James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program today once again featured a discussion between Mat Staver, Rick Scarborough, and Tim Wildmon about what anti-gay Christians should expect from an upcoming Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of state bans on gay marriage.
During today's discussion, Staver repeatedly declared that marriage "is not a state's rights issue" and so, if the arguments against anti-gay marriage win at the Supreme Court, then Religious Right activists will go to work outlawing gay marriage in states where it is currently legal.
Staver argued that, like slavery, the issue of marriage equality is something that cannot be left up to the individual states to decide and Dobson agreed, warning that allowing gay marriage in some states but not in others would lead to chaos.
When Wildmon noted that allowing the individual states to decide the issue for themselves was the best outcome that anti-gay activists could hope for from this Supreme Court case, Staver agreed, but said that if that happens, then they must get to work repealing marriage equality in the states where it already exists.
"The best thing we can hope for at that level is the Supreme Court says there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage," Staver said. "But now that work has to go down, after June, if we get that decision which I pray that we do, our work's not done because we have to go back and undo the mess that the previous Supreme Court confusion has caused."
Not only would they seek to reinstate bans in states where local or federal judges had struck them down, Staver said, but they would also work to repeal marriage equality laws passed by voters or legislatures in places like New York.
"This is such a fundamental issue, it is not a state's rights issues any more than life is a state's rights issue or slavery is a state's rights issue," Staver said. "Those issues are so fundamental they transcend geography."
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber likened the supposed "persecution" of Christians in America to the attack in Kenya earlier this month in which Islamic terrorists killed 147 people, saying that Christians all over the world are under attack from the "Islamo-progressive axis of evil."
Barber said that while those murdered in Kenya were victims of "hard persecution," at the same time "right here in the United States, Christians at an escalating rate are experiencing a softer persecution, but it's still anti-Christian persecution."
Just as John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking out against "sexual immorality," so too are Christians being persecuted in America today, Barber said.
"You have those who are pushing for sexual immorality and acceptance of sexual immorality and Islamists kind of both targeting Christians for persecution," he said, "some with hard persecution, others with more of a soft persecution. We're not being beheaded here in the United States yet but certainly advocates of sexual relativism are what I call the Islamo-progressive axis of evil."
"So-called progressives, they have a common enemy," Barber continued. "The common enemy is truth, is Christ, is Christians, is Christ followers":
Last month, California State University announced that it would no longer recognize a campus Christian organization because the group would not abide by the university's non-discrimination policy, and naturally Matt Barber and Mat Staver responded by likening the university's decision it to Nazi persecution of the Jews.
On Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program today, Barber declared that this is just another example of "soft persecution" of Christians in America that, it left unchecked, will lead to Christians being imprisoned as they are in China or tortured and beheaded, as they are by ISIS.
"Soft persecution," Barber said, "can ultimately lead to hard persecution and if things don't change here in the U.S., that's the path we're heading down."
Not to be outdone, Staver readily agreed as he proceeded to liken the situation to Nazi Germany.
"Even though this kind of persecution or discrimination is not on the same level as what we see in some of these places around the world," he said, "it is a precursor to that same kind of thing. Once they say that you're a Christian and because of that, you're not going to have the same rights, we're going to stigmatize you; this is what happened with the Jews. It didn't start off with the gas chambers. It started off with taking away their right to work. It started off with putting the Star of David on these individuals and stigmatizing them and precluding them from other rights and liberties that every other person would have who is not a Jew. So this is something that we need to stand up against":
It seems that whenever a Christian receives any sort of criticism for speaking out against marriage equality, the entire Religious Right immediately begins to complain that said person's right to free speech is being violated and screaming about how they are facing persecution at the hands of modern-day fascists.
So it is interesting to watch anti-gay activists freak out over the fact that a lesbian pastor has been invited to speak at American Baptist College in Tennessee, as demonstrated by the fact that Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber are demanding that the college president be fired for allowing it to happen.
Recently, ABC president Forrest Harris responded to the controversy by defending the speech and saying that "it's sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people" and that "we can't be guided and dictated by a first-century world view." In return, Barber and Staver responded by using their radio program today to call for Harris to be fired.
"Hasn't [Harris] disqualified himself for this particular leadership position," Barber asked, "when he's calling God a liar and completely attempting to discredit the truths of Scripture, saying that Scripture isn't even true? How can he even be in this position of authority and be trusted to carry out the duties of a Christian president of a university."
"I don't think he can," Staver responded. "I think he ought to be removed. I think the alumni and supporters of the association ought to remove him ... For a president of a college like that that has a Christian tradition, that person has no right leading that college. They ought to remove him":
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, as Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed Liberty Counsel's effort to defend Puerto Rico's ban on gay marriage, Barber once again shared his view that the push for marriage equality is literally satanic.
"From the spiritual level," Barber asked, "who is the Lawless One? Who is the Great Deceiver referred to in Scripture? The Lawless One is the Father of Lies himself and so this kind lawlessness, we know who is behind it. We know who is behind this push to redefine marriage, from a spiritual standpoint. If God designed human sexuality and designed them male and female, we know who is attacking God's design for human sexuality, God's design for the differences between the sexes and coming together in the institution of marriage as one as one flesh. And it also is a representation of the church, of Christ's relationship with the church, the bride of Christ. And so that is something that Satan hates, it is something that he wants to attack and undermine, so from a spiritual standpoint, isn't it what this all kind of derives from?"
In an interview with WorldNetDaily yesterday, anti-gay legal activist Mat Staver once again compared gay rights advocates to terrorists, telling WND radio host Greg Corombos that the LGBT community won’t stop until it wins a “special, protected, preferred status for homosexuality” and “then if they get that, boy are they going to come and hammer you hard with it.”
“Their agenda doesn’t stop until they are completely dominating anybody who ultimately does not not only agree but promote and affirm their lifestyle,” Staver said. “Their agenda will not stop, it will ultimately result in fines and prosecution. This is an intolerant agenda.”
He went on to liken gay rights supporters to the Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip: "This is like dealing with terrorists, negotiating with people who have a zero-sum game and they don’t want you to exist. It is like the Palestinians and the Israelis: the Palestinians in Gaza don’t like the Jews to exist in the land, so no matter how much land you give them for so-called peace, it doesn’t really satisfy them. There is no satisfying this radical agenda, they don’t want you to exist. If you do exist, they want you to promote and applaud their sinful lifestyle.”
In an interview yesterday, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver said that a potential fix to Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law ensuring that it would not effectively legalize discrimination would be “devastating,” comparing such a move to negotiating with terrorists.
“There is nothing to clarify and there is nothing to fix,” Staver told Jim Schneider on VCY America’s “Crosstalk.”
“This is what the homosexual lobby wants to do: they want to intimidate [Indiana Gov. Mike Pence] so much, they want to try to embarrass him into doing something that is absolutely foolish, that will promote their agenda,” Staver added.
“It’s kind of like with these terrorists, it’s hard to negotiate with terrorists because they have a zero-sum game. It’s hard to negotiate with these people who simply are irrational and are inventing things that just simply don’t exist. You’re not going to placate them by trying to come back and pass a clarification to a law that doesn’t need any clarification at all.”
Staver told host Jim Schneider that gay rights advocates are promoting “anti-Christian hatred,” warning that the gay rights movement has “given a tolerance message, and what is behind that is, frankly, demonic. It wants to literally overpower, it has no interest in protecting religious freedom, it wants to crush it.”
“This is the wakeup call for the church,” he said.
Staver said that conservative Christians in America are in the same place as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in Germany who died as a result of his opposition to Nazi rule.
The gay rights movement, Staver said, is all about “absolute intolerant bigotry, hatred towards Christians and people of faith,” and even the “criminalization of Christianity.”
“They want to literally crush religion, the free exercise of religion, and freedom,” Staver said. “That’s what this agenda is about. So I say stand your ground. This is a Bonhoeffer moment and Gov. Mike Pence better not back up on this issue.”
Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Liberty Counsel communications director Charla Bansley proposed that pastors and “those victimized by religious intolerance” from all around the country hold a massive rally in Indianapolis to defend Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law.
“Gov. Pence is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015,” the Religious Right activist wrote.
She also made the erroneous claim that the Indiana law is just like other versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Can conservatives responding to the recent controversy in Indiana over religious freedom learn anything from liberals about messaging? After the Michael Brown shooting, liberal leaders from the left, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and secular progressive communities from across America seized the opportunity and flocked to Ferguson, Missouri, to take over the narrative, blaming Brown’s death on “institutional racism.” Universities as far away as George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, held diversity discussions. College students from all over the country joined the crowds walking the streets chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Today, the church must contend for the faith and the faithful in like manner. What churches and religious universities will take a page out of the liberal playbook to rally, to march, to hold candle vigils and to speak out? What pastors will go to Indianapolis to stand by Gov. Mike Pence and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Which organizations will help pay the way for those victimized by religious intolerance – bakers, photographers, venue owners – to make their way to Indianapolis? When will we as a church begin matching our words with action? If not now, then when?
Pence said Sunday that the new state law “is not about discrimination. This is about empowering people to confront government overreach.” Unfortunately, those words went over the heads of most people watching the interview. Homosexual activists went to the streets claiming the law would legalize discrimination, and Americans believed the false narrative. The truth is a federal RFRA was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and 19 other states have passed similar laws, but not one case of discrimination exists. The real cases of discrimination are the religious businesses who have been sued for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding: the Catholic B&B owners who didn’t want to host a same-sex wedding in Vermont, the baker in Oregon, the photographer in New Mexico, the florist in Washington and a host of others.
Gov. Pence is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015, courageously defending the bakers, photographers, florists, ministers, county clerks, and owners of wedding venues who, after a lifetime of acquiring skills and building businesses, have seen their livelihoods destroyed, forced to pay exorbitant fines and even threatened with jail.
On yesterday's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber accused President Obama of engaging in a "sinister" and "treasonous" plot to destroy Israel and America by trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
After hailing the recent victory by Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party in Israel's election, Staver declared that Israeli citizens who support "land for peace" are simply "stupid," whereas Obama is "sinister" for opposing Netnayahu and dealing with Iran.
"I think he has, ultimately, an objective," Staver said. "He doesn't like America. He doesn't like Israel. He doesn't stand with our allies in the Middle East. He has sympathies that ultimately undermine the Judeo-Christian values that we support and that connect us with the land of Israel."
Barber was in complete agreement, declaring that Obama is "dealing with Iran right now to enable them and help them obtain the means to destroy Israel."
"That's not a matter of opinion, that's a matter of fact," Barber said. "It's treasonous! ... It exposes the fact that this president hates Israel [and] I believe, as you just stated, that he hates America as well":
Earlier today, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his campaign for president at Liberty University (LU), the ultraconservative school established by Jerry Falwell. His decision to choose Liberty is rather telling, considering that LU is a radically right-wing university with a law school staffed by some of the most viciously anti-gay Religious Right activists operating today.
Of course, given that LU itself was founded by Falwell, who blamed gay people for 9/11, this should not come as much of a surprise.
Staver continues to call for a revolution to fight gay marriage and is currently leading an effort to get anti-gay Christians to ignore any Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans, saying that refusing to obey such a ruling is like refusing to turn a Jew over to the Nazis:
When Staver announced his resignation from Liberty's law school last year, LU President Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced that Rena Lindevaldsen would take over as interim dean. Lindevaldsen previously served as senior litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel, where she was the lead attorney in a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an "ex-gay" woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner. Lindevaldsen even wrote a book about the saga while she and Liberty Counsel continue to insist that they have no knowledge of Miller's whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working at the Liberty University Law School.
Furthermore, Staver and Lindevaldsen even reportedly taught a class at Liberty based on the Miller case in which students were instructed that the "right" thing for a Christian lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in "civil disobedience" to uphold God's law. In 2012, the school was hit with a lawsuit over its alleged involvement in Miller's kidnapping.
When Lindevaldsen spoke at a right-wing conference earlier this month, she told the audience at a breakout panel on "sexual rebellion" that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the "big deal" is about LGBT rights, she responds that "it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God." Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is "the heart of where Satan’s attacking":
Matt Barber is another Liberty University/Liberty Counsel crossover. He formerly served as vice president of Liberty Counsel Action and still co-hosts Liberty Counsel's daily radio program with Staver, while also holding positions as associate dean and adjunct professor at Liberty.
Baber happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than "one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it "love.'"
He has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act was necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens end their own lives because they "know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral," proclaimed gay adoption to be "tragic," "unconscionable," and "reprehensible," and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are "running interference for the pedophile movement."
He has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he'd like to see a ban on "gay propaganda" in the U.S., as well as defending Uganda's harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.
Several other anti-gay activists also hold teaching positions at Liberty University, including Shawn Akers, who has said that measures to prevent the bullying of LGBT youth are "a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and Communist countries" and accused gay rights advocates of bullying Christians and persecuting them in the same way as Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews.
Any way you cut it, it is clear that Liberty University is home of a slew of anti-gay bigots. The fact that Ted Cruz chose this as the venue at which to announce his presidential campaign speaks volumes.
Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver has made anti-gaycivil disobedience a recurring theme in his speeches and activism, and the pending marriage cases at the Supreme Court seem to have him on edge.
In a BarbWire column today, “Why A Bad Supreme Court Decision May Require Civil Disobedience,” Staver outlined his goal of bringing together “many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools” to “peacefully refuse to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”
Staver claimed that such anti-gay activists would be following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. and Europeans who shielded Jews from the Nazi regime, adding that “perhaps we would see our culture step back from the brink of insanity, or perhaps we would suffer in the face of injustice.”
Civil disobedience has a long and noble history in Western culture, and we will need a primer on it if, as seems likely, the Supreme Court rules against natural marriage in June.
Of course, civil disobedience is not justified just because we disagree with a human law, but only when that law conflicts with a higher revealed or Natural Law. When he was jailed for violating a law used to stop him from protesting injustice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,” he argued. “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
He went on to say: “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”
Merely because a legislature or a judge passes a law or issues an opinion does not make a law just. “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a dangerous doctrine indeed,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” To cite an extreme example, if you lived under the Nazi regime and the law required you to not hide or aid a Jew in any way, would you comply with Hitler or obey God? To obey Hitler, you would have to disobey God.
The U.S. Supreme Court could still come off the rails in their June decision and invent a newfound right to “same-sex marriage,” striking down state laws that recognize the reality of marriage. If the Court takes that disastrous step, we should view it the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Such a decision would fly in the face, not just of the Constitution itself, but of the natural created order.
The temptation for many will be to cave or compromise. The temptation even for the faithful will be to retreat into our churches and cloisters. In 2004, same-sex “marriage” came to Massachusetts. Contrary to the claim that such laws would usher in an age of “tolerance,” the law immediately became a legal club to beat unwilling participants. Catholic charities bravely refused to place orphans in same-sex homes, because it was contrary to their mission.
Unfortunately, they stopped doing adoptions in the state. This cannot be our precedent. What they should have done is to say, “We are called to place orphans in homes with moms and dads. We will not voluntarily surrender our calling.” Massachusetts might have used force to stop Catholic charities anyway, just as lone florists and bakers are being driven to bankruptcy in other states. But what would happen if, instead of quiet retreat, many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools all came together, prepared, prayed and peacefully refused to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God?
Perhaps we would see our culture step back from the brink of insanity, or perhaps we would suffer in the face of injustice. Whatever the outcome, the hour is late. It’s past time for us to get ready.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio show, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber declared that Ben Carson has effectively destroyed his presidential chances by apologizing for his statement that prison sex proves that homosexuality is a choice and vowing not to talk about the issue of gay rights anymore.
Barber blasted Carson for backtracking after he had "rightly" stated that being gay is a choice, saying "it took, I think, a day for him to come out with hat-in-hand and give this blathering mea culpa, just apologizing and saying how he'll never do this again and then promising never to talk about this issue again. So they have intimidated him into silence. From a political standpoint, now Ben Carson is dead in my eyes."
Staver agreed, saying that there is no way that Carson can refuse to talk about this issue "because it is a real threat against our faith and freedom and we can't ignore it."
"We need politicians and we need leaders who can speak boldly on this issue and who will not shrink," Staver said. "Saying that you're never going to speak on it and apologizing is not the kind of leadership you need":
On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.
At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality.
Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.
1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail
While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.
The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”
Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.
Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”
Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.
2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues
Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.
Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:
Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:
This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”
3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism
Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.
Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.
What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.
Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:
4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It
Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.
Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”
“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”
5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other
One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.
Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.
Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":
It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.
As we mentioned earlier, the mood at Saturday’s Awakening conference in Florida around the issue of gay marriage was utter panic, and nowhere was that expressed more clearly than in a panel titled “Same-Sex Marriage and Sexual Rebellion: Freedom Under Fire,” moderated by off-the-rails anti-gay pundit Matt Barber and featuring a pastor, two “ex-gay” activists, and Rena Lindevaldsen, the Liberty University dean who has murky ties with the case of an “ex-lesbian” who fled the country with her daughter to defy a court order giving the child's other mother custody.
Lindevaldsen set the tone for the discussion when she lamented that too many conservative Christians aren’t committed to fighting gay rights and instead ask her “why is this such a big deal and why does it matter?”
"It's a big deal because it's a big deal to God," she declared.
Quoting the late Chuck Colson , she told the audience, “In every action we take, we are either helping to create a hell on Earth, or bringing down a foretaste of heaven…We are either advancing the rule of Satan or establishing the reign of God.”
“There’s no middle ground, there’s no neutrality, there is no compromise,” she added, telling Christians who are on the fence about gay rights that “it’s not loving” to let gay people “go on not knowing that God has a better plan for their lives, this is not the way that God designed them to be.”
“This is the heart of where Satan’s attacking,” she said. “He is seeking to destroy human sexuality and marriage. Why? Because we are the reflection, marriage is the reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church. And so if you’re going to destroy the only human reflection we have of that, we’re going to destroy marriage.”
Later in the panel, “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan similarly warned Christians not to be taken in by LGBT rights, saying that the Human Rights Campaign’s famous equals sign bumper stickers are “not about equality” but “about dominance” and hide an effort to destroy the Constitution.
(Audio again via American Bridge):
When you see that blue bumper sticker with that bright yellow sign, it’s not about equality, it’s about dominance. It’s about silencing any voice that’s against what they want to do. And the real issue is this — I want you to understand this. The Constitution of the United States is a Calvinist document — I’m not a Calvinist — it’s a Christian document, it was written by reformers, based on the word of God. The problem that the secular left has, secular progressives, whatever label you want to put on them, the anti-God folks, our Constitution. And their goal is to undo it, if that means by reinterpreting it rewriting it, but it is to undo it.
So know this, especially the homosexual agenda, if I go down the list, I got a thing called “the big pink plan for a lavender culture,” another talk I do, which goes to what the agenda is. I was there when they were talking about what they want to do. It’s not about equality, it’s about dominance.
At Saturday’s Awakening conference, an annual Religious Right confab organized by Liberty Counsel, the mood surrounding LGBT rights had reached full-blown panic.
Nearly two years after the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision let loose a cascade of federal court decisions legalizing marriage between same-sex couples in dozens of states, the Religious Right activists gathered in a megachurch in Orlando were bracing for a Supreme Court decision that could establish marriage equality nationwide.
At a panel titled “Activism in the Age of Lawlessness,” four Religious Right leaders — John Eidsmoe, Rick Scarborough, William Murray and Harry Mihet — gathered to suss out what the movement’s response should be to pro-LGBT court rulings that they find to be “lawless.”
John Eidsmoe, the influential Christian nationalist thinker who served as a mentor to Michele Bachmann, outlined the issue, explaining to the audience that “‘rule of law’ ultimately means ‘rule of the highest law,’” or God’s law.
Eidsmoe, who now works for the Religious Right group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is urging judges in his state to defy a federal court ruling on marriage equality, argued that you are only disobeying the law if you disobey “the law of God.”
“You disobey a law only when those who have that law are breaking a higher law, the law of God,” he said. “And in fact, if you follow the decree of a tyrant when he is defying the law, you are complicit in his defiance. Disobedience then becomes not only a right, it becomes a duty.”
Eidsmoe explained that the idea of civil disobedience had been perverted since biblical times, since the idea of not violating your conscience should only apply if “your conscience is in accord with the word of God.”
Rick Scarborough, the head of Vision America, warned that a Supreme Court decision for marriage equality would be worse for the Religious Right than Roe v. Wade because “with abortion, you can opt out, you don’t have to participate in that.”
He claimed that, in contrast, a marriage equality decision would outlaw anti-gay speech, the exact same erroneous prediction he made following the passage of the 2009 Hate Crimes Law.
“We’ll get up the day after that ruling, and in fact a few hours after that ruling when it’s widely disseminated, and you’ll find yourself, those of us who believe that homosexuality is a sexual sin — perversion if you will — those of us who believe that homosexual marriage is unnatural and forbidden by God and who have taught that our entire lives…when that law is passed you are then going to breaking the law when you preach or teach what you’ve always taught or what you’ve always preached,” he claimed.
“Fundamentally, it undermines the whole nature of America,” Scarborough concluded.
Liberty Counsel attorney Harry Mihet, who was moderating the panel, echoed Scarborough’s dire warnings when he declared that there would be “no way to escape this issue” and that it might “in the near future” land anti-LGBT pastors in jail… just like Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We have to draw the line in the sand and stand firm on the truth of the Word, and not to shy away from a fight, not to quit, not to be silent, but to actually speak truth and love to a society that has a desperate need to hear it,” he said. “And there may come a time when you will have to lose your job because that’s what you’ve done. There may come a time in the near future when you have to lose your liberty and go to jail like Martin Luther King did.”
In a radio interview this weekend, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver called on states to defy a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality if it goes “the wrong way.”
“What we could have is the Supreme Court issuing its decision on marriage the wrong way, and Alabama saying, ‘Goodbye, get out of my state, that’s not what’s going to happen to my state,’” Staver told anti-LGBT pundit Linda Harvey, adding that he hopes Texas will also flout such a decision.
The Religious Right legal activist went on to insist that California’s Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban that was struck down by the federal courts, “still is applicable” in most of the state. “They have no legal authority to issue those same-sex marriage licenses,” he claimed.
In a speech to this weekend’s Awakening conference in Florida, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver declared that a ruling in favor of marriage equality from the Supreme Court would deserve “no more respect than Dred Scott or Buck v. Bell,” court rulings that, respectively, denied citizenship to African Americans and allowed mandatory state sterilization of mentally disabled people.
“I say this: If the Supreme Court can’t get it right, or any judge get it right, on the fundamental, observable, natural created order of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, they can’t get it right on anything, that’s their own opinion, and it deserves no more respect than Dred Scott or Buck v. Bell,” he declared.
He warned the audience that a “clash is coming” between religious liberty and LGBT rights that is “unprecedented in American history.”
“Tax exemption, income tax exemption, property tax exemption, everything is going to be impacted,” he said. “You cannot navigate around this. This is a collision of two trains coming in opposite directions on the same track. We are on the precipice of a collision of unprecedented magnitude.”
Rafael Cruz, the father and frequent campaign surrogate of Sen. Ted Cruz, made a stop at this weekend’s The Awakening conference in Florida to deliver a David Barton-infused American history lesson to a room full of Religious Right activists.
Echoing a theme brought up by many of the conference’s speakers, Cruz told the audience that America was inviting God’s judgment and it was up to them as conservative Christians to become politically active and bring the country back.
“Let me tell you, judgment begins in the house of God,” he said. “But also, the restoration of America begins in the house of God.”
“Let me tell you what I am hearing from the Lord,” Cruz declared. “We are going to see in America a dual revival, a parallel revival. We are going to see a spiritual revival in tandem with a political revival, both together to restore America to the greatness that our forefathers gave it.”
He added his version of America’s founding — which he has laid out a number of times before — that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution “were written by revelation from God” and are therefore divine mandates to “elect righteous leaders.”
“If the righteous are not running for office, if the righteous are not even voting, what is left?” he asked. “The wicked electing the wicked. And we get what we deserve.”
Nobody summed it up quite as well as Ken Graves, a pastor from Bangor, Maine, who declared to the audience sitting in a megachurch in Orlando that they were in a fight against “militant homofascism” that “seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and secular humanists who, in conjunction with militant Islam, want to “destroy everything we have” and establish a “secular humanist caliphate.”
Evoking Seven Mountains dominionism, the doctrine that seeks to deliver control of the “seven mountains” of society to conservative Christians, Graves declared that it is the secular humanists who now “have every major institution.”
He then pulled a Bible out of his pocket and bellowed to the crowd: “Why should we be intimidated if what has been placed in our hands is the very word of God?”