Jim Garlow

Benhams Celebrate Father's Day By Warning Of Impending Persecution, God's Wrath

Jim Garlow celebrated Father’s Day this year by inviting David and Jason Benham — conservative activists who became Religious Right martyrs when they lost a planned house-flipping TV show after their extreme views came to light — to speak about manly courage at his Skyline Church. As an extra bonus, the Benham brothers brought along their father, Flip Benham, a fiery street preacher and anti-choice activist who told the audience that the real problem of “fatherlessness” in America is the rejection of “the Heavenly Father.”

The elder Benham quoted the book of Malachi: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, the hearts of the children to their fathers, or I will smite the land with a curse.”

“That is what is happening here,” he said, “fatherlessness. The Heavenly Father, we reject him, we’ve expelled him from school, we’ve banished him from the schoolyard and he’s been replaced with metal detectors, condoms, drugs and violence of unprecedented order, while we’re looking at each other with awkward amazement wondering what has happened here. When you move God, when you take Him out of the equation, violence always enters in.”

After the brothers told their story of persecution at the hands of gay rights activists, David Benham compared America today to first-century Rome, when Nero “started the persecution against the Christians” by using a “narrative that the Christians and Jews were haters of Rome because they would not bow to the emperor.”

“I’m telling you, the same spirit of Nero is in America,” he said, “and persecution is coming.”

Jim Garlow: Homosexuality Wrong Because The Pipes Don't Fit

On yesterday’s “Washington Watch,” California pastor and influential anti-LGBT activist Jim Garlow spoke to Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council about the upcoming decision from the Supreme Court on marriage equality.

As Garlow explained, any plumber or electrician can explain why homosexuality is wrong.

“I live in a home and most or all of your listeners live in a home or an apartment or a condo, and when the plumber and the electrician built the home, they knew the difference between the male and female ends of a pipe and the male and female ends of an electrical current, and if they had simply said, ‘I’m going to put the male and male ends of the pipes together,’ nobody would want to live in that home, it doesn’t work,” Garlow said.

Garlow told Perkins that opponents of gay marriage should know that they are fighting a “winnable war” against marriage equality.

While it may take a long time, he said, it also took “over one hundred years” to abolish slavery. He added it is “not a time” for anti-LGBT pastors to “capitulate” to the “bullying and the badgering and the clubs that come at them from the radical homosexual agenda.”

Martyrdom And Dominion: Religious Right Conference Prepares For A 'Spiritual Battle' Against Gay Marriage

Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20th century, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.

How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.

-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015

First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.

Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings. 

Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference

Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.

The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.

The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.

Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.

Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:

Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!

Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.

Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.

Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.

This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.

A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage

As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.

-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference

While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.

Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”

He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.

“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”

Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”

Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.

NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”

“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”

A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”

Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”

Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”

Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”

But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”

Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”

“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”

Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.

Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)

Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.

-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference

Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.

As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.

Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”

But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.

All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”

However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.

It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.

“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”

Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.

Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.

Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.

“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.

Taking Dominion

Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.

- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference

The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:

Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”

“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.

Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.

Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”

“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”

“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”

Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”

Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”

He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”

In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.

(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)

Along with a number of members of Mattera's new group, who held a meeting during one break in the conference, Garlow invited NAR adherents including Mattera, Lou Engle (with whom he had worked to raise support for Prop 8), Dennis Peacocke and Lance Wallnau to speak to the event.

Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”

“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”

Peacocke ­­­— the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”

In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”

He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.

“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”

A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”

“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”

Where Politics and Religion Collide

Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.

One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.

And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.

“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.

Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.

Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”

Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.

Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.

What Are Anti Marriage Equality Forces Really Demanding?

This article originally appeared on TowleRoad.

Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolutionand civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.

Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolution and civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.

One recent salvo in this rhetorical campaign was a full page ad in the June 10 Washington Post in the form of an open letter to the Supreme Court. The headline read, “We ask you not to force us to choose between the state and the Laws of God.”

“We are Christians who love America and respect the rule of law,” the ad said, “However, we will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”

Similar statements can be found in the“Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage”put together by the same people behind thePost ad. And it’s not much different from language in the Manhattan Declaration, a 2009 manifesto written by former National Organization for Marriage chairman Robert George (right) and signed by an array of conservative religious leaders. The Declaration declares that its signers will not “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”

The Post ad suggested that a pro-equality ruling would “unleash religious persecution and discrimination against people of faith,” a statement that ignores the many people of faith who do support full equality for LGBT people. The ad was signed by a bunch of far-right anti-gay activists. Here’s just a sampling:

Let’s put aside all the preening about Religious Right leaders’ willingness to endure prison and martyrdom and consider what they’re really after.

First, we can dispense with the notion that they’re just looking for a “live and let live” world in which “Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.” In fact, religious conservatives have opposed every advance in cultural acceptance and legal recognition of the equal rights and dignity of LGBT people, including efforts to protect us in laws targeting violent hate crimes, allow us to serve openly in the military, and prevent us from being discriminated against in the workplace.

Robert George, co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and a founder of the National Organization for Marriage, wrote the legal brief filed by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council in the Lawrence v Texas case, defending state laws that made gay people de facto criminals. NOM’s current chairman John Eastman said just this month that he hopes Uganda quickly puts its notorious anti-gay law back into force, a law that included penalties of life in prison for repeat offenders. Other right-wing religious leaders have traveled the globe, from South America to the Caribbean, from Uganda to Russia, Eastern Europe to Central Asia, to support laws that make gay people into criminals for living as they choose, sometimes even for advocating on behalf of LGBT people.

Back here in the U.S., conservative evangelical leaders and their allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops falsely portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as fundamentally incompatible, a zero-sum game. That’s their justification for opposing civil unions as well as marriage equality – even for opposing laws to protect people from being fired just for being gay.

The reality is that religious liberty has continued to flourish, and our religious landscape has grown more diverse, in the decades thatpublic attitudes toward gay people have shifted dramatically toward equality. There has been no effort to require clergy to marry mixed faith couples if their faith prohibits it, and nobody wants to force any church or priest to marry or give their religious blessing to same-sex couples.

Next, let’s consider whether all this line-in-the-sand drawing is really about the supposed need for clergy, organizations, and business owners to enforce their religious beliefs about marriage in the public arena. The Catholic Church does not give its religious blessing to marriages involving people who have previously been married and divorced, unless the previous marriage is religiously “annulled.” But Catholic organizations are not loudly advocating for the right of a Catholic business owner to treat opposite-sex couples differently based on whether or not their marriages have the church’s blessing.

Similarly, many evangelical leaders say marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman “for life.” Yet in spite of the biblical passage in which Jesus says that a man who divorces his wife, for any reason other than sexual immorality, and marries another woman is committing adultery, there is no clamor from Religious Right leaders celebrating discrimination against people in second and third marriages.

It is clear that a different standard is being applied to same-sex couples. But anti-gay prejudice — animus is the legal term – is not an acceptable basis for discrimination, even if it is grounded in religious belief.

Now, there’s a reason Religious Right leaders are trying to make the conversation around marriage be about the grandmotherly florist who was fined when she declined to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding, or the conversation about contraception about the Little Sisters of the Poor, who say they don’t want to facilitate abortion. It’s an effort associate the Right’s agenda with a “live and let live” ideal that is appealing to many Americans, regardless of religion or politics.

But here’s the problem: Once you establish the principle – as Supreme Court conservatives did in their Hobby Lobby decision last year – that business owners as well as individuals and organizations should be able to ignore laws that somehow offend their religious beliefs, you have to figure out how far people will be allowed to run with it. It is not yet clear where the justices will draw the line.

That kind of line-drawing is often challenging when dealing with questions about how the government can accommodate religion without government impermissibly favoring it. Religious denominations and houses of worship have the greatest level of protection against government interference; courts and legislatures wrestle with the status of religiously affiliated nonprofits. Until Hobby Lobby, the Court had never ruled that a for-profit corporation could “exercise religion” in a way that is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but now that door has been opened, it is not clear what kinds of anti-LGBT discrimination it could permit.

Anti-equality religious and political leaders have made it clear that they will continue to oppose marriage equality even in the face of a Supreme Court ruling striking down state marriage bans. Some are calling for massive resistance and urging state leaders to refuse to comply with a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling. Professors Douglas NeJaime and Reva B. Siegel have argued in the Yale Law Journal that in such a situation, in which there is a well-organized movement dedicated to pushing the religious exemption further and further, an accommodation may actually be more likely to extend the culture war conflict than resolve it.

It is worth addressing generally fair-minded people who don’t understand why the gay rights movement won’t just be happy with a marriage win and let a few people with religious objections “opt out.” Some people may think it’s no big deal for gay couples to find another florist or baker. For one thing, that approach discounts the humiliation of being turned away from a business, a violation of human dignity that was a motivating force behind laws banning racial discrimination in public accommodation. And it may not be such a small obstacle in smaller, conservative, religiously homogenous communities, where discrimination may flourish if it is invited by law and encouraged by local religious leaders.

Consider the anti-abortion movement as a cautionary tale.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, laws were passed to allow doctors who had religious objections to performing abortions to refuse to do so without experiencing negative professional consequences. There has been little opposition to such laws. But over the past few decades, at the urging of anti-abortion activists, the scope of that kind of religious exemption has been expanded wildly to include people ever-further removed from the actual abortion procedure, and expanded to include even marginal participation in the provision of contraception. In emergency situations these accommodation could come at high cost, including the life of a patient.

Exemptions have been extended to or claimed by nurses who don’t want to provide care to women after an abortion, pharmacists who don’t want to dispense a morning-after pill prescribed by a woman’s doctor, even a bus driver who refused to take a woman to a Planned Parenthood facility because he said he suspected she was going for an abortion.

NeJaime and Siegel describe these as “complicity-based conscience claims” – claims that are about refusing to do anything that might make one complicit in any way with another person’s behavior that one deems sinful. They note that the concept of complicity has been extended to allow health care providers not to even inform patients that some potential care or information has been withheld from them based on the religious beliefs of an individual or the policies of an institution.

The resistance to complying with the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover contraception takes the notion of complicity to almost surreal lengths.  Just days after theHobby Lobby decision, the Court’s conservatives sided provisionally with religious conservatives who are arguing that it is a burden on their religious freedom even to inform the government that they are refusing to provide contraceptive coverage, because that would trigger the process by which the coverage would be provided by others. Cases revolving around the simple act of informing the government of an objection are working their way back toward the Supreme Court.

Similarly, some advocates for broad religious exemptions argue that organizations taking taxpayer dollars to provide social services to victims of human trafficking or women who have been victims of rape as a weapon of war should be able to ignore government rules about providing those women with access to the full range of health care they may need. Some groups are saying it would violate their religious freedom even to notify the government when they refuse to provide information or care – such as emergency contraception for teens that have been sexually abused by their traffickers.  But keep the public dollars flowing our way!

Given what we know about the intensity of the anti-gay movement’s opposition to marriage equality, it is not hard to imagine how far that movement could run with the principle that religious beliefs about “traditional” marriage are a legitimate basis for discriminating against same-sex couples. They themselves have claimed as a model the (dismayingly successful) 40-year campaign since Roe v Wade to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. In the words of the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, “Everything the pro-life movement did needs to happen again, but on this new frontier of marriage.”

Where will a similarly aggressive campaign against marriage equality lead? There is a new law in North Carolina allowing magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples. A new law in Michigan allows adoption agencies functioning with government money to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Will corporations be allowed to refuse to hire someone married to a same-sex spouse based on the beliefs of the people who run the company? Will Catholic hospitals, which play an increasingly significant role in our health care system, be able to refuse to recognize same-sex spouses in medical emergencies?

The progress that LGBT people have made toward full equality has been remarkable. In my lifetime, the federal government had a formal policy to fire “sex perverts” and prevent them from getting federal jobs. In my lifetime, state laws criminalizing same-sex relationships were used to fire people from government jobs and even take parents’ children away from them. Even today, in a majority of the states, gay and lesbian people have no protection against being fired for who they are – or who they marry, even if the Supreme Court makes it illegal to keep those weddings from taking place.  In all too many places, a company could fire an employee who marries a same-sex partner, the way Catholic schools across the country have been doing.

The good news is that Americans are increasingly opposed to anti-gay discrimination. Most of the laws that were proposed this year tolegalize anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious belief failed – often thanks to the pro-equality voices of business and religious leaders as well as the hard work of LGBT people and their friends and families and our advocacy organizations.

Most informed observers think the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality. If that’s what happens, it will be a historic victory and cause for celebration. But as the signers of the recent WashingtonPost ad have made clear, it will not be the end of the struggle.

PFAW

Beck: We Have 10,000 Pastors Who Are Willing To Die Resisting Anti-Christian Persecution In America

Next week, Religious Right activist Jim Garlow will be hosting a four day conference at his California megachurch called the "Future Conference: What You Thought Was Coming ... Is Here Now." That sort of a dire warning perfectly matches up with what Glenn Beck has been saying for the last several months, so naturally Beck invited Garlow on to his radio program yesterday to promote the event.

Garlow's conference is coming at the perfect time, Beck said, because society is about to collapse and America needs passionate pastors who are willing to give up their lives if necessary in the fight against the coming persecution of Christians. Fortunately, the Black Robe Regiment that he and David Barton established a few years back has managed to cobble together at least 10,000 pastors who are willing to do just that.

"The number in the Black Robe Regiment is about 70,000 now," Beck said. "The number that I think will walk through a wall of fire, you know, and possible death, is anywhere between 17,000 and 10,000. That is an extraordinary number of people that are willing to lay it all down on the table and willing to go to jail or go to death because they serve God and not man."

Garlow was in complete agreement, saying that the necessity of being willing to die is "honestly where we are."

"We've come to that moment," he said. "People like you and me and, thank God, many others are digging in very deeply and laying the benchmark of where we're going to stand on these issues."

"You're going to see these 10,000 to 20,000 pastors begin to stand up," Beck promised, "and say 'it doesn't matter if I lose my church, it doesn't matter if I lose my building, it doesn't matter if I lose my life, I will not sit down!'"

Jim Garlow: Anti-Gay Right Will Become An 'Underground Resistance Movement'

 California pastor Jim Garlow, who is active in conservative politics and was among the key leaders of the campaign to pass Proposition 8, appeared on Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” program yesterday to discuss his church’s upcoming Future Conference, which will include appearances by Perkins, Newt Gingrich, Mat Staver.

Garlow said that Staver, the Liberty Counsel attorney who has called formass civil disobedience and a revolution to stop gay marriage, will be “speaking on a topic that most of us didn’t want to hear about, and that’s when biblical obedience translates into civil disobedience and we become an underground resistance movement.”

He later told Perkins, who is the president of the Family Research Council, that people who use the refrain “that ship has sailed” in reference to gay marriage don’t realize that “that ship will sink” since “reason is on our side.”

Garlow claimed that people will turn against gay rights once the legalization of gay marriage produces more studies on the purported harms of same-sex parent-led households similar to the one published by Mark Regnerus, whose research has been widely discredited:

So-called homosexual marriage cannot sustain itself any better than the so-called right to kill a baby in the womb can sustain itself. After 40 years and 60 million babies were killed, people became aware, ‘this is not working, this is not a good thing.’ There will be other studies like Mark Regnerus, a well-known study out of the University of Texas in Austin, that will show the damage of when children are harmed of having a daddy and a mommy instead of trying to have two daddies and two mommies [sic]. When the studies come around, America will see this — I pray it’s not too late — but they will that see that social science is on our side, natural reason is on our side, natural law is on our side, special revelation of the scripture is on our side and intuitively people know that the human body is made for a male and a female to come together. That ship has not sailed; if it has, it will sink. We have truth on our side.

Jim Garlow: Marriage Equality Ruling Would Make Supreme Court 'The Laughingstock Of Historians And The World'

At today’s March for Marriage, Pastor Jim Garlow offered a lengthy explanation for why he believes marriage equality is wrong, asking the audience to repeat several Hebrew words found in Genesis before rearranging the letters to make the word “fire,” which of course proves that if you allow marriage equality you are going to Hell.

“You mess with the definition of marriage, and you burn, you’re toast, you can’t win that one,” he said.

This explanation is so obvious, he said, that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality this year, it will soon become a “laughingstock” for having promoted the “ridiculous” idea of legal marriage for gay and lesbian people.

“Quoting from the Broadway musical, I would say this to the Supreme Court,” he said. “‘Your arms are too short to box with God.’ You can’t mess with Him. You can’t change the definition of marriage. If you try, they will laugh at you in 25 or 50 years. This Supreme Court, if they try to change that definition, they’ll be laughed at, they’ll be scoffed at. ‘How ridiculous was this notion?’ And this whole concept of so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ will be on the ash heap of history and the Supreme Court will be the laughingstock of historians and the world. They cannot change what God has established.”

Anti-Gay Activists Reduced To Hoping Future Generations Will Repeal Gay Marriage If America Survives That Long

James Dobson once again dedicated his daily radio program today to a discussion of the Supreme Court's upcoming gay marriage case with anti-gay activists Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, and Jim Garlow.

Unlike previous programs in which Religious Right leaders bemoaned the string of calamities that will befall this nation if gay marriage is legalized, today's show had a rather more hopeful feel, as Garlow and Gallagher took solace in the idea that gay marriage will prove to be so utterly horrible for the country that eventually the American people will realize the error of their ways and do away with it, provided that the nation actually survives long enough to do so.

"We, in this country, are learning to gear up for resistance and we are not giving up under any condition," Garlow said. "The devastation from this could come so severely that, years from now, if the nation is not completely destroyed, that we could see a recycling and a re-visiting of God's purpose for marriage."

Dobson was less enthusiastic, wondering just how much "damage will be done to how many people" in the interim.

"Horrific," Garlow said. "Horrific. But wars do that, unfortunately."

Garlow then went on to marvel that we are even having debates over issues like abortion and marriage, declaring that it is "shocking how far we've gone towards Nazi Germany and other kinds of dictatorships of this magnitude," which prompted Gallagher to weigh in and declare that Christians will win this battle in the end.

"I think it's going to get very bad out there," she said. "And I think, just as it did in the early days of the Roman Empire, that there is going to be a sense that, if we do our jobs, that Christianity offers the only real alternative to an increasingly debauched public square":

Garlow: The Purpose Of Government Is To Function As 'A Minister Of God'

Jim Garlow was a guest on Bryan Fischer's "Focal Point" radio program today to promote the upcoming "Future Conference" that Garlow will be hosting at his San Diego church. During the course of the conversation, the two men began discussing the effort being led by radical Christian nationalist David Lane to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for political office, which Garlow proclaimed was an absolute necessity because the true purpose of government is to function as "a minister of God."

"If you live in a constitutional republic or a democracy, as we do," Garlow said, "that means it behooves us as followers of Christ to make sure our government functions for the purpose for which it was created, specifically to be the minister of God.... We are in a constitutional republic where we the people determine what our government is and so consequently, as followers of Christ, we're commanded to be involved and to make sure the government functions as a minister of God":

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 2/4/15

  • ALIPAC declares that we are "seeing what is possibly one of the greatest scandals in American history emerge regarding the millions of illegal extra work visas Obama's shadow government apparatus has handed out!"
  • Jim Garlow will be hosting Newt Gingrich and several other Religious Right and New Apostolic Reformation activists for a conference at his church in June.
  • Similarly, Jan Markell will be hosting Robert Jeffress and former Rep. Michele Bachmann at a conference in October.
  • Was Gov. Bobby Jindal's prayer rally the fulfillment of one of Cindy Jacobs' prophecies?
  • Charles C. Johnson is asking the tough questions!
  • Finally, a documentary based upon John Hagee's "Four Blood Moons" book and featuring the likes of David Barton and Dinesh D'Souza will be getting a special one-night showing in theaters on March 23.

Bobby Jindal's Oddly Political Non-Political Prayer Rally

On Friday, the night before Gov. Bobby Jindal's "The Response" prayer rally, Rachel Maddow took a look at the "questionable characters" who were helping him organize and promote the event, prompting Jindal to send a statement to Maddow insisting that his rally would be "a prayer event, not a political rally."

Participants in the rally, of course, did not particularly see it that way. In addition to a segment dedicated to praying for an end to legal abortion in America, several speakers noted how getting right-wing Christians elected to public office was key to bringing reformation and revival to America.

Pastor Jim Garlow, who spoke right before Jindal shared his personal testimony and call for revival, spent most of his time railing against IRS regulations that prohibit pastors from endorsing political candidates from their tax-exempt pulpits. Garlow closed out his remarks by suggesting that America may be in the midst of another great religious revival, judging by the number of members of Congress "who really know Christ as Savior."

"We have more freshman members of the House of Representatives who understand biblical truth than we have had for decades," Garlow proclaimed excitedly, noting that the same thing is happening in state legislative chambers all over the nation.

"We are a generation that has a vision of reformation," he said. "We can see it. We can hear the sounds of it and in our lifetimes, we are going to experience it. Let's join together in prayer for the great reformation. Jesus as king of our land!"

Later in the event, Pastor Jacob Aranza of Our Savior's Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, prayed explicitly for conservative Christians to run for and win political office. Aranza even brought three members of his own church who had all been elected to public office out onto the stage as examples, including Louisiana state Sen. Jonathan Perry, who audibly heard the voice of God tell him to run for office "while giving the largest tithe check he'd ever given" to Aranza's church.

"Father, today we know that you are raising up men and women of God across this nation," Aranza prayed. "And Father now, in the name of Jesus, we pray for the elected officials. We pray for every elected city councilman, we pray for mayors. We pray for senators. We pray for state representatives. We pray for the marshals, the sheriffs,  the school board officials. Lord, we ask you in the name of Jesus, send revival to every elected official we have, oh God. We know that when revival is when you get so sick of being misrepresented that you just show up yourself. Show up in every elected official, Lord, all throughout our state, may the glory of God come ... Maybe it be known because now righteous leaders are in authority and when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice!"

The Real Problems With Bobby Jindal And His Prayer Rally

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal skipped an Iowa stage crowded with Republican presidential wannabes on Saturday so he could host a prayer rally on the campus of Louisiana State University. Jindal and others have mischaracterized objections to the rally, suggesting that its critics were somehow out to silence people of faith. So let’s be clear about the real issue: Bobby Jindal used the power and prestige of his office to promote an event backed by some of the nation’s most religiously divisive and stridently anti-gay activists. And in a bid to boost his own political future, he sent a clear message of support for the Christian-nation views of the event’s extremist organizers.

Christians Only, Please

Let’s start with the invitation, sent on Jindal’s official state letterhead. “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival,” he wrote, “if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Leadership to solve the country’s problems “will not come from a politician or a movement for social change,” he wrote in this time of civil rights movement anniversaries. So how will we solve our problems? “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” In a separate letter he wrote to the other 49 governors inviting them to his rally to pray for “spiritual revival” and “heaven’s intervention” over the country. “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”

What does all this suggest to non-Christian Americans (including non-Christian governors) about how Jindal views their contributions? Jindal’s letters reflect the attitudes of rally organizer David Lane, a political strategist who believes America was founded by and for Christians. The event was paid for by the American Family Association, whose chief spokesman, radio host Bryan Fischer, believes the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections apply only to Christians.

The rally was also a showcase for the dominionist views of self-proclaimed “apostles” who promoted and spearheaded the event. One of those “apostles” was the event’s emcee. Doug Stringer has called the 9/11 attacks “a wake-up call” that happened because God was not around to defend America due to abortion, homosexuality, and kicking God out of public schools. While introducing Jindal, Stringer made a brief mention to “Seven Mountains” theology, which states that all the “mountains” in society – arenas like business, entertainment, and government – must be led by the right kind of Christian. A later speaker, Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, spent more time on the “Seven Mountains.” Mills said these spheres of influence belong to God, but are currently occupied by the “enemy.” They therefore need to be evangelized and “occupied by the body of Christ.”

Not Political? Not Credible

Jindal and organizer David Lane declared, unbelievably, that the rally was not political. Lane is a self-described political strategist who works to turn conservative evangelical churches into voter turnout machines for right-wing candidates and causes. Lane is trying to get 1,000 conservative evangelical pastors to run for public office, and he held a recruiting session the day before the prayer rally. Jindal and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma were among the speakers. Another example of the disconnect between rhetoric and reality: Stringer made the claim that the rally was not meant to lift up any politicians while he was standing in front of a huge screen featuring a quote from Bobby Jindal.

The “not political” claim was hard to take seriously given the amount of time devoted to making abortion illegal and declarations that what will tip the scales will be the “the voice of the church in the voting booth.” Jim Garlow, who led church organizing for California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, and who believes the marriage equality movement is demonic, dropped all “nonpolitical” pretense, railing against marriage equality and IRS regulations that restrict the involvement of churches in electoral politics.

Opponents = Enemies

One of the biggest problems with treating politics as spiritual warfare is that you turn your political opponents into spiritual enemies. People who disagree with you on public policy issues are not just wrong, but evil, or even satanic. That makes it pretty hard to work together or find compromise.

In daily prayer calls leading up to the rally, organizers prayed for God to forgive students who were organizing protests, as if disagreeing with Bobby Jindal were a sin – or a form of anti-Christian persecution. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” prayed call leaders, comparing their pleas to Jesus asking God to forgive those who crucified him, and Saint Stephen asking for mercy for those who were stoning him to death. On one call, a prayer leader decreed a “no-go zone for demons” over the sports arena where the event was to be held. At the rally, one speaker talked of storming the gates of Hell. Bishop Harry Jackson finished his remarks by leading the crowd in a chant he has used at anti-gay rallies: “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered!”

Jindal Unplugged, Unhinged, and Unapologetic

Jindal seems to have decided that his best chance in a crowded Republican field is to plant himself at the far right of an already far-right group. In the days leading up to the rally, he drew criticism for comments denigrating Muslims and for repeating bogus charges about Muslim “no-go zones” that Fox News had already apologized for spreading. During a radio interview a few days before the rally, Jindal said liberals pretend that jihadist terrorism isn’t happening and pretend “it’s a good thing to kill journalists, to kill teenagers for watching soccer, to kill over 150 schoolchildren, to treat women as second-class citizens…” He decried political incorrectness and multiculturalism and said of immigrants who do not embrace American exceptionalism, “that’s not immigration, that’s invasion.”

On “This Week” on Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that Jindal had declared at his prayer rally that “on the last page, our God wins,” and asked him if that was appropriate in a religiously diverse country. Jindal praised religious liberty but ducked the question.

On the same show, Jindal said he would back a push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow states to discriminate against same-sex couples, all while saying “I am not for discrimination against anybody.” (Jindal describes himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” and his contradictory rhetoric parallels the language of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which says it opposes “unjust discrimination” against gay people, but defines the term “unjust discrimination” in a way that applies only to those people with “same-sex attraction” who remain celibate.)

Jindal has also promoted far-right policies as governor. As Brian has noted:

Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.

Whose Agenda?

Jindal’s rally was not an original idea. In fact Jindal’s “Response” recycled materials and themes from a similar event that Texas Gov. Rick Perry held in 2011 to launch his presidential bid. Here’s what I wrote about Perry’s event, which applies equally well to Jindal’s – not surprising since both were organized by the same groups of extremists:

Organizers argued (unconvincingly) that "The Response" was about prayer, not politics. But groups like the American Family Association (AFA), which paid for the rally and its webcast…are not designed to win souls but to change American law and culture through grassroots organizing and political power-building. They have a corrosive effect on our political culture by promoting religious bigotry and anti-gay extremism, by claiming that the United States was meant to be a Christian nation, and by fostering resentment among conservative evangelicals with repeated false assertions that liberal elites are out to destroy religious liberty and silence conservative religious voices.

Jindal, of course, has the right to talk about his faith. But it is wrong for him to use his public office to proselytize and denigrate the faith of others. Teaming up with anti-gay extremists and Christian-nation advocates gives them credibility they do not deserve. His actions speak volumes about his judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and equality under the law.

Bobby Jindal's Extremist Prayer Rally Brings Together Prophets, Bigots And Far-Right Activists

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who only a few years ago was lamenting the GOP’s decline into “the stupid party,” is now staking out a position on the party’s far-right fringe in preparation for an expected run for the presidency. Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.

Jindal, once hailed as the GOP’s top intellectual and reformer who denounced “dumbed-down conservatism” in an era of Tea Party populism, is slated to lead a prayer rally this weekend, “The Response: Baton Rouge,” organized and sponsored by some of the most extreme figures within the party.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry organized the original “Response” prayer gathering as a prelude to his 2012 presidential bid, allying with many of the same radical activists and organizations who are supporting Jindal’s version of the rally. While Perry’s campaign ultimately imploded, the people who helped put together his prayer rally credited it for various miracles. Jindal’s event has even recycled promotional materials from the Texas rally, including a “prayer guide” blaming marriage equality for Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Joplin tornado.

“The Response” is being organized by David Lane, a Religious Right activist who boasts of his great influence and low profile, and various conservative pastors, including several who claim to be modern-day prophets and apostles, who all kicked off the prayer rally with an event at the Louisiana governor’s mansion earlier this month. The American Family Association, so notorious for its apoplectic anti-gay rhetoric and opposition to the freedoms of non-Christians that its chief spokesman earned a rebuke from Mitt Romney, is putting up the funding.

The organizers

David Lane, a self-styled “political operative” who gloats that he has “operated since 2005 largely under the radar” on behalf of conservative causes and Republican candidates, is serving as the organizational muscle behind Jindal’s prayer rally.

Jindal isn’t the only potential GOP candidate who is getting Lane’s help; Lane has also arranged various events focused on energizing conservative pastors in early GOP primary states that have featured appearances from potential presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. He also organized overseas tours with various conservative activists for likely candidates including Huckabee, Perry and Paul. Lane has also teamed up with the Republican National Committee, whose chairman, Reince Priebus, sings his praises.

Lane hopes to use “The Response” as a launching pad for his effort to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.

Lane, who has connections to the top of the Republican Party, has views which are far out of the mainstream. He has:

  • called on conservatives to attack Mitt Romney for worshiping “the false god of Mormonism”;
  • warned that LGBT rights are creating an unparalleled “crisis” leading to “our utter destruction” as a nation;
  • forecasted America’s destruction as a result of “the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage” and “homosexual scouts”;
  • declared that “our long-term strategy must be to place the Bible in Public Schools as the principle [sic] textbook of American education”;
  • and predicted that “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” in 2013 would lead to divine punishment in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.”

The American Family Association, classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is providing the financial backbone for Jindal’s prayer rally, as it did for Perry’s 2011 event.

The group’s chief spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has won nationwide notoriety for his remarks about homosexuality and religious and ethnic minorities, which he shares on his daily program on the AFA’s radio network. Fischer has:

Other AFA officials have blamed gay people for natural disasters like Hurricane Isaacpromoted birther conspiracy theories and railed against secular Jews as threats to America.

The “apostles”

The latter half of Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally was emceed by a self-proclaimed prophet who believes Oprah Winfrey is the harbinger of the Antichrist.

It looks like Jindal’s rally will be no different: Doug Stringer, who considers himself to be a modern-day apostle and who also worked on Perry’s rally, is spearheading the Louisiana event. Stringer has blamed American “[l]icentiousness or moral looseness to the degree that it is ‘in your face,’ including homosexuality,” for the September 11, 2001 attacks, which he described as a “wake-up call” from God.

Another self-proclaimed prophet, Cindy Jacobs, is also featured on “The Response: Baton Rouge” website. Jacobs has quite the prophetic record. She:

  • suggested that legal victories for marriage equality advocates led to Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters;
  • proclaimed that Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally “broke the curses on the land” of Texas brought on by “the Native American people [who] were cannibals and they ate people”;

Jim Garlow, a prominent “The Response: Baton Rouge” endorser who is involved in the “apostolic” movement, has been a leader of the movement against LGBT rights. Garlow has:

One event sponsor, Jennifer LeClaire, has used her column in Charisma News to broadcast several “prophetic” warnings about the evils of homosexuality and the “gay agenda” that is “working overtime to send millions to hell.” LeClaire has:

  • and claimed that gay people are possessed by a demonic “spirit of immorality” that “often enters in through some sort of abuse and the lies of the enemy [Satan] that follow.”

The activists

“The Response: Baton Rouge” has also featured endorsements from a slew of conservative politicians. Tamara Scott, as a member of the Republican National Committee representing Iowa and leader of the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America, is a key political player in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. But her political clout doesn’t hide her unbridled extremism. Scott has:

  • characterized young Central American immigrants as “highly trained warriors” who could “rise up against us as Americans”;
  • and suggested that Muslim-Americans are waging a “stealth jihad” to overthrow the U.S.

Another official “Response” endorser, longtime conservative activist and failed Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia E.W. Jackson, has pushed similarly radical views, particularly on gay rights, saying that “homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of.” He has also:

  • said of gay people: “Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally”;
  • warned that homosexuality will bring about a “torrent of wickedness,” including human-animal marriages;

Gene Mills, leader of the Louisiana Family Forum and another key “Response” endorser, is a vocal ally of Jindal’s who helped push the governor’s policies undermining public education and promoting religious schooling. It’s no surprise that Mills leads the state’s foremost anti-LGBT group, as he has:

  • asserted that homosexuality is not a sexual orientation but a “disorder”;
  • falsely claimed that anti-gay speech is now classified as hate crimes;
  • said that abuse shelters should turn away transgender victims of spousal abuse;
  • and explained that anti-gay discrimination is a myth because “the reality is the shame and the guilt the homosexual feels is mistakenly reinterpreted as discrimination and what they attempt to do is to call it discrimination and prohibit it.”

Bobby Jindal Gets A Jump-Start On His Right-Wing Prayer Rally

In preparation for his upcoming "The Response" prayer rally, Gov. Bobby Jindal hosted a prayer meeting at the Louisiana governor's mansion last month with more than 70 local and national pastors. The participants included anti-gay activists like Jim Garlow and E.W. Jackson, as well secretive and influential Religious Right activist David Lane, whom Jindal can been seen praying with around the :30 mark in this piece produced by local reporter Rick Rowe:

Lane is actually the one orchestrating Jindal's entire prayer event, which is just part of his overarching agenda to ensure that America is run by Christians who share his extremist views. As such, Lane is also organizing an effort to recruit 1,000 pastors for run for political office.

Not surprisingly, Lane sees an opportunity to combine these efforts, which he is doing by calling upon pastors to attend Jindal's prayer rally and participate in the pastors' briefing on running for office the day before:

A month ago, I appealed for pastors to commit to pray for 30-45 days, in order to discern if the Lord is calling them to run for city council, county commissioner, school board, mayor or congress in 2016. By simple arithmetic, if the Lord called 1,000 pastors to run in 2016 and if they averaged 300 volunteers per campaign, then that would mean 300,000 ground-level evangelicals working within their local precincts. When my own pastor, Rob McCoy, ran for office this fall, he saw 625 volunteers join in his campaign. A similar grassroots evangelical movement—from coast-to-coast—would change America for good.

...

If we advance spiritual men and women into the public square-people who know wisdom, then we improve America's chances for remaining free. We trust in the Lord and we marshal the army ... Godly wisdom has inestimable superiority to military might and gold. A key to sustaining freedom is the launching of spiritual men and women from behind the pulpit and four walls of the church ... right on into City Hall.

...

If you feel called, then we hope to see you in Baton Rouge on Jan. 23, 2015. The Friday Pastors' Briefing will be called "Issachar: Training The Men and Women of Issachar."

Bobby Jindal Is Predictably Partnering With Anti-Gay Radicals For His Prayer Rally

When Texas Governor Rick Perry was gearing up to run for president the last time around, he decided to kick things off by headlining a large right-wing prayer rally organized by the American Family Association, an anti-gay hate group, and David Lane, a secretive Religious Right organizer and Christian nationalist, called The Response. But rather than propelling him into the White House, the event became infamous mostly for the scores of radical figures with whom Perry had chosen to align himself.

This time around, the AFA and Lane are organizing another Response prayer rally to be headlined by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and it seems to be operating from exactly the same playbook.

Over the weekend, organizers posted videos featuring several Religious Right activists urging conservative Christians to attend the event, including invitations from folks like Tamara Scott, Jennifer LeClaire, Jim Garlow, E.W. Jackson, and Cindy Jacobs:

On Friday, the AFA's Bryan Fischer also noted that he would be in attendance at the event and providing broadcast coverage, and there is quite possibly no other figure within the "mainstream" Religious Right movement today who can match him in terms of consistently unadulterated bigotry.

Gov. Jindal does not seem to have learned any lessons from the first Response rally and, if anything, remarkably seems quite intent on surrounding himself with the same group of radical Religious Right activists that made the last one so notorious.

Garlow: Force Gay Marriage Supporters To Live In Houses With Improper Plumbing

Earlier this week, Jim Garlow called in to the "Point Of View" radio program to discuss his participation in the Vatican's recent summit on marriage. During the course of the conversation, Garlow offered up a rather interesting argument against the acceptance of gay marriage.

"All the people who advocate for so-called same-sex marriage ought to have to live in homes in which the plumbers who built them, or the electricians who built them, didn't understand the difference between the male and female end of piping or plumbing or of electrical as well," he said, "and see how that home works out for them."

"It doesn't work," he concluded:

Jim Garlow: Religious 'Onslaught' Needed To Fight 'Demonic' Gay Marriage

Anti-gay activists Tony Perkins and Jim Garlow, who are attending the Vatican summit on marriage this week, spoke yesterday about how the conference could create a new, ecumenical movement to combat what Garlow called the “demonic movement to destroy marriage.”

“The attack on marriage is global,” Garlow told Perkins, who was broadcasting his “Washington Watch” program live from the Vatican. “I believe it’s clearly demonic.”

Garlow, the California pastor who helped orchestrate the Proposition 8 campaign, then called for “an onslaught of people who come together of very different values” to defend marriage from Satan, repeating his frequent refrain that if he were Satan he would “want to destroy marriage” by allowing gay couples to wed.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 9/15/14

  • Jim Garlow has organized something called "The Jefferson Gathering" on Capitol Hill, in which Religious Right activists like Jonathan Cahn are brought in to speak to members of Congress and lead them in prayer.
  • Watching Glenn Beck struggle to come up with a coherent conspiracy theory to explain why President Obama uses the term "ISIL" rather than "ISIS" is rather entertaining.
  • Lee Duigon explains that liberals are unhappy because "Satan is unhappy": "When the devil is angry and unhappy, his servants are angry and unhappy."
  • Bryan Fischer is worried that Adrian Peterson's indictment on charges of child abuse will give corporal punishment a bad name, which shouldn't happen because its use is commanded by God.
  • Finally, "Coach" Dave Daubenmire is no conspiracy theorist, but contrails are nefarious and "something is being sprayed on us!"

Jim Garlow: Joan Rivers Going To Hell For Her 'Potty Mouth'

Religious Right pastor Jim Garlow writes today in WorldNetDaily that he is sick and tired of hearing people on TV “who are known for their willfully sinful and ‘degeneres’ practices” praise the late comedian Joan Rivers, when in fact they should be worried she is doomed to Hell because of her “degrading” and “mean” sense of humor.

In fact, Garlow knows that Rivers is bound for Hell unless she apologized for her “potty mouth.”

On TV, I have listened to the comments about her life from people who, among other things, have been married five times, are equally foulmouthed and some who are known for their willfully sinful and “degeneres” practices.

During these moments, my reflections are different, as I come from a different “kingdom.” May I respectfully appeal to scriptural truth, as opposed to the idolizing of practices that are dishonoring to God? Going against the extolling crowd, may I have permission to be contrarian?

I sincerely hope Joan Rivers repented in her final hours. All of us must repent for sin in our lives, if we are to enter into God’s glorious heaven. Without that spirit of repentance before God, along with heartfelt contrition, another place awaits us – you remember, that other place that no one ever wants to mention.



Authentically skillful comedians do not have to have a “potty mouth.” We try to teach young children to have more class than that. Comedians should be held to a higher standard.

Every child needs to be taught how to respect and how to respond to others. Debating each other’s ideas is healthy. In contrast, cutting personal attacks are not acceptable. Authentic and respectful “roasting” can be clever and truly humorous. However, degrading others is not “roasting.” It is mean. Joan Rivers – along with several other comedians – never learned the difference. The fact that they got by with it, and were paid millions of dollars to do it, does not justify it.



So the so-called “experts” are on all the TV shows talking about Rivers. One has been married five times. Another is so vile, his humor cannot be aired. Another champions immorality. They lift up Rivers’ “talent.” Yes, she was talented, but I say she abused it. And many were harmed by it.

I will be in the minority. The moral baseline has been moved so low that many Christians will be applauding her “contributions to life.” But that only shows the depth of their lack of the understanding of the holiness of God, before whom every one of us will stand someday. Once we face him, being the snide host of “Fashion Police” on E! – or for that matter, any of the hidden sins in our lives – will not be “funny.” It will be serious.

Jim Garlow: Same-Sex Marriages 'Violate' California Law 'Every Single Day'

California Religious Right leader Jim Garlow helped spearhead the campaign to pass Proposition 8, and doesn’t seem to be giving up on his effort to ban same-sex marriage in the state even after the anti-gay amendment was overturned by federal courts.

While speaking to Bryan Fischer yesterday, Garlow insisted that every same-sex marriage — or as he calls it, “so-called gay marriage” — is still a violation of the law.

He said that Proposition 8 “still appears in the [state] Constitution, though it is being violated every single day” by gay couples getting legally married in the state.

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