Franklin Graham

A Spiritual Battle For America's Future: Five Takeaways From The Religious Right's Awakening Conference

On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.

At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality. 

Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.

1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail

While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.

The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”

Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.

Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”

Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.

2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues

Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.

Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:

Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:

This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”

3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism

Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.

Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.

What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.

Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:

4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It

Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.

Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”

“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”

The RNC’s Connelly also made a plug for conservative churches to engage in partisan politics , urging pastors to buck IRS rules preventing politicking from the pulpit and declaring that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual.”

5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other

One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.

Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.

Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":

It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.

Franklin Graham: Only One Election Left To Save America

As we noted yesterday, easily the biggest round of applause at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference on Saturday came when Franklin Graham, the fiery son of evangelist Billy Graham, walked onto the main stage of Faith Assembly. Graham, who leads his father’s ministry as well as an international relief organization, benefits from the reverence paid to his father but has also built a reputation of his own as a commentator on the apocalyptic nature of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Graham told his audience that he has a more political and divisive reputation than his father because America has gone downhill since his father’s time and might not recover if the Religious Right doesn’t turn out to vote in the 2016 and stop taking candidates like Obama at face value when they say they’re Christians:

Now, some people say, ‘Franklin, you’re a lot more harsh than your father. Your father wouldn’t have done this’…When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore. And I can tell you right now it ain’t coming back. But we’re going to lose everything if we don’t in this next election — and we only have this next election, I think, for our voice to be heard.

This attitude, if we stay home, or if someone says ‘I’m a Christian,’ ‘Oh, I’ll just vote for him without doing a little investigation,’ we’re going to lose everything. But let me tell you if the church speaks with the voice of Almighty God, let these candidates know you don’t take us Christians for granted. Don’t just think we’re going to show up and vote for you. You’ve got to convince us that what you say is correct and what you say is true.

Earlier in the speech, Graham urged pastors not to “shut up” on opposing gay rights and abortion.

Franklin Graham Exhorts Pastors: 'Don't Shut Up' About Homosexuality And Abortion

Easily the biggest round of applause at this weekend’s The Awakening conference in Orlando came when evangelist Franklin Graham walked on stage. Although the Religious Right event took place at a seemingly generationally and racially diverse megachurch, the attendees were largely older and white, and Graham — the son of evangelist royalty Billy Graham — represented a link to an era of a powerful, politically connected evangelical leaders.

Graham captured the spirit of the crowd when he railed against pastors and churches for giving up on condemning homosexuality and abortion for fear of offending congregants, telling the audience of activists that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you if you speak up and you tell the truth” about those issues.

“Let me tell you something. A lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality. You know why? I’ll tell you why. Because they are afraid that there may be some man or woman in the congregation whose son or daughter is gay,” he said, lamenting that some pastors are tempted to “just shut up” about homosexuality.

“Don’t shut up, guys,” he said to wild applause. “You don’t shut up. If the people that are coming after you, ‘yak, yak, yak,’ and they want to run you out of church, then let them run you out of church. Go to another church, let them have that church. I’ll tell you what, God will bless you and he’ll honor you if you speak up and you tell the truth.”

He added that it was “the same with abortion”: "Don’t shut up. It’s a sin against God, okay? It’s murder.”

“Young people in the church today don’t know that homosexuality is wrong because pastors aren’t speaking up, but they go to school and teachers in the school tell them that it’s okay, that it’s all right, God made them that way, that’s the way they are and it’s a choice,” he warned.

Graham declared that there is a “spiritual battle” to be fought in government as well as the church.

“There’s a battle to fight,” he said. “And the battle, listen, it’s not against flesh and blood, all right? This is a spiritual battle. We’re fighting Satan and his demons and let me tell you something, they have got their way into government, they have got their way into every level of our government.”

After defeating communism, Graham said, “we just began to relax” as “secularism began to make its way into our government, into our churches.”

“There is no difference” between secularism and communism, he added, because “they’re both godless.”

He declared that Christians must run for office at every level of government in order to take back the country from this “godless system.”

Jindal, Huckabee And Santorum To Join Far-Right Activists At Liberty Counsel's 'The Awakening'

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, after teaming up with Christian nationalist extremists to host his “The Response” prayer rally in Baton Rouge earlier this year, is now continuing his project of endearing himself to the far fringes of the Religious Right by addressing an annual conference hosted by Liberty Counsel this weekend.

Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” event will bring Jindal, along with fellow likely GOP presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, together with some of the most unapologetically extreme Religious Right leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz’s dad Rafael.

With speakers from John Eidsmoe, a founding father of the Religious Right’s current Christian nationalist thought, to Kamal Saleem, the phony ex-terrorist and prolific anti-Obama conspiracy theorist, the candidates are sure to be treated to an exciting array of far-right ideas.

Mat Staver

The Awakening is organized by Liberty Counsel, a legal arm of Liberty University founded and chaired by Mat Staver. Staver is particularly invested in anti-LGBT activism both in the U.S. and abroad, where he has spoken out in favor of laws criminalizing homosexuality. Here at home, he has warned that marriage equality will help bring about God’s destruction of America and will be “the beginning of the end of Western Civilization.”

Staver’s extremism is not limited to LGBT rights. For instance, at the 2010 Awakening conference, Staver agreed with an audience member who asked if the Affordable Care Act created a private army of Brownshirts for President Obama.

Kamal Saleem

Kamal Saleem claims to be an ex-terrorist who worked for a number of Islamist groups before coming to America to build sleeper cells and ultimately converting to Christianity. The fact that Saleem’s story doesn’t add up — and that he’s suspiciously reluctant to talk about the details — hasn’t stopped him from being a popular speaker on the Religious Right conference circuit, where he impresses audiences with his insider knowledge that President Obama is a secret Muslim out to destroy America.

Saleem uses his literally unbelievable personal story to sell a wide range of conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama attends a mosque in Washington, DC, on Christmas (while he is simultaneously in Hawaii) and that Islamists are working through Sasha and Malia Obama’s babysitters to establish a shadow government.

In 2012, he told The Awakening that when President Obama appeared to be pledging allegiance to the flag, he was actually taking part in an Islamic prayer. The same year, he warned the Values Voter Summit that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be shutting down churches in America within the year:

John Eidsmoe

John Eidsmoe is one of the leading voices behind the Religious Right’s effort to rewrite American history and law to reflect a specific “biblical worldview.” Former Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was a research assistant on Eidsmoe’s influential 1987 book “Christianity and the Constitution,” cites him as an in influence and his work has permeated the segment of the Religious Right that seeks to take “dominion” over America to avoid God’s judgment.

Eidsmoe has specifically warned that gay rights will bring about divine judgment on the U.S. and wrote a whole book, “Gays & Guns,” arguing against allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, warning that they might molest children.

Eidsmoe, who has gotten in trouble in the past for speaking to white supremacist groups, is currently the “senior counsel and resident scholar” at the Foundation for Moral Law, the Christian nationalist group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a longtime ally.

Rick Scarborough

Rick Scarborough, a Baptist pastor and the head of the Religious Right group Vision America, is one of the most extreme voices in the anti-LGBT movement. Although he insists that he is neither a Democrat or Republican, but a “Christ-ocrat,” he frequently allies with likeminded Republican politicians including Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee to get his followers to the polls.

Scarborough maintains that AIDS is God’s “judgment” for “an immoral act,” warns that the appointment of gay ambassadors would be perfect justification for God to nuke America, and once suggested filing a class action lawsuit against homosexuality.

Scarborough has also dabbled in anti-immigrant nativism, warning that “more non-white families” in the U.S. would lead to fewer Christians and that “if this country becomes 30 percent Hispanic we will no longer be America.”

Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham, a son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, couples his international humanitarian work with an apocalyptic approach to American politics. He predicted that President Obama’sreelectionwould bring about God’s destruction of America and railed that Americans “turned our back on God” by reelecting the president.

Graham’s opinion of the Obama administration was only reinforced when he was disinvited from speaking at an event at the Pentagon because of hishistory of anti-Muslim rhetoric. He has since claimed that the White House has been “infiltrated by Muslims” and is being run by Muslims who “hate Israel and hate Christians.” Just this week, he speculated that Obama’s mother “must have been a Muslim,” which he said explains why the president supposedly won’t fight ISIS.

While he may worry that God is getting ready to judge America for President Obama, Graham has implied that the Almighty is smiling on Russian President Vladimir Putin because of his crackdown on LGBT rights in his country. Graham, who has long claimed that Christianity is on the road to being criminalized in the U.S., said last year that pastors must be prepared to get their “heads chopped off” in the fight against gay rights.

Matt Barber

Matt Barber, a former Liberty Counsel official who still hosts a daily radio program with Staver, is best known for his over-the-top bigoted anti-gay rhetoric.

Barber often frames his battle against LGBT equality and reproductive rights as a “spiritual war” in which he is on the side of God. He has called marriage equality the “bidding of the Devil” and warned that by legalizing same-sex marriage, America is “ tempting the wrath of God.” He claims that HIV/AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality.

Barber is fond of comparing his opponents to Nazis, calling supporters of reproductive rights “modern day Nazis” and LGBT rights advocates “Rainbowshirts” who have “broken out the long knives” to go after Christians. At the same time, he has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he’d like to see a ban on “gay propaganda” in the U.S., and defending Uganda’s harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.

Last year, Barber launched BarbWire.com, an online emporium for right-wing vitriol which he sees as part of his “war” against the “lies” that Satan tells through progressives.​

Franklin Graham Says That Obama's Mother 'Must Have Been A Muslim'

Franklin Graham was a guest on the Family Research Council's "Washington Watch" radio program yesterday where he asserted that President Obama is refusing to fight ISIS because he wants to protect Islam since even his mother was a Muslim.

Ignoring the fact that Obama's father was an atheist and his mother agnostic, Graham told FRC head Tony Perkins that "one of the problems we have [is that Obama's] father was a Muslim, and his step-father was a Muslim. [He] lived in Indonesia and went to Muslim schools. His mother must have been a Muslim — we don't know that, but she married two Muslim men, so there must have been something there. And the framework that the president has growing up, his influences in his life was that of Islam."

"My influences growing up, as many in this country, were under the Christian influence and the biblical influence," he continued. "But our president did not have that, it was Islam and many feel that he's protecting Islam. I don't know that, but it certainly seems that way":

Paranoia-Rama: Muslim Infiltration, Gay End Times And Liberal Killers

Now that gay people and the Muslim Brotherhood have taken over the government, conservative pundits have a lot of thoughts that they want to share — scary thoughts about anti-Christian persecution and a (non-existent) Egyptian court case that may throw two American leaders behind bars.

Franklin Graham: Muslims Who 'Hate Israel And Hate Christians' Run The White House

Franklin Graham wants everyone to know that the White House has been “infiltrated by Muslims,” even though he can’t name a single one. The right-wing pastor seems upset that any Muslims are allowed to serve in the U.S. government at all, telling Pat Robertson’s son, Gordon, on the Christian Broadcasting Network last week that Muslims are now running the show and will begin to persecute Christians in America, with Obama’s help.

“We’re going to see persecution, I believe, in this country because our president is very sympathetic to Islam and the reason I say that, Gordon, is because his father was a Muslim, gave him a Muslim name, Barack Hussein Obama,” he said. “His mother married another Muslim man, they moved to Indonesia, he went to Indonesian schools. So, growing up his frame of reference and his influence as a young man was Islam. It wasn’t Christianity, it was Islam.

“There are Muslims that have access to him in the White House, our foreign policy has a lot of influence now from Muslims. We see the Prime Minister of Israel being snubbed by the president and by the White House and by the Democrats and it’s because of the influence of Islam. They hate Israel and they hate Christians, and so the storm is coming,” Graham said.

Later in the program, Graham also lamented that the Bush administration “allowed Muslims to come into various governmental agencies,” warning that “you now have radical Islamists that are advising various levels of government and it’s going to get worse.”

“We as Christians are going to lose,” he said.

On his Facebook page, he also accused these unnamed Muslim advisers of anti-Semitism:

Why is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being shunned by the liberal media, congress, and President Barack Obama? I believe it’s because this administration has been heavily influenced by Muslims speaking into and giving advice in various areas of the White House. They are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic—and they are influencing the president who as we all know was raised with a strong Muslim influence in his life. His father and his stepfather were Muslims and he attended Islamic schools. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been a friend to the US and deserves our respect. They’re treating our friend and ally as an enemy.

Franklin Graham: White House 'Infiltrated By Muslims,' Doesn't Know Who

Last night on “The O’Reilly Factor,” right-wing pastor Franklin Graham warned that “our governments, especially in Washington, has been infiltrated by Muslims who are advising the White House.”

When O’Reilly asked Graham, who has repeatedly suggested that Obama is not a Christian as he “only knows Islam,” if he “had any names” of “Muslim advisers of President Obama,” Graham conceded that he did not know any names, “but I do know that they are there.”

Unlike other right-wing activists who insist that they are only worried about the influence of radical Islamists, Graham seems upset that any Muslim is involved in public service.

Five Moments From 2014 That Definitely Were A Sign Of The End Times

What better way to criticize your political opponents than by accusing them of creating an oppressive government that will lead to the coming of the Antichrist and fulfill biblical prophecy on the Last Days?

Warning about the imminent end of the world may seem extreme, but it is a great way for media personalities, politicians and activists to rile up and instill fear in their base. Whether such arguments are purely cynical or genuine, in 2014 many conservative pundits cited the End Times to back up their denunciations of everything from gay rights to the so-called ‘War on Christmas.’

The Obama Presidency

After leaving Congress, Michele Bachmann hopes to become a major conservative voice on foreign policy issues. Among her qualifications, apparently, is her knowledge of the End Times. Bachmann has warned that the Bible prophesied the president’s foreign policy decisions, arguing that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are “calling for actual war and economic war against Israel, or at least suggesting it as such.”

“The nations of the world will come against Israel, and the scripture very specifically says all nations. Now for the United States, we don’t have that experience until recently under President Obama with the United States not standing with Israel,” Bachmann said in an interview with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, adding that the Jewish community “sold out Israel” in order to “support the political priority and the political ambitions of the president.”

Pat Robertson became so concerned with Obama’s term in office that he called on “700 Club” viewers to “pray to be delivered from this president,” warning that America will face “serious decline unless something dramatic is done about it.” Televangelist Matthew Hagee feared that Obamacare would condition people to accept “the kind of global dictatorship that is described in the End Times” and take on the Mark of the Beast.

Pastor Franklin Graham suggested that God will bless Russia thanks to Vladimir Putin’s leadership while removing His favor from America as a result of administration policies that are “pushing the gay-lesbian agenda.” “Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead,” Graham said.

Pastor Mark Creech, who is affiliated with the American Family Association, wrote a column for the Christian Post implying that Obama is the Antichrist who will surface “in the last days – the day before Christ's return.”

Radio host Rick Wiles dedicated an entire show with Jonathan Wright to discussing how the “Bible Code” proves Obama is the Antichrist and even offered the strongest evidence yet that Obama is either the Antichrist or his forerunner: a fly once landed on him.

Ebola

Following the lead of Republican politicians who cynically turned the Ebola outbreak in West Africa into a campaign issue, only to have their incendiary rhetoric about Ebola (and Ebola-tainted urine) subside after the Fall election, many conservative pundits and pastors used Ebola to stoke fear about imminent dictatorship, divine punishment and the end of the world as we know it.

Televangelist John Hagee told viewers that the Ebola virus is God’s way of showing his anger with President Obama’s foreign policies, while his son Matthew Hagee suggested that the Bible pointed to Ebola as a sign of the End Times. Another televangelist, Jim Bakker, offered a special discount on survival food items, including desserts, in case Ebola and other calamities bring down the country.

The doomsday prophet Glenn Beck — who raised fears about Nigerian prison guards possibly spreading Ebola to Texas and suggested that Obama doesn’t mind Texans contracting Ebola since it is a conservative state — was pretty sure that the Ebola outbreak is the beginning of God’s judgment on the country and America’s imminent collapse.

Several GOP members of Congress issued claims that Obama will intentionally infect Americans with the virus, while others made completely baseless allegations that Ebola-infected immigrants are descending upon America.

WorldNetDaily, a bastion of right-wing conspiracy theories, at different times alleged that Obama wanted Ebola to spread throughout the country in order to justify his purported plans to establish gulags, lock Americans in FEMA camps and declare martial law.

Far-right radio hosts alleged that Obama wanted to “round up patriots,” ban churches and aid Ebola-infected ISIS fighters, and one Fox News personality said Obama hoped to use Ebola to make America “suffer” while helping his African brethren. One prominent right-wing radio broadcaster, Janet Parshall, said God used Ebola as a “warning” because “he is a gentleman.”

Of course, gay people were also to blame. “Trunews” host Rick Wiles said God will use Ebola to give gays and others an “attitude adjustment,” and pastor Ron Baity, who worked with the Family Research Council to champion his state’s ban on marriage equality, said homosexuality is responsible for the Ebola outbreak since it is “bringing the judgment of God on this nation.”

Gays Rights Victories

Ebola, it turns out, was just one way that gay people, along with supporters of gay rights, tried to usher in the global calamities leading up to the End Times.

Deryl Edwards of Liberty Counsel pointed to growing acceptance of gay Christians as a sign that we are “in the Last Days.” Mission America’s Linda Harvey claimed marriage equality is one reason why “we’re heading into the End Times, and it sure looks like we may be, or the end of America — or both.” Michael Bresciani of the Christian Post said God will use terrorist attacks to punish the country for accepting gay rights. Pastor Flip Benham maintained that homosexuality “destroys those who practice it and nations that approve of it.” Rick Wiles predicted that gay rights will lead to an all-out nuclear war.

Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Dwight McKissic said athlete Michael Sam’s decision to come out of the closet shows that “the spirit of Sodom would be prevalent and prominent in the end time,” since, McKissic claims, “the Anti-Christ would be a homosexual, or certainly unmarried.”

“This is the moral issue of the End Times,” pastor Scott Lively said of homosexuality, lamenting in a radio show interview that “it’s just astonishing how rapidly they are proceeding in homosexualizing the whole world.”

Addressing the National Organization for Marriage’s Washington D.C. rally, Mike Huckabee said that “there is no doubt in my mind” that the U.S. “will feel His hand of judgment” if the courts strike down bans on same-sex marriage. Another speaker at the event, pastor and Pennsylvania politician Sam Rohrer, predicted that the legalization of same-sex marriage will “destroy the very fabric of our nation,” “invite God’s judgment” and “remove His blessing from our nation.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson — who had a banner year of blasting gay people as “terrorists” and demonic — marked Thanksgiving by warning that gay rights are “sowing the seeds” of America’s “destruction.”

Abortion Rights

Not only did we learn this year that the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade was responsible for America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, but the landmark ruling is also apparently paving the way for the Last Days.

“The Response: Louisiana,” the upcoming Baton Rouge prayer rally hosted by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and sponsored by the American Family Association, republished materials from its 2012 Houston event featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry that blamed abortion rights and homosexuality for natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and for contributing to America’s “ultimate destruction.” (After the materials caused controversy, organizers removed them from their website). Mike Huckabee similarly warned in a speech reflecting on the Holocaust that abortion rights and marriage equality will lead to the collapse of civilization.

Michael Bresciani assured Christian Post readers that the deleterious effects of climate change actually have nothing to do with the environment at all. Instead, Bresciani writes, incidents of extreme weather are just “‘birth pangs’ for a planet about to meet its creator” as legal abortion, along with homosexuality, brings “the antichrist to his short lived rule over a reprobate and dying world.”

In a column published on BarbWire, Bresciani claimed that “gay marriage and abortion, Obama’s preferred social causes, are antichrist in nature,” warning that the “Bible says that when a nation chooses to ignore its sinfulness, God will not only allow them to go reprobate, but will empower them with rulers who will enable them to succeed in their drive to destruction.”

End Times preacher Jonathan Cahn linked abortion rights and same-sex marriage to the September 11 terrorist attacks and a looming “great shaking” from God, and the Oak Initiative said legal abortion led to “the alien invasion” on America’s southern border as “a sign of divine judgment.”

Joel Rosenberg, a prominent Religious Right author who focuses his work on End Times scenarios, told Pat Robertson that legal abortion has turned the U.S. into a worse country than Nazi Germany, warning viewers: “We know the judgment that came on Nazi Germany, and we feel like it was correct, it was just. What do we think is going to happen?”


The War on Christmas

Conservative activists often celebrate Christmas by claiming that they are being persecuted by store clerks and neighbors who dare to say “Happy Holidays” as part of the annual "War on Christmas."

A distraught Franklin Graham warned “the war on Christmas is a war on Christ and His followers” and described it as a satanic plot that may one day lead to violent anti-Christian persecution.

A Renew America columnist said the “war on Christmas” and “the growing disrespect and outright mocking of one of Christianity’s holiest days” is linked to biblical prophecies about the End Times: “While Christians in other nations like Iraq, China, and Iran are being murdered in the most gruesome of ways for their faith in Jesus Christ, America allows Him to be mocked and ridiculed. What kind of people have we become to allow this travesty? God's Word says that ‘in the Last Days, scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.’ (2 Pe. 3:3 NLT).”

“Friends, what we are seeing is the reason America is not mentioned as a world power in Bible end times prophecy,” writes J.P. Sloane in the far-right outlet BarbWire. “As America continues to travel down the Paganistic heathen slope of perversions—and atheists attacking Christians and Jews—while Muslims are celebrating their holidays in the very capital of our country—yes in our very own White House—Christmas—a legal American holiday—is under attack on a regular annual basis!”

Christian Anti-Defamation Commission President Gary Cass told radio host Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries that “the spirit of Antichrist” is behind the mythical War on Christmas.

Religious Right Cheers On Vladimir Putin As Anti-LGBT Violence In Russia Surges

While most of the news on Russia this week has been focused on the country’s ongoing financial collapse, it is important to highlight a report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday documenting the rise of anti-LGBT violence in Russia along with the ways the government, which recently passed new laws curbing LGBT rights, has ensured virtual impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks. Following the report’s release, Russia added a LGBT legal aid group to a list of NGOs that must register as “foreign agents.”

The uptick in violence against LGBT Russians certainly won't discourage Religious Right activists from supporting Putin, many of whom also seem more than willing to ignore his deadly incursion into Ukraine , support for laws curbing the freedoms of Russian evangelical Christians and other human rights abuses.

Nothing, it seems, can dissuade many of Putin’s American supporters, several of whom recently attended an anti-LGBT conference at the Kremlin, from believing that the U.S. should adopt anti-gay laws modeled on Russia’s, such as a ban on gay “propaganda” and adoption by same-sex parents.

In fact, many Religious Right activists in the U.S. believe that Putin is on a mission from God to save Russia, and the world, from the LGBT community.

Crush on Putin

It is no secret that many conservatives have fallen under Putin’s spell.

Matt Drudge has called Putin the “leader of the free world.” Sarah Palin has fawned over the Russian leader’s wrestling abilities. Franklin Graham has hailed Putin for “protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda” and having “taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.” Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families, the group that helped organize the Kremlin meeting, praised Putin last year for “preventing [gay people] from corrupting children.”

Religious Right leader and Iowa GOP kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats has upheld Putin as a world leader in morality. Josh Craddock, who represents Personhood USA at the United Nations, came back from the Kremlin conference cheering on Russia as a “light to the world.” Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver expressed offense last year that Obama would dare criticize Putin.One Fox News host wished that Putin could be president of the United States, even for just 48 hours.

Any violence against Russian gays, one Religious Right group explained, is probably “provoked by homosexual activists.” Massachusetts-based pastor Scott Lively, who has taken credit for inspiring Russia’s “propaganda” law, dismissed anti-LGBT violence in Russia as a “hoax” and told right-wing radio show host Linda Harvey that if violent anti-gay incidents occur, other gay people were likely the perpetrators.

God Will Favor Russia Instead Of America, Thanks Obama

Anti-gay activists think that God has decided to bless Russia, thanks to Putin’s leadership, while punishing the U.S. for passing rebellious gay rights laws. Pat Buchanan clearly articulated this mindset in a column in April titled “Is God Now On Russia’s Side?,” in which he likened the U.S. and Western Europe to Sodom and Gomorrah and cheerfully proclaimed that “Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.”

In a February column, Don Feder of the World Congress of Families gushed that Putin had become the new Ronald Reagan: “As my friend and Russian pro-family leader Alexey Komov likes to say: 'Under Reagan, America helped to save us from communism. We'd like to return the favor.'”

Lively made the case last year that Putin is “the only world leader capable of standing up to the West” and could “inspire all the morally conservative countries of the world to adopt a similar law that he just adopted.” In the same interview, Lively called Obama the Antichrist.

“The country that’s acting like it’s part of the kingdom of the Antichrist is the United States of America, and Russia is standing against homosexual marriage, they’re standing for traditional family values,” Religious Right radio host Rick Wiles said in September. “The United States is exporting its wickedness, we’re using our power and might to force nations to change their laws to accept abortion, to accept homosexual marriage and homosexual rights, so which country is part of the Antichrist system and which is not?”

Wiles even predicted that the U.S. would soon go to war against Russia “with an atheistic, Jesus-hating, pro-homosexual, pro-lesbian, pro-transgender military and we're going to go up against another military carrying a Christian cross.”

Bring Anti-Gay Laws To The U.S.

Anti-gay activist Matt Barber said earlier this year that it was “encouraging” to see more anti-gay measures coming out of Russia, adding that he would like to see laws that “stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States.”

Peter LaBarbera called Russia’s “propaganda” law an “acceptable” and necessary way to stop companies like Disney from “promoting lesbianism to kids,” while American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios said the speech-inhibiting law was just “common sense.”

One of Putin’s most vocal cheerleaders, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, has called him a “lion of Christianity” and repeatedly demanded that the U.S. enact similar bans on gay “propaganda.”

Since the U.S. hasn’t embrace such an anti-gay crackdown, Religious Right activist William Murray writes, Americans are now “fleeing” to Russia in order to avoid LGBT equality at home.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 12/3/14

  • Liberty Counsel is taking its fight against New Jersye's ban on "ex-gay" therapy all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • David Jeremiah says that "yes, we are in the End Times."
  • Gina Miller has a warning about gay marriage: "This is one major way in which the Godless Marxists behind this movement are working to accomplish the outlawing of Christianity and freedom of speech, expression and association of the American people."
  • Franklin Graham says that the "War on Christmas" is the work of the Devil: "The world, the flesh and the devil all hate the mere mention of His glorious name. They are mortal enemies of the Savior."
  • Obviously, the unrest in Ferguson shows why immigration reform is a terrible idea.
  • Armstrong Williams, who is Ben Carson's business manager, wants everyone to know that the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, which has been raking in millions of dollars, is exploiting the ignorance of donors and has nothing to do with Carson.

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin's Forces Persecute Christians In Ukraine

The same Religious Right activists who accuse President Obama of persecuting Christians by supporting gay rights, have over the last few years hailed Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a hero and global leader of conservative Christians.

Religious Right leaders such as Franklin Graham, Phyllis Schlafly, William MurrayPat BuchananBryan FischerBrian BrownDon Feder and Scott Lively, among others, have lionized Putin as a fearless Christian leader who is bravely cracking down on gay rightsThe World Congress of Families even decided to hold its annual summit in the Kremlin this year (the group officially cancelled the event after Russia began its conflict with Ukraine, but its Russian partners are quietly going ahead with it).

Of course, while claims that Obama is persecuting Christians are completely manufactured by conservatives, there is ample evidence that Putin-sponsored forces in eastern Ukraine are violently persecuting evangelical and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians. The New York Times reports:

Embracing Orthodox Christianity as a force to unite these now divided Slavic lands and also their own fractured movement, the rebels, fortified recently by an influx of weapons and soldiers from Russia, used their period in power here purging Slovyansk of rival Christian denominations.



Among their principal targets were Christians defiant of the Moscow church’s claims of religious primacy and suspected of connections with the West.

“Their logic is simple: You are an American church and America is our enemy so we have to kill you,” said Mr. Dudnik, the evangelical pastor. No one at his center had been killed, he said but added that the rebels had murdered four evangelical Christians from another Slovyansk church.

Grabbed by pro-Russian gunmen in June after a Pentecost service at the Divine Transfiguration Church, all four victims were taken away for interrogation and were later found dead in a burned-out car.

We have previously noted that evangelicals in Russia, including Baptists and Pentecostals, are facing discrimination as a result of Putin’s drive to push minority denominations underground while growing the clout of the Russian Orthodox Church, which considers evangelical Protestants to be heretics.

While inventing never-ending conspiracy theories about Obama’s supposed crackdown on Christianity, Religious Right leaders don’t appear to mind the real attacks on Christians happening in Russia, under the watch of a leader who they see as an ally in the fight to turn back gay rights and reproductive freedom.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 9/3/14

  • Concerned Women for America and Mike Huckabee are organizing a "Stand With Israel Rally."
  • After he retires from the Senate in a few months, Sen. Tom Coburn is going to launch an effort in support of the right-wing plan to organize a Convention of the States.
  • Gina Miller warns that Facebook "is the face of burgeoning communist censorship.  It is the face of the anti-Americanism of the radical Left. It is the face of the metastasizing tyranny that is fast growing in our nation."
  • Tough guy Todd Starnes is back with more foreign policy advice: "That’s how you respond to Islamic radicals. You grab a gun. You stand your ground and blow those evil sons-of-guns to kingdom come."
  • The phrase "the thing that ... feels the most true to me" perfectly sums up Glenn Beck's entire worldview.
  • Finally, Franklin Graham says the End Times are near: "As I read the news, I can't help but wonder if we are in the last hours before our Lord Jesus Christ returns to rescue His church and God pours out His wrath on the world for the rejection of His Son."

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 7/15/14

  • The Judicial Crisis Network is going to run $75,000 worth of ads attacking Gov. Chris Christie for being too liberal in terms of his judicial appointments.
  • Alabama 6th Congressional district candidate Gary Palmer,  the chief development officer of the Alabama Policy Institute, has secured the endorsement of James Dobson.
  • Franklin Graham declares that "we are soldiers in God's army, and we cannot stand down on biblical issues out of fear of being labeled a homophobe or judge."
  • Amid controversy over a charter school's use of Cleon Skousen's book "The 5,000 Year Leap," Glenn Beck doubled down on his support of the book today, urging his audience to buy up copies.
  • Finally, did you know that "Obama Supports Racist Killing"?

Franklin Graham Warns Hollywood And 'Spirit Of Anti-Christ' In Government Are Bringing About The End Times

Franklin Graham sat down with TBN host Jan Crouch last week to discuss how “we are on the edge” of the End Times.

Graham cited America’s supposed persecution of Christians, Hollywood’s “demonization of people of faith” that is “poisoning the minds of people against the church,” and “the spirit of Anti-Christ at the government level” as proof that we are experiencing the Last Days.

Graham previously said that members of the Obama administration “are anti-Christ in what they say and what they do.”

Graham: Pastors Need To Be Willing To 'Get Our Heads Chopped Off' For Opposing Gay Rights

Franklin Graham spoke at the Family Research Council's Watchmen on the Wall conference yesterday where he told the assembled pastors that they all needed to be willing to have their heads chopped off for speaking the truth that gays are bound for hell.

"Are we going to be cowards because we're afraid?," Graham asked the crowd. "Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day.  So what? Chop it off!"

Graham went on to assert that he loves gays "enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it's the flames of hell for you" and he will continue to do so because he will one day have to answer to God and does not want to be found to have been a coward who refused to preach God's laws:

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/1/14

  • Al Mohler explains "why Christians should support the death penalty."
  • Franklin Graham declares that "true followers of Jesus Christ, whose salvation is based entirely upon God’s Word, cannot endorse same-sex marriage, regardless of what our president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the media or the latest Gallup poll says about the matter."
  • In the last few weeks, an anti-Common Core group in Alabama has received $700,000 from just one foundation, both of which just happen to be run the same person.
  • It is always fascinating to watch Glenn Beck try to comprehend the fact that not every person in America shares his personal views and preferences.
  • Finally, this might be the dumbest thing you will read about the Donald Sterling controversy: "When you talk about Jay-Z, this criminal thug who's called black women all kinds of names, disgraced our race. And nobody is talking about kicking him out of the league? You can't have double standards I'm sorry."

Right Wing Round-Up - 4/21/14

Franklin Graham Claims The News Media Is Persecuting Christians

On Friday, Franklin Graham cited the very real persecution of Christians abroad to claim that such anti-Christian persecution is occurring in the US.

Graham told Newsmax’s America’s Forum that the persecution comes from the American “entertainment industry, especially in certain segments of the news media.”

We’re not exactly sure how the media is persecuting evangelicals like Graham, seeing that on Sunday he was a guest on ABC’s This Week, but Religious Right activists have been keen to conflate criticism and even tough questions with persecution.

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/26/14

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