The Benham Brothers: After reporting on HGTV’s plans for a new home improvement reality show starring notorious anti-gay, anti-choice extremist David Benham and his brother Jason back in May, the Benham brothers have now taken their tale of "persecution!" throughout the Religious Right speaking circuit.
Gordon Klingenschmitt: What a year for Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt! Klingenschmitt, whose whole career has been based on a myth about his supposed religious persecution in the military, used his “Pray in Jesus Name” program this year to spread the word that it’s basically child abuse for a kid to be raised by gay parents, and that transgender people are just in need of an exorcism and a spanking. (Of course, this is a man who once tried to perform an exorcism on President Obama.)
But in between spouting anti-gay vitriol and denouncing Obamacare, Klingenschmitt somehow managed to run a campaign for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives and won! Congratulations to Colorado’s new anti-gay, demon hunting state legislator.
Texas State Board of Education: This year, we nominate the Texas State Board of Education for an Equine Posterior Achievement Award for their approval of social studies textbooksthat were more about the ideological beliefs of the board members than, you know, actual history.
It turns out that by branding themselves as members of a party that has returned to its mainstream, center-right roots after successfully stamping out a Tea Party rebellion, even “establishment” Republican candidates are able to hold all sorts of extreme views without any consequences.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that a party that regularly endorses candidates who deny climate science and denounce evolution has moved the political center so far to the right that even candidates with radical views can still be treated as moderates. These days, Republicans win kudos simply for stating that they don’t want to ban birth control or destroy the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.
This dynamic has allowed any number of conspiracy theories to flourish in the GOP. Here are five conspiracy theories that newly elected members of the United States Congress will be bringing with them to Washington next year:
Senator-elect Joni Ernst, a Republican of Iowa, shares their fears. Last year, Ernst predicted that Agenda 21 agents may start “moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore. These are all things that the UN is behind and it’s bad for the United States, bad for families here in the state of Iowa.”
She later warned that Agenda 21 will compel people to move into designated “urban centers” and “take away our individual liberties, our freedoms as United States citizens.”
2) Just Making Stuff Up About ISIS
Never mind the fact that there have been exactly zeroofficialreports of ISIS members coming to the U.S. via the southern border, “closing the border” has emerged as a leading Republican talking point when describing how they plan to fight the terrorist group.
Tom Cotton, the Arkansas congressman who won his race for U.S. Senate yesterday, said during his campaign that his opponent and President Obama are “refusing to secure our border” and as a result, ISIS is now at the gates: “Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism. They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas.”
While conservative politicians have denounced the science behind climate change as a big lie, some are very interested in the “science” behind “blood moons,” with more Religious Rightactivists arguing that lunar eclipses are actually signs of God’s impending judgment against America for policies such as abortion rights and LGBT equality.
“I certainly am aware of the fact that every time there have been blood moons like this, there have been major events that have followed,” he said.
Perhaps Congress should move to study blood moons rather than climate change!
4) Gay Recruitment in the Classroom
Are sex-ed classes just a secret plot to turn kids gay? Yes, according to Wisconsin state senator and soon-to-be U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, who once warned that some school classes are the result of an “agenda which is left unsaid is that some of those who throw it out as an option would like it if more kids became homosexuals.”
Grothman instead proposed that schools enact their own “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies, lest growing support for gay rights in the U.S. lead to divine punishment.
Hice, as it happens, shares Grothman concerns about gay recruitment, once citing a satirical 1987 essay to claim that gay people want to “sodomize your sons” and “seduce them in your schools.”
5) Identity of the Antichrist Revealed!
At least one Republican candidate knows the true identity of the Antichrist, and it’s Hillary Clinton.
“It’s time to stop the lies. Let’s talk about the truth,” Zinke said. “Who trusts the U.S. government?” he asked rhetorically. “No one in this room. I’ve served in 25 nations. I’ve seen where people don’t trust their government. We’re there. In the military, the last option is to send in the SEALs.”
Zinke said he wants to restore truth, grace, honor and decency, which he called “our moral compass. It’s always been Judeo-Christian,” he said. With the present administration, “It’s whatever you can get away with. I will never bow to pressure. I will do what’s right,” he said.
“We need to focus on the real enemy,” he said, referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he called the “anti-Christ.”
After getting called out for the remark, Zinke later said that the “anti-Christ” comment was a joke.
So there you have it, in an election where pundits raved about establishment Republicans “crushing” Tea Party insurgents, it seems that the GOP establishment has simply appropriated the Tea Party’s tarnished brand of paranoid politics and unmistakable extremism.
Back in 2011, Georgia pastor and GOP politician Jody Hice appeared on the End Times radio broadcast “Trunews” to discuss the Penn State abuse scandal, which he blamed on the end of government-organized school prayer.
Hice, who is now the GOP nominee for the Republican-leaning U.S. House seat being vacated by far-right Rep. Paul Broun, told host Rick Wiles that the Penn State scandal was a result of America having “kicked the Bible out of schools and then prayer out of schools. We’ve just basically been going downhill since then and you get what you get [when] you kick God out.”
Werthmann, who was a child in Austria when it was annexed by Hitler’s Germany, spent the program going through what she saw as the similarities between that regime and America today, which Hice was eager to agree with.
“The parallels as you’re talking are just incredible with what we are seeing in America,” he said, adding that “like a politician here in America,” Hitler “made all these wonderful promises” before transforming into the “monster you never saw coming.”
“And so, you’ve got the nationalized education, nationalized banking, nationalized press that you alluded to, the nationalized medical care,” Hice said later in the program. “It sounds like you were describing America. And the last thing that you mentioned was the gun control. It sounds like you were describing to us tomorrow’s newspaper here in America. Every one of these issues we’re facing right now.”
“That’s right, that’s why I’m so fearful, it’s going so fast,” Werthmann replied, before warning that Obama’s appointment of “czars” signals the end of democracy.
This summer, we spent a couple of scintillating days listening the archives of a radio program hosted by Georgia pastor Jody Hice, who won the Republican primary for an open U.S. House seat and is now the favorite to replace outgoing Rep. Paul Broun.
From Hice, we learned that by accepting homosexuality, “we are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not,” that the Sandy Hook and Aurora gun massacres were the result of the separation of church and state, and that we ought to have our “antennas up” that blood moons coinciding with Jewish holidays could signal “world-changing events.”
As if we needed more proof that Rep. Paul Broun’s likely GOP replacement in the House, Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, will be just as enthusiastic a Christian-nation advocate as his predecessor, we stumbled across this clip from a 2011 broadcast of Hice’s radio show in which he laments that the separation of church and state is turning government into God and thereby destroying America:
“The more we remove God individually from our lives or culturally, the more secular we will become, which means that in place of God we’re going to set ourselves up or we will set up the state, the government, to fulfill the role of God,” Hice opined.
“That’s the only option is that’s what happens, and that precisely is why secularism is not, cannot, be neutral,” he continued. “Secularism, the belief system in itself, by doing away with God in turn sets itself up as God, either as an individual or as a government. That’s where we’re moving. And we are experiencing what we are experiencing in this country simply because of our continual drifting away from our Judeo-Christian principles, drifting away from our awareness and understanding and belief in God for so long that now we are reaping the consequences.”
Jody Hice, the GOP nominee for an open House seat in Georgia, said on his radio program in 2011 that “totalitarian” liberals have turned public schools into “camps for indoctrination,” a strategy he likened to Nazi Germany.
Hice seems to imply that the very existence of public schools is a Nazi-like scheme, but that liberals in particular are trying to maintain their “clutch” on public schools in order to control “the minds of children” and raise money from teachers’ unions:
Obviously, if we have government — which is what the public school is — if we have government indoctrinating what students are learning, then we have a problem. This took place in Germany, friends. I’m not trying to say we are necessarily headed in that direction, but it is undeniable that one of the first things Hitler did was to grab, so to speak, the minds of the youth. And once he was able to instill in those young minds his own ideals and his own philosophy and that of the Nazi Party, then the rest of it was pretty much a piece of cake. It was a cakewalk to go through once you had the minds of the schoolchildren at every age level.
It is likewise just as dangerous what we are witnessing today. And it’s obvious that the liberals in this country are going to be fighting tooth and nail to protect the public school system from getting out from underneath their total, absolute, totalitarian control. If it gets out of their control, they not only lose the minds of the children in this country, but they also lose enormous financial resources, as the teachers’ unions are the number one biggest supporter politically to liberal ideology. So there’s a lot at stake for the liberals to continue their clutch on the public school system.
Later in the program, Hice elaborated on his concerns, citing a book lamenting “political correctness" on college campuses to warn that public schools are training students to “disdain America” and to defend homosexuality and “the green agendas.”
“What happens when our schools become just nothing other than liberal – or, soften it up a little, progressive – camps for indoctrination, which in essence is what they have become?” he asked.
He warned that schools are engaging in “the intentional training of students to dislike, to actually disdain America” and “encouraging students to freely experiment with all forms of sexuality, forcefully defend issues like abortion and homosexuality and also just encouraging students to become cultural advocates for political correctness, and there’s no tolerance for political incorrectness.”
“There’s the push for relativism, for globalization, for environmental agendas, the green agendas and tolerance for everybody,” he continued. “All of this stuff is now being pushed upon children in the public school system.”
The conventional wisdom is that so-called establishment Republican candidates by and large triumphed over Tea Party radicals this election cycle. But the truth is that those victories were the result of a party establishment that itself has moved far to the right. Even where Tea Party candidates have failed, the Tea Party movement has increasingly remade the “establishment” GOP in its own image.
It is now core doctrine in the GOP to deny the science behind climate change, endorse sweeping abortion bans and engage in anti-government rhetoric reminiscent of the John Birch Society.
As Tea Party icon Michele Bachmann put it last week, while she may be retiring from Congress, she leaves with the knowledge that “even the establishment moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging.”
Here, we look at five Republican congressional candidates who could be heading to the Capitol next year. Some have been labeled “establishment,” some “Tea Party,” but all are emblematic of the party’s strong turn to the right.
1. Joni Ernst
One Iowa conservative pundit has described state Sen. Joni Ernst, now the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, as “the choice of the Republican establishment” who has “been backed by national Republican establishment figures like Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Marco Rubio.”
But in today’s Republican Party, even an “establishment” candidate like Ernst can be just as extreme as a Tea Party insurgent.
Ernst subscribes to the radical,neo-Confederate idea that states can “nullify” federal laws that they deem to be unconstitutional — and even went so far as to suggest that local law enforcement officers can arrest government officials for simply administering federal laws.
In response to a 2012 candidate survey for a group affiliated with former congressman Ron Paul, Ernst pledged to “support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare.” In a speech to a Religious Right group the next year, she criticized Congress for passing “laws that the states are considering nullifying.”
Not only does Ernst think states should simply be able to void laws they don’t like, but she also wants to abolish the federal minimum wage and eliminate federal agencies such as the Department of Education, the EPA and the IRS. She also came out in favor of a plan, known as the “Fair Tax,” that would scrap the income tax and replace it with a federal sales tax of 23 percent on nearly all goods.
Her anti-government paranoia even extends to taking on a non-binding United Nations sustainable development agreement, Agenda 21, which she warned will pave the way for the UN to remove Americans from rural lands and force them into cities. She has even disagreed with the official investigations finding that Iraq did not have WMDs at the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion.
But Ernst does support government intervention when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, sponsoring the Iowa personhood amendment, which would ban abortion in all cases along with common forms of birth control. “I think the provider should be punished, if there were a personhood amendment,” Ernst said, but has since insisted that she thinks the amendment would be purely symbolic.
In 2007, Tillis blasted government policies that “have redistributed trillions of dollars of wealth,” calling them “reparations” for slavery. The same year, he opposed a resolution apologizing for an 1898 massacre of African Americans in a North Carolina city, explaining that the amendment didn’t sufficiently honor white Republicans.
Tillis supported the repeal of North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act — which allowed death-row inmates to appeal their sentences based on evidence of racial bias — and backed heavily restrictive voting laws designed to weaken the black vote. In a 2012 interview, he lamented that Democrats were gaining ground in North Carolina thanks to growing Latino and African American populations while the “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable.”
At an event in 2011, he suggested that the government cut public spending by finding “a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance” — specifically by setting disabled people against “these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government.”
He has now pivoted his campaign to focus on addressing the menacing specter of people infected with Ebola coming to Mexico to illegally cross the southern border into the U.S.
3. Jody Hice
Jody Hice entered politics as a Religious Right activist and a conservative talk radio show host, making him part of two worlds that are at the core of the conservative movement. Now, as the frontrunner in an open Georgia House seat, currently held by outgoing far-right Rep. Paul Broun, Hice is set to bring his right-wing agenda to Congress.
Hice made his first foray into politics by trying to convince local governments to erect monuments of the Ten Commandments in public places, which were deemed unconstitutional by, in Hice’s words, “judicial terrorists .” A Christian Nationalist, Hice thinks the founding fathers would support his congressional campaign and has posted on his Facebook page numerous fake quotes from our nation’s founders about the dangers of “Big Government” and the need to mix religion and government.
Hice outlines his political beliefs and fears in his book, “It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America,” in which he claims that abortion rights make the U.S. worse than Nazi Germany; endorses the fringe “nullification” theory; argues that Islam “does not deserve First Amendment protection”; and spells out his worries about gay people trying to “sodomize” children and persecute Christians, fearing that children will be “preyed upon” by gay “recruitment” efforts until they embrace “destructive,” “militant homosexuality.”
When armed militia groups gathered at the Bundy ranch in Nevada to back a rancher and race-theorist who refused to pay grazing fees for using federal property, Hice praised the groups that were threatening violence against law enforcement officers. He has argued that individuals have the right to have “any, any, any, any weapon that our government and law enforcement possesses,” including “bazookas and missiles,” in order to give citizens a fighting chance in a potential war against the government.
The GOP nominee blamed mass shootings such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech and in Aurora, Colorado, on abortion rights, the separation of church and state, and the teaching of evolution, and said that the Sandy Hook school shooting was the result of “kicking God out of the public square” with the end of school-organized prayer.
Hice also believes that we are now living in the End Times, worrying that “we have little time” left on earth and citing the appearance of blood moons as proof of imminent cataclysmic, “world-changing events.”
While Hice is worried about the destructive consequences of blood moons, he dismissed climate change as a “propaganda” tool of the “Radical Environmental Movement” to make people of believe in an “impending environmental disaster due to ‘Global Warming.’”
Grothman opposes abortion rights without exceptions in cases of rape, incest and a woman’s health, even working to make it a felony offense for a doctor to perform an abortion that could save a woman’s life. Grothman successfully passed laws requiring doctors to read scripts meant to discourage women from terminating their pregnancies, which he said was necessary because oftentimes “women are looking for someone to talk them out of it.” He also sponsored a 24-hour waiting period for abortions that only exempts survivors of “forcible rape” who file a police report.
The Republican lawmaker worries that “gals” are running — and ruining — America by leading a “war on men.” He has said the U.S. “is in the process of committing suicide today” as a result of single mothers collecting public benefits and pushed a bill to declare single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect,” calling single parenthood a “choice” and the result of a culture that “encourages a single motherhood lifestyle.”
“I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred,” he said in a 2012 interview with Alan Colmes, adding that he believes women aren’t telling the truth about having unintended pregnancies: “I think people are trained to say that ‘this is a surprise to me,’ because there’s still enough of a stigma that they’re supposed to say this.”
In a similar vein, he defended Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to rescind a pay equity law because, according to Grothman, pay disparities are due to the fact that “money is more important for men.”
Grothman is a sponsor of the Wisconsin Personhood resolution [PDF], which would ban abortion in all cases and many forms of birth control, and his campaign has touted the support of personhood activists.
He once described Planned Parenthood as “probably the most racist organization” in the country, adding that he believes the group targets Asian Americans for abortion. In 2007, he voted against a bill that made sure hospitals provide information about emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors.
He opposes laws protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and once tried to strip a sex education bill of a nondiscrimination provision that he suspected was part of a plot to make kids gay. Grothman also demanded that his state refuse to follow a court order to recognize same-sex marriages, which he feared would “legitimiz[e] illegal and immoral marriages.”
Not content with just opposing gay rights in the U.S., Grothman also defended a Ugandan law that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by sentences including life in prison. He even suggested that “unbelievable” American criticism of Uganda’s law would prompt God to punish the United States.
Although Grothman fears that America might incur God’s wrath for standing up to state-sanctioned violence against gays and lesbians, he is less concerned about climate change, which he says “doesn’t exist.” Grothman told one interviewer: “This environmental stuff, this is the idea that is driven by this global warming thing. Global warming is not man-made and there is barely any global warming at all, there’s been no global warming for the last twelve or thirteen years. I see a shortage of Republicans stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘look, this global warming stuff is not going on.”
5. Zach Dasher
Taking advantage of his family’s new-found reality TV fame, “Duck Dynasty” cousin Zach Dasher is running for U.S. Congress in Louisiana in an election where the top two candidates advance to a runoff vote if no candidate takes over 50 percent of the vote.
Dasher cited the success of “Duck Dynasty” as one of the reasons he entered the race: “Five years ago, I didn’t see an opportunity or window of opportunity to get into this type of venture. But here recently, obviously with the family name and being able to get my message out there, I saw an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Of his uncle Phil Robertson, who came under fire for making statements in a magazine interview defending Jim Crow and demonizing gays and lesbians, Dasher gushed: “The support of the family means a lot to me. We share a very similar background and philosophy, and our spiritual beliefs are the same as well. They’re going to be a big part of the campaign. I’m going to have Phil as my PR director, since he’s so good with the media.”
Robertson also appears in commercials promoting Dasher’s candidacy, and Dasher has said he agreed with Robertson’s remarks about the gay community. Dasher’s wife wrote in a blog post that just as people should break out of addictions to alcohol and heroin, gay people can “overcome” and “come out of” homosexuality and find “healing.”
One of Dasher’s opponents, Rep. Vince McAllister, is a freshman Republican congressman who said he would retire after he was caught on video kissing a staffer who was not his wife, then changed his mind. Dasher says he is running as an even more conservative candidate than the GOP incumbent, and has received backing from Tea Party and pro-corporate groups such as the Club for Growth and Citizens United.
“My platform begins with God. That’s really what this whole thing is about. In Washington, when we look at what’s going on, we see an erosion away from that platform,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We see the ruling classes kick God out and in His place they place themselves. That scares me because we didn't send these folks to Washington, D.C. to determine our rights, we sent them there to defend our rights.”
Dasher fears that the federal government “believes that they’re God” and is intent on “gain[ing] control over every aspect of our lives” as part of a plan to create a “culture of dependency.” In a personal podcast, Dasher said the “swift drift away from God will usher in tyranny and death,” warning: “Tyranny will get its foothold — if it already doesn't have it — and in the end, there will be mass carnage and mass death. It's inevitable.”
Dasher blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on atheists, whom he also accused of “brainwashing a generation ” through rap music and ushering in “moral decay” and the erosion of liberty. He said that schools should “arm the teachers,” arguing that laws targeting gun violence actually leave people as “unarmed sitting ducks, waiting for someone to come in and shoot their schools up.” Dasher recently claimed that the Second Amendment was established to allow people to defend themselves against “a tyrannical government,” warning that government officials intend to repeal the amendment in order to eliminate all other freedoms.
Although city officials have been backing away from the subpoenas, attributing them to overly zealous pro-bono lawyers, the Religious Right has turned the incident into a cause celebre, and Hice is on board, declaring on his radio program that the Houston incident is “the new Alamo” for anti-gay activists.
“This is the battleground now over traditional family,” he said. “And what is going to occur over this development is that we are either going to see this in Houston, Texas, be the beginning of the end of the LGBT assault, if you will, on freedom to practice religion and of traditional family values being rightfully defended, or this is going to be a huge step toward the ultimate collapse of religious liberty in America.”
He warned listeners that if they don’t get involved in Houston, “one day the government is going to be knocking on the door of your pastor.”
“This is the first attempt in this country where we have a widespread attack on pastors in an entire region. And if it is not stopped here, we are in for a serious problem regarding the attacks of religious liberty in this country,” he said.
Earlier in the program, Hice alleged that the subpoenas — which were related to a lawsuit over the validity of petition signatures — were in fact part of a scheme by Houston’s openly lesbian mayor to find sermons that she “might deem to be offensive or whatever” and bring charges against pastors for preaching from the Bible.
“They may be actually trying to bring legal charges against these pastors for sharing with their congregants scriptural passages,” he guessed.
Tomorrow, people in much of the world will have the opportunity to witness a rare “total lunar eclipse,” which could turn the moon a deep shade of red. But, be warned: such a “blood moon” isn’t just an astronomical curiosity. According to a story that WorldNetDaily has been pushing for months, it’s also potentially a message from God warning of the impending Last Days.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily published yesterday, Pastor Mark Biltz — who literally wrote the book on the “heavenly signs” disguised in blood moons — reports that tomorrow’s eclipse could potentially signal “that God is closing this chapter of human history” and warning us of the coming “Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible.”
“All these signs, coming together at one time, are potentially the culminating signals that God is closing this chapter of human history,” Biltz said. “This could be the final curtain call before the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Bible. God has always wanted to warn His people, and the rest of the world, before He intervenes. What better way to communicate to us than through the universal language of heavenly signs that speak to every tribe, tongue, and nation?”
He said, “In the Old Testament, the prophet Joel states: ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come’ (Joel 2:31). In the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying: ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light … And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:29-30).”
In an email promoting the article, WND backs up Biltz’s point by noting that since the last blood moon occurred, several terrible things have happened in the world, including the spread of the Ebola virus and the rise of ISIS.
If Wednesday morning's total lunar eclipse – the second so-called blood moon – is indeed a "culminating signal that God is closing this chapter of human history," then consider history's path since the last blood moon occurred in April:
The death toll from the newly identified Ebola virus had not yet reached 150, all in Liberia and Guinea ... far from the United States.
Early reports of crucifixions and other atrocities in Syria did not yet have the labels ISIL, ISIS or IS in most people's minds.
Something big is happening in the world and in time ...
“We have a majority of people who want to have a prayer before a ballgame and yet we are rapidly becoming a society where the minority rule,” Hice lamented, adding, “If you’re in the majority in a situation like this, the minority rules. I don’t believe that is the intent of our Constitution.”
“Who could possibly be offended” by a school-sponsored sectarian prayer, Hice asked, recalling that in his school athletic years a prayer was read before every game and “I don’t recall anyone on either side of our competition every being taken off in an ambulance to the hospital.”
GOP congressional candidate Jody Hice of Georgia took to his radio program this week to attack President Obama for “giving the appearance of a willingness to defend religious liberties” in the Middle East merely for “political advantage,” while “fighting against religious freedom here” through the HHS contraception coverage mandate.
“Our same administration is attacking us here in America while trying to defend others around the world,” Hice lamented.
On his radio program yesterday, Georgia GOP U.S. House nominee Jody Hice blamed court decisions barring school-sponsored prayer and the display of religious texts in public buildings for a “downward slide” in America, including low test scores, gang violence, drugs, teenage pregnancy and “promiscuity.”
“[A]s we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence?” he asked. “Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less?”
“Folks, across the board we have suffered,” he concluded.
So we had in 1952 a clear understanding of the role of religion in our public life, even in our schools. Then shortly thereafter we had the beginning of a reinterpretation of the First Amendment, a reinterpretation of separation of church and state as it applies to the public school system.
And wow, have we been on a downward slide ever since. Removing prayer, then removing the Bible, then removing religious documents such as the Ten Commandments, which of course has led to the removal of other symbols and so forth, and then removal of benedictions and invocations at any kind of school event or activity.
And I just want to ask you, what kind of behavior, as we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence? Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less? What has happened in our society as we have removed our religious heritage from being taught, from even being allowed in our public schools?
Folks, across the board we have suffered. Education scores have gone down, violence and crime has gone up and we are witnessing more and more of the consequence of those decisions.
Georgia pastor and activist Jody Hice, who is now the GOP nominee to fill Rep. Paul Broun’s U.S. House seat, explained on an episode of his radio program posted today that LGBT people aren’t asking for equal rights because “gay people have the same rights as everybody else.”
“Let’s just suppose a gay person comes up to you and says something like, ‘Why shouldn’t I have the same rights as everybody else? Why can I not marry the person I love?’” Hice said.
“Well what rights are we talking about?” he asked, before implying that gay people can simply marry someone of the opposite sex: “Gay people have the same rights as everybody else. There are no rights that are missing. They have the same rights as anyone. We are Americans and we all have the same rights.”
“People have been loving one another as companions and so forth for a long, long time and they have been giving care to one another for a long, long time without calling every instance of love and mutual care, without calling that marriage. But now all of a sudden we have the demand to fundamentally redefine the world marriage,” he continued.
Later in the program he likened same-sex marriage bans to prohibitions against bigamy and incest, saying that when it comes to marriage, “homosexuals, gay people, have exactly the same right as heterosexuals have.”
“Homosexuals have the right to be married but what they are demanding, in reality, is that marriage be redefined to suit them,” he said.
“We already have marriage laws that prevent people from marrying the person they love,” he said, citing people who want to marry their siblings.
Back in 2008, The Alliance Defending Freedom launched a project called Pulpit Freedom Sunday that encouraged pastors to explicitly discuss political issues and candidates during their Sunday sermons in an effort to provoke the IRS into revoking their church's tax-exempt status so that the ADF could then take the IRS to court in order to challenge regulations prohibiting tax-exempt churches from engaging in direct, partisan political activism.
Among the pastors who agreed to participate was Jody Hice, a right-wingradiohost who is now the GOP nominee for an open House seat from Georgia, who openly brags about his involvement on his campaign website:
In September 2008 – and in years since, Dr. Hice joined with pastors across the nation in challenging an IRS code that he considers an attack upon religious liberty. The IRS threatened churches with loss of tax-exempt status and with criminal sanctions if political issues were addressed from the pulpit. Hice took his bold stand by formally endorsing a candidate in a Sunday message and sending a copy of it to the IRS. The IRS backed down.
This Pulpit Freedom Sunday effort has taken place every year since 2008 and the IRS has consistently refused to take action against any of the churches or pastors who participated, much to the dismay of church-state separation organizations.
Eventually the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed its own lawsuit against the IRS, seeking to compel the agency to enforce these regulations and then withdrew the lawsuit after the IRS convinced the FRFF that it had not been ignoring the issue.
As Sarah Posner explained today, this latest development is now being spun by the Religious Right to claim that the IRS is colluding with atheist groups in order to target and persecute churches.
Among those fuming about this supposed persecution is none other than Jody Hice, who spent an entire radio broadcast last week declaring that it is a violation of the separation of church and state and accusing the IRS of threatening, bullying, and intimidating Christians into silence:
Of course, the entire point of the Pulpit Freedom Sunday was to get the IRS to take action against churches so that ADF could sue. And now that it looks like the IRS might actually do the very thing that ADF has been trying to provoke it to do for several years, Hice is livid even though he has personally participated in the effort to bring about this very result!
Last month, President Obama signed an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination by companies that receive federal contracts and Jody Hice, the right-wing radio host who is the GOP nominee for an open House seat from Georgia, is none too pleased about it, saying on his radio program last month that Obama is thumbing his nose at the First Amendment and calling on Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the federal government from "discriminating" against Christians who want to discriminate against gays.
Citing the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, Hice said that Obama's decision to sign this executive order "is almost like a thumbing of the nose of the president at the U.S. Supreme Court, at our First Amendment, at our unalienable rights ... How else do you look at this but a thumbing of those nose of our administration at our First Amendment and our Supreme Court at the same time."
Hice went on to call upon Congress to repeal Obama's executive order by passing legislation that would "clearly prohibit our government from itself discriminating against any individual or any group or organization, whether nonprofit or for profit, it doesn't matter, to prevent the government from discriminating based on the beliefs about marriage and sexuality."
"Our government, our system, absolutely should be prohibited from discriminating against these types of groups," Hice declared. "Our government should not be allowed to use these things to penalize individuals and groups for not adjusting their philosophies to political correct ideas":
After Kinchlow said that without “Judeo-Christian” principles in government “people end up killing each other,” Hice claimed that the Ten Commandments “predate Christianity” and therefore do not represent an establishment of religion.
Hice also described his campaign to place copies of the Ten Commandments throughout public buildings is part of a spiritual battle to save America.
“Are we going to be a nation that is led by people who acknowledge God? Who acknowledge God’s law and acknowledge the role of God’s law in our society and the founding of our country? Or are we going to be led by people who totally reject God?” Hice continued. “It’s a frightening thing if we don’t rise up.”
While speaking to host Ben Kinchlow, Hice alleged that Satan is “infiltrating our society” through efforts to separate church and state and is behind judges who have “chipped away” at “our Christian rights.”
Hice also warned that the world is in the Last Days: “We have very few years, I certainly can’t put any time limit, but as rapidly as our world is changing and our nation is changing, we have little time.”
He added that America is transforming into Europe, a continent so overcome with “depravity” that “you can feel the darkness with the removal of God from society.”