Bob Vander Plaats

Steve Deace's Only Comfort Is That Kim Davis' Conservative Critics Will Go To Hell

Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace invited influential state conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats on his program last week to discuss Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who had just been released from jail after refusing to allow her office to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Vander Plaats was very proud of himself that all of his warnings about gay marriage destroying religious liberty had come true, telling Deace, “Our team said to me today, they said, ‘Bob, you ought to feel like you’re prophetic in some of this stuff.’”

Deace, meanwhile, had nothing but contempt for Republican politicians and conservative activists who failed to defend Davis’ lawbreaking.

“Beware of those in a culture war who write, you know, really principled and highly intellectual thought pieces for conservative or Christian outlets, and then in a time of crisis and confrontation like this, they say, oh this is not the right hill to die on,” he fumed. “What they really mean, Bob, is there’s never a right time to stand for anything nor is there ever any hill to die on. And these are the people, they’re going to hold the jail cell open for us when the Marxists throw us inside too.”

He added that his only comfort was that those conservatives are on their way to Hell: “It reminds me of the famous quote from Dante, that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for these kind of cowardly quislings. And I’ll just flat-out say it on the radio, the mere thought of that comforts me. The mere thought of that statement being true comforts me, because it confirms that God is just and they have received their award in full.”

“And judgment is mine, declares the Lord,” Vander Plaats added. “And so therefore we’re glad we serve a just God.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/15/15

Bob Vander Plaats: Gay Marriage Leading To Legalization Of Pedophilia, Criminalization Of Bible

Bob Vander Plaats, the influential Iowa Religious Right activist who spearheaded the effort in 2010 to unseat three state supreme court justices who voted for marriage equality, warned last week that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down state gay marriage bans will help to pave the way for the legalization of pedophilia and the criminalization of certain Bible verses.

Saying that the Supreme Court “undefined the institution of marriage,” Vander Plaats told the “View From a Pew” radio program that as a result “now polygamy can come back” and pedophilia will gain legal protections.

Claiming that “the University of Colorado now is saying they want to reclassify that as a sexual orientation and decriminalize it,” Vander Plaats said, “All of the sudden, when you get outside of God’s design for human sexuality inside of the bonds of one man, one woman marriage, it will be an absolute trainwreck.”

When the program’s cohost, Frank Thomas, asked Vander Plaats about the right-wing myth that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wants to lower the age of consent to 12, Vander Plaats repeated that pedophiles are now “going to follow the same route that homosexulatiy did about it’s a sexual orientation.”

He also brought up the specter of transgender people assaulting young girls in restrooms: “Here’s the thing about the identity of restrooms, male-female restrooms, you get to use whichever one you want. That’s a trainwreck waiting to happen, because there’s going to be a 21-year-old guy who says ‘I feel like a girl,’ he goes into a girls’ restroom, there’s going to be a 12-year-old girl who says ‘I feel like a boy,’ and something bad’s going to happen.”

Later in the program, Vander Plaats told American Christians that it’s “time to gird your loins” for persecution.

“We see Christians overseas getting beheaded, but it’s now coming right here to roost in our own country,” he said.

In response to a question about a for-profit business in Iowa that is being sued for refusing to host a gay couple’s wedding, Vander Plaats claimed that churches will soon also be forced to perform same-sex weddings and implied that certain Bible verses will soon be criminalized as “hate speech.”

“For the people to believe that the churches are off ground, there’s no way they’ll get touched, that’s absolute nonsense,” he said, “and Romans 1, Matthew 19, Mark 9, all that is going to be hate speech.”

Mike Huckabee Pledges To Block Gay Marriage If Elected President

Yesterday, Mike Huckabee chatted with Iowa radio host Steve Deace and Religious Right organizer Bob Vander Plaats, who led Huckabee’s 2008 campaign in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, about the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on gay marriage.

He said that if elected president, he would simply ignore any Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality until Congress passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide…which he would then veto.

“Until the Congress of the United States puts on my desk a bill that basically defies the laws of Nature and Nature’s God and defies the longstanding tradition of marriage, the federal government will not recognize same-sex marriage because there is no law that requires it and that would be true for the military and it would be true for all federal institutions,” Huckabee said. “If the Congress decides that they want to pass enabling legislation, they could put it on my desk and I would veto it, and they can attempt to override it. That’s the process.”

Huckabee said that even his detractors should sympathize with his anti-gay-marriage stance: “If liberals were subjected to a conservative court that forced them to tithe their income to scripture or forced them to go to church or forced them to believe something that they don’t want to believe, they would say, ‘We can’t do that, that would go against our conscience.’ And I would say, ‘You are exactly right and we can’t have such a ruling. This is why I find this very unsettling is because liberals will rue the day when the sword they use to enact their agenda is the sword of the court rather than to do it by way of the people’s elected representatives.”

Of course, legalizing gay marriage won’t force opponents like Huckabee to marry someone of the same sex or officiate a same-sex couple’s wedding.

“There can be no surrender on the point of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage,” Huckabee said, claiming that the ruling “goes to the heart of who we are as Americans and whether or not religious liberty lives or dies.”

He vowed not to “surrender to a tyranny that frankly would defy everything we are as a country,” lamenting that even people who went to law school have decided to “acquiesce to this judicial supremacy.”

Bob Vander Plaats: How Will Lindsey Graham Fight Radical Islam If He Won't Fight LGBT Rights?

Last week, after Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself on the cover of Vanity Fair, prominent Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace told Republican candidates that if they wouldn’t speak out against Jenner’s transition, “you might as well just forfeit the 2016 election now.” When CNN’s Dana Bash asked Sen. Lindsey Graham about Deace’s comments in an interview over the weekend, he responded that while he’s “a pro-life, traditional marriage kind of guy,” Jenner is “welcome in my party.”

He then addressed Deace directly: “Here's what I would say to the talk show host: In the eyes of radical Islam, they hate you as much as they hate Caitlyn Jenner. They hate us all because we won’t agree to their view of religion. So, America, we’re all in this together.”

All of this, unsurprisingly, did not go over very well with Deace, who addressed Graham’s comments yesterday during his weekly discussion of presidential candidates with Iowa social conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, saying, “If you’re not going to defend the idea of male and female, you’re not going to defend any of those other things that you just claimed to be for, Sen. Graham.”

Vander Plaats, an influential force in Iowa Republican politics, agreed, saying that if Graham wouldn’t speak out against people like Caitlyn Jenner, he could never fight radical Islam.

“The thing of it is, you can go out and you can have empathy and compassion for Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner,” he said. “However, you have to be able to stand up and say, but God still created us male and female. That’s the basic point here.”

“That’s our issue with Lindsey Graham,” he added, “is that you can say you’re pro-life, you can say you’re for God’s design for the family in marriage, you can say that he created them male and female, but when you never take a stand on those issues, it’s awfully hard for us to trust, then, that you’re going to take a stand against radical Islam or any other domestic matter or foreign matter that may come up during a presidency. That’s why I think in Iowa not many people take Lindsay Graham seriously.”

GOP Committeewoman: Muslim, Wiccan Statehouse Prayers Show Need For Christianity In Public Schools

Last year, the Religious Right largely celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the court ruled that municipalities can open meetings with sectarian prayers as long as minority faiths aren’t excluded and attendance isn’t mandatory.

But the protections for minority religions don’t seem to have completely sunk in for everybody in the movement, as was made clear last week at a Republican presidential forum hosted by the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader. As we noted earlier, the message at the forum centered on claims that conservative Christians are losing religious liberty in America, but that didn’t stop The Family Leader President Bob Vander Plaats from warning that a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa statehouse that morning might cause God to withdraw His blessing from America.

Tamara Scott, an Iowa member of the Republican National Committee who is also a lobbyist for The Family Leader, struck a similar note in her remarks to the forum, saying that the Wiccan prayer and the invocation delivered by a Muslim imam the previous day showed the need to teach Christian-nation history in public schools.

Scott joked that she had prayed for a storm to greet the Wiccan woman that morning, before telling the audience that the non-Christian prayers at the statehouse showed that “when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him.”

“What you don’t know is that yesterday, the imam prayed,” she said. “That one didn’t make the press. You see, when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him. When we fail to teach it in the public school, the history of this nation, the God mentioned in our Declaration, the Supreme Being mentioned in the preamble of this constitution of the state. And we not only don’t teach it, but we surpress it and refuse to allow it to be taught.”

“We shouldn’t be surprised when others do differently and expect differently and think that religion is just about equality, because it’s not,” she continued. “There’s only one true God. And the Bible’s quite clear about what happens when we refuse to tell the truth and we allow others to tell a wrong truth. That’s where we’re at. We’ve been neglectful, we’ve been very neglectful. So no one even spoke about the imam being there yesterday or the Muslims that were all around the center of the capitol, talking and evangelizing about their way of life.

“Do they have that freedom? Absolutely. But the shame is that so little people know the truth about the heritage, the Christian heritage — I’m sorry, Mr. President, but we are, we were a Christian nation and we were founded on Christian values.”

Bob Vander Plaats Warns Of Divine Retribution For Wiccan Prayer In Iowa State Capitol

The decision of an Iowa state representative to invite a Wiccan priestess to give an opening invocation at the state capitol last week put the Religious Right group The Family Leader in a bit of a bind, since although the group was unhappy with the decision, it was that very day set to host four potential GOP presidential candidates at a forum centering on supposed threats to religious liberty in America.

In the end, the group responded by holding a voluntary alternative prayer service in the capitol for legislators who wanted to skip what ended up being a fairly mundane invocation from the priestess. Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats warned that it was a “stunning development” with a potential “spiritual ramification” and quoted a verse from Ephesians about spiritual warfare against the “forces of evil,” but didn’t go so far as to say that the Wiccan priestess didn’t have the right to pray at the capitol.

But in a speech that evening to a forum that included likely GOP presidential contenders Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, Vander Plaats — after declaring the supposed threats to the religious liberty of conservative Christians would be "the key issue of the 2016 campaign"  made it clear that while it was “totally within the religious right” to invite a Wiccan to deliver a prayer at the capitol, it might in fact give God reason to withdraw his blessing from America.

Vander Plaats led into the story by recalling that after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there was “red, white and blue everywhere,” churches “were filled to overflowing,” and lawmakers of both parties were joining together to sing “God bless America.”

“Almost 14 years later, where are we at?” he demanded. “Just this morning, in the Iowa capitol, which is totally within the religious right, but you had a state representative invite someone to deliver a Wiccan prayer. Now, you may say that’s religious liberty, but I’d say you’d better be careful if you want to start mocking the God that you’re asking to bless this country. That’s a huge concern.”

Five Things To Know About Iowa GOP Kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats

Four Republican presidential candidates are set to appear at a forum in Iowa tonight hosted by one of the state’s best known political organizers: Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats’ group, The Family Leader, along with the National Organization for Marriage, is hosting Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal for a “family leadership regional summit.” 

It’s no surprise that the candidates are courting Vander Plaats: He is widely seen as the organizing powerhouse behind Huckabee and Santorum’s successful 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucus campaigns. It’s even less surprising that Republican candidates are seeking to ingratiate themselves to one of the country’s most radical Religious Right activists.

Vander Plaats, although he has been unsuccessful in his own three attempts to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, has put together a political coalition in Iowa that, along with carrying Huckabee and Santorum to caucus victories, helped to oust three state supreme court judges who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in the 2010 election. While a similar attempt two years later was unsuccessful, Vander Plaats has nonetheless become a major force in the state’s conservative movement.

5) Slavery Rhetoric

Warning Republicans not to “abandon their base” by softening their opposition to gay rights, Vander Plaats insists that fighting same-sex marriage is not a losing issue for the GOP. He believes that Republicans should stand up and be proud of their refusal to support marriage equality, just as the party fought to curb slavery during its founding era.

“We actually stand for what God has designed because, just like with slavery, the truth is on our side,” Vander Plaats said last year in an interview with right-wing talk show host Steve Deace. “We can win this battle.”

He told another outlet that Republicans shouldn’t even take the position that the states should decide their own marriage laws since same-sex marriage, like slavery, is unequivocally immoral: “You don’t leave slavery up to the states, nor should you. It’s either right or it’s wrong.” In a speech in 2012, Vander Plaats said that a court ruling in favor of marriage equality should be viewed as judicial overreach on the level of Dred Scott.

During the last presidential primary season, Vander Plaats tried to get Republican candidates to sign a pledge that, among other questionable provisions, suggested that African-American families were more stable under slavery than they are today.

4) Conspiracy Theories

In Vander Plaats’ world, the right to speak freely about “faithful heterosexual monogamy” is under attack, “Sharia Islam” is a menace in American politics and President Obama’s birth certificate is missing. (Vander Plaats has praised Donald Trump’s quixotic birther crusade as “bold.”)

Perhaps no issue has Vander Plaats more concerned than gay marriage, which he has called a grave threat to liberty and a Satanic plot. One video his group produced showed images of terrorist attacks and shootings alongside stories about same-sex couples’ weddings and gay members of the Boy Scouts to make a point about the “darkness” sweeping America

3) Gay Marriage Predictions

In his campaigns against marriage equality, Vander Plaats has done whatever it takes to scare voters about the dire consequences of gay rights. He warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to “tyranny” and sanction “a parent marrying their child.”

He defended his group’s comparison of homosexuality to second-hand smoke by explaining that both represent “a public health risk,” adding: “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle.”

Vander Plaats also took the time to criticize an Iowa anti-bullying conference that focused on the targeting of LGBT youth, saying that the state should instead be promoting abstinence-only summits.

2) Crush on Putin

Vander Plaats may still be weighing which Republican candidate to endorse this year, but he has already thrown his support behind one foreign leader: Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin signed a law that effectively bans speech in support of gay rights, Vander Plaats praised the Russian president for saying “you know what, don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country.”

He said that Putin now encapsulates the traditionally American values of “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs.”

“He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader,” Vander Plaats said back in 2013.

1) No Separation of Church and State

While Vander Plaats’ prediction about gay marriage ushering in adult-child marriage has come true in exactly zero of the dozens of states with marriage equality, he was prophetic in one respect: Vander Plaats advocated for governors to ignore court rulings on the marriage question well before it became a widespread sentiment among conservatives.

Vander Plaats insists that a governor can simply set aside any ruling that violates his or her reading of the Bible, insisting that if a judge legalizes marriage equality in a state, the state’s governor should simply issue an executive order “that places a stay on the judge’s decision” since it “goes against the law of nature and the law of nature’s God, which means, it’s against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats believes that the U.S. government must fall under God’s jurisdiction and follow “God’s principles and precepts,” not just on social issues like marriage but also in economic and foreign policies.

“If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what He says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on,” he said last year.

Vander Plaats specifically pointed to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it a travesty that created a “constitutional crisis” by “defying the law of nature and the law of nature’s God” and “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

Bob Vander Plaats: GOP Will 'Never Win Again' If It Ditches Anti-Gay Stance

Year after year, right-wing activists insist that the government will make it a crime to practice Christianity any day now. Yesterday, Iowa talk show host Steve Deace declared that he has finally found proof of this occurrence: the Colorado Civil Rights Division’s decision to clear a baker who refused a request to inscribe two cakes with anti-gay Bible verses.

The civil rights division found that the baker didn’t discriminate against the customer’s religious beliefs since she did not want to bake a cake which used “derogatory language and imagery.” She also “proposed that her bakery make the cake with a blank Bible page and provide [the customer] with the frosting and piping materials needed to write his anti-gay cake message on the dessert himself.”

Deace spoke about this incident with Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, who said that it shows that the U.S. is turning into China and will soon deem certain Bible verses to be “hate speech.”

Vander Plaats also agreed with Deace that Republican leaders are jeopardizing their own electoral prospects by refusing to stand up against gay rights: “They’ll never win again without this base.”

Iowa Religious Right Kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats Comes Out In Favor Of Some Medical Marijuana

We didn’t see this one coming. Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa Religious Right powerhouse The Family Leader, came out in favor of legalizing some medical marijuana products yesterday, testifying in favor of a bill that would legalize production and sale of medical cannabis oil in the state.

Vander Plaats, emphasizing that he was speaking in his personal capacities and not on behalf of The Family Leader, told the Des Moines Register that he and his wife were "applauding and cheering silently from the sidelines" when the state decriminalized possession of medical cannabis oil and wanted the state to “finish the job” by legalizing its production and sale. The two said they were inspired to support the law by raising a developmentally disabled son.

Even limited support for medical marijuana comes as a surprise from Vander Plaats who, as the leading Religious Right figure in Iowa, works to press Republican presidential candidates to the right on "family" issues like LGBT equality, abortion rights and legal pornography. Last year, the group even produced a video showing people smoking pot as part of a montage of events including gay rights and terrorism that they alleged are leading to the End Times.

Watch the KTIV report on Vander Plaats’ testimony:

KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Iowa Radio Host: Jeb Bush Gave Conservatives 'A Middle Finger' By Hiring Gay Spokesman

Every week, Iowa-based radio host Steve Deace gets together with Bob Vander Plaats, head of the influential Iowa social conservative group The Family Leader and leader of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign in the state, to discuss potential GOP presidential candidates. This week, they spent a good part of their segment discussing Jeb Bush’s decision to hire openly gay GOP operative Tim Miller as his spokesman. Unsurprisingly, neither was impressed.

Deace read Vander Plaats a series of “red flags” from Miller’s social media accounts, including a tweet critical of the Iowa Family Policy Center , a group affiliated with Vander Plaats, and notices on Facebook that he had attended events such events as “Sugar Tit: A Dirty Polaroid-Style New Year’s Eve” and “By Gays: All City Happy Hour.”

As Deace read the litany of posts, cohost Robert Rees said, “I feel very uncomfortable” and Vander Plaats agreed, accusing Miller of “lampooning the base of the very party he claims to serve.”

“It’s one thing to say, you know what, I really don’t want the base of the party,” Vander Plaats said of Bush. “It’s another thing to actively employ people who are going after the base of the party, intentionally going after the base of the party. This would be a sure way to tell your establishment friends, this is how you lose a general election against Hillary, is you make the base go home.”

Deace agreed that Bush’s hiring of Miller was “a middle finger” to social conservative activists. “That’s not even substantive disagreement, that’s just someone giving you the finger,” he said.

Bob Vander Plaats Says His Warnings Of Parent-Child Marriage, Self-Marriage Are 'Starting To Come True'

In an interview with the Iowa Republican yesterday, Bob Vander Plaats of the Religious Right group The Family Leader said that all of his dire warnings about the consequences of marriage equality are “starting to come true.”

“A lot of the things that we said early on that people said were red herrings, that we’re just trying to scare people, they’re starting to come true,” he said. “A woman wants to marry herself, a dad wants to marry a daughter, three people out on the East Coast want to get married, polygamy laws are getting labeled as unconstitutional. So it’s not about redefining marriage, it’s about un-defining marriage.”

Vander Plaats was at the state capitol hosting his group’s annual rally against marriage equality and distributing copies of David Barton’s “Founders’ Bible” to every state legislator.

h/t Good As You 

Religious Right Cheers On Vladimir Putin As Anti-LGBT Violence In Russia Surges

While most of the news on Russia this week has been focused on the country’s ongoing financial collapse, it is important to highlight a report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday documenting the rise of anti-LGBT violence in Russia along with the ways the government, which recently passed new laws curbing LGBT rights, has ensured virtual impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks. Following the report’s release, Russia added a LGBT legal aid group to a list of NGOs that must register as “foreign agents.”

The uptick in violence against LGBT Russians certainly won't discourage Religious Right activists from supporting Putin, many of whom also seem more than willing to ignore his deadly incursion into Ukraine , support for laws curbing the freedoms of Russian evangelical Christians and other human rights abuses.

Nothing, it seems, can dissuade many of Putin’s American supporters, several of whom recently attended an anti-LGBT conference at the Kremlin, from believing that the U.S. should adopt anti-gay laws modeled on Russia’s, such as a ban on gay “propaganda” and adoption by same-sex parents.

In fact, many Religious Right activists in the U.S. believe that Putin is on a mission from God to save Russia, and the world, from the LGBT community.

Crush on Putin

It is no secret that many conservatives have fallen under Putin’s spell.

Matt Drudge has called Putin the “leader of the free world.” Sarah Palin has fawned over the Russian leader’s wrestling abilities. Franklin Graham has hailed Putin for “protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda” and having “taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.” Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families, the group that helped organize the Kremlin meeting, praised Putin last year for “preventing [gay people] from corrupting children.”

Religious Right leader and Iowa GOP kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats has upheld Putin as a world leader in morality. Josh Craddock, who represents Personhood USA at the United Nations, came back from the Kremlin conference cheering on Russia as a “light to the world.” Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver expressed offense last year that Obama would dare criticize Putin.One Fox News host wished that Putin could be president of the United States, even for just 48 hours.

Any violence against Russian gays, one Religious Right group explained, is probably “provoked by homosexual activists.” Massachusetts-based pastor Scott Lively, who has taken credit for inspiring Russia’s “propaganda” law, dismissed anti-LGBT violence in Russia as a “hoax” and told right-wing radio show host Linda Harvey that if violent anti-gay incidents occur, other gay people were likely the perpetrators.

God Will Favor Russia Instead Of America, Thanks Obama

Anti-gay activists think that God has decided to bless Russia, thanks to Putin’s leadership, while punishing the U.S. for passing rebellious gay rights laws. Pat Buchanan clearly articulated this mindset in a column in April titled “Is God Now On Russia’s Side?,” in which he likened the U.S. and Western Europe to Sodom and Gomorrah and cheerfully proclaimed that “Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.”

In a February column, Don Feder of the World Congress of Families gushed that Putin had become the new Ronald Reagan: “As my friend and Russian pro-family leader Alexey Komov likes to say: 'Under Reagan, America helped to save us from communism. We'd like to return the favor.'”

Lively made the case last year that Putin is “the only world leader capable of standing up to the West” and could “inspire all the morally conservative countries of the world to adopt a similar law that he just adopted.” In the same interview, Lively called Obama the Antichrist.

“The country that’s acting like it’s part of the kingdom of the Antichrist is the United States of America, and Russia is standing against homosexual marriage, they’re standing for traditional family values,” Religious Right radio host Rick Wiles said in September. “The United States is exporting its wickedness, we’re using our power and might to force nations to change their laws to accept abortion, to accept homosexual marriage and homosexual rights, so which country is part of the Antichrist system and which is not?”

Wiles even predicted that the U.S. would soon go to war against Russia “with an atheistic, Jesus-hating, pro-homosexual, pro-lesbian, pro-transgender military and we're going to go up against another military carrying a Christian cross.”

Bring Anti-Gay Laws To The U.S.

Anti-gay activist Matt Barber said earlier this year that it was “encouraging” to see more anti-gay measures coming out of Russia, adding that he would like to see laws that “stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States.”

Peter LaBarbera called Russia’s “propaganda” law an “acceptable” and necessary way to stop companies like Disney from “promoting lesbianism to kids,” while American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios said the speech-inhibiting law was just “common sense.”

One of Putin’s most vocal cheerleaders, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, has called him a “lion of Christianity” and repeatedly demanded that the U.S. enact similar bans on gay “propaganda.”

Since the U.S. hasn’t embrace such an anti-gay crackdown, Religious Right activist William Murray writes, Americans are now “fleeing” to Russia in order to avoid LGBT equality at home.

Steve Deace: Gay Rights Advocates Seek 'Validation' Through Marriage And 'Pro-Sodomy Propaganda'

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace was, to say the least, livid at the news this week that the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of a number of lower-court marriage equality rulings, thus allowing same-sex couples in several new states to begin marrying.

Deace spent a good part of his interview Monday with Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats railing against the LGBT rights movement, which he declared is “not about ‘I want to visit people I love in a hospital’ or ‘I want to pass on to people I care about an inheritance’” but is instead about a search for “validation and ‘I want someone to validate my desires that my conscience tells me are wrong, that my conscience tells me go against the way I was made.’”

“‘To validate these desires and impulses that I don’t think I can control, and I want you to tell me that I’m okay just the way I am,’” he continued, in the voice of an imaginary gay-rights activist. “‘And if the God who made me, who I ultimately desire validation from…if that God will not validate me, then I will go to the next most powerful force on earth and try to get them to do it, and that is government.’”

He added that “the onslaught of pro-sodomy propaganda in our culture” is yet another step in this search for validation: “You will be made to care when your kids watch the Disney Channel. You will be made to care when you watch ESPN. There is nowhere for you to go. Consider the onslaught of pro-sodomy propaganda our culture has been deluged with and the numbers in that Pew research poll. There’s a backlash.” (He was referring to a recent Pew poll showing a downtick in support for marriage equality.)

Vander Plaats agreed with Deace’s assessment: “This isn’t about Mary and Susy having a garden next door anymore. This is about saturating every piece of life with this very issue for what you talk about, and I think you’re right, Steve: validation.”

Republican Presidential Hopefuls Preview 2016 Campaign

On Saturday, Republican presidential hopefuls and other conservative figures converged on Ames, Iowa for the Family Leadership Summit. The event was organized by Bob Vander Plaats, the Religious Right activist who led campaigns to purge the state Supreme Court of justices who supported marriage equality.

The all-star line-up included Sen.  Ted Cruz, Gov. Bobby Jindal. Gov. Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. Joining them were State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat from Iowa; Rep. Tim Scott; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds; Ken Cuccinelli of the Senate Conservatives Fund; and regulars on the Religious Right speaking circuit, including David and Jason Benham, Josh Duggar of Family Research Council Action, Alveda King, and Rev. Rafael Cruz, Ted’s incendiary father.

Radio Iowa posted audio of the speeches by potential presidential candidates Huckabee, Santorum, Cruz, Jindal, and Perry. Taken together, they provide a preview of the 2016 primary campaign that will begin in earnest as soon as the 2014 elections are over. If the speeches in Ames are any indication, GOP voters will be hearing that America is on the verge of self-destruction, but can be returned to greatness with God’s help and the Republican Party in power.  It is clear that between now and then all these conservative leaders will all be trying to give Republicans a majority in the U.S. Senate, in part by getting Joni Ernst elected.

As you would expect, the speeches were generally long on Obama-bashing and empty rhetoric. Bobby Jindal’s answer for the problems at the U.S.-Mexico border, for example, was to tell President Obama to “man up.”

“I’ve got a very simple message for the president of the United States. We don’t need a comprehensive bill. We don’t need another thousand page bill. He simply needs to man up. He needs to secure the border and he needs to get it done today,” Jindal said. “There are no more excuses. No more delays.”

Jindal complained that President Obama is engaged in a relentless effort to “redefine the American Dream.” Obama’s version, he said, is based on class warfare, and expansive and intrusive government – he was not the only speaker to accuse Obama of trying to make America more like Europe. Jindal said in contrast he’s pursuing the real American Dream in Louisiana by cutting taxes, cutting government jobs and spending, and privatizing (“reforming”) education.

Jindal also complained about an “unprecedented assault on religious liberty” in the United States, recycling the Religious Right canard that the Obama administration wanted to protect only “freedom of worship.” He bragged about having coming to the defense of Duck Dynasty when Phil Robertson was criticized for making offensive remarks.

Jindal said he couldn’t figure out whether the Obama administration is “the most liberal, ideologically extreme administration” in our lifetime or “the most incompetent,” before asking, “What difference does it make?”  But he is confident that our best days are still ahead of us because “there’s a rebellion brewing.”

Rick Santorum said Republicans should focus on their vision rather than on bashing Obama, but he couldn’t resist. He called the president the “divider-in-chief” and denounced the “Obama-Clinton-Kerry regime,” which he says has turned its back on Israel.

Santorum’s speech suggests that he’ll be campaigning on themes in his most recent book, “Blue Collar Conservative.”  He said the Republican Party focuses on too narrow a group of people – business owners and entrepreneurs – when most people don’t own businesses, but work for someone else. They are hurting, he says, but nobody is speaking to them.  In addition to cutting taxes and government, he called for more investments in vocational education and greater restrictions on legal as well as illegal immigration, which he said are causing distress in labor markets.  Santorum’s biggest heresy against Republican dogma may have been saying it was time to stop invoking Ronald Reagan, who was elected almost 35 years ago. It would have been like candidate Reagan invoking Wendell Willkie, he said.

Ted Cruz started his upbeat speech with Washington- and Obama-bashing jokes. He’d spent much of the past month in Washington, he said, and it’s “great to be back in America.”  He described “the Obama diet” as “every day, you let Putin eat your lunch.” Cruz said he was optimistic that Republicans would re-take the Senate this year and the White House in 2016, and described five conservative victories and two victories-in-waiting.

1.       Killing gun control legislation in Congress

2.       The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision

3.       Blocking entry to the US for Iran’s chosen ambassador

4.       Grassroots activism leading to freedom for Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim

5.       Overturning the FAA’s temporary ban on flights to Israel

He described two “fixin’ to be completed” projects that Republicans would be able to finish when they take control of the Senate and then the White House

1.       Ending Obama administration “lawlessness” on immigration

2.       Repealing “every single word of Obamacare.”

Rick Perry declared that it is “easy to govern” and bragged about the success that red state governors are having by limiting regulation, restricting lawsuits, holding public schools accountable, and getting out of the way so the private sector can help provide people with jobs so they can take care of their families. (As Sam Brownback’s experience in Kansas makes clear, passing right-wing policies is no magic bullet.)

Perry denounced the president for not securing the border and declared that Texas would. Similarly, he told the audience that they have all been “called to duty” in the face of activist judges and assaults on the unborn. “Somebody’s values are gonna be legislated,” he said. “The question is whose values are going to be legislated.”  The future is bright, he said, because God is still alive and still impacting this country.

Mike Huckabee’s closing speech was in part a reprise of the one he gave at the Faith and Freedom coalition conference in June, in which he denounced “judicial supremacy” and compared the Chinese government’s systematic erasure of the Tiananmen Square massacre with the fact that American textbooks do not teach children that America’s founding was dependent on the hand of God.

Huckabee demonstrated his penchant for simplistic, inflammatory rhetoric. The IRS is a “criminal enterprise” and should be abolished. The 16th Amendment should be repealed. The Obama administration isn’t supporting Israel because it hasn’t “seen enough dead Jews to make them happy.”

Politics won’t fix the country, Huckabee said, unless there is a “spiritual transformation,” because “what has to happen first in America is that we get our hearts right, and then we’ll get our politics right. It rarely works the other way around.”


The Family Leadership Summit: Right-Wing Activists Converge On Iowa

This weekend, a who’s who of far-right activists and politicians will convene in Iowa for the 3rd annual Family Leadership Summit, hosted by anti-gay and anti-choice organization The Family Leader and sponsored by Religious Right groups including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council’s political wing, Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink.

In an effort to establish themselves with social conservative voters, potential Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are joining a roster of speakers who push far-right views on LGBT rights, women’s equality and religious pluralism.

Below is an introduction to the sponsor and some of the featured speakers at The Family Leader Summit.

The Family Leader

The Family Leader is conservative political advocacy group based in Iowa that serves as the parent organization of The Family Leader Foundation, Marriage Matters, Iowa Family PAC, and Iowans for Freedom. The group is currently run by three-time failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, who made a name for himself when he led the successful 2010 campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined a unanimous marriage equality decision.

Under Vander Plaats’ leadership, The Family Leader has become influential in national GOP politics, helping presidential hopefuls to court Religious Right activists in the first-in-the-nation caucus.

The Family Leader has:

  • Defended the Boy Scouts’ ban on openly gay members and leaders as a “policy designed to protect Scouts from sexual abuse.”

Vander Plaats has:

  • Compared same-sex unions to polygamy and asserted that recent marriage equality laws will pave the way towards marriages between parents and children for the purposes of tax evasion.
  • Implied that same-sex marriage produces a threat to the United States equivalent to terrorism.Said that God won’t “bless the country” if the U.S. continues with marriage equality and legal abortion.

Tony Perkins

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins — whose organization is a major sponsor of the Family Leadership Summit — is one of the far Right’s top spokesmen in the national media.

Perkins has:

  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a Holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill condemning homosexuals to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Agreed with a caller on his program that Obama might attempt a “hostile government takeover” that would cancel the 2016 presidential election.

The Benham Brothers

Jason and David Benham are twin brothers, Religious Right activists and entrepreneurs who operate Benham Companies, a conglomerate providing real estate, property management and marketing services, as well as the Benham Foundation, which channels company profits towards conservative social causes.

The brothers were catapulted to national attention after an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause celebre for the Religious Right movement, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
  • Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking America.”Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual war” between God and Satan.Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”

Rafael Cruz

Rafael Cruz is an evangelical Christian pastor who currently serves as the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry, an organization that espouses Christian dominionism and advocates for a theological grounding in government and public service. Cruz rose within the ranks of conservative far-right activism largely thanks to his son, Ted Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas and darling of the Tea Party movement, and has made a name for himself as a frequent public speaker and political commentator. The elder Cruz is a frequent campaign surrogate for his son.

Rafael Cruz has used his sudden prominence to:

  • Lament that the admission of openly gay members to the Boy Scouts would expose children “to sexual predators.”
  • Promote the theocratic Seven Mountains Dominionism theory, asserting the need for Christian leadership to have “an influence upon every area of society, upon arts and entertainment, upon media, upon sports, upon education, upon business, upon government.”

Alveda King

Alveda King is a conservative activist and Christian minister who serves as a Pastoral Associate and the Director of African American Outreach for Pastors for Life, an organization that opposes reproductive rights. The niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., King also campaigns against LGBT equality. King has:

  • Compared the murder of Trayvon Martin to legal abortion.
  • Condemned the wife of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, for her pro-choice and pro-equality stances, saying the stances would bring “curses on your house and your people…cursing, vexation, rebuke in all that you put your hand to, sickness will come to you and your house, your bloodline will be cut off.”
  • Denied that her uncle supported legalized abortion, despite his acceptance of an award by Planned Parenthood and public support for family planning.
  • In response to a plaque commemorating African American slaves, said, “If Congress really wants to honor African Americans, they can start by ending federally funded programs that allow abortion.”

Joel Rosenberg

Joel Rosenberg is a conservative activist, author and former political strategist who is widely known for writing End Times-themed books.  Rosenberg is also the founder and president of the Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization that proselytizes to Israeli Jews and attempts to convert them to Christianity. A familiar presence on the right-wing talk show circuit, Rosenberg has repeatedly linked disasters and public tragedies to secular government. Rosenberg regularly employs apocalyptic prophecies to help enact an aggressively conservative social agenda. He has: 

  • Depicted the Newtown, Conn. shootings as divine punishment for Americans waging a “cultural war against Jesus and Christmas” and trying to “drive [God] out of our society.”
  • Written that Hurricane Sandy was a response to  the legalization of abortion and part of God’s plan to “get our attention and call us to repent of our sins and turn back to faith in Jesus Christ and back to reading and obeying the Bible”. 
  • Implied that legal abortion is a greater sin than exterminations during the Holocaust, predicting that since the Roe v. Wade decision “we have killed ten times more Americans than the Nazis killed of the Jews.”
  • Following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, pointed to home foreclosure as one feature of the Rapture, creating a “ripple effect” that will lead to the “implosion of America.” 

Bob Vander Plaats Links Terrorism, Gay Rights, Pot Legalization

Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader, held a revival event yesterday that also happened to be a good marketing opportunity for his new book about the “urgent call for revival” in America.

Vander Plaats introduced the event — which also featured a Q & A with Chuck Norris and a performance by the Christian rock band the Newsboys — by showing a video of the “darkness” in America that he identified as calling for a spiritual revival. Featured in the video are images of terrorists attacks and mass shootings….along with images of same-sex weddings, the Boy Scouts’ admittance of gay members, Justice Anthony Kennedy, gambling and rallies on behalf of legalizing marijuana.

Vander Plaats mentioned at the end of the video that many of the national leaders he frequently speaks with share these concerns. He’ll have a chance to discuss them in more depth next month, when GOP leaders including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Tim Scott come to Iowa for Vander Plaat’s annual Family Leadership Summit.

Fresh From Celebrating Hobby Lobby, Bob Vander Plaats Calls Judicial Review 'Nonsense'

It is truly amazing how conservative activists continue to harp on “judicial activism,” while supporting sweeping judicial decisions that happen to go their way.

For instance, just a couple of weeks ago, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader was celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case but today he talked with James Dobson about how when it comes to gay rights cases “the Supreme Court is starting to believe that they are the Supreme Being” and calling the principle of judicial review “nonsense.”

Vander Plaats and Dobson both lamented the Supreme Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of judicial review, which Vander Plaats said meant “we’ve had 50 years of law school teaching the lawyers that no, the courts do make law, which is complete nonsense. And God help us if that ever becomes the rule in our day.”

Vander Plaats and Dobson echoed Mike Huckabee, who insisted last month that "this notion that when the Supreme Court says something it’s the last word is fundamentally unconstitutional and wrong."

Later the “Family Talk” interview, Vander Plaats told Dobson that Americans’ pursuit of “all sort of lustful living” has made us God’s “prodigal son.”

"I just hope we're not feeding with the pigs when we decide to turn back to Him," he added.


One Year After Passage Of Gay Propaganda Ban, American Right Continues To Look To Russia As A Guide

The Human Rights Campaign released a report today to mark the first anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of his infamous ban on “gay propaganda” and related anti-LGBT legislation. HRC reports “an uptick in violent attacks on LGBT people” since the bills’ passage that has accompanied a spike in “anti-LGBT sentiment” in the public square.

Yet despite the dangerous consequences of the increasing use of LGBT people as scapegoats — both in Russia and in neighboring Eastern European and Central Asian countries — and the place of anti-gay politics in Putin’s expansionist agenda, many on the American Religious Right continue to celebrate Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and even to hail it as a model for the United States.

The issue has been divisive on the Right. For instance, Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid — hardly a fan of gay people — got into a memorable shouting match earlier this year with World Congress of Families representatives, who he accused of cozying up to Putin.

It has also put some groups in tough positions. The World Congress of Families was forced to suspend its planned conference at the Kremlin, which was to be funded by a handful of people close to Putin, after Russia seized Crimea and groups including Concerned Women for America started backing out.

But we continue to hear right-wing activists heaping praise on Putin for his enthusiastic anti-gay politics and increasing embrace of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Just last week, Phyllis Schlafly praised Putin for “warming up to religious freedom” as “Americans are rejecting it”:

And earlier this week, WorldNetDaily announced that people around the world are “fleeing” to Russia to escape homosexuality in their own countries .

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer continues to push for the U.S. to adopt a “propaganda” ban like Russia’s:

Anti-gay activists including Pat Buchanan,Peter LaBarbera,Franklin Graham,Scott Lively,Keith Davies,Linda Harvey,Randall Terry,Gordon Klingenschmitt,Janice Shaw Crouse, Austin Ruse, Bob Vander Plaats , Rick Scarborough and, of course, the WorldCongress of Families have defended Russia’s anti-gay crackdown or called for similar laws in the U.S.

And, of course, some have directly lent their support to the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia: the World Congress of Families has an active network in Russia and Eastern Europe and just days before Putin signed the propaganda ban recruited the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to warn Russian lawmakers about the risks of gay rights.

The support for laws that have dangerously scapegoated LGBT people in Russia is especially ironic coming from a movement that claims that the gay rights movement in the United States is persecuting them .

Iowa GOP Senate Candidates Vow To Block Judges Who Won't Follow 'Biblical' Law

The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”

Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”

He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.

“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country," he concluded.

Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”

Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has  “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”

Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”

Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”

“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”

This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the "law of nature."

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