Family Research Council

Sex, Lies, and Bloodlust: What the Values Voter Summit Tells us About the Religious Right and the Republican Party

During this past weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion of the far right, RWW posted many memorable video highlights. What does it all tell us about the Religious Right and today’s Republican Party? First are foremost, Republican leaders are unwilling to distance themselves from the far-right fringes of their base, especially in an election year in which conservative evangelical voters are not tremendously excited about Mitt Romney. Romney took a pass this year, and it’s not hard to understand why. Last year, organizers maliciously put him on stage right before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who had ridiculed Romney’s Mormonism. A supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry denounced Mormonism as a cult, and the flap over Romney’s faith was the dominant story coming out of the gathering. It was much safer to let Paul Ryan represent the ticket this year, and to have other speakers like Rick Santorum and Rick Scarborough ensure evangelicals that voting for Romney was in fact a good thing. Romney did send a tepidly-received video, which seemed almost an afterthought. What is motivating these activists is not enthusiasm for Romney but their hostility toward the Obama administration.

Paul Ryan at Summit that Makes Mockery of Diplomacy and Terrorism

Michelle Bachmann, speaking at the Values Voter Summit this morning, quickly one-upped Mitt Romney in pinning blame on President Obama for the violent protests in Libya and Egypt and deaths of four Americans in Libya. She accused Obama of appeasing the Muslim Brotherhood and opening our borders to terrorists. Not long after, Paul Ryan also attacked Obama over foreign policy: 

Amid all these threats and dangers, what we do not see is steady, consistent American leadership. In the days ahead, and in the years ahead, American foreign policy needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose. Only by the confident exercise of American influence are evil and violence overcome.
But here’s the thing. Ryan and Bachmann are speaking at a Religious Right conference that is making a mockery of diplomacy and even the threat of terrorism. Consider the following:
  • the video that sparked the unrest in Egypt and Libya was created and promoted by anti-Muslim activists who have worked with backers of Bachmann’s effort to purge the U.S. government of Muslim Americans and key players in the effort to block the so-called Ground Zero mosque (e.g. ACT! for America and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission)
  • in July, misinformation promoted by Bachmann and two upcoming speakers at the Values Voter Summit, Frank Gaffney and Jerry Boykin, sparked aggressive protests against American diplomats in Egypt, including Secretary Clinton, whose motorcade was pelted by protestors – Boykin and Gaffney have been the leading forces behind Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslim Americans in the U.S. government
Taken together, this suggests more than a lack of seriousness. It suggests that many Religious Right activists are far more interested in fighting a holy war than they are with diplomacy, peace or religious freedom. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we have the live in the same world as them.
 
The fake terrorist I referred to above is identified on the schedule as Kamal Saleem, but his real name is Khodor Shami. He claims that he was a Muslim Brotherhood operative who “came to the United States of America…to destroy this country” and crossed the Canadian border and “brought weapon caches right through cities.” He also claims to have “completed his first bloody terror mission into Israel for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at the age of seven.”
 
Saleem is widely known to be a fraud. Yet he’s being presented by the Family Research Council as the real deal and appears next to Ryan on the featured speakers page, with “former terrorist” under his name. Here’s one of his promotional videos:
 

Speaking at Values Voter Summit, Paul Ryan Gives Stamp of Approval to Bigotry

Washington, DC – People For the American Way today challenged the Romney campaign for its decision to send vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to speak today at the Values Voter Summit, an event organized by groups that regularly push false and demeaning smears about gays and lesbians, Muslim-Americans and others. These groups also push extreme anti-woman policies, including defending Rep. Todd Akin after his "legitimate rape" comments.

Earlier this week, a coalition of human rights groups, including People For the American Way Foundation, urged Ryan and other elected officials not to lend legitimacy to these groups, including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, by speaking at the Summit.

More information on the FRC, AFA and other groups participating in the Summit can be found at RightWingWatch.org.

“By speaking at the Values Voter Summit, Paul Ryan sends a clear message: a Romney-Ryan administration has decided to embrace the entrenched bigotry advocated by the farthest of the far right,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way.

“The Family Research Council and the American Family Association are not mainstream groups,” continued Keegan. “The FRC frequently and falsely links homosexuality to pedophilia. The AFA has claimed that gay men were responsible for the Holocaust. Both have defended laws at home and abroad that criminalize homosexuality. These are not innocent differences of opinion; they are full-scale efforts to smear and denigrate LGBT Americans.

“What’s more, these groups back extreme anti-woman policies, and were among the first to jump to the defense of Rep. Todd Akin’s outrageous 'legitimate rape' comments. They also promote hostility toward Muslim-Americans, Mormons and other religious minorities. They advocate for an America that discriminates and excludes, and are trying their best to stop the tolerance and open-mindedness that Americans of both parties support. That’s a troubling message for a presidential campaign to embrace.”

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Is Tony Perkins the Most Disingenuous Person on the Planet?

Well, in a world that includes Paul Ryan, maybe not.  But Perkins ensured his standing near the top of the list with his performance at the National Press Club on Wednesday.  Perkins heads an organization that excels in the kind of incendiary rhetoric he denounced from the podium.   I kept thinking about Bill Clinton’s recent characterization of Ryan: “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
 
Perkins heads the Family Research Council, one of the Religious Right organizations that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for a long record of smearing LGBT people with false and denigrating rhetoric.  Perkins used his press club appearance to repeat his charge that it was irresponsible for SPLC and other groups to describe his organization that way.  He suggested that FRC’s critics had created a climate that contributed to the recent violence at FRC headquarters in downtown D.C.
 
Let me say that it was genuinely sobering and moving to hear Perkins describe the incident, in which a security guard who may have saved the lives of many FRC employees was shot while disarming a gunman.  No one should be put in the position of being hunkered down in their office in fear for their life.  No one should be subjected to violence for participating in the public arena.  At the time of the shooting, progressive and gay rights leaders immediately and unequivocally denounced the attack on FRC.
 
It is true that irresponsible and hateful speech can poison our public discourse. But in today’s political climate, that speech is most likely to come from right-wing groups and their allies.  I remember feeling nervous as well as outraged when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two days after the 9-11 attacks, blamed People For the American Way by name, as well as feminists, liberals, and others.  And the right’s rhetorical extremism has become supercharged since the election of President Obama.
 
The First Amendment does protect hateful and irresponsible speech.  But being free to participate in the public arena does not meaning being exempt from criticism.  And calling hateful speech hateful is not the same as actually promoting hatred toward a particular group of Americans.  We have noted before how quickly Perkins moved to exploit the shooting in an effort to discredit his opponents and deflect attention from his own group’s extreme record and rhetoric:
 
You don't have to look far.  Last year Perkins called gay-rights activists vile, hateful, pawns of Satan.  In 2010, Perkins responded to President Obama's call for civility on the issue of homosexuality by slamming the president for criticizing Uganda's kill-the-gays bill. Perkins described the infamous law as "enhanced penalties for crimes related to homosexuality" and an effort to "uphold moral conduct."  FRC spokespeople have supported laws criminalizing homosexuality overseas and here in the U.S.  
 
What does it even mean for Perkins to make a public commitment to advocate with civility and compassion when his guests at the head table include rhetorical bomb-throwers like Bishop Harry Jackson, who has said that gay rights advocates are trying to recruit young people “just like during the times of Hitler” and that gay marriage is part of a “satanic plot” to destroy the family, and Rep. Louie Gohmert, who participated in the McCarthyite smear of Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and who says that President Obama “wants a dictatorship?” Or when he recently hired as his executive vice president retired Gen. Jerry Boykin, who has called for limits on American Muslims’ religious liberty and accuses Obama of using the health care reform law as cover to create a private army of Brownshirts?
 
Perkins also used his speech to promote this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, which is co-sponsored by organizations whose leaders regularly spout rhetoric that is often even more extreme than FRC’s -- about LGBT Americans, Muslims and other non-Christians, supporters of church-state separation and more.  Among the worst are the American Family Association, whose spokesman Bryan Fischer is such a torrent of bigotry that it cannot be easily condensed, and Liberty Counsel, whose Matt Barber purveys loathsome attacks on his political opponents, charging that satanic gay rights activists are “running interference for pedophiles” and charging that groups supporting church-state separation, like People For the American Way, are enemies of religious freedom.
 
Calling for civil discourse on the eve of the Values Voter Summit sounds like nothing more than a bad joke.  If Tony Perkins is at all sincere about his call for civility, this weekend would be a good time to start.
 

Who's Who at the Values Voter Summit 2012

This weekend Republican and conservative leaders, including GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, are set to address the Religious Right's Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.

Jews Must Be Converted: FRC Vice President

Bad news for Eric Cantor. He’s speaking tomorrow at the Values Voter Summit, but he’s apparently still going to hell. Let me explain.

Jerry Boykin is the Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council and Tony Perkins’ right-hand man. FRC is hosting the far right conference that the House Majority Leader, who is Jewish, plans to address tomorrow.

Boykin, much like Bryan Fischer, has a penchant for saying exactly what’s on his mind – things which others know not to say, even when they’re thinking the same thing. While you may know Boykin from his prolific Muslim-bashing, he also has some interesting things to say about Jews.

In a 2009 speech on “Why We Must Stand with Israel,” Boykin spoke out against pastors who say that “the Jews don’t have to come to know Jesus,” complaining that those pastors were “destroying the efforts” to lead Jews to Christ:

Last year, Boykin said that “one of the most disgusting things I hear is for people to call Hitler the extreme Right” because he was “an extraordinarily off the scale leftist.” He then lamented that “many Jews in America, for example, can't identify with the Republican Party because they're called the party of the Right, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth."

Boykin also said that President Obama is creating a Hitler-sytle Brownshirt army to force Marxism on America. And in 2003, then-Lt. Gen. Boykin said that the U.S. was fighting a war “in the name of Jesus,” prompting a rebuke from the ADL and President Bush.

To be sure, the Religious Right hasn’t always had the best relations with American Jews. Jerry Falwell sparked a controversy in 1980 when he said that God “does not hear the prayers of unredeemed Gentiles or Jews.” He was speaking at a press conference in defense of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who had proclaimed that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”

More recently, however, Religious Right leaders have been careful to stress Judeo-Christian values and avoid explicit attacks. Boykin, however, doesn’t have any use for such niceties.

Yet Boykin was able to meet recently with Mitt Romney, and he has three speaking slots during the conference. He’s even leading a panel on Israel with his good friend Kamal Saleem. Saleem, who is considered to be a fraud, describes himself as a former terrorist who “completed his first bloody terror mission into Israel for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at the age of seven.”

All of this makes me wonder if Cantor’s folks did their homework before agreeing to speak tomorrow. Perhaps something will come up, and he’ll have to decline FRC’s invitation, much like Ann Romney and Cardinal Dolan have done. We’ll find out tomorrow.

 

Ann Romney Booked for Gay-Bashing Conference?

[Update 9-12-12: Ann Romney Joins Cardinal Dolan In Declining Values Voter Summit Invitation]

Ann Romney, the person tasked with humanizing her husband Mitt, is apparently scheduled to address a conference that dehumanizes others. I’m talking about the Values Voter Summit, which is hosted and sponsored by two Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups – the Family Research Council and American Family Association.

The National Journal Daybook and Values Voter Summit website both list Ann Romney on the schedule:
 
 
 
Notably absent from the list is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose spokesperson pointedly declined FRC’s invitation. Yet there Ann Romney is.
 
It’s an odd move by the Romney campaign. They’ve previously deployed her to show the softer side of Mitt. Now they’re sending her to stand on stage with a man who paid $83,000 to use David Duke’s mailing list and addressed a white supremacist group while in public office. The same person – Tony Perkins – also praised a law in Uganda to execute gays and warned senators they would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands” if they repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
 
The Romney campaign must have its reasons, but it sure seems like an odd way to deploy Ann Romney. They already have Paul Ryan scheduled to address the conference. Do they really need two headliners reaching out to the Bachmann-Akin wing of the party? Besides, just last week Ann Romney refused to answer questions about same-sex marriage and contraception, dismissing them as distractions "from what the real voting issue is going to be."
 
For weeks, the Values Voter Summit website listed Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as invited speakers. When Ryan was added to the ticket in August, the Family Research Council blasted out an email confirming Ryan’s appearance. No one really expected Mitt Romney to show for the event – too radical, too close to the election. That’s why, when the conference schedule was recently posted, it was a shock to see not only “Romney” on the lineup, but Ann Romney.
 
Ryan and Ann Romney, if she appears, will be speaking on stage with Perkins in a lineup that includes Kirk Cameron and Michele Bachmann. They’ll be kicking off a conference that features a who’s who of Todd Akin backers (e.g. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Steve King) and anti-Muslim McCarthyites (e.g. Frank Gaffney and Jerry Boykin). And, of course, there will be gay-bashers – featured speakers like Perkins and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who recently defended Malawi’s law criminalizing homosexuality. They would push for the same thing here in America if they thought they could pull it off. In fact, FRC’s Peter Sprigg and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer have already done so.
 
These aren’t conservative people pushing conservative values and policies – this is the radical right. America, and the Romney campaign in all likelihood, would be better served if Romney and Ryan followed Dolan’s example and skipped the conference. Or they can go cast their lot with the extremists with the national media looking on. We’ll see what their priorities are this Friday morning.

 

Family Research Council Says Starbucks' Support for Marriage Equality Led to Billions in Losses

In a radio bulletin that either reveals a stunning level of ignorance or sheer insanity, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said that the National Organization for Marriage’s campaign to boycott Starbucks over its stance on gay rights called “Dump Starbucks”—which so far has collected fewer than 50,000 signers—is responsible for a $10 billion reduction in market capitalization. “Siding with radical homosexuals has its price in this country,” Perkins said. “And in Starbucks case, the cost is about ten billion dollars.”

That’s right, the FRC chief says that the company’s decision to endorse marriage equality in its home state led to its recent troubles, while providing no evidence as to how NOM and its fewer than 50,000 fellow boycotters contributed to Starbucks’ drop in stock value.

It didn’t take long for Starbucks to lose bucks over marriage. Hello, I’m Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington. In January, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said endorsing same-sex marriage would be good for business. Boy was he wrong! Siding with radical homosexuals has its price in this country. And in Starbucks case, the cost is about ten billion dollars. That’s how much the coffee giant’s lost in stock value since the campaign to Dump Starbucks got underway. In the last eight months, the company's missed sales projections and watched stocks dive from $61 to $48, for a loss of more than $10.2 billion. How many companies will fall for the lie that endorsing same-sex marriage will help business? J.C. Penney’s tried it. Target’s tried it. Now Starbucks. And every time, there’s a reason to believe that alienating millions of customers will directly affect a company’s bottom line. On the flip side, look at Chick-fil-A. They found out that supporting traditional values pays just as many cultural dividends as financial ones.

Perry: 'King' Obama Leading a 'Clear Attack on People of Faith'

During the presidential campaign, Rick Perry was one of the first candidates to embrace the theme that Obama is waging a “war on religion,” a message that was quickly embraced by Mitt Romney. As Perry ponders another run for the presidency, he told Family Research Council head Tony Perkins on today’s Washington Watch Weekly that he believes President Obama thinks he was elected “King” and is leading a “clear attack on people of faith”. How? Perry cited the contraception mandate, the Department of Justice’s stance in the Hosanna Tabor case, where the administration argued that religious groups are not categorically exempt from the Americans with Disability Act, and his own gut instinct.

Yes, Perry said he instinctually feels that the Obama administration is putting together a campaign of “intimidation to churches using IRS as a tool to keep anyone from making any statements about a political election,” even though the rule on church electioneering came about in 1954 and there is no evidence that the administration is actively investigating churches for breaking the rule.

Perkins: You were out on the campaign trail quite a bit early on in the Republican primary, your message obviously on jobs, the economy, which Texas has been leading in the nation in the creation of jobs, but you also touched on the issue of religious liberty and religious freedom. Do you see a growing hostility in America in the wake of this administration towards religious—

Perry: Led by this administration, when you think about the clear messages that they send, whether it’s by fiat—and that’s one of my great concerns about this president, we didn’t elect a King Mr. Obama, we elected a president, we expect the rule of law to be maintained in this country, go to Congress, pass legislation—he’s pushing these programs through whether it’s a clear attack on the Catholic Church and their opposition to contraception, those are purely wars against religion. When you think about the ministerial exception that he went to the Supreme Court to try to overturn, you know thank God he lost 9-0, even his liberal judges wouldn’t go that far, so clear attack on people of faith. My instinct is, I don’t have clear evidence, but my instinct is through other agencies there is this intimidation factor to our places of worship that you best not be in job of anything that we decide is political. For instance, clear intimidation to churches using IRS as a tool to keep anyone from making any statements about a political election.

Congressional Prayer Caucus Teams Up for Seven Mountain-Themed Pre-Election Prayer Rally

At the end of September, Religious Right leaders will once again partner with the "prophets" and "apostles" of the New Apostolic Reformation for a pre-election "American For Jesus" rally on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.

But apparently that won't quite be enough, so just a few days later, many of these same leaders and activists are hosting another prayer rally called "The Summons 2012" in Washington, DC that is being organized by National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is chaired by Shirely Dobson, the wife of James Dobson:

With each generation seeming to drift away from the God of our Fathers, now more than ever, it seems that we are truly at the precipice of a societal migration away from our Judeo-Christian foundation. With this in mind, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force has called a Solemn Assembly in Washington D.C. for such a time as this. The urgency of the moment, and the prompting of God, has paved the way for The Summons (October 3-7, 2012) to be a moment in time for God’s people to stand in the gap on behalf of all Americans – perhaps as Moses did for Israel (Exodus 32, Psalm 106). Based on Psalm 50:1-6, this special prayer gathering will focus on all institutions of government within Washington D.C. and include outdoor, corporate worship near the steps of the Capitol building, as well as the base of the Washington Monument. Groups will meet with various congressional leaders, travel to the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, and many other key locations to PRAY. This is not an assignment for the faint of heart. You will need walking shoes and clothing suitable for being on location and ‘hitting the streets’, regardless of weather. We invite you to join with us, and several hundred other like-minded believers, for this unique time of prayer and worship in our nation’s capital.

Speakers include the likes of Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and Rep. Randy Forbes along with NAR leaders like Negiel Bigpond and Luis Cataldo, who played a key role in organizing Gov. Rick Perry's NAR-infused "The Response" prayer rally.

Interestingly, the Congressional Prayer Caucus is listed among the "partner ministries" along side Lou Engle's TheCall, Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer, Intercessors for America and various others.

For those who don't recall, Bickle is the one who thinks that Oprah is a forerunner of that Antichrist:

According to the schedule, the event lasts for four days, during which participants will "meet with designated elected officials" and receive a "Private Capitol Tour Led by Congressman Louie Gohmert."

And you will not be surprised to learn that the entire event is rooted in Seven Mountains theology:

As we move toward The Summons in Washington D.C., please pray specifically, focusing on the seven points of prayer for each state. As we pray, day by day, and state by state, let’s pray for the Spirit of God to sweep through our nation like a ‘mighty, rushing wind’!

Seven Point of Prayer for each State

1) Government – Pray for local and state leaders asking God to grant them wisdom, discernment, and hearts that are open to His leading.

2) Church – Pray for the Churches and Church Leaders throughout that state. Ask God to preserve and protect them, as He inspires and empowers His ‘Saints’ for the work of ministry, for the building up of the Church, and for the spreading of the Gospel.

3) Military – Pray for our Military, Guard, and Reserve units and their leadership. Pray for God to grant courage, protection, and strength for our service men and women, and their families, as they serve our country.

4) Family – Pray for families in your community and across the state. Ask Him for protection, and to strengthen marriages, encourage parents toward His priorities, heal relationships, and secure traditional values in each home.

5) Education – Pray for God’s presence in our schools, colleges, and universities. Ask Him to select teachers and administrators who honor His statutes, protect our children, and inspire them to discover their God-given calling.

6) Media – Pray for Christian influence in the media industry, from local television and radio stations, to newspaper and magazine publishers. Ask for the Lord to provide Godly men and women to work in and influence the media throughout the state and in every city.

7) Business – Pray for divine intervention in the state and local economies. Ask that God raise up Godly business leaders and provide industry to provide honest employment and generous provision for individuals and families in each community.

GOP Gays have Hope but Perkins has Power

The Log Cabin Republicans group turns 20 this year, but the party’s platform committee did not give them much to celebrate. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has been bragging for more than a week about how much influence his group had on the platform, which reflects the religious right’s anti-gay opposition to marriage equality.  Perkins and others shot down an attempt to add support for civil unions to the platform.

But at a Monday afternoon reception co-hosted by Log Cabin and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the mood is surprisingly upbeat. Talking to people at the reception made me wonder at the fine, fuzzy line dividing optimism from delusion.“This is our party...” LCR’s Clarke Cooper insists. “We are here to make it stronger and more inclusive.” 
 
“[I]t’s a whole new world out there” and in the Republican Party, says former member of Congress Jim Kolbe, who was “outed” while in office.  He contends that the kind of resistance to LGBT equality that is reflected in this year’s platform is a generational issue -- "the last gasp of the conservatives," he calls it -- and boldly predicts that this is the last year in which the platform will contain such language. When I suggest that if Ralph Reed’s turnout operation among conservative evangelicals does as much for the Republicans in November as Reed hopes, the party is not likely to turn its backs on the anti-gay religious right base, Kolbe shrugs and says both parties appeal to their bases for turnout. “We will have the victory,” he says.
 
Sarah Longwell, who serves on the Leadership Committee for Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, affirms that it was disappointing that Perkins, who is “brutally anti-gay,” was basically allowed to write the part of the platform pertaining to marriage and LGBT rights. Her group and LCR are taking out a full page ad in tomorrow’s Tampa Tribune that quotes Tony Perkins on the importance of marriage, and offering this response:
 
We agree. That's why Log Cabin Republicans and Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry believe that government should stop denying marriage licenses to committed gay and lesbian families. As conservatives, we believe that the freedom to marry is directly in line with the core ideals and principles of the Republican Party.”
Those hoping for the GOP to embrace equality do have a point about generational change. Polling shows that equality is making gains among individual Republicans, especially those under the age of 44, who are now about evenly split on the question of marriage equality. Longwell points to the key role played by Republicans who joined Democrats in advancing marriage equality in New York, New Hampshire, and other states. Longwell says she believes that the crass anti-gay wedge politics employed by the GOP in 2004 played a role in encouraging Republicans like Dick Cheney, Ken Mehlman, and Laura Bush to be more outspoken in their support for marriage equality.  If 2004 was a turning point, she says, 2012 could be a “tipping point,” at which shifting public opinion makes overt anti-gay politicking unfeasible. “You can’t demagogue gay people forever.”  Perkins, however, may have a different opinion on that, and no small measure of power in the G.O.P.
 
The Log Cabin folks are particularly excited about Richard Tisei, a 50-year old former state senator from Massachusetts who is running for Congress this year with backing from the national party. Tisei, who is challenging Rep. John Tierney, is openly gay, pro-choice and pro-marriage equality, but none of these issues appear on his campaign’s issues page, which pushes standard right-wing talking points on “Obamacare,” Medicare, the economy, education, and the Middle East.  Of course, that doesn’t phase the Log Cabin Republicans, who are excited about a member of Congress who would vote to repeal both the Defense of Marriage Act and the Affordable Care Act.

 

Religious Right Groups Launch the 'Life and Marriage Coalition'

A number of Religious Right organizations are coming together for an election season coalition to attack President Obama in swing states. The Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, The Family Leader, Concerned Women for America, American Principles Project, the Susan B. Anthony List and Common Sense Issues have joined the “Life and Marriage Coalition,” which FRC head Tony Perkins said is needed to defeat Obama’s “anti-marriage and anti-life policies.”

A coalition of the nation’s most prominent conservative social issue groups (www.lifeandmarriagecoalition.com) today announced that they are coordinating efforts in Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina to talk about the importance of preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and supporting the sanctity of human life. The groups hope to influence voters in key swing states that Barack Obama carried in 2008.

“This is a historic coming together of premiere social conservative groups to coordinate efforts in three swing states most likely to determine the outcome of this fall’s presidential election,” said Tony Perkins, president of FRC Action, the legislative action arm of the Family Research Council. “Many supporters of life and marriage do not realize that their votes could determine the outcome of the election, which in turn could determine the future of marriage and life in this country. We’re working together to ensure they understand that President Obama is anti-marriage and anti-life.”

The Life and Marriage Coalition includes FRC Action, Susan B. Anthony List, National Organization for Marriage, American Principles in Action, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee and Common Sense Issues. Combined efforts will include independent expenditures for radio advertisements, billboards, phone and bus tour events designed to educate and mobilize socially conservative voters in the three targeted states.

“For millions of Americans, this election is about more than the economy, it’s about the direction our nation takes on foundational principles, like what constitutes marriage, and whether unborn children have a right to life,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List added, “We will work together as national groups and partner with local pro-family organizations to make sure that voters know that if we value marriage and want to stop government funding of abortion groups, we must defeat Barack Obama.”

State groups that are part of the effort are the North Carolina Values Coalition, and The Family Leader in Iowa.

“Fiscal and social issues are not separate issues and it is our goal to educate voters of this indisputable truth,” said Patrick Davis of Common Sense Issues. “In fact and in practice they are inseparable principles fortifying and empowering each other much like the fiscal, spiritual and emotional union of a man and woman in marriage or the life-long relationship between a mother and father and their child. All fiscal issues have a social element to them.”

The coalition also said its efforts this year are just the beginning. “Our coalition members are determined to defend American values on marriage and life for the long haul, said Davis. “The 2012 election is critical, but it is also important to lengthen the horizon to make sure that we have marriage and life champions running in critical races over the next several election cycles. We’re beginning to talk to prospective candidates now.”

Tony Perkins Takes a Victory Lap over Republican Party Platform Changes

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins continued to brag about his role in shaping the Republican Party platform, as he along with Religious Right activists like David Barton and James Bopp heavily influenced the document dubbed the “most conservative platform in modern history.” While speaking to Janet Mefferd yesterday, Perkins said he “inserted the language as it pertains to marriage and some other key issues” and was happy to report that “we have one of the most conservative platforms that the Republican Party’s ever had.” Perkins also noted that Mitt Romney’s representatives worked closely with him on drafting the platform’s new language.

I was very concerned with the distancing from the moral and the social issues, that the platform might take or veer or careen to the left and so I ran as a delegate from my home state of Louisiana and I ended up being selected as a delegate and selected for the platform committee. I worked on the platform last week in fact inserted the language as it pertains to marriage and some other key issues and we have one of the most conservative platforms that the Republican Party’s ever had so I’m very encouraged by that. I worked closely with the Romney folks that were representing his campaign, were pleasant to work with, there was not a lot of arm-twisting that went on, so from that standpoint I’m encouraged.

Perkins also talked to Mefferd about the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group which along with President Obama he has implicated in the recent shooting at his group’s headquarters. According to Perkins, SPLC is now all about “making money” through “shady activities.” He denounced the SPLC for its anti-bullying program called “Teaching Tolerance,” which he maintained is “pushing a very left-leaning agenda, including the homosexual agenda.”

They’re not concerned about poverty; they’re concerned about making money. There’s a lot of shady activities surrounding the Southern Poverty Law Center but what’s given them leverage, especially in the last three and a half years, has been their connection to the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and Department of Education. They have a program called ‘Teaching Tolerance’ that they do in elementary schools and middle schools across the country and it’s really nothing more than a venue for their left-wing propaganda. So I encourage parents to begin looking at what their children are bringing home because it may actually look on the surface as if it’s you know harmless stuff but when you begin to dig into it you see them pushing a very left-leaning agenda, including the homosexual agenda, it’s prominent in all of their material and parents need to be made aware of that.

FRC Calls Islam a 'Fanatical Religion,' Attacks White House Event with Muslims

When the Family Research Council wasn’t rallying support this week for Todd Akin or pushing to keep the ban on abortions in the case of rape or incest in the GOP platform, it found time to denigrate an entire religion. FRC sends out weekly Prayer Team alerts, asking “for your prayers relating to various public policy issues.”

This week’s alert called Islam – the religion of 2.6 million Americans and 1.6 billion people around the world – a “fanatical religion.” The alert also attacked a recent White House event with the American Muslim community – an Iftar dinner to mark the end of the Ramadan fast.
 
At the dinner, President Obama highlighted the role of Muslim-Americans in government and showcased Thomas Jefferson’s Koran. Here’s FRC’s interpretation:
In his remarks, the President suggested that Thomas Jefferson may have hosted the first White House Iftar Dinner and he showcased the Koran from Jefferson's library (Fact: Thomas Jefferson long advocated using military force to deal with hostile Muslims in the Mediterranean and ordered the Marines to Tripoli among his first acts as President and had a Koran primarily to study the fanatical religion of his adversaries).
FRC characterized Obama’s remarks at the event as “amazing,” and not in a good way. What was so amazing, you ask? For one thing, Obama “praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration,” including Huma Abedin. The group also accused Obama of giving preference to Islam at the expense of Christians and Christianity:
The Iftar event stood in bold contrast to the National Day of Prayer. In four years, President Obama has neither hosted a White House NDP event nor sent a representative to the national event on Capitol Hill, as previous presidents have done. […] President Obama's Iftar remarks are amazing reading. While he said great things about religious freedom, his tribute to Islam stands in shocking contrast to his dealings with Christians and the National Day of Prayer. He praised Muslims in positions throughout his administration.
This is a very telling line of argument. FRC is conflating the National Day of Prayer – which is chaired by the wife of FRC’s founder, James Dobson – with all of Christianity, and it’s not by mistake. Religious Right leaders have long thought of themselves and their followers as the only real Christians.
 
That’s why Obama’s 2012 Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House and Obama’s speech at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast don’t count. Obama’s 2012 White House Seder is probably just more evidence to them that he’s not really Christian. Obama even issued a presidential proclamation declaring the 2012 National Day of Prayer, but that’s not good enough. They want him to come and kiss Dobson’s ring.
 
Remarkably, FRC used the same alert described above to call for prayers for “moderation and civility in the public debate” over social issues. That’s how blind FRC is to its own rhetoric.
 
Meanwhile the group is preparing to host Paul Ryan as the headliner of its Values Voter Summit next month in DC. Earlier in the month, Romney met privately with Dobson and FRC’s Vice President, Jerry Boykin, who has said that Islam is “evil” and should not be protected under the First Amendment. Romney met one-on-one with Perkins in mid-July.

 

Blackwell: Obama is 'Dead Set' on 'Destroying Families' and Replacing God

Today on Washington Watch Weekly, Family Research Council senior fellow Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio Republican politician and one-time candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, chatted with FRC president Tony Perkins about the GOP’s adoption of an ultraconservative party platform. Blackwell said that the Republican platform offers a “direct contrast” with the vision of President Obama, whom Blackwell believes is “dead set” on “destroying families” and advancing the belief that “the family and God can be replaced by a supreme state government.” He contends that the Democrats have embraced ideas that are un-American and “run afoul of what the founders of this nation envisioned 237 years ago.”

President Obama and his party want to transform our market economy into a government-controlled economy but most importantly, they are dead set on making sure that they transform our national philosophy founded upon the primacy of the individual and the supremacy of God to one founded on the primacy of the collective good and the supremacy of the central government. Our document, the GOP document, is a direct contrast; it provides the American people with a choice, not an echo. That is so important because there are two paths that we can go down: we can reinforce our fundamental belief that when we are God-centered, free men and free women and free markets can accomplish much and overcome most hurdles thrown in our way or do we want to go down the path of being a government-controlled economy, destroying families, replacing it with bureaucrat decision makers that would run afoul of what the founders of this nation envisioned 237 years ago.



In our 237th year as being an exceptional nation we are at risk of losing it all. We just can’t afford to have four more years of a President that one, doesn’t understand the nature of our exceptionalism, and two, has a worldview and a set of guiding principles that are in direct contradiction with what has made us an exceptional nation. I’ve always enjoyed the push and pull of the whole process, I think it’s now incumbent upon us to make sure that this is not a document that is put on the shelf and our candidates across the country can just let collect dust and ignore. There is a fault line from the Pacific to the Atlantic and one side are those who believe in big government and who believe that the family and God can be replaced by a supreme state government, and that’s a problem.

Religious Right Groups Rally to Defend Todd Akin from 'Political Gang Rape'

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer isn’t the only one sticking up for Todd Akin. While the embattled Missouri congressman and senate nominee, who is a favorite of Religious Right activists and celebrated his primary victory by lauding God’s role in his success and appearing on Fischer’s show, has been abandoned and denounced by many Republican figures, Religious Right groups for the most part have remained firmly in his corner.

The New York Times reports that the Family Research Council hopes to make up the lost air-support from groups like American Crossroads and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which have dropped their planned advertisements:

Leaders of several conservative Christian and social-issues groups said they would step in with organizational, financial and news-media help. The Family Research Council said it now hoped to sponsor independent advertising and phone banks and solicit donations for Mr. Akin. And by Wednesday evening, those tiny donations requested by Mr. Akin’s campaign several times this week were starting to add up. Mr. Akin’s Twitter account reported that he had set a goal to raise $100,000 by midnight and had raised $88,000.

Akin also met with the secretive, right-wing Council for National Policy in Tampa, days before the city hosts the Republican National Convention:

Rep. Todd Akin was in Tampa Wednesday night meeting with top conservative groups and donors, several sources confirmed to POLITICO.

The embattled Missouri Senate candidate flew to Tampa to meet with members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive coalition of powerful conservative and evangelical leaders, activists, and donors.

A person attending the CNP gathering in Tampa confirmed Akin was there Wednesday evening, after several sources close to Akin in Missouri said he would be attending. It was unclear if Akin had been invited prior to his “legitimate rape” remarks Sunday.

Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse defended Akin as a victim of “the politics of personal destruction”:

He has been a pro-life advocate his whole career. He's been a man who has worked in crisis pregnancy centers. He's reached out to women and helped women in numerous ways in his private life. So it's very unfortunate that he's one who used words so insensitively, and he apologized for them, of course, and retracted from them.

But I think the bigger question for me is this whole business of the politics of personal destruction. We have a very, I think, appalling double-standard in this country where Republicans are held to these standards that are appropriate but somehow the Democrats get a pass. Vice President Biden, for instance, most recently and most - in the headlines talked about you're going to put those, put everybody in chains.

Gary DeMar’s American Vision even accused the GOP leadership of engaging in a “legitimate political gang rape” of Akin:

Legitimate political gang rape

We expect leftists, liberals, and other miscreants to pounce opportunistically, to lie, cheat, and twist (all the while drooling) over a phrase like “legitimate rape” when uttered by a strong conservative Christian politician. But should we expect the same from alleged conservatives?

Yet this is exactly what we’ve seen from several prominent conservatives in the wake of a media gaffe from U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-MO) in regard to alleged “legitimate rape” and abortion.



There is, after all, the distinct possibility that if abortion were outlawed but with an exception for “rape,” that many of the women who buy abortions purely out of convenience today would then simply claim to have been raped in order to procure the legality.

For some reason, even to mention the possibility that a woman may lie about being raped is supposed to be politically incorrect—untouchable. It enrages leftists, and for some reason, therefore, frightens conservatives. Are a woman’s intentions never to questioned—completely off limits—when she claims to have been raped?

The answer is generally yes, but there is a least one major exception to this: When she intends to use that claim as justification to murder an innocent third party, a baby. The right to life trumps the right to privacy.

Liberals may wish us to believe that no woman would ever stoop so low as to lie about being raped. But this simply does not comport with what we Christians know about fallen human nature. We, conservatives, all agree that millions of women annually conspire to commit murder on their unborn babies. So do you expect me to feel it unacceptable to believe they would lie about why? This is political correctness run amok. Why, after all, would someone willing to kill out of convenience not also lie for various reasons out of convenience?

UPDATE: CNN reports that Tony Perkins of the FRC and Restoration Project organizer David Lane are both standing behind Akin:

“Following the pounding of Todd Akin by the GOP kings and lieutenants in the last 36 hours, I've come to the conclusion that the real issue is the soul of America,” wrote David Lane, an evangelical activist who’s influential in the Republican Party, in an e-mail to fellow activists Thursday morning.

“The swift knee-jerk reaction to throw Akin, a strong conservative pro-life, pro-family born again Christian under the bus by some in the Republican Party is shining the light on their actual agenda,” Lane continued.

“We haven't seen anything this vicious since some of the same operatives did this to (Sarah) Palin.”

...

In a note to supporters Wednesday night, conservative Family Research Council President Tony Perkins heaped criticism on the GOP for abandoning Akin.

"Todd Akin has a long and distinguished record of defending women, children, and families – and unlike the GOP establishment, I refuse to throw him under the bus over one inarticulate comment for which he has apologized,” wrote Perkins, who is in Tampa attending events leading up the convention.

“As for the GOP, it has no rational basis for deserting Akin when it has stood by moderate Republicans who've done worse,” Perkins continued. “Singling out Todd suggests a double standard, designed to drive out social conservatives.”

Raymond Raines and the Religious Right: The Myth That Will Not Die

Yesterday Kelly Shackelford of Liberty Institute and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council released a new website and joint report entitled "The Survey on Religious Hostility in America" which is billed as "collection of more than 600 cases, detailing religious bigotry throughout America."

And you can tell from the introduction just how trustworthy this report truly is:

The Obama administration no longer even speaks of freedom of religion; now it is only “freedom of worship.” This radical departure is one that threatens to make true religious liberty vulnerable, conditional, and limited. As some have said, it is a freedom “only within four walls.” That is, you are free to worship within the four walls of your home, church, or synagogue, but when you enter the public square the message is, “leave your religion at home.” President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly echoed this same message in international forums, acknowledging only a right to the “freedom of worship.” This is no accident, and it has huge ramifications.

This claim that Obama is systematically undermining "freedom of religion" seems to be one of the Religious Right's favorite claims ... which, of course, means that it is not true at all.

The report itself consists of 100+ pages of  short descriptions of seemingly every court case along with the various urban legends that the Religious Right trots out whenever they are trying to play the victim.  In fact, this one from the Executive Summary caught my eye:

A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.

That sounded a lot like the story of Raymond Raines and, sure enough, on page 74 we find this:

Elementary School Student Punished for Praying Before Meals
Joan Little, “City Schools Issue Rules About Students, Religion,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 11, 1996, at 2B

Elementary school student Raymond Raines was “caught” praying over his meal at his elementary school. He was lifted from his seat and reprimanded in front of all the other students, then taken to the principal who ordered him to cease praying in school.

As we noted just a few months ago, this myth has been around since 1994 when Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders first started making Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to expressions of faith ... despite the fact that it wasn't true:

The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.

"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.

On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."

But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.

"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"

This incident took place nearly twenty years ago and the Religious Right is still citing it today as proof that Christianity is under attack in America despite the fact that it never happened.

Religious Righting the Republican Platform

Yesterday, the head of the Log Cabin Republicans said that the Republican Party platform might actually contain language saying that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Imagine! Although the language included no reference to LGBT people, Log Cabin argued that it would be a “positive nod” toward them. 
A nearly imperceptible, practically meaningless nod, perhaps.  Anti-gay groups typically use similar rhetoric to soften their image.  Even the most stridently anti-gay Religious Right leaders insist they don’t hate gays, they love them so much they want to save them from their evil, wicked, Satanic, hell-bound lives.
Last night, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins provided a bit of a reality check. He sent a memo bragging that “our team has had several hands” working on the platform:
With a presence in the committee meetings, the FRC Action staff has been able to help delegates hold the line of social issues. Just this morning, our efforts made what was already a good document even better.
Before this week, the GOP’s draft platform included solid language defending the family – and FRC Action, in tandem with Eagle Forum, made it even stronger.
Perkins boasts that as a delegate on the subcommittee handling health care, education, and the family, “I was able to reinforce the language on marriage and successfully helped with amendments on conscience rights, abortion in health care, and stem cell research."
Joining Perkins on the Platform Committee is David Barton, the promoter of bogus “Christian nation” history whose recent book on Thomas Jefferson was slammed as grossly inaccurate by so many scholars that his Christian publishing house, Thomas Nelson, pulled the book from the shelves. But Barton’s abuses of the truth have never been enough to discredit him with his friends in the GOP. Barton is serving on the platform committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, where Tony Perkins assures us Barton led efforts that “fended off liberal attacks that would have watered down the wording” on marriage and “life.”
This morning, the Tampa Bay Times reports that the draft moving forward includes a call for a federal constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the U.S., and for a constitutional amendment applying the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to “unborn children." There is no exception for allowing abortion in the case of rape or incest.
The full Platform Committee will take up the work of the subcommittees today.

Bryan Fischer: Todd Akin is 'Absolutely Right'

As reported earlier, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer is jumping to Todd Akin’s defense over his claim that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy. Fischer today said that the trauma of a “real, genuine rape, a case of forcible rape,” would “make it impossible for her or difficult in that particular circumstance to conceive a child.” Of course, rape does not make pregnancy either impossible or unlikely, and there are other types of rape than “forcible rape,” such as statutory rape or cases where consent isn’t offered or is impossible.

Watch:

Family Research Council's Connie Mackey is also defending Akin in an email to members:

"This is another case of 'gotcha politics' against a conservative leader. Todd Akin has a long and distinguished record of defending women, children and families. He has fought against forcing taxpayers to subsidize abortion giant Planned Parenthood, which is the bedrock of Claire McCaskill's base of support. When speaking about the issue of rape, let's not forget the cover-up of statutory rape by Planned Parenthood, which to my knowledge has not been addressed by Senator McCaskill.

"Throughout his twelve years in Congress, Todd Akin has supported legislation that honors all human life. He has opposed the commodification of women in contrast to his opponent, Claire McCaskill, who has a long record of promoting the abortion industry while ignoring how abortion harms women. We know Todd Akin, and FRC Action PAC enthusiastically endorses his candidacy," Mackey concluded

FRC Calls SPLC 'Evil,' 'Anti-American,' 'Dangerous,' 'Anti-Christian,' 'Anti-Semitic,' and 'Marxist'

On Thursday, the day after his organization was violently attacked, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins falsely accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of giving the suspected gunman “license” for the assault. He cautioned that the “Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”

On Friday, FRC’s second in command – Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin – appeared on the Glenn Beck Program and called the SPLC an “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, Marxist organization.” Continuing, he said that the SPLC is an “evil group of people” who “are dangerous.”
 
How’s this for “reckless use of terminology”?
 
[CNN] actually tried to justify the 'hate group' label that was placed on the Family Research Council by this anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, Marxist organization called the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is just an evil group of people. They actually tried to justify this “hate group” label that they gave FRC.
 
These people are dangerous, they are evil, and my question is, Glenn, who are they to have any authority to declare anybody a ‘hate group.’
 
And remember, they also called Hitler right-wing, as well. I don’t mean SPLC, but people today on the left refer to Hitler as right-wing and compare conservatives to Hitler. Hitler was anything but right-wing. Remember he was National Socialist Party.
As Kyle pointed out last Thursday, the SPLC labeled FRC a “hate group” as a result of its “false and demonizing propaganda about gays and lesbians.” Now Boykin is getting in the act with “false and demonizing propaganda” about the SPLC itself.
 
Boykin, for those who aren’t familiar, became Tony Perkins’ right-hand man in July. He has a long track record of bigoted rhetoric and promoting wild-eyed conspiracy theories. Among other things, he’s said that:
Boykin has previously argued that Hitler wasn’t a right-wing extremist, but in fact was a leftist. This time he trotted out that argument to show why organizations like the SPLC supposedly aren’t credible authorities on what constitutes a “hate group.” In the past, he has said that American Jews don’t understand Hitler and mistakenly back Democrats as a result.

 

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