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But Zahn wouldn’t say whether the organization would express those views to Swanson, or would have withdrawn sponsorship from the program if they had known what he would say.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.
These rants about “Harry Potter,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Frozen” weren’t out of place at a conference led by Kevin Swanson, a Colorado-based pastor who has warned on his radio program that these fictional characters — along with the Girl Scouts, women’s soccer and day care — are turning kids gays.
What was most remarkable about these polemics against fictional children’s book characters is that they came at an event that was also attended by three men vying for the Republican nomination for president, including a sitting governor and a sitting U.S. senator.
When Swanson announced that he was convening a conservative summit in Des Moines, Iowa, called “Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference,” it was clear that it was designed to get the attention of Republican presidential candidates. Four agreed to participate, but one unnamed candidate later withdrew, reportedly after a wise campaign aide Googled Swanson's name and found his catalogue of crazy statements.
But Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal had no such qualms. All three joined Swanson on stage at the conference for individual Q&A sessions, where he inquired about their views on Kim Davis and the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision.
The trio declared their unequivocal support for Davis, the rogue Kentucky clerk who attempted to block marriage licenses for gay couples in her county, and derided the Obergefell ruling as an unlawful violation of both constitutional and biblical codes, so egregious that it should be rebuked if not outright ignored. Another speaker, Cruz’s father and campaign surrogate Rafael Cruz, called on government officials to defy a Supreme Court intent on “trying to cram homosexual marriage down our throats.”
Swanson closed out the “liberty” conference with a fiery speech in which he proclaimed that although he does believe in the death penalty for gays, he wouldn't advocate for the government to execute gay people — or, at least, not yet.
The conditions aren't right, Swanson explained. The culture hasn't fully embraced his movement's version of Christianity, and therefore gay people don't know that homosexuality is a death penalty crime that they must renounce before it provokes divine destruction. He said he would recommend that the government wait to impose the death penalty until the culture shifts, giving gays time to repent.
Draconian measures to stop homosexuality are warranted, in Swanson’s view, not only because he believes the Bible mandates them, but also because he thinks that the gay threat is coming from all directions: country music, soccer, schools, day care and Girl Scout cookies.
The views that Swanson expressed at the conference reflect his ties to a movement known as Christian Reconstructionism.
Reconstructionists not only call for "lesser magistrates" like Davis to defy rulings like Obergefell by invoking "God's authority," as Davis did, but also to demand that all government officials enforce Old Testament laws (or, at least, the Old Testament laws that they want enforced). After all, they say, whatever contradicts God's law is no law at all.
Philip Kayser of Biblical Blueprints told one breakout session at the conference that while it may be unrealistic to expect the national imposition of biblical law at this point, it can still be achieved at state and local levels. He urged government officials like Davis to flout the federal government in order to impose their religious beliefs over whatever jurisdiction where they have sway. Such “interposition” is justified, Kayser said, as long as public officials do it in a "biblical and Christ-centric" way. "In my book, she is a hero," Kayser said of Davis. "Magistrates must follow Christ in their interposition."
Another Reconstructionist preacher who spoke at the conference, Joel McDurmon, has said that the U.S. must embrace and enforce Old Testament laws, but that is achievable only once the country is successfully evangelized.
Some Reconstructionists also back “biblical patriarchy,” the idea that Christians must follow strict gender roles within the family, which for women means bearing and raising as many children as possible in order to repopulate the earth with believers.
In order to change the culture in their direction, the thinking goes, believers must first have lots of children (birth control is considered just as bad as abortion, as it fills women's wombs with “dead babies,” at least according to Swanson). Then, these families must adhere to the rule of male headship over the family. These strong, male-led families then create strong, male-led churches, which will then create strong, male-led societies, ones where government welfare programs and intervention in the economy aren't needed, and cultural ills like feminism fall away as cosmopolitan liberals, with their low birth rate, are outvoted.
But for Reconstructionists, the war isn't just about demographics. It is also a cosmic battle.
That is where Elsa comes in.
While these women may be having a "Quiverfull" of children (a la the Duggars), Satan is coming for them, and he takes insidious forms, such as Disney movies.
How many children are taken into these things and how many Christians are taking their kids off to see the movie "Frozen," produced by an organization that is probably one of the most pro-homosexual organizations in the country? You wonder sometimes, I’m not a tinfoil hat conspiratorialist, but you wonder sometimes if maybe there’s something very evil happening here. If I was the Devil, what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to five- and six- and seven-year-olds in Christian families around America?
Friends, this is evil, just evil. I wonder if people are thinking: “You know, I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my five-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way.” I wonder if the average parent going to see "Frozen" is thinking that way.
One conference presenter, Geoff Botkin, told attendees that "Let It Go," the iconic song from “Frozen,” is "Satan's rebellion anthem," as it convinces children to rebel against God. He lamented that Christian families are unwittingly turning their kids over to Satan when they see "Frozen" or let them "sing 'Let It Go' while taking a shower."
As Botkin explained in his session, which focused on the "ten planks of communism," of the three major threats to America, Christians who don't abide by biblical law are the greatest, even worse than Islam and progressivism.
Even worse than Christians who aren't abiding by Old Testament dictates, he said, are the Christians who preach social justice, advocate liberal policies and are fully inclusive of women and the LGBT community. These scorned people of faith were also meeting that weekend in Des Moines to warn about cries of "religious liberty" becoming a cover for a larger right-wing agenda.
But three Republican presidential candidates, who have all turned the imaginary persecution of Christians in America into a central campaign message, didn't seem to mind that they were appearing at a conference whose organizer who is looking forward to the day when America is repentant enough that the government can impose the death penalty on gay people, rails against children's books and movies, and attacks large swathes of Christians as apostates.
As the three Democratic presidential candidates were attending a South Carolina candidate forum hosted by Rachel Maddow on Friday, three Republicans running for president were at a conference organized by a radical right-wing pastor who has defended the death penalty for homosexuality.
“A pretty major theme of the event both in terms of the literature that was available at the event and the way the host of the conference spoke from the stage, a significant theme was the practical challenges and the timing of how exactly and when exactly the United States of America should start rounding up gay people in this country in order to execute them,” she said.
“It really was a ‘kill-the-gays’ call to arms,” Maddow continued. “This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality.”
Seeing that the Republicans who appeared at this event will be at the Fox Business debates tonight, Maddow said it might be worth asking them why they would attend “a kill-the-gays rally.”
“I don’t know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics,” she said.
In the pamphlet, “Is The Death Penalty Just?,” Kayser unsurprisingly concludes that the death penalty is in fact just, and lists homosexuality among the offenses deserving of capital punishment. Ironically for a "religious liberties" summit, he also claims that the government should treat "breaking the Sabbath," "blasphemy and cursing God publicly," "publicly sacrificing to other gods" and "apostasy" as death penalty crimes as well.
He writes that government officials are "subject to Biblical statutes and judgments," claiming that "Christians should advocate the full implementation of all God's civil penalties in every age.... Every Old Testament statue continues on the books, and without those statutes, we could not have a consistent ethnical standard." Even "pagan" nations are obliged to follow biblical law, he writes, as "God held gentile kings accountable to these civil laws."
Kayser believes that the government should execute murderers, among whom he includes abortion providers: "What could be more pro-life than having the state pass laws establishing a certain date after which all doctors who continue to perform abortions will be executed? Certainly, a handful of doctors might be killed [pro-death for killers], but think of the millions of little lives that would be saved!"
He writes that the death penalty should also apply to those who commit acts of blasphemy; apostasy; breaking the Sabbath; sorcery and witchcraft; kidnapping; rape; adultery; prostitution; bestiality; and of course, homosexuality.
But don't worry, Kayser has good news for the gays who rather not be stoned to death or get "thrown off a cliff," methods he mentions as biblically approved ways to execute someone.
While "these crimes are so heinous that they deserve death in God's eyes," he writes, with cases "of sexual sins, people who kept these things to themselves could not be prosecuted because it would require two or three witnesses (depending on judicial discretion), the pressing of charges by a victim-citizen, the exclusion of government from spying, sting operations, etc., and other checks and balances."
Essentially, Kayser says that the government should put gay people to death, but only if they get caught.
"Even after a society implemented Biblical law and made homosexuality a crime, execution would be rare," he explains, because "the civil government could not round them up." What a relief!
"Only those who were prosecuted by citizen-victims could be punished, and the punishment could take a number of forms, analogous to the flexibility in dealing with adultery — which ranged all the way from forgiveness, to divorce, to death," he continues. "Some people characterize this as a victimless crime since homosexuals cannot get married. But there are plenty of circumstances (homosexual rape, homosexual incest, homosexual death threats against politicians, etc.) where victims might be motivated to bring charges."
Kayser writes that "natural knowledge" endorses the view that homosexuality is "worthy of death."
"It is not just the sinfulness of homosexuality that is known, but also the justice of the death penalty for homosexuality," he said. "The reason men have an innate sense of justice is because God's law reflects not only His holiness but also His justice and goodness (Rom. 7:12). Romans 13 says that magistrates are subject to all three."
And remember, this is the kind of literature being promoted at a "religious liberty" conference.
Swanson introduced Jindal by declaring that whoever becomes president, Jesus Christ will rule over them “whether they recognize it or not.”
“Let’s acknowledge right now that Jesus Christ is king over the president of the United States, whether he recognizes it or not,” he said. “Jesus Christ is king over the Supreme Court of the United States, whether they recognize it or not.”
Jindal then gave a version of his “Christian persecution” stump speech, warning that the government is “coming after those of us who want to live our lives according to our Christian faith” and declaring, “No earthly court can change the definition of marriage; no federal government, no ACLU should be able to take away our religious liberty rights. We were given those by God almighty.”
As we’ve reported, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are scheduled to speak at a “religious liberties” conference in Iowa this weekend organized by pastor and homeschooling activist Kevin Swanson. It’s bad enough that presidential candidates would want to associate with Swanson, whose record of wildly anti-gay, anti-women statements we have exhaustively chronicled. But the candidates will also be rubbing shoulders with an array of activists representing the extreme Christian Reconstructionist and Christian Patriarchy fringes of the Religious Right.
Behind this “religious liberty” veneer, however, is a gathering of some of the most extreme segments of the Religious Right, including those whose idea of “religious freedom” is the freedom to impose their specific scriptural interpretations on others. Swanson’s colorful rhetoric on the role of women and the biblical punishments for gay people comes out of an affinity with two controversial movements that will be on full display at his event: Christian Patriarchy and Christian Reconstructionism.
A number of speakers at this weekend’s conference have been associated with Vision Forum, the now defunct ministry run by influential Christian Patriarchy leader Doug Phillips, who resigned in 2013 after admitting to having an affair. That movement is closely bound with Christian Reconstructionism, the idea that America must return to its supposed foundations in a certain interpretation of biblical law. John Eidsmoe, one of the leading lights of Christian Reconstructionism will be speaking at the conference, as will Joel McDurmon, who now runs the Reconstructionist group Vision America.
One theme at the conference will be “interposition,” the idea that government officials have the duty to defy laws and court rulings that they believe are unconstitutional or unbiblical (for many those are the same thing), an idea that has returned to prominence in the midst of the Kim Davis saga.
Here is a brief introduction to some of the activists who will be sharing the stage with Huckabee, Cruz and Jindal this weekend:
Swanson, a Colorado-based homeschooling activist, pastor and radio host, rejects the term “Christian Patriarchy” but says he ascribes to the passage in Ephesians that guides the movement’s view of male headship and female submission in marriage. Swanson also takes hardline Christian Reconstructionist positions, such as his view that the death penalty for gay people is just. Just a sampling of Swanson’s views includes:
As Kyle wrote last week, “Joel McDurmon, president of the Christian Reconstructionist organization American Vision, which espouses the Christian Reconstructionist view that ‘men must choose in their civil affairs to be governed by God’s law’ as explicitly set out in the Old Testament.”
McDurmon says that "God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty." He also said that a proposal in Uganda to impose the death penalty for homosexuality didn’t go far enough because it should also impose “Old Testament law” by making adultery a capital crime as well.
After we reported on his views last week, McDurmon released a statement clarifying that he does not support the death penalty for “homosexuality in general” but merely “the ‘act’ of sodomy.”
North Carolina pastor Scott Brown is the director of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, a spinoff of Vision Forum. Articles on Brown’s website present an array of Christian Patriarchy views, including:
We “should counsel our Christian wives and daughters to rid their wardrobes of tight clothing and modern bathing suits” because there “ should be a sense of shame for distracting someone from purity” and having a “distracting appearance.”
Lamenting that “in the evangelical community, art and fashion have become exempt from biblical evaluation,” leading to reverence for Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, who operated under the “influence of homosexuality” and “some of our most revered artifacts of Greek sculpture” which “ were produced by homosexual, pagan artist.”
“Husbands should be teaching their wives. The father is a key component of the delivery system for the news of the kingdom of God, and when you bypass him, you reject the biblical order for the church and the home.”
This is just skimming the surface. Also speaking at Swanson’s conference will be former Vision Forum activist Geoff Botkin; James Lansberry, who has been working to help conservative evangelicals bypass the Affordable Care Act; and Bill Jack, an occasional cohost on Swanson’s radio program who took the Cake Wars to a new low when he tried to get a baker to write “God hates gays” on a cake.
Along with Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal, a number of activists with a cozy relationship with the GOP have also been confirmed to attend, including Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley of the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute and Colorado Republican state senator Kevin Lundberg.
WASHINGTON – Over 25,000 people have already signed a People For the American Way petition speaking out against the Republican Party for standing with extremists who have repeatedly defended the death penalty for LGBT people. The petition calls on Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal to speak out against the violent bigotry of the so-called National Religious Liberties Conference at which they are scheduled to speak this weekend in Des Moines. The conference organizer, Kevin Swanson, has openly and repeatedly defended capital punishment laws for LGBT people, said that he thinks Girl Scout cookies and the movie "Frozen" will turn young girls into lesbians, and called the death of abortion providers divine “upcommance.”
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan stated:
“It is unconscionable that GOP candidates would participate in a conference whose organizer believes gay people deserve to die because of their sexuality. We’ve seen throughout this primary campaign that Republican candidates are fighting over who can be more anti-women, anti-gay, anti-immigrant. They’ve now reached a new low.”
Kevin Swanson and other speakers at the event have a lengthy history of disturbing remarks about women and LGBT people. Here’s just a few examples from Right Wing Watch, a project of People For the American Way:
Swanson has called homosexuality a “death penalty crime” and defended a Ugandan measure to make homosexuality a criminal offense punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty, saying he was glad the country was “standing strong” by adopting extreme anti-gay laws. He has said that it’s acceptable to attend a gay couple’s wedding only if you hold up a sign telling them they should be put to death.
Conference speaker Phil Kayser advocates instating the death penalty for gay people.
Conference speaker Joel McDurmon likewise insists that God “revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty."
Swanson has called HIV/AIDS “God’s retribution” and “God’s kindness” for gay people.
Swanson, who is affiliated with the Christian Patriarchy movement, although he rejects the term, has insisted that feminists — many of them “ugly” “feminazis” — and gay people “are destroying society.” He claims that women who use birth control have “little tiny fetuses, these little babies … embedded into the womb,” meaning that the “wombs of women who have been on the birth control pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”
Swanson called the murder of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller divine “upcommance.”
Swanson has warned that Disney’s “Frozen” is a demonic movie meant to “indoctrinate my five-year-old to be a lesbian.”
Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are slated to appear this weekend at a conference in Des Moines hosted by Kevin Swanson, an extremist pastor and radio host based in Colorado.
We’ve reported extensively on Swanson’s extremist views, including his defense of the death penalty for gay people and worry that the movie “Frozen” will turn kids gay, and have been going back through the archives of his “Generations Radio” program this week to learn about his views on other issues.
One illuminating episode of “Generations Radio” came in 2009, four days after Kansas abortion provider George Tiller was murdered in his church by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder. Calling “Tiller the Killer” a “mass murderer,” Swanson declared that the abortion provider had received his divine “upcommance” and insisted that the deaths of 14 people in a Montana plane crash earlier that year was divine retribution for one of their relative’s owning of abortion clinics.
“It was anarchy and this vigilantism is not a good thing at all,” Swanson said of Tiller’s murder. “But … so was the fact that you had a guy who was in his abortuary for the last 30 to 40 years killing 60,000 babies. That’s anarchy too!”
“If anybody’s keeping count …Let’s see, Tiller killed 60,000 babies, so that’s 60,000 dead babies and one dead abortionist,” he continued. “So, let’s just say, the abortionists are still ahead on this one.”
Swanson’s cohost, Dave Buehner, had a similar attitude. “Let’s just say Tiller was the mass murderer and he died and I’m not shedding a tear for him,” Buehner said. “And I might at times be tempted to cheer that he is no longer killing babies — okay, at all times I’m tempted to cheer.”
“It is interesting that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword,” Swanson continued. “Wasn’t that what Jesus said? And this is really, pretty much, what happens. People tend to get their upcommance, and that’s precisely what happened to Tiller the Killer.”
“I believe, I am convicted of the fact that there is a God in the heavens and He is sovereign over everything that happens, including the fact that George Tiller the Killer is dead,” Swanson said later in the program.
“By the way, a couple of months ago out in Montana there was a plane crash out there where 14 family members of the owner of one of the largest abortion clinic franchises in the country died in that particular plane crash,” Swanson said. “Now, George Tiller the Killer is dead too. Is there a God in the heavens? Is He involved in the affairs of men? That’s what the word of God says. So God’s providence is all over all of these things, we have to believe that God is in the heavens and He rules.”
Later in the program, Swanson turned his ire to the pastors of Tiller’s church, who he said were operating “a synagogue of Satan" because they had not excommunicated Tiller.
In fact, he and Buehner insisted, any church that fails to excommunicate abortion providers, women who have abortions, gay people, divorced people, people who commit adultery, or anyone who supports any of those people, is not a true church at all.
“Do not murder, do not commit adultery, and if a man lies with another man as he lies with another woman, then the two of them has committed an abomination, they both should be put to death,” Swanson listed. “We ought to just ask churches how they feel about some of these Bible verses and if they repudiate these Bible verses, then we ought to repudiate them and say, ‘Well, then you have no part with us. You are not our brothers and sisters and you are part of some of the most evil parts of this nation and we will consider you as such from here on out.’”
He then returned to the subject of Tiller: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a God in the heavens and His is over all these things. There’s a reason why abortionists are being killed in plane crashes, why George Tiller’s father was killed in a plane crash and George Tiller was killed by a vigilante. Whatsoever man sows, that shall he also reap.”
Yesterday we reported that GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are all scheduled to speak at an upcoming "National Religious Liberties Conference" in Iowa next week that has been organized by far-right pastor Kevin Swanson, who has openly and repeatedly defended laws that impose the capital punishment on gay people.
Given that the chief organizer of this event holds such views, it should comes as no surprise to discover that several of the other scheduled speakers share similar views, in particular Phil Kayser, pastor of Dominion Covenant Church, and Joel McDurmon, president of the Christian Reconstructionist organization American Vision, which espouses the Christian Reconstructionist view that "men must choose in their civil affairs to be governed by God’s law" as explicitly set out in the Old Testament.
Kayser, who is scheduled to lead two workshops at the conference, was at the center of controversy back in 2011 when he endorsed Ron Paul for president and Paul's campaign proudly welcomed the endorsement only to try and cover it up once Kayser's extremist views on homosexuality became known, as Talking Points Memo reported at the time:
Paul's Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, recently touted the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska who also draws members from Iowa, putting out a press release praising "the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul's approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs." But Kayser's views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law ... Reached by phone, Kayser confirmed to TPM that he believed in reinstating Biblical punishments for homosexuals -- including the death penalty -- even if he didn't see much hope for it happening anytime soon.
Also speaking at the event is McDurmon, who recently took over as president of American Vision, and who likewise believes that "God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty."
In fact, McDurmon's views are so extreme that, back in 2009, he criticized Uganda for not going far enough with its draconian anti-gay legislation, saying that if the nation was "going to go to Old Testament law ... they should also make the death penalty for adultery" and other Old Testament crimes as well.
But as he explained the time, Uganda was absolutely right to seek to put gays to death because "it is perfectly normal [and] it definitely should be in place [that] homosexuality should receive the death penalty":
So let us reiterate once again that, in 2015, three Republican presidential hopefuls — including a sitting senator, a sitting governor, and one former governor — are all scheduled to speak at an event organized by and featuring several speakers who openly advocate putting gay people to death.
UPDATE: McDurmon has released a statement insisting that his position is that "the Bible does not criminalize 'homosexuality,' but only the homosexual act of sodomy" and therefore he does not believe "that homosexuality in general should receive the death penalty; but rather that the Bible teaches that the 'act' of sodomy should receive such."
We'll leave it up to readers to determine whether or not this clarification makes his position any less extreme.
Defended a Ugandan measure to make homosexuality a criminal offense punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty, saying he was glad the country was “standing strong” by adopting extreme anti-gay laws.
“They sued us, the Obama administration sued us in federal court, he can’t watch the video but he has time to send his attorneys to Baton Rouge,” he told the program’s host, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “They can send the entire Department of Justice, we won’t be intimidated from defending innocent human life.” (Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, not the Department of Justice, sued Louisiana in the case.)
He later claimed that if all the Republican governors in the country followed his lead, they could succeed in defunding Planned Parenthood. “They can’t come after every governor,” he said. “We have 31 Republican governors. If just the Republican governors would all do this, they can’t come after us all. Let’s fight for our rights. The left fights, they force socialism down our throats, why won’t we fight for pro-life, for conservative principles?”
Jindal then voiced a litany of falsehoods, suggesting that Planned Parenthood uses taxpayer dollars in its fetal tissue donation programs (it doesn’t) and claiming that its two Louisiana clinics offer abortion services (they don’t).
He said that if he gets elected president, he would direct the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to target Planned Parenthood.
Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal, desperately seeking attention in his floundering presidential bid, had the most horrifying response to last week’s mass shooting at an Oregon community college, writing in a blog post that the shooter’s “failure” of a father, single mothers, legal abortion, pop culture and other instances of “cultural rot” were to blame for the violence.
Jindal rehashed his “politically incorrect” response to the shooting in an interview with Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday, adding that the separation of church and state is also to blame for mass murder.
“We fill our culture with garbage, now we’re reaping the result,” he said. “We’ve got evil in our midst. It’s not about taking away law-abiding citizens’ gun rights, it really is about going after the cultural decay, the moral rot we see in our society. The left wants to take God out of the public square. We are now reaping the consequences of that.”
Mickelson was in agreement that “cultural rot” is the culprit behind mass shootings, but asked Jindal if there is anything politicians and elected officials can do to fix “the moral culture caliber” of Americans.
Jindal replied that indeed there is, and that all it takes is a president talking “unapologetically” about his faith.
“What a president can do and a candidate can do is one, publicly call for a time of prayer and spiritual renewal and unapologetically talk about our faith in the public square,” he said. “I’m a Christian and I’m not embarrassed to talk about that.”
He added that elected officials can “fight for the religious freedom rights,” claiming that in Louisiana the “ACLU is going after a principal for simply saying ‘God bless you’ to some parents.” (In reality, the ACLU objected to the school displaying a “pattern of proselytization,” including placing Christian “prayer boxes” throughout the school.)
He also recommended that politicians “stop these policies that undermine family formation,” although he did not provide any details.
Yesterday, anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney had on his radio show well-known white nationalist Jared Taylor, who has called African-Americans “crime-prone” and “deviant” and said that his goal is to ensure the “ biological and cultural continuity” of white people in America. On the show, Gaffney said that he “appreciated tremendously” Taylor’s work. While that’s all heinous on its own, seven of the Republican presidential candidates have appeared on Gaffney’s program or spoken at his events, including recent campaign events in early primary states.
People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan responded with the following:
“This is a new low, even considering how hard all the leading Republican candidates have been courting the xenophobic Republican base enthralled with Trump.
“All of the Republican candidates should cut ties with Gaffney immediately and refuse to go on his show or speak at future events he sponsors. The Republican Party should not give any space to white nationalism.”
Additional background on Gaffney, Taylor, and the connections that Trump, Carson, Huckabee, Santorum, Paul, Jindal, and Cruz have to Gaffney can be found here, from People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.
This is all despite Gaffney’s long track record of pushing outrageous conspiracy theories , including birther and “secret Muslim” theories about President Obama, panic about Sharia law coming to the United States, and embarrassing campaigns against people he thinks are infiltrating the American government or the GOP or the NRA or CPAC on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The two discussed their aversion to the Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe. Gaffney asked Taylor, according to SPLC’s transcript:
At some point there will be a very vigorous resistance to the infusion into these countries of large numbers of people who don’t assimilate, many of them Muslim who bring with them a Sharia ideological program that is antithetical to the culture and civilization and polities of European nations. Do you anticipate, as we’re seeing now evidence of increasing violence, notably against women, on the part of these refugees, not all of them by any means but some, rapes now becoming a serious problem in some of the refugee holding areas, and demonstrations and in some cases worse that are breaking out in various parts of Europe when they’re not accommodated to their satisfaction, that you may see in fact Europe devolving once again into the types of cataclysms that it has from time immemorial with, you know, blood letting taking place. Is that overreaching at this point or perhaps just a distant possibility?
We have unleashed now what would not be an exaggeration to call almost demonic forces. We have close to a million now of these so-called refugees, most of whom are young men. They are young, single men. Most of whom have never seen a woman in a bikini in their lives. Most of them are part of, as you say, this Sharia culture that despises any woman who walks around with her face uncovered, with her legs bare. These people are going to be all sorts of trouble for Europe for many, many years to come.
Taylor is an unapologetically racist activist. He has written that "Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears"; he has urged white people to “rekindle” their “instinctive preference for their own people and culture.” Taylor has been active in the effort to build alliances between American white nationalists and the European far-right, participating in a meeting in Budapest last year, where he told his “European brothers” that “the genetic and cultural effect of alien immigration is no different from armed invasion.”
While Taylor is largely shunned by mainstream right-wing circles, he has expressed an affinity for Donald Trump, telling the New Yorker that “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”
When Media Matters asked Gaffney to explain his interview with Taylor, CSP sent them a statement claiming that Gaffney invited Taylor exclusively to discuss refugee policy and “was unfamiliar with Mr. Taylor's views on other matters and did not discuss or endorse them.” The group did not explain how Gaffney was able to lavish praise on American Renaissance without being familiar with its contents.
While Gaffney’s already lengthy record of extremism hasn’t yet caused major GOP figures to distance themselves from him, Gaffney’s decision to elevate Taylor and his work should cause him to lose all credibility among candidates and officials who wish to be taken seriously in the future.
UPDATE: In a statement on the Center for Security Policy's website, the group says that Gaffney's compliments to Taylor were "routine" and that if he had done his "due diligence" before the interview, he would not have invited Taylor as a guest:
Yesterday’s program included a conversation with Jared Taylor concerning a recent article by him addressing the dire implications for Europe, its people and civilization of large numbers of migrants from nations in which shariah-adherence is the norm. The host was unfamiliar with Mr. Taylor’s views on other matters and did not discuss or endorse them.
Subsequently, Mr. Gaffney had a chance to examine those views and the American Renaissance website on which they appear. There is much there with which he strongly disagrees. Had due diligence been done beforehand, such disagreements would have resulted in Mr. Taylor not being invited on the show, routine compliments to such guests not made and an offer to appear again not extended.
Bobby Jindal wants to make sure everyone knows that Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” did not switch his endorsement to Donald Trump.
Bill Muehlenberg of BarbWire says God sanctioned the death penalty so if opponents think it’s wrong then “they really need to deal with God about it”: “It is time we let God be God in these areas, and not insist that we can somehow do a better job of governing the universe than he does.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has spent the past decade in elected office, is trying his hardest to portray himself as a political outsider. He took this to a new level yesterday in an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway , when he promised that if he were elected president he would not only call for the removal of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but would also try to “get rid of” all 535 members of the House and Senate.
In response to a caller who slammed Boehner and McConnell and asked if Jindal “would you do everything within your power to honestly get that man removed from the position of speaker of the House,” Jindal responded, “Absolutely, but I wouldn’t just stop there. More than that needs to go.”
Citing the fact that Republicans in Congress have not yet defunded Planned Parenthood and were unable to block the Iran nuclear deal, he said, “It’s ridiculous. I’m sure that there are 535 Americans in this country who are capable of serving, they’re not indispensable to the future of our country. So absolutely, not only do we need to change leadership, we need to get rid, I’m ready to fire them all.”
Next weekend, GOP presidential contenders and top lawmakers will mingle with some of the most extreme Religious Right activists in the country at the Values Voter Summit, an annual event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, American Values, and others.
Candidates who attend the Values Voter Summit choose to align themselves with some of the most radical activists and organizations working to dehumanize LGBT people, erode reproductive rights, demolish the separation between church and state, and eliminate First Amendment rights for religious minorities.
The Family Research Council routinely smears LGBT people with false and degrading pronouncements and campaigns for a United States ruled by the dicta of a small faction of fundamentalists Christians. Another principal sponsor of the summit, the American Family Association, has an equally extreme record.
In addition to the abhorrent record of the sponsors of this event, the presidential candidates will also be joined by a host of radical Religious Right speakers.
Below is an introduction to some of the people who will be sharing the stage with the Republican presidential hopefuls.
As the president of the Family Research Council, the summit’s main sponsor, Tony Perkins heads the organization’s efforts to erode gay rights, reproductive rights, and the separation of church and state.
FRC continually expresses hostility to the rights of Americans who don’t share his conservative brand of Christianity. Last year, Perkins suggested that the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims, not surprising for the leader of an organization that once issued a statement that read, “[W]hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage…. Our Founders … would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference." He similarly suggested that Christians who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious freedoms as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those whom he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
Perkins has also overseen one of the most anti-gay platforms of any major political organization. FRC officials have expressed support for the criminalization of homosexuality not only in the United States, but also in Malawi and Uganda. Senior fellow Peter Sprigg once said he would “much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”
Denied that there was a correlation between anti-gay bullying and depression and suicide, saying instead that gay and lesbian teens know they are “abnormal” and therefore “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict"
Said that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision was a “grave sin” that would lead America “into the very pit of Hell,” warning that the justices who voted in the majority would face “judgment” if they don’t “repent.”
Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking" America
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”
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”
Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, became a Religious-Right folk hero this summer when she refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. Davis, saying that she was acting under “God’s authority” and wanted to use her county office to spread “God’s word,” spent five nights in jail after a federal judge found her in contempt of court for violating multiple court orders to begin issuing licenses. The viciously anti-gay group Liberty Counsel and its founder Mat Staver has been active supporters of Davis and have been representing her in court.
At the summit, Davis will receive FRC’s “Cost of Discipleship” award, which previously went to Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was actually persecuted for her Christian faith. Tony Perkins, the president of FRC, has previously compared Davis’ experience to that of Ibrahim, who was imprisoned for converting to Christianity and was later granted asylum in the U.S.
Casey Davis (no relation to Kim Davis) is another Kentucky clerk who has refused to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Davis called the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality a “war on Christianity,” and vowed to go to jail — and even die — in order to protect his “freedom” to deny gay couples marriage licenses.
Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT! for America, where she works with local activists throughout the country to promote fears that Sharia law is taking hold in the U.S. and must be banned and to challenge textbooks that she believes are insufficiently critical of Islam. She makes frequent media appearances to warn of what she calls the “secret Islamification” of the West. Among other attacks on Mulsim-Americans, Gabriel has:
As research director of the American Family Association, Ed Vitagliano is a vocal anti-gay activist. Not only does he believe “pray away the gay” works, but he also claims that gay rights will lead to the destruction of America.
At Wednesday night’s presidential debate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush went out of his way to tout “a voucher program that was created under my watch, the largest voucher program in the country, where kids can go to a Christian school” — a phrase he sandwiched into a conversation about Donald Trump criticizing him for speaking Spanish in public.
Julie Ingersoll, a religious studies professor at the University of North Florida, tweeted a reminder that her book on Christian Reconstructionism, which was recently released by Oxford University Press, mentions Bush’s voucher program. “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstructionism” includes chapters on the enormous influence of Christian Reconstructionism in the homeschooling and Christian school movements, which have succeeded in getting states like Florida to funnel taxpayer money to their religious education efforts
Reconstructionism teaches that education is the duty of parents, and that the state therefore has no role in or legitimate authority over the education of children. Reconstructionists led legal and political battles to win the right of parents to homeschool their children, and continue to resist efforts at regulating homeschoolers. As Ingersoll notes, “Reconstructionists are unabashedly committed to the dismantling of public education, and their strategies and solutions have gained a hearing far beyond the boundaries of the small groups explicitly affiliated with them.” In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named a right-wing homeschooler to chair the state’s Board of Education.
The organized and intensely active network of evangelical homeschooling families in Iowa is credited, in part, with Mike Huckabee’s win in the 2008 Iowa caucus, and the Associated Press reported this year that presidential candidates have been jockeying for its leaders’ support.
Ingersoll writes about the independent, Reconstructionism-inspired Rocky Bayou Christian School in Niceville, Florida, which was founded in the 1970s. In addition to the hundreds of students in its K-12 program, the school offers a program allowing homeschoolers to participate in courses and activities. Writes Ingersoll, “RCBS also has a program designed to take advantage of Florida’s school voucher plan. The plan, put into place by former Governor Jeb Bush, permits students at ‘failing public schools’ to obtain vouchers that can be used at any school.”
According to Ingersoll, the Bush voucher program “has become such a significant revenue stream” for Rocky Bayou Christian School that “it would have a major impact on the school if the state were to decide to discontinue the controversial program….” But, she notes, “the conservative legislature took up the effort to expand the state’s privatization of public education with vouchers and the expansion of charter schools.”
Indeed, legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year expanded voucher and tax-credit programs; it also, according to the Orlando Sentinel, created state-funded “personal learning scholarship accounts” that “parents of students with certain disabilities can use to pay for private school, buy home-school curriculum or pay for needed therapies, among other services, if their child is not in public school.”
Ingersoll writes about a 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit hosted by the Christian Home Educators of Colorado at an Indianapolis facility of Bill Gothard’s Institute for Biblical Life Principles, a troubling organization in the news recently for its connection to the Duggar family. The purpose of the summit, writes Ingersoll, was the development of a “Christian Education Manifesto,” which is no longer public, but whose goals included the elimination of public education and dismantling of government agencies that regulate the rights of parents, such as child welfare and child protective service groups.
There have been some setbacks for the privatization movement. In June, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that its state’s Choice Scholarship Pilot Program violates the state Constitution by channeling public money to private religious schools, contrary to an explicit constitutional prohibition on doing so.
But, as Ingersoll notes, the massively funded privatization movement is advancing the dream of the Christian Reconstructionists:
Florida’s efforts mirror attempts across the nation to shift the delivery of public education to the private sector; a shift of tax money from a public endeavor intended to educate and foster a shared sense of what it means to be American to sectarian efforts, including efforts at schools like Rocky Bayou which seek to transform society according to biblical law. The long-standing goal of the Christian Reconstructionists to defund, and ultimately eliminate, public education has come as close as it has ever come to being a reality.
Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins guest-hosted Bill Bennett’s show “Morning in America,” where he spoke to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been trying to usereligiouspersecution rhetoric to boost his struggling presidential campaign.
Jindal told Perkins that the Supreme Court had no authority to rule on marriage equality: “As a Christian, I don’t think a court can change the definition of marriage as the Supreme Court has tried to do away from what God instituted between a man and a woman.”
“They don’t believe in our First Amendment rights,” he said of gay rights advocates who have filed a lawsuit against Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who attempted to block her office from issuing marriage licenses. “This is an assault, this is discrimination against Christians who want to live their lives according to their sincerely-held beliefs.”
Insisting that the government will “soon be coming for Christian schools and one day the pastors and the churches,” Jindal went on to say that liberals believe that “if you don’t believe in gay marriage, you go to jail.”