Bob Vander Plaats

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 9/21/16

  • Bryan Fischer really is obsessed with homosexuality: "The sad truth is that homosexuality throughout history is almost boring in its monotonous deviance from God’s design for human sexuality. There is nothing new or exciting or edgy to see here, despite the effort to convince us that embracing homosexuality is something all the cool kids do."
  • The Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America have launched a 20-state "Values Bus Tour" to mobilize conservative Christians to vote, while The Family Leader's Bob Vander Plaats is launching a 40-day election prayer effort.
  • Linda Harvey is outraged by a new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: "This fascist report defends those who cling to these unnatural, chosen practices as 'vulnerable' and in need of protection, and therefore, religious principle should not deny them the right to march into any forum, group, business, school, or church and make whatever demands they wish. Vulnerable? That would describe today’s faithful Christian Americans – not proud sodomites."
  • Shane Idleman says that trying to repeal marriage equality is not hateful because "times change but God's standards do not change. Although Christians love those in the LGBT community, no matter how many laws are passed in favor of sexual orientation, it will not change God's mind." 

Who Is Chuck Grassley Listening To?

Despite holding a “friendly” meeting with Merrick Garland this morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley remains adamant that he will not hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

On the ground in Grassley’s home state of Iowa, a clear rift is being exposed between those who are encouraging Grassley’s continued intransigence and the constituents who are calling for their senator to do his job.

Notably this week, Keith Uhl, a lawyer in Des Moines who helped manage Grassley’s first campaign for the Senate, asked his former boss to proceed with the normal course of events for a Supreme Court appointments and hold hearing and a vote on the president’s nominee.

One the other hand, the anti-gay head of the Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register thanking Grassley for not acting on Garland’s nomination and for “advising that the people need to speak before any further appointments are constitutionally confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States."

For the moment Grassley has made his choice, making his bed with a radical right-wing demagogue. Vander Plaats previously advocated that Congress defund courts whose judges rule in favor of marriage equality. He warned that God might not bless America because a Wiccan led a prayer at the Iowa state capitol. Vander Plaat also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for stating, “don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics.” Vander Plaats also has compared a gay pride event to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Grassley, who once lamented that Democrats were siding with their base over the wishes of the American people, has made the decision that the support of Bob Vander Plaats and other conservative movement figures is more important than fulfilling his constitutional duties.

The difference could not be illustrated more starkly: a former campaign manager asking his boss to do the job he helped elect him to do, versus a radical conservative who would like to see judges’ salaries subject to whether they issue decisions he agrees with.

Grassley has clearly made the wrong choice.

Ted Cruz's Religious Right Support Carries Him To Iowa Victory

So much for the much-expected death of the Religious Right.

Last night, Ted Cruz came out on top of the Iowa caucuses by building a base of conservative evangelical supporters.

According to CNN, about 64 percent of caucus-goers identified as “born-again or evangelical Christians,” up from 57 percent in 2012. Evangelical Republicans put Cruz over the top: He won 28 percent of the vote overall, but was at 34 percent among evangelicals. Cruz came in third among non-evangelical voters, behind Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.

Throughout the presidential race, Cruz has been painting himself as not just the candidate of conservative Republicans and Tea Party members, but the candidate of Christians — or, at least, the Christians who share his particular brand of theology and politics. Cruz’s father and top campaign surrogate, Rafael Cruz, has said that his son has a divine anointing and likened him to Jesus, claiming that his campaign is all about sharing “the love of Jesus Christ” with “every person in America.” Glenn Beck, for his part, hailed the Texas senator as God’s answer to his prayers. To be successful, Cruz said, “we have to awaken and energize the Body of Christ.”

“Sorry, Ted, but an awakened and energized Body of Christ serves the Kingdom of God, not your political agenda,” Christian author Rachel Held Evans wrote in response to the senator’s bold claim.

Cruz and his father may portray his candidacy as a divine mission, but for the Religious Right, doing God’s will requires not just sufficient piety but the political power to get things done.

Sensing a chance to drive the GOP even further to the right, and to put the power of the White House behind their political agenda, the movement’s leadership has almost entirely rallied behind Cruz. And with good reason — he has vowed to implement their agenda with promises to defy the Supreme Court on gay marriage, consider engaging in anti-gay civil disobedience, sign sweeping anti-abortion legislation, go after Planned Parenthoodappoint ultraconservative justices to the bench and block threats to religious liberty of Christians, which he says are rampant in America. For good measure, he announced his candidacy at Liberty University, the institution founded by evangelical firebrand and conservative powerbroker Jerry Falwell.

Cruz assiduously courted both Iowa-based and national Religious Right leaders. In Iowa, Rep. Steve King, far-right radio host Steve Deace and activist Bob Vander Plaats, who helped steer Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum to victory in the state in 2008 and 2012, respectively, all endorsed Cruz. He ended his Iowa campaign by stumping with the trio along with national figures including radio personality Glenn Beck, anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Trump, in an effort to keep up, trotted out his own evangelical endorsements, including former Gov. Sarah Palin and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., and launched a bizarre attack on Cruz’s faith, claiming that “not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba.”

But there has been little question that Cruz is the Religious Right’s candidate.

Cruz is betting that stature in the Religious Right will help him drive up evangelical turnout in the upcoming South Carolina primary and on Super Tuesday, colloquially known as the “SEC primary” because it is dominated by Southern states. He has insisted that winning evangelical support in the Republican primary will translate into success in the general election, claiming that Republican nominees have lost the last two contests because the party’s insufficiently conservative nominees failed to motivate the Religious Right base.

To inspire that base, the Texas senator is spouting toxic rhetoric about his ideological opponents and hyping purported threats to the religious liberty of American Christians, all while courting endorsements from the Religious Right’s most extreme wing.

At times, Cruz lifts his apocalyptic rhetoric about impending dangers to freedom straight from his most extreme supporters. Cruz borrowed Deace’s line about a gay-led “jihad” threatening religious liberty on the stump and has pushed bogus persecution stories concocted by Religious Right groups about Christians coming under assault.

Last Fall, Cruz appeared in Iowa alongside a pastor who has called for the government to use the death penalty to punish homosexuality. Days before the caucuses commenced, Cruz campaigned with Perkins, the head of an anti-LGBT hate group who helped coalesce Religious Right support behind his candidacy, and Robertson, the reality TV star who told Cruz supporters that they must “rid the earth” of gay marriage advocates because they are ushering in “evil” and “depravity.” Robertson said that voters should pick Cruz because he “loves James Madison,” before sharing a quote on the biblical origins of U.S. government that is falsely attributed to Madison.

When Cruz faced criticism from opponents like Huckabee who said that Cruz and his supporters weren’t serious about outlawing abortion, the senator’s campaign unveiled a “pro-life coalition” co-chaired by a radical activist who believes a just government would execute abortion providers .

What’s good for Cruz is bad for our increasingly diverse country. When Cruz portrays himself as the candidate of “the body of Christ” and claims God’s blessing — and embraces the most extreme wing of his party as he’s doing it — he signals not to just non-Christians but to Christians that don’t share his particular worldview that he’s not interested in working for them. But that is the very reason why Cruz is the candidate who the Religious Right has desperately been seeking: someone who will give them his undivided attention in a country where they are terrified of losing relevance.

Conservative Group Tells Iowans Gov't Will Become 'Corrupted' If It’s Not Led By Christians

Sen. Ted Cruz scored a big coup in Iowa last month when he won the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the Iowa Religious Right group The Family Leader and an influential Republican power-broker in the state. Vander Plaats has since been crossing the state to campaign for and with Cruz, even engaging in a Twitter spat with Cruz’s main rival, Donald Trump.

Cruz has been attempting to recruit conservative evangelicals to his side by running explicitly on his personal faith and his Christian-nation views, a strategy exactly designed to appeal to a person like Vander Plaats, who earlier this week urged members of his group to convince their fellow churchgoers to caucus in Iowa because the government’s “God-given purposes easily become corrupted without Christians engaged and guiding it.”

In an email to members of The Family Leader on Monday, Vander Plaats lamented that “hundreds of thousands of Iowa Christians stayed home” during the last presidential caucus. To reverse that trend, he asked members to encourage their pastors to distribute a Family Leader-produced bulletin insert on Sunday urging their flocks to participate in Monday’s caucus.

The bulletin insert offers instructions on how to caucus as well as a list of reasons “why it's important that Christians caucus,” including that it’s necessary to choose “godly candidates” with a “Christian worldview” in order to bring revival to America.

The TFL caucus guide also reminds churchgoers that elected officials are “ministers of God,” and as such, government’s “God-given purposes easily become corrupted without Christians engaged and guiding it.”

Santorum: Iowa Christian Right Leader 'Settling' With Cruz Endorsement

Influential Iowa social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats has, depending on who you ask, either the ability to propel his chosen Republican presidential candidate to a caucus victory or the ability to latch onto the winning campaign. So it was a big deal, if not surprising, when Vander Plaats endorsed Ted Cruz earlier this month, snubbing his 2008 and 2012 picks Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively.

In an interview with conservative Iowa radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Santorum said that Vander Plaats, who heads the group The Family Leader, was “settling” with his pick of Cruz, citing Cruz’s efforts to allow states to ban same-sex marriage rather than controlling marriage on the federal level.

“Look, I understand it,” Santorum said. “Ted’s a fine guy and has really been a scrapper in Washington. I think what Mike and I both feel is that when it comes to the issues that are near and dear to The Family Leader, the family issues, marriage in particular, I think we need a stronger voice, a more principled voice that understands there’s a higher law there that we have to abide by and just because a state wants to do something doesn’t mean a state should be able to.”

This prompted Conway and Santorum to launch into an extended debate about the role of government in marriage, which Conway argued the government should have nothing to do with at all.

Santorum disagreed, saying that the government has a responsibility to ensure the “continuity” of culture, citing low birth rates among native Europeans — the unspoken subtext of which is that low birth rates necessitate greater immigration. “If you look at Europe … they’re decrying the fact that Europe is barren,” he said, "they’re not having children, and the people who are having children are not Europeans, or native Europeans, so you’ve got some really big problems and it’s beginning to occur in this country.”

He added that laws governing marriage also serve to “encourage people to behave the right way” when “fidelity, monogamy are not a natural thing” but “are learned behaviors.”

Ted Cruz Nabs Another Anti-LGBT Endorsement

Ted Cruz won a major victory in his effort to consolidate support from the Religious Right today when he was endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats, who leads the Iowa-based conservative group, The Family Leader.

Vander Plaats, a two-time gubernatorial candidate who in the two previous election cycles backed Iowa caucus winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively, offers one of the most highly sought after endorsements in the state: Donald Trump reportedly joked that he would turn his plane around to join The Family Leader’s presidential forum if Vander Plaats would guarantee him his backing.

Vander Plaats is one of several right-wing figures to coalesce behind Cruz, who has attracted the support of ultraconservative activists like Troy Newman, who wishes the government would execute abortion providers; Ron Baity, a pastor who links gay rights to Ebola; Flip Benham, a convicted abortion doctor stalker who holds protests at gay couples’ weddings; Sandy Rios, a virulently anti-LGBT radio host and hate group official; Dick Black, a Virginia lawmaker with noxious views on marital rape and “baby pesticide”; and Cynthia Dunbar, who thinks gay rights advocacy is “the same type of thing that was done in pre-Holocaust Germany.”

While Vander Plaats and Trump would have made a strong team, as they are both birthers who admire Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Iowa activist said that Trump disqualified himself when he failed to show up at last month’s family forum. Instead, Vander Plaats hailed Cruz as “the most consistent and principled conservative who has the ability to not only win Iowa but I believe to win the nomination.”

The importance of Vander Plaats’ endorsement reveals how the GOP has moved ever so steadily to the right, as Vander Plaats is one of the party’s most extreme figures. Vander Plaats, as we’ve reported, may be sought after by GOP candidates but he should not at all be considered part of the political mainstream:

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.”

GOP Candidates Seek Endorsement Of Iowa Anti-Gay Leader Bob Vander Plaats

Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus.

Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at the forum, at which the candidates are arranged family-style around a Thanksgiving table. (At the 2011 forum, Michele Bachmann memorably took it upon herself to serve water to all of the male candidates.)

The endorsement of Vander Plaats, whose backing helped catapult Huckabee and Santorum to Iowa caucus victories in 2008 and 2012, is one of the most coveted in the state. While most observers think that Cruz will nab Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the activist is keeping his options open. Vander Plaats told a reporter that although Donald Trump was unable to make tonight’s forum, he told him, “If you can guarantee me your endorsement, I will turn the plane around and get there.”

As Vander Plaats’ previous endorsements of Huckabee and Santorum show, he has a powerful machine ready to push an ideologically pure social conservative. Back in 2010, Vander Plaats also led a successful effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the court’s landmark unanimous marriage equality decision.

But to get that endorsement, candidates must cater to an activist far the right of mainstream voters. Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that “goes against the law of nature” is by definition unconstitutional . He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefor its purpose is “to promote righteousness” and to apply “God’s principles and precepts.” He once warned that God might withdraw his blessing from America because of a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa state capitol.

Vander Plaats has suggested that marriage equality could lead to legal protections for pedophilia and “ a parent marrying their child” and compared the “public health risk” of homosexuality to second-hand smoke. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “decisive leadership” in preventing “homosexual propaganda” in his country.

Taking its anti-gay sentiment to a new level, The Family Leader was a sponsor of a conference earlier this month — at which Cruz, Huckabee and then-candidate Bobby Jindal spoke — whose organizer, Kevin Swanson, called for the death penalty for gay people and warned that God would judge America for liking the Harry Potter series too much. (The group later clarified that it does not support violence against gay people but declined to denounce Swanson.)

Speaking at an event last year, Vander Plaats played a video showing a gay pride event alongside the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings as illustrations of the “darkness” that has fallen over America:

Vander Plaats had also dabbled in birther conspiracy theories, implying in 2011 that the president’s birth certificate was missing and praising Trump for his “bold” crusade to uncover the truth about the president’s past.

GOP Candidates Really Don't Want To Talk About 'Kill The Gays' Conference

A couple of weeks ago, we reported extensively on a conference in Iowa organized by extremist pastor Kevin Swanson, at which three Republican presidential candidates joined Swanson on stage shortly before he went off on a series of rants about how the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death, Harry Potter is bringing God’s judgment on America, and how if your gay child gets married you should show up to the wedding covered in cow manure.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment on the conference, but other than that, as a number of commentators have noted, the media has been strangely silent on the Republican candidates’ participation in this event.

Today, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reports that she reached out to the campaigns of the three candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the presidential race), and found them rather reluctant to talk about it.

A spokesperson for Huckabee, who at the event deflected a question about Swanson’s extremism, told Basu after viewing video of some of Swanson’s remarks that Huckabee “appreciated the opportunity” to speak at the conference. The Cruz and Jindal campaigns didn’t bother to reply at all. (Before the conference, Cruz had been asked about his participation by CNN’s Jake Tapper, but brushed off the question.)

Calls and emails seeking a reaction to Swanson's remarks by spokespeople for Cruz and Jindal (who suspended his campaign Tuesday) went unanswered. Huckabee’s spokeswoman Alice Stewart asked for documentation and was sent a video link. She responded the next day saying, "Gov. Huckabee appreciated the opportunity to speak with an audience in Iowa about the importance of standing up for our religious liberties."

Basu also reached out to The Family Leader, an influential Iowa conservative group that sponsored Swanson’s conference and will be hosting candidates for a “presidential family forum” later this week. A Family Leader spokesman at least went as far to say that the group doesn’t condone executing gay people, but didn’t comment on the wisdom of sponsoring Swanson’s conference:

Asked if Vander Plaats or the Family Leader condemn Swanson’s remarks, Drew Zahn, its director of communications wrote in an email: “The Family Leader absolutely condemns any call for violence against homosexuals. Our involvement with the conference was intended to advocate and preserve our First Amendment religious liberties and the rights of conscience for all Americans. The Family Leader consistently advocated the Bible's principle of treating others as you would be treated, a principle come to life in the friendship between TFL President Bob Vander Plaats and One Iowa's Donna Red Wing.”

But Zahn wouldn’t say whether the organization would express those views to Swanson, or would have withdrawn sponsorship from the program if they had known what he would say.

We really wonder how long Cruz and Huckabee will be able to continue to plead ignorance about Swanson’s extremism after being asked about it repeatedly.

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 

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