A new report from New America, released a week after a white supremacist gunned down nine people in a black church in Charleston, finds that since the September 11, 2001, attacks, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.”
The New York Times reports that this threat is “familiar to police officers,” three-quarters of whom list antigovernment extremism as a greater threat to their communities than “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence:
If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.
“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.
We haven’t heard any right-wing reaction to this report yet. But we aren’t incredibly optimistic that it will be reasonable.
Liberty Counsel, the Religious Right legal group, even went so far as to print out cards for its members to show their solidarity with the violent right-wing extremists supposedly attacked by this report:
Other right-wing groups started an ad campaign demanding that then-DHS chief Janet Napolitano resign for supposedly having labeled George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and the pope as “the new terrorists”:
Under pressure, DHS ultimately retracted the report and cut back its team investigating non-Muslim violent extremism, infuriating the self-described conservative Republican analyst who had written the report.
As recently as February, Rep. Ted Poe, Republican of Texas, was complaining on the Family Research Council’s radio program that the Obama administration is “more aggressive toward Americans, Republicans, conservatives, Christians, and concerned about them being threats to the country, which they’re not, than they are about the real threats to our country.”
Never mind that the report focused exclusively on the actual threat of violent, far-right extremism — something that even their strongest detractors aren’t accusing groups like Liberty Counsel and the AFA of being involved in. The Right saw an opportunity to stir up a fake controversy in order to raise money, reinforce the narrative of conservative activists as victims and provoke animosity toward President Obama. In the process they helped make it harder for DHS to investigate a very real threat to American security. But they ended up with a meme that lives to this day.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber were aghast at Caitlyn Jenner's gender transition and were utterly outraged that President Obama had praised Jenner's courage on Twitter, with Staver declaring that "we've got evil that is actually residing in the White House."
Barber declared that instead of celebrating Jenner's transition, "people need to be in mourning, need to be praying for him, he needs to be pitied," asserting that "our world is upside down right now."
Staver agreed, saying, "You know, we've got evil that is actually residing in the White House, as well because of that."
"It's just evil to applaud evil," he said. "And as the person who has the highest position in the United States to come out and use that position to literally applaud something that's evil ... This is nothing to applaud; this is the sign of a sick society."
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber hailed a move by the Texas legislature to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving funds from a state program designed to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Even though the money from this fund did not go toward providing abortion services, Staver and Barber praised the move as a step toward ending abortion by falsely claiming that every tax dollar Planned Parenthood receives ultimately frees up other money to be used for abortion services and so cutting off this funding will shrink the money available for abortion.
A commitment to totally cutting off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood should be a non-negotiable position for every candidate running for president in 2016, Barber said, because legal abortion is modern-day Baal worship.
"This is the left's sacred cow," he said. "It's like a religious ritual, a religious rite. They worship at the altar of death, of child dismemberment. It's like Baal worship of old, worshiping Moloch, where they would sacrifice innocent human beings. There's no difference. They're just not putting them in a furnace and worshiping an idol, but they really are worshiping an idol, the idol of abortion, and they're killing the babies in this clinical setting. It's no different from child sacrifice of old."
Matt Barber is predictably unhappy that the residents of Ireland overwhelmingly voted to legalize gay in their country, declaring on Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program today that Ireland is now in rebellion against God and has succumbed to the "cancer" that will ultimately destroy western civilization.
"What we saw happen in Ireland was clearly a mass rebellion against God's design, clear design, millennia-old design for the institution of marriage," he said. "As history has shown over and over again, any society that abandons monogamous man-woman marriage as a central aspect of that culture and embraces sexual relativism as they have now done in Ireland, that culture and that society is not long for the world."
Barber went on to say that not only has this vote brought "great shame and great embarrassment on the Irish people," but it also signals that the cancer of moral relativism is sweeping across western civilization.
"I don't know how much longer we can expect [to survive]," he said. "Certainly, this novelty of so-called gay marriage is going to be one of the primary, I believe, drawbacks that end up potentially leading to the end of western civilization as we certainly know it now, at least."
This month’s issue of Billy Graham’s Decision magazine contains, along with a fawning profile of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a “special report” on the upcoming Supreme Court gay marriage decision, featuring panicked interviews with GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver.
In an interview with Decision, Huckabee repeated his warning that marriage equality will lead to the “criminalization of Christianity,” saying, “When you elevate a lifestyle to the status of a civil right, I don’t think a lot of believers fully understand or comprehend that once it’s risen to that level and our government accepts it, then anyone who disagrees with it could be at least civilly liable, but more than likely would be criminally liable.”
He warned that if marriage equality is legalized nationwide, it will become a “criminal act” for a pastor to preach against gay marriage. Of course, this has not yet happened in any of the states where gay marriage is currently legal, nor did it ever become illegal to preach against interracial marriage after that was legalized by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago.
Similarly, Staver warned that marriage equality is an attack on “the very image of God” and urged churches to prepare for civil disobedience in the mold of pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “We’re no longer going to just talk like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we’re going to act like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”
“To attack marriage attacks the very image of God,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and former dean of the School of Law at Liberty University.
“It puts the State in the position of acting as though it knows better than God and, in fact, is the creator, with the ability to redefine God’s natural created order.”
A decision in favor of same-sex marriage would set off an unprecedented avalanche of threats on religious liberties, potentially affecting virtually every church, pastor, ministry and Christian-owned business.
“The implications are staggering,” Staver said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee warns that it could even lead to the “criminalization of Christianity.”
“When you elevate a lifestyle to the status of a civil right, I don’t think a lot of believers fully understand or comprehend that once it’s risen to that level and our government accepts it, then anyone who disagrees with it could be at least civilly liable, but more than likely would be criminally liable,” Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate, told Decision during a recent visit to the Billy Graham Library.
“The impact is this: A pastor getting up in the pulpit and proclaiming God’s Word that marriage is the act of one man and woman joining together for life would violate the civil rights of a same-sex couple. … That would make it a criminal act.”
Proponents of same-sex marriage—backed by the Obama administration—say LGBT couples are being discriminated against and deserve marriage equality protections.
Regardless of how the case turns out, Huckabee made clear that the true definition of marriage will stand.
“Even if the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is OK, it doesn’t make it OK because the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being,” he said. “The ultimate rules for marriage were not made by the Supreme Court, but by God. He is the One who gave us the blueprint.”
Liberty Counsel’s Staver said of the threat to religious liberties: “You’re not going to be able to have your own opinion if it’s a contrary opinion because the force of the police state will require individuals not just to remain silent, but to affirm and promote same-sex unions and immoral sexual behavior.”
[Liberty Institute president Kelly] Shackelford said it will be difficult for churches to follow their doctrine without interference from the government.
“Almost every ministry is going to have implications,” he said. “Every Christian organization and every church is going to find themselves in a situation where they’re going to have to decide, in many cases, whether to follow man’s new law or God’s law.”
Staver said churches, ministries and individual believers must be willing to practice civil disobedience if that’s what it takes to obey God’s Word.
“We’re no longer going to just talk like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we’re going to act like Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” Staver said, referring to the German pastor who was imprisoned for resisting Hitler’s Nazi regime.
“We have to say we will not move and we will not compromise. We must say that this is a line we cannot cross, not because we want a controversy or a conflict, not because we’re being belligerent, but because it is such a stark assault on our religious freedom and our Christian beliefs that we cannot cross it. We have to render to God what belongs to God.”
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel spoke to Greg Corombos of WorldNetDaily yesterday about a new Gallup poll showing that a majority of Americans, including a plurality of Republicans, believe that homosexuality is “something a person is born with” rather than a result of a person’s “upbringing.” In addition, Gallup found that 60 percent of Americans favor marriage equality.
Despite these findings, which are in line with other polls showing majority approval for same-sex marriage, Staver told Corombos that he doesn’t believe the polls since they “under-report” opposition to gay rights.
But he added that it doesn’t even matter if a majority of people believe homosexuality is innate because there is “no evidence” that gay people are born that way. “It wouldn’t matter if a poll said that people believe that the earth was flat with respect to whether or not they believe that homosexuality was something with which you were born,” he said.
Staver also predicted that a conservative “splinter group that will ultimately no longer support the Republican Party” will form if the GOP backtracks on its opposition to gay marriage, while noting the “good news” that party leaders and presidential candidates remain opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage.
LC’s Mat Staver declared in a press release that the supposed move shows that “President Obama must hate America” and is "dragging every American citizen with him into the pit of Hell":
“President Obama must hate America because his hostility towards Israel will bring a curse on our country,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “No nation that has opposed Israel or taken the land of the Jews has survived. Babylon, Persia, Rome, and Nazi Germany have all ceased, but Israel and the Jewish people remain,” Staver points out.
“President Obama is playing with fire and he is dragging every American citizen with him into the pit of Hell,” continued Staver. “I am ashamed that a sitting President would side with those who hate Israel. This act of rebellion by Obama is childish and dangerous. President Obama’s death wish is not shared by the people of the United States of America.”
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver seized on right-wingfears that anti-gay organizations will lose their tax-exempt status if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage to predictably warn that the U.S. is on the verge of turning into a modern-day Nazi Germany.
"We're talking about the ghettoization of Christianity," Staver said, "and this is what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany, they put the Jews in ghettos, they put other people in ghettos. They took away their ability to earn a living, then they isolated them to ghettos, they stigmatized them, they ultimately destroyed their humanity in the minds of others and then the next step was easy, in the sense that they had gone to the point where they had lost respect for humanity."
"This is a serious manner because this ghettoizes Christianity," he continued. "This stigmatizes those who have Christian beliefs. This ultimately punishes those and prohibits those individuals from earning a living or working in the marketplace. And this is the beginning of ultimately dehumanizing the person and when you dehumanize the person, terrible things can happen":
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber said that the push for marriage equality is nothing more than an attempt to destroy what God has created and likened it to someone tossing paint all over Michelangelo's masterwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
"Assume that you're looking at Michelangelo," Staver said. "He spends all of his life preparing and perfecting the art of painting that only he can do and such great artistic work that it literally stands the test of history and ripples through time. And so, as part of his creative effort, he paints hours and weeks and days and years on the Sistine Chapel ... Here somebody walks into the Sistine Chapel with a paint bucket and a big brush and says, 'Michael, you got it all wrong, this is frankly ugly' and gets up there and thinks he knows better and starts splashing paint all over this beautiful painting and destroying it."
"And yet, here we've got God, who is the creator," he continued, "who knows the creation that He created and the crown jewel of all the magnificent things He created is you and I in His image that has the unitive, the procreative, and the spiritual component. And then the created being shakes its fist at God and says, 'Ah, no, we've got a better idea God and we're going to change what you created and we're going to elevate it and promote it and put laws around it and try to protect it because we think we know better.' The audacity of the created being, shaking its fist at the natural creation of God almighty."
Barber was in complete agreement, saying that "to try to build on this building block of vile affections and abominations something that is supposed to be equal to, akin to, what God created, God's union of a man and a woman, is offensive. It's shaking its fist at God":
Yesterday on his “Freedom’s Call” radio bulletin, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver warned that church leaders will soon “face going to jail” if they don’t obey “unjust” and “unconscionable” same-sex marriage laws.
“We’re witnessing an aggressive movement targeting Christianity and our values, especially marriage,” Staver said. “We must realize that the war over marriage goes to the core of our religious freedom.”
Staver, seemingly suggesting — falsely — that churches will have to host same-sex couples’ weddings, urged “all Christians” to request Liberty Counsel’s help against an “onslaught of the radical pro-homosexual community or government agencies pursuing the same goal.”
In an email to Liberty Counsel members today, Staver issued a similar warning, including the discredited claim that “speech against homosexuality” will be criminalized and considered a “hate crime” if the Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage bans:
The coercion by the government and radical leftists to force Americans to accept the homosexual lifestyle and its sexual immorality has exploded. If the High Court wrongly affirms same-sex "marriage," the floodgates will be opened for lawsuits and legislation to label speech against homosexuality as a hate crime – and force participation in their events and ceremonies.
John Zmirak, Contributing Senior Editor of The Stream, and an endorser of our Marriage Solidarity Pledge, recently commented on one line of questioning by the Supreme Court Justices, which not only coincides with the warning flags we've been raising, but, in fact, should cause every pastor and church leader in America to take note.
His headline warns… "If the Supreme Court Imposes Same Sex Marriage, You Could Lose Your Church. Obama's Solicitor General admits that the feds will treat orthodox Christians like racists."
"If the court imposes same-sex "marriage," it will be exposing the churches attended by the majority of Americans to sustained legal attack. Does that sound like crazy alarmism? The Solicitor General of the United States agrees with me. Except that he is in favor of it.
"Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether acceptance of same-sex marriage would subject orthodox Christian churches to the treatment once accorded Bob Jones University, which lost its tax-exempt status because its ban on interracial dating contradicted federal policy. Verrilli seemed a little taken aback, then answered yes, 'it's certainly going to be an issue.'
"In other words, if the Supreme Court votes against natural marriage, it will free up the feds to target organizations you might have heard of, such as the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention... Remember that the Obama administration has already tried to force these same churches to provide abortifacients to their employees. Attacking their tax-exempt status over biblical sexual ethics is peanuts next to that."
John then takes this argument one step further. "If the court hands the Obama administration the bully stick it is requesting, it will be creating a two-tier system of churches in America" — those that 'obey' the Court's interpretation of the Constitution and 'those that don't."
That leads to the logical creation of "registered" and "non-registered" churches, similar to restrictions used in communist countries for churches that toe the party line.
The Supreme Court has rejected Liberty Counsel's appeal in its ongoing effort to strike down laws in California and New Jersey banning the use of ex-gay conversion therapy on minors.
Some keen insights from Robert Oscar Lopez: "Like the Puritans, The Gays have founded a city on a hill, which must shine for all the world to see. Only 'city on a hill' sounds so lame. For The Gays, it is a disco on a hill."
This is a not-at-all inflammatory headline for Laurie Roth's latest BarbWire column: "Will the Supreme Court Rape the Nation…Again?"
Tom Pauken is angry that some GOP presidential hopefuls would be willing to attend a gay wedding.
Finally, a dire warning from Rodney Howard-Browne: "Without divine intervention, what we call America will be gone within the next couple of years. It's that critical. The handwriting is on the wall. Only God can save us now. This is not a game. If we don't see a turn in the next two or three years, America as we know it will sink into the abyss and will be gone forever."
End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles spoke with Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel on his “Trunews” program yesterday about what will happen to the United States if the Supreme Court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, neither was optimistic.
“Now the communists rule this nation,” Wiles said in a monologue before his interview with Staver, “and everywhere communism takes control, they go after the churches and they kill the pastors and they demolish the church buildings and they reeducate the church children. That’s what’s coming to America. It’s already started.”
“We are at the end of the road as a nation,” he warned. “If the Supreme Court dares to defy Almighty God one more time, I’m telling you it will be the last time.”
“I believe I am speaking under the unction of the Holy Spirit,” he continued. “I’m telling you there will be swift, sudden and devastating consequences for the United States of America. America will be brought to its knees, there will be pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country. The word that I hear in my spirit is ‘fire.’ I do not know if it refers to riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space. I simply know that a sweeping, consuming fire will come across the United States of America and this country will be charred and burned.”
He told his listeners to “prepare for the fire that will sweep across America if the United States Supreme Court dares to defy God one more time and rule that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right.”
Wiles also stated that gay marriage is proof that Satan is “alive and well” and using his minions to “shut down Christianity in this nation.”
“Life may change radically in 60 days,” he said. “I’m talking about the fast-moving, radical homosexual movement that has captured control of the American political system, the corporate world, the news media, the entertainment industry and the educational system. This is a takeover and it is anti-God, it is anti-Christ. The same-sex marriage case before the U.S. Supreme Court is not about same-sex marriage, it is about the criminalization and the elimination of biblical Christianity in the United States of America.”
Warning that “the fate of the United States of America will be decided over the next two months,” Wiles told Staver that “a Supreme Court decision recognizing homosexual marriage as a right will be the final nail in America’s coffin. The last society that attempted to slide into this level of immorality and debauchery were the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and they did not have a happy ending.”
“Brace for impact if it goes against God’s divine order of marriage,” Wiles said of the potential ruling, predicting severe “divine repercussions.”
Staver agreed with Wiles’ assertion that “America’s future is hanging in the balance.”
“There’s no question it’s hanging in the balance,” Staver said. “What we have here is a potential catastrophic collision with religious freedom and the undermining of the family.” He added that a marriage ruling will be even more consequential than Roe v. Wade because it will “promote and exalt” same-sex relationships by putting them “on a pedestal and hope people aspire to it.”
On Tuesday’s edition of “Crosstalk,” Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver urged the owners of an Oregon bakery who were fined for violating the state’s non-discrimination law when they denied service to a gay customer to refuse to pay the fine in an act of civil disobedience against an “unjust law.”
“If the government wants to come in and put Rosa Parks on the back of the bus, Rosa Parks shouldn’t move to the back of the bus,” Staver said. “If they are wanting to take Christians and put you on the back of the bus because of your faith, you shouldn’t voluntarily walk to the back of the bus.”
“There is nothing historically or throughout our long history of Judeo-Christianity that says that someone who’s got dark skin can’t marry someone who’s got white skin or lighter color skin. That’s never been rooted in our history, that’s never been rooted in natural law, that’s never been rooted in millennia of human history,” Staver said. “Marriage is objectively, to use a philosophical term, ontologically, the union of a man and a woman. If you can’t get that right, good grief, how can you be a judge on any court?”
When host Jim Schneider asked Staver if he agrees with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s claim that “same-sex marriage will be the ultimate destruction of our country,” Staver replied that he “100 percent agree[s].”
American Family Association official Sandy Rios and Liberty Counsel attorney Harry Mihet agreed yesterday that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality could usher in divine wrath upon America.
Discussing the Supreme Court marriage cases on Rios’ American Family Radio program, Mihet warned that a decision striking down state-level bans on gay marriage would be a “sledgehammer that the homosexual lobby is going to use to tear down any and all resistance that still remains to the movement, beginning with the church and people of faith.” Rios agreed, saying that Christians in America must prepare to “lose their livelihood” over the issue.
The two berated their fellow Christians who are not fighting against gay marriage, saying that their “silence” on the issue is inviting God’s wrath.
“When I look at the response of the church in this situation and the silence, I really sometimes think, often, that this is God’s doing too, that he must bring judgment because he’s a just God and he must judge his own people,” Rios said. “I just feel God’s supernatural hand in all of this, as much as I dread it, it just seems like a just God is going to have to allow his people some suffering in order to sort them out.”
Mihet said that God is “giving people over to their evil desires” who will then suffer the consequences of their “evil choices.” “God is going to allow us to experience all of what it means to unravel the natural definition of marriage and the institution that has been at the base of our society for so long,” he warned.
In an interview with Iowa-based conservative talk radio host Steve Deace on Friday, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said that he supported Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over marriage cases, but added that he also doesn’t think it’s a “state right” to rule on the issue.
“Same-sex marriage is not a state right, any more than it a right of the United States Supreme Court or the federal courts to do this,” he said. “It’s no more a states’ rights issue than is changing the natural created order of anything.”
“For example,” he continued, “slavery is not a states’ rights issue…No, the issue of slavery is something that transcends state borders. I don’t all the sudden become confused about male and female when I drive into California from a neighboring state of Texas. It’s the same in California as it is in Texas, as it is in New York, as it is in Iowa, everywhere around the world has been the same. It is not the right of the state, any more than it is the right of the federal courts or the Supreme Court to redefine the natural created order of marriage.”
Staver told Deace that “there’s a lot of remedies” Congress can pursue to “rein this out-of-control judiciary back to its intended purpose,” including dissolving lower federal courts that rule in ways lawmakers dislike on marriage and impeaching Supreme Court justices who “go off the farm” on the issue.
“There’s only one court that’s ever required by the United States Constitution,” Staver explained, “the Supreme Court of the United States. No other lower federal courts of appeals or district courts are required, they’re at the will of Congress. Congress created them, Congress can do away with them.”
“Congress, as this particular piece of legislation is proposing, can limit their jurisdiction,” he continued.
“Congress can also impeach justices of the United States Supreme Court that go off the farm. They should exercise the right of impeachment when these justices or judges become legislators, activists, ideologues rather than umpires calling the shots as the balls and strikes goes over the plate. When they do that, they need to exercise their authority to impeach.”
“When the people lose trust in the courts, the courts lose their authority,” he added. “Congress can simply resist these unjust laws coming from these courts and reign this out-of-control judiciary back in its intended position.”
Speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver repeated his frequent comparison of a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Dred Scott decision, declaring that he would have “no choice” but to disobey such a “lawless” decision.
Staver, who has recruited hundreds of anti-gay activists to sign onto a pledge to disobey a high court ruling in favor or marriage equality, told the crowd, “As someone who’s argued before the United States Supreme Court, I have great respect for this court, but have no respect and cannot respect a lawless decision.”
Saying that like Dred Scott, a decision in favor of marriage equality would be “contrary to the natural law of God,” Staver said, “As much as I’m an attorney and I respect the rule of law, I also respect the higher law. And when an earthly law collides with the higher law, we have no choice to obey the higher law.”
“Marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” he added. “As a policy matter, any other union says that God’s design is flawed. As a policy matter, any other union says that boys don’t need fathers and girls don’t need mothers.”
Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.
Comparing any sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality to the Dred Scott case, the activists vow that they will not recognize such a decision and indicate that they would try to convince national and state executive branches not to enforce it.
We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.
On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.
Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.
We pledge to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.
The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.
As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.
Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.
Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.
Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.
As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.
The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.
In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.
We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.
We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.
Speaking from the pulpit of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May 2004, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Dobson’s words were simulcast into churches across the country as part of a “Battle for Marriage” rally that just happened to coincide with President George W. Bush’s hard-fought reelection campaign. Three months earlier, the president himself had announced to the nation that “to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.”
Opposition to same-sex marriage emerged as a key component of the president’s reelection strategy that year, as the Bush campaign worked with Religious Right leaders, including Dobson, to marshal conservative voters to the polls to back state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and other unions. Ballot measures in 11 states, all successful, aided the president’s reelection bid and helped to swing the momentum, for a time, to the side of the anti-gay Right.
While a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples had failed to clinch the required votes from eitherhouse of Congress, after the 2004 election, Dobson stressed that “mainstream Americans” supported such an amendment, knowing that they “could not stand idly by while the radical gay agenda was forced down their throats.”
A decade later, Dobson left Focus on the Family, reportedly in part because the organization he had founded refused to give a leadership position to his divorced son. Dobson and his son Ryan now host a radio program called “Family Talk” and Focus has moved on under the less fiery leadership of Jim Daly. Ted Haggard, the pastor of the church where Dobson spoke at the 2004 “Battle for Marriage,” eventually left his post after acknowledging that he had relationships with men. An architect of Bush’s 2004 re-election strategy, Ken Mehlman, announced six years later that he is gay. Another Bush campaign strategist, Karl Rove, said in 2013 that he could see a future GOP presidential nominee endorsing gay marriage.
This dramatic shift toward marriage equality may culminate this year when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of cases challenging the constitutionality of the remaining state-level bans on same-sex marriage.
But the Religious Right is not ready to give up what was, until recently, a winning culture-war issue.
Now, as even many conservative pundits are predicting that the Supreme Court will strike down the remaining state bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders are preparing their response.
In a conference call with other movement figures, Dobson was steadfast in his opposition. If the Supreme Court strikes down the state bans and states across the country fail to convene “a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution” on marriage, Dobson warned, “we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two.”
Worse, Dobson said, there could be a war: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”
This style of apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision is not uncommon in a movement whose leaders are preparing to commit civil disobedience and calling on states to defy the court if it issues a broad ruling in favor of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The Religious Right’s current strategy in the fight against marriage equality — claiming to be the real victims while making wild warnings about imminent anti-Christian persecution — was previewed in the 2009 signing of the Manhattan Declaration and the campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act the same year.
That same year, Religious Right activists launched a relentless, but unsuccessful, campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Right alleged that the bill would criminalize Christian teachings and the Bible, throw pastors in jail, quash free speech and legalize pedophilia and other illegal sex acts. In the five years following the law’s enactment, none of the wildpredictions about its effects have come close to materializing. But that hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from recycling the very same discredited claims to warn against nationwide marriage equality.
For example, Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas pastor and activist with close ties to politicians including Sen. Ted Cruz, has repeated his unfounded claims about the 2009 hate crimes act almost verbatim when discussing the potential dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage. As did Mike Huckabee, who told pastors on a conference call that preaching against homosexuality will be criminalized. Just this month, Scarborough warned that if gay couples are no longer barred from marriage, preaching from the Bible will become a crime and anti-gay conservatives will be throwninjail. Five years ago, he made almost exactly the same dire warning about the hate crimes act.
The Religious Right’s apocalyptic rhetoric about marriage equality has only become more incendiary as many of the ban’s defenders begin to expect that they will lose at the Supreme Court.
Nazi Germany, Jim Crow comparisons
Increasingly, Religious Right leaders have been portraying the push for equal rights for the LGBT community as a fascist, Nazi-style movement that will usher in a wave of oppression. And much like how Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement resisted Jim Crow, these activists argue, conservatives must also defy gay rights laws that they view as equally if not more oppressive.
Bryan Fischer, the conservative radio host and former American Family Association spokesman, regularly claims that gay people are modern-dayNazis and to blame for the rise of Nazism in Germany, asserting that Adolf Hitler was “an active homosexual” who recruited gays into his cause because “homosexual soldiers basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after.”
David Lane has said that Christians in America “must risk martyrdom” over the issue of marriage equality. Likewise, American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios has repeatedlyurged opponents of gay rights to “prepare for martyrdom.”
Even more frequently, anti-gay activists maintain that gay rights will usher in a new form of slavery and Jim Crow.
“Apparently someone forgot to tell the Stormtroopers in the homosexual movement about the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and freedom of both will and conscience,” Fischer said last year. “The leaders of the Gay Gestapo have become our new slave masters. They can now send us to the hole if we refuse the massa’s demands.”
Fischer has also charged that gay rights measures violate the constitutional ban on slavery, and even declared that as a result of gay rights, “Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.”
Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, has similarly claimed that gay rights advocates are practicing an “anti-religious” version of Jim Crow, while Fox News pundit and RedState editor Erick Erickson has said that “gay rights activists use the tactics of Bull Connor to push for what they declare civil rights.”
Perkins, the Family Research Council leader, is one of the most visible and vocal figures in the Religious Right, frequently appearing on national television and hosting his own daily radio show. Perkins also organizes an annual conference, the Values Voter Summit, which brings top Republican politicians together with Religious Right activists. But despite his veneer of respectability, Perkins is just as extreme as activists considered to be on the far-right fringe: He has spoken out in defense of Uganda’s “kill the gays” measure and called gay rights supporters Satanic, among other things.
Perkins has also taken to warning that if the Supreme Court sides with marriage equality advocates, the U.S. will see a full-blown revolution.
Perkins warned in 2012 that if the Supreme Court were to strike down same-sex marriage bans throughout the country, “I’m telling you what, I think you will create a firestorm of opposition. I think that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, when you look at a nation that is so divided along these moral and cultural issues that you could have — I hate to use the word — a revolt, a revolution. I think you could see Americans saying, ‘you know what, enough of this,’ and I think it could explode and just break this nation apart.”
“They’re sowing the seeds of the disillusion of our republic,” Perkins said of gay marriage supporters in 2014. “I think there’s coming a point that they’re going to push Christians to a point where they’re not going to be pushed anymore, and I think we’re very quickly coming to that point.”
As the Supreme Court considered a pair of marriage cases in 2013, Perkins said that the threat of a revolution may keep the justices from striking down same-sex marriage bans:
I believe the court will push as far as they think they can without creating a social upheaval or a political upheaval in this country. They’re smart people, I think, they understand how organizations and how societies work and if you get your substructure out of kilter with the superstructure, if you get government out of whack with where the people are and it goes too far, you create revolution. I think you could see a social and cultural revolution if the court goes too far on this.
Just last month, Perkins again predicted that the Supreme Court could trigger an uprising with a ruling in favor of marriage equality: “If the court imposes upon the nation a redefinition of marriage, I don’t think the nation is going to accept it, I absolutely don’t, and the conflict that is going to come as a result of it.”
Perkins may not find much support for his anti-gay revolution from the public at large, but he may find his some willing participants in his fellow Religious Right leaders.
“The church and people of faith and values need to rise up” against such a ruling, he said in 2013. “We just simply cannot allow this to become the law of the land.”
The previous year, Staver warned that marriage equality “could be the unraveling of the United States” and trigger a civil war:
This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country.
After the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of DOMA, Staver declared that the country was “crossing into the realm of rebellion, we’re crossing into the realm of revolution.”
The Alabama Example
After the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision led to a string of federal court decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders pleaded for governors and other state officials to openly flout the rulings.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, said state and local officials should simply refuse to enforce such rulings, explaining: “Well, the courts have spoken and it’s an important voice, but it’s not the voice of God and the Supreme Court isn’t God.”
Finally, they found their answer in Roy Moore, the elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Moore emerged as a conservative hero over a decade ago, when he defied orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument that he installed in the courthouse rotunda during his previous term as chief justice. When the standoff eventually led to Moore losing his post, he parlayed his newfound fame into two unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns and even a presidential “exploratory committee.” Moore also launched his own far-right legal advocacy group, the Foundation for Moral Law.
Moore returned to the court after winning a statewide election in 2012 and two years later, he once again made national headlines when he ordered state probate judges, who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, to disregard a Bush-appointed federal judge’s decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Moore demanded that the state flout the ruling, saying that it had no need to implement the decision.
His case against marriage equality is simple: “Homosexuality is wrong and we all know it. Marriage of the same sex is wrong and we all know it.” Moore’s legal advocacy organization, now led by his wife, defended his order to probate judges by explaining that “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
Moore took his show to the road, telling a rally in Texas held in his honor that he hopes he will not have to “give his life” in the fight against gay marriage. He warned at a Family Research Council event that the government will soon legalize “parent-and-child” marriages and justify “taking your children simply by the same logic they’re following.”
“Christians need to stand up and do their duty to God as their duty to their country,” he said.
Some Republicans and their allies in the Religious Right hope that Moore’s defiant stance will serve as a model for the rest of the country.
A bill introduced in Texas not only declares that the state does not have to follow any U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, but it goes one step further by blocking funding for the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill would go so far as to punish state employees who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, barring such employees from “a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.”
In North Carolina, a group of Republican lawmakers want to create a religious exemption for officials in charge of issuing marriage licenses who don’t want to follow a recent court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Staver’s group, Liberty Counsel, filed a lawsuit “requesting emergency protection from the state courts for any magistrate who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.”
GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma reacted to a court ruling striking down their state’s marriage ban by proposing a bill which would remove any judge who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple and deny salaries, benefits and pensions to any state employees involved in marrying gay couples. Another bill in Oklahoma would remove judges from the marriage licenses process altogether and instead restrict marriage duties to “an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he or she belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi.”
End of the Line
While social conservative leaders have mostly focused on the purported repercussions of a decision that they see as unfavorable, they also have a plan in case the court sides with their arguments: demand that states roll back same-sex marriage rights and re-impose bans previously removed by the voters, lawmakers or courts.
For now, though, right-wing leaders will be focused on doing what they always do: misleading their supporters about the so-called dangers of gay rights, making reckless charges of religious persecution, and supporting unconstitutional means to promote their discriminatory goals.
However, Dobson and his allies do see the silver lining of legal gay marriage. In a conversation with Dobson the week before the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the marriage cases, pastor Jim Garlow and former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher predicted that Americans will ultimately reject gay marriage once the country experiences its horrible consequences; that is, if America is able to survive that long.
On his “Freedom’s Call” radio bulletin today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver discussed “the damage of homosexuality,” which he said affects everybody because “studies repeatedly show that homosexual conduct can result in significant cost to the community that encourages it.”
“Same-sex marriage leads to the devaluation of both a mother and a father, who each provide a unique contribution to the family,” Staver said. “Studies estimate that over the course of 26 years, our government spent more than $225 billion that could be directly attributed to the breakdown of the family culture and its resulting social consequences.”
After blaming gays for these societal ills, Staver said that gay people need to understand “that their actions have costly consequences to the community that surrounds them and to themselves.”