One of the giveaways at the recent Values Voter Summit was a new book from Jim Garlow, a California pastor who mobilized churches to organize on behalf of California’s anti-marriage-equality Prop 8 in 2008 and says his daily one-minute radio commentaries are heard on 850 stations across the country.
After getting through Garlow’s “Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues,” I was surprised that David Barton was not mentioned in the acknowledgments, because the book is a very Bartonesque argument that politicians should look to the Bible for policy guidance on everything from healthcare to the minimum wage to climate change.
“There is no major world issue about which the Word does not provide basic and transcendent truths,” Garlow writes. He complains that people understand that the Bible applies to their personal lives, but
…when we hear the word political, we shut our Bibles and recoil, as if God has no interest in government, in spite of the fact that it was God who first invented it (Isaiah 9:6). Christians—particularly pastors—seem to run from the political. The Evil One delights over this situation. But a Sovereign King refuses to yield any ground to the Evil One. He intends for us to do the same.
Garlow’s first chapter asks, “Why are we quiet?” Perhaps in a nod to Donald Trump, Garlow says the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which bans overt politicking by tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches, “effectively silenced and muzzled all pastors.” Anyone who follows American politics can be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the notion that conservative religious leaders have been “silenced” and “muzzled,” but it is an article of faith at Religious Right gatherings that America’s moral decline is the fault of overly timid preachers. Garlow does not like timid, and neither, he says, does Jesus, whom he describes as a “man’s man” and “no wimp.”
We are in a war: a war for truth, righteousness, and justice. The pages that follow are designed to equip you for success in those battles. Welcome to the war.
Garlow says what he’s calling for is “biblical applicationalism” and a return to the idea of a nation founded on biblical truth. He repeatedly says that he is not calling for theocracy, and says he’s not a dominionist. But among those whose quotes he uses to open chapters in his book is Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar. And one of three people he thanks as members of his “spectacular research and writing team” is Gary Cass, who Garlow calls “a pastor who ‘gets it,’ who has a staggering grasp of historical theology and its relevance to current culture.” Cass is a former director of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ. Two years ago he generated controversy with a Charisma magazine column entitled “Why We Cannot Coexist,” in which he said that Muslims and Christians cannot co-exist and that “The only thing that is biblical and that 1400 years of history has shown to work is overwhelming Christian just war and overwhelming self-defense.” After the column generated a protest campaign with the hashtag #CancelTheCrusades, Charisma took down Cass’s call to “crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus name.”
Garlow does not call for a worldwide holy war, but he does complain, “Our societal and cultural desire to accept everyone has stopped us from acknowledging the evil clearly written into Islamic tenets.”
Garlow, like Donald Trump, disparages political correctness:
Not surprisingly, the promoters and users of PC tactics are those who typically hate biblical truth, traditional morality, sexual restraint, personal responsibility, the nuclear family, or any other concept based on transcendent, unchanging truth revealed by an almighty God for our society’s good.
Says Garlow, “Unfortunately, Christian religious tolerance has devolved into a secular monstrosity called multiculturalism.” Tolerance is a “weapon” to “destroy and discredit our values in the public square,” he writes.
Cultural progressives will not be satisfied with silence; they want a complete and unconditional surrender. That is the nature of spiritual warfare; there is no peaceful coexistence.
“Religious liberty is under attack from godless, sexual anarchists,” he declares. Garlow, of course, is stridently opposed to legal equality for LGBT people. “There is no God-given right to do wrong,” he writes. “Every sinful act is by definition a lawless one.” Garlow says it is “quite likely” that “there is no such thing” as sexual orientation and he seems to wish gay people would just slink back into the closet. “For years that chant was, what we do in our bedroom is our business,” he writes. “If that is the case, then they should keep their business in their bedrooms.”
Hate crimes laws are, in his view, “inherently unjust” and “are a form of legally justified revenge against someone whose actions violate some standard of political correctness.” And, he says, “Hate crimes inevitably lead to hate speech and ultimately thought crimes.”
Garlow also devotes plenty of space to arguments about the kinds of authority the Bible grants to government, ideas that are grounded in Christian Reconstructionism and have been embraced by much of the Religious Right. The term social justice “has taken a distinctly anti-scriptural meaning,” he says, and liberal churches “cherry-pick the Bible to advance a humanistic (Marxist) definition of economic justice.”
“The biggest problem is that it confuses social justice’s governmental confiscation of private property with authentic biblical justice, which it isn’t,” says Garlow. Some taxation is biblically acceptable, he says, in order to pay for things like national defense. But, he argues, “Nowhere in the Bible is the government authorized to take from the rich to give to the poor nor to redistribute wealth.” That kind of taxation, he says, is theft:
Any forced redistribution of the fruit of a man’s labor violates God’s command not to steal. Theft is still theft, even when it’s the government picking your pocket. Whether by a gun (a thief) or through a tax (by the IRS), the impact is still the same: you no longer have what you earned.
Food stamps are also unbiblical, he says. Not surprisingly, Garlow cites Star Parker, a favorite at Religious Right conferences for her attacks on welfare recipients as lazy freeloaders. Writes Garlow, “Show me a person who uses their welfare dollars to buy lottery tickets and play the casino slots, and you will see as much greed as an inner city slumlord.”
Because he argues that the Bible gives churches, not government, the responsibility to care for the poor, Garlow’s proposal for a “biblical tax code” includes a 3.33 percent tax that would be given to local houses of worship, replacing government welfare programs that he says are rife with abuse and corruption. He says by letting churches take care of people, his plan would be “assuring funds went to the genuinely needy, offering job hunting assistance, and, at the same time, proper prodding of the slothful and lazy.”
Social Security is also unbiblical, according to Garlow. “Biblically, entitlement programs and forced savings/retirement insurance programs like Social Security are never the role of the civil government,” he says. “With the Social Security Act of 1946, the government has stepped outside of its prescribed role and into areas it had no right to enter.”
Besides, “Where does it say in the Bible that we are supposed to retire at sixty-five, or at any age for that matter?” Garlow asks. He complains, “After a life of hard work, Americans now feel an entitlement to unproductivity.” But sooner or later Social Security will collapse and people will get back to “God’s design for society” by “having lots of godly, hardworking children” who will take care of their parents in old age.
Garlow also takes on climate change, writing that “at its core global warming is a battle between two worldviews in direct opposition: biblical truth and evolutionary untruths.” Garlow writes that “all the major global datasets reveal the earth hasn’t warmed since 1977” and “NASA scientists are now discovering record levels of ice in the Arctic.” Writes Garlow, “The reality is this: we’re all just fine. God remains in complete control of His creation.”
Just to do a little reality check on his claims, August 2016 was the 16th straight hottest month ever recorded globally. And while Antarctic wintertime ice hit record highs in 2012-2014 before returning to average levels in 2015, “both the Arctic wintertime maximum and its summer minimum extent have been in a sharp decline for the past decades,” according to NASA. “Studies show that globally, the decreases in Arctic ice far exceed the increases in Antarctic sea ice.”
On it goes, through 31 chapters. Our educational system “is consumed with anti-Christian bigotry.” Government should do away with no-fault divorce. Unions were legitimate at a time of deplorable and dangerous working conditions, but have “become as abusive as eighteenth century employers.” God wants workers and employers to negotiate without any third-party involvement from government or unions. In a break with the hard right, Garlow does call for immigration reform that offers those who have been in the country illegally a pathway to remaining in the country.
Garlow also takes on the federal judiciary. He calls the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “quite possibly the strongest attack on Christians and Christian values ever written by a sitting Justice in a majority opinion.” Justices, he says, are “knowingly lying about what the Constitution says and what its words mean and, as such, are in direct violation of Exodus 20:16,” which prohibits “false testimony.”
Garlow says there’s no quick fix to bad court rulings because Congress doesn’t have the courage to impeach justices. It will require “America to experience a spiritual renewal, or at least an adherence to biblical values such as integrity.” But he does call for state officials to nullify and defy federal court rulings on abortion and LGBT equality: “We need principled, constitutional, pro-life, and pro-family state legislators and governors to defy the Feds and enforce state laws.” And he calls for individual citizens to nullify “ungodly” and “unjust” laws, citing the Manhattan Declaration’s vow of civil disobedience and adding, “May we have the discernment and courage to do what is right and obey God rather than man.”
Even before the long security lines, the singing of the National Anthem, and Tony Perkins’ use of a goofy toy gavel to call the 2016 Values Voter Summit to order, early risers filled the Empire Room at Washington, D.C.’s Omni Shoreham hotel for a breakfast sponsored by United in Purpose, a Silicon Valley-based organization that uses “big data” techniques to help Christian organizations better understand and motivate their supporters and to help boost conservative Christian voter turnout.
The opening prayer at the breakfast was given by Jim Garlow, a United in Purpose board member and anti-gay pastor who made his name in right-wing politics by mobilizing church support for California’s anti-marriage-equality Prop 8. Attendees were given copies of Garlow’s new book, “Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues,” published by Regnery Faith.
A quick glance suggests that the themes of Garlow’s book will be familiar to anyone who has attended a Religious Right gathering or absorbed the “scholarship” of the Right’s favorite self-proclaimed historian, David Barton: The Bible is a guidebook for government policy on everything from marriage to education and tax policy, and America has lost its way because pastors haven’t been preaching these truths aggressively enough. Garlow writes that his book was written to overcome pastors’ resistance to political preaching, which he blames on legal restrictions on church politicking that Donald Trump has vowed to overturn.
The breakfast’s two keynoters, conservative Christian pollster George Barna and Barton, the truth-challenged “historian,” are also, like Garlow, board members of United in Purpose. Barna runs the group’s American Culture and Faith Institute, which is carrying out in-depth longitudinal studies on changing attitudes among church-going Christians.
Barna argued that America was strong when family, church and government were all doing their jobs well and staying in their own “lanes.” But, he said, today is different. He ran through a set of statistics that depressed the people sitting at my table, demonstrating Americans’ lack of basic civic knowledge, lack of trust in the government and the church, and lack of hope in the future. One big problem, he said, is that only nine percent of born-again Christian adults have what he calls a “biblical worldview”—which seems to mean embracing the Barton-Garlow vision that Christians have a duty to vote according to their particular interpretation of the Bible. “That’s what makes it so difficult,” he said, “to be America.” Barna said America is “ripe for another revolution.”
Barton was his fast-talking self, quoting founding fathers, showing slides of colonial-era sermons, and generally contrasting the thundering sermons of revolution-supporting pastors and what he said are whispers coming from today’s pulpits. Barton asserted again that the Bible has policy directives on divorce, the minimum wage, the capital gains tax and just about any other issue a politician might confront.
Barton said Christians should not think in terms of having a right to vote, but rather a responsibility to vote. And, in what felt like a clear pitch for evangelicals to view voting for Trump as a biblical mandate, Barton explained that according to the Bible, a nation’s righteousness is not based on the righteousness of its leaders but on the policies they produce. And nothing is more important than the kind of judges a president will nominate and senators confirm, he said.
God gave the Israelites 613 laws, he said, and then focused them on His “top ten” priorities. Barton’s conclusion: You might care about immigration or climate change, but those can’t be among your top five voting issues because God says the top five must be abortion, marriage, public acknowledgment of religion, judicial nominations and support for Israel.
Scott Lively says that "it is not mere coincidence that the collapse of the social order in the West has tracked both the decline of respect for the Bible (especially the Old Testament) and the rise of the LGBT movement."
Jim Garlow participated in a conference call between Donald Trump and faith leaders yesterday and "came away from the call ... profoundly encouraged at what I heard."
A warning from Phil Burress: "Everything from the NRA to religious freedom … you can kiss it all goodbye if Hillary gets elected."
Phyllis Schlafly declares that "it is clear that abortion and American values can never co-exist."
Frank Gaffney says "Hillary Clinton has arguably done more personally for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist cause than any other U.S. official."
Finally, Brian Brown remains very alarmed by the lack of support that NOM is receiving: "I have to tell you, with less than 72 hours left in the membership drive I am really worried we're going to fall short of our goal.We need to raise $52,500 to avoid devastating cuts to our programs, and we've only raised $44,124 thus far. That means we have less than three days to raise $8,376 — and I am very concerned."
American Family Radio host Sandy Rios aired an interview today that she conducted recently with California-based pastor Jim Garlow about the New York meeting Garlow attended with Donald Trump and hundreds of the country’s most prominent Religious Right leaders.
Garlow said that while Trump addressed the purported attacks on religious freedom in America at the meeting, “I was on a panel right after he left and I said someone will need to help him connect the dots between religious liberty—what’s causing it, overwhelmingly, is the LGBTQ radical agenda that’s pressed upon us.”
“The radical homosexual agenda,” Garlow went on to say, is “at the epicenter of most of the loss of our religious liberty at our present time.”
“The potential for the silencing, punishing, shutting out of Christians in the public square is just imminent,” Rios warned.
Carl Gallups says that Christians who refuse to support Donald Trump must ask themselves one question: "Will my conscience allow me to act in a manner so that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency and thus destroy this nation and the future of my children and grandchildren? That’s the real question for all of these people talking about their ‘conscience.’ Everyone else is going to have to live with the consequences of all of those who simply opt out of this election by not doing what they can to stop Hillary Clinton."
Jim Garlow desperately tries to explain why he is supporting Trump: "Trump is slowly being surrounded by increasingly good persons. (NOTE: Right while I was typing this, I received a call from a man on the East Coast whom I have only met twice, but who has Trump's ear, who told me the good things happening 'behind the scenes,' in spite of some of the unprincipled things he has said.) Can these good people impact Trump? We'll see. But that is better than the horrific, anti-scriptural persons surrounding Hillary."
Republicans who still can't bring themselves to vote for Trump now have a third-party option: Evan McMullin.
Ben Kinchlow has a theory on why Hillary Clinton may win the election: "America has an extremely high percentage of voting-age college students, millennials, transsexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals and feminists. In addition, many normal Americans want to demonstrate that they are not racists, homophobes or anti-feminist."
Gina Loudon says that "instead of running for president, Hillary could be seeking a medical battery of testing that could get to the heart of what may be a worsening mental disorder, as well as intense therapy and perhaps medication (if she isn’t already medicated), before more lives are lost at the hands of her incompetence."
Finally, the AFA's Abe Hamilton says that Black Lives Matter is "bent on what I would term a form of domestic terrorism."
Like other Response rallies, the one in Cleveland was sponsored by Christian-nation advocateDavid Lane and emceed by “apostle” Doug Stringer. And like the others, the day featured music and individual and communal prayers divided into alliterative thematic sections: Revelation; Repentance (personal and corporate); Reconciliation; Revival; Reformation; and Refreshing. If you have six hours or so, you can watch the whole thing online.
Stringer said at the beginning of the rally, as he did in conference calls with clergy in the weeks before the event, that its purpose was nonpolitical and that it was intended to unite Christians across lines of race and denomination to pray for the church and the country. But given the time and place of the gathering, the ideological worldview of its organizers and the content of many of the prayers, it is impossible to take the “nonpolitical” claim seriously.
David Lane believes that the U.S. has a mission to advance the Christian faith and he is organizing to elect leaders who support his Christian-nation vision. Stringer is associated with Seven Mountains theology, which holds that all the “mountains” of culture, or spheres of influence in society — education, family, government, media, arts & entertainment, business, and religion — are meant to be run by the right kind of Christians.
It is true that much of the rally was not overtly political. I don’t believe anyone mentioned Donald Trump’s name from the stage, though I doubt I was the only one who thought of him when Stringer said that God is “repelled” by pride and arrogance. Some people prayed for racial reconciliation and for the church to be more welcoming of the stranger and for people to take orphans into their homes. But there was an undeniable political context to Stringer’s declaration that “there is a battle for the soul of our nation.”
“Our private actions have public consequences,” he said, declaring more than once that “every kingdom, every principality, every dominion, every authority must bow its knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A number of speakers echoed Seven Mountains rhetoric, and some were tasked with praying for specific mountains. For example, one person prayed for the media, asking that God “remove those who stir strife and divide.” Others prayed for revival to sweep through the military and college campuses, leading to the rising of a generation “that will not accept compromise.” One prayer leader said “the devil is destroying our families” and called for “male and female marriage” to be established in the land; more than one speaker prayed for husbands to love their wives and for wives to be submissive to their husbands.
The event itself had the feel of an extra-long service at an evangelical megachurch: big stage; rocking worship teams with great singers and musicians; song lyrics projected on a video screen; some people dancing, some kneeling, some prostrate on the floor. The event’s structure, with music and themed sections, worked to create an emotional roller coaster, taking people down into introspection and grief at their and the nation’s sin and brokenness and then up to a triumphant and celebratory victory over sin; the music ranging from quiet and tender to driving dance beats and then back again.
Introducing the section on corporate repentance — not in the sense of corporations but in the collective sense of the sins of the church and the country — Stringer cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Bible verse that is now ubiquitous at Religious Right events: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (New International Version). According to Stringer, the "my people" part of the passage suggests that Christians need to repent and clean up their own act if they are to have any hope of transforming the culture. Among examples speakers gave of “the church” prostituting itself was the acceptance of “moral licentiousness and moral looseness” as well as the existence of legal abortion and human trafficking.
Part of the design of The Response was that no speakers were introduced by name; Religious Right leaders and elected officials were mingled with local pastors and youth. Among the recognizable national figures were anti-gay activist Jim Garlow and anti-abortion activist Janet Porter. Porter could not stick with the “nonpolitical” program; she mentioned anti-abortion language in the Republican platform and made a push for her as-yet-unsuccessful effort to get a so-called “heartbeat bill” through the legislature in Ohio:
In the state where the motto is ‘With God all things are possible,’ we decree that today. In the city that joined together, that said that life begins at the moment of conception in a platform, in Cleveland, Ohio, that saw the end to hope deferred with a victory, I speak victory to life, victory to those fighting for life, victory to the heartbeat bill, which has passed the Ohio House of Representatives, has been blocked in the Senate. We say, ‘Remove the obstacles, God!’ No more hope deferred! No more delay! We thank you for victory. And we say God, ‘do it again, do it again in Jesus’ name.’
Another speaker prayed for public officials who are "men and women of the church" and asked that God "grip" the hearts of those who are not so that they might live and legislate "according to a biblical worldview":
And the other government leaders that God has put there, we must pray constantly that the Lord would grip their hearts and compel them and they would come to know him as his personal savior that they too might live according and legislate and be leaders and speak according to a biblical worldview, that they would know the savior and know the truth and live it out.
It is essential that our laws and policies continue to reflect the truth of the Judeo-Christian principles and values that God himself has established in this nation. So let’s pray for our leaders right now. Father, pour out your Holy Spirit on the leaders of this nation for those that know you Lord Jesus, let them not lean on their own understanding but let them turn to you that you would direct their paths, Holy Spirit.
Father, those that do not know you, God we ask that you would pour out Lord, that their hearts would be open, the scales would fall off, and they would see the truth. Father, we ask that thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, in America as it is in heaven, in Cleveland as it is in heaven. God, we ask that you, Holy Spirit, that we our government leaders we would love what you love, we would hate what you hate, and that our hearts would be for you alone...
Stringer said that even unbelievers would benefit from a world in which evangelical Christians had greater influence over government and culture. Religious leaders often cite the biblical injunction for Christians to be “salt and light” in the world; toward the end of The Response, Stringer proposed a new metaphor:
Those of us who’ve overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony have an opportunity in the midst of a world that stinks to be a fragrance of the kingdom of heaven…We live in a stinky world, but we’re called to be that Febreze, that sprayer of the fragrance of heaven. Wherever there’s stink we want to spray the presence of God.
On “Janet Mefferd Today” on July 14, right-wing pastor Jim Garlow suggested the government should stop assuming responsibility for providing “health and welfare” services so that churches can take over the social safety net and eliminate “freeloaders.”
“This is going to sound pretty radical to the ears of most listeners,” Garlow admitted. “We’re so out of tune with Scripture. For several hundred years, we’re, for the first part of the history of this country, we did a good job at the health and welfare of people because it was in the role of the church, and the church has the DNA to do that. The family’s the number one institution, number two and the church steps in, and then the community at large, and then finally the role of the government. That’s kind of a pecking order.”
Garlow stressed that “health and welfare is 51 percent of the national budget. The government wasn’t designed to do that. It does a terrible job because it can’t isolate out freeloaders, for example. Waste, corruption, fraud. Everybody knows about it, but it never gets corrected.” (The 51 percent figure he cites consists primarily of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.)
Garlow claimed that if the 100,000 “Bible-believing churches” in America “were the epicenter of the health and welfare for people, the freeloaders would be gone, so that would take an enormous load off, the taxation off of people from overregulation of government would be gone, so people would be giving more to their local church.”
“If we followed what ancient theocracy in Israel did, they had a tax, 10 percent every three years, for the poor,” Garlow said. “That’s three and a third percent every year. Let’s suppose that somehow that went to the local worship centers across America, it was administrated to the people by hundreds of volunteers from every church who could make a difference. People might say, ‘Well, that just can’t possibly work.’ Well, let me ask you, how is it working right now? Pretty terrible. Pathetic, quite frankly.”
Garlow acknowledged that “the theocracy of ancient Israel is not the same as the constitutional republic in America” but claimed “there are principles that can come across the centuries, that can come to a different form of government and make sense and would work if we would just allow government to be what it’s supposed to be, biblically and constitutionally, church, be what you’re supposed to be, we could step back up to the plate and do what we did so well. There’s plenty of evidence that the church, for a couple thousand years, did a phenomenal job at meeting the health and welfare needs.”
Next month, Donald Trump will host a meeting with some of the country’s most radical anti-LGBT and anti-choice leaders in New York City.
Trump, who has already recruited a variety of far-right activists and conspiracy theorists to his campaign, is set to take part in a convening organized by Ben Carson, a former rival turned campaign surrogate, aimed at bringing reluctant Religious Right leaders to his side.
According to a copy of the invitation to the event obtained by the National Review, Trump will be joined by Religious Right activists including Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Penny Nance, Jim Garlow, Rick Scarborough, Phil Burress, Ken Cuccinelli, Lila Rose, E.W Jackson, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Cindy Jacobs.
The meeting will be cohosted by the Family Research Council, Vision America and AFA Action, the political arm of the American Family Association, three of the most vicious anti-LGBT hate groups in the country.
Trump has already pledged to use nominees to the Supreme Court to pave the way for the reversal of the landmark rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality and has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, key priorities of right-wing activists.
Here is a brief introduction to some of the far-right extremists Trump will be meeting with next month.
Right-wing pastor Jim Garlow, one of the organizers of last night's "Washington — A Man Of Prayer" event at the U.S. Capitol, closed out the gathering by declaring that future historians just might look back on the prayers that had been offered by dozens of members of Congress and conclude that they had caused a "shift in the heavenly realm" that led to nationwide revival.
"This is such a sacred moment," he stated. "If we could see into the realm of the heavenlies what has been accomplished by the declarations that have been made by our congressional leaders, we would have reason to be profoundly encouraged."
"I feel like we're standing before a burning bush," Garlow continued, in awe of the fact that only America would have "this many people at the highest level of leadership call on God the way we just heard," predicting that this event will lead to a "restoration" that will sweep across the nation.
"This is your place, this is your moment," Garlow said, leading the gathering in one final prayer. "Who knows what future historians might write about what began those days in April when people began to gather, called congressmen, and began to worship you and praise your name and call on your name and ask for you to give us mercy when we really deserve judgment. Who knows but what this is actually the turning point, it may not be manifested in every way quite yet, but who knows if in the realm of the heavenlies, what's been declared here might some day be identified as the moment when things began to shift in the heavenly realm and the name of Yeshua was lifted up again and God is honored in this place, this city and around this nation. Thank you, Father God, for what you are doing and what you have just done."
Garlow has previously claimed that his prayer gatherings led to the passage of California's Proposition 8, the anti-gay amendment that was later overturned by the courts.
Two major prayer rallies organized by Religious Right figures are being held on Saturday —one at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and one in Los Angeles. The two events will be linked with a simulcast “Bridge to Prayer.”
WorldNetDaily is excited about the event, promoting it with a breathless story, declaring “what an assembly it promises to be.” WND even tries to put a good face on the lousy weather forecast, saying, “Perhaps the Almighty is already calling attention to the event by providing some freakish spring weather, with the possibility of snow in the forecast. But hardy souls will brave the elements because they consider the gathering a divine calling.” A Thursday email from event organizer Lewis Hogan was not so excited about the weather, urging people to pray away the rain.
This is not the first “solemn assembly” called by Religious Right leaders to put America on the right path during an election year. While the Great Awakening whose beginning is predicted at every Religious Right event hasn’t yet materialized, organizers believe it’s just around the corner. Meanwhile, they say, America’s embrace of marriage equality is just asking for God’s wrath.
In WND’s story about United Cry DC, Rabbi Cahn complained that America hasn’t heeded his warnings:
In the course of the last few years, America has not turned back to God but has grown much farther from Him. We’ve witnessed a rapid acceleration in the nation’s apostasy from God and His ways. We have called good evil and evil good. We are now at the threshold of persecuting God’s people as we celebrate godlessness. The Bible is very clear on the consequences. To any nation that has been given so much as America, much is required. If we don’t turn back to God, we are advancing toward judgment.
“The fact that it is also the year of a presidential election and a critical moment with regard to the Supreme Court, raises the stakes even higher.
Before the 2012 election, right-wing pastor Jim Garlow was telling anyone who would listen that the re-election of President Obama would literally spell the end of America. After Obama's re-election, Garlow even declared that America was now "clinically dead" and the only thing that could save it was a miraculous resurrection.
Garlow, it turns out, is still hoping for such a resurrection, telling American Family Radio's "Today's Issues" program yesterday that this next election will determine whether or not America is finally lost forever.
"People say we're at a crossroads," Garlow said. "We're way past the crossroads. Our last free exit was way back on the freeway and now we're driving at a very high rate of speed through signs that are saying, 'The bridge is out, the bridge is out, the bridge is out' and we're continuing forward."
"I saw 2012," he continued, "as the day the body died and now we have a limited time for resuscitation. We went past the point in 2012 and 2016 is can these bones breath again, is there a chance that we can raise this back to life? Can we put the shocker on the heart and get things going again? Discerning people know that's where we are."
Just last week, Mike Huckabee was burning bridges with many Religious Right leaders by accusing them of being a bunch of sell-outs and frauds who don't really want to see an end to legal abortion and gay marriage and of having insufficient faith in God, all because they are not backing his presidential campaign.
But apparently there are still a handful of Religious Right activists who have the virtue and moral fortitude to stand with Huckabee, despite his poor poll numbers, and endorse his candidacy, as reported by CBN's David Brody today:
It’s Iowa or bust for Mike Huckabee and with just a few weeks to go before the big Iowa Caucus, he’s trotting out some key endorsements from notable pro-family conservatives. The Brody File has the exclusive.
Among the group endorsing Huckabee are Dr. Tim LaHaye, minister and author of the New York Times best-selling Left Behind book series; Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor of SkyLine Church;” Art Ally, founder and president of Timothy Plan, America’s first pro-life and pro-family mutual fund company; Dr. Eric M. Wallace, President & Co-Founder of Freedom’s Journal Institute and Janet Folger Porter, Founder and President Faith2Action. It’s a solid list.
The closing keynote address at the recent World Congress of Families conference in Salt Lake City was given by Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. As we noted in our overview of WCF, Piper did not abide by the standard suggested by the conference’s opening keynoter, Mormon Elder Russell Ballard, who said, “We demonstrate our discipleship when we refuse strident tones, when we refuse derisive labels, and when we enter the public square seeking fair outcomes through understanding and mutual respect.”
Piper, by contrast, enthusiastically embraced strident tones and derisive labels in his closing keynote. Piper may have been trying to interest conservative Christian parents in sending their kids to his school, which commits itself to honoring “the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom.”
Piper spent much of his time denouncing a culture and approach to education that promote bad ideas and sexual promiscuity, and values clarification rather than moral absolutes. Early in his speech he set the tone:
Imagine that we live in a time and a place where the wise and learned in our courts, and in our classrooms, and, unfortunately, even in our churches, actually work to remove a man’s soul and expect him to stay out of hell.
Piper had harsh words for the educational establishment, which he said “is known not for pursuing truth, but rather for celebrating tolerance, and in the name of tolerance they then tell us that our intolerance is intolerable.” Citing a litany of examples of ideological intolerance against conservatives on campus, he declared it undeniable that there is a “war against Christians” in the academy and the broader culture.
Piper slammed gay rights advocates and other liberals for “ideological fascism,” declaring, “The result of this nonsense is that the rainbow banner of tolerance has become the dark flag of tyranny almost overnight.” And he went after President Obama harshly:
Where is our president in the midst of this? Where is the leader of the free world? Christians are losing their jobs, losing their businesses, losing their tenure, losing their education, and losing their freedom and he says nothing. He lectures us about the crusades rather than defend us in the courts. Christians are being enslaved and burned alive and beheaded across the Middle East and he is silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in the middle of America and mum’s the word.
For decades, Piper said, “we’ve sent our kids off to sit under the tutelage of faculty who have panned the Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis.”
Our judges can’t find the word ‘marriage’ in the dictionary. Our State Department thinks the way to stop terrorists is to give them jobs. Our president says he appreciates the legitimate grievances of the terrorists who are crucifying children. Why are we surprised to see tens of millions of women buying the lie of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ when colleges have been promoting Sex Weeks on their campuses across the land, teaching these same women the virtue of bondage and dominance for the past several decades.
Piper concluded with a prayer, in which he asked God to forgive America for a long list of the kind of things he spent his speech blaming the liberal establishment for, among them “the foolishness of expecting cultural sanity while removing a culture’s soul” and “worshiping government more than God.”
“Please,” he asked, “rescue us from the ugly hell of our own making and give us liberty within the bounds of your law and free us from the bondage of our licentiousness.”
Piper repeated some of his gripes about education on Glenn Beck’s show, which was recorded the day before his WCF speech and broadcast a few days later. One of Piper’s talking points is that “opinions are dangerous; truth sets us free.” Among the dangerous people who had opinions, he notes, were Pol Pot, Mao, Robespierre, Chavez, Hitler and Mussolini. Piper has also appeared on David Barton’s radio show.
The bold-faced duplicity of those condemning those who love the family is indeed hateful. Intolerance in the name of tolerance. Bullying while decrying bullying. Exclusion in the name of inclusion. Dumbing down the human being while arguing for human rights. Pretending to be pro-woman while using women as pawns and products. Hate under the banner of anti-hate… These ideas do not come from love, but rather from disdain: Disdain for children, disdain for family, and disdain for truth. Such ideas come from a hateful people who hate anyone who dares stand in their way of hating God.
If you like what Everett Piper has to offer, you’ll probably get plenty of opportunities to hear more of it. In the program book for the WCF gathering, he is listed as chair of the “SWAT Team” in charge of “Strategic Planning for the Future.”
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.”
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.”
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
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:
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.
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.
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!'"
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 formasscivil disobedience and arevolution 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 widelydiscredited:
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.
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.”