Republican Party

RNC Faith Liaison: Supreme Court Will Bring Religious Right Voters To Trump

The Republican Party’s faith outreach director, former South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly, says conservative Christians will vote for Donald Trump based on the future of the Supreme Court.

The biggest thing on evangelicals’ minds, I think, is the fact that we’re gonna be looking at a Supreme Court that could be vastly different going forward. And electing somebody like Hillary Clinton, who is obviously biased against the things that most evangelicals, Christians believe in, would be disastrous for religious liberty, for property rights, gun rights, religious freedom and stuff like that. I think it’s gonna settle out just fine and our folks will go our way.

Connelly told CBN’s Heather Sells that his friends and fellow church members had been split among Republican candidates, but that voters have now “given us two choices.” Trump’s plans to meet with Religious Right leaders and activists next month are, said Connelly, a sign that Trump knows you “don’t leave anybody out, especially not the base.”

Connelly travels the country encouraging pastors to register their congregants to vote and convince them to cast ballots based on a “biblical worldview.” Like speakers at virtually every Religious Right gathering, he said that what’s happened to the country “is literally our fault” because pastors haven’t preached aggressively enough. “Voting is not political,” he said, “it’s spiritual. It’s our witness and testimony to the community of what we believe in.”

He said he doesn’t think conservative pastors going to sit on the sidelines any more. He tells pastors, “Get your people registered and talk to them about the issues of the day and then make sure they go vote those issues in the voting booth.”

I spoke at a church…not long ago where the pastor kind of apologized to his congregation before he introduced me. He said he’d been preaching for 39 years and had never tried to connect the dots of the things going on with biblical worldview, and he said, “that’s gonna change.”

Asked whether Trump should apologize to Latino Christians who have been offended by his rhetoric, Connelly said, “I’ll leave his campaign decisions to him” and pivoted back to the Supreme Court.

I’ve been with Latino and African American and Anglo pastors all over the nation and they see this Supreme Court deal as a very big thing. You know the next president’s gonna probably appoint two, maybe three, and potentially four Supreme Court justices. That’s a 50-year decision for Christians out there.

To those conservative Christians who aren’t happy with their choices, Connelly says, “no man’s perfect.” But he says that people who are upset about Planned Parenthood and “judges rewriting God’s definition of marriage” should realize that “the Republican Party is the natural home for people of faith.”

Says Connelly, “I mean, let’s face it...it may be 100 years before the other party swings back and pays any attention to Christian values and biblical values like you and I care about.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd also cited the Supreme Court in defending his decision to meet with Trump in June:

This election is about who will appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices. This election is about the dignity of human life from the womb to the tomb. This election is about the most significant religious freedom concerns in American history. I'm not about to sit at home on Election Day because I'm accountable to God and, I believe, I am accountable to my fellow Americans to vote. This is why I am meeting with Donald Trump, and why I would be willing to also meet with Hillary Clinton.

Dominionist Prayer Rally Planned For Eve Of Republican Convention

Christian-nation advocate David Lane and dominionist Doug Stringer have organized a series of prayer rallies with Republican governors, starting with the 2011 event in Houston that served as an unofficial launching pad for Rick Perry’s failed 2012 presidential bid. Now they’re planning their next one in Cleveland, Ohio, just before the Republican convention.

On Thursday, Stringer and other organizers held a conference call to discuss plans for the Cleveland rally — like others it is going by the name “The Response” — and to ask pastors to get their congregants to take part. “There is a battle for the soul of a generation,” Stringer said, “the soul of our nation.”

Stringer, a far-right preacher who once linked the September 11 attacks to homosexuality, told pastors that the Response is not about promoting politicians or political agendas, only about lifting up the name of Jesus, repenting as individuals and as a nation, and praying for God’s mercy and blessing on the country. This is the “bait” part of the “bait-and-switch” nature of these Response events, as we have previously described:

The rallies are in effect a series of bait-and-switch events. They are disingenuously promoted as non-political gatherings to create Christian unity by bringing people together across denominational and racial lines to pray for the state and the country. And while that promise of ecumenical prayer and worship is undoubtedly what brought many people to the event in Charlotte, the “non-political” veneer was discarded almost immediately.

Lane and Stringer took the Response to Charlotte, North Carolina, in September 2015. At this “nonpolitical” event, Religious Right rock star David Benham talked about gay rights groups who he said were out to “force” their agenda on the country, portraying a “spiritual battle that is now waging before us in this nation, the home of the brave and the land of the free.” Lane opened the “nonpolitical” North Carolina Response rally with a prayer that talked about the lack prayer and Bible reading in the public schools, abortion, and “homosexuals praying at the inauguration.” Another speaker prayed for God to “help us be like Kim Davis, obeying the Constitution and defying federal criminals.”

It’s not surprising that the events take on a political cast given that organizer David Lane is a self-described political operative who is recruiting “an army” of conservative pastors to run for office in an effort to boost engagement and voting by conservative Christians. Lane is putting his faith in Trump, according to TIME Magazine:

“I’m going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top 4 presidents in American history,” he recently wrote to his followers. “We intend Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians to bring biblical-based values to the public square, bucking up a Trump Administration willing to confront totalitarian ‘Political Correctness.’”

Previous Response events have been organized and promoted by extreme anti-gay, anti-choice, and religiously divisive groups and leaders. One of the videos promoting the Cleveland Response features E.W. Jackson, a failed Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia; Jackson has called the Black Lives Matter movement “demonic,” said promotion of LGBT equality is “spitting in the face of Almighty God,” and accused President Obama of being more interested in “defending Islam” than “defending America.”

Stringer said participants would be supported by more than 2 million prayer intercessors from around the world. Another organizer asked people to consider joining the prayer force that would be engaging in weeks of prayer ending in a fast.

But the Response is going to have some competition. Stringer said on the conference call that God is calling people to be in Cleveland, and that some who had planned to attend the Reset prayer gathering in Washington, D.C., on July 16 will go to Cleveland instead. Reset is being organized by a number of ministries, including Lou Engle’s TheCall, and organizers hope it will “fill the mall” with a million people for “a historic gathering and a time of spiritual healing for our nation.” A similar situation — dueling prayer rallies on the same day — took place in April, when Engle and friends had a day-long rally in Los Angeles while others met at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

 

Donald Trump's Amen Corner: Prosperity Preachers and Dominionists

While Ted Cruz had the backing of most Religious Right leaders in his now-suspended presidential campaign, Donald Trump has had his own amen corner among preachers of the God-wants-you-to-be-rich prosperity gospel, including a group  who laid hands on him last fall. At that meeting, Florida-based prosperity preacher Paula White prayed that "any tongue that rises against him will be condemned according to the word of God.”

It’s not really surprising that preachers who tout wealth as a sign of God’s favor would line up with a blustery billionaire like Trump, who says his riches are proof that he’s qualified to fix what’s wrong with the country. What is a bit more surprising is the support Trump is getting from a leading advocate of Seven Mountains dominionism, which teaches that government and other spheres of influence — “mountains” like media, entertainment, business — are meant to be run by the right kind of Christians.

Lance Wallnau is an influential leader in the Seven Mountains movement. In 2011, he declared that it is the obligation of Christians to “seize those high places” in order to bring about the return of Jesus Christ — something he has said they should do by both “overt” and “covert” means. In 2012, he said that the mountains of government, media, and economics were currently occupied by Satan.

Wallnau has been pushing Trump for a while now. In November he declared that God has given Trump “an anointing for the mantle of government.” But why would someone who thinks Christians with a “biblical worldview” are supposed to be running the world throw his support to Trump rather than Ted Cruz or one of the other candidates who put their faith at the center of their campaigns?

Steve Strang, publisher of the Pentecostal Charisma Magazine, put that question to Wallnau in a recent podcast interview. Strang had been a Ted Cruz supporter, but after Cruz dropped out of the race he quickly declared that he has shifted his loyalty and support to Trump.

“When God wants to move in history, he doesn’t always pick the favorite evangelical,” said Wallnau. He said that God brought Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill to power at crucial moments in history, the way He is now raising up Trump for our time. And he knows this, Wallnau said, because God told him so.

In a video on his website, Wallnau praised Cruz as someone who “totally gets Seven Mountains” but said he doesn’t believe Cruz could win a general election. Anyway, he said, it’s better for Christians to have someone like Trump in power, because every failure of a President Cruz would be blamed on conservative Christians, something that won’t happen with Trump. And after all, having believers like Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush in office didn’t turn out so well.

Wallnau said God told him specifically that Trump is “a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.” Wallnau has dedicated a section of his website to explaining why “Trump is the guy that God is going to use.”

I ran across a picture of Trump that said “Donald Trump 45th President of the United States.” Immediately the thought hit me “read Isaiah 45!” I was shocked by what I discovered. It’s about a king named Cyrus and he would not appear on the scene for another 100 years. Cyrus was a secular ruler. He was not a believer. He was “anointed” to do certain things “for Jacob my servants sake.”  

Like King Cyrus, says Wallnau, Trump is a secular figure who God will use to get things done. And, he told Strang, he told Trump all about the Cyrus prophecy when he met with a group of African American ministers last year.

Wallnau calls Trump a “chaos candidate,” someone who is unconventional enough to push back hard against a radical left that is transforming America into “an increasingly hostile anti-Christian culture.” And Hillary Clinton, he told Strang, is helping take America down the road that Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of the end-times bestseller “The Harbinger,” is predicting. Wallnau told Strang:

Hillary Clinton is part of a machine that is taking America socially, spiritually, and economically into everything the Harbinger talks about…the Harbinger has Hillary on it. That’s why I was thinking, I want to do an article called, ‘Lead us not into Trumptation but deliver us from Hillary.’ Because Hillary Clinton is not an individual, she is a machine with an entire ideologic [sic] agenda that goes all the way to the most ghastly interests you can imagine in terms of the survival of Christian civilization.

Trump, warned Wallnau, will not make it without evangelical support, adding, “may we not be the saboteurs of our own deliverance.” Cruz supporters, he said, will have to look at the bigger picture. Cruz, he said, still has an important role to play in history, maybe as a running mate or Supreme Court justice.

As Kyle reported in April, Wallnau is part of the Trump campaign’s “National Diversity Coalition.” He is also a board member of the Oak Initiative, whose bio of him starts, “Dr. Lance Wallnau has been described by People For the American Way as the hidden architect behind the increasingly viral and politically potent seven mountain template for cultural impact.” Wallnau has said that Right Wing Watch is part of a coalition controlled by a secret cabal of funders who are behind the climate change movement and Black Lives Matter.

Wallnau has a history of saying rather unusual things. Three years ago he said God was giving a diabetes cure to Christians, but that they wouldn’t share it with the general public, only with Kingdom-minded believers who would give it to Chinese Communist Party leaders in order to help spread the Gospel in that country. China? Better not tell Trump.

 

Can Religious Right Leaders' Disgust For Trump Be Overcome By Future Of Supreme Court?

Religious Right leaders believed this was their year. In Ted Cruz they had a candidate unquestionably committed to their agenda. Cruz was anointed the movement’s candidate at a secret endorsement meeting in Texas, followed by a wave of public endorsements by movement leaders. With only a couple of notable exceptions like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Phyllis Schlafly, Cruz had the overwhelming backing of the Religious Right’s institutional leaders. 

But it wasn’t to be. David Gushee, a Christian ethicist and author who has ruffled a lot of feathers with his move to an LGBT-affirming stance, calls the Trump victory “a major defeat” for “the Christian Right agenda.” Indeed, many Religious Right leaders and activists are bitter that Republican primary voters, including many self-described evangelicals, chose Trump over Cruz, and some have declared that they have no intention of backing Trump now that he is the presumptive GOP nominee.

The Wilks brothers, leaders of a billionaire fracking family that poured millions into a pro-Cruz super PAC, are planning to sit out the presidential race, reported Bloomberg. A family spokesperson called Trump a liar whose “despicable statements and actions” are too numerous “to count in a reasonable amount of time.”

Anti-gay activist Matt Barber is in the same camp, tweeting with the hashtag #NeverTrumpOrHillary and asking, “But what about when neither of the two evils is lesser?” On Friday, Barber tweeted, “I don’t oppose #Trump because I’m Republican & he’s not. Nor because I’m conservative & he’s not. I oppose Trump because I follow #Christ.”

A contributor to Barber’s BarbWire website, history professor Alan Snyder, wrote in piece titled “The Republican Obituary” that he “cannot, in good conscience, support Donald Trump.” Snyder slammed Republican voters for choosing “a man who rejects nearly every line in past Republican platforms.”

In an angrily bitter diatribe against Trump supporters at Charisma, Bert Farias of Holy Fire Ministries wrote that Cruz’s defeat “exposes the corruption of the American soul.” Maybe, he says, exposing the “corruption of the American soul and lukewarm church” is what God raised up Cruz to do. “While many celebrate the apparent victory of their amoral candidate, the darkness grows and moves in yet closer.” Faris even recalled, “Benny Hinn prophesied on New Year's Eve 1989 that a woman would one day be president of America and would destroy this nation.” Adds Faris, “It seemed like a far-fetched prophecy then, but not so much anymore.” Kevin Swanson, the anti-gay pastor who says the government should execute gays, suggested that God may be raising up Trump to be president as part of a divine plan to destroy America for its disobedience.

“Don’t blame us,” writes Napp  Nazworth, an editor at Christian Post. “Evangelicals led the opposition to Trump.”

Trump has already been a disaster for the Republican Party, essentially dismantling the Reagan coalition and undermining its efforts to retain control of Congress. A Trump presidency would be a disaster for the entire nation, given that he is entirely unfit, in character and experience, to be president.

For those reasons, it's important to set straight the historical record — evangelicals led the opposition to Trump.

Trump has won a lot of votes from people who call themselves evangelicals, but there’s evidence that the most frequent church-goers, probably the same people most likely to listen to Religious Right political leaders, have been much less likely to support Trump.

In February, the Christian Post editorialized against Trump, the first time ever it had taken a position on a political candidate:

"As the most popular evangelical news website in the United States and the world, we feel compelled by our moral responsibility to our readers to make clear that Donald Trump does not represent the interests of evangelicals and would be a dangerous leader for our country," they wrote.

Republican voters have concluded that morality, integrity, the rule of law, and the Constitution must be discarded in their headlong dash into an angry reaction against all politicians, even someone like Ted Cruz who has fought the good fight for Biblical and constitutional principles all his life.

In doing so, they have brought this nation to the brink of near-total collapse. No matter who wins in the fall, Republican or Democrat, Christian values will be subjected to even greater governmental suppression. No matter how Trump fares in the general election, the very fact of his nomination is a dismal indication that whatever honor and principle remained in the Republican party is now in the past.

Some high profile right-wing pundits remain in the #NeverTrump camp, like Erick Erickson. Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace reacted to Cruz’s withdrawal by resigning from the Republican PartyJerry Bader, conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin, is with him:

“I do not want to see Hillary Clinton as president; however, I do not see Donald Trump as a better choice. Important point: There is no lesser of two evils," Mr. Bader said. "I have no reason to believe his Supreme Court nominees would be any more palatable than hers because I have nothing to go on but his word, and that don't mean much to me."

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska is probably the highest-ranking Republican official who has made it clear that Trump will not get his support. He said recently that he is resisting calls from “party bosses and politicos” telling him he has to support Trump. Sasse is trying to generate support for a third-party or independent candidate to enter the race.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, a strong supporter of Cruz, is among those hedging their bets, saying evangelicals “won’t necessarily fall in line” with Trump as the nominee. While he has made his disappointment clear, he says he is “waiting to see the substance of a Trump administration and the vision he has for America.” Anti-gay activist Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is also taking a wait-and-see approach. And Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has criticized Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric but says Hispanic evangelicals “are still up for grabs.” Religious Right activist Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association told The Hill that Cruz should “keep his powder dry and not do anything right now” while waiting to see how Trump behaves in the general election.

Of course, the most intense focus going forward will fall on Ted Cruz, the Religious Right’s anointed candidate. As runner-up and as a GOP senator, he would normally be expected to endorse the victor. But the ugly personal tone of Trump’s attacks, and the refusal of some Cruz backers to go along with the party’s ultimate choice, might make this year an exception.

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is more enthusiastic than many of his fellow Religious Right activists: “Donald Trump broke the code, owned the media, and inspired the masses. I will be all in to help him defeat Hillary Clinton and I call upon all fellow Republicans to unite in defeating Hillary and abandoning and repudiating the hapless ‘Never Trump’ nonsense.”

The Washington Times reports that party officials are using the prospect of future Supreme Court nominations to cajole #NeverTrump people into getting on board the Trump train.  As Miranda has reported, the Supreme Court is the main reason that anti-abortion activists are reluctantly lining up with Trump. Perkins said this week, “We can live with bad trade deals or high taxes, but we cannot live with bad judicial nominees.”

Indeed, Trump has already said that he will let the Heritage Foundation, the conservative group led by Religious Right icon Jim DeMint, draft a list of potential justices.

Right-wing activist Grover Norquist thinks Cruz should make a deal, reports The Hill. “Norquist said Cruz will stay aloof for a while but ultimately back Trump, perhaps in exchange for a promise to be appointed to the Supreme Court.”

 

Religious Right Leader Michael Brown: Trump's GOP Victory A Sign Of God's Judgment

Michael Brown, a North Carolina-based pastor and anti-LGBT activist, is among the huge number of Religious Right figures who have been backing Ted Cruz for the presidency. Brown, author of “Revolution! The Call to Holy War,” was quick out of the gate with his reaction to Cruz suspending his campaign, which all but assured Donald Trump’s Republican nomination.

Trump’s victory, Brown says, may be a sign of “divine judgment on America.” He declares Trump “a National Enquirer candidate for a Jerry Springer generation,” bemoaning the “generation raised on a steady diet of amoral and immoral reality TV.”

Brown acknowledges that some of his fellow evangelicals are in Trump’s corner:

Of course, there are fine people who also believe in Trump’s candidacy, people of conscience, spiritual people, patriotic people. I certainly do not condemn all of their judgments, nor is it my place to do so.

I have also listened carefully to the prognosticators who have predicted for months that Trump would be our next president — some even claimed prophetic inspiration for these predictions — and that he would be a tool in God’s hand to destroy the corrupt political establishment and do good to our nation.

I fervently hope that these prophecies will prove true and that I will have to eat every word I have written — and I am writing.

I have no desire to be right; I do have an intense desire to see America blessed; and I would far rather say, “I was so wrong about Donald Trump,” than say, “I told you so!”

But, says Brown, “it appears today in America that God has given us over to delusion, a phenomenon mentioned several times in the Bible when God takes away a people’s moral and spiritual sensibilities as a judgment on their sin. In other words, because people reject Him and His standards, He says, ‘Go ahead then. Have at it,’ further pushing us into our folly.”

After ranting about transgender people’s use of bathrooms, Brown asks, “how else do we explain this unless we have been given over to a spirit of delusion?”

I see the Trump candidacy in the same way. Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his blatant, well-documented lying. Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his consistent practice of vile character assassination for the purpose of political gain. Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his vulgarity and profanity. Tens of millions of Americans are not put off by his ignorance of critical issues and his complete flip-flopping on major positions.

And among these tens of millions of Americans is a significant percentage of professing evangelical Christians, despite Trump saying he has never asked God for forgiveness, despite his failure to renounce his previous adulteries or to acknowledge the wrongness of making money off casinos and strip clubs, despite his taking offense at the distribution of the near nude photo of his wife Melania — not because he thought it was a bad picture but because it was made out to be bad.

And evangelicals continue to flock to him.

At other times in America’s history, Brown says, Trump’s negatives would have killed his campaign.

Not today.

Instead, we find ourselves with the increasingly likely possibility that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president, and to me, there is only one satisfactory explanation for this: God is giving us what we deserve and handing us over to judgment.

All the more, then, should we be on our faces, repenting of our own sins. All the more, then, should we be asking ourselves, “How much is Donald Trump a reflection of each one of us?” All the more, then, should we who profess to know the Lord be asking Him, “How have we failed as Your people? How have we failed in our calling to be salt and light? How did things sink so low on our watch?”

All the more, then, should we be praying for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Barring merciful divine intervention in their lives, America is on the verge of a great and fearful shaking.

 

 

Today's Republican Reality Revealed In 90 Seconds

It’s rare beyond measure that 90 seconds of Fox and Friends can be said to offer real insights into our current political climate. But this morning’s broadcast did just that.

The first insight came courtesy of Ted Cruz’s father. Rafael Cruz told Indiana’s Christian voters that they must choose between voting for God’s candidate – his son – and “the destruction of America.”

I exhort every member of the body of Christ to vote according to the word of God and vote for the candidate that stands on the word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America. And I am convinced that man is my son Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America.

The only thing new about Rafael Cruz’s rhetoric is that it was broadcast on Fox and Friends. He says this kind of stuff – and worse – all the time in his role as a valuable campaign surrogate. Rafael has spent so much time on the Religious Right circuit that he’s become a folk hero of sorts in his own right.

Rafael is an ardent Christian nationalist whose book spouts the discredited theories of Religious Right “historian” David Barton. Rafael, like his son’s other most ardent supporter, broadcaster Glenn Beck, believes Ted Cruz has been anointed by God to lead America. It’s one reason Cruz won the Christian-nation primary, lining up endorsements from the overwhelming majority of Religious Right organizational and political leaders.

When Fox asked Donald Trump about Rafael’s comments, he responded, “It's disgraceful that his father can go out and do that. And just – so many people are angry about it. And the evangelicals are angry about it the way he does that.”

Trump might have stopped right there, making the point that he does in fact get a lot of votes from self-described evangelicals (mostly those who don’t go to church that faithfully) and that it’s a bad idea for the Cruz campaign to claim God’s endorsement. That would have left us in the unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable position of agreeing with Trump. (Although not with Trump’s suggestion had Rafael should not be “allowed to say it.”)

But Trump did not stop there. He went on to spout a conspiracy theory — recently elevated by the National Enquirer after floating around the dark corners of the far-right internet — linking Rafael Cruz with the CIA and JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald based on an old photograph that some people think looks like Rafael:

You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don't even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it.

Coming from Trump, you might say this was disgraceful but hardly surprising. Trump, of course, was an early and ardent birther who harangued the White House about President Obama’s birth certificate, and has since embraced a wide array of conspiracy theories on everything from Justice Scalia’s death to Muslim residents of New Jersey celebrating on 9/11.

And Trump has appeared on the radio show of Alex Jones, who Right Wing Watch has called “one of the most notorious and, frankly bizarre conspiracy theorists out there.” Jones, for example, promotes the idea that the shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school was “staged” as a “false flag” operation designed to ease the way for Obama to confiscate Americans’ guns. Oh, and the fact that flies are “always landing on him” is evidence that Obama is “a demonic creature.”

When he appeared on the show, Trump gushed to Jones, “Your reputation is amazing.” And Jones has continued to return the favor, praising Trump and warning that Democrats are planning to go “full-authoritarian” and that if Trump loses, “this really could be one of the last real elections.” Trump confidant Roger Stone has repeatedly made the case for Trump on Jones’ show.

So there, in one and a half minutes, is today’s Republican Party, whose two frontrunners for the presidential nomination are a Christian-nation candidate who complains that people of faith have allowed “nonbelievers” to set the nation’s course and a conspiracy-theory-promoting demagogue who will say anything he thinks will help him take power.

Congratulations, GOP!

Video captured by TPM

Cruz & Backers Exploit Broken Campaign Finance System

“Emergency: Ted Cruz under attack” declares the urgent subject line in Monday morning’s email. “The attacks from Donald Trump and the establishment are absolutely blistering,” reads the letter begging for contributions, “and Ted Cruz urgently needs our help to lock up this nomination.”

Really? Hasn’t the “establishment” been busy easing Cruz’s path to the nomination by trying to derail Donald Trump? Never mind. “With the continued support of grassroots patriots like us, Ted is well on his way to securing the necessary delegates and winning the nomination.”

This fundraising pitch did not come from the Cruz campaign, but from one of the growing army of super PACs working to get him elected. The “grassroots patriots” behind this particular super PAC, Keep the Promise III, are fracking billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks, who along with their wives gave $15 million to get the super PAC going. Keep the Promise III also goes by the name “Reigniting the Promise.”

Cruz’s presidential bid is benefitting from the no-holds-barred campaign finance system created by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, which trashed previous campaign finance regulations in Citizens United and other rulings. Those rulings gave rise to the creation of super PACs, which are allowed to take contributions of unlimited size.

Super PACs are only permitted by law to make independent expenditures. They are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns. But thanks to loose rules and enforcement by the perpetually gridlocked Federal Election Commission, Cruz and the super PACs supporting him have made a mockery of those rules.

Last week the Washington Post reported that super PACs are no longer just raising money and buying ads, but are actually taking over operations traditionally performed by candidates’ campaign committees, like holding pre-election rallies featuring the candidate. Cruz super PACs have, the Post reported, been “effectively serving as an extension of Cruz’s official campaign, hosting major rallies for him from South Carolina to Utah.”

The tactic serves to offload costs onto the super PAC, which has been financed by six-figure checks from wealthy Cruz supporters — allowing Cruz to harbor his resources for a drawn-out Republican nomination battle with front-runner Donald Trump.

How is this possible given rules against coordination? Cruz supporters say the candidate is simply invited to appear at the events as a “special guest,” which his campaign lawyers say is good enough to meet flimsy campaign finance rules. But Larry Noble of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center told the Post, “It’s one thing to have a candidate appear at something billed as a super PAC fundraiser. What this has morphed into is the super PAC putting on campaign events, and that is illegal.”

It’s actually hard to keep track of all the Cruz-supporting super PACs. There’s a family of four separate but affiliated super PACs operating under the Keep the Promise name – all funded by wealthy individuals, one of them now run by discredited Christian-nationalist “historian” David Barton. In December the Sunlight Foundation counted eight pro-Cruz super PACs. Since then, former Texas governor Rick Perry helped launch Keep the Promise to Veterans, and some of the same people behind the Keep the Promise super PACs decided that Cruz needed yet another one, and the Trusted Leadership PAC was born.

Politico reported in February that five of the major Cruz super PACs had spent $10.5 million in January and had $25.6 million cash on hand at the end of that month. Since then they’ve been spending heavily and the new Trusted Leadership PAC is meant to replenish the coffers for all the delegate battles between now and the convention. Cruz also benefits from super PAC spending that is aimed at denying Trump the delegates he needs to win the nomination.

The super PACs wield their muscle in a variety of ways. Last month Keep the Promise hosted a campaign rally for Cruz in Arizona, and the super PAC denied access to a reporter from the Phoenix New Times because a KTP official said the paper writes “hit pieces on Republicans.”

Ted Cruz Tries To Downplay His Anti-Choice Extremism

Last weekend, the National Right to Life Committee’s board of directors voted to support Ted Cruz in the remaining Republican presidential primaries. A post on the group’s website yesterday said:

National Right to Life believes Sen. Cruz is the only candidate for president who has always been pro-life, who has a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life, who can win the Republican nomination, and who can defeat pro-abortion Hillary Clinton in November.

Cruz spent an hour with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly last night. The first audience question came from a woman who described herself as a pro-choice Republican who was afraid that Cruz would make abortion illegal nationwide if he became president. Those are extremely well-founded fears; Cruz is a zealous advocate for the criminalization of abortion. Last night he said that he sees Roe v. Wade as judicial activism, not settled law. Kelly noted for the record, and Cruz reaffirmed, that he wants to ban abortions without any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Cruz then engaged in a bit of disingenuous rhetorical misdirection, saying that if Roe v. Wade were not the law of the land, questions about abortion and exceptions “would be up to the people of Wisconsin to decide.” But of course Cruz doesn’t really want decisions about abortion being made at the state level as they were before Roe v. Wade. He has publicly supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide. And he doesn’t really even think a constitutional amendment is necessary. He said a few months ago that Congress could “absolutely” get around Roe v. Wade just by passing a law declaring that fertilized eggs have all the legal rights of people under the 14th Amendment. That would not only criminalize all abortion nationwide but would almost certainly make some forms of birth control illegal and leave women open to prosecution for miscarriages deemed suspicious by local authorities.

Cruz also criticized Donald Trump’s recent comments, quickly reversed, that women who have abortions should be punished. “No conservative actually believes that,” said Cruz. Of course, Cruz is lying.

 

Bad News For Republicans Hoping For A Platform Less Hostile To LGBT Equality

The platform approved at the Republican National Convention in 2012 was, we said at the time, “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Every attempt at moderating language — whether on equality for LGBT people or the right of D.C. residents to congressional representation — was shot down by the far-right activists on the party’s platform committee.

At the convention that year, supporters of the LGBT-friendly Log Cabin Republicans vowed that things were changing, and that never again would the Republican platform include anti-equality language about “preserving and protecting traditional marriage” as “a union of one man and one woman” that “must be upheld as the national standard.” A group called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry launched a million-dollar “Reform the Platform” campaign, which has since been absorbed by American Unity Fund, a pro-marriage-equality group affiliated with hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer, a major Republican Party donor.

But the road to a more gay-friendly Republican platform is going to be a rocky one. Earlier this month, the Louisiana Republican Party chose its two delegates to the platform committee: stridently anti-gay Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Sandy McDade, political chairman of Eagle Forum, which “adamantly opposes” marriage equality.

Four years ago, FRC and Eagle Forum teamed up to make anti-equality language in the platform even stronger. Perkins bragged at the time:

With a presence in the committee meetings, the FRC Action staff has been able to help delegates hold the line of social issues.

Just this morning, our efforts made what was already a good document even better. Before this week, the GOP’s draft platform included solid language defending the family – and FRC Action, in tandem with Eagle Forum, made it even stronger.

In a press release celebrating his re-selection to the platform committee this month, Perkins again boasted about the role he had in shaping 2012’s anti-gay platform:

In 2012, my role as a delegate gave me the opportunity to play a key role in amending the marriage plank, which led to the committee approving a much stronger version than 2008's. We also tightened language on obscenity and pornography, protected conscience rights, explained how abortion hurts women, and supported the Second Amendment in D.C.

Both Perkins and McDade are backing Ted Cruz, even though Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly is in the Trump camp. Perkins is a member of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council, which suggests that he’ll also be pushing for anti-gay platform language under the banner of religious liberty.

Cruz Backer Bryan Fischer Calls For Ban On Mosques To 'De-Islamize' America

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, long a font of anti-Muslim bile and other bigotry, has posted a call to “de-Islamize” America.

Fischer’s “de-Islamization” program has three planks, one of which has already been promoted by GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump:

  1. Immediately suspend immigration by Muslims. Fischer says that “unvetted, untrammeled immigration of Muslims to the U.S. is a form of insanity.” Islam, he says, “is the Ebola virus of culture.” He says, “Preventing carriers of this cultural virus from entering America is simply common sense…”
  2. No More Mosques. Fischer says there is no constitutional problem with state governments banning mosques “if we use the Constitution given to us by the Founders and not the one mangled by the courts.” Fischer argues that the First Amendment’s establishment clause does not apply to the states, which he says “have unilateral authority to regulate religious expression within their borders.” In other words, he would see no constitutional barrier to Texas, for example, allowing only Baptists to worship openly.
  3. No more Muslims in the military. Fischer says Congress can and should bar Muslims from service in the armed forces.

Earlier this month, Fischer was scheduled to participate in a campaign rally with presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The Cruz campaign ended up canceling his visit to Mississippi, saying the candidate did not feel well.

There’s no reason to think, however, that Fischer’s most recent anti-Muslim comments will threaten his standing with the Cruz campaign, which recently named Frank Gaffney, one of the country’s most vitriolic anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, to Cruz’s national security advisory team. Cruz himself, in his response to recent terrorist bombings in Brussels, called for empowering law enforcement “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

 

Trump Turns To Far-Right Heritage Foundation For Future Supreme Court Nominees

While many Americans grimly wonder which would be worse for the country, President Donald Trump or President Ted Cruz, one issue isn’t providing much help: Both candidates are making it clear that their potential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court would be terrible.

We reported yesterday on Cruz’s suggestions that he would nominate his best friend in the Senate, Utah’s Mike Lee. Under his extreme views of the Constitution, much of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.

What about Trump? Last year, Trump called Clarence Thomas his favorite justice. This year, he declared Justice Antonin Scalia’s death a “massive setback” for the conservative movement and joined right-wing conspiracy theorists in raising suspicions that Scalia had been murdered.

Last month Trump tossed out the names of two right-wing appeals court judges, William Pryor and Diane Sykes, as two potential nominees from a Trump administration. Pryor calls Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, two landmark cases protecting the rights of women and criminal defendants, respectively, “the worst examples of judicial activism.” Sykes, like Pryor, has upheld damaging voter ID laws. She also argued that anti-gay groups have a constitutional right to receive government subsidies regardless of whether they engage in discrimination.

Now, Trump is pledging to release a list of seven to 10 potential justices from which he commits to choosing a nominee – and that list is being put together with help from the far-right Heritage Foundation. Heritage is a massively funded right-wing powerhouse that is home to, among others, anti-marriage-equality activist Ryan Anderson, who is urging social conservatives to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Heritage and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action have demanded even greater obstructionism from congressional Republicans. Even before Scalia’s death, the group had urged the GOP to refuse to confirm any executive branch or judicial nominations except for appointments dealing with national security. Heritage senior fellow Hans von Spakovsky has even demanded that Scalia be allowed to “vote” – even though he is dead – on a case that right-wing activists were hoping the court would use to destroy public sector unions.

Trump met in Washington yesterday with congressional Republicans, and at a press conference he pushed back against accusations by Cruz that he couldn’t be counted on to name a conservative to the court. “Some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge,” he said. “I won’t.” He promised that his nominee would be “pro-life” and “conservative.”

Trump also explicitly warned (or taunted, depending on your view) Republicans opposed to his nomination that if they support a third-party candidate against him, they will allow a Democrat to name Supreme Court justices who “will never allow this country to be the same.”

Among the Republicans huddling with Trump? Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint.

NOM's Brian Brown Asks For Money to Make Kasich 'Toxic'

Religious Right leaders who back Ted Cruz for president are beginning to turn their fire on Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose continued presence in the race they believe is preventing Cruz from defeating Donald Trump. Last week Glenn Beck slammed Kasich as a delusional “son of a bitch” who might go down in history as the guy who “possibly destroyed the republic.”

Today the National Organization for Marriage, which endorsed Cruz in December, sent out a plea for money to go after Kasich, who NOM’s president, Brian Brown, describes as “a liberal Republican who has abandoned the fight for marriage, is extremely weak on religious liberty and who cannot be trusted to appoint strong, conservative constitutionalist judges to the US Supreme Court who would reverse the Court's illegitimate marriage ruling.”

Brown suggests that Kasich, who cannot mathematically win a majority of delegates prior to the Republican convention, is hoping either that “the GOP power brokers” will hand him the nomination or that he can at least build enough bargaining power to cut a deal for himself at the expense of the country.

“If you liked John Boehner, you’ll like John Kasich – lot’s [sic] of talk but no guts to actually fight for conservative principles like preserving marriage,” writes Brown, who complains that Kasich would “do nothing” to help business owners who run into trouble for refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. “That is why NOM is committed to ensuring that the American people learn the truth about Kasich and make him toxic as a potential vice presidential pick.”

More from Brown:

I'm asking for your immediate financial help so that we can get the truth about John Kasich out to voters and the media and stop any consideration of him as the GOP nominee, or even the vice presidential selection. Your membership contribution of at least $35 will go a long way toward helping us shine the light of truth on the Kasich record.

NOM is one of the few groups willing to take on the politically-correct yet powerfully wrong elite in America, which is what John Kasich represents. But to be effective, we need to increase our membership dues from grassroots supporters like you. Please act today to make a membership contribution of at least $35 which will allow us to take the fight to Kasich and others who disrespect the importance of marriage and refuse to protect the rights of average Americans to live out their beliefs about marriage in their daily lives.

Please make your membership contribution of at least $35 today so that we can ramp up our efforts to derail Kasich, the last remaining establishment Republican who has abandoned us when we needed him most. If you can afford to give more than the minimum $35, please do so.

Thank you for standing strong for God's design for marriage, and for helping us fight the PC crowd that refuses to stand with us for the truth of marriage and religious liberty.

What Would It Look Like If Ted Cruz Put His Pal Mike Lee on the Supreme Court?

Back in December, Kyle reported that Glenn Beck, who believes Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be president, suggested that a President Cruz should nominate Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. This weekend, while campaigning in Utah, Cruz himself floated the prospect, saying Lee “would look good” on the court.

“Good” is not really the right word. “Terrifying” is more like it.

Lee, who calls Cruz his “best friend at work,” has perhaps the most extreme view of the Constitution of anyone in the Senate. Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.”

Lee dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a women’s right to abortion. He called the court’s marriage equality ruling a “breathtaking presumption of power.” People For the American Way noted in a 2010 report that Lee “has denounced as ‘domestic enemies’ those who disagree with his radically limited view” of the Constitution.

Here are a few things that Sen. Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

This list helps explain why right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler, a force behind the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has also suggested that the next Republican president should put Lee on the court.

For an ardent self-described constitutionalist, Lee has a lot of problems with the Constitution as amended over the years and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lee published a book last year called “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document.” He believes the 16th amendment, allowing the federal government to collect income taxes, should be repealed, leaving it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the extremely limited federal government that would fit his vision of the constitution. He also thinks the 17th Amendment was a mistake and thinks the power to elect U.S. senators should be taken away from voters and returned to state legislatures. He also wants to "clarify" the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents and wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits. He supports a campaign by some right-wing activists for state legislators to convene an “Article V” convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

As a Senate candidate he said he would like to abolish the federal Departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security altogether. As a senator, Lee orchestrated shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, even though Cruz took most of the blame for it.

Cruz and Lee share a sort of gleeful pride in playing the outsiders who have contempt for “the establishment.” Lee is reportedly the guy who suggested that Cruz run for Senate; he was among those who endorsed Cruz in his long-shot primary for his Senate seat. This month, he became the first of Cruz’s Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential run.

More than 50 Conservative Catholics Back Ted Cruz

The latest announcement in the Ted Cruz presidential campaign’s ongoing rollout of endorsements from right-wing leaders is a group of more than 50 “Catholic influencers” led by Robert George, the intellectual muscle for the Religious Right, and Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia and failed gubernatorial candidate. The campaign announced the endorsement of Robert George yesterday; some others on the list have also been announced previously.

Not surprisingly, the list of Catholics for Cruz is heavy on culture warriors who have been fighting to criminalize abortion and resist legal equality for LGBT people and same-sex couples. Although Cruz is not Catholic, he made a reference to the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, saying “we have an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and safeguard the truth revealed through Scripture and the tradition of millennia.”

One eyebrow-raising name on the list is Anne Schlafly Cori, president of Missouri Eagle Forum and daughter of Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who endorsed Donald Trump last week

Also on the list:

Right-Wing Radio Host Mark Levin Joins Team Cruz

Over the last few months Ted Cruz has repeatedly celebrated the endorsements he has received from an array of far-right, anti-gay, Christian-Nation activists. Now, with Marco Rubio’s campaign crumbling, Cruz is picking up more support from Republicans who want to keep Donald Trump from getting the nomination. Last night right-wing author and radio host Mark Levin jumped on the Cruz bandwagon, predicting that Cruz would “wipe the floor” with Hillary Clinton in a debate.

In a long and winding explanation that took about half an hour to finally get to his announcement that he is supporting Cruz, Levin talked about his studies of the founding era and about the changes that have taken place throughout American history to bring us to the point where the two political parties are both part of “the modern centralized socialist state.” And he used the opportunity to promote his books, including "Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America," "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, Ameritopia," the "Liberty Amendments," and, most recently, "Plunder and Deceit."

When you consider the totality of a candidate’s life and career, Levin said, “it really is a simple decision, is it not? If you’re a conservative, if you’re a constitutionalist, if you’ve been a Tea Party activist, if you’re a Reaganite or a Reagan Democrat, it really is in the end a simple decision. At least it is for me.”

We need somebody who actually understands and comprehends America’s founding, why it’s important. We need somebody who understands how to get it back. Again, it’s not a put-down of Donald Trump. He has different strengths. But right now, we need to get our country back, our Constitution back, our civil society back, our families back. We need to defend our faith. And there’s only one person right now who understands that, and that’s Ted Cruz.

Levin also criticized “the Republican establishment” for their “outrageous” treatment of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Rand Paul. “But the one they despised the most, and the one they despised the longest,” he said, “is Ted Cruz.” Members of the establishment hate Cruz, said Levin, for the same reason they hate movement conservatives who push elected officials to be true to conservative principles.

“The Republican establishment is as diabolical as it’s ever been,” he said. “Maybe even more so. Mitt Romney coming out and giving the speech he gave, was awful. It was cheap … If I have to choose between Donald Trump and the establishment, that’s not a hard choice, I choose Donald Trump,” who he said has more integrity than any congressional leaders. Republican insiders are attacking Trump because they want to impose their will, he said.  And there’s nobody who’s more anti-establishment than Cruz.

“We live in a post-constitutional period for the most part,” he complained. He has spent years railing against “entrenched Republicans,” he said, because they’re perfectly willing to go along with the direction of the country as long as they have some power. “The Republican ruling class stands in the way of us being able to nominate for president of the United States somebody who will begin the long road toward reversing course, somebody who can be relied on as a serious, principled, thoughtful, substantive conservative who has the courage, who has the motivation, who has the willpower to lead this nation, to lead this nation in a totally different direction.”

Here’s a sampling of Levin’s own “serious, principled, thoughtful, substantive” conservatism:

  • Levin suggested in 2013 that President Obama was organizing a Brownshirt paramilitary to defend and promote the Affordable Care Act.
  • He said in 2014 that President Obama’s Jewish donors are “self-haters” who “despise their own country.”
  • At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Levin said President Obama, Congress and the Supreme Court were engaged in “tyranny” and said that Obama needs to “sit down and shut up.”
  • In 2014 he talked about a poll that asked people what would be the most positive thing about a Hillary Clinton presidency; more people mentioned the potential to elect a first woman president than anything else. Levin’s response:

"Hillary Clinton's gender? Do they mean her genitalia is her top 2016 selling point? Is that what that means?" Levin later said "But the key is it's her genitalia. That's why so many people would vote for her. I wonder if Bill Clinton would vote for her because of that. He seems to -- well, he likes genitalia but maybe not hers."

 

On Eve Of Super Tuesday Religious Right Continues To Split

On the eve of Super Tuesday, the dream of Christian-nation advocates like David Lane to get evangelicals to coalesce around one of their own in the Republican primary is fading away as Donald Trump pulls ahead of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in national polling, and among evangelical voters in particular.

The ongoing split is reflected among right-wing political leaders.  Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach both endorsed Trump for his anti-immigrant policies. But first-term Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, the former president of a Christian college, wrote a public letter explaining why he would not vote for Trump in the general election if he became the party’s nominee.

And while Ted Cruz, his father, and Glenn Beck are frantically making the case that Cruz is God’s chosen candidate for the presidency, one of the country’s most prominent Christian business leaders has endorsed Marco Rubio.

David Green is the founder of the Hobby Lobby arts & crafts empire.  Green and his family have become right-wing folk heroes for successfully arguing that their massive for-profit company deserved a religiously-based exemption from the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that its insurance plans include contraception. Over the weekend, Green declared Rubio “a man who is prepared to be president.”

Cruz continues to build his own list of often-extreme Religious Right backers.  Jerry Johnson, president of National Religious Broadcasters, put out a video endorsement of Ted Cruz, who he called the most conservative candidate who can win the election. Johnson said Cruz will fix the economy by cutting taxes and regulation, “and he’s going to eliminate the IRS, and I like that.” Johnson also focused on the future of the Supreme Court.

Ted Cruz will make the right appointments on the Supreme Court. He’ll make conservative appointments. He’ll appoint justices that defend the sanctity of innocent human life and oppose abortion. He’ll appoint justices that protect your First Amendment freedom to believe and to live out your faith. He’ll appoint justices that will protect your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Johnson added that Cruz will rebuild the military, secure the border, and defeat and destroy ISIS. He said the fact that Cruz can’t get along with politicians in Washington, D.C. is a “badge of honor.”

Phyllis Schlafly Praises Jeff Sessions, Trump & Cruz, Warns GOP 'Kingmakers'

In her February newsletter,  which came out just after Sen. Jeff Sessions’ endorsement of Donald Trump, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly reproduced a column she wrote earlier in the month gushing about a round of interviews Sessions had given in which he said 2016 “is the last chance for the American people to take back control of their government.” Sessions helped Trump craft his immigration platform and previously backed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

Here’s Schlafly:

“To win, Republicans need to demonstrate that they care about the average person who goes to work every day,” he added. Average Americans are tired of paying billions in welfare handouts to immigrants who are undermining U.S. wages. “People should have total confidence and a clear commitment on those issues. If they don’t, then they don’t have my vote,” he said…

Our immigration policy has been anti-American, decade after decade, and the voters need to know that 2016 might be our last chance to elect a president who can reduce this tide of illegals crossing our borders. The interests of working Americans must “be put first,” Sessions urged. “We need a president with the credibility to tell the world that the time of illegality is over. Do not come to this country unlawfully,” he said.

In the same column, Schlafly praised “outsider” candidates like Trump and Ted Cruz, and warned against “the Washington-based Republican Establishment” who she said are plotting to “take back control of the party from the outsiders and grassroots.” Among those she names as would-be “kingmakers” are House Speaker Paul Ryan – “who is openly contemptuous of Trump and has little use for Cruz” – and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who offended Schlafly by using her response to the State of the Union Address “to slam the ‘angriest voices’ in the presidential campaign and disavow the Republican front-runner’s popular call for a temporary pause in Muslim immigration.”

Schlafly vows that the Republican platform will be written by GOP delegates who are disappointed with the ineffectiveness of congressional Republicans and who “will have no use for Ryan’s open-borders ideology, which holds that anyone who can find a low-wage job should be allowed to settle in the United States.” Schlafly warns that a deadlocked convention could make  someone like Ryan the nominee. “Such an outcome,” she writes, “could destroy the Republican Party and guarantee a Democratic victory by causing disheartened grassroots voters to stay home and tempting an aggrieved candidate to mount a third-party or independent presidential campaign.”

In January, Schlafly declared that Donald Trump was “the only hope” to defeat the GOP’s “Kingmakers.”

Religious Right Leaders Let Mike Huckabee Down -- Again

As we noted earlier this week, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins recently helped lead an effort to get Religious Right leaders to rally around a single Republican presidential candidate in order to maximize the movement’s ability to get a nominee to their liking. Earlier this month, dozens of Religious Right leaders agreed to back Ted Cruz over Marco Rubio. Mike Huckabee, a favorite of many Religious Right activists in 2008, wasn’t even a finalist.

The National Review’s Tim Alberta reports that Mike Huckabee is disappointed by the development:

“For reasons I don’t fully understand, years and years of actually doing something and getting things done didn’t matter,” Huckabee said of the group’s deliberations. ”And I don’t understand that.”

…Huckabee, according to sources, has often reminded Perkins and his fellow influencers that a major reason he gave up his Fox News show and launched a 2016 campaign was because he expected to have their backing. Their decision to instead support Cruz, then, seemed to sting Huckabee personally as much as politically. “You know, everybody has a right to do what they want to do. But it was disappointing to me. These are guys I’ve worked with for years and years. Many of them I’ve helped with their projects and their various endeavors,” Huckabee says, shaking his head. A moment later, he adds, “But you know, that’s life.”

It’s not the first time evangelical leaders have disappointed Huckabee. In the 2008 Republican primary race, Huckabee surprised many when he won the Iowa caucus, eventually winning victories in eight states. But many Religious Right leaders at the time weren’t initially convinced he could win and were slow to rally around him. James Dobson didn’t endorse Huckabee until after McCain’s successes on Super Tuesday. Huckabee did not keep his frustrations to himself when he eventually dropped out of the 2008 race.

The Southern Baptist minister said leaders who stood behind pulpits and shared biblical stories of faith were far less likely to put faith in Huckabee’s candidacy. 

“Some people really worshipped at the altar of electability rather than to be faithful and loyal to the principles they were supposed to be committed to,” Huckabee said on a telephone conference call sponsored by Charisma magazine. 

“When it gets to their own political realm, they think more secularly than even the secular people. That was very troubling,” he said. 

Right-wing activist Paul Weyrich said at the time that he regretted not having backed Huckabee when it might have made a difference. It seems likely that Huckabee could have made a strong case for Religious Right backing in 2012; in fact he had strong poll numbers in 2011 and the New York Times suggested that if he had entered the race he would have become the “presumed candidate of evangelicals.” But he seems to have missed his chance when he decided, after sending lots of contradictory signals, to sit that one out.

Religious Right Leaders Rally Around Ted Cruz At Secret Endorsement Meeting

Religious Right leaders are intent on being the ones to pick the Republican presidential nominee this time around and they’re throwing their collective weight behind Ted Cruz.

The movement’s leaders have been seething for eight years now that they were forced to rally behind Republican presidential candidates they weren’t excited about — John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.  After years of angling to prevent that from happening in 2016, “several dozen” Religious Right leaders met in secret in early December and voted to rally around Ted Cruz.

National Review’s Tim Alberta describes the event, which Cruz backers entered with the upper hand. It took five ballots for Cruz's supporters to browbeat backers of Marco Rubio into submission and give Cruz the three-quarters supermajority needed. Those who attended the meeting had vowed to either publicly support the eventual winner of the day’s balloting or to remain silent in the Republican primary. Reports Allen,

The impact was felt immediately on the 2016 campaign. Three prominent participants — direct-mail pioneer and longtime activist Richard Viguerie, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, and The Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats – announced their support of Cruz within 72 hours of the meeting at the Sheraton. 

Cruz, of course, had plenty of conservative evangelical support before this meeting. We noted back in the summer that he was consolidating support from the Christian Nation crowd, including discredited “historian” David Barton  —  who heads a Cruz super PAC  —  and billionaire fracking brothers Farris and Dan Wilks  —  who have pumped $15 million into the pro-Cruz super PAC effort. Since then, Cruz has been holding and attending “religious liberty” events  —  including one hosted by a pastor who calls for the execution of gays, and one at Bob Jones University, famous for claiming religious backing for its racial segregationist policies.

Cruz openly promotes the efforts of Christian-nation zealot David Lane to “take back” the country by using pastor-candidates to mobilize high evangelical turnout. Cruz told American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon this summer, “Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead.”

Lane, who matches Cruz’s contempt for “establishment” Republicans, said back in 2013, “We’re going to try to eliminate the stuff that [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and the Romneys left.” Lane had cheered attacks on Romney’s faith and the “false god of Mormonism.”

Cruz has been courting Religious Right activists for years, even before the underdog, Tea Party-fueled victory in the GOP primary that propelled him into the U.S. Senate. Back before that election, he told the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” That message hasn’t changed: Just last week his campaign’s “prayer team” was told that “we’re in a spiritual battle today as never before.”

For the Religious Right, what’s not to like about Cruz? His anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-government bona fides are unquestionable. His father, Rafael Cruz, an unabashed Christian-nation extremist and anti-gay bigot who says that it is God’s plan for his son to be president, makes an effective ambassador for Cruz to the far right.

Is anyone not jumping on the Cruz bandwagon? A group of Latino Republicans held a press conference yesterday to denounce Cruz for his anti-immigrant positions  —  which they said were the same Romney “self-deportation” policies by another name  —  and for Cruz’s support of Donald Trump’s bigotry.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, a leader of the effort to get the Religious Right to rally around a single candidate, has tried this before, without much success. In 2012, Perkins and other conservative evangelicals had tried to create unity around a single alternative to Romney. Perkins declared after a January 2012 gathering that Rick Santorum had emerged with a “strong consensus.”

But the voting process and outcome were disputed by Newt Gingrich supporters, and the idea that evangelical leaders could deliver their followers to Santorum was undermined when Gingrich won the next event, South Carolina’s primary. Richard Viguerie, among others, urged Gingrich to drop out in order to boost Santorum’s chances. In the end, Santorum went on to win other southern primaries but couldn’t catch Romney.

In January 2012, after he won that supposed consensus endorsement for Santorum, Perkins dismissed suggestions that the meeting was too late to have an impact, even though it came after Romney had already won Iowa and New Hampshire and was building up a head of steam. Perkins clearly decided not to let that happen again.

Culture War Politics At David Lane's 'Nonpolitical' Prayer Rally

Last Saturday, while the Values Voter Summit drew Religious Right activists and pandering politicians together in Washington, D.C., a group of Christian dominionists was holding an all-day political prayer rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory had objected to the way Response organizers used his name to recruit participants, but it didn’t keep him away.

This was the fourth “Response” rally headlined by a state governor. The first, in 2011, served as the unofficial launch to Rick Perry’s disastrous 2012 presidential bid. Since then, Response rallies have been hosted by Bobby Jindal in Louisiana and Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to host the next “Response” on October 24. The North Carolina Response was the smallest to date; one speaker referred to “hundreds” of participants, while the Charlotte Observer reported that it attracted “more than 1,000” people.

The rallies are in effect a series of bait-and-switch events. They are disingenuously promoted as non-political gatherings to create Christian unity by bringing people together across denominational and racial lines to pray for the state and the country. And while that promise of ecumenical prayer and worship is undoubtedly what brought many people to the event in Charlotte, the “non-political” veneer was discarded almost immediately.

The organizers are a group of Christian-nation zealots who believe every sphere of influence in society – including business, government, education, media, and entertainment – is meant to be controlled by the right kind of Christians. And they’re intent on electing politicians – and a president – who share that vision. The events are sponsored by Christian-nation extremist David Lane, a favorite of GOP presidential hopefuls whose American Renewal Project organizes and funds The Response rallies as well as other efforts to get conservative evangelicals more involved in politics. The American Renewal Project operates under the umbrella of the American Family Association, home to the notorious font of bigotry, radio host Bryan Fischer.

Here’s how Lane opened his prayer at the unifying, non-political Response rally:

The problem is us, a Christian nation founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith that has left God. So Lord, we start here. We’re so sorry what we’ve allowed to happen to a once-Christian nation, Lord. We deserve judgment. We pray for mercy, the mercy of God. A nation founded on the Bible; fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And Lord, they removed prayer and Bible from the public schools in 1963 after 350 years as a principal component, as the fixed point in order to judge society. We did this, we allowed this to happen. We pray for mercy. Fifty-five million babies dead, homosexuals praying at the inauguration, red ink as far as the eye can see -- judgment is on us. We need mercy Lord. We deserve judgment.

Like other Response events, it was emceed by “apostle” Doug Stringer, who announced that the day would follow the five-theme Response formula: repentance, reconciliation, revival, reformation, and refreshing. As the Response moved through its five segments, Religious Right speakers took turns at the microphone, interspersed with praise music and prayers from locals. Some prayed for the church to be filled with God’s love, and some shouted out culture war rhetoric about abortion, homosexuality, and separation of church and state:

Lord, you’ve called us to be salt and light, and Lord, salt is flavoring, salt is an irritant, and salt is a preservative. Lord, it is sin for us to not study your word, and know it, and obey it. Oh, God, it is sin for us to not know our Constitution, our liberties, and it is sin for us to not know how to be good citizens, preserving our liberties and our freedoms. Change us, oh God, and help us be like Kim Davis, obeying the Constitution and defying federal criminals. In Jesus’ name.  

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