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 McClarty 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.
“When we see these kids, you and I think young kids, we think maybe 12-year-olds, maybe homeschoolers — excuse me, middle-schoolers,” said Scott, who is also Concerned Women for American’s Iowa state director and works as a lobbyist for the conservative group The Family Leader. “But we know back in our revolution, we had 12-year-olds fighting in our revolution. And for many of these kids, depending on where they’re coming from, they could be coming from other countries and be highly trained as warriors who will meet up with their group here and actually rise up against us as Americans.”
Mary Huls, leader of a Texas-based Tea Party group, agreed, warning that the children could have been trained in Venezuela to work for Hezbollah or Hamas (never mind that most of the children are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador). “They are being trained as warriors, you’re absolutely right,” she said.
“What she’s pushing for is racism,” DeLay responded. “Michelle Obama and Barack Obama can’t do anything unless there’s a certain amount of race involved in it.”
While DeLay conceded that there are racial inequalities in some “inner cities,” he blamed that “leftist organizations” who have “have completely destroyed the education system.”
“Mostly around the country, race has no part being played in our education system,” he claimed. He speculated that the Obamas talk about racial inequality “because it keeps people motivated to see their point of view, they’re world of view, and follow them right over the cliff.”
Quoting Attorney General Eric Holder’s remark that “outbursts of bigotry” like Donald Sterling’s can be less harmful than the “subtle racism” of “policies that impede equal opportunity,” Malzberg told Priebus, “It just seems that this is a Justice Department that is 100 percent only involved with race, racial issues. And one way!”
“Yeah, it is interesting that you point it out that way. There’s so many examples of that in regard to how Eric Holder runs the department,” Priebus agreed. He then suggested that racial inequality in public schools could be eliminated through school voucher programs.
In a conversation with conservative bloggers at CPAC last week, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus promised that he would be “as strong on these social issues” – including choice and marriage equality – as a pastor “on Sunday morning.”
In the wide-ranging conversation, audio of which was posted by LifeSiteNews, Priebus assured his audience that autopsy reports aside, the GOP will not moderate or shy away from its anti-choice or anti-gay stances…while at the same time saying he wasn’t going to be “walking around down the street” proclaiming his opposition to marriage equality.
He said that his attendance at the March for Life this year was a “wake-up call” that “maybe we need to start reminding people about the core positions of our party more.”
"We're a pro-life party and I'm not shying away from that at all," he added.
He also said that he tells pastors that “church can’t just be vanilla ice cream and cotton candy on Sunday morning either, and that there’s joint responsibility in talking about issues of faith.”
“I tell a lot of pastors sometimes, in groups like this, I say, ‘Listen, I got a deal for you. I’ll be as strong on these social issues as you’re willing to be on Sunday morning. How about that deal?’”
When an attendee asked him if he considers “opposition to gay marriage still to be a core party issue,” Priebus responded that it was but implied that Republicans should avoid talking about it to much.
“Yeah, I mean, we’re a party that believes that marriage ought to be between one man and one woman, that’s our party platform, it’s a position that I’ve never backed away from,” he said. “What I have said, though, is that we need to treat each other with grace and dignity and respect. And that’s not code language, it comes out of the New Testament. So there should be no confusion about where we stand.”
When the questioner asked if opposition to marriage equality was “something that you want to be reminding people of more,” Priebus answered: “Well, I mean, I’m not like walking around down the street, but if someone wants to ask me like you did, I didn’t dance for you. I mean, I answered the question head-on and very clear.”
Few Americans would argue that they want to see more big money flowing into our political system.
Yet yesterday the Republican National Committee asked the Supreme Court to strike down limits on the total amount an individual donor can contribute to campaigns in a single election cycle, filing an opening brief in what is sure to be a high-profile Supreme Court case. If the RNC and the Republican donor who together filed the case in Shaun McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission are successful, the limit on aggregate individual contributions per cycle could jump from $117,000 to $3 million.
As PFAW noted in February, this case threatens to be the next stage in the ongoing attack on our country’s democracy. By calling for a gutting of our country’s campaign finance reform regulations, Republicans are ignoring the majority of Americans who believe there is already far too much big money being poured into our elections.
WASHINGTON – Today the Republican National Committee passed by voice vote a resolution reaffirming the party’s opposition to marriage equality. Passage of the resolution followed a letter earlier this week from the leaders of thirteen right-wing organizations to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus calling for a reaffirmation of the 2012 GOP platform and warning party leadership of potential “abandonment of our constituents to their support.”
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:
“The GOP has painted itself into a corner. For many years, the Republican party fostered anti-gay sentiment for political benefit. Now that the political landscape is shifting, they are unable to escape the extreme ideology of the far Right even as the majority of American voters embrace equal rights for same-sex couples. There are strong forces within the GOP dedicated to preventing the party from embracing marriage equality, and they are making it clear that they will not give in without a fight.”
The powerful right-wing organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has long claimed that it “respects diversity of thought” and that it is a “non-partisan policy resource for its members,” Democrats and Republicans alike. Indeed, in a television interview with FOX news, an ALEC spokesperson once stated, “we have legislators of all political stripes coming together to talk about the most critical issues facing the states,” and adamantly defended the non-partisan nature of the organization.
It does not take much examination of ALEC policies, funders, or public-sector membership rolls to put these claims into true perspective. ALEC’ s right wing policies are so extreme that over 43 corporations – from Wal-Mart to General Electric – have cut ties with the organization. As documented by the Center For Media and Democracy, more than 99% of ALEC’s public sector leaders are Republican lawmakers. And a quick perusal of ALEC funding reveals that the same funders who back the network are also major sponsors of many Republican initiatives.
Yet what may be the most telling evidence of ALEC’s ties to the GOP emerged just this morning. Today, the Republican National Committee (RNC) released its wide-ranging “autopsy” report in response to the party’s disastrous 2012 elections. The report, entitled “Growth and Opportunity Project,” outlines a variety of policy recommendations including, among other base ideas, abolishing campaign spending regulations and contribution limits. In the report, the RNC specifically calls on ALEC to help develop and implement model legislation to “improve” these campaign finance laws.
The RNC places ALEC alongside the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) and the RNC as an organization that is well-suited to “improve” campaign finance laws and propagate them nationwide:
The RNC has called upon ALEC to do its bidding because it knows that ALEC is 100% in support of its anti-democratic agenda. Beyond pushing for Voter ID laws and adopting restrictive registration requirements – like the registration requirements that ALEC adopted years ago as model policy and that today are being argued over in the Supreme Court – ALEC has a history of opposing campaign finance reform. The organization has consistently opposed public financing of elections and even issued a resolution in favor of the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision.
If ALEC and the GOP were truly interested in “improving” campaign finance laws, they would be pushing for greater oversight, not trying to dismantle what little there is left of campaign finance regulation in America. If they really cared about American democracy, they would join the growing chorus of voices who are calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and enact free and fair elections.
Yet ALEC and the GOP care more about gaming the system and rewarding their corporate constituents than empowering the American people. As today’s report makes perfectly clear, their pro-corporate and anti-voter agendas unmistakably go hand in hand.
** Public Policy Intern Kyler Geoffroy contributed to this blog post
Recent proposals by some lawmakers to apportion electoral votes in presidential elections based on congressional district rather than being awarded in the current winner-take-all fashion by popular vote is outrageously undemocratic and would ignore the will of the voters in these states.