David Benham

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 11/4/14

  • Glenn Beck's constantly shifting positions are now starting to confuse even his loyal audience, with one listener saying today, "I feel like I’m taking crazy pill" just trying to figure out Beck's contradictory stances.
  • David Lane issues a word of warning: "Secularism’s worldliness will only tolerate Christianity so long as its carnal tranquility is not disturbed or its authority challenged. But let the Christian bring his biblical values to the political arena, and he is immediately denounced as narrow-minded, out of step, behind the times, and a religious bigot."
  • Richard Land says that pastors in Houston "have felt the cold, suppressive hand of government and the attempt by the gay rights thought police to weaponize government against them."
  • James O'Keefe thinks that he is a "threat to the media."

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 10/29/14

  • Houston Mayor Annise Parker has announced that the subpoenas sent to five area pastors have been withdrawn.
  • David Benham was on hand in Ohio last night to a support radical right-wing pastor's fight against a local strip club.
  • A good question: "Is Ebola a Sign of Judgment or a Prophetic Warning?"
  • Is anyone surprised that there is now a right-wing effort underway to get nurse Kaci Hickox fired from her job for refusing to submit to involuntary quarantine after she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone?
  • Janet Mefferd is not happy with Russell Moore for "playing right into the hands of Big Gay."
  • Personhood Alliance has announced a "ground-breaking campaign to launch pro-life ballot initiatives at the county and municipal level across the country in 2015."
  • Finally, Phil Robertson says that Christians need to "vote godly!"

Benham Brothers Once Again Compare Themselves To ISIS Victims

During last weekend's "iPledge Sunday" event, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins interviewed David and Jason Benham, who repeated their new favorite talking point likening the loss of their planned reality television show to Christians who are being murdered by ISIS in the Middle East.

"This is a spiritual battle," Jason said. "From the outset, there was a war in Heaven and now it's manifesting itself here on this earth" in the form of attacks on Christians like them.

"We see the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, truth and lies," David said, pointing to ISIS as he then declared that "what's happening with swords over in the Middle East is happening with silence over here in America."

"The exact same agenda in the form of silence," he said. "That's their weapon and Jason and I were targeted and it's a very well orchestrated, well-oiled machine that comes after us."

Perkins completely agreed, saying that "in the Middle East they use the sword, and here they use silence but in both ways the voice of Christians are lost":

Stop Persecuting Us! Five Religious Right Tactics On Clear Display At The Values Voter Summit

One thing was clear at last week’s Values Voter Summit: many of the Religious Right’s leaders and allied politicians know that their stances on abortion rights and LGBT equality are becoming more and more toxic to the average voter, and less and less popular within the GOP.

Many speakers at the conference tried to reframe the debate on issues such as same-sex marriage, insisting that opponents of LGBT rights are becoming an oppressed minority in America. This delusion even seeped into matters such as foreign policy, with speakers attacking President Obama as an Islamist sympathizer who refuses to take military action against ISIS, even while he was doing exactly that.

Naturally, one politician was able to prey upon the many fears and fantasies of the far-right: Ted Cruz.

Even as the Values Voter Summit subtly changed its tone on some familiar issues, five tried and true tactics of the Religious Right were unchanged at last week’s event:

5. Make Audacious Persecution Analogies

While addressing the plight of Christians in the Mideast and people such as Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan and Saeed Abedini in Iran — both of whom are actually the victims of shocking anti-Christian persecution — Values Voter Summit speakers often attempted to claim that conservative Christians face similar abuses and comparable treatment in America.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel attempted to paint the Obama administration as more malicious than the government of Nazi Germany, and twins Jason and David Benham — who lost a planned HGTV reality show after we reported on their anti-gay political activism — even had the gall to compare themselves to the victims of ISIS.

Todd Starnes and Kelly Shackelford rattled off cases of purported anti-Christian persecution in America, “Duck Dynasty” star Alan Robertson said his family’s reality TV show was briefly suspended as the result of demonic attacks, and a Colorado baker who gained national attention after denying service to a gay couple broke down in tears.

Maggie Gallagher, the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, told attendees that marriage equality opponents will be “oppressed” due to their opinions, and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel predicted Big Government persecution of Christians on behalf of “the intolerant homosexual lobby.”

4. Demand Religious Freedom… Except For Muslims

For a conference dedicated to protecting religious liberty and addressing the supposed persecution of Christians in America, there sure was plenty of animosity towards Muslims.

Conference speakers including Michele BachmannRobert DeesGary Bauer and Brigitte Gabriel dedicated their remarks to the threat of Islam, with several conflating Al Qaeda and ISIS with all of Islam and suggesting that the U.S. government somehow declare war on the religion.

Prior to the conference, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose group was the summit’s chief sponsor, suggested that Muslim-Americans be stripped of their rights under the Constitution.

3. Brazenly Ignore Reality

It was surreal to watch several Values Voter Summit speakers criticize President Obama for not going after ISIS at the same time as a U.S.-led coalition was launching a daily torrent of airstrikes against ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said Obama doesn’t believe that ISIS leaders need to be “hunted down and killed and destroyed.”

Bachmann declared that the president was ignoring her sage advice on how to handle ISIS: “You kill their leader, you kill their council, you kill their army until they wave the white flag of surrender. That’s how you win a war!”

2. Push Back Against The GOP

There was a palpable fear throughout the conference that the Republican Party is moving away from the Religious Right, as more and more GOP candidates either refuse to highlight the movement’s anti-choice and anti-gay positions or are openly trumpeting support for abortion rights and gay marriage.

Just before the conference took place, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council issued a letter announcing their vow to defeat two openly gay Republican House candidates and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Oregon, who is pro-choice and running advertisements boasting of her support for marriage equality.

NOM president Brian Brown criticized Republicans for blaming the party’s stances on social issues for losses in the 2012 election. “It’s not our fault,” Brown insisted as he introduced unabashedly anti-gay politician Rick Santorum at the summit.

Later, at a NOM-sponsored panel, Brown accused gay rights supporters of attempting to “hijack” the GOP. While one panel at the summit attempted to explain the potential for libertarians and social conservatives to build a political alliance, it seems many in the audience didn’t want anything to do with the libertarian message.

1. Throw Them Red Meat

Ted Cruz once again won the summit’s presidential candidate straw poll, with Ben Carson, who didn’t attend the summit this year but was well-represented by campaigners from the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, finishing in second place. Cruz and Carson notably outpaced Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, two favorites of Religious Right movement who both spoke at the summit.

Cruz packed his speech with warnings about imminent threats to the Second Amendment and religious freedom, and listing objects of conservative derision: IRS, Common Core and Obamacare.

Conference organizers said Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were not welcome at the summit, but they wouldn’t have been able to stand a chance against Cruz’s easy applause lines anyway.

Benham Twins: We Are Like ISIS Victims!

We have gotten used to Religious Right activists compare themselves to Jews living under Nazi Germany, but David and Jason Benham took a new approach at the Values Voter Summit last night and compared themselves to victims of the terrorist group ISIS.

The Benham twins, of course, were referring to how they lost their planned HGTV reality show after we reported on their anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-Muslim political activism.

In their speech to the summit, the Benham twins argued that just as ISIS beheads their victim with a sword, progressive groups like Right Wing Watch “silence” conservatives by quoting them verbatim.

Jason Benham kicked it off by likening himself and his brother to Jesus Christ — a theme throughout their speech — and later David said that Christians in America are facing persecution just like Christians in the Mideast who are coming under attack from violent groups such as ISIS.

“There is a radical agenda that has come in our nation,” David explained, “the weapon of choice for the agenda in the Middle East is a sword, but the weapon of choice for the agenda in America is silence. They demand silence.”

The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who's Who Of The 2014 Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.

The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.

The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.

But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:

  • Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
  • Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
  • Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the "War on Terror" as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
  • Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
  • Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
  • Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:

  • Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
  • Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
  • Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
  • Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks  of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.

Benham Brothers

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

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

E.W. Jackson

The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:

  • Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
  • Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
  • Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
  • Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

Star Parker

Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:

  • Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “into the closet.”
  • Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
  • Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
  • Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America," specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:

  • Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
  • Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
  • Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
  • Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.

Sandy Rios

Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. Rios has also:

  • Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
  • Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
  • Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
  • Warned that the “homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
  • Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT! for America, where she works with local activists throughout the country to promote fears that Sharia law is taking hold in the U.S. and must be banned and to challenge textbooks that she believes are insufficiently critical of Islam. She makes frequent media appearances to warn of what she calls the “ secret Islamification” of the West. Among other attacks on Mulsim-Americans, Gabriel has:

This post was updated to include Brigitte Gabriel following an FRC announcement that she would speak at the summit. A previous edition of this post listed incorrectly listed James Dobson, one of the founders of the FRC, as a speaker.

The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who’s Who Of The 2014 Values Voter Summit

To: Reporters and editors
From: Drew Courtney, Director of Communications, People For the American Way
Date: September 22, 2014
Subject: The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who’s Who of the 2014 Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.

The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.

The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.

But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:

  • Contended that the anti-bullying “ It Gets Better ” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
  • Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “ radical sexualism ” and “global homosexuality.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “ boxcars.”
  • Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
  • Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the "War on Terror" as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
  • Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
  • Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
  • Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:

  • Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
  • Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
  • Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
  • Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks  of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.

Benham Brothers

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

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

E.W. Jackson

The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:

  • Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
  • Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
  • Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
  • Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

Star Parker

Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:

  • Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “ into the closet.”
  • Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
  • Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
  • Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America," specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:

  • Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
  • Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
  • Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
  • Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.

Sandy Rios

Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States . Rios has also:

  • Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
  • Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
  • Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
  • Warned that the “ homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
  • Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.

A previous version of this memo incorrectly listed James Dobson as a speaker. 

The Benham Brothers Are Ready To Put On Their Wedding Gown And Combat Boots To Defeat Satan

David and Jason Benham, two Religious Right activists who became right-wing celebrities after HGTV canceled their planned reality show due to their anti-choice, anti-gay activism, were among the speakers at last night's "Star Spangled Sunday" event, where they urged Christians to be a bold and heroic in standing up for Christianity just as they had been.

As Jason explained, HGTV may have canceled their show but "they did not take our freedom because we've been set free by the blood of Jesus Christ ... And we're encouraging everybody else to take a stand just like that."

David then declared that the church is just like the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment, before turning it into a strange analogy about MMA fighting by proclaiming that "when Satan steps into the octagon and he's got rockets in one hand and bombs in another with Hamas, and ISIS, and this agenda to silence our freedoms in America, it is the Bride of Christ that steps in with our wedding gown on and combat boots on and a sword in our right hand and we will win in Jesus name":

Right Wing Round-Up - 8/8/14

  • Marge Baker @ PFAW: GOP Obstruction of Executive Branch Nominees Means Longer Waits, Bigger Backup.
  • Simon Maloy @ Salon: Rand Paul is the new flip-flop king: How he’s purging his scary positions — and lying about it. 
  • Tom Boggioni @ Raw Story: Minnesota GOP’s Supreme Court nominee can’t stop running into trouble with traffic cops.

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

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

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

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

The Family Leader

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

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

The Family Leader has:

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

Vander Plaats has:

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

Tony Perkins

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

Perkins has:

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

The Benham Brothers

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

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

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

Rafael Cruz

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

Rafael Cruz has used his sudden prominence to:

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

Alveda King

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

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

Joel Rosenberg

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

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

Tony Perkins' Christian-Persecution Report Highlights Persecution of Tony Perkins

The Family Research Council came out yesterday with a report on "hostility to religion in America," a collection of anecdotes from the past 14 years supposedly illustrating the persecution of conservative Christians in the U.S.

Some anecdotes highlighted in the report are troubling incidents that FRC admits were later rectified. Others are incidents that we might not all count as examples of religious hostility — for instance Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean being “mocked and ridiculed” for her answer to a question on same-sex marriage in 2009. Still others are stories of dubious accuracy — for instance, the story of a girl in Florida supposedly punished for praying at school, who just so happened to be the daughter of the man in charge of promoting Todd Starnes’ book on Christian persecution.

And then there was this:

Minister’s Invitation to National Prayer Luncheon Revoked because of His Comments on Homosexuality in the Military – February 2010*

An ordained minister and Marine Corps veteran was punished for speaking out on a topic unrelated to his planned comments at the National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C. The minister criticized President Obama’s call to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, resulting in his invitation to speak at the National Prayer Luncheon being rescinded. The minister criticized the action as “black-listing” to suppress unwanted viewpoints.

Who is this unnamed minister who was disinvited from the National Prayer Luncheon? He wasn’t just a minister who had criticized “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. He was none other than the Family Research Council’s own president Tony Perkins.

This attempt to gloss over Perkins’ identity to make him seem like an innocent bystander to a vast anti-Christian agenda highlights a key strategy in the Religious Right’s persecution narrative. Like David and Jason Benham, who lost a TV contract with HGTV after Right Wing Watch reported on their vocal and public anti-gay, anti-choice activism (and who are also featured in FRC’s report), Tony Perkins is not just a private citizen who holds anti-gay views. He’s the leader of a major organization that opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” with misleading claims and demeaning rhetoric. You can agree or disagree with Perkins being disinvited from the prayer luncheon. But FRC would like us to believe that disagreement with Tony Perkins is the very same thing as hostility to religion.

Benham Brothers Ready To Die In Battle

The Religious Right mythologizing of David and Jason Benham continues. The Benham brothers – whose plans for a reality TV show on HGTV were scrapped by the network after Right Wing Watch reported on the brothers’ anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Islam activism – were featured speakers at last week’s Road to Majority conference, sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. And they’re on the schedule for the much bigger Values Voter Summit in September.

A Christian Post story on their appearance at Road to Majority frames their experience in typical martyrs-to-their-faith rhetoric, saying their reality show “was canceled because they spoke about their Christian views.”

Now, we don’t know exactly what motivated HGTV’s decision, but it seems to be a pretty good bet that it had nothing to do with the fact that the Benhams are outspoken about their Christian faith, and more to do with the fact that they had been outspoken advocates of limiting other people’s rights – as when Jason urged Charlotte, North Carolina, officials to deny permits for LGBT pride events, or when David took part it protests against the Islamic community center that critics inaccurately dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The Religious Right revels in manufacturing martyrs. And the Benham brothers are happy to play the part, portraying themselves as targets of a demonic gay rights movement that is out to silence its critics. “If people remain silent, then it’s going to continue to get worse. But when folks step up, and speak boldly the truth, and then it can actually get pushed back,” David told the Christian Post. “You have to be willing to die. I mean, Jason and I had to be willing to lose our show. We had to be willing to lose a book deal…”

In their Road to Majority remarks, the Benham brothers portrayed themselves as warriors.

“We just remember June the 6th, 1944. We know what happened at D-Day. We know what happened on Omaha and Utah beach. There’s something about those men that our dad taught us when we were kids. And he said, ‘Boys, don’t you ever run from bullets. You run toward the bullets.’ There are cultural bullets flying, all over today, especially religious liberty. And what’s happening right now is many spiritual leaders, elected leaders, they are running from bullets. But there’s a remnant of people that are ready to stand and say ‘I’m not running from these bullets any more. I’m gonna take this beach…’”

One of the brothers invoked Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who had been jailed in Sudan for refusing to renounce her faith (and who, it was reported today, is now safe in the US embassy), and then invoked Mel Gibson’s bloody battle epic “Braveheart.”

“Just like in the movie Braveheart, when all the Scottish Army was standing there, and they all had their gear on, and they were lined up and they were unified, and they were ready to fight but not a single one of them wanted to fight.  And then as William Wallace and a few men rode in on horses with blue face paint on. They were ready to pick a fight. And what I see before me right now are a bunch of people with some blue face paint on – so let’s go get it!"

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 5/29/14

  • Glenn Beck, David Barton, Michelle Malkin and other anti-Common Core activists will participate in a live event that will air in movie theaters throughout the country this summer called "We Will Not Conform."
  • Speaking of Beck, he has spent all week blaming Elliot Rodger's murder spree on video games, so logically he'll blame the murder of this two year-old girl on the Bible, right?
  • Predictably, David and Jason Benham have now become full-fledged Religious Right stars and have been given a speaking slot at Ralph Reed's upcoming Faith and Freedom Coalition conference.
  • Mat Staver reiterates his demand that Congress impeach President Obama: "Our Constitution and precious liberties are under full-scale assault by Barack Obama and his leftist administration. Patriotic Americans must refuse to stand silently by while leftists take our nation apart, plank by plank We MUST perform our duty as Americans to free ourselves of this tyranny."
  • Finally, Tea Party Nation has a message for the GOP: "America is waiting for you to prove you are patriots, not eunuchs."

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/20/14

Understanding The Benham Family's Expression Of Love

On Friday, Alan Colmes interviewed David and Jason Benham about the on-going controversy over the cancellation of their HGTV program due to their anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-Islam activism.

For the last two weeks, the Benham brothers have been complaining that they were the victims of a "smear campaign" build on "complete lies" and when Colmes finally asked David to explain just how they had been lied about, David asserted that "Right Wing Watch published the fact that we said 'God hates Muslims,' that is a complete and total lie."

Ironically, the only lie here is from David, as we never asserted that he or Jason said that "God hates Muslims." What we did explain in our post was that their father, Flip, had organized protests outside of mosques where protesters screamed "Jesus hates Muslims."

Later in the interview, Colmes pointed out to David that we were talking about the protests organized by his father and never attributed that statement to him or to Jason, but David still asserted that it was untrue because "my dad would never say 'God hates Muslims'":

We find that a little hard to believe since Flip Benham is notorious for his anti-Islam protests, such as this one where he stood outside of a mosque with a PA system in order to inform the Muslims in attendance that he had come "not to dialogue with you [but] to slay your false god":

Perhaps it was from watching their father express his "love" for Muslims that David and Jason learned how to express their "love" for gays.

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/16/14

No, SunTrust Did Not Drop The Benham Brothers Over Their Anti-Gay Views

Earlier today, The Daily Caller published an article claiming that SunTrust Bank had cut ties with David and Jason Benham's real estate company over their anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-Islam activism, with the Benhams asserting that this was the latest development in the on-going effort to "silence" them:

First they lost their television show. Now the Benham brothers say they are losing their business.

SunTrust Banks is cutting ties with would-be reality stars David and Jason Benham after liberal activists attacked them for their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage, The Daily Caller has learned.

In a statement provided first to TheDC on Friday, the Benham brothers confirmed that SunTrust Banks has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business, which includes several franchisees across four states.

The move comes just a week after HGTV announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the brothers.

“If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it,” said Jason Benham on Friday.

“We were caught off-guard with this one,” David Benham said of SunTrust’s actions. “Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”

The Benhams, in their statement, said the news came “without warning or explanation from SunTrust and took place over a 15 minute period” on Thursday. The Brothers said they have had a “mutually productive working relationship with SunTrust for many years” and hold a ”preferred broker” status with the bank.

The brothers said they contacted SunTrust, but bank employees declined to explain the reasoning for what happened.

Reached for comment by TheDC on Friday, SunTrust corporate spokesman Mike McCoy would not say whether the Benhams’ political views impacted their decision.

“We continuously review our supplier relationships and changes to the list of companies we rely on for services is a natural part of our business, however we do not publicly comment on specific vender relationships,” McCoy told TheDC.

In their statement, the Benhams said they “recognize SunTrust’s right to hire or fire any real estate broker they choose but do not support the decision” to fire independent franchisees that are associated with them. Many of these franchisees, they said, “do not hold the same beliefs” they do.

“As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down,” David Benham said. “Evidently, SunTrust’s longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values.”

You will notice that, in the article, SunTrust refused to comment on the reasoning behind the decision, noting simply that it routinely changes the companies with which it works as part of its standard business practices.

That, of course, merely allowed the Benhams to spin this decision as evidence of their never-ending persecution, resulting in the slanted Daily Caller article that presented their claims as fact.

In response, SunTrust has now issued a statement of its own, clarifying that the Daily Caller article "is inaccurate" and that the decision at issue was made by a third party vendor:

SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.

Mid-2013, we consolidated the management of certain residential assets with a third party vendor, which has the relationship with Benham.  While we do not publicly comment on specific vendor relationships, we don’t make choices on suppliers nor base business decisions on political factors, nor do we direct our third party vendors to do so.

The characterization in the media with respect to this matter is inaccurate.   We are contacting our third party supplier who works with Benham to clarify our policies.

David Benham Loves Gays And Is Merely Trying To Fight The 'Evil That's Enslaving People'

If it had been our goal to "silence" David and Jason Benham when we first wrote our post exposing their anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-Islam activism, we certainly did not do a very good job since they have now spent the last week appearing on dozens of radio and television programs explaining how they were supposedly the victims of some "demonic" agenda that is out to destroy them.

After spreading their 'we love gays, but they are controlled by Satan' worldview on just about any outlet that would have them, the Benhams' publicity campaign appears to finally be grinding to a halt, reducing them to appearing on programs hosted by vehemently anti-gay bigots like Bryan Fischer and crackpots like Jesse Lee Peterson, as they did yesterday where, once again, David tried to justify his anti-gay activism by asserting that he was merely standing up against the "evil that's enslaving people."

When Peterson commented that he admired the courage the Benham brothers had displayed in dealing with this controversy, David explained that the Bible says that the righteous are to be as bold as a lion and so, "if we have the Lord Jesus in our heart and we feel that there is wickedness or evil that's enslaving people like this agenda to silence in America that is hurting all kinds of people, not just Christians, then it's incumbent upon us as Christians to be bold as a lion and stand up against it":

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love And Liberty Mean To The Religious Right

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love and Liberty Mean To the Religious Right

David Benham Explain His Love For Gays … On Bryan Fischer's Notorious Hate Radio Show

On Tuesday, David Benham continued his charade about showing “love” for gay people in a radio interview with Bryan Fischer, the notoriously anti-gay radio host whose bigotry is so extreme that even Mitt Romney felt the need to condemn his “poisonous language.”

Along with his brother Jason, Benham spoke to Fischer about his “love” for gay people. Benham has previously expressed this “love” by labeling homosexuality “destructive,” “demonic” and akin to Nazism. The interview should come as no surprise, as Benham and Fischer both claim that demonic forces are behind homosexuality, which they both insist is a statement of love.

Fischer, for his part, openly admits that he supports anti-gay discrimination , claims gays are “demonic,” has likened gays to terrorists, wants gays removed from public office and blamed the Holocaust on gay people. The American Family Association spokesman — who supports the criminalization of homosexuality — has backed draconian anti-gay laws in countries like UgandaIndia and Russia.

While Benham has denied making anti-Muslim remarks, the same cannot be said for Fischer, who wants to forcibly convert Muslims with threats of violence, whom he claims worship a demonban Muslim immigration and mosquesthinks Islam should be outlawed; demands the deportation of Muslim-Americans and believes Muslims are inherently stupid and violent.

Let Fischer explain this disingenuous view of “love” for Muslims and gays:

Today, Benham told the Christian Broadcasting Network that homosexuality has turned from a “sin” into “an agenda that not only dominates and permeates” but “seeks to assassinate” people like him:

Where we are in terms of national sin, where we approve of what God disapproves of, when we do that it will ultimately get to the point where that sin will become an agenda that not only dominates and permeates, but it seeks to assassinate anyone who speaks out against it. That's where we are as a nation.

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