Liberty Counsel

Mat Staver Takes The 'Abortion = Holocaust' Analogy To A Rather Strange Extreme

We are quite accustomed to hearing anti-abortion activists equate legal abortion in America with the Holocaust of the Jews in Nazi Germany, but Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver took that analogy to a rather bizarre extreme on yesterday's "Faith and Freedom" radio program when he declared that fetuses today are being dehumanized until they are considered to be "the dregs of the earth" just as the Jews were by the Nazis:

This is no different than what we did to humans in the Nazi holocaust. We dehumanized them, we stigmatized them, we called them names and prohibited them from working and so forth and so on until the point where they were looked at as scum, as scabs, as the dregs of the earth so that they were able to be just eliminated. You know, we've done that here in America and other places around the world with regards to the most vulnerable: the children in the womb.

Yes, fetuses are prohibited from working and generally referred to as scum on a regular basis in America today, all as part of the effort to justify the legality of abortion.

This is just another reasonable analogy from Mat Staver.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 6/30/14

  • For some reason, Pope Francis met with James Robison and Kenneth Copeland.
  • The Family Leader contingent has been ousted from the leadership of the Iowa Republican Party.
  • It was not all good news for the Religious Right from the Supreme Court today, as the court refused to hear Liberty Counsel's challenge to California's ban on ex-gay therapy.
  • Laurie Higgins warns that "even if homosexuals win the term 'marriage,' and win all the gazillions of benefits they feel that homoerotic unions deserve, and even if they’re able to acquire children through morally dubious means, homosexuals will not rest until they have widespread public affirmation of their relationships which they believe cannot be achieved unless they obliterate all distinctions—including linguistic distinctions—between homosexual unions and heterosexual unions."
  • Finally, Anne Graham Lotz says that God has been revealing a lot of things to her recently and "one of the things He has impressed on me is that we are living at the end of human history as we know it."

Matt Barber Says Gay Rights Advocates Act 'Like A Horde Of Locusts'

Matt Barber warned Saturday that gay people have “swarm[ed] in like a horde of locusts” and “homosexualized the Boy Scouts.”

Barber was speaking with Mission America’s Linda Harvey, who told him that she had been outraged at the sight of Boy Scouts at the Columbus, Ohio, LGBT pride parade. Barber replied that he wasn’t surprised, since “the homosexual activist agenda” is “at the forefront of child corruption, that is a major part of their agenda.”

“It is absolutely reprehensible that they are exposing these children to this perversion, to this highly sexually charged, open acts of public displays of nudity, it is just absolutely appalling,” Barber said.

“It is simply disgusting to watch, it’s appalling to watch. They take every institution, they take things that are noble and good and they swarm in like a horde of locusts and they don’t care what damage is done because it helps further their agenda, then they fly away and what’s left is a husk of what was there to begin with.”

Samuel Rodriguez: New General In Global Anti-Gay Culture War

Last month the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference announced that it was merging with Conela, a Latin America-based organization, to become “the world’s largest Hispanic Evangelical association” claiming to represent more than 500,000 churches. As Kyle reported, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver had encouraged the NHCLC’s Samuel Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver’s visit to Peru, where he encouraged legislators to resist legal equality for gay people and same-sex couples.

The wildly anti-gay Matt Barber, also with Liberty Counselpraised the merger as a way for the NHCLC to join the Religious Right’s global war against LGBT equality:

"And so NHCLC," Barber said, "is really putting up a firewall to protect Latin America from, unfortunately, this cancerous invasion of immorality and [this] exporting [of] radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism, ultimately a culture of death.”

In a new interview with the Christian Post, Rodriguez uses similar language about creating a “firewall against moral relativism” and discloses some details about the merger and the combined group’s plans. Rodriguez is the CEO of the new merged NHCLC/Conela, while Conela’s former President Ricardo Luna is the executive director.

Rodriguez says Conela had already adopted NHCLC’s agenda and so the new group can go to work immediately building out an infrastructure in Latin America.

Conela already has been functioning with the Lamb's agenda and our 7 Directives, so it's a matter of creating infrastructure and amplifying the media and messaging platforms in Latin America.

If the question is whether or not we are going to be as active on the social political front in Latin America as we are in America, the answer is yes, again, not in the spirit of political advocacy, but in the spirit of prophetic activism.

Let me give you an example. Two weeks ago, in Baja California, the Mexico chapter director met with the governor of Baja California with hundreds of pastors united to discuss the issues of religious liberty, to discuss the issues of the 7 Directives as it pertains to Mexico.

He says they’re still working out the structural details.

We are in the board restructuring phase right now and a number of events taking place. One in October in Panama and there's one in December with 1,000 pastors in Mexico, there's one taking place in Europe at the beginning of the year.

My objective is to travel around Latin America with Ricardo, get to know the key influential pastors and leaders as we structure this global network and provide the resources that national pastors and regional leaders need to advance the Lamb's agenda.

Rodriguez, in spite of his media treatment as an evangelical moderate, made crystal clear that his organization is part of the Religious Right political movement when it reached a formal agreement to make the far-right Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official legislative and policy arm, and when Staver became a board member and chief legal counsel to the group.

Rodriguez’s rhetoric doesn’t seem to be changing.

Theologically speaking, we are on the same track. We are committed to biblical orthodoxy. We are committed to biblical truth. We are committed to making sure that truth is never sacrificed on the altar of expediency. We are committed to Billy Graham's message of salvation through Christ alone and through Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March for Justice. So, we are committed to both righteousness and justice. We are evangelical. We do embrace the Manhattan Declaration. We would sign on to that.

Merging Billy Graham with Martin Luther King is the standard rhetoric of Rodriguez’s stump speech. Rodriguez has built allies among more progressive Christians by advocating for immigration reform and signing on to the Circle of Protection, a call from religious leaders not to sacrifice programs for the poor in order to reduce the deficit. But Rodriguez has also signed onto right-wing declarations that oppose progressive taxation, and embraced right-wing rhetoric about people being “enslaved” by government and “uber-entitlements.” And, of course, he is utterly opposed to marriage equality and legal access to abortion.

 

Rodriguez is connected to the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation and was a founding board member of the Oak Initiative, though he resigned after being confronted about the group’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and activities. He clearly has big ambitions for the new group.

"We are not drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid that Christianity is in decline, that this is the last hour of the Christian global narrative in a significant matter," Rodriguez told The Christian Post recently in an exclusive interview about the merger that took place on May 1. "We are not drinking the Kool-Aid. As a matter of fact, we have a very strong sense of optimism … we do believe the best is yet to come….

"It may very well be the largest Protestant network in the world, meaning that after the Catholic Church, this may very well be the largest Christian network organization in the world," he said. "I believe it speaks accolades to the growth of the Latino Christian demographic. I think it speaks accolades to Latino born-again Christians around the world because if this is the largest network in the world and now we are leading the charge of global evangelicalism."

Anti-Gay Activists Hopeful Hobby Lobby Will Lead To License To Discriminate

Anti-gay activists are rejoicing at the Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby today, in part because they are hopeful that the decision will pave the way for one of their own policy goals: to use the religious liberty argument to push for broad exemptions for corporations from nondiscrimination laws.

Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber is hopeful that the decision bodes well for those trying to use religious freedom as a cloak to justify discrimination against LGBT people:

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality has a similar take:

There may be reason for them to be optimistic. As SCOTUSblog pointed out, the majority's opinion pointedly leaves open "the question of whether the Government has a similarly compelling interest in preventing discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation." 

With respect to implications for other kinds of religious-based discrimination, the Court writes that racial discrimination in hiring will not be permitted under RFRA because "The Government has a compelling interest in providing equal opportunity to participate in the workforce without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to acheive [sic] that critical goal." Note that this leave open the question of whether the Government has a similarly compelling interest in preventing discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation.

UPDATE: TPM has more on this.

UPDATE II: Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has joined the chorus:

Religious Right Reacts To Hobby Lobby Decision: A Victory Over King George III And 'Subsidized Consequence Free Sex'

The Religious Right’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case — in which the Court’s conservative majority ruled that some for-profit businesses must be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate — has started rolling in.

Erick Erickson sees the decision as a victory over the promiscuous:

Eric Metaxas thinks King George III would have been on the side of contraceptive insurance:

The Franciscan University of Steubenville compared businesses that don’t want to provide their employees with contraception coverage to religious martyrs in ancient Rome:

Steve Deace called the Green family, which owns the Hobby Lobby chain, "the Rosa Parks of the religious liberty fight" and urged the movement not to "settle" with just the Hobby Lobby victory:

If we play our cards right, and God grants us a favor, we can use this as a momentum changer. That’s mainly thanks to the Green family, who just became the Rosa Parks of the religious liberty fight. Just as her refusal to comply with an unjust edict on a bus one day blew the lid off the civil rights movement, perhaps the Greens’ refusal to comply with Obamacare’s unjust edict can accomplish the same for a similarly worthy cause.

But that won’t happen if we “settle” for this win like we have all too many others.

AFA’s Bryan Fischer thinks he knows Chief Justice John Roberts’ motivation to vote with the Court's majority:

And finally, the American Family Association is taking a poll:

Barber: Gay Marriage Is 'The Brainchild' Of Satan

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Mat Staver and Matt Barber cited recent remarks made by Pope Francis about how "the Devil wants to destroy" the family in order to declare that gay marriage is "the brainchild" of Satan himself.

"Marriage is the cornerstone institution of any healthy society," Barber asserted, "and so clearly the Father of Lies, the Enemy of the World hates marriage, wants to destroy marriage and so this concept of counterfeit marriage, of same-sex marriage, that is the brainchild, Mat, of none other than the Father of Lies himself."

Staver was in complete agreement, saying that gay marriage is an effort to "abolish all truth" as part of Satan's "attack on God."

"Ultimately, at the end of the day," Staver said, "it is a spiritual attack ... This is the bidding of the Devil. This is a spiritual assault on all of us who are made in the image of God":

Matt Barber Puts On A Question-Begging Clinic

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Mat Staver and Matt Barber were discussing the topic of "How Does One's Worldview Affect One's View of Government" during which they tried to explain the difference between theistic and atheistic worldviews, with Staver asserting that a belief in God is "the critical question" that must be addressed when discussing the issue of worldview.

Barber agreed, laying out a rather circular explanation as to why the Christian worldview is the correct one, explaining that since Jesus and the Bible are the standards of truth, therefore believing in them means that one's worldview is "closer to the truth":

Everybody has a worldview, as you said, and they can't all be right. And no one person's worldview is a hundred percent right except for one person who walked the earth and that's Jesus Christ himself. He had the perfect worldview. He is the way, the truth, and the life and, going toward what you're talking about here, the worldview that says there is a god versus the worldview that says there isn't a god, clearly the worldview that says there is a god is closer to truth because Christ is god. He is the way, the truth, and the life.

So the worldview, the theistic worldview, is closer to god. We can get closer and closer and closer to the truth, which is the Word of Truth, which is scripture, the Bible. So the closer your worldview aligns with scripture, the closer your worldview is to truth.

Barber does not seem to realize that the existence of God is at the center of the division between the theistic and atheistic worldviews and so simply declaring that the theistic worldview is the correct one because God exists is begging the very question that is at issue.

Barber: Gay Rights Activists Are 'Homofascists' And 'Absolute Thugs'

Friday's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast was dedicated to Mat Staver and Matt Barber warning that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is "a tragedy" that "must not pass" because, if it does, it will be the end of religious liberty in America.

Citing the firing of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and supposed persecution of Phillip Monk, Barber spent a good portion of the broadcast railing against the "homofascists" in the gay rights movement who seek to use ENDA to utterly destroy religious freedom.

Calling ENDA the "crown jewel of the radical, sexual anarchist progressive left," Barber said that gay activists want to see it pass in order to "make sacrosanct all sorts of sexual perversion to the detriment of those who want to exercise and live out their lives and carry out their faith."

This push to destroy anyone who does not share their agenda, Barber said, is why more and more people are finally realizing that gay activists are "absolute thugs," which is exactly what they warned would happen, he said, before "Obama homosexualized the military" by repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

"We have seen a military that used to recognize honor, dignity, things of that nature," Barber said, "now recognizes, as we've flipped it on its head, and now perversion is the order of the day instead of honor, dignity, service, and so forth":

Mat Staver Suggests House Birther Investigation Into 'Communist' Obama

In a “Crosstalk” interview with VCY America’s Vic Eliason this week, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver suggested that Congress launch an investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate.

“I think Congress certainly has the ability to do some investigation,” Staver said to a “Crosstalk” listener. “The problem that we have with the birth certificates is that the courts have really not given a full healing to some of those things because they have not granted most people’s standing, or the right to sue as individuals. I think Congress would certainly have that capability, at least at nothing else to conduct hearings.”

Staver also said that Congress should be “proceeding with impeachment” of the president over the purported scandals surrounding Benghazi, the IRS and the return of Sgt. Bowie Bergdahl.

He charged Republican lawmakers with falling asleep on the job: “There are things that the House should be doing that they’re not doing; they should be proceeding with impeachment. They should stare down Obama on these budget debates and not constantly give in, and I think that’s partly due to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.”

If charges of tyranny and birther allegations weren’t enough for listeners, Staver then delved into Obama’s supposed lack of patriotism and support for communism and Islamism. “[Obama’s] actions promote communist, socialist kinds of ideas,” he says. “His actions are very sympathetic to Islam and very hostile to Christianity…He supported the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the mother of all terrorist organizations.”

“Judged by his actions, Obama is the most anti-American president we have ever had,” he concluded.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 6/19/14

  • Today was not a good day for Perry’s fellow Republican governors and likely presidential candidates Chris Christie and Scott Walker.
  • Liberty Counsel is livid that President Obama is appointing judges to the federal bench, openly gay ones in particular.
  • Lastly, Glenn Beck weighs in on the Washington Redskins name controversy: “If Congress only pays attention to football teams, then maybe we should name them the Washington Benghazis?”

Mike Huckabee To Join Liberty Counsel For Right-Wing Pastor Rallies

Liberty Counsel is organizing a “powerful, five-screen multimedia extravaganza” for conservative pastors who want to stop America from “spiraling out of control as our foundation of traditional values is threatened and eroded every day” and “to dramatically affect the 2014 elections this coming November.”

The “Who Will Stand?” rallies will feature former Gov. Mike Huckabee, pseudo-historian David Barton and Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, along with uplifting songs and “thousands of images portraying the beauty and grandeur of all 50 states of our great nation” that apparently will help bring an end to President Obama’s tyranny.

Televangelist James Robison, Star Parker, Ralph Reed and Samuel Rodriguez are also listed as speakers.

While so far the events are only scheduled to take place in Florida churches, Liberty Counsel aims to expand the effort to “Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia.”

Staver And Barber Take Their Analogies To The Extreme

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed the situation involving the baker in Colorado who is vowing to go to jail rather than comply with an order to stop discriminating against gay customers by refusing to provide them with wedding cakes, saying that forcing him to bake gay wedding cakes would be like forcing Jesus to build a bed for an adulterer or a gallows for Hitler upon which to hang Jews:

Barber: So, to make that comparison would be like saying the adulteress goes to Jesus and says 'you're a carpenter, I want you to make a frame for my adultery bed, for me and then men I'm committing adultery with to commit our sinful acts.' And it would be like some tribunal coming to Jesus and saying you're a carpenter, you don't have a right to refuse to make this bed for the adulteress because you make beds for people who are actually married ...

Staver: It's like a carpenter who [is told] you can build this house for this person or you can build this gallows for Hitler. And you can use your talents, we're going to force you to use the talents to build the gallows for Hitler and we're going to hang Jews on the gallows.

The Wilks Brothers: Fracking Sugar Daddies For The Far Right

Last June, presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz traveled to Iowa for an event convened by David Lane, a political operative who uses pastors to mobilize conservative Christian voters. 

Lane is a Christian-nation extremist who believes the Bible should be a primary textbook in America’s public schools, and that any politician who disagrees should be voted out. Lane’s events are usually closed to the media, but he has given special access to the Christian Broadcasting Network’s sympathetic David Brody.  Brody’s coverage of the Iowa event included short video clips of comments by brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who were identified only as members of Lane’s Pastors and Pews group.

CBN’s Brody reported, “The Wilks brothers worry that America’s declining morals will especially hurt the younger generation, so they’re using the riches that the Lord has blessed them with to back specific goals.”  One of those goals may be David Lane’s insistence that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. 

Here’s Dan Wilks speaking to Brody: “I just think we have to make people aware, you know, and bring the Bible back into the school, and start teaching our kids at a younger age, and, uh, you know, and focus on the younger generation.”  And here’s Farris: “They’re being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right.”

That was the first time we had heard of the billionaire Wilks brothers, who have become generous donors to right-wing politicians and Republican Party committees.  While both Farris and Dan have given to conservative groups and candidates, it is older brother Farris whose foundation has become a source of massive donations to Religious Right groups and to the Koch brothers’ political network. Farris also funds a network of “pregnancy centers” that refuse, on principle, to talk to single women about contraception (married women need to check with their husband and pastor).

Like David Barton, Farris thinks conservative economics are grounded in the Bible. Like Mitt Romney, he says people shouldn’t vote for politicians who promise “free this, free that.” Like any number of Religious Right leaders, he saw Barack Obama’s re-election as a harbinger of the End Times and he believes God will punish America for embracing homosexuality. Unlike all of them, he’s on the list of the world’s richest people.

They’re Fracking Billionaires!

Dan and Farris Wilks became successful working in and then running the masonry business that was started by their father; they have now turned the company over to the next generation of Wilks men.  But Dan and Farris really hit the big time when they got in on the ground floor with fracking, the controversial natural gas drilling technique that has boomed over the past decade. 

The fracking boom has produced a surge in wealthy Texans. In 2002, the Wilks brothers created Frac Tech, which produced equipment used in fracking, or in industry parlance, “well stimulation services.”  In May 2011, Dan and Farris sold Frac Tech to a group of investors led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund for $3.5 billion. Their share was reportedly 68% of that total, and they showed up on the 2011 Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion each.  The most recent Forbes list put their estimated wealth at $1.5 billion each. (In our gilded age, that puts them near the bottom of the Forbes 400, and barely gets them into the top 40 in Texas. But you can still do an awful lot with $3 billion.)

The Wilks brothers have gone on a land-buying spree out West, amassing huge holdings in Montana, Idaho, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado.  In December 2012, the Billings Gazette reported that they had amassed more than 276,000 acres in Montana, or more than 430 square miles; more recent reports say they own more than 301,300 acres in the state.  Among their purchases was the historic 62,000-acre N Bar Ranch, which had been listed for $45 million. 

The brothers reportedly started building an airstrip that summer across from the N Bar Ranch headquarters to make travel to their property on their 18-passenger corporate jet a little easier. The Wilks brothers have proposed a land swap with the Bureau of Land Management to consolidate their holdings; last month their attorney said they were “blindsided” when BLM said it would not trade the 2,700-acre Durfee Hills after hunters complained about losing access to the land and its elk.

In January 2013, they bought a nearly 18,000-acre ranch in Idaho, which brought their total in that state to almost 36,000 acres.  In 2011, Farris was reported to have paid $16 million for what was then the most expensive ski-accessible home in the history of Snowmass Village, Colorado. 

An Aspen newspaper reported in 2012 that Dan owned two homes in Aspen, one worth $8.3 million and another worth $4.9 million. At the end of 2012 they bought the Advancial Tower, a 17-story skyscraper in Dallas reportedly appraised at $16.25 million. And last August, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Wilks brothers had bought 122 acres of land in a business park in Southlake, Texas. Farris also reportedly paid to have a “world class” recording studio installed in his 20,000-square-foot home and to have his church’s audio-visual system similarly upgraded.

Members of the Wilks family have been philanthropists in their hometown over the years, funding, for example, a community center and mobile emergency command post for local fire departments.   More recently they have distributing their wealth in support of right-wing causes and conservative politicians. According to Forbes, Dan has six children, Farris has 11.

A(nother) Foundation for the Far Right

The Wilks brothers and their wives have stashed a sizeable chunk of money in charitable foundations: Farris and his wife Joann created The Thirteen Foundation, while Dan and his wife Staci started Heavenly Father’s Foundation. The Thirteen Foundation has become a major funder to Religious Right organizations and to right-wing political outfits that are part of the Koch brother’s network.

In 2011, Farris and Joann each put $50 million into The Thirteen Foundation, and they started writing huge checks. In 2011 and 2012, the last year for which giving records are publicly available, the foundation gave away more than $17 million. Here’s where much of it went:  

Media Revolution Ministries (Online for Life)                             $2,242,857

American Majority Inc                                                               $2,114,100

State Policy Networks                                                              $1,526,125

Focus on the Family                                                                 $1,400,000

Franklin Center for Gov't and Public Integrity                          $1,309,775

Life Dynamics Inc.                                                                    $1,275,000                  

Liberty Counsel                                                                        $1,000,000

Heritage Foundation                                                                   $700,000

Family Research Council                                                              $530,000

Texas Right to Life Committee Education Fund                           $310,000

Texas Home School Coalition                                                      $250,000

Heartbeat International                                                              $197,000

Wallbuilders Presentations, Inc                                                    $85,000

National Institute of Marriage                                                       $75,000

These gifts amount to a massive infusion of funds into some of the most aggressive right-wing organizations that are fighting legal equality for LGBT people, access to contraception and abortion services for women, and promoting the Tea Party’s vision of a federal government that is constitutionally forbidden from protecting American workers, consumers, and communities by regulating corporate behavior. 

American Majority, the Franklin Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the State Policy Networks are all part of the Koch brothers’ right-wing political network, promoting policy attacks on public employees and their unions, outsourcing public resources for private profit, privatization of public education, and more:

  • The Franklin Center, closely allied to the American Legislative Exchange Council and other right-wing groups, produces and supports ideological advocacy sites that that it pretends is “nonpartisan” journalism.
  • American Majority trains and supports Tea Party activist networks.
  • The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing propaganda behemoth masquerading as a think tank. It promotes Religious Right social conservatism and Tea Party anti-government ideology, arguing that the two are “indivisible.”
  • The State Policy Network comprises mini-Heritage Foundations – right-wing “think tanks” at the state level that work closely with ALEC and right-wing lawmakers.

The Thirteen Foundation’s gifts are a boon to some of the most extreme Religious Right groups in the country. Among the recipients:

  • The Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group affiliated with Liberty University, is home to right-wing legal activist Mat Staver and the increasingly unhinged Matt Barber. Liberty Counsel promotes extreme anti-Obama and anti-gay rhetoric, warning that the country is descending into religious tyranny and on the verge of revolution.  Staver and Barber support laws criminalizing homosexuality and call the Obama administration’s opposition to such laws in other countries “immoral.”
  • The Family Research Council, designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, hosts the annual Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion for far-right religious and political groups and right-wing politicians. FRC and its leader Tony Perkins oppose equality for LGBT Americans and promote the myth of anti-Christian persecution in the U.S.
  • Wallbuilders promotes the historical revisionism of “historian” David Barton, whose claims have been widely discredited but who remains influential within the Religious Right and the GOP. In addition to his “Christian Nation” history, Barton argues that the Bible opposes the minimum wage, progressive taxation, capital gains taxes, the estate tax, and unions and collective bargaining.

See the section on the War on Women below for information about anti-choice organizations on the list. Other gifts supported Prime Time Christian Broadcasting, Inc., which runs God’s Learning Channel, “a satellite network dedicated to bringing the gospel of the kingdom into the entire world and teaching everyone about the Torah and the true roots of Christianity“; the Wounded Warrior Project; and a number of local churches that seem to be affiliated with the church at which Farris is an elder. One gift that seems like an outlier was $50,000 to the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which funds legal services for the poor, advocates for immigration reform, and filed a lawsuit on behalf of a binational same-sex couple.

Farris’s brother Dan and his wife Staci each gave $55 million to their Heavenly Father’s Foundation, according to the group’s 2011 990 form. That year the foundation reported $110 million in income but only $309,000 in disbursements, mostly to the Mountain Top Church in their hometown of Cisco ($287,000) with smaller amounts to a pregnancy center called the Open Door ($20,000) and to the American Diabetes Association ($2,000).

Its 2012 contributions were primarily to several churches but also included ministries that provide meals to the poor, a five-year pledge to a local domestic violence crisis center, $20,000 to the Open Door pregnancy center, $1.7 million to a drug and alcohol treatment center whose 30th anniversary celebration in May featured Mike Huckabee, and intriguingly, $100,000 to the Eastland County District Attorney’s office to cover “budget shortage.”

Of course, individual contributions that Wilks family members make to advocacy organizations are not publicly reported.

In Politics, Paying to Play

The Wilks brothers made a bit of a splash in Montana when it was revealed that they were the top donors to 2012 Republican legislative candidates in the state.  A February 2013 report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that Dan and Farris Wilks and their wives “donated to more than 70 candidates, all Republicans, and generally gave the maximum contribution allowed by law to legislative candidates, $160 for a general election.”

The report said that 70 percent of Republican legislators got contributions from the Wilkses. (AP noted that all bills aimed at regulating fracking in the 2011 legislature were killed by Republican-led committees.) According to the Institute, 64 of the state-level candidates they supported won – 63 legislators and Attorney General Tim Fox.

The Wilkses also gave heavily to Dennis Rehberg, a former Republican U.S. congressman from Montana who gave up his seat to mount an unsuccessful challenge against Sen. Jon Tester in 2012, and to Steven Daines, the Republican who won the House seat vacated by Rehberg and who is now running to for U.S. Senate. 

Collectively, Dan and Farris and their wives gave the Rehberg and Daines campaigns each $10,000 in 2012, with another $37,500 going to the Rehberg Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee that funneled money to Rehberg’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Farris and Joann have together given $10,400 toward Steve Daines’s 2014 reelection.

Their political giving has not been limited to Montana.  In Texas, according to state campaign finance records, the brothers each gave $25,000 to Texans for Rick Perry in 2012.  Farris also gave $2,500 to State Rep. Stefani Carter, the first Republican African American woman to serve in the state House; Farris and Joann also gave $5,000 to the failed Supreme Court campaign of Steve Smith. 

Last year, Perry announced he would not run for a fourth term as governor.  Earlier this year, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, reported nearly $31,000 in in-kind contributions from Farris and Dan for use of an airplane. Farris also gave $1,000 in January to the Texas Home School Coalition PAC.

This year, in the election for California’s 44th Assembly District, Dan, Staci, and Farris Wilks have given thousands to the campaign of Rob McCoy, a conservative evangelical pastor who is also backed by Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee. In the June 3 primary, the Wilks-backed McCoy came in second place to Democrat Jacqui Irwin, a City Councilwoman from Thousand Oaks, beating the more moderate Republican candidate, businessman Mario de la Piedra. Irwin and McCoy will face off in the general election.

During the 2012 election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission’s database, the brothers and their wives together contributed $125,000 to the Romney Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee benefitting the Romney campaign and the Republican Party. 

Joann also contributed $25,000 to the Faith Family Freedom Fund, a “soft money” fund run by a former Family Research Council executive and housed in FRC’s Washington, DC building. The fund makes independent expenditures for or against candidates; in 2012 it spent in support of Todd Akin, George Allen, Steve King, and other right-wing candidates, and against Claire McCaskill, Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, and other Democratic candidates.

In 2011, Farris gave the National Republican Congressional Committee $2,500, and he gave $7,600 to the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund between 2010 and 2012. In 2010 Farris gave Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Sharron Angle $1000 and in 2008 he gave $2,500 to the McCain-Palin Victory Committee.

Wilks and the War on Women

As Kate Sheppard reported last August for Mother Jones, The Thirteen Foundation’s 2011 gift to Life Dynamics, a Texas-based anti-abortion group, funded a campaign to mass-mail DVDs to lawyers encouraging them to sue abortion clinics into oblivion.  Crooks and Liars blogger Karoli has noted that Life Dynamics “actively engages in espionage against organizations serving women” and operates campaigns to harass doctors who perform abortions. 

The more than $2 million that The Thirteen Foundation gave to Media Revolution Ministries in 2012 allowed for a vast expansion of the group, which had only an $80,000 budget the year before. The group, also known as Online for Life, says it “implements cutting-edge Internet and traditional marketing outreaches to connect with abortion-determined women and men.” In other words, they try to “intercept” women who search for abortion information and send them to anti-choice “pregnancy centers.”  

Those funds may have been used to help “pregnancy centers” buy ads on search terms like “abortion clinics” to “intercept” women who went online.  NARAL Pro-Choice America cited Online for Life’s Google ads  when it announced in April that  its investigations had led Google to take down ads from crisis pregnancy centers that violated the search engine’s rules against deceptive advertising.

The Thirteen Foundation also gave $450,000 in 2011 to Care Net, a network of Christian “pregnancy centers” whose “standards of affiliation” include this requirement:

The pregnancy center does not recommend, provide, or refer single women for contraceptives. (Married women seeking contraceptive information should be urged to seek counsel, along with their husbands, from their pastor and physician.).

The Wilks are also backers of Open Door, a local Christian “crisis pregnancy center” to which the Thirteen Foundation gave more than $90,000 in 2012. Farris and Joann have also been benefactors of Texas Right to Life.

The Wilks Worldview

With the exception of the brief interaction with CBN’s David Brody, the Wilks brothers have generally been media-shy. But the worldview of Farris, the older of the two brothers, whose foundation is backing the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, is quite clearly revealed in the sermons he preaches.

In addition to his business ventures, Farris, the older brother, is also a pastor at the church founded by his father, The Assembly of Yahweh (7th Day).  The church’s doctrine seems to be an amalgam based on the elder Wilks’ anachronistic interpretations of the Bible. It combines biblical literalism with a heavy emphasis on the Old Testament: The church celebrates its Sabbath on Saturday, follows the dietary rules laid down in Leviticus, and celebrates Jewish holidays but not “the religious holidays of the Gentiles,” which include “Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, White Sunday, Good Friday, and Halloween.”  (I had to look up White Sunday, which is a traditional Samoan holiday. There’s a significant Samoan community in Texas).  Women may not speak during worship.

The church’s doctrinal points align with the Religious Right on many policy issues.  Abortion is “murder,” including pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. Homosexuality is “a serious crime – a very grievous sin.”

A number of Farris Wilks’ sermons can be heard through his church’s website.  Back in November 2012, he was pretty despondent about the re-election of Barack Obama:  “I do believe that our country died that Tuesday night, to all that’s honorable, that’s good, that’s ambitious, and that has justice. The old way of life that we will take care of ourselves, we will be self-sufficient as much as we are able, the pride in pulling your own weight, or paddling your own canoe.”  The sermon includes small-government quotes from Thomas Jefferson, anti-socialist quotes from Winston Churchill, and a bootstraps approach to poverty. “The best way to get out of poverty is to go to work,” he says. “That is one of the simplest ways to make it go away.”

Wilks said he was “refreshed” by biblical texts about the End Times, speculating that the election went the way it did “because maybe it’s time to wrap up some things, maybe it’s time to move on to the next one thousand years.”  And he warned of persecution against Christians:

I will tell you now that you need to be ready for a little bit more scoffing and ridicule than maybe we’ve experienced in the past, because I think not only us but the Christian community at large is coming under attack, not only in America but throughout the world.  We see it on the late night talk shows. One man in particular. And some time you think, man, it would almost be nice if the judgment would happen so we can see what would happen to those people. …for the things they are saying, which are so vulgar and violent against Yahweh…his mercy must be inexhaustible to put up with that…

Several months later, after his participation in the David Lane event in Iowa, Wilks was feeling motivated to do more to impact the future of America.  In a July 2, 2013, sermon he referred to claims made by discredited Religious Right “historian” David Barton about the country’s founders and Barton’s assertion that many of our laws come from the scriptures.  And in a sermon he described as a “study of Sodom and Gomorrah,” he laid out his belief that the country is facing a clear choice:

As most of you probably know by now, we are in a battle for our society. Will we follow the secular religion of man, him being supreme, and evolving, or will we submit to Elohim, who has the right to give us laws and commandments to follow since he is the one who created us? Who is in charge? Is it man, or is it our creator?

He read scripture passages that referred to the story of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in what he said was punishment for “base and demented” sexual practices, the tolerance of which in America “could bring about the end of our nation.” He warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would soon lead to bestiality being promoted and accepted. “I do believe we live in a nation that will start to vomit some of its people out,” he warned.  After reading a passage from Isaiah in which the land and its inhabitants are cursed for their depravity, he said:

I fear that that is where we are as a nation. We have been in the blessed part of our nation, but I think we’re coming to the point now…we’re going to reap what we have sown, and what we have sown has not been good…what it says here, that the earth lies polluted under its inhabitants. Think of all the murder that has happened in this country….all the babies that have been murdered…think of all the perversions in the realm of sexual perversion of all kinds…all the breaking of Yahweh’s covenant….and so you recognize that at some point Yahweh’s going to say it’s time to wrap up… it’s time to move on to a kingdom of people that want to serve me, that want to be redeemed, that want salvation…we have to draw some lines in the sand for ourselves….

He also mocked environmentalism and the effort to save certain animals or the polar caps.  “We didn’t create the Earth so how can we save it?”  When you realize that Yahweh is in control, “it’s much simpler,” he says. “You can turn over some of those responsibilities to him.” Maybe the melting of polar ice is us “getting a little scorched here” as a message from God.

Later last summer he returned to the Sodom and Gomorrah theme, denouncing the gay pride movement as an example of lust and defiance of authority described in the Bible. “What we’re fighting against today is not a sexual revolution particular to our own enlightened age, but it’s a return to pre-Christian pagan sexual immorality or perversion.”

And Farris sounded like the most extreme anti-gay Religious Right leaders in portraying gay people as child predators: 

If we all took on this lifestyle, all humanity would perish in one generation…So this lifestyle is a predatorial lifestyle in that they need your children and straight people having kids to fulfill their sexual habits. They can’t do it by their self. They want your children….But we’re in a war for our children. They want your children. So what will you teach your children? A strong family is the last defense.

And, he said, they won’t stop, predicting that pedophilia and bestiality will soon be legal.

Just before Christmas he preached on spiritual apathy in America. He warned that apathy is closing church doors in America just as liberalism and secularism. He railed against people forgetting the Sabbath and spending too much time on entertainment. He warned that God would lift his “mantle of protection” against the U.S. because it is no longer protecting the family.

Earlier this year, Farris preached on “Government That We Can Believe In.”  In that sermon, he proclaimed that he loves America but that all nations fail at some point. The founding fathers did a good job, but the nation’s cornerstones are now crumbling: “It’s because of the lack of morality, the lack of continuity of one like belief in our heavenly father – those are the things that are bringing our nation to its knees.”

But this sermon focused less on sexual immorality and more on the threat of socialism. Yahweh, he preached, is “someone who respects private ownership” and the Torah is “set up on the free enterprise system.”

He said “there are only two basic ideas in the whole world” – and those are free enterprise and socialism. The U.S., he warned, is “inching closer to socialism.” You either have more government or more freedom; the more money taken from you in taxes, the fewer choices you have in life. He acknowledged that he has a “personal stake” in this, saying he pays a “huge amount” in taxes.

He urged congregants not to vote for politicians who promise “free this, free that,” saying that would lead us to become one of the poor nations of the world. “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.”

An Answer to Prayer?

Televangelist James Robison recently told participants in a Tea Party Unity conference call that he is praying for a merger of the Tea Party and the Religious Right.  It’s enough to make one wonder where Robison has been for the past few years.  There has always been a overlap between the Tea Party and the Religious Right movements.  And since the early days of the anti-Obama Tea Party organizing, right-wing strategists like Ralph Reed and Rick Scarborough have been trying to more fully merge the organizing energies of the two movements into an electoral machine. 

Groups like the Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation have worked hard to limit the influence of libertarians in the conservative movement by portraying social and economic conservatism as “indivisible,” while Republican activists like “historian” David Barton have claimed that there is a biblical underpinning for the far-right’s anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government agenda.

Maybe the miracle Robison was really looking for was a big pile of cash to fund his next project. In which case, the answer to his prayers might be found in the person of Farris Wilks, preacher, right-wing activist, and billionaire.

Mat Staver Unable To Explain How Anti-Gay Discrimination Is Different From Other Forms Of Discrimination

Testifying before a House committee today about supposed threats to religious freedom in the U.S., Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver struggled to defend his support for allowing businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler grilled Staver about his view that it would be wrong for a wedding photographer to discriminate against a Jewish couple because of a religious objection, but that the photographer is free to discriminate against a same-sex couple.

First, Staver tried to avoid the question by saying a photographer wouldn’t refuse to work for a Jewish wedding, but ultimately agreed that such anti-Jewish discrimination is in fact a violation of the law.

“I don’t see any difference at all” between refusing a Jewish couple and a gay couple, Nadler said.

He continued: “I’m holding out myself in commerce and my religious belief is that I don’t want black people or Jewish people or gay people in my restaurant and the federal government says that is discrimination, is that a violation of the freedom of religion?”

“No,” Staver conceded.

Flashback: When The Religious Right And Republicans Quashed An Investigation Into Right-Wing Extremism

Reports that the married couple who shot and killed two police officers, a bystander and themselves in Las Vegas this week were motivated by right-wing extremism have highlighted one of the more troubling trends in even the “mainstream” Right — denial that violent right-wing extremism even exists.

As Brian mentioned earlier today, a conservative pundit’s claim on the same day as the shooting that far-right violence is a “complete and total bogeyman” echoes the objections the attacks that many right-wing groups lobbed at a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on domestic extremism. Right-wing groups and their allies in Congress created a fuss about the report, claiming that it was an attack on conservatives, Christians and veterans.

The American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and the American Center for Law and Justice piled on. Republicans in Congress demanded an investigation into how the report had come to pass. Spotting a good fundraising opportunity, Liberty Counsel even printed out “Proud to be a Right-Wing Extremist” cards to distribute to its members.

Eventually, the pressure led DHS to retract the report and later to cut back the team that produced it. Two years later, speaking publicly for the first time, the analyst who wrote the report — who happened to be a conservative Republican Mormon —  said that the attacks on his unit’s work had undermined law enforcement’s ability to address the “growing and dangerous problem” of violent right-wing extremism.

What happened at DHS as a result of the criticism?
My team was dissolved. All training courses and briefings presentations were stopped. DHS leaders made it increasingly difficult to release another report on this topic.

Why would DHS leaders dissolve your team and stop these analytic activities?

The subject had become too politically charged. As a result, DHS leaders adopted a risk adverse approach toward this issue. Perhaps they thought it was a matter of organizational preservation.

Do you think the dissolution of your unit that you discuss has negatively affected State and local law enforcement?

Certainly. There is one less agency to assist state and local law enforcement with this growing and dangerous problem at a time of heightened activity.

Yet, as recently as last year, Religous Right groups were still using their bogus criticism of the report as a talking point against the Obama administration.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 6/2/14

  • Bryan Fischer says that "the leaders of the Gay Gestapo have become our new slave masters."
  • Of course Allen West, who was voted out of office after just one term in Congress, is considering a run for the White House.
  • On June 6, right-wing Christian activists will unleash a "prayer storm" to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day: "Those with spiritual discernment see that we are facing a spiritual battle against evil in our nations today every bit as real as WWII. Moral depravity, apostasy, and other anti-Christian attacks reflect the creeping human secularist agenda that seeks to remove the gift of Liberty that Jesus' blood gave to all humanity."
  • As part of the 2014 Pastors & Patriot’s initiative, Mat Staver announces that Liberty Counsel will be "hosting pastors and wives meetings (usually a luncheon) in the critical 'swing states' of our country. The remarkable luncheon media presentation will feature nationally recognized Christian leaders such as Governor Mike Huckabee, Historian David Barton, Evangelist James Robison, myself, and many, many more."
  • Finally, Matt Barber warns that "pornography use leads to death" and "pornography use is demonic."

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/22/14

  • Erik Rush insists that all of his conspiracy theories are not conspiracy theories at all because these conspiracies are all real!
  • A very intriguing headline: "Exotic Dancer Finds Freedom From Demonic Attacks."
  • Liberty Counsel is excited by arguments that atheism/humanism is a religion because it might lead to allowing the teaching of creationism in public schools.
  • Did you know that political correctness is a form of hate? Now you do.
  • Finally, Bryan Fischer says that our culture is like the World Trade Center and right-wing pastors are the courageous first responders who ran in to try and put out the fire.

LGBT Equality Pioneer Harvey Milk Memorialized with New Stamp

Though the right-wing has long tried to rewrite Milk's legacy, it's clear that today is a day to celebrate how far the LGBT equality movement has come and to recognize the work that remains.
PFAW Foundation

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/16/14

  • Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in Michigan’s marriage equality case, insisting that “it would be rational for the voters of Michigan to seek to minimize the deleterious effects” of “homosexual activity.”
  • The editor of Matt Barber’s website shows his “overwhelming love” for gay people by explaining that homosexuality “is destroying your life.”
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