional families to speak up so that silence isn’t considered an acceptance of “dangerous trends.” He made a reference to pro-LGBT stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration in February, which infuriated some “traditional family” supporters. He said supporters of the traditional values need to be more active at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The representative of Sudan also talked about the divinely created complementarity inherent in “the nature of each sex.” He complained that many international documents on women do not recognize the natural family but “deliberately seek to weaken and erode it.” Efforts to promote alternative forms of the family are incompatible with universal principles in human culture “which distinguish us humans from the rest of God’s creation.”
The event had a bit of theater as well. A short video from Family Watch International showed a succession of people saying nice things about families, including Janice Shaw Crouse and Alexey Komov — who are currently attending another global social conservative event, the World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia — among others. In addition, half a dozen children took turns reading “A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families: A Call from the Children of the World,” a document promoted by the UN Family Rights Caucus that they say has been signed “by thousands of children from every continent of the world.” Among its claims: Every child has a right to a married mother and father and the “right to innocence and childhood”— which is cited to attack sex ed programs and could be used to defend the kind of anti-gay “propaganda” laws that Russia and other countries are using to squelch advocacy for equality in the name of protecting children.
* Update: House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on May 18 that Robert George has completed his second term and has been replaced on the Commission by the executive director of the Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz.