Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus attempted to reassure Republicans wary of supporting Donald Trump today, telling conservative radio host Mike Gallagher that Trump is “not wanting to rewrite” the party’s platform and that the election comes down to “a conservative Supreme Court for generations.”
“Number one, Donald Trump is not wanting to rewrite the platform, okay?” he said. “He’s just not. So all that anxiety, just take it off the table. Not willing to do that. But, you know, get into that, tell people that, that you don’t want to rewrite, you like, you appreciate and agree with the platform the way it is.” (Trump has explicitly said that he would want to change the Republican platform on abortion.)
“Second thing is,” he said, “I think that they ought to release however many names — five, 10 names — people that would make great Supreme Court justices, from which you’re willing to choose a justice from. You know, something that the Federalist Society and the Heritage folks — you know, solid names that we can say, okay, this is what this is about. This is what this is about. It’s about a conservative Supreme Court for generations.”
Trump has promised to release a list created with the help of the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society from which he will pick Supreme Court justices, but has yet to do so. Both organizations have been working to skew the courts far to the right. As Ed Kilgore wrote in New York magazine yesterday, “conservative fears about Trump's lack of fidelity to their supreme value of limited government could lead to demands for truly radical Court nominees who embrace the idea that right-wing judicial activism is needed to restrain the executive and legislative branches alike.”
When Gallagher asked if he thought that Trump’s campaign would actually release this promised list, Priebus replied that he didn’t know “where that’s at,” but “I think they’re open to it.”
As soon as President Obama announced his nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network and the Republican National Committee unveiled embarrassingly thin dossiers to frame Garland — whom conservatives have previously praised — as an unconfirmable liberal activist.
Both organizations decided to focus their criticism on the claim that Garland is “hostile” to gun rights, something that other conservative groups have picked up and run with. The National Rifle Association, in turn, is out with a petition urging the Senate to reject Garland’s nomination, also claiming that he’s “hostile to the Second Amendment.”
The NRA cites three cases that it says show that Garland “supports a handgun ban” and “supports a national gun registry.” Not one shows anything of the sort.
Claim 1: “In 2007, he ruled in favor of reviewing the D.C. Circuit’s decision that invalidated the city’s handgun ban – the very ban Scalia helped overturn at the Supreme Court.”
The facts: A divided panel of three other judges of the D.C. Circuit Court, on which Garland sits, reversed a lower court ruling and found that a Washington, D.C., handgun ban was unconstitutional. The full court then had an opportunity to vote on whether the case should be reheard by all the judges on the entire D.C. Circuit. Garland was one of four members of the court, including a decidedly conservative colleague, Raymond Randolph, who voted to rehear the case. That vote indicates absolutely nothing about what Garland thought about the merits of the case and certainly doesn’t mean that Garland “supports a handgun ban” as the NRA claims. After all, this was before the Supreme Court ruling in Heller and, regardless of ideology, it made perfect sense for a judge to want the full circuit to consider the case.
Claim 2: “In 2004, he ruled against rehearing another pivotal Second Amendment case, thereby casting a vote against the individual right to Keep and Bear Arms.”
The facts: It’s the same story here. The NRA seems to be referring to the 2005 case Seegers v. Gonzales, which had to do with whether the parties suing had standing to challenge D.C.’s handgun law; the substance of the Second Amendment argument was not at issue. This time, Garland voted with the majority of his colleagues to deny a full-court rehearing of the case. Again, that vote gave absolutely no indication of how he felt about the issue of standing (to say nothing of the merits of the Second Amendment case) and definitely was not “a vote against the individual right to Keep and Bear Arms.”
Claim 3: “In 2000, he ruled in favor of the federal government’s plan to keep gun owners’ personal information in an unofficial national registry.”
The facts: In this case, NRA of America v. Reno, the NRA claimed that a regulation requiring information from gun background checks to be temporarily retained violated a law requiring background check records to be destroyed. Garland joined in an opinion finding that the law didn’t prohibit the temporary storage of that data “for audit purposes,” after which it would be destroyed as required by law. From this, the NRA falsely concludes that Garland “supports a national gun registry.”
There is frankly nothing in Garland’s record that indicates his substantive views, if any, on the Second Amendment. Could it possibly be that conservative groups are grasping at straws in an attempt to justify their blanket obstruction of the Supreme Court nomination process?
Tamara Scott, an Iowa conservative activist who serves as a Republican National Committee member for the state, invited two anti-vaccine activists on to her “Truth for Our Time” radio program last week, where she said that the real problem causing disease outbreaks in schools isn’t people refusing to be vaccinated but instead the new “socialistic” model of schooling where children are forced to share pencils.
Scott was outraged, saying that the real health problem in schools is socialism and that the best thing you can do for your children’s health is to take them out of public schools.
“The schools are some of the germiest places you’ll ever be around,” she said. "They’ve gone to this socialistic teaching where you no longer have your own pencils you’re responsible for so you can learn how to take care of things and be a good steward; it’s all socialistic in the middle of the table, you’re all facing each other, handling each other’s things. And the schools, yet, when my kids were in school, kept wondering why they kept having all the issues with strep throat and all the issues with all these childhood illnesses continually happening. Because it’s the new way they’re doing school in the classroom. So, if you want to keep your kid healthy, take them out of public school. It will help them mentally, emotionally, academically and now, physically, it would help them as well.”
“There, I’ve just said it,” she concluded. “I may never be able to run for office, that quote will follow me with some of the liberal news organizations, but it is true, that’s probably the best thing you can do for your child right now.”
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
While it may be too late for Donald Trump to save us from stock market turmoil (he warned us!), he just might be the one who saves us from the even greater threat of refugees from war-torn nations, gay marriage and the “War on Christmas.”
5) Who Will End The War On Christmas?
Donald Trump, of course, and he’ll do it in a big way, very classy, and you’re going to love it. While speaking with an Alabama radio host, Trump declared that he is sick and tired of the “assault on anything having to do with Christianity” and promised that he “will assault that.”
“They don’t want to use the word Christmas anymore at department stores,” he said. “There’s always lawsuits and unfortunately a lot of those lawsuits are won by the other side. I will assault that. I will go so strongly against so many of the things, when they take away the word ‘Christmas.’ I go out of my way to use the word ‘Christmas.’ Some people say to me, some people do this very professionally, ‘Oh don’t mention the word Christmas.’ I said, ‘Like Hell I’m not going to mention it.’ I mention Christmas before I even start speaking. There’s a great assault on Christianity in so many ways.”
Then Trump moved on to the actual persecution of Christians under ISIS, before then falsely claiming that the U.S. refuses to accept Christian refugees.
Incidentally, it seems that this is yet another issue that Trump has evolved on, since he and his business empire were once enemy combatants in the War on Christmas.
The coming economic meltdown of course will lead to “fascism, communism, war, and hunger,” Beck explained, telling viewers that it is “not a matter of if” but when: “Are you prepared? Do you have food on hand? Do you have cash on hand? Do you have ammunition and guns and God, most importantly?”
3) Refugees Destroying America
The extremist Oath Keepers have discovered the latest attempt to “destroy the Republic”: refugees.
The group recently warned that refugees who may “harbor terrorist intentions” are coming to the U.S., egged on by Democratic politicians who want their votes and don’t care about committing “national suicide.”
Apparently, these refugees are assisted by churches, liberal organizations, George Soros and the United Nations, all in order to surreptitiously push their left-wing policies on America.
“I can say, without hyperbole,” writes Oath Keepers’ David Codrea, “this is a vital report addressing nothing less than the survival of the Founder’s Republic in the 21st Century, one that you ignore at your peril, and at the peril of everyone you love.”
2) Gays Coming To Recruit Your Kids
Conservative talk show host Tamara Scott, who also happens to be a member of the Republican National Committee and the Iowa leader of Concerned Women for America, said she is befuddled by people who think that gay people don’t choose to be gay.
She had this question for the “haters”: “If homosexuality is truly just something that happens, then why, one, do we have to recruit it in our kindergarten through college-level educational system and, if it’s just an everyday thing, why does it need all these special protections in the civil rights?”
While speaking on a conservative radio show, Davis portrayed himself as a victim of the “war on Christianity” and lamented that “Christians just don’t have rights anymore” as a result of the Supreme Court’s “unconstitutional” gay marriage decision.
“Our law says ‘one man and one woman’ and that is what I held my hand up and took an oath to and that is what I expected,” he said. “If it takes it, I will go to jail over — if it takes my life, I will die for because I believe I owe that to the people that fought so I can have the freedom that I have, I owe that to them today, and you do, we all do. They fought and died so we could have this freedom and I’m going to fight and die for my kids and your kids can keep it.”
Scott shared a number of thoughts of her own on the issue, telling Noebel she would “confront hypocrisy” on the left even though she risked a “social jihad” in response to her comments.
Making clear for “all those haters out there” that she was just “asking the question,” Scott asked listeners to ponder this during a commercial break: “If homosexuality is something to be celebrated by the left, by Hollywood, then why does it need all of these protections? And if it needs these protections, then why do we promote it as an everyday lifestyle and a regular choice for our youth?”
After the break, she rephrased the question: “If homosexuality is truly just something that happens, then why, one, do we have to recruit it in our kindergarten through college-level educational system and, if it’s just an everyday thing, why does it need all these special protections in the civil rights?”
Scott also complained to Noebel that “it’s the left and the progressives who are always throwing the cards, whether it’s the black card, the sex card, the female card, the war on women,” saying that liberals are hypocritical to want gender equality when they are also fighting for transgender rights.
“They want 50 percent male and female [in the House and Senate] by the year 2020,” she said. “Well, my thought is, how can you do that? You don’t even want to call somebody a sex, that's a changeable thing every day.”
Earlier this month, Tamara Scott, a conservative lobbyist and Republican national committeewoman from Iowa, invited anti-immigration activist Jim Simpson onto her weekly radio program to discuss Donald Trump’s claims that Mexican immigrants are rapists, which Simpson heartily agreed with.
Simpson, who recently authored a report for the Center for Security Policy on how communists and Islamists are using immigration to destroy America, acknowledged that immigrants may be fleeing failing states, but added that “many” of them come to the U.S. because a fairer justice system means “they can have an easier time committing crime over here.”
“Many of the people that cross the border illegally do so because they’re people that that country just doesn’t want, and they’re coming over here because there are greener pastures over here, they can have an easier time committing crime over here,” he explained.
“We have a legal system that is much more favorable to the defendant than, let’s say, Mexico, where a lot of these child rapists wouldn’t last a week in a Mexico prison, and so they come here instead. And that’s a big part of the problem. We’re attracting all kinds of very, very bad people by our loose immigration policies and our open borders policies being promoted by this, as far as I’m concerned, treasonous president.”
Scott responded that even if most immigrants weren’t child rapists, as Simpson alleged, lenience toward undocumented immigrants would still be a betrayal of the founding fathers, because “we put blood on the line to get the liberty we have, so we can’t allow others not to do the same in their country or we bring those wars here.”
“Here’s the deal,” she said. “We have the freedoms and liberties we have in this country because we allowed our forefathers, our ancestors, they fought, they risked it all, they gave oftentimes the ultimate price to ensure the unalienable rights that we have endowed by our Creator. And the fact that this country was built upon that very premise, that we recognized a Providence, a Supreme Being, mentioned four times in our Declaration in one way or another, we honored the God who we felt gave us the protection to start this country and to bless this country. So we put blood on the line to get the liberty we have, so we can’t allow others not to do the same in their country or we bring those wars here.”
Donald Trump began his campaign for the presidency with incendiary remarks about immigrants, and he has not let up. During his first speech as a candidate, Trump stated "when Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. … They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists.” Despite the backlash to his comments, Trump has doubled down on his extremist views on immigration. In an interview with NBC, Trump said “there's nothing to apologize for” and added that any immigration policy less strict than his own would “let everybody come in… killers, criminals, drug dealers.”
Now, companies are responding by severing ties with Trump. Univision pulled out of its contract to broadcast Trump’s Miss USA pageant and NBC cut all ties with Trump, dropping not only the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, but also Trump’s role in Celebrity Apprentice. With this list continuing to grow, one organization is conspicuously missing: the Republican National Committee.
PFAW’s partners at the Latino Victory Project are calling on RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and the Republican Party to renounce Trump as a candidate for the Republican nomination for President. With the Republican Party claiming that they are committed to strengthening ties with the Latino and immigrant communities, surely it is time for the RNC to reject a candidate who makes such hateful and racist remarks.
Iowa Republican national committeewoman Tamara Scott, also the state director of Concerned Women for America and a lobbyist for The Family Leader, said on her radio program last week that the shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white supremacist gunman was not a “racial issue” but instead part of a “targeted assault” on Christianity exemplified by the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage. She also criticized efforts to remove the Confederate flag from state property, saying that the flag is a Benghazi-like “diversion” from the real things dividing America: the media, public schools and rappers.
“There really was no debate” about the flag, Atkins said, up until the “secular media” used it as a distraction from the fact that the shooting actually “happened because of a lack of Christian influence in society”
Scott agreed, saying that the real cultural problems that led to the shooting are “a media that relentlessly pit groups against each other, voters in the elections where they pit voters into blocs against each other, or the education system that consistently creates a class warfare and an envy system in their children at an early age, or rappers with their racist rants about rape and everything else. There are several things that are feeding into this, but it’s not a gun and it’s not a flag.”
She added that until the recent debate, younger generations primarily associated the Confederate flag with the TV show “Dukes of Hazzard”: “For them the flag was a symbol of affection for a fun show and some culture known in the South. The unfortunate thing is this discussion is now creating a divide and a dialogue that would have died out decades ago had we not brought it up again over this. We’re continuing a problem that was actually, literally dying out.”
The Confederate flag, she concluded, is “the same distraction that the supposed video tape was for Benghazi.”
Scott discussed the issue with Atkins again on Tuesday, when she guest hosted conservative talk radio host Jan Mickelson’s program:
Atkins told Scott about another incident at a mostly white church in South Carolina, where a man had entered with a gun while a number of his family members were worshipping, which Scott said “we don’t hear about” in the media “because it can’t be made into a racial issue.”
She repeated her point that the shooting in a black church by a gunman with white supremacist views who specifically stated his desire to start a race war wasn’t as much a “racial issue” as an attack on religion. The Charleston shooting, she said, is “being made into more of a racial issue than it was,” when the shooter “could have gone anywhere – mall, sporting event, anywhere — and shot a race of people, but this was in a house of worship.”
Atkins agreed, lamenting that the shooting has led to an effort to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds: “It’s gotten the issue off what the real issue was and put the focus on what the side issue was in this situation.”
“It’s not the presence of a confederate flag at a capitol,” Scott agreed, “it’s the absence of a Christian faith in a community.”
Scott then accused the Confederate flag’s critics of turning a symbol of “fun” into something divisive.
“Creating this stir about the flag now forces dialogue that I think had died out decades ago,” she said. “It starts the divide all over again in younger generations that otherwise would have had absolutely no ill feelings on this flag. For this generation that I know, it was a symbol of Dukes of Hazzard and fun and a culture of the South. So I hate this dialogue that has started that has created a new generation of divisiveness.”
Agreeing that the Confederate flag is “an issue that really was not an issue” until the current debate, Atkins warned that removing the flag from government property could set a precedent that threatens Christianity.
“It was a symbol that this individual used to promote his hatred toward a group of people,” he explained. “And if we’re not careful, what we’re going to see happen, you’ll take fringe groups like Westboro Baptist Church, who supposedly use the word of God to justify their hatred and animosity toward different groups, and if we’re not careful, groups like that will then in turn cause even the word of God to be used as a symbol of hate.”
As the two walked through the various points made in the amicus brief, Scott wandered into a digression about how the “women who are fussing on the left” about wanting to eventually see equal numbers of men and women in Congress should also oppose marriage equality, because if you ban gay marriage, there will be an equal number of men and women in each marriage.
“By 2020, they want 50/50 in the state houses and the U.S. House and Senate. They want 50 percent women and 50 percent men, they want 50/50, they want equality,” she said. “So my laugh is, why wouldn’t you want equality in a marriage? Why aren’t those same women wanting that same argument at home? Because we know children do better when they’re raised by their biological parents.”
This led McLarty to explain that “the extreme feminist movement and the gay liberation movement really is using same-sex marriage as a way to destroy marriage.”
“The feminist movement, they’ve been against marriage from the beginning, against traditional marriage, and it was up until the Massachusetts court case in 2003 where they recognized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts that they kind of changed their tune,” she said. “And now they see that this would also destroy marriage, so they’re for same-sex marriage.”
This led Scott to a discussion of civil unions, which she said she also can’t support because there is still the issue of “the act” that “God has not condoned,” and so allowing civil unions is “asking your fellow citizens to embrace something that goes against their First Amendment religious protections.”
“Well, it doesn’t make sense to me, because the whole point of our concern with the same-sex marriage is that the act, that God has not condoned it,” she explained. “I can’t condone what he’s condemned. I just can’t go there. So to ask or to force American citizens to condone something that’s against their deeply held religious convictions is wrong. So whether you call it marriage or you call it a civil union, you’re still asking your fellow citizens to embrace something that goes against their First Amendment religious protections.
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.
When an audience member in a session about abortion rights asked what to do about a pastor who refuses to participate in politics, Connelly responded that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual” and urged pastors to violate rarely-enforced regulations that prevent churches from being involved in partisan politics in order to keep their tax-exempt status.
Referring to cases where businesses have run afoul of nondiscrimination laws by refusing service to gay and lesbian couples, Connelly said, “Who would have thought that a florist or a baker or a photographer or, for goodness sakes, a wedding chapel would be sued when there were competitors that they could have gone to? They’re coming for the church.”
Listen, voter registration is not political, it’s spiritual. Voting is not political, it’s spiritual. So witness and testimony to the community what you believe in. No wonder we get legislation we don’t agree with, no wonder we get candidates and elected officials we don’t agree with, because our people aren’t engaged.
So if your pastor’s saying, ‘It’s a legal issue, I can’t do this,’ ask them how many churches have lost their tax-exempt status. It’s a finite number: zero. By definition, you’re tax exempt. If there’s no freedom of speech in the pulpit, there’s no freedom of speech, brothers and sisters. And if we can’t say the truth from the pulpit, guess what, we can’t say the truth anywhere.
Who would have thought that a florist or a baker or a photographer or, for goodness sakes, a wedding chapel would be sued when there were competitors that they could have gone to. They’re coming for the church.
He ended by asking the audience to “please help us pressure your pastors” to get involved in elections, but adding that “it’s not a party or political issue.”
Later in the same discussion, far-right pastor Rick Scarborough warned that “every pastor is going to be directly assaulted” by the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on marriage equality, claiming that a pro-equality ruling would force churches to “participate in same-sex marriage” or face fines or imprisonment.
Religious Right political strategist David Lane, who urges greater political engagement by conservative evangelical pastors and promotes right-wing candidates, has managed a pretty neat trick: he trashes “establishment” Republicans while taking RNC members on junkets to Israel and being embraced by top RNC officials, including GOP Chairman Reince Priebus and Director of Faith Engagement Chad Connelly. Lane is out today with another slam at Republicans who support legal equality for LGBT Americans – a category that does not, to be clear, include Priebus and Connelly.
What has Lane so agitated is the amicus brief that was signed by 300 Republicans urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality nationwide. Lane, to put it mildly, is not pleased. Lane quotes 18th Century English theologian William Berriman:
"It is the property of the Devil, not to mistake the nature of virtue, and esteem it criminal, but to hate it for this reason, because it is good, and therefore most opposite to his designs. The wicked, as his proper emissaries, resemble him in this, and grieve to have the foulness of their vices made conspicuous by being placed near the light of virtuous example."
And then, just so we don’t miss the point, Lane writes:
These GOP Chieftains and Lieutenants lack wisdom. They are neither "shrewd," "insightful," nor "wise"-but "weak-willed" and "easily seduced." They do not believe in the truth that "The true glory of a nation lies in its righteousness rather than its wealth or power."
…These leaders have served as key cogs of the Republican Party apparatus for a quarter of a century. Defining themselves as "conservative" camouflages their radical, secular ideology. They are responsible for frittering away the branding and legacy of limited government, lower taxes, deregulation of business and a philosophy of-"the-one-thing-government-can-do-for-me-is-leave-me-alone"-bequeathed to the Republican Party by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
Lane singles out former RNC Chair and White House Political Director Ken Mehlman for calling marriage equality “the conservative position.” Says Lane, “What Mehlman is trying to pull here is unconscionable-without principle.”
This trend of redefining words has only just begun. Phony Republican leaders will continue to use the word "conservative," but with two different meanings. Therefore, if we mean to appreciate conservative values, defend them, and even judge them any better than the Democrat Party's penchant for abortion, homosexual marriage, and anti-god values, then we must define the basic values of the Grand Old Party.
Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians will find little "community" with Republican secularists, as these agnostics attempt to impose a godless paganism on the nation. After all, what is a political party if not a group of individuals supporting certain beliefs?
Lane says “secular Republicans who impose so-called homosexual marriage on the nation in 2015 will have the exact same effect on the Republican Party that slavery had on the Whig Party in 1852-it will collapse.”
Lane is a Christian nationalist who says America was founded for “the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith” and demands that the Bible be made a primary textbook in public schools. He has blamed Supreme Court decisions upholding church-state separation for imposing a “pagan” secularism on the nation. He returns to that theme in today’s screed:
The Founders established the Bible as the fixed point in order to judge, therein establishing the unity, structure, and shape that welded a people together in a single terrain and fashioned American Exceptionalism. In 1963, the shortsighted Supreme Court eliminated the Bible from public schools causing lone dissenting Justice Potter Stewart to prophesy, "...[the decision] led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism." This atrocity has finally reached its denouement in America. One worldview is going to reign supreme between these two competing ideologies: godless secularism or biblical Christianity. One philosophy leads on to fortune, the other "over the falls of Niagara."
Likely Presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal will headline the American Renewal Project’s Pastors and Pews event in Iowa next week, according to the Des Moines Register. By leading the event, Cruz and Jindal ally themselves with one of the most inflammatory voices in the Republican Party: David Lane, who founded the American Renewal Project.
“By standing with David Lane, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal show their extreme anti-gay allegiances and their blatant disregard for the fundamental American value of embracing religious freedom,” said People For the American Way President Michael Keegan. “We deserve to know why Cruz and Jindal would align themselves with David Lane and this event.”
All members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) have been invited to attend the event. RNC chair Reince Priebus also has previously sung the praises of David Lane, and Priebus ignored calls from PFAW and others to cancel the recent RNC trip to Israel that Lane organized.
PFAW’s Right Wing Watch blog has long documented the bigoted statements of David Lane. Here are some of the key examples:
“Homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” of President Obama in 2013 will provoke God’s wrath in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.” [7/23/13]
“Our long-term strategy must be to place the Bible in Public Schools as the principle [sic] textbook of American education.” [1/29/15]
“America was founded by Christians, as a Christian nation.” [7/17/13]
Republicans who support marriage equality are like politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. [1/29/15]
While “America was a Christian nation” since its founding, now it must choose between being “a Christian nation or a pagan nation.” [7/17/13]
Americans “grovel to the false god of Islam”; “America, a Christian nation in heritage and culture, is being dismantled brick by brick.” [1/29/15]
Today, People For the American Way released a new ad challenging members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) for accepting an all-expense paid trip to Israel from the American Family Association (AFA). The ad calls on the RNC to stand against the AFA’s hateful rhetoric about Jewish Americans, LGBT individuals, and many other people in our country.
“The hate of the American Family Association is rampant, from calling ‘Jewish atheists’ some of the ‘worst enemies of the country’ to claiming that gay people caused the Holocaust,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “We deserve to know why Republicans continue to stand with this hate group after years of offensive statements by their leaders. By failing to speak up against the AFA, Republican leaders are showing their acceptance of hateful rhetoric in their party.”
Watch the ad here:
PFAW’s Right Wing Watch blog has long documented the bigoted statements of AFA leaders. Here are just some of the key examples:
Selected Statements of AFA Leaders
Bryan Fischer, Former Official Spokesperson for the AFA
“The Nazi Party, ladies and gentlemen, was formed in a gay bar. In other words, no homosexual thugs, no Nazi Party.” [6/9/11]
Gay sex is "Domestic Terrorism. I Don't Know What Else You'd Call It."[9/15/10]
Native Americans deserved to lose control of North America because "the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality" made them "morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil." [2/8/11]
All new immigrants must “convert to Christianity” or “stay home.” [4/8/11]
Gay rights activists “are Nazis. Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They'll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany.” [5/18/11]
Christians should convert Jews to Christianity, Jews and Christians “do not worship the same God.” [8/26/11]
“The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the free exercise of the Christian religion.” [9/29/11]
"Political leadership ought to be ... reserved for the hands of males" [10/15/12]
People who believe in evolution are “disqualified from holding political office in the United States of America.” [1/2/14]
“Being an active homosexual should disqualify you from public office…we're going to have to choose between the gay agenda and Christianity. We can't have both.” [1/8/15]
David Lane, Founder of the AFA’s American Renewal Project
The separation of church and state is a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.” [6/6/13]
“We were established as a Christian nation, for the advancement of the Christian faith.” [1/30/15]
“Vote to restore the Bible and prayer in public schools or be sent home. Hanging political scalps on the wall is the only love language politicians can hear.” [7/17/13]
While “America was a Christian nation” since its founding, now it must choose between being “a Christian nation or a pagan nation.” [7/17/13]
“Homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” of President Obama in 2013 will provoke God’s wrath in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.” [7/23/13]
Republicans who support marriage equality are like politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War. [1/29/15]
Americans “grovel to the false god of Islam,” “America, a Christian nation in heritage and culture, is being dismantled brick by brick.” [1/29/15]
Lane and the AFA don’t only promote a Christian nationalist view of the U.S. government and push smears against those of other religions and fellow Christians who do not share their views, but the AFA has a troubling history of bigotry toward secular Jews in the U.S. and Israel.
Rosenberg is hardly a new friend of the Republican Party. Back in 2011, he led a delegation to Israel that included a number of GOP congressmen, including Rep. Louis Gohmert, who took the opportunity to give a copy of Rosenberg’s latest novel to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott, who also runs the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and works as a lobbyist for The Family Leader, told the “View From a Pew” radio program last week that more prayer rallies like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” are needed to prevent God from destroying America .
One of the things for which the country needs to repent in order to get back on God’s good side, Scott said later in the interview, is the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools.
“When the prayer came out in the ‘70s, and that’s one of the things that I prayed for last week in Louisiana with 6,000 people, repentance, because we as a church should never have let that happen, we should never have allowed prayer to be taken out of our schools,” she said.
She cited the claims of Christian-nation activist David Barton, who links the end of state-sponsored school prayer to all manner of social ills. “Since we’ve done that, David Barton has done studies and research that in your schools, the crimes used to be gum, tardiness and talking. Now it is assault, rape, murder. We’re dealing with much more difficult issues,” she said.
Scott suggested that instead of passing a “horrible” anti-bullying bill currently being considered in the state legislature, Iowa should just return Christian prayer to schools:
“The problem is, like prayer, we took out the golden rule in our schools — which is a scripture verse, treat others like you want to be yourself treated — we’ve taken the Bible out and the schools are groping for something to replace it, and in its place with all kinds of bad law on top of bad law that only oppress us and make us all victims to possible crime and punishment for somebody else’s cause.”
Later in the interview, Scott insisted that the separation of church and state is “nowhere” in the Constitution and that if conservative Christians “only had the courage of the pagans or those who disagree with us, if we stood on our convictions as much as they do, we wouldn’t be in this.”
In an interview with “The View From a Pew” program, an Iowa-based webcast, Scott said that in addition to Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hosted a “The Response” event in 2011, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley “has agreed” to host a rally and organizers are trying to convince Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to do the same.
On her own program, “Tamara Scott Live,” earlier in the week, Scott said that Gov. Rick Scott of Florida had sent a staff member to the Jindal event to investigate the possibility of holding a “The Response” rally himself and that Jindal had approached Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to ask him to consider holding one as well. Scott also expressed her hope that Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas would consider hosting a rally.
Scott told the “View from a Pew” hosts that such events are needed to save American from destruction, paraphrasing the biblical book of Jeremiah: “If I build up your nation and you fall away, I’ll destroy you…If I’m going to destroy you and you repent, I will heal your land and rebuild you.”
“If our federal government is not smart enough to stick to the foundational principles of those who set this country on the great start that it had by calling on the name of Jesus — George Washington to all the men on Mount Rushmore — if they were not smart enough to understand, then our states can do it individually,” she said on the earlier program.
The Jindal rally’s organizers have hinted that other governors may be planning similar events, writing in a recent email, “There is a sense that God may be orchestrating similar days of prayer and fasting called by Governors around the nation over this next year.” Although the event’s main organizer, David Lane, has allied with a number of top Republican figures, he has yet to name names of governors he hopes to convince to host “The Response” replicas.
Today People For the American Way President Michael Keegan sent a letter to Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), urging him to cancel a planned trip to Israel for roughly 60 RNC members that is organized by Christian-nation extremist David Lane and funded by the anti-LGBT hate group the American Family Association (AFA).
Although we have no objection to RNC members travelling to Israel, we urge you not to collaborate with those who are funding and coordinating this trip. The American Family Association and Mr. Lane have made it clear that they view the Republican Party as a vehicle for ensuring that the U.S. government is operated by and for conservative Christians, at the expense of those of other faiths and no faith, and those Christians who do not share their particular beliefs.
Mr. Lane insists that the separation of church and state is a “fabricated whopper” meant to stop “Christian America — the moral majority — from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media” and has said that his “long-term strategy” is to place the Bible as “the principle [sic] textbook” in American public schools. Mr. Lane has also warned that an openly gay speaker at President Obama’s inauguration would provoke God to allow car bombings in major American cities.
The American Family Association also holds troubling views about the role of religion in American government and regularly promotes false smears against LGBT people. Although the AFA recently sought to distance itself from its own inflammatory spokesman, Bryan Fischer, it continues to offer him a prominent platform on its radio network, American Family Radio. And AFA still employs as its governmental affairs director Sandy Rios, who along with other radical statements, has warned that “powerful Jewish forces” are using groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to destroy America and just this week mocked the notion that “God is fond of atheist Jews who occupy the land in Israel.”
The American Family Association and David Lane have every right to promote these extreme views. However, it is troubling that a major political party is lending them legitimacy.
Yesterday, the American Family Association announced that it was stripping Bryan Fischer of his position as a spokesman for the group. The AFA's move to distance itself from Fischer’s regular barrages of bigotry apparently came in response pressure from its allies in the Republican National Committee, who are preparing to go on a tour of Israel on AFA's dime. (Though the fact that the group is retaining Fischer as a radio personality on its American Family Radio network makes the whole thing somewhat less convincing.)
In what seems to be part of this effort, AFA has sent the Southern Poverty Law Center a letter explicitly denouncing a laundry list of Fischer’s statements, from his blaming the Holocaust on gay people to his insistence that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.
But one statement in the letter stands out:
AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal.
Really? Is AFA renouncing its support for criminal sodomy laws?
If the AFA has indeed changed its positions on criminal prohibitions on “homosexual conduct,” that would certainly be news! But we somehow wonder if this is yet another example of the group saying one thing to its critics while it continues to say another to its base.
After all, in 2003, when the Supreme Court was preparing to hear arguments in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that struck down state-level prohibitions on sexual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex, the AFA submitted an amicus brief [PDF] passionately defending such laws.
AFA’s attorneys urged the court to consider the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy,” which it implied was more harmful than rape:
In addition to the concrete physical harms that can be caused by private vices, morals laws may prevent moral harm, both to the potential wrongdoer and to the community at large. Just as “[a] physical environment marred by pollution jeopardizes people’s physical health; a social environment abounding in vice threatens their moral wellbeing and integrity.” The injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy was well understood in the past. Blackstone, having spent several pages immediately prior on rape and abduction, introduces the section on sodomy as dealing with an offense “of a still deeper malignity,” “the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature.” Plainly, this crime is of a different magnitude. [citations removed for clarity]
AFA also warned that sodomy laws protect “the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior,” and that though they “may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges” they will be “beneficial in the end”:
Another interest often overlooked in analysis of the issue of public harms occasioned by private immorality is that of the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior. The enormous price in terms of illness, disease and death resulting from the conduct…is well documented.
But even aside from the health issue, it has been almost universally recognized that restraint is the sine qua non for social harmony. “Human society requires the direction and restraint of many impulses. Few of those impulses are more powerful or unpredictable than sexual desire.” Laws such as [these] may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges, but the restraint they encourage is beneficial in the end. American jurisprudence long ago rejected Hume’s notion that “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.” [citations removed]
The same year, AFA’s Ed Vitigliano wrote in the American Family Association Journal that a victory in Lawrence would be necessary to preserve “the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview” and praised sodomy laws as deriving “from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.”
Interestingly, the nation’s highest court will be revisiting in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas the same general issues dealt with in a previous Supreme Court case. In Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), a 5-4 high court majority upheld Georgia’s sodomy statute.
That narrowest of decisions, however, pitted two culturally distinct appraisals of morality and law against each other – and in fact provides a clear lesson about what has become known as the culture war.
Sadly, however, since 1986 the more traditional Judeo-Christian views which prevailed in Bowers have been steadily eroding in our culture, in favor of the more postmodern views of the minority in that case. Should the Supreme Court in Lawrence take an opposite view than it did in Bowers, that would mean – quite remarkably – that in the span of only 17 years, the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview had been decreed, by unelected judges, obsolete.
Most sodomy laws have already disappeared anyway. In 1960, all 50 states had such laws on their books – now only 13 states do. However, the repeal of these laws – either by state legislatures or judges – indicates that the statutes represent a worldview that is rapidly being abandoned in favor of postmodern relativism. Sodomy laws derive from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.
We look forward to seeing the AFA issue a full retraction of its previous support for criminalizing “homosexual conduct.” But we aren’t holding our breath.
RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, who also runs the Iowa state chapter of Concerned Women for America and works with the influential group The Family Leader, spent a good part of her weekly radio program on Wednesday interviewing Leo Hohmann, a WorldNetDaily reporter who wrote an unhinged article last month about how a plan to offer asylum to Syrian refugees is in fact part of a “stealth jihad” to take over America.
Scott was quite impressed by Hohmann’s article, asking him, “So if I put on my Facebook… ‘Leo Hohman reveals stealth jihad with thousands of Muslims being brought into the U.S. under refugee resettlement program, receiving welfare, Medicaid and other taxpayer moneys while refusing to assimilate to American culture,’ that’s not an understandment?”
“No,” Hohmann assured her.
Later in the interview, Hohmann explained the difficulty he has in his “reporting” because “if you’re not listening carefully or if you come to this story from a different worldview, it can sound like we’re being racist or somehow bigoted.” But, he explained, he isn’t being bigoted because Islam is not a religion and Muslim-Americans are lying about their plan to become the majority in America and institute Sharia law.
“The problem is, Leo, is that we call it a religion, but you and I both know that it’s a political system and a military system, not just a religion, so that’s part of the danger,” Scott said of Islam later in the interview.