This weekend, Religious Right leaders and GOP politicians will gather in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, an annual event that highlights the cozy relationship between Republican elected officials and extreme right-wing groups.
The event is hosted by the Family Research Council, a group with a long record of pushing false anti-gay propaganda. And one of the event’s major sponsors is the American Family Association, whose extreme right-wing views are expressed on a daily basis by its spokesman Bryan Fischer.
On Friday, People For the American Way joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Faithful America, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza to send a letter to every public official scheduled to speak at this year’s Values Voter Summit, urging them to withdraw from the event.
Among the scheduled speakers are Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Tim Scott and Reps. Paul Ryan, Randy Forbes, Michele Bachmann, Jim Bridenstine, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Steve King, Steve Scalise and Scott Turner.
The letter [pdf] reads in part:
We understand that you’ve been invited to speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit being held in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 11-13. Given the demonizing lies about the LGBT community spread by the host, the Family Research Council (FRC), and another major sponsor of the event, the American Family Association (AFA), we urge you to not lend the prestige of your office to the summit.
The FRC has amassed an extensive record of vilifying gays and lesbians with falsehoods – portraying them as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation. Perhaps its most insidious claim is that gay men molest children at a far higher rate than heterosexual men – a claim refuted by all credible scientific authorities, including the American Psychological Association. Yet the FRC has continued to smear gays and lesbians by claiming that pedophilia, in the words of FRC President Tony Perkins, “is a homosexual problem.”
Perkins also says the “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative designed to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow, is “disgusting” and part of a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.” One senior FRC official has even argued that homosexuality should be illegal.
The AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who serves as the group’s spokesman and director of issue analysis, frequently blames homosexuality for the Holocaust and Nazi Party: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” He also promotes the views of the American architect of the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.
Demonizing the LGBT community has consequences. As FBI data demonstrate, it is one of the groups most likely to be victimized by violent hate crimes. Defaming them publicly day after day – as the FRC and the AFA do – only throws fuel on the fire.
The bigotry of the FRC and the AFA is not limited to gays and lesbians. Fischer, for example, has said that African Americans “rut like rabbits” and argued that women should be kicked out of politics and the military. He’s also stated that Hispanics are “socialists by nature” and come here to “plunder” our country. The FRC’s executive vice president, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, has said Jews must be converted to Christianity and has argued that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections” – a statement that is antithetical to American ideals.
In 2011, we urged Mitt Romney not to share a stage with the extremists, and particularly Fischer, at that year’s Values Voter Summit. Although Romney still attended, he also made a point of calling out Fischer’s “poisonous language." This year, Fischer was noticeably not listed as a speaker at the summit, although his employer remains a sponsor.
Will Family Research Council president Tony Perkins run for US Congress next year? LaPolitics reports that Perkins, a former Louisiana state representative, is considering a run to succeed Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who is running for US Senate against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
Just how extreme is Perkins? While leading the FRC, he has:
But seeing that Perkins is already a leading Religious Right figure who most recently was involved in crafting the GOP’s government shutdown strategy, it’s safe to guess that Perkins will remain an influential figure whether he is elected to Congress or not.
Tony Perkins frequently tries to rebut the notion that he is anti-gay by showing how much he loves gay people by equating them with drug addicts and alcoholics, and Friday’s edition of Washington Watch was no different. The Family Research Council president asked listeners to pray for gay people just as they would for someone who abuses drugs or is cheating on a spouse.
“Here’s the telling thing about speaking to this issue of homosexuality and I think we got to be very, very careful here,” Perkins said. “First off we need to be praying for those who are bound up in these lifestyles whether it is homosexuality, whether it is drugs, whatever it might be, anything that is outside the design of God for mankind, it could be adulterous relationships, it doesn’t matter.”
“Our goal in speaking about human sexuality is not to win an argument but it is to point people to life, the abundant life.”
It is always fascinating when the borderline theocrats within the Religious Right movement start to warn that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in the military or in the government because their primary allegiance is to Allah and the Quran rather than the Constitution, but then try to explain why it is okay for Christians in the same positions to give their primary allegiance to God and the Bible.
As Jerry Boykin explained on a recent episode of "Prophetic Perspective on Current Events," it should have "raised a red flag" that someone like Nidal Hasan gave his first allegiance to the Quran rather than to the Constitution.
On the other hand, the first obligation of Christians like Boykin is also to God, but in that case it is not a cause for concern because the "Constitution was inspired by God":
Rick Joyner and Jerry Boykin are both encouraged but also concerned about the situation in Syria ... primarily because of what it might signal about the End Times.
Joyner is encouraged because he sees Biblical signs of the End Times everywhere he looks, which means Christians should be growing excited because the Day of Redemption is near. But one Biblical prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled is Isaiah 17's promise that the city of Damascus will be destroyed and this prophecy, said Joyner, "has to be fulfilled before this age can end."
For his part, Boykin envisions a scenario in which the Free Syrian Army gains control of Damascus, prompting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to decide to unload every last one of his chemical weapons on the city, destroying it, killing all its inhabitants, and rendering it uninhabitable and thereby fulfilling this Biblical prophecy:
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, now with the Family Research Council, said that the House GOP’s massive food stamp cuts that could remove around 4 million people from the program next year was an act of Christian compassion.
While many churches and Christians organizations denounced the move, Blackwell told the Christian Post that there was “nothing more Christian” than kicking low-income families off food stamps. He referred to food aid as part of the “plantation of big government” and said that churches and charitable organization will replace such government assistance.
Of course, the conservative news outlet also quoted Rev. Gary Cook of Bread for the World, who criticized the Republican plan and noted that the work of churches “is worth $4 billion dollars annually, which is essentially equal to the annual cut Congress is proposing in food stamps.”
Rev. Gary Cook, the Director of Church Relations at Christian anti-hunger advocacy group, Bread for the World, has told The Christian Post that he is worried that the latest cuts could further marginalize the most vulnerable, rather than mobilize people back to work.
"The people who take advantage of this are some of the poorest of the poor people in the country," Cook told CP. "Their average annual income is $2200 a person. They are among the most difficult to employee. If the government says our economy works well, when we have five or six percent unemployment, because that's our policy, at least they can eat." But according to Ken Blackwell, who is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the conservative Christian lobbying group, Family Research Council, programs like food stamps prevented people from being truly empowered.
"I think through empowering others and creating self-sufficiency…there within lies the path to sense of worthiness," Blackwell told CP. "When I was growing up, there was fundamental belief, that there were times in people's life when they needed a hand up…there were temporariness to hose programs, where they were structured so that they didn't breed so that they didn't breed dependency."
Blackwell also suggested that there was "nothing more Christian" than "not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government."
"America is such a compassionate nation, nothing in history that suggests that churches and communities and our families would let people die of hunger, there is absolutely nothing," said Blackwell.
"We are not lacking in churches in church communities across this nation in making sure that basic human needs are met without creating another government program that establishes rules that have very low expectations for self-discipline," said Blackwell. "I think we should have an honest debate and discussion in the church community…[on a host of social issues] Christians have been in the forefront, without government prodding or dominance."
Cook's biggest worry though, was that the food stamp cuts would offset the thousands of hours and dollars that these very church ministries spend annually supporting their communities through soup kitchens, bread lines, and food pantries.
"What churches do in terms of the kind of generous giving to poor, hungry people is amazing," said Cook. "But their work is worth $4 billion dollars annually, which is essentially equal to the annual cut Congress is proposing in food stamps."
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants to be the state's next Governor. But he has been dogged by an ethics scandal involving gifts he received from the head of a company that has sued the state. So last week, Cuccinelli tried to put the issue to rest by saying he'd contribute $18,000-the value of his questionable gifts-to a medical charity, saying, "I'm trying to wipe the slate clean here so we can focus on what's gonna matter in people's lives in Virginia in the next four years."
Of course, Cuccinelli's contribution doesn't magically wipe away questions about his character. And there's plenty of other evidence for Virginians to consider about the character of his record, and what four years of Cuccinelli as governor could do for -- or rather to -- the state.
Cuccinelli says his campaign is focused on jobs and the economy, but his extreme record as a state legislator and attorney general makes it clear that he considers himself commander-in-chief of the Religious Right's culture warriors.
He has bullied members of the Board of Health into adopting his anti-choice extremism. He has smeared and tried to defund Planned Parenthood. He even slams comprehensive sex education programs. As the Washington Post noted this week, he "was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state's abortion clinics."
As a state senator, Cuccinelli was one of a handful of sponsors of an unconstitutional "personhood" bill that would have criminalized many common forms of contraception. Cuccinelli hasn't disavowed his support for "personhood" bills or their goal of making abortion illegal. But as a candidate for governor, he is trying to distance himself from the effects such legislation would have on women and families in Virginia. He claims that such legislation, which would grant legal rights to an egg at the moment it is fertilized by a sperm, wouldn't interfere with access to birth control. He is not telling the truth.
Here's another reminder of what kind of governor Cuccinelli would be: one of his first steps as Attorney General was to tell Virginia's public colleges and universities that they had to abandon policies against anti-gay discrimination. He reversed a legal opinion by his predecessor in order to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children. He refused to support repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law. He argues that consensual sex between gay adults is a detriment to society and should be illegal. As a state senator, he even opposed legislation that permitted private companies to voluntarily extend health benefits to employees' domestic partners.
Cuccinelli is also a champion of the Tea Party's anti-government extremism. He calls President Obama a tyrant. He filed suit against the Affordable Care Act five minutes after it was signed into law, a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt. He has falsely told people that under the law the government could send people to jail for not buying insurance. He even slams safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for making people dependent on government.
There is seemingly no right-wing fringe to which Cuccinelli will not pander. He has used the power of his office to harass scientists in a climate-change-denying witch-hunt. He has called for a constitutional convention to rescind 14th amendment birthright citizenship. He said he was considering not getting his infant son a social security number because it was being used to track people. He flirted with birtherism.
And this week, he celebrated Constitution Day by appearing with right-wing radio host Mark Levin. Levin is an anti-union, anti-environmental-regulation, anti-public-education activist who rails against "establishment" Republicans and calls President Obama a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. In 2007, Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Cuccinelli is an example of the strong political coalition that has been made between right-wing Catholics like himself and conservative evangelicals, including Virginia-based powerhouses like Falwell-founded Liberty University and Pat Robertson's broadcasting empire. Cuccinelli has criticized people, like President Obama, who support marriage equality for thinking they "know better than God." And he says homosexual behavior is "intrinsically wrong" and destroys people's souls and shouldn't be allowed in a "natural law based country."
Cuccinelli has clearly aligned himself with the far right within the Catholic Church and, like Paul Ryan, opposes the Church's advocacy on behalf of anti-poverty programs. He hasslammed the Catholic bishops for advocating for government assistance for the poor, saying that has "created a culture of dependency on government, not God." He complained that the archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia included issues like poverty, hunger, and health care on a voting guide without making clear that they, in Cuccinelli's opinion, are clearly less important than abortion.
Cuccinelli has convinced the Religious Right that he's their guy. That's why Rick Santorum has endorsed him and the Family Research Council's PAC is helping him raise money.
But if Ken Cuccinelli wants to convince Virginia voters that he's not going to govern as a right-wing culture warrior, he'll have to do more than trying to "wipe the slate clean" on his ethical standards. He'll have to erase from the public record his own extreme record. And that will be a lot harder than writing a check.
(also posted at Huffington Post)
While Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has been trying to dodge social issues such as abortion rights and marriage equality — likely because his actual views and record are far out of the mainstream — sagging poll numbers and increasing divisions among Republicans have led the candidate to rely on his traditional far-right backers. After campaigning alongside his ultraconservative and homophobic running mate E.W. Jackson, Cuccinelli tonight will attend a fundraiser cosponsored by the Family Research Council’s political arm and the head of a major anti-choice organization.
Tonight’s fundraiser featuring Jeb Bush and a whole host of former GOP politicians-turned-lobbyists is sponsored by FRC Action PAC and Marjorie Dannenfelser, who leads the Susan B. Anthony List.
Cuccinelli has partnered with FRC in the past, addressing at their Values Voter Summit and appearing on the group’s Washington Watch radio program. Dannenfelser’s group, meanwhile, committed at least $1.5 million to boost Cuccinelli.
Dannenfelser and FRC Action hope that Cuccinelli will continue his efforts to close the majority of the state’s abortion clinics. As the Washington Post editorial board noted yesterday, “If Mr. Cuccinelli is elected governor in November, most of the remaining 18 clinics are likely to shut their doors within months.”
The FRC — whose leaders have referred to gays as pawns of Satan, abnormal and destructive while also calling for their criminalization and exportation — can also take pride in Cuccinelli’s anti-gay rhetoric and activism.
The upcoming fundraiser with two of the country’s foremost social conservative groups shows that as much as Cuccinelli would like Virginia voters to forget about his extreme stances, he is, first and foremost, a Religious Right ideologue.
Tony Perkins led the fight against repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and runs an organization whose spokesman called on the government to “export” gay people, so it is only natural that now Perkins is fashioning himself as a foe of discrimination…against straight service members.
He is upset that the military — which recognizes same-sex marriages — is allowing gays and lesbians in the military who are stationed in states that ban same-sex marriage to travel to states with marriage equality laws to attain a marriage license:
The new policy, which will take effect by Sept. 3, allows gay and lesbian service members in the U.S. as many as seven days of extra leave to get married, as long as they are stationed more than 100 miles from a state where same-sex marriages are legal or from the District of Columbia, where the marriages are also performed.
Military personnel who are overseas will get as many as 10 days to travel back to the U.S. to get married.
Today on his radio commentary, Perkins said the military has lost “their senses” with its “discriminatory” policies:
For our troops, marriage is becoming the biggest battlefield. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. Thanks to the Pentagon, taxpayers are giving gay service members quite a wedding gift. According to the Defense Department, homosexual troops are getting some extra incentives to get hitched--including 10 days of bonus leave. The AP says gay and lesbian military members will get as many as two weeks of extra vacation time to travel to states that allow same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the Defense Department says it "remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who service in the U.S. military... are treated fairly." If that were true, heterosexual couples would be getting the same benefits. See, this special, taxpayer-funded leave isn't just expensive--it's discriminatory. According to the Pentagon, heterosexual couples aren't eligible. How's that for equality? The administration says this perk "level[s] the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples." But when it comes to extra vacation days, the only thing the military is taking leave of is their senses!
Author Jonathan Cahn has become a star in Religious Right circles over his new book, The Harbinger, which basically claims that biblical prophecy regarding ancient Israel applies to the United States today. Cahn states that the September 11 attacks were a warning from God to repent and prophesied in the Bible. Instead of repenting, however, America is increasingly rebelling against God and Cahn predicts that such defiance will lead to the country’s ultimate destruction.
He appeared on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins yesterday to mark the anniversary of 9/11 and discuss a recent prayer gathering in the Capitol, where Michele Bachmann delivered a Cahn-like speech about how 9/11 and the Benghazi attack represented divine judgment. Cahn also spoke at the event.
After Perkins asked Cahn if the US is “responding to these warning signs of the Lord” appropriately, since Cahn of course knows exactly how God views America, Cahn responded that while America is in spiritual decline, the good news is that lots of people are buying his book!
The End Times author reiterated his claim that members of Congress are reading The Harbinger, including members he met at the Capitol prayer summit.
Unfortunately, America is still going downhill thanks to gay marriage and the re-election of Obama, so we may all be doomed anyway.
What I’ve experienced is there’s a lot of people—The Harbinger’s been spreading across the country, it’s even been reaching Capitol Hill. You and I were there on that night of prayer and several congressmen came up to me about it, so it’s been spreading on one hand. So we’re seeing prayers, we’re seeing repentance; we’re seeing much of that. But, on the other hand, as a nation since The Harbinger came out, America has continued its descent, its moral descent, rapidly. And this has affected the church. I believe, when I look back at it, it came out in 2012 and 2013, this is a real tipping point time where for the first time you have more Americans in favor of gay marriage, you have a president who was re-elected after declaring this, you have states coming forward, you have so many tipping points. I think there’s a reason why The Harbinger came out at that time because it’s a warning and it’s a wakeup call. What happens with a tipping point is things accelerate, unless there’s an intervention of God, things accelerate and I believe we’re really watching an acceleration; the Supreme Court just came out with its decision, I mean so much.
When gay rights advocates criticized Chick-fil-A for the company’s financial support of anti-gay organizations, the Family Research Council decried their “gaystapo tactics.” Apparently, the FRC believes that boycotts are only acceptable if they are organized by conservative groups.
Today on his daily radio commentary, FRC president Tony Perkins urged listeners to also boycott Betty Crocker and offered a link to the National Organization for Marriage’s campaign at DumpGeneralMills.com.
Perkins was outraged that Betty Crocker donated custom cakes to three gay Minnesota couples who were married after the state legalized same-sex marriage, and upset that a company spokesman said that “Betty celebrates all families.” Perkins warned that Betty Crocker’s “latest promotion is a recipe for disaster” and claimed that it is offensive to a majority of Americans who have already “made it tough on companies like Target, Starbucks and JC Penney” for not opposing gay rights.
“When you’re at the store, think outside the Betty Crocker box!”
At Betty Crocker, the only thing they're mixing up is their priorities. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. If you ask conservatives, Betty Crocker's latest promotion is a recipe for disaster. This summer, the famous dessert line decided to jump on the same-sex marriage bandwagon and bring cakes to celebrate. In Minnesota, where parent company General Mills is headquartered, Betty Crocker decided to donate wedding cakes to the first homosexual couples who exchanged vows on the first day that counterfeit marriage was legal. "Betty celebrates all families…. We don't want to be old fashioned," the company explained. Unfortunately for General Mills, the majority of Americans think natural marriage is anything but old fashioned. And they've made it tough on companies like Target, Starbucks, and JC Penney who disagree. Know where your money is going. When you're at the store, think outside the Betty Crocker box!
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) appeared on Washington Watch yesterday with Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, where he spent most of his time asserting that Republicans have a mandate to defund Obamacare because they did so well in the 2010 midterms and never mind that whole election last November.
After Jordan insisted that the GOP-led House should strip funding from Obamacare by using the budget and debt ceiling debates as leverage, the Religious Right leader came up with a brilliant plan to tell President Obama that Congress will only approve military action against Syria if the money comes out of Obamacare: “You could even take it to the issue of Syria. If the President wants to expend resources in going into Syria, maybe you should have to choose between funding Obamacare and funding a war in Syria, can’t do both.”
Of course, conservative leaders were not as concerned with the trillions of dollars spent in the Iraq war.