Tonight, President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address and among his guests will be Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court's gay marriage case last year.
That, obviously, it not sitting well with the National Organization for Marriage, which fired off an angry press release today demanding that Republicans respond by leaving "an empty chair in the front of the chamber to represent the more than fifty million Americans whose votes in support of traditional marriage were stolen by the US Supreme Court":
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today sharply condemned President Obama for inviting Jim Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs whose case was used by the US Supreme Court to impose same-sex 'marriage' on the nation, to attend the State of the Union speech and called for the Republican leadership to set aside a vacant seat in the front of the chamber in honor of the missing 50 million voters whose votes were stolen by the Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell v Hodges case.
"It's an outrage that President Obama is honoring the extermination of true marriage in our nation's laws as a result of an anti-constitutional, illegitimate ruling of the US Supreme Court," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "President Obama is trying to honor something that is completely dishonorable because it strips from the law the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and substitutes a fiction from the left that marriage can be anything you want it to be."
NOM reminded the nation that voters in thirty-one states cast over 50 million ballots defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Supreme Court ruling obliterated those votes.
"The Republican leadership ought to set aside an empty chair in the front of the chamber to represent the more than fifty million Americans whose votes in support of traditional marriage were stolen by the US Supreme Court," Brown said. "It's a national insult that President Obama would celebrate such an affront to democracy."
Brown also pointed out that since the Obergefell ruling imposing gay 'marriage', countless Christian small business owners have been subjected to extreme punishment by the government for refusing to abandon the truth of marriage.
"If the President wanted to do justice concerning this ruling, he would have invited all the people of faith who have been victimized by it — bakers, florists, photographers, nonprofit groups, etc. — and apologized to them and the American people for the supreme lie that is same-sex 'marriage.' The Obergefell ruling has exposed the falsehood that there would never be consequences for redefining marriage, our most fundamental and important social institution."
The National Organization for Marriage has been facing some fundraising difficulties since its goal of stopping marriage equality in the U.S. has become increasingly futile. So perhaps that’s why NOM’s president, Brian Brown, had to struggle a bit to find accomplishments to boast of in a year-end fundraising message he sent to supporters today.
In the video message, Brown boasts that his group turned out “tens of thousands of people” to attend this year’s March for Marriage in Washington. At the time, the group estimated that it had attracted a crowd of 10,000; authorities declined to confirm the number and other observers placed it at closer to 6,000.
In any case, Brown said that NOM has big plans for the future, repeating his goals to elect a president (preferably Ted Cruz) who will nominate Supreme Court justices to “reverse the same-sex marriage ruling,” pressure the GOP to continue standing against marriage equality, “stop the persecution of people who refuse to be involved in the lie of same-sex marriage” and work toward a constitutional amendment reversing Obergefell.
The National Organization for Marriage, a group that was founded to stop marriage equality but has since embraced other anti-LGBT causes, announced today that it has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, asking conservatives to coalesce around the Texas senator’s candidacy.
It comes as no surprise that Cruz earned the right-wing group’s support, as he has accused the gay community of waging a “jihad” against religious liberty, likened the Obergefell ruling on marriage equality to “Nazi decrees” and vowed not to enforce the court’s ruling if elected president.
"Sen. Ted Cruz is a proven champion for marriage and religious freedom and someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation's laws and defend the religious liberty of the tens of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "Sen. Cruz has not only signed NOM's presidential marriage pledge committing to take specific actions as president, but he has personally authored the pending federal marriage amendment to restore the right of states to define marriage as one man/one woman. Moreover, he has spoken out consistently and forcefully on the campaign trail as an advocate of true marriage. We are pleased to endorse him and will do everything in our power to support his election."
"The decision to endorse in the Republican primary race was a very difficult one," Brown said. "There are many tremendous candidates remaining who have made support for marriage a pillar of their careers in public service, including Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio. We realize that our endorsement of Sen. Cruz will be very disappointing to them. Should any of these candidates emerge as the Republican nominee we would enthusiastically support them. However, there is a real danger that conservatives will split the vote allowing someone like Donald Trump to emerge from the crowded field, which would be disastrous. Sen. Cruz has run the best campaign thus far, racking up endorsements and financial resources and climbing in the polls. We believe he has the best chance of uniting conservatives and going on to win the nomination."
"Beginning in Iowa, and going on from there, we will do everything in our power to support Sen. Cruz and urge all our supporters to coalesce around his candidacy," Brown said. "It is imperative that a proven marriage champion emerge from Iowa and go on to capture the Republican nomination. Too much is on the line for supporters of marriage to sit on the sidelines and take the risk that the Republican nominee is someone who will not fight to restore marriage to the law in our nation. We are at a historic moment, and we urge all conservatives to unite behind Sen. Ted Cruz, a man of principle we can all count on to give his all to the cause of marriage and religious freedom."
The sun had barely risen in Salt Lake City yesterday when the first panel of “natural family” day at the World Congress of Families got started with a discussion about life after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.
Pastor Greg Johnson, an evangelical who was raised as a Mormon and now sponsors “convicted civility” dialogues between evangelicals and Mormons, recounted an experience with his daughter at the Creation Museum. Looking at the diorama of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, he was struck by the sacred nature of marriage. Johnson declared that the church needs to revive its commitment to the sacred and holy nature of marriage.
Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council began her remarks with a declaration that, as a Catholic, there is nothing that could change her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Like many speakers, Ruse focused on the complementarity of men and women. “No man can be a mother,” she said. “As a mother, I know two fathers is not the same as a mother and a father.”
The fact that “men and women make babies, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident,” is the only reason government is involved in marriage, Ruse said. Government has to encourage men and women who become mothers and fathers to raise their children. The government has no interest in a person’s feelings, she said. “Who you love is not the government’s business, until now.” Of course, that claim ignores the historical fact that the U.S. government did, until quite recently, punish gay people for who they loved, denying them a livelihood and even taking away their children. And the fact is that many governments around the world, including in some countries represented at the World Congress, continue to do that and worse.
Ruse recounted all the states where voters banned marriage for same-sex couples, neglecting to mention the four more recent victories marriage equality advocates had at the ballot box in 2012. Ignoring those, and dismissing the huge and well-documented shifts in public opinion, Ruse portrayed marriage equality as something “a handful of liberal judges” forced “on the rest of us” and she called for continued resistance:
Above all, we must fight for the right to live and work according to our beliefs. Our enemy in this fight is not our neighbor, not even the 1.6 percent of our neighbors who identify themselves as gay. No. Our enemy are those who would be our masters — the judge who jails a clerk for failing to give her signature, the magistrate who takes the house of a baker for want of a cake. These are our enemies in the fight ahead. No government official can force us to bend the knee at the altar of a foreign god. If we cannot secure this freedom in law, then we must live it in civil disobedience of the law.
Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage followed Ruse and matched her tone of defiance against “our unelected masters.” The Supreme Court didn’t change the definition of marriage, he said, it “put a lie into the law” — just like slavery and the Dred Scott decision. Brown said that there’s no time for activists to be depressed. Citing the history of Christian martyrs, abolitionists and civil rights activists, he mocked people who don’t want to take a stand because some of their Facebook friends might say mean things about them.
“Instead of being depressed, we should savor the fact that we live at a point in history, like those times before, in which we can stand for the truth, make a difference, and God has put us here for some reason. This fight is not over. It has just begun.”
Brown proposed four goals for the anti-marriage-equality movement:
Affirm continually and publicly that marriage is by nature a union of a man and a woman
Reject the Supreme Court’s decision as illegitimate
Overturn the decision, perhaps through decades of struggle or perhaps with new Supreme Court justices appointed by a Republican president elected in 2016
Contain the damage in the meanwhile by passing laws that allow public officials and businesspeople to refuse to have anything to do with gay couples’ marriages
Rafael Cruz, speaking in the second morning session, picked up the baton with the kind of David Barton-inspired speech he gives on the campaign trail for his son Ted Cruz. America was founded on the word of God, he said, but its foundations have been undermined by communists, humanists and Supreme Court decisions on organized prayer, Bible reading in the public schools, abortion and marriage equality.
Cruz railed against the church for having been silent in the face of “abominable” Supreme Court decisions on church-state separation and abortion. The church he said has been “duped” into believing in the separation of church and state, and too many preachers are hiding behind their pulpits, scared to death of losing their tax exemptions. “God is going to judge us for our silence,” he said.
Cruz declared, “What we see in America right now is an outright attack on Christianity.” The court’s marriage equality decision declared homosexuality a civil right, he said, asserting (falsely) that “under that basis, it will be possible for some homosexual to come to your church demanding to be hired, whether as pastor or janitor is immaterial.” Cruz told a BuzzFeed reporter that the next item on the LGBT agenda will be pushing to legalize pedophilia.
In 2013, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law prohibiting “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors, human rights groups were aghast but many in the Religious Right cheered. While Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people and free speech was widely regarded as a cynical effort to stir up nationalist sentiment at the expense of sexual minorities, his allies in the U.S. Religious Right did not see it that way.
Among the strongest supporters was the World Congress of Families. WCF, along with several other American groups participating in the Utah conference, signed a statement of support . WCF’s Larry Jacobs called the Russian law a “great idea” and said that the “Russians might be the Christian saviors to the world” for their leadership in “standing up for these traditional values of family and faith.” WCF’s representatives in Russia likewise hailed the law and worked with American activists including the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to advocate for a law tightening the country’s ban on adoptions by foreign nationals who live in countries where gay marriage is legal.
Underlining the fact that the Moscow conference was never really cancelled, WCF’s point-man in Russia, Alexey Komov, was until recently scheduled to host a training session at the Utah event on “Hosting a WCF Conference”:
The training has since been removed from the event’s schedule.
The World Congress of Families’ executive director, Janice Shaw Crouse, has gushed about the Moscow conference , calling it “a tremendous success, inspiring and excellent in every regard,” saying she “regretted the necessary decision to cancel our partnership with our Russian friends.”
We have many dear colleagues in Russia, and many of them are leading members of the Russian Orthodox Church. They saw their country devastated by Communism. After the fall of Communism, they recognized that if their nation was ever to rise to greatness again, it would be because of a strong family structure. These Russian friends have fought to re-establish the family as the foundation of Russia. We support their efforts, we encourage them, and we are proud of their efforts.
The Moscow event was supposed to be something of a homecoming for the World Congress of Families, which grew out of an alliance between the Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society's Allan Carlson and Russian activists concerned about a “demographic winter” of low birthrates in their country. Those ties have remained strong, especially since President Vladimir Putin has cozied up to the Orthodox Church and put new stock in social issues as part of his efforts to consolidate control in Russia and expand his power throughoutthe region.
In Europe the culture war is taking the form of attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights — even sex education — or what conservative Catholics and their allies collectively deride as “gender ideology.” Right-wing groups are active at the European Union, Council of Europe, European Parliament and other international institutions. The ACLJ’s European branch led the signature drive for the “One of Us” campaign — an anti-abortion effort that used a new European Citizens Initiative process. The initiative was rejected but the organizing that went into it has energized anti-choice activists — the Knights of Columbus called it “the revitalization of Europe.”The World Congress of Families facilitates this reactionary cross-fertilization with conservative groups from around the world.
Earlier this year, the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) released a report on the growing threats to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union which also documented global connections among conservative groups and activists. Also this year, voters in Slovakia passed a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples in the country’s constitution, an effort supported by American groups including the WCF, Alliance Defending Freedom, CitizenGo, Personhood USA, and the World Congress of Families. Several years ago, many of the same people signed a petition supporting Romania’s constitutional amendment on marriage, which stated that “equating same-sex couples with families can only weaken the natural family — which does society’s vital work of procreation and childrearing.”
The World Congress of Families meeting in Salt Lake City next week features a number of speakers who are intimately involved in this push to restrict access to abortion and prevent advances in LGBT equality.
Another speaker is Ignacio Arsuaga, the founder of CitizenGo and HazteOír, groups designed to bring online organizing techniques to European culture-war conservatives. HazteOír made a name for itself mobilizing protesters against liberalized abortion legislation in Spain in 2010, and hosted the 2012 World Congress of Families in Madrid. In 2013 his group bused supporters into France to support anti-marriage-equality protests there.
Arsuaga, Volontè, and La Manif Pour Tous President Ludovine de La Rochère were all in Washington on June 19 to support the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage. Their more important business, however, might have been in a closed-door summit the next day, where representatives of around 70 countries met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage, according to Volontè and another participant.
Another participant is Maria Hildingsson, Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, which the Catholic News Agency said last year is “the only independent organization clearly registered in the EU as Catholic.” It rejects “an individualistic conception” of human rights that is says are supported by “hegemonic powers which tend to impose their partial views on developing countries within the international economic and political arena.”
Another speaker, Silvio Dalla Valle, works with the Association for the Defense of Christian Values, which is “inspired by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” and works in Italy and Eastern Europe. He was on the planning committee for Moscow meeting that took place last year without the formal sponsorship of WCF but with participation by WCF staff and allies,and spoke last year at a WCF regional event in Bolivia. Dalla Valle is a co-founder of and legal adviser to the Osservatorio della Cristianofobia (Observatory on “Christianphobia”) a project to lobby the United Nations and European institutions to take a strong stance against persecution and discrimination against Christians. He received a “Global Leadership Award” from the Howard Center, the World Congress of Families’ parent organization, in 2010.
Arsuaga, Velarde and Brian Brown are all on board of the Political Network for Values, a group launched last year that brings together advocates and elected officials from around the world to work for legal protection for life “from its moment of conception” and advocate for policies the promote marriage as “an institution between a man and a woman.” The group also declares its opposition to “the tyranny of relativism” and euthanasia.
Last month, the Political Network for Values held a summit in Washington, D.C. which was sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Institute for Family Policy, CitizenGo and others. The network says the regional summit “brought together in Washington DC more than 70 policy makers from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Spain, Hungary, Kenya and the United States.” The group was addressed by three members of the U.S. Congress, Jeff Fortenberry, Chris Smith and Vicky Hartzler, who talked about the “fight for religious freedom in the U.S.”
This is the second in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.
The World Congress of Families has been stung by intensecriticism over its promotion of anti-gay bias and policies around the world, and has mounted a public relations campaign portraying itself as interested in civil discourse and uninterested in slamming gay people. If only it were true.
WCF Executive Director Janet Shaw Crouse has said the group’s support for traditional notions of family “does not mean disrespect for anyone else.” Crouse says, “We do not and will not engage in ‘gay-bashing’ or ‘hate’ language." In its 2014 “Call for Civic Dialogue” WCF said:
In its history, the WCF has never taken a position for or against anti-sodomy laws, nor has it attempted to roll back the rights gained by these individuals and organizations…. The WCF never has and never will advocate for any policy that brings harm to innocent individuals….
These assertions are grossly disingenuous and deceptive. WCF depends on, and celebrates, its association with what it calls “exemplary”anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, and many others who aggressively resist the advance of LGBT equality in the U.S. and overseas -- and promote policies that most definitely bring harm to innocent individuals. For example, WCF and its allies played a significant role in organizing the stridently anti-gay “pro-family” movement in Russia. And not taking a position on laws that subject LGBT people to long jail terms and worse is hardly something to brag about.
Sadly, Cruz is not an outlier. WCF and the speakers it provides with a platform have a long record of resisting protections for the rights of LGBT people. Last year WCF initiated a letter signed by 120 Religious Right figures from around the world in “vigorous protest” of the U.S. Embassy’s participation in a gay pride celebration in the Czech Republic. It refers to marriage equality as a “pseudo-right” that debases human freedom and dignity. The letter concludes, “We can not imagine a worse form of cultural imperialism than Washington trying to force approval of the ‘gay’ agenda on societies with traditional values.”
More to the point, WCF’s own Africa regional director, Theresa Okafor, who is being honored at the event, supported a harsh anti-gay law in Nigeria that not only provides for long jail sentences for gay sex, but also bans gay people from meeting in groups. Okafor has suggested that pro-equality groups from the west are allied with the violent Islamist Boko Haram in a conspiracy to silence Christians.
WCF Executive Director Crouse has her own track record. She has said children being raised by gay couples are being “used as guinea pigs.” She has praised Russia’s anti-gay right, saying approvingly, “I wouldn’t bet on the Russians capitulating to western LGBTIQ fascists without a fight.” At a 2013 Howard Center press conference, Crouse said American gay-rights activists are “turning into thugs who are destroying freedom of speech, destroying religious liberty.” She praised anti-gay activists in France, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Nigeria. And while Crouse portrays American gays as enemies of free speech, she enthusiastically backed the prosecution and jailing of Pussy Riot activists over their anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.
Among other anti-gay speakers who will be given a platform at WCF:
Peter Sprigg represents the stridently anti-gay Family Research Council, whose leader Tony Perkins once defended Uganda’s notorious “kill the gays” bill as an effort to uphold morality. Sprigg, who once said he would like to “export” homosexuals from the U.S., complained this year about Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, for traveling to Uganda and Jamaica. Sprigg criticized the Obama administration for trying to “force this American-style homosexual agenda down the throats of other countries” like Uganda, “which is one of the countries that has been most bitterly attacked by homosexual activists around the world.”
Robert Knight, a Religious Right pundit and former FRC staffer, has argued that judges who rule in favor of marriage equality should be impeached.
Errol Naidoo received training from the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C before founding the Family Policy Institute in South Africa in response to the legalization of marriage equality, which he had lobbied against. He blames abortion and “the homosexual agenda” for creating a “culture of death” that is “slowly killing off the human family in Western civilization.”
Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, formerly affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, says the “sexual revolution” is a “totalitarian” movement” and “a pagan ideology” that Christians should refuse to compromise with. She says “the only reason we’re dealing with gay marriage now is because we never faced up to the harms that have already been inflicted by feminism.”
Frank Schubert is a political communications strategist notorious as the mastermind of the strategy to ground the campaign for California’s Prop 8 in fear-mongering about gay people and couples being a threat to children. Schubert was paid handsomely to take that destructive strategy to other states.
The World Congress of Families sent out a press release today announcing that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes will both address the group’s upcoming convention in Salt Lake City.
The presence of two of Utah’s top elected officials lends legitimacy to the gathering of opponents of reproductive rights and LGBT equality from around the world. Among the speakers are the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Peter Sprigg and Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International and Mark Regnerus, whose faulty research on gay parents has been used to justify anti-LGBT discrimination around the world.
But most troubling is the World Congress of Families itself, which is a project of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. The Howard Center and the World Congress of Families were founded by Allan Carlson, an adherent of the anti-contraception, anti-women’s-rights “Quiverfull” ideology.
The World Congress of Families exists to promote what Carlson calls the “natural family” — something that does not include LGBT people, reproductive rights or, often, women working outside the home.
In their “Natural Family: A Manifesto,” Carlson and Paul Mero, then the president of the Sutherland Institute, which is hosting next month’s event in Utah, laid out their vision of a world full of homes “open to a quiver of children,” with “young women growing into wives, homemakers, and mothers” and “young men growing into husbands, homebuilders, and fathers.” They call for “more babies and larger families” to counter the “war on human fertility”; gay marriage bans and tight divorce restrictions to “end the war of the sexual hedonists on marriage”; and the abolition of “state programs that indoctrinate children … youth, and adults into the contraceptive mentality.”
“We will craft schooling that gives positive images of chastity, marriage, fidelity, motherhood, fatherhood, husbandry, and housewifery. We will end the corruption of children through state ‘sex education’ programs,” they add.
The World Congress of Families exists to unite activists who are pushing this “natural family” ideology throughout the world. Notably, the group has served as a cheerleader for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people, with one WCF official calling Russia “ the Christian saviors of the world.” The group planned to hold its last World Congress at the Kremlin, funded by top Putin allies. It formally cancelled the event after Russia invaded Ukraine, but the Congress went ahead with WCF leaders in attendance. The main organizer of the conference, WCF’s Russian representative Alexey Komov, will be offering a workshop on “Hosting a WCF Conference” at the Salt Lake City event.
Despite the debacle in Russia, WCF has hardly turned down its activism. At a recent event in Belgrade, World Congress of Families official Don Feder, who will also be speaking at the Salt Lake City conference, explains that contraception leads to “death” by “preventing life from happening" and will ultimately cause to the "extinction" of humanity:
The National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown was among the speakers at this week's rally in support of Kim Davis, where he likened her stand to the fight against slavery and compared her to Rosa Parks while declaring that gay marriage is "the supreme lie of the land."
Christians have always refused to "bow down to pagan idols," Brown declared, and Davis refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because "we know in our hearts, we know in our minds, that same-sex marriage is not the supreme law of the land, it is the supreme lie of the land."
"When one person stand up and says, 'I will not be bullied, I will not comply,'" Brown continued, "that person is Kim Davis and I hope she is a hero and a message for all of us. Stand for truth, regardless of what happens. Do not comply with unjust authority!"
As Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis continues to bar her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the Supreme Court, the Religious Right is attempting to turn her into the latestmartyr in the supposed persecution of Christians in America.
While violating court orders is a bridge too far for some Religious Right activists like Maggie Gallagher and Ryan T. Anderson, other conservative pundits see Davis as a hero for taking on the “gaystapo” and Satan himself.
Franklin Graham took to Facebook today to congratulate Davis for “standing up against the evil being forced on us,” warning that if others don’t emulate Davis, “we won’t even recognize the America that our children and our grandchildren will be left with.”
In a fundraising letter yesterday, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown called Davis “the latest victim of gay intolerance and government discrimination and persecution of marriage supporters,” defending her defiance by explaining that the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage was “illegitimate” since “two men cannot be married to each other, nor two women — regardless of what any court states.”
The Foundation for Moral Law, the group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who led his own battle in defying the federal court system on marriage, issued a statement from its president — Moore’s wife Kayla Moore — commending Davis as an example for all Americans and arguing that the Supreme Court’s ruling can be flouted since it defies divine law.
Anti-gay pundit Bill Muehlenberg similarly hailed Davis as a “supersaint” for refusing to “submit fully to the homosexual jackboot” and “the gaystapo,” claiming that she is among the “modern day Christian martyrs.”
When the militant homosexual lobby and its supporters tell you no one will be adversely impacted when homosexual marriage goes through, they are lying. They knew full well that everything changes – for the worse. Everyone must bow the knee and submit fully to the homosexual jackboot. … Try telling these folks that homosexual marriage will not impact them. And while you are at it, try telling Kim Davis this. She is a committed Christian and a Kentucky county clerk who will not allow her faith to be violated by the militants.
She has been another supersaint, standing strong for her faith in the face of severe persecution.
Yet again we see the intolerant activists, coupled with the heavy arm of the rainbow state, seeking to break the will and the resolve of ordinary men and women who choose to put the Lord Jesus Christ over and above the tide of filth and perversion sweeping the land.
These are modern day Christian martyrs, standing steadfast for biblical truth despite everything the gaystapo can throw at them. I and others have been warning about this for many years now. We said this is exactly where we would get to when we start granting special rights to this militant sexual lifestyle group.
Not to be outdone, BarbWire content editor Gina Miller said that the embattled clerk is waging a spiritual war against Satan’s gay army.
Those of us who have been closely watching the advance of this dark movement see exactly where it’s headed: the criminalization of Christianity. We have been warning of this for years, and it’s becoming clearer by the day that we’re right. While the aggressive, God-hating homosexual activists hurl their vicious lies and senseless insults at us, we are being proven right, inch by inch, day by day, as the homosexual/“transgender” behemoth claims more ground of our freedoms. Just ask the Kleins of Sweet Cakes bakery, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Bakery and numerous others who came before Kim Davis in their resistance to the hijacked-rainbow brigade’s evil schemes.
I have repeated myself over and over again for years now. The homosexual movement, including its related perversions like “transgenderism,” has nothing to do with “equality” or marriage (other than to destroy it). It’s about the destruction of freedom, and specifically, the destruction of Christian freedom. Truth does not change, and the truth about homosexuality does not change. Homosexual behavior is sin. It’s destructive and dangerous. It’s unnatural. It’s immoral. It’s a gross perversion of God’s design for human sexuality. It’s naturally repulsive to those who retain a functioning moral compass. The same goes for “transgenderism.” People who imagine or pretend that they are members of the opposite sex are in open, degenerate rebellion against God, reality and nature. Whether this is due to mental illness or not, it’s still dead wrong.
The God-haters in this movement and their fellow travelers in positions of power will not stop until Christianity is criminalized. At its heart, this is a manifestation of the battle Satan has waged against God and His people. It is demonic influence that drives these homosexuals to target Christians, in order to crush their freedoms. This county clerk in Kentucky is a target because she is a Christian. These Godless degenerates now have the force of bad law on their side. Bad law—immoral law—is tyranny. Tyranny is what Satan desires over humanity, and he will get it, as the Bible has forewarned us.
The radical homosexual movement is one of the foremost tools the devil is using to topple our freedom, and if we had a thousand county clerks like Kim Davis stand up to this lawless edict from the federal courts, we might stand a chance of beating it back. But there are not many Christians of such courage today.
Dark times are falling on this nation, and there are numerous fronts of evil that are working in concert to destroy the Godly foundation of freedom upon which the United States was founded. Barack Obama (or whatever his name is) is an enemy of all that is right and true, and he is certainly a treasonous enemy of our country. He is a strong supporter and pusher of the militant homosexual agenda. He is part of God’s judgment on this wayward nation that has forcefully expelled God from the public square. Whether it’s the communistic “global warming” agenda, the homosexualist agenda or even the lunatic “black lives matter” racist agenda, all these are heads of the same tyrannical hydra. They all seek to bring tyranny down on the American people. (emphasis added)
GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal have joined Rick Santorum in signing the National Organization for Marriage’s presidential candidate pledge.
As we’ve reported, NOM’s pledge goes well beyond just banning same-sex marriage nationwide through a constitutional amendment. It also requires the candidate to vow to “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities” and direct the Justice Department to investigate the supposed harassment of gay marriage opponents.
Curiously, Carson told Rebecca Berg of RealClearPolitics that he is not in favor of a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, even though that is the very first clause in the NOM pledge that he has apparently signed.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today identified four Republican presidential candidates they have dubbed "Marriage Champions" for having pledged to the American people that they will take several specific actions as president to restore marriage to the law and protect people of faith from discrimination because of their support for traditional marriage. NOM said that Sen. Ted, Cruz, Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Dr. Ben Carson have emerged as the top candidates for marriage supporters.
1. Support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
2. Work to overturn the US Supreme Court's Obergefell decision that illegitimately imposed same-sex 'marriage' on every state in the nation, including nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.
3. Conduct a review of actions taken by the Obama Administration that have undermined marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.
4. Support the First Amendment Defense Act and other legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman without fear of retaliation from the government.
5. Direct the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.
"NOM has invited every candidate for president to sign our pledge, and we encourage those who have not yet signed to do so as soon as possible," Brown said. "We will not support a candidate for president who has not pledged to the American people to take specific actions in support of restoring marriage to our law and protecting people from government discrimination over their beliefs that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."
Brown said that several candidates have issued strong statements in support of marriage but have decided not to sign any pledges as a candidate. Governor Mike Huckabee covered marriage in his own pledge to the American people and Gov. Scott Walker has promised to support a constitutional amendment restoring true marriage.
CitizenGo, the international citizen activism group for which the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown serves as a trustee, is joining the Right’s pile-on of Target for phasing out gender-specific signage in some of its kids’ departments, warning that the new policy will “promote transgenderism among children.”
In a petition circulated by CitizenGo’s US campaigns director, Josh Craddock, the group warns that Target, by removing signs like those distinguishing between “building sets” and “girls’ building sets,” has caved to pressure by “radical gender theorists” and “sexual radicals” who “want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children”:
But now, under pressure from radical gender theorists, Target decided to go "gender neutral" by removing "gender and signs and using gender indicators, especially as it relates to kids" from its stores. The sexual radicals who encouraged Target to reverse its policy ultimately want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children.
Faith2Action’s Janet Porter made a similar connection in promoting a boycott of the retail chain, claiming that the new policy is the result of “Bruce Jenner’s surgery… where he now pretends to be a woman full time.”
Franklin Graham led the Religious Right charge against Target earlier this week when he posted on Facebook that it is “not the gender-neutral people out there” who “made their stores strong”:
I think Target may be forgetting who has made their stores strong. It’s not gender-neutral people out there—it’s working American families, fathers and mothers with boys and girls they love. What’s next? Are they going to try to make people believe that pink or blue baby showers are politically incorrect? I have news for them and for everyone else—God created two different genders. Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female (Matthew 19:4). You can’t get any clearer than that. If you agree, share in the comments below—and let Target know what you think. Let them know that you are perfectly willing to shop where the genders God created are appreciated.
In an appearance on Fox News, Graham declared that “this whole gender-neutral business has gone too far,” accusing Target of “ignoring the millions of customers you have that are just hard-working families with children, and they’re not gender-neutral children, these are boys and girls, the way God made us.”
Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, for his part, worried that the new Target policy would promote confusing among shoppers: “If you go to buy a gift for a boy who's nine or six or a girl who's nine or six, you want to be able to go to that section and pick out a toy they might want. Now you have to sit there and look at a blended area and wonder is this for a boy or is this for a girl?”
Religious Right leaders have long argued that legal equality for LGBT people cannot coexist with religious freedom. Now that the Supreme Court has made marriage equality the law of the land, and the LGBT movementis seeking protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, these claims are getting more shrill.
The Right is worked up about the introduction in Congress last month of the Equality Act, which would provide legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. The Equality Act, says Lambda Legal, “does not change the religious exemptions already in federal law.”
The agenda being advanced by the left will have a catastrophic impact on every single American as it covers housing, employment, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. Gays and lesbians get special legal rights and can beckon the government to target people of faith for investigations and punishment, while Americans who believe in God get the shaft.
Today, nearly seven in ten (69 percent) Americans favor laws that would protect LGBT individuals against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing, compared to 25 percent who oppose such policies. And there is majority support for these protections across partisan and religious lines. In fact, most Americans actually already believe that workplace nondiscrimination is the law of the land: Three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans incorrectly believe it is currently illegal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
The National Organization for Marriage takes the persecution complex to a new level today, claiming in a fundraising email that a proposed federal law preventing discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations “puts in the crosshairs anyone who believes God created people male and female.”
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, writes that The Equality Act should instead be called “The Persecution of Americans Act” because it will extend the supposed “persecution” of bakers, florists and other wedding vendors who refuse service to gay and lesbian couples to “impact Americans in virtually every area of life":
The legislation puts in the crosshairs anyone who believes God created people male and female. It would declare that a traditional view of human sexuality is hateful and bigoted and treat Christians, Jews and other people of faith just as the law treats racists. HR 3185 specifically denies someone who has been targeted the ability to rely on the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense against the complaint of discrimination.
Americans across the land are witnessing the persecution of wedding professionals who are being forced by homosexual activists to participate in same-sex ceremonies even though doing so violates their deeply held religious beliefs concerning marriage. Bakers, photographers, florists, inn keepers and others have been persecuted, sued and fined simply because they do not wish to personally participate in a gay 'wedding.' HR 3185 will extend this persecution far beyond the wedding industry and will impact Americans in virtually every area of life.
Under HR 3185, all that a gay, lesbian or transgendered person needs to do is allege that an individual or business has somehow discriminated based on sexual orientation or gender identity and the full force of the federal government can be brought down on the person accused.
Just imagine how this proposed law would be used. Virtually any time a LGBT person feels they have been discriminated against they would be able to pursue a special legal claim using the force of the federal government as a powerful stick to punish people.
What lies "beyond marriage equality" is persecution. And that's what HR 3185 should be called — The Persecution of Americans Act.
Vladimir Putin has become a bona fide hero to American Religious Right activists, who see him as a conservative Christian counterweight to President Obama and his support for LGBT equality. Anti-gay activists, for instance, rallied around the Russian leader after the Kremlin approved a ban on speech dealing with “homosexual propaganda” to minors.
U.S. Religious Right activists have prioritized their absolute contempt for the LGBT community above solidarity with Protestants in Russia, who have comeunderattack by the state and its allies in the Orthodox Church, which views evangelicals as heretics. Protestants in the occupied area of eastern Ukraine have faced violent attacks from Putin-backed forces.
Seeing that American conservatives are more than happy to ignore Putin’s campaign against Protestantism since he is, after all, the defender of traditional marriage against gay rights, it is more than likely that they will look the other way now that he is “potentially allowing — or at the very least turning a blind eye to — polygamy among Russia’s estimated 16 million Muslims.”
Julia Ioffe explained in Foreign Policy last week that the Russian government allowed for a friend of Chechnya’s leader to take a second wife in a case that received widespread attention in the country.
As Ioffe writes, “Christian warrior Vladimir Putin” has allowed for the Chechen government to enforce Islamic religious law within its boundaries. Putin’s decision to allow Chechnya to become “a small Islamic state within the borders of the Russian Federation” has paved the way for the legalization of polygamy.
Ioffe points to a case where a teenage girl was married to a 57-year-old police chief who was already married at the time in an arrangement that had all the appearances of a forced marriage. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who, like Putin, has a notorious human rights record, made sure that the wedding took place and even appeared at the reception.
One of polygamy’s noted defenders ended up being the country’s foremost supporter of the “homosexual propaganda” law: Yelena Mizulina. Ioffe writes:
[W]hen a lone member of the parliament proposed a law criminalizing polygamy, the initiative was duly shot down by Yelena Mizulina, the parliamentarian who was among the most vocal supporters of Russia’s anti-gay laws and other “traditional values” initiatives. Criminalizing polygamy, Mizulina said, was “absurd.” The reason for polygamy, she argued was that “there are not enough men, the kind with whom women would want to start a family and have children.” Last week, Mizulina was promoted to the upper chamber of parliament.
Putin’s “ombudsman for children’s rights — who was behind Russia’s ban on American adoptions,” Ioffe adds, justified the wedding by claiming that “in the North Caucasus, puberty hits earlier, so 16 was a great age for marrying. ‘There are places where women shrivel up by 27,’ he said.”
The Religious Right’s support for Putin, an authoritarian leader who has infringed on basic liberties and the democratic process, undermined the freedom of religion, particularly for Protestants, and allowed for the creation of a Sharia law enclave where polygamy is legal, once again proves that for a certain segment of American conservatives, everything comes down to opposing homosexuality.
The problem with the analogy to interracial marriage is that it assumes exactly what is in dispute: that sex is as irrelevant to marriage as race is. It’s clear that race has nothing to do with marriage. Racist laws kept the races apart and were designed to keep whites at the top. Marriage has everything to do with men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and their children, and that is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Anderson has previously pointed to the anti-abortion movement as the model for long-term resistance to marriage equality. Since the Court’s ruling in Obergefell, Anderson has been more explicit about what the strategy means. In a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation on June 30, Anderson declared, “The central thesis of my new book…is that the pro-marriage movement is in the same exact situation culturally that the pro-life movement found itself in 42 and a half years ago after Roe v. Wade.” In the 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, that movement has been all too successful at getting legislatures to restrict women’s ability to access reproductive health care, and at convincing courts to go along. In the Boston Globe, Anderson explained how that happened:
The pro-life community stood up and responded to a bad court ruling. Academics wrote books and articles making the scientific and philosophical case for life. Statesmen like Henry Hyde, Edwin Meese, and Ronald Reagan used the bully pulpit to advance the culture of life. Activists and lawyers got together, formed coalitions, and devised effective strategies.
At Heritage, Anderson identified three steps taken by abortion foes that he says must now be pursued by anti-marriage-equality advocates.
Identify the decision as illegitimate judicial activism.
Act to protect the rights of “conscience.”
Wage a long-term campaign of “rebuilding a truthful, strong marriage culture” to “bear witness to the truth” within a culture that has been told a lie, in this case about the nature of marriage. This will be a long-term, “generational” effort, “something our children and grandchildren will be responding to.”
Anderson and other right-wing leaders have certainly been ready to carry out his first piece of advice, denouncing the ruling as judicial activism and, in Anderson’s words, “a significant setback for all Americans who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, democratic self-government, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” His mentor Robert George responded in kind, saying, “we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation. We must, above all, tell the truth: Obergefell v. Hodges is an illegitimate decision.” Anderson’s colleague Matthew J. Franck, called it an “appallingly illegitimate decision.”
As for the second step, acting to protect the “rights of conscience,” Anderson says, “There is an urgent need for policy to ensure the government never penalizes anyone for standing up for marriage. We must work to protect the freedom of speech, association, and religion of those who continue to abide by the truth of marriage as one man and one woman.”
Anderson and other anti-equality leaders are pushing for passage of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act in Congress, and for passage of similar laws at the state level. He says that the First Amendment Defense Act would allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to “act on the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman” – in other words, to discriminate against same-sex couples without facing any legal consequences.
Just as the pro-life movement ensured that no pro-life citizen would ever have to pay for an abortion or perform an abortion, so too must we work to ensure no one is coerced on marriage. Rather than forcing people and institutions of faith to go to court for their religious liberty, this bill would prevent the government from ever acting unjustly in the first place.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, laws were passed to allow doctors who had religious objections to performing abortions to refuse to do so without experiencing negative professional consequences. There has been little opposition to such laws. But over the past few decades, at the urging of anti-abortion activists, the scope of that kind of religious exemption has been expanded wildly to include people ever-further removed from the actual abortion procedure, and expanded to include even marginal participation in the provision of contraception. In emergency situations these accommodation could come at high cost, including the life of a patient.
Law professors Douglas NeJaime and Reva Siegel describe these as “complicity-based conscience claims” – claims that are about refusing to do anything that might make one complicit in any way with another person’s behavior that one deems sinful. They note that the concept of complicity has been extended to allow health care providers not to even inform patients that some potential care or information has been withheld from them based on the religious beliefs of an individual or the policies of an institution.
The resistance to complying with the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover contraception takes the notion of complicity to almost surreal lengths. Just days after the Hobby Lobby decision, the Court’s conservatives sided provisionally with religious conservatives who are arguing that it is a burden on their religious freedom even to inform the government that they are refusing to provide contraceptive coverage, because that would trigger the process by which the coverage would be provided by others. Cases revolving around the simple act of informing the government of an objection are working their way back toward the Supreme Court….
Given what we know about the intensity of the anti-gay movement’s opposition to marriage equality, it is not hard to imagine how far that movement could run with the principle that religious beliefs about “traditional” marriage are a legitimate basis for discriminating against same-sex couples.
As for Anderson’s final step, waging a generational culture war to promote the idea that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, he offers several strategies:
Conduct “rigorous social science” on family structures, which he says could be used to sway future conservative justices to overturn Obergefell. Anderson is editor of Public Discourse, published by the Witherspoon Institute, which is probably best known for financing the notorious Mark Regnerus study on “family structures,” which anti-equality groups continue to cite even though the study and the way it has been used by marriage equality opponents have been thoroughly discredited.
Use “better spokespeople.” Anderson says the movement should make more use of gays and people raised by same-sex couples who oppose marriage equality. Anderson complained at Heritage that both groups filed amicus briefs but that the Court did not acknowledge either.
Live out “the truth about marriage” by demonstrating the beauty, truth, and holiness of one-man, one-woman marriage. Anderson acknowledged that gay and lesbian people did not cause family breakdown, heterosexuals did that through contraception, divorce, and other aspects of the sexual revolution. “Justice Kennedy’s philosophy of marriage is the natural result, the logical result, of the past 50 years of the breakdown of the American family. It’s the natural, logical conclusion of the sexual revolution.” Anderson said "We have ourselves to blame” for 50 years of “failing to live out the truth about marriage.” Still, he said, “redefining marriage will not do anything to strengthen the family; but it will likely make the family even weaker.”
Anderson has achieved folk-hero status among the anti-gay right and many are likely to follow his road map. The National Organization for Marriage is praising his “encouraging words and advice” on how to “continue the fight to defend marriage as it has always been defined – the union between one man and one woman.”
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
Brian Brown, the National Organization for Marriage president and cheerleader of the Russian government during its crackdown on its gay community, is now taking a page from his Russian colleagues, asking US presidential candidates to pledge to ban the “promotion” of marriage equality in schools.
In a “marriage pledge” released today, NOM asks presidential candidates to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and commit to overturning court rulings in favor of marriage equality.
NOM’s pledge also includes a plank similar to Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” law, which bars “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors.” In the third plank of its pledge, NOM asks candidates to “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities,” along with reversing Obama administration policies “that have the effect of undermining marriage.”
NOM also asks the candidates to “direct the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed,” a reference to the sentiment among anti-gay activists that they are being persecuted by prohibitions on anti-LGBT discrimination.
I, _____________ _____________, pledge to the American people that if elected President, I will:
One, support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Two, oppose and work to overturn any Supreme Court decision that illegitimately finds a constitutional "right" to the redefinition of marriage. This includes nominating to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and applying the original meaning of the Constitution, and appointing an attorney general similarly committed.
Three, conduct a review of regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage and work to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Consistent with this, prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.
Four, support the First Amendment Defense Act and other legislation that recognizes the right of organizations and individuals to act in the public square consistent with their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman without fear of retaliation from the government.
Five, direct the Department of Justice to investigate, document and publicize cases of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.
Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder is out with an extensive report today from Ireland, which later this month may become the first country in the world to approve marriage equality by popular vote.
The “No” campaign has organized under the name “Mothers and Fathers Matter,” a message right out of the National Organization for Marriage’s playbook. And Feder reports that marriage equality opponents from around the world have been paying close attention to the referendum in Ireland, including NOM’s Brian Brown, who says he “talked a lot” to a leader of the Irish “No” campaign and conservative American political operative Frank Schubert, who says he kicked in some polling information and messaging guidance.
Feder reports that a strong network of European anti-gay groups has also been involved in the Irish campaign, including the French group Manif Pour Tous and Italian activist Luca Volante, whose foundation contributed a significant amount of money to the organization that’s been heading the “No” movement in Ireland.
Volante and a representative of Manif Pour Tous haveboth been involved in Brown’s effort to create an International Organization for Marriage meant to unite the effort to push back marriage equality throughout the world.
Brown sent an email to NOM’s supporters earlier this month asking them to back the anti-marriage campaign in Ireland (although non-residents of the country can’t contribute money to the effort). CitizenGo, the international petition platform on whose board both Brown and Volante sit, made a similar appeal.
The No side denies that it is borrowing tactics from California, saying it’s learned more from campaigns in eastern European countries like Slovenia in 2012 or Croatia in 2013, where referendums were passed curtailing partnership rights for same-sex couples.
“We wouldn’t be taking too many more lessons from Prop 8 than from elsewhere,” said David Quinn, head of the Iona Institute and adviser to Mothers and Fathers Matter. Quinn, who also writes a regular column in the Irish Independent newspaper, is widely regarded as the savviest campaigner on the No side.
“Obviously the only way two men or two women can found a family is by violating a child’s right to have a mother and a father.”
But the No camp has gotten some input from veterans of the California campaign and other marriage fights abroad. Frank Schubert, the conservative political consultant credited with the Proposition 8 victory, told BuzzFeed News before an NOM rally in Washington earlier this month that he has sent private polling, focus-group work, and other messaging guidance to activists on the No side. NOM President Brian Brown also said he had “talked a lot” to Quinn periodically over the past few years, though they hadn’t communicated in over a year.
They’ve also sought advice from opponents of same-sex marriage in the U.K., Keith Mills, a spokesperson for Mothers and Fathers Matter, told BuzzFeed News last Tuesday. The next day, he said, the group was due to meet with a representative from La Manif Pour Tous, an organization formed in opposition to France’s 2013 marriage equality law that has established itself as an engine for movements opposed to marriage equality across Europe.
“We would take most succor from what happened in Slovenia,” Quinn said, referring to the 2012 referendum that reversed a law passed by parliament extending legal protections to same-sex couples. Opponents have also consulted the leaders of the 2013 campaign that blocked marriage equality in Croatia.
They hear the same advice from campaigners in every country, Quinn said. “The message that comes back all the time, loud and clear … [is] keep talking about the children.” Marriage is inherently bound up with the right to found a family, Quinn argued: “Obviously the only way two men or two women can found a family is by violating a child’s right to have a mother and a father.”
Mills and Quinn both said the No campaign had not received any funding from international donors, however. Quinn said the Iona Institute’s only substantial international funding has been €24,000 over the past few years from an Italian foundation headed by a former member of the European Parliament, Luca Volonté, who sits on the board of the conservative online campaign platform CitizenGo along with NOM’s Brian Brown. But none of that money has gone to the referendum campaign, Quinn said.