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.
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, saying that “the battle to preserve marriage is becoming a global one,” is soliciting "support" from his group’s members to fight a referendum for marriage equality in Ireland.
Brown sent an email to NOM supporters on Friday urging them not to believe the “slanted public opinion polls” showing overwhelming support for the marriage referendum. If Irish activists “can manage to pull off a victory, it will be a tremendous boost to the cause of marriage worldwide,” he wrote. Brown's email does not mention that only citizens or residents of Ireland can legally contribute directly to the anti-marriage campaign.
While we in the US have our eyes on the Supreme Court, the people of Ireland also are keenly engaged in the issue of redefining marriage. Interestingly, advocates for redefining marriage in America told the high Court that it's up to the justices to take this step because "fundamental rights" should not be left to popular vote.
Yet in Ireland, same-sex 'marriage' activists have done just that — pushed a national referendum that would redefine marriage. Apparently "principle" is a flexible concept that can be molded to suit the objectives of gay and lesbian activists depending on the circumstances.
In approximately three weeks (May 22nd) the people of Ireland will vote on whether to permit same-sex marriage in their Constitution. The No (i.e. pro-marriage) campaign is receiving significant abuse and needs your help.
Will you please do four things today:
1. Visit their campaign site and support them at www.keepmarriage.org.
2. Visit their Facebook page and join them in defending marriage.
3. Visit their Youtube page and like their videos.
4. Share this mail with your friends and encourage them to follow your example!
Increasingly the battle to preserve marriage is becoming a global one. While the Obama administration aggressively ties American foreign policy (to the extent they have a foreign policy) to advancing the gay agenda worldwide, most countries in the world strongly are opposed to redefining marriage. In fact, only 17 out of the 196 countries in the world recognize same-sex 'marriage;' less than ten percent of the total and almost all in the west. The rest resist.
Just like in campaigns for marriage here in America, slanted public opinion polls become fodder to influence the public and depress supporters of marriage. This is happening in Ireland. If they can manage to pull off a victory, it will be a tremendous boost to the cause of marriage worldwide. Please do what you can to bring awareness to their efforts.
Speaking from the pulpit of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May 2004, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Dobson’s words were simulcast into churches across the country as part of a “Battle for Marriage” rally that just happened to coincide with President George W. Bush’s hard-fought reelection campaign. Three months earlier, the president himself had announced to the nation that “to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.”
Opposition to same-sex marriage emerged as a key component of the president’s reelection strategy that year, as the Bush campaign worked with Religious Right leaders, including Dobson, to marshal conservative voters to the polls to back state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and other unions. Ballot measures in 11 states, all successful, aided the president’s reelection bid and helped to swing the momentum, for a time, to the side of the anti-gay Right.
While a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples had failed to clinch the required votes from eitherhouse of Congress, after the 2004 election, Dobson stressed that “mainstream Americans” supported such an amendment, knowing that they “could not stand idly by while the radical gay agenda was forced down their throats.”
A decade later, Dobson left Focus on the Family, reportedly in part because the organization he had founded refused to give a leadership position to his divorced son. Dobson and his son Ryan now host a radio program called “Family Talk” and Focus has moved on under the less fiery leadership of Jim Daly. Ted Haggard, the pastor of the church where Dobson spoke at the 2004 “Battle for Marriage,” eventually left his post after acknowledging that he had relationships with men. An architect of Bush’s 2004 re-election strategy, Ken Mehlman, announced six years later that he is gay. Another Bush campaign strategist, Karl Rove, said in 2013 that he could see a future GOP presidential nominee endorsing gay marriage.
This dramatic shift toward marriage equality may culminate this year when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of cases challenging the constitutionality of the remaining state-level bans on same-sex marriage.
But the Religious Right is not ready to give up what was, until recently, a winning culture-war issue.
Now, as even many conservative pundits are predicting that the Supreme Court will strike down the remaining state bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders are preparing their response.
In a conference call with other movement figures, Dobson was steadfast in his opposition. If the Supreme Court strikes down the state bans and states across the country fail to convene “a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution” on marriage, Dobson warned, “we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two.”
Worse, Dobson said, there could be a war: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”
This style of apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision is not uncommon in a movement whose leaders are preparing to commit civil disobedience and calling on states to defy the court if it issues a broad ruling in favor of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The Religious Right’s current strategy in the fight against marriage equality — claiming to be the real victims while making wild warnings about imminent anti-Christian persecution — was previewed in the 2009 signing of the Manhattan Declaration and the campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act the same year.
That same year, Religious Right activists launched a relentless, but unsuccessful, campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Right alleged that the bill would criminalize Christian teachings and the Bible, throw pastors in jail, quash free speech and legalize pedophilia and other illegal sex acts. In the five years following the law’s enactment, none of the wildpredictions about its effects have come close to materializing. But that hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from recycling the very same discredited claims to warn against nationwide marriage equality.
For example, Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas pastor and activist with close ties to politicians including Sen. Ted Cruz, has repeated his unfounded claims about the 2009 hate crimes act almost verbatim when discussing the potential dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage. As did Mike Huckabee, who told pastors on a conference call that preaching against homosexuality will be criminalized. Just this month, Scarborough warned that if gay couples are no longer barred from marriage, preaching from the Bible will become a crime and anti-gay conservatives will be throwninjail. Five years ago, he made almost exactly the same dire warning about the hate crimes act.
The Religious Right’s apocalyptic rhetoric about marriage equality has only become more incendiary as many of the ban’s defenders begin to expect that they will lose at the Supreme Court.
Nazi Germany, Jim Crow comparisons
Increasingly, Religious Right leaders have been portraying the push for equal rights for the LGBT community as a fascist, Nazi-style movement that will usher in a wave of oppression. And much like how Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement resisted Jim Crow, these activists argue, conservatives must also defy gay rights laws that they view as equally if not more oppressive.
Bryan Fischer, the conservative radio host and former American Family Association spokesman, regularly claims that gay people are modern-dayNazis and to blame for the rise of Nazism in Germany, asserting that Adolf Hitler was “an active homosexual” who recruited gays into his cause because “homosexual soldiers basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after.”
David Lane has said that Christians in America “must risk martyrdom” over the issue of marriage equality. Likewise, American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios has repeatedlyurged opponents of gay rights to “prepare for martyrdom.”
Even more frequently, anti-gay activists maintain that gay rights will usher in a new form of slavery and Jim Crow.
“Apparently someone forgot to tell the Stormtroopers in the homosexual movement about the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and freedom of both will and conscience,” Fischer said last year. “The leaders of the Gay Gestapo have become our new slave masters. They can now send us to the hole if we refuse the massa’s demands.”
Fischer has also charged that gay rights measures violate the constitutional ban on slavery, and even declared that as a result of gay rights, “Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.”
Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, has similarly claimed that gay rights advocates are practicing an “anti-religious” version of Jim Crow, while Fox News pundit and RedState editor Erick Erickson has said that “gay rights activists use the tactics of Bull Connor to push for what they declare civil rights.”
Perkins, the Family Research Council leader, is one of the most visible and vocal figures in the Religious Right, frequently appearing on national television and hosting his own daily radio show. Perkins also organizes an annual conference, the Values Voter Summit, which brings top Republican politicians together with Religious Right activists. But despite his veneer of respectability, Perkins is just as extreme as activists considered to be on the far-right fringe: He has spoken out in defense of Uganda’s “kill the gays” measure and called gay rights supporters Satanic, among other things.
Perkins has also taken to warning that if the Supreme Court sides with marriage equality advocates, the U.S. will see a full-blown revolution.
Perkins warned in 2012 that if the Supreme Court were to strike down same-sex marriage bans throughout the country, “I’m telling you what, I think you will create a firestorm of opposition. I think that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, when you look at a nation that is so divided along these moral and cultural issues that you could have — I hate to use the word — a revolt, a revolution. I think you could see Americans saying, ‘you know what, enough of this,’ and I think it could explode and just break this nation apart.”
“They’re sowing the seeds of the disillusion of our republic,” Perkins said of gay marriage supporters in 2014. “I think there’s coming a point that they’re going to push Christians to a point where they’re not going to be pushed anymore, and I think we’re very quickly coming to that point.”
As the Supreme Court considered a pair of marriage cases in 2013, Perkins said that the threat of a revolution may keep the justices from striking down same-sex marriage bans:
I believe the court will push as far as they think they can without creating a social upheaval or a political upheaval in this country. They’re smart people, I think, they understand how organizations and how societies work and if you get your substructure out of kilter with the superstructure, if you get government out of whack with where the people are and it goes too far, you create revolution. I think you could see a social and cultural revolution if the court goes too far on this.
Just last month, Perkins again predicted that the Supreme Court could trigger an uprising with a ruling in favor of marriage equality: “If the court imposes upon the nation a redefinition of marriage, I don’t think the nation is going to accept it, I absolutely don’t, and the conflict that is going to come as a result of it.”
Perkins may not find much support for his anti-gay revolution from the public at large, but he may find his some willing participants in his fellow Religious Right leaders.
“The church and people of faith and values need to rise up” against such a ruling, he said in 2013. “We just simply cannot allow this to become the law of the land.”
The previous year, Staver warned that marriage equality “could be the unraveling of the United States” and trigger a civil war:
This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country.
After the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of DOMA, Staver declared that the country was “crossing into the realm of rebellion, we’re crossing into the realm of revolution.”
The Alabama Example
After the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision led to a string of federal court decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders pleaded for governors and other state officials to openly flout the rulings.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, said state and local officials should simply refuse to enforce such rulings, explaining: “Well, the courts have spoken and it’s an important voice, but it’s not the voice of God and the Supreme Court isn’t God.”
Finally, they found their answer in Roy Moore, the elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Moore emerged as a conservative hero over a decade ago, when he defied orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument that he installed in the courthouse rotunda during his previous term as chief justice. When the standoff eventually led to Moore losing his post, he parlayed his newfound fame into two unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns and even a presidential “exploratory committee.” Moore also launched his own far-right legal advocacy group, the Foundation for Moral Law.
Moore returned to the court after winning a statewide election in 2012 and two years later, he once again made national headlines when he ordered state probate judges, who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, to disregard a Bush-appointed federal judge’s decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Moore demanded that the state flout the ruling, saying that it had no need to implement the decision.
His case against marriage equality is simple: “Homosexuality is wrong and we all know it. Marriage of the same sex is wrong and we all know it.” Moore’s legal advocacy organization, now led by his wife, defended his order to probate judges by explaining that “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
Moore took his show to the road, telling a rally in Texas held in his honor that he hopes he will not have to “give his life” in the fight against gay marriage. He warned at a Family Research Council event that the government will soon legalize “parent-and-child” marriages and justify “taking your children simply by the same logic they’re following.”
“Christians need to stand up and do their duty to God as their duty to their country,” he said.
Some Republicans and their allies in the Religious Right hope that Moore’s defiant stance will serve as a model for the rest of the country.
A bill introduced in Texas not only declares that the state does not have to follow any U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, but it goes one step further by blocking funding for the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill would go so far as to punish state employees who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, barring such employees from “a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.”
In North Carolina, a group of Republican lawmakers want to create a religious exemption for officials in charge of issuing marriage licenses who don’t want to follow a recent court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Staver’s group, Liberty Counsel, filed a lawsuit “requesting emergency protection from the state courts for any magistrate who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.”
GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma reacted to a court ruling striking down their state’s marriage ban by proposing a bill which would remove any judge who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple and deny salaries, benefits and pensions to any state employees involved in marrying gay couples. Another bill in Oklahoma would remove judges from the marriage licenses process altogether and instead restrict marriage duties to “an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he or she belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi.”
End of the Line
While social conservative leaders have mostly focused on the purported repercussions of a decision that they see as unfavorable, they also have a plan in case the court sides with their arguments: demand that states roll back same-sex marriage rights and re-impose bans previously removed by the voters, lawmakers or courts.
For now, though, right-wing leaders will be focused on doing what they always do: misleading their supporters about the so-called dangers of gay rights, making reckless charges of religious persecution, and supporting unconstitutional means to promote their discriminatory goals.
However, Dobson and his allies do see the silver lining of legal gay marriage. In a conversation with Dobson the week before the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the marriage cases, pastor Jim Garlow and former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher predicted that Americans will ultimately reject gay marriage once the country experiences its horrible consequences; that is, if America is able to survive that long.
“In my view, when you stand up for marriage as the union of a man and a woman, you are standing up for civil rights,” he said. “You’re standing up for the civil rights of children, you’re standing up for the rights of the oppressed, you’re standing up for the one institution that we know has done the best in combatting poverty, in increasing the opportunity for educational attainment. This is the ideal structure in which to raise children and altering it or trying to even more transform it by moving forward with same-sex marriage will be and has been profoundly damaging.”
“And I’m only now talking about what occurs to children, what happens in our schools,” he continued, “and I’m not even touching on the consequences to the church itself and to individuals through undermining religious liberty, which we’ve seen time and time again when same-sex marriage is imposed on states.”
Comparing the March for Marriage to the marches of the civil rights movement, Brown warned that “the freedom of the church to spread the Gospel” is at stake if marriage equality is legalized nationwide.
“The freedom of the church to speak truth to power, the freedom of the church to spread the Gospel, that itself is at stake because you have a growing number of folks even within Congress who think it’s okay to talk about stripping the church of its 501(c)3 status or saying that somehow the church is discriminating when it says this is the truth about marriage,” he said. “That is not discriminating.”
“You know, folks supporting same-sex marriage are trying to hijack the civil rights movement to use it to support the redefinition of marriage,” he added. “That’s not what the civil rights movement was about. In truth, we’re standing for civil rights when we’re standing for the truth of marriage. We’re standing for the rights of churches to proclaim the Gospel.”
Later in the program, Brown told Poindexter that he feels “blessed to have played some role” in the “rainbow coalition” opposing marriage equality. He added that the “rainbow coalition” will stay together even if the Supreme Court issues a sweeping ruling for marriage rights because such a ruling would merely “be putting a lie into the law.”
“The Supreme Court will be putting a lie into the law if they say that somehow all the states need to redefine marriage,” he said. “Marriage is still the union of a man and a woman, we just have a lie embedded in our law. And it will be up to us to continue to grow, continue to work together, and continue to proclaim truth to power if the courts were to put that sort of lie into law.”
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage spoke to Sandy Rios last week at CPAC to promote his group’s “March for Marriage,” which will coincide with Supreme Court arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
Brown told Rios that marriage equality advocates are using “ludicrous” and “absurd” arguments while seeking to give the judiciary so much power that it threatens “the nature of what it means to have a constitutional republic.”
“We need to stand up against it because if they can do this on marriage, folks who are concerned about gun rights, taxes, anything, if we give the courts the power to rewrite our constitution at will, then we have lost our republican form of government and that’s something everyone should be standing up and saying ‘no we’re not going to accept this,’” Brown said.
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown joined Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott on her radio program last week, where the two discussed the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Brown told Scott that a pro-equality decision would be “illegitimate” and anti-LGBT groups would have to emulate the anti-choice movement after Roe and “build a movement that continues to stand and proclaim the truth.”
He compared a potential marriage equality decision to infamous Supreme Court rulings upholding the Fugitive Slave Act, the prohibition on citizenship for African Americans, and school desegregation.
“It may be a generation or two down the line, but this lie about what it means to be a human being cannot stand. It cannot stand,” he said. “And just because the Supreme Court says it’s so, it doesn’t make it so. The Supreme Court has had horrible decisions in the past, horrible decisions like the Dred Scott decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, the Fugitive Slave Act, Roe v. Wade. Just because the Supreme Court said it was so didn’t make it so, and there was an obligation for people living in those times to stand up and say ‘no this is wrong’ and to fight with every ounce of their being for the truth.”
He added that the movement would have to contend with “some weakness from Republican leaders on the marriage issue.”
Earlier in the interview, Scott asked Brown about the decision to approve hormone therapy for Chelsea Manning, which Scott joked was part of a “witness protection program.”
“Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that once you redefine what it means, or attempt to redefine what it means to be a man and a woman, then this clearly is the next step,” Brown responded. “And I don’t think people, at times we may not think deeply about what we’re being asked to accept, especially on the issue of same-sex marriage, but what we’re essentially being asked to accept is the very deconstruction of what it means to be a mother and father, husband and wife, and what it means to be a human being.”
“And once you go down this road of acting as if the biological reality of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives doesn’t matter, it doesn’t exist, then the next step is to say that gender itself is a construct. And we’re seeing that across the country, the next step on quote-unquote ‘transgender rights,’” he said.
He added that transgender rights measures would have "profound consequences" that are being seen "across the country."
NOM President Brian Brown, whose international petition site CitizenGo was already on record supporting Moore, wrote to NOM supporters on Friday that the many federal court rulings in favor of marriage equality in the wake of the Windsor decision represent not just “bullying” but “tyranny.”
“[T]his is the kind of principled stand we need more of our public officials to take—and we need to take such a stand ourselves, too,” he wrote.
We need to stand up to this kind of bullying whenever we encounter it, but especially when it comes dressed up in the robes of the state authority. Indeed, then we shouldn't call it merely bullying at all, but assign it the true name it deserves: tyranny.
Tyranny is precisely the word, for example, to describe the rash of judicial rulings that has swept across the country since the Windsor decision in summer of 2013 that overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act. And that's not just my opinion: it's also the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, the Honorable Roy Moore.
Justice Moore sent a letter to Alabama's Governor, Robert Bentley, this week urging him to "continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of [the state of Alabama] and for our posterity."
Moore's letter came in the wake of a ruling by a federal judge in Alabama that claimed the state's "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" is supposedly unconstitutional. The amendment was approved by 81% of voters in just 2006, winning every county in the State. The judge's decision is currently stayed pending review by higher courts.
Moore encouraged Governor Bentley: "Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority" [emphasis added].
Marriage Supporter, this is the kind of principled stand we need more of our public officials to take—and we need to take such a stand ourselves, too.
In the same email, Brown touted his work pushing anti-LGBT laws overseas, lamenting that “the biggest threats to marriage are unfortunately coming from the West” and accusing Obama and LGBT rights activists of attempting “to export a radical view of marriage to the rest of the world.”
And as we work, let's remember that we're not alone in this fight! Lately, I have had a few opportunities to meet with marriage leaders throughout the globe, such as at the recent Vatican Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman. The experiences of these countries make it clear that we have a global fight to preserve marriage, and that the biggest threats to marriage are unfortunately coming from the West — led by the United States (and the lawless actions of President Obama) but also including some countries in western Europe.
It's nothing short of a new western imperialism for the Obama administration and his allies among gay and lesbian activists to attempt to export a radical view of marriage to the rest of the world. (Indeed, Pope Francis, on his recent trip to the Philippines, called it a kind of "ideological colonization.") There's something ironic in all this, seeing how President Obama's foreign policy strategy (to the extent he has one) is supposedly predicated on the idea that America must work in concert with the international community. You'd think that advice would apply to Obama's attempt to redefine marriage, as well, since the overwhelming majority of countries around the globe have rejected same-sex ‘marriage'...
And that leads me to a positive bit of news to share in closing this week: if you haven't already heard, the national parliament of Macedonia recently voted overwhelmingly (72-4) to create constitutional provisions limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. And the people of Slovakia are very likely to do the same in a national referendum in little over a week's time!
Earlier this week, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama’s governor urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage because, he wrote, “the laws of our state have always recognized the Biblical admonition” against homosexuality.
Moore’s arguments may be legally questionable, but his stand against the federal courts seems to be catapulting him back into right-wing hero status that he hasn’t seen since he defied a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from his court’s rotunda.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised Moore for standing up against marriage equality, which he warned is a threat “not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival":
Federal judges may have the last word on marriage -- but they won’t have the final one. That’s becoming abundantly clear in Alabama, the latest state to feel the sting of a runaway court invalidating the will of the people on marriage. In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Chief Justice Roy Moore made that quite clear -- explaining that this isn’t an issue that the federal courts will resolve. Rather, he said, it “raises serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”
Unelected judges and a handful of lawyers have been pushing state marriage amendments over like sleeping cows. Meanwhile, stunned Americans have struggled to make sense of a legal system that puts its own political agenda ahead of the expressed will of the people. Like most conservatives, FRC has watched in horror as the courts have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their voice on an issue of critical importance -- not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival.
State justices can, as Justice Moore has done, defy unconstitutional federal rulings which have overturned marriage amendments. Governors, such as Gov. Bentley, can defy unconstitutional federal rulings by forbidding county clerks to issue marriage licenses which would be in violation of the state constitution. (First Amendment law firms such as the Alliance Defending Freedom have pledged to defend pro bono any clerks who refuse to issue same-sex licenses on grounds of conscience.)
Such actions would most emphatically not represent civil disobedience, but rather the best in civil obedience. An elected official can hardly be charged with rebellion when he is simply fulfilling the oath he took before God to uphold both the federal constitution and the constitution of his own state.
Meanwhile, CitizenGo, a petition hub run in part by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, asked supporters to sign a petition commending Moore for "standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay ‘marriage’ on the state of Alabama":
Chief Justice Roy Moore,
Thank you for standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay "marriage" upon the state of Alabama. Your bold stand against the redefinition of marriage and the erosion of our nation's moral foundations is an inspiration.
I want you to know that I stand with you as you resist the federal government's unconstitutional demands regarding homosexual "marriage."
I encourage you to fulfill your duty as a lesser magistrate to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the great state of Alabama by resisting these unjust demands.
Meanwhile, the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore led before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court and which is now run by his wife, hasn't reacted to Moore's letter. But the group did respond to the judge’s ruling by acknowledging that “Jesus loves” gay people but “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
Next week, Slovakia will hold a referendum against same-sex marriage, and anti-LGBT groups from around the globe are getting into the game to support it.
Although Slovakia has already banned same-sex marriage in its constitution, the referendum would reinforce and expand the prohibition, asking voters, according to the Associated Press, “whether they agree that a marriage can be called only a union between a man and a woman, same-sex partners can't adopt children, and that children wouldn't have to attend school classes on sex education if their parents don't agree with them.”
Last year, a European representative of the U.S. group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief in the country’s constitutional court in favor of holding the referendum. ADF also supported a provision in that would have banned domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, but the court rejected including that provision in the referendum.
Yesterday, CitizenGo, a Madrid-based group whose board of directors includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, circulated a petition to its American email subscribers supporting Slovakia’s marriage referendum. The email sent to American supporters was signed by Josh Craddock, the head of Personhood USA’s internationaland United Nations work, on behalf of CitizenGo.
The petition, which has already gathered more than 45,000 signatures, encourages Slovak citizens to vote “yes” on the referendum in the face of what it calls “an aggressive foreign media campaign” against it:
The Slovak referendum is under attack from an aggressive foreign media campaign against the initiative. We cannot leave Slovak citizens alone in the face of these international pressures against marriage and the family.
By signing this petition, you will show your solidarity and support for marriage and family. Your signature will encourage Slovakia to vote in favor of these important values.
The Cato Institute’s Dalibor Rohac wrote in the Times last month that Chromik is warning that LGBT people don’t want “rights,” but to “shut the mouths of other people,” which he says could lead to “dictatorships” or “mass murders”:
Anton Chromik, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Family, claims that “homosexuals are not asking just for ‘rights,’ but want to shut the mouths of other people. They will be making decisions over other people’s lives, careers, and that has always in history resulted in dictatorships and sometimes even in mass murders.”
This rhetoric is reminiscent of the warnings peddled American anti-LGBT activists; as Political Research Associates has noted, the frame of LGBT people as the real oppressors is one that U.S. groups have been increasingly pushing in their work overseas.
Rohac also noted that the anti-LGBT referendum is tied up with Slovakia’s economic troubles and with its relationship with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of anti-LGBT sentiment to strengthen support for Russia in Eastern European and Central Asia:
For the government of Prime Minister Fico, the controversy is a welcome — though temporary — distraction from some very real problems facing Slovakia. While its transition from Communism was a success, the country is still plagued by rampant corruption, chronic unemployment — exceeding 30 percent in some regions — and by the intergenerational poverty of the sizeable Roma population.
The country has also seen a geopolitical shift following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Mr. Fico becoming one of the Kremlin’s leading apologists. Unsurprisingly, Slovakia’s anti-gay activists have a soft spot for Vladimir Putin, too. Former Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky, a former Catholic dissident and an outspoken supporter of the referendum, noted recently that “in Russia, one would not even have to campaign for this — over there, the protection of traditional Christian values is an integral part of government policy” and warned against the “gender ideology” exported from the United States.
One of those activists was Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, who had previously testified before a Russian parliamentary committee in favor of tightening the country's laws preventing the adoption of Russian orphans by same-sex couples.
Brown warned the audience in Moscow that “[i]n the West especially there is an attempt to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage” but claimed that Americans in general oppose LGBT rights. Lamenting that “there’s a picture that is sometimes painted of the United States as if all of us in the U.S. are somehow embracing this new and false vision of the family,” Brown said that it is “unelected judges” who are “coming and simply throwing away the votes” of Americans who oppose LGBT equality, violating “our civil right to have our vote counted.”
Brown told the conference attendees that he was hopeful for the future of the “international pro-family movement” that would “stand in a united manner against the attempt to redefine the very nature of what it means to be a human being.”
It is a great blessing to be with all of you here, in Moscow. I must say I am obviously an American, and I have eight children. We do exist, there are Americans with large families, but I never thought, and after talking to so many other Americans that are here today, I don’t think any of us ever thought that we would be here in Moscow, uniting together with all of you and seeing the leadership in defense of the family that we’re seeing in this country, and God bless you for that.
There are three things I want to discuss today. I want to focus primarily on what the future of the international pro-family movement is. Because what is occurring here, and what is occurring around the world, with leaders coming together, and meeting, and thinking, and discussing, and planning, and organizing, is a historic moment. We have an opportunity, we have been placed here to make a change.
Of course we see all of the bad that’s occurring. We see the countries that are embracing a false notion of marriage, we see the depressing and horrible rates of abortion in countries around the world; we see the negatives from what goes on in the media, what we see in movies. But there’s also a great good occurring, and great opportunities, and I think this moment in history is the time in which people from around the globe who understand the truth of the nature of the family, the truth of the nature of human dignity, the truth about what we need to do to protect the unborn, – we have an opportunity to band together, even in places that might seem unlikely, even in new relationships that we haven’t had in the past, to stand in a united manner against the attempt to redefine the very nature of what it means to be a human being. Because that in fact is what the redefinition of the family is all about.
So I think there are three characteristics of this new movement that we should embrace as we move forward. Number one – I think we need a boldness, a willingness to speak. In the West especially there is an attempt to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage; there is an attempt to punish donors who’ve donated to protect marriage in states like California throughout the country, to get their names in public, to try and fire people who are standing up for their beliefs, from their jobs, simply because they are standing for the truth of the union of a man and a woman.
At this point in history, it’s not enough to shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, I’m not going to deal with that.” We have to deal with it, we have to stand for the truth, we have to be bold.
At the same time, I believe we need a humility in our interactions around the world. What I mean is, much of our mass media is telling us things that may or may not be true, and it requires humility to work together with those that you may have differences on other matters, on the key issues of marriage and life. It takes humility to say that there are other countries that have stood up, and there’s something we can learn from them, especially if there’ve been other historic differences. I look at France, and I see one million people in the streets. We need to learn from France standing up for marriage.
It also takes humility that there’s a picture that is sometimes painted of the United States as if all of us in the U.S. are somehow embracing this new and false vision of the family. That is not true. The reality is that when the people of state after state have been able to vote on the definition of marriage, they voted to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Only in a few states has marriage been redefined. In 32 states the people have voted, even in California, to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman. When the people have been able to have their say, they’ve stood up for the truth! The problem is that we are now in a position when judges, unelected judges are coming and simply throwing away the votes of all of these millions of Americans! We have to stand up for civil rights, our civil right to have our vote counted!
So I think that when talking about the United States it’s important to understand that there are many-many people that are working to protect marriage, that are working to protect life and don’t accept the changes that are occurring at the higher levels of government.
Finally, I think we need to be faithful. Our Lord said that we would be persecuted if we stood up for righteousness; we are going to be persecuted, it is going to take a faithfulness for all of us that when we are persecuted and when there are attempts to divide us, that we stand together for the truth! There are many issues on which we may disagree; there are many issues of geopolitics that there may be differences of opinion in this room, but what we are united on is the fundamental truth that is at stake in this century, and that is the truth of the beauty and dignity of marriage and family.
And I believe, instead of fear, or being depressed, or being negative, we need an optimism with our faith, to say that no culture can long stand that neglects or denies the truth, the simple truth that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. No culture can long stand that denies the inherent dignity of each and every human being. We need to proclaim this truth, be faithful, and I believe, it may take five years, ten years, fifteen years, even decades in the future. If we are faithful, we will make a change. But above all that, whether the change occurs or not, we are all called to do this. This is our mission, this is our duty, and it is our honor to be a part of it at this time in history. Thank you, and God bless!
A new report from the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) examines the organized assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Europe from the Catholic hierarchy and its conservative allies. CESI was founded in 1997 to respond to violations of human rights, particularly women’s and minority rights, as well as militarization and economic dislocation.
“Neo-Conservative Threats to Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights in the European Union” examines the efforts of the Catholic hierarchy, its “satellite organizations,” and allied politicians to restrict access to abortion and LGBT equality in the European Union. According to the report, “the Vatican hierarchy and its civil allies have recently re-organized and enhanced their efforts towards influencing public policies regarding family, sexuality and reproductive health.”
“Institutions in Brussels are now increasingly used as channels to promote Catholic values and fundamentalist ideology, creating an atmosphere of increased neo-conservative influence on the political institutions…this kind of extreme advocacy in defense of traditional, catholic values simultaneously aims to limit rights and discriminate against ‘the others and different ones’…”
The report documents the global interconnections among conservative groups and activists. For example, Luca Volontè is on board of patrons of U.S.-based C-FAM, and is among the European contributors to C-FAM’s “Turtle Bay and Beyond” blog.
In June of 2014, Luca Volontè, Ignacio Arsuaga – the president of CitizenGO and HazteOir, and Ludovine de La Rochère – the president of La Manif Pour Tous, have publicly supported “The March for Marriage” in Washington, an event organized by The National Organization for Marriage. In a meeting that was held behind closed doors, together with the representatives of some 70 countries, they have begun working on establishing an International Organization for Marriage.
The report notes the movement’s use of online communications and organizing strategies, including the online petition platform called CitizenGO.
CitizenGO presents itself as a global community of active citizens who use online petitions and actions to defend and promote life, family and (religious) freedom. They emphasize promoting active citizen participation in public and political life on local, national and international level, so this platform, based in Spain, operates in eight languages (Italian, German, French, English, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish). Arabic and Chinese version are in the planning stage.
Skillfully using the principles of participatory democracy as a disguise, CitizenGo actually works as a politically intelligent instrument, gathering numerous prominent figures of neoconservative agenda in the EU and centralizing advocacy actions against the right to abortion, marriage equality, assisted reproductive technology and sexual education in schools. In organized advocacy efforts against adopting three reports on SRHR status and gender equality in the EU (Estrela, Lunacek, Zuber), they have managed to gather about 350 000 support signatures in few months, and, while lobbying for each individual report, they have mobilized citizens to send tensof thousands of e-mail messages to the representatives in the European Parliament. That kind of numbers in support, as well as the range of influence should mostly be credited to Ignacio Arsuaga, the president of the CitizenGO platform and the founder of the organization HazteOir, who spent many years adapting online organizing and advocacy techniques used by conservative groups in the USA to the political conditions in Spain and the EU.
In addition to conservative efforts Europe-wide, the CESI report also includes a focused look on political activities in Croatia, including the role of the Catholic hierarchy in support of a campaign for a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples into the country’s constitution, the use of the U.S.-developed “TeenStar” abstinence-based sex ed program, and travel to the country by U.S. religious conservative activists Judith Reisman and Lila Rose.