Family Research Council

Ted Cruz Embraces Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins

Last night, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins officially endorsed Ted Cruz for president during an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Perkins’ endorsement was long expected, as he has worked behind the scenes to coalesce Religious Right leaders behind Cruz’s candidacy.

Perkins is just the latest anti-gay extremist to endorse Cruz, who in a press release hailed Perkins as “a man of incredible principle and faith” and “a steadfast fighter for the principles that have made this country a shining beacon for liberty.”

Before leading FRC, Perkins was a Republican politician in Louisiana who, as we noted back in December, “spoke at least twice to the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens and reportedly ‘paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list’ while working as the campaign manager for failed U.S. Senate candidate Woody Jenkins.”

Perkins has used his post at FRC to defend Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” bill and to call gay rights advocates pawns of Satan, warning that the gay rights movement is part of a “population control” conspiracy that will lead to a Holocaust of Christians, mass death and terrorism.

No fan of religious liberty, Perkins has denounced civil rights for Muslim-Americans and adherents of “fringe religions” and suggested that liberal Christians shouldn’t have the same rights as conservative ones.

Perkins’ extremism and holier-than-thou attitude, of course, makes him a perfect fit for Cruz’s campaign.

Tony Perkins: Reagan Would Never Have Negotiated With Iran!

Yesterday, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, spoke with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on the “Washington Watch” radio program about the U.S. prisoner swap with Iran, with both expressing outrage about the deal.

The two appeared to believe that this is the first time ever that the U.S. has negotiated such an agreement, with Poe insisting that now governments or groups that detain Americans will expect to barter with the U.S. government for other prisoners or money, which apparently they never thought of before the negotiations with Iran.

Perkins said that Ronald Reagan would have never made such a deal: “Long gone are the days of Ronald Reagan when we said, ‘We don’t negotiate with terrorists.’ Now we make all kinds of deals and it just appears that America comes out on the short end of the deal.”

Perkins may want to read up on Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair.

Here’s a helpful summary from the Washington Post:

… The Reagan administration sold arms to Iran, a country desperate for materiel during its lengthy war with Iraq; in exchange for the arms, Iran was to use its influence to help gain the release of Americans held hostage in Lebanon; and the arms were purchased at high prices, with the excess profits diverted to fund the Reagan-favored "contras" fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

It was a grand scheme that violated American law and policy all around: Arms sales to Iran were prohibited; the U.S. government had long forbidden ransom of any sort for hostages; and it was illegal to fund the contras above the limits set by Congress.

Paul Rosenberg adds that the Reagan administration “got zero net hostages released, and one dead hostage’s body dumped,” by Iranian-linked terrorist groups in Lebanon “in return for 2,512 TOW anti-tank missiles, 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles and more than 240 Hawk spare parts” that the U.S. illegally shipped to the Iranian government.

Not to mention the cover-up.

This is far from the Right’s first case of creative memory when it comes to Reagan.

Seven GOP Candidates Seek To Out-Pander One Another In Courting The Religious Right

Last week, we noted that several Republican presidential candidates were scheduled to participate in a "Free to Believe" broadcast hosted by notorious anti-gay activists Rick Scarborough, who claims that HIV/AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality and that gay parents are sending their kids to hell, and Tony Perkins, who says gay people are pawns of the Devil who want to "recruit" children.

On her program last Friday, Rachel Maddow also took note of the fact that the leading 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls had no problem participating in an event organized and co-hosted by an extremist like Scarborough:

The event itself was broadcast on Saturday morning from the headquarters of the Family Research Council, the group led by Perkins, and wound up being four hours of sanctimonious self-pity and mind-numbing dullness interspersed by short videos submitted by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum all blatantly pandering to the Religious Right.

After Bush kicked things off by providing a vague promise to be a "strong advocate of religious liberty" as president, Carson turned things up a notch by declaring that "the greatest threat to religious freedom in America today is secular progressivism," as demonstrated by the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, and vowing that, if elected president, he will work with Congress to pass legislation exempting Christians from having to recognize this decision.

Carson was followed by Cruz, who insisted that Christians "face an unprecedented attack on our first freedom from an aggressive secular state that seeks to push faith out of the public square entirely" and likewise promised that, if elected president, he'll make it his first order of business to see that "the persecution of religious liberty ends today."

Later in the broadcast, Carly Fiorina told those watching that "religious liberty is under assault in our country" and that America needs a leader who will fight to "take our country back." And that leader should be her, Fiorina explained, because "my faith has been tested in good times and in bad and never found wanting."

She was followed by Huckabee, who trotted out his standard campaign promise to simply ignore the Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage and abortion and essentially outlaw them both through executive action.

Up next, Rubio declared that "it shouldn't surprise us, this all-out assault on our liberties, because we have a president that, when he was a candidate the first time, he said that those of us that have traditional values are bitter people who cling to our guns and to our religion." He went on to promise that, as president, he will proudly "stand up for those" who are called "bigots and haters" for opposing gay marriage and abortion.

Santorum finally closed things out by decrying the "virulent assault" on religious liberty in America as demonstrated by "the lack of tolerance" for those who oppose gay marriage, promising that, as president, he will not only sign the First Amendment Defense Act, but "then we'll move further" and reverse the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling.

Five GOP Candidates To Join Pastor Who Says AIDS Is God's Punishment For Gay People

In yet another example of what the Religious Right’s recent focus on “religious liberty” is really about, five Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak this weekend at a “religious freedom” event hosted by a conservative pastor who has repeatedly declared that AIDS is God’s punishment for gay people’s “immoral act” and has called for a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality.

Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee are scheduled to join a “Free to Believe Broadcast” on Saturday, hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, two of the most outspoken anti-gay activists in the country.

Both, even while attempting to curtail the rights of LGBT people, have claimed that it is their rights that are being violated by the LGBT movement: Perkins has said that the supposed persecution of anti-gay Christians in America is inspiring ISIS, and Scarborough has declared that he is ready to burn to death in the fight against gay marriage.

But neither Scarborough nor Perkins has ever been particularly interested in a “live and let live” truce with LGBT people.

Scarborough has declared that AIDS, “a homosexual disease,” is God’s “judgment as a result of an immoral act.” Just last year, he repeated his belief that AIDS is “God’s judgment on a sinful generation, adding that “God would probably give us the cure for AIDS today” if the U.S. stopped supporting gay rights:

He also said last year that marriage equality is part of Satan’s effort to “destroy this country,” warning that gay parents will lead their children “into an early grave called hell”:

Scarborough is so concerned about gay people that back in 2013 he brought up the idea of issuing a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality, much like actions taken against the tobacco industry:

In 2014, Scarborough agreed with Islamic fundamentalists who call America the “Great Satan,” saying that God would be perfectly justified in sending a nuclear bomb to destroy the country because of such sins as President Obama’s appointments of a handful of gay ambassadors:

And that’s just Scarborough. Perkins has a vile anti-gay record of his own, which Brian summarized last month.

Also appearing at the event will be Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who has warned that gay people seek to “groom” and “entrap” children, and David and Jason Benham, brothers who became Religious Right martyrs when they lost a TV show they were set to star in after their anti-gay activism came to light.

Cruz might not mind appearing with an activist who has said that God is punishing gay people with AIDS — after all, he has praised Scarborough before and has David Barton, an activist who has said similar things, leading a super PAC in support of his candidacy. Cruz and Huckabee similarly showed their willingness to cozy up to the most radical people in the anti-gay movement when they appeared last year at a conference hosted by Kevin Swanson, who spent much of the event expounding on what he interprets as the Bible’s call for the death penalty for gay people.

But if any of the other candidates have an ounce more shame, they might want to think twice about appearing at Saturday’s event.

GOP Rep. Scott Garrett: Only 'One Or Two People' Were Uninsured Before Obamacare

Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., stopped by “Washington Watch” yesterday to discuss President Obama’s then-upcoming State of the Union address, and was particularly upset that the president would likely praise the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Garrett told host Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, that Obamacare was a disastrous failure and only helped the “few” Americans who lacked health insurance before it was put into effect. He predicted that the president, in his address, would point to “the one or two” people who gained insurance as a result of health care reform.

“If I were him, and what he would do, is probably pull out the one or two people in the country who didn’t have health insurance before and say, ‘Look, so and so here has it now and he didn’t have it then, and so and so didn’t have it before and now he has it then [sic],’” he said. “But the question is: Was Obamacare the best way to provide health insurance to those few people who did not have it before at the same time that millions of Americans suffered under the results of it?”

In fact, 17 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Via Mother Jones:

Tony Perkins' Selective Posturing on Religious Liberty

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ self-important “State of the Family” address on Monday was not just about chaos and blood in the streets caused by marriage equality and other “confusion” about the definition of the family. It was also about religious liberty, and Perkins’ familiar charge that the “far left” wants to deny religious Americans both their freedom of speech and their freedom of religion:

“Desperate to preserve its power, the far left now seeks to label all of its critics as extremists or haters and aggressively seeks to silence all who oppose its agenda. But we should take heart even from this. Our opponents seek to limit our freedom of speech because they fear its power. They seek to restrain the expression of our convictions because they are unsure of the truth of theirs. The freedom of expression is the very essence of liberty. But there can be no liberty in America without religious liberty. In our hearts we know this to be true.”

America’s founders, said Perkins, “believed that the best account of our personal and civic duties comes not from the whims of the political class but from the transcendent truths of scripture itself.”

“It is easy to see why we now sail such dangerous seas. Many of our nation’s leading politicians and jurists believe that religion is a toxin in public life, something to be quarantined within the four walls of our churches. They want our culture stripped of the guidance of faith, the centrality of family, and the liberties that are our divine birthright. Not only will it be impermissible to publicly acknowledge the God who made us. It will be unlawful to act on our deepest understanding of Him and His commandments. Acting on conscience will be a bar to public service. It’ll be a reason to be fined or fired.

In his speech, Perkins declared, “Religious liberty must become a priority again within our foreign policy.”

The history of the last century is clear. Totalitarians of every stripe have made suppression of all religious freedom or the liberty of some religions the target of their regimes. Especially dangerous are those who feed on religious hatred. We must promote and defend religious liberty as a human right for all faiths to be able to live freely wherever they are and whoever they are. Why? Because advocating for religious liberty lets the oppressed throughout the world know that they have a friend in America. And, it sends a message to the terrorists and the tyrants as well. That knowledge bears long-term fruit for our own security. And frankly, it’s simply the right thing to do for a nation whose national motto is In God We Trust.”

Much of this statement, coming from someone else, would be unobjectionable. But coming from Perkins, it is jaw-droppingly hypocritical.

Perkins and his Family Research Council colleagues have not consistently advocated for religious liberty for people of all faiths. For example, when Religious Right groups were rallying opposition to the misnamed “Ground Zero Mosque,” FRC’s Ken Blackwell was among them. Perkins said just last month that banning Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. would not be imposing a religious test because “only 16 percent of Islam is a religion.” He has said that people are free to make their own theological choices, but that our nation was founded on “Judeo-Christian principles” and that “those who practice Islam in its entirety” will “destroy the fabric of a democracy.”

Retired Gen. Jerry Boykin, now FRC’s executive vice president, has also pushed the idea that Muslims do not deserve the protection of the First Amendment because Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” On Bryan Fischer’s radio show in 2011 Boykin declared, “No mosques in America,” explaining, “A mosque is an embassy for Islam and they recognize only a global caliphate, not the sanctity or sovereignty of the United States.”

Perkins has even argued that Christians who support marriage equality for same-sex couples don’t have the same religious liberty protections as Christians like him because “true religious freedom” applies only to those with “orthodox religious viewpoints.” He has dismissed as “supposed Christians” those who support reproductive choice.

And Perkins has also criticized the military for accommodating “fringe religions” and suggested that it is not the government’s role “to try to put all religions on the same plane.”

In his remarks about religious freedom in the military, Perkins claimed that Boykin had been forced to withdraw from a West Point prayer breakfast “because of the pressure from atheist groups.” In reality, the most influential protest against Boykin’s appearing at West Point probably came from dozens of the military academy’s faculty and cadets, most of them Christians, who thought Boykin’s remarks painting the U.S. as waging a holy war against Islam were irresponsible and could threaten the lives of service members overseas.

Perkins also urged Congress to pass the co-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would give legal protection to those practicing anti-gay discrimination. Perkins called the bill “a first and a vital step” and he celebrated the fact that candidates Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum have pledged to sign FADA in their first 100 days if the legislation makes it to their desk. 

Kim Davis' Lawyer, Invited To SOTU, Is An Anti-Gay, Anti-Obama Zealot

Throughout the day, reporters have been trying to figure out which member of Congress invited Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and her lawyer, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, to tonight’s State of the Union address. While the invitations were arranged by the far-right Family Research Council, which gave Davis its “Cost of Discipleship Award” last year, FRC has been mum on which congressman got them the tickets in the first place. (UPDATE: The tickets came from Rep. Jim Jordan’s office, but the congressman says he wasn’t aware that they went to Davis.)

Whichever member of Congress arranged for Staver to attend the State of the Union will have to answer for inviting one of the most extreme anti-gay voices in the country to the event.

Staver has accused President Obama of supporting “forced homosexuality,” specifically for children, compared gay rights advocates to terrorists and blamed bank failures during the 2008 financial crisis on “the homosexual agenda.”

According to Staver, the advance of gay rights will lead to diseaserapechild abusedeathviolent crimerevolutionthe collapse of society and “the end of western civilization.”

It is no wonder that Staver believes homosexuality is “demonic” and praises countries that criminalize same-sex relationships, calling gay people’s relationships “destructive to individuals” and “destructive to our very social fabric.” His firm previously represented an ex-gay woman who, in the midst of a custody battle with her former partner, kidnapped the couple’s daughter and moved to an unknown location in Central America.

Staver has also alleged that President Obama is persecuting conservative activists like himself and is bent on becoming a global dictatorcreating his own personal army and fomenting genocide.

Naturally, Liberty Counsel said in a statement that Staver plans to use his appearance alongside Davis at the State of the Union to remind the president of his supposed anti-Christian tyranny:

While the President will be extolling his “accomplishments” of the last seven years, Kim Davis and Mat Staver will be a visible reminder of the Administration’s attack on religious liberty and an encouragement for people of faith to stand.

For seven years, people of faith have been in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration. The state of religious liberty is dire, but we cannot give up.

“Kim and I are encouraging all people of faith to get involved in the political process, to vote for people who support your values, and to never give up,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Our ‘one nation under God,’ is worth our continued prayers and active support.”

Tony Perkins: 'Blood On Our Streets' Because Of Gay Marriage, Family 'Confusion'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins delivered his second annual “State of the Family Address” at his organization’s offices yesterday, a pompous affair to which he invited various supposed victims of American anti-Christian persecution, like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, and his fellow Religious Right leaders.

Perkins, the self-appointed president of American families, faulted President Obama for talking about the importance of fatherhood while simultaneously supporting same-sex marriage, which he called an “incoherent, ideological campaign” that is leading to “havoc in our homes and blood in our streets.”

“The promise of strong efforts these past seven years to restore fatherhood and reestablish family life in our poorest communities has faded completely,” he said. “Instead, national policies have sown confusion about the very definition of family. President Obama has extolled the virtues of fatherhood even as he has fought for same-sex marriage, in essence saying two same-gendered person can parent as well as a mom and a dad. This contradictory message is more than disappointing. For our children throughout the country, it is devastating. It reduces mothers and fathers to genderless caregivers. Our children deserve better: They deserve a mom and a dad.”

“And we pay a price for this incoherent, ideological campaign by havoc in our homes and blood in our streets,” he added. “That’s why we have to re-empower American parents. The decision of our courts on contraception for minors, abortion on demand and redefining marriage have gravely weakened the family.”

Cruz Gets Another Anti-Gay Endorser: Linda Harvey

As Kyle pointed out a few weeks ago, people who hate gay people sure do seem to love Ted Cruz.

Today, Cruz can add another name to his long list of anti-gay endorsers: Mission America’s Linda Harvey, who as a columnist and host of a conservative radio show spreads some of the most extreme anti-gay rhetoric in the country.

Harvey announced her support for Cruz in a joint press release with a number of Ohio conservatives, including Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values and Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life. The release directs supporters to the website of Keep The Promise, a pro-Cruz Super PAC led by Religious Right activist David Barton, but the endorsements have not been promoted by the PAC or the Cruz campaign, at least not yet.

Perhaps Harvey thinks that Cruz will be the president she has longed for who will issue “an Emancipation Proclamation … to free America from the tyranny of sodomy.”

Harvey, who is boycotting so many pro-LGBT businesses that she complains she is running out of places to shop, has just this year:

Harvey has also advised parents not to let gay doctors or nurses treat their children, even when they’re hospitalized, and has insisted that “there is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human.”

Burress and Smith also have anti-gay records that allow them to fit right in with their fellow Cruz supporters. Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values is the Ohio state affiliate of the Family Research Council, was an influential player in the passage of waves of anti-gay-marriage legislation in the 1990s and early 2000s, although his true passion is fighting against pornography. Smith, the head of Cleveland Right to Life and a leader of the fetal personhood group Personhood Alliance, has clashed with the National Right to Life Committee over her anti-gay activism.

Both Burress and Smith have fought to stop the Republican Party from becoming too friendly to gay people, attacking Ohio Sen. Rob Portman when he came out in favor of marriage equality. Burress, who called Portman “a very troubled man,” urged the senator to put his gay son into ex-gay therapy and later vowed to run a primary challenger against him.

Cruz Rallies Christian Right, Slams 'Secular Agenda' At Campaign Stop With James Dobson

At an Iowa campaign stop with influential Religious Right activist James Dobson yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz warned that people of faith have consented to “allow nonbelievers to elect our leaders,” and now a “secular agenda” bent on doing away with the Ten Commandments and stifling religious liberty is on the rise.

Cruz repeated to the audience in Winterset, Iowa, his insistence that an atheist would be unfit to be president , saying, “If you don’t begin every day on your knees asking God for His wisdom and support, I don’t believe you’re fit to do this job.”

He also repeated his assertion that Republicans lost the last two presidential elections because millions of evangelicals stayed at home. “I believe the key to winning in 2016 is very simple,” he said. “We have to bring back to the polls the millions of conservatives who stayed home, we have to awaken and energize the body of Christ.”

“You know,” he said, “we look at our federal government now, and we have a federal government that is waging a war on life, a war on marriage, a war on religious liberty. We have a federal government that is advancing a secular agenda that puts the ability of Bible-believing Christians to live our faith more and more in jeopardy and that is appeasing radical Islamic terrorism, in fact refuses even to acknowledge its name. And if you look at the federal government, you might say, ‘Why do we have government attacking life, attacking marriage, attacking faith, attacking religious liberty?’ Well, is it any wonder, when a majority of believers are staying home? If we allow nonbelievers to elect our leaders, we shouldn’t be surprised when our government doesn’t reflect our values.”

Cruz also doubled down on his criticism of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling , calling both it and the King v. Burwell ruling preserving the Affordable Care Act “fundamentally illegitimate” and “lawless.” He warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, the Supreme Court would “tear down our constitutional liberties fundamentally” by ruling against Ten Commandments monuments on public grounds and reversing the Heller decision, which found an individual right to bear arms. (When Cruz said that this meant “the government can make it a felony for you to own a firearm and protect your family,” an audience member yelled out, “Come and take it!”)

Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council who recently endorsed Cruz, also said he was very impressed by the candidate’s wife, Heidi Cruz, saying that “there has never in American history been a pro-life first lady” and that with her we “have a chance to get one this time.”

The Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts recorded the event. Cruz and Dobson discuss prayer about 2 minutes into the video; the “missing” evangelical vote about 6 minutes in; the Supreme court around 13 minutes in; and Heidi Cruz about 24 minutes in.

Trump: Christians' 'Power Is Being Taken Away' In America

On Saturday, Donald Trump spoke with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, the extremist Religious Right leader who has been rallying conservative activists around Ted Cruz, on Perkins’ radio program “Washington Watch.”

The GOP presidential frontrunner went on his usual rants about the so-called “War on Christmas” and how this anti-Christmas spirit is undermining religious liberty. Trump, who has made attacks on Muslims a central part of his campaign, said that Christians in America are losing their religious freedoms, unlike Muslim-Americans, whom he said have been able to “band together better or something.”

Well, Tony, I can, tell you this, that religious liberty is very important to me, and I see more and more, especially, in particular, Christianity, Christians, their power is being taken away. I just watch it and I get angry at it. You look at what is going on with other religions, you look at, as an example, what’s happening with respect to Muslims and others where perhaps they just band together better or something. But, you know, the Christian, every year, you just see it more and more.

You know, you go from one thing to the next to the point where it’s not politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anybody or you go to stores and you don’t ever see the word ‘Christmas’ anymore. You don’t see that term anymore, Tony.

One of the things I always say, and I say it lightheartedly but I mean it, it’s actually not supposed to be so lighthearted, and I get standing ovations, especially in Iowa and certain places, is we are going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. Because you go into these stores and you don’t see anything having to do with Christmas and it’s disgraceful, frankly, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s the way it should be and I feel strongly about it.

Perkins went on to praise Trump’s brave stand in favor of Christmas, which led Trump to discuss the case of a Washington state high school coach who was placed on paid leave after coercing students into religious activity. Trump said it was “incredible” that this coach was disciplined while he, Trump, has been “lambasted” for trying “to see what’s going on with” the “whole thing with the Muslims.”

You know, when I see coaches being fired or suspended because they’re having a prayer for football players, the players are grabbing each other’s hand and praying before or after a game and they suspend the coach or fire the coach in some cases, I say, that’s not happening, if I get in, that’s not happening, Tony, I’ll tell you right now and I’ll make a big deal out of it.

I mean, we have some very important problems, when you look at ISIS and the disaster of Obamacare and our military and our vets not being taken care of properly, but you know that’s still something that is very important to me. How do you suspend a coach because he is practicing his faith?

Then, when I want to see what’s going on with, as an example, you know, it’s been a very big subject, the whole thing with the Muslims, and you get lambasted for doing something and yet they’ll fire a coach who’s a Christian coach because he’s saying a prayer on a football field with his players. It’s an incredible situation that’s taking place and not a good one!

Six GOP Hopefuls Vow To Enshrine Anti-Gay Discrimination Into Law

In the wake of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling, anti-gay Religious Right groups rallied around a piece of legislation known as the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prohibit the federal government from "taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."

In essence, the law would give individuals and businesses a license to openly discriminate against gay people and others in the name of "religious liberty," so naturally anti-gay groups have lined up in support of the legislation.

Today, several of these groups — the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, Family Research Council Action — announced that six GOP presidential hopefuls have all signed a pledge to, if elected to the White House, push for the passage of the FADA within their first 100 days in office:

American Principles Project has joined together with Heritage Action for America, the action arm of the Heritage Foundation, and FRC Action, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, to invite each of the candidates running for President to sign the following pledge:

“If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as President.”

So far, six candidates have signed the pledge:

•   Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

•   Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida)

•   Dr. Ben Carson

•   Carly Fiorina

•   Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania)

•   Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas)


Maggie Gallagher, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, released the following statement:

“It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP. Three out of the four top contenders for the nomination — Carson, Cruz, and Rubio — have pledged to prioritize passing FADA in their first 100 days of office. Additionally, Bush, Graham, Paul, and now for the first time, Donald Trump, have publicly expressed support for FADA. Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away.”

Religious Right: Bible Dictates Laws & Economic Policy But Islam Not a Religion Because It Is A Political & Economic System

Donald Trump’s call to bar all Muslims from entering the country was widely recognized as an appeal for explicit religious discrimination and generated significant pushback.  But many of Trump’s right-wing defenders have turned to an argument that has long bounced around Religious Right circles: that Muslims are not entitled to the religious liberty protections of the First Amendment because Islam is somehow not a religion. A few years ago, for example, retired Lt. Gen Jerry Boykin called Islam “a totalitarian way of life” that “should not be protected under the First Amendment.”

At this week’s Republican presidential debate, Rick Santorum explained why he believes Islam is not protected under the First Amendment, an argument made repeatedly by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Here’s Santorum:

The fact of the matter is, Islam is different. I know this is going to come as a shock to a lot of people, and I mean this sincerely. Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political governing structure. The fact of the matter is, Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law, it is also a civil government, it is also a form of government. And, so, the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong.

Conservative columnist and radio host Andrew McCarthy has similarly defended Trump’s comments, saying that Islam is not merely a religion because it “has ambitions to be more than a religion, that is to say that it is an ideological, sweeping system that does not recognize a division between spiritual life on the one hand and political and civic life on the other.”

Back in September, Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins defended similar comments by Ben Carson:

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution,” Perkins said. “And as Dr. Caron pointed out, and I know this is driving the left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a compressive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. That’s what Dr. Carson said and he happens to be correct.”

More recently, Perkins defended Trump with a dubiously specific statistic, saying that “only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic and political system.” Televangelist Pat Robertson also said this month that people should not view Islam as a religion but rather a “political system masquerading as a religion.”

Wait a minute. Aren’t these the same people who repeatedly insist that the Bible is the final authority on everything, from laws regulating personal relationships to economic and tax policy, and environmental protection? Anti-marriage-equality activists have insisted that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was in violation of “God’s law” and therefore “illegitimate.” 

David Barton, an oft-discredited “historian” and Republican Party activist who is currently heading up a Ted Cruz super PAC, argues that the Bible opposes minimum wage laws, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, any progressive form of taxation and even net neutrality. He says the Constitution came right out of the Bible. If you applied Tony Perkins’ calculations to David Barton’s Bible, what percentage would come up as religion?

Many Religious Right leaders have embraced Seven Mountains dominionism, which is grounded in the belief that the right kind of Bible-believing Christians are meant to control all the important spheres of culture, including government, business, education, and entertainment. For example, the American Pastors Network’s Sam Rohrer says this:

Government leaders are charged with wielding the Word of God as an instrument of Justice, promoting God’s moral law as the foundation of right and wrong, encouraging those who do well biblically, and executing judgment on those who break the law.

Along those lines, three Republican presidential candidates, including current Iowa frontrunner Ted Cruz, recently joined a “religious freedom” rally organized by a pastor who argues that the Bible requires the government to execute gay people.

And don’t forget David Lane, whose American Renewal Project is mobilizing conservative pastors to get more involved in politics — and who argues that America was founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, and that the Bible should be a primary textbook in public schools.

So, a thought for Religious Right leaders: If you are going to argue for stripping Muslims of their First Amendment religious liberty protections based on your interpretation of Islam as an enterprise that is more political and ideological than religious, you may have to trim your own political sails quite a bit. Either that, or quit pretending you are proponents of religious freedom, and admit that you, like Bryan Fischer, believe the First Amendment applies only to Christians, or, like Tony Perkins, that gay-supporting Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections because a “true religious freedom” has to “come forth from religious orthodoxy.” Just don’t try to pretend your definition of “religious freedom” owes anything to Thomas Jefferson or the First Amendment. 

Religious Right Leaders Let Mike Huckabee Down -- Again

As we noted earlier this week, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins recently helped lead an effort to get Religious Right leaders to rally around a single Republican presidential candidate in order to maximize the movement’s ability to get a nominee to their liking. Earlier this month, dozens of Religious Right leaders agreed to back Ted Cruz over Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee, a favorite of many Religious Right activists in 2008, wasn’t even a finalist.

The National Review’s Tim Alberta reports that Mike Huckabee is disappointed by the development:

“For reasons I don’t fully understand, years and years of actually doing something and getting things done didn’t matter,” Huckabee said of the group’s deliberations. ”And I don’t understand that.”

…Huckabee, according to sources, has often reminded Perkins and his fellow influencers that a major reason he gave up his Fox News show and launched a 2016 campaign was because he expected to have their backing. Their decision to instead support Cruz, then, seemed to sting Huckabee personally as much as politically. “You know, everybody has a right to do what they want to do. But it was disappointing to me. These are guys I’ve worked with for years and years. Many of them I’ve helped with their projects and their various endeavors,” Huckabee says, shaking his head. A moment later, he adds, “But you know, that’s life.”

It’s not the first time evangelical leaders have disappointed Huckabee. In the 2008 Republican primary race, Huckabee surprised many when he won the Iowa caucus, eventually winning victories in eight states. But many Religious Right leaders at the time weren’t initially convinced he could win and were slow to rally around him. James Dobson didn’t endorse Huckabee until after McCain’s successes on Super Tuesday. Huckabee did not keep his frustrations to himself when he eventually dropped out of the 2008 race.

The Southern Baptist minister said leaders who stood behind pulpits and shared biblical stories of faith were far less likely to put faith in Huckabee’s candidacy. 

“Some people really worshipped at the altar of electability rather than to be faithful and loyal to the principles they were supposed to be committed to,” Huckabee said on a telephone conference call sponsored by Charisma magazine. 

“When it gets to their own political realm, they think more secularly than even the secular people. That was very troubling,” he said. 

Right-wing activist Paul Weyrich said at the time that he regretted not having backed Huckabee when it might have made a difference. It seems likely that Huckabee could have made a strong case for Religious Right backing in 2012; in fact he had strong poll numbers in 2011 and the New York Times suggested that if he had entered the race he would have become the “presumed candidate of evangelicals.” But he seems to have missed his chance when he decided, after sending lots of contradictory signals, to sit that one out.

Dave Daubenmire Says FRC, AFA And The GOP Don't Really Want To End Abortion

Earlier this week, "Coach" Dave Daubenmire appeared on "Talkback with Chuck Wilder" radio program to discuss his long history of anti-choice activism. During the discussion, Daubenmire asserted that Republicans and Religious Right groups do not actually want to end abortion in America because they make too much money exploiting the issue.

After claiming that Democrats will never end abortion because the federal government gives hundreds of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, which he falsely claimed then gets "recycled out" into Democratic campaign coffers, Daubenmire said that Republicans and groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association don't really want to end abortion either.

"I want people to understand this because I know this to be the truth," he said. "Republicans raise hundreds of millions of dollars fighting against Planned Parenthood. All those pro-life Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, I could just go on and on, the American Family Association, they raise hundreds of millions of dollars to end abortion and, Chuck, what do you suppose they do with that money? Yes, you're right. They funnel it to pro-life representatives. So neither one of those people, neither group, Chuck, wants abortion to go away. The Democrats want it to stay because they can raise money on it and the Republicans want it to stay because they can raise money on it. I know that sounds callous, brother, but I'm just telling you that's the way that game is played."

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 12/15/15

  • Some insightful political analysis from Nicole Russell at The Federalist: "With A Beard, Paul Ryan Exudes Manliness."
  • NOM credits itself for Ted Cruz's rise in the polls.
  • Walid Shoebat is every bit as reasonable as his son, Theodore: "No matter how often Americans count calories or endure Obama’s camel-faced wife saying that we ought to 'solve the epidemic of childhood obesity,' Americans know they are being hypocritical. The Hot Dog and Hamburger is the American idol while Michelle Ben Lying will always secretly be viewed by Americans as 'butt-ugly' and 'wholly stupid'."
  • Carl Jackson says that "Democrats have managed to keep their representation in Congress despite their high abortion rates by flooding urban areas with illegal aliens, refugees and ex-convicts."
  • Jason Jones and John Zmirak explain why "your secular liberal neighbor’s beliefs are completely incoherent. His mind is a mad scientist’s curiosity shop full of matter and anti-matter, which only avoids imploding into a black hole of gibbering madness because its compartment walls are sturdy, strong, and high."
  • Finally, FRC praises itself for its role in helping to repeal Houston's anti-discrimination ordinance:

Everything You Need To Know About Tony Perkins, The Man Who Brought The Religious Right To Ted Cruz

The National Review reports today that Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, convened a meeting last week at which several dozen influential Religious Right activists sought to unify their support behind a single presidential candidate. Ted Cruz ultimately won a supermajority of those involved, and as a result “an avalanche of endorsements is forthcoming from conservative leaders,” including a looming endorsement from Perkins.

Perkins previously served as a state lawmaker in Louisiana and unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2002. His career was not without controversy: He spoke at least twice to the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens and reportedly “paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list” while working as the campaign manager for failed U.S. Senate candidate Woody Jenkins. “The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke,” reported The Nation.

Despite Perkins’ high standing in the conservative movement, his positions place him far outside the mainstream. This isn’t just because he opposes things like gay marriage and abortion rights, as most conservative leaders do. Instead, Perkins has a record of labeling his political opponents as satanic, conjuring up wild conspiracy theories and backing extremist legislation around the world, including a Uganda bill that would have imposed the death penalty or life prison sentences for some gay people.

Of course, seeing that Cruz has already touted endorsements from a convicted abortion doctor stalker, an activist who wants abortion providers to be executed and activists who link gay people to everything from Ebola to Amtrak crashes to terrorism to the Holocaust, Perkins will fit right in.

Perkins on LGBT rights:

  • Claimed gay youth have a higher suicide rate because they intrinsically know their sexual orientation is “abnormal.”
  • Alleged that America’s enemies would celebrate the lifting of the military’s ban on transgender service members.
  • Urged states to defy court decisions in favor of marriage equality since they are “inconsistent with nature itself” and “certainly inconsistent with scripture.”
  • Claimed that militaries that allow LGBT people to serve openly — which includes Israel’s — are “the ones that participate in parades, they don't fight wars to keep the nation and the world free.”

Perkins on LGBT rights supporters:

  • Described LGBT rights activists as pawns of the Devil: “The Enemy is simply using them as pawns, they are held captive by the Enemy.”
  • Argued that LGBT rights activists want “the indoctrination of our kids” because “there is an emptiness within them” and “they are looking for that acceptance.”
  • Warned that “global homosexuality” and “radical sexualism” is promoting “immorality” and the persecution of Christians.
  • Claimed state hate crimes laws breed “chaos” and lead to “indoctrination of our children in schools and the loss of religious freedom and the freedom of speech.”
  • Insisted that the 2009 Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act made it a “federal crime” to be a Christian.

Perkins on religious freedom and religious minorities:

  • Warned that “liberal Jewish folk” who support marriage equality and abortion rights are undermining Israel.
  • Lambasted Christians who support Planned Parenthood and abortion rights as phony Christians.
  • Called Islam an “evil” religion.
  • Attacked supporters of refugee resettlement as those who “hate America” and seek to bring in Muslims to undermine “the values of America.”
  • Said the government shouldn’t treat those who adhere to “fringe religions” as equals to Christians.

Perkins on President Obama:

  • Said of Obama: “I think he has been the worst president this country ever had and if he has four more years in the White House I don’t know that the country can survive his attacks on the family.”
  • Likened Obama to an evil king who was punished by God in the Bible.
  • Warned that Obama wants to “eliminate” Christian teachings.
  • Claimed Obama administration officials have done “nothing” to stop ISIS because they are “busy pushing their own radical social policy agenda.”
  • Defended a conspiracy theory about Obama deliberately spreading to Ebola in order to justify marital law.
  • Said that Obama “despises the military and everything that it stands for and has systematically been dismantling it and demoralizing our military.”

Religious Right Leaders Rally Around Ted Cruz At Secret Endorsement Meeting

Religious Right leaders are intent on being the ones to pick the Republican presidential nominee this time around and they’re throwing their collective weight behind Ted Cruz.

The movement’s leaders have been seething for eight years now that they were forced to rally behind Republican presidential candidates they weren’t excited about — John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.  After years of angling to prevent that from happening in 2016, “several dozen” Religious Right leaders met in secret in early December and voted to rally around Ted Cruz.

National Review’s Tim Alberta describes the event, which Cruz backers entered with the upper hand. It took five ballots for Cruz's supporters to browbeat backers of Marco Rubio into submission and give Cruz the three-quarters supermajority needed. Those who attended the meeting had vowed to either publicly support the eventual winner of the day’s balloting or to remain silent in the Republican primary. Reports Allen,

The impact was felt immediately on the 2016 campaign. Three prominent participants — direct-mail pioneer and longtime activist Richard Viguerie, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, and The Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats – announced their support of Cruz within 72 hours of the meeting at the Sheraton. 

Cruz, of course, had plenty of conservative evangelical support before this meeting. We noted back in the summer that he was consolidating support from the Christian Nation crowd, including discredited “historian” David Barton  —  who heads a Cruz super PAC  —  and billionaire fracking brothers Farris and Dan Wilks  —  who have pumped $15 million into the pro-Cruz super PAC effort. Since then, Cruz has been holding and attending “religious liberty” events  —  including one hosted by a pastor who calls for the execution of gays, and one at Bob Jones University, famous for claiming religious backing for its racial segregationist policies.

Cruz openly promotes the efforts of Christian-nation zealot David Lane to “take back” the country by using pastor-candidates to mobilize high evangelical turnout. Cruz told American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon this summer, “Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead.”

Lane, who matches Cruz’s contempt for “establishment” Republicans, said back in 2013, “We’re going to try to eliminate the stuff that [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and the Romneys left.” Lane had cheered attacks on Romney’s faith and the “false god of Mormonism.”

Cruz has been courting Religious Right activists for years, even before the underdog, Tea Party-fueled victory in the GOP primary that propelled him into the U.S. Senate. Back before that election, he told the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” That message hasn’t changed: Just last week his campaign’s “prayer team” was told that “we’re in a spiritual battle today as never before.”

For the Religious Right, what’s not to like about Cruz? His anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-government bona fides are unquestionable. His father, Rafael Cruz, an unabashed Christian-nation extremist and anti-gay bigot who says that it is God’s plan for his son to be president, makes an effective ambassador for Cruz to the far right.

Is anyone not jumping on the Cruz bandwagon? A group of Latino Republicans held a press conference yesterday to denounce Cruz for his anti-immigrant positions  —  which they said were the same Romney “self-deportation” policies by another name  —  and for Cruz’s support of Donald Trump’s bigotry.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, a leader of the effort to get the Religious Right to rally around a single candidate, has tried this before, without much success. In 2012, Perkins and other conservative evangelicals had tried to create unity around a single alternative to Romney. Perkins declared after a January 2012 gathering that Rick Santorum had emerged with a “strong consensus.”

But the voting process and outcome were disputed by Newt Gingrich supporters, and the idea that evangelical leaders could deliver their followers to Santorum was undermined when Gingrich won the next event, South Carolina’s primary. Richard Viguerie, among others, urged Gingrich to drop out in order to boost Santorum’s chances. In the end, Santorum went on to win other southern primaries but couldn’t catch Romney.

In January 2012, after he won that supposed consensus endorsement for Santorum, Perkins dismissed suggestions that the meeting was too late to have an impact, even though it came after Romney had already won Iowa and New Hampshire and was building up a head of steam. Perkins clearly decided not to let that happen again.

Perkins: 'Only 16 Percent Of Islam Is A Religion' So Immigration Ban Not A 'Religious Test On Muslims'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins jumped into the debate over Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. yesterday, citing the same shoddy Center for Security Policy poll as Trump to say that “we shouldn’t be embarrassed to say that we oppose those who want to come to the United States to destroy it.”

In an email to FRC members last night with the subject line “How Do You Solve a Problem like Sharia?,” Perkins did not mention Trump’s proposal directly, but alluded to the “national discussion” about “who should and shouldn’t be in the country.”

Warning that unlike previous generations today’s immigrants don’t want to “come to America and assimilate,” Perkins declared that the U.S. may soon “lose our identity in the shadow of muliticulturalism.”

He then addressed the debate about Muslim immigration, writing, “What most people either don't realize or willfully ignore is that only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic, and political system. Christianity, by comparison, isn’t a judicial or economic code — but a faith. So to suggest that we would be imposing some sort of religious test on Muslims is inaccurate. Sharia is not a religion in the context of the First Amendment.”

How Do You Solve a Problem like Sharia?

The word "contentious" doesn't begin to describe the American immigration debate over the last two decades. But in recent days, the lines are being redrawn -- and with it, the national conversation. The focus is no longer being dominated by illegal immigration south of Texas but "legal" immigration coming from across the Atlantic, where a bold new enemy is exposing weaknesses in the West's tolerance.

Attacks in Paris, followed by a mass shooting in California have made believers of Americans, who doubted that radicalized Muslims were one of the greatest threats to our nation. Now, with President Obama offering to throw open the door to more Syrian refugees, more voters from both parties are ready to put the brakes on the process until a better, safer vetting protocol is in place.

As the national discussion turns to immigration, people are starting to stake out positions on who should and shouldn't be in the country. But first, we need to consider one of the unfortunate realities -- in America and elsewhere -- which is that the purpose of immigration has changed. It used to exist for people who wanted to come to America and assimilate. Now, in a dramatic shift from even our grandparents' generation, the "sensitivity" and "diversity" doctrine of the modern age is suggesting that we create cultural enclaves, where outsiders come to our country and live as if they never left home.

That doesn't work, as Europe will tell you. Instead, we lose our identity in the shadow of multiculturalism. It's happened in France, and it's happening in Britain. Leaders are learning a painful message that if you tiptoe around the global realities, you'll pay for it. If people want to live in America -- including Muslims -- they need to embrace our Constitution and our culture. Others have said in less artful ways what conservatives have been warning for years: there is no such thing as coexistence between Sharia law and our constitutional republic. That isn't religious prejudice, but an ideological reality.

What most people either don't realize or willfully ignore is that only 16 percent of Islam is a religion -- the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic, and political system. Christianity, by comparison, isn't a judicial or economic code -- but a faith. So to suggest that we would be imposing some sort of religious test on Muslims is inaccurate. Sharia is not a religion in the context of the First Amendment. Under the framework proposed by Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rick Santorum, America wouldn't vet refugees based on religion but an ideology that's incompatible with American liberty. "I've proposed actual concrete things [like eliminating the visa lottery system] and immigration law that would have -- not the effect of banning all Muslims, but a lot of them," Santorum explained.

The bottom line is this: the U.S. Constitution is an agreement between people about how they'll be governed. What good is it if people immigrate to America with the sole purpose of undermining that contract? We shouldn't be embarrassed to say that we oppose those who want to come to the United States to destroy it. And while most Muslims are not radicalized, Sharia certainly encourages it. Based on polling from the Center for Security Policy, that's the system most would choose. The majority of Muslims in America believe they "'should have the choice of being governed by Sharia [law].' Sharia authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won't convert, beheadings, and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women."

In America, we have freedom under the construct of ordered liberty. Even the Wall Street Journal struggles with the clash of these ideologies. "Certainly Islam and the America way of life are compatible in as much as America is capable of welcoming Muslims who are not Islamic supremacists. On the other hand, it's always struck us that categorical statements to the effect that Islam [is peaceful] are far more hortatory than empirical -- which is to say that there is a gap between Islam as it actually exists and Islam as...President Obama would like it to be. How wide that gap is, and how dangerous, we do not know." Nor, I would argue, should we risk the future of our nation to find out.

Déjà Vu, Global Radicalism Edition

Sometimes, covering the Religious Right every day, we feel like we’re hearing the exact same talking points repeated over and over again.

And then, sometimes, we actually are hearing the exact same talking points.

Earlier today, we wrote about a fundraising email that we got from the Family Research Council asking for money to fight the “sexual radicals” that are going to war with families throughout America. These were the first few paragraphs of FRC’s email:

I've never seen a year like 2015.

And 2016 may be worse—unless Christians like us get ready now.

In 2015, radicals in Washington (including the government), New York, Hollywood, big corporations, and every part of America have declared war on your values. Your family. Your religious beliefs and freedom.

Family Research Council (FRC) met every test head-on to counter and overturn many of the attacks. But now our team of experts and activists needs your year-end gift to end the year ready to protect your values in 2016.

So imagine our surprise when, this afternoon, we got this email from Austin Ruse of the Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), making a very similar argument:

I have never seen anything quite like this.

And 2016 may be worse—unless Christians like us get ready now.

In 2015, radicals at the United Nations, Washington, DC (including the government), New York, Hollywood, big corporations, and every part of global radicalism have declared war on your values. Your family. Your religious beliefs and freedom.

C-Fam met every test head-on to counter and overturn many of the attacks. But now our team of experts needs your year-end-gift to end the year ready to protect your values in 2016.

Times are tough, we guess.

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