On his “Generations Radio” program today, right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson blamed the recent turmoil in the financial markets on the U.S. national debt, which he in turn blamed on John Maynard Keynes.
Swanson said that Keynes’ supposedly “nihilistic” economic beliefs were shaped by his sexuality. (Keynes is widely believed to have been bisexual, but Swanson claimed he was homosexual).
“It will be interesting to know that a homosexual ruined the world,” Swanson said. “Somebody will indeed write the story about this in the year 2060 or 2070, no doubt. This will be the great exposé of how the world economies came down all because of a homosexual who was promiscuous, who was perhaps one of the most wicked, flagrantly licentious men who has lived in the modern world and he becomes the grandfather of the modern economies, bringing them all down. It makes a lot of sense: Sexual nihilism, of course, will produce sexual burnout, and that must be tied to economic burnout and epistemological burnout as well when societies lose the will to live.”
Swanson isn’t the first critic of Keynesian economics to skew a quote from Keynes to claim that he didn’t care about the long-term impact of his economic beliefs. Back in 2013, American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer pointed to Keynes’ sexuality as evidence that “homosexuality in the end is going to be responsible for the collapse of the Western economy.”
On his “Generations Radio” program yesterday, Swanson said that although he was “severely mocked” for his remarks at the conference, it is true that America must repent or God will punish the nation through the election of Hillary Clinton, who will in turn lead “tremendous majorities of American kids” down “the track towards homosexuality” and other sexual sins.
Swanson got on the subject while discussing a recent case in Massachusetts in which a judge found that a Catholic school violated a state nondiscrimination law when it pulled a job offer from its food services director after he listed his husband as an emergency contact.
Swanson warned that this was all part of the “preparation for the Greek form of education, which, as you know, involves whatever’s going on in gymnasia, very, very ugly stuff” and that the nation is “going in the direction of Harry Potter’s mentor and Hiccup’s mentor in ‘How to Train Your Dragon,’” whom he says are gay.
The only way to save America, he said, is to keep enough kids out of public schools, which are teaching them to be “polytheists and socialists” and to get enough Americans to repent, otherwise God will fail to “have mercy on this nation” and allow Clinton to be elected president.
If America fails to repent, he asked, “Why wouldn’t Hillary Clinton get full rein upon this nation to continue the destructive pattern, destroy the social fabric of the nation — the family, of course — so that of course there will be 75 percent of kids born outside of wedlock to single mothers by the year 2030, so to be sure that tremendous majorities of American kids are taken down the track towards homosexuality, towards the destruction of sexuality with pornography habits, illegitimate divorce, the shack-up rates being 30 times what they were in 1970 and so forth?”
The fall of marriage equality bans in all 50 states following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision was a disaster for the conservative movement, whose leaders have spent years demonizing same-sex couples and warning that the legal recognition of their marriages will unleash a wave of terror on the nation.
Even the not-exactly-pious GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, is activelycourting the anti-gay Right, although he has trouble explaining why he should be seen as a strong defender of “traditional marriage.”
In the eyes of many conservative activists, Obergefell was the product of a culture that had been slipping away for years, bringing America into an apocalyptic period where growing acceptance for homosexuality is ushering in disastrous consequences.
Weeks before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah declared that if the court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and conservative states didn’t seceded from the union in protest, anti-gay activists like himself would flee the country. “Are there any governors or legislatures out there among the 50 states willing to secede to offer a refuge for the God-fearing?” he asked, warning that if states were to stay in the U.S. following a pro-equality decision, the world should expect “a pilgrimage by millions of Americans.”
End Times radio host Rick Wiles told his listeners that the country would “be brought to its knees” if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of marriage equality and that there would be “pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country,” caused by “riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space.”
Texas pastors Robert Jeffress and Rick Scarborough also got in the mix. Jeffress said the ruling could pave the way for the Antichrist while Scarborough said conservatives must “fight until we die” and “push back with all our might” against a ruling in favor of gay marriage, which he said would “unleash the spirit of hell on the nation.” Scarborough even boasted that he was ready to go to jail and face death: “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.”
As one might expect, the responses to the ruling were not much different from the predictions.
The day after the ruling, Wiles declared that he received a message from God, who asked him to tell the people to “flee” the country before God destroys it through economic ruin, food shortages, terrorism, disease and slavery. “America is over,” he declared. Later, Wiles predicted that America is “going to see gunfire” from people resisting the government over gay marriage. “Somebody’s going to jail, somebody’s going to die, somebody’s going to suffer,” he said.
Michael Bresciani of the Christian Post said Obergefell would lead to “an economic crash much more serious than the stock market crash of 29,” while WND’s Farah envisioned “more civil and racial strife” or “an attack on our country from foreign power or terrorist group.”
Fox News pundit Todd Starnes said that “pastors who refuse to perform gay marriage and preach from the Bible should prepare for hate crime charges,” while Illinois pastor Erwin Lutzer told religious parents to prepare to “be diagnosed as culturally intolerant and personality intolerant,” as a result of which “their children will be taken away from them.” Perkins of the FRC claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision would threaten the freedom of speech and gun rights.
American Family Radio host Sandy Rios, who also serves as the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director, said that homosexuality may have been “a factor” in the deadly Amtrak crash in May. She suggested that the engineer, who is gay, may have been having a breakdown as he experienced “some confusion” related to homosexuality.
Fellow AFR host Bryan Fischer specifically blamed flooding in Texas on God’s judgment for homosexuality, saying that “you can make a geographical connection” between flooding and homosexuality. (We wonder what that means for American Family Radio’s home town of Tupelo, Mississippi, which was hit by a tornado last year).
Huckabee also suggested that America is in “a dangerous place” because “if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it’s apparent that man believes he has become his own god,” and God will not protect such a nation.
The Religious Right has a long history of absurdly claiming that evangelical Christians are facing persecution in America, and the Obergefell ruling only amped up such rhetoric.
Huckabee warned that the gay rights movement “won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel,” lamenting that too many Christians don’t realize “how close they are to losing all of their freedoms.” Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also got in on the action, warning that a gay “jihad” is “going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Glenn Beck predicted that Obergefell would result in serious repercussions for the media, claiming that “anybody on this show [who] says they’re for traditional marriage” will have their airtime in jeopardy as the ruling “could mean the end of radio broadcasts like mine.”
Nothing set off more persecution rhetoric than the Kim Davis saga, in which the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk blocked her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a court order, citing “God’s authority.” She was temporarily placed in the custody of U.S. Marshals after she said she would continue to flout the courts and was only released after deputy clerks started to issue the licenses.
Even before the Davis case, many Republicans had been insisting that government officials may not have to treat court rulings on marriage as authoritative after all, and can simply flout the process of judicial review. Obergefell gave them the perfect opportunity to put these arguments into action.
Before quitting the presidential race, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted the decision, explaining that “no earthly court can change the definition of marriage.” Huckabee said that if elected president, he would tell the Supreme Court: “Thank you for your opinion, but we shall ignore it.” “It’s a matter of saving our republic to say that, as president, we’re not going to accept this decision, we will ignore it and we will not enforce it,” he said.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also claimed that when civil law conflicts with “God’s rules,” then government officials must choose the latter because “God’s rules always win.” Rubio, along with his fellow GOP presidential candidates Cruz, Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina, also pledged to sign legislation confronting the supposed discrimination faced by gay marriage opponents.
The “700 Club” host worried in September that gay marriage would trigger a perilous financial crisis, warning that “the rupture of the entire financial framework of our world” could occur because of the Obergefell ruling. He again alleged in November that “the wrath of God” is headed to America now that “it’s a constitutional right for sodomites to marry each other,” possibly in the form of “a massive financial collapse.”
“They’re going to make you conform to them,” he said of gay rights advocates. “You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is.”
“Christianity, the founding principle of this nation, is criminalized,” he said in response to the Davis controversy. “You go to jail if you believe in God and stand fast for your beliefs against the onslaught of secular humanism and the flood that comes about with it.” (Robertson, of course, has not been jailed).
Warning viewers that “the homosexuals don’t just want to be left alone, now they want to come out and stick it to the Christians,” Robertson said that gay rights laws are creating “absolute tyranny” and “it's high time we call it what it is and we stand up for freedom.”
The televangelist also offered his patented advice to people with gay children.
He told one mother to send her daughter, who is dating another woman, to a Christian summer camp and “pray that God will straighten her out.” He said that the girl was probably “pressured” into embracing a lesbian identity because “there’s so much lesbian stuff, I mean, lesbian this, lesbian the other, so much homosexual — the media is pushing this as hard as they can possibly push it.” He told another viewer who has a gay son to treat him like a drug addict, and advised yet another parent that God could change his gay son if only the son were to start “acting like a man.”
Here at Right Wing Watch, we listen to hours of video and audio each day in order to find the short clips that we share with our readers. It’s been a doozy of a year, in which presidential politics has collided with the farthest of the far right, and here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve had the dubious pleasure of witnessing it all. It’s hard to pick our favorite/most horrifying memories of the year, so instead we’ve looked back at the 10 most watched videos and most listened-to audio clips of the year.
10. Sandy Rios Investigates The Amtrak Crash
Days after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in May, killing eight and injuring hundreds, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios pointed out “an interesting part of the story” that was likely “a factor” in the crash: the conductor’s homosexuality.
June was not a happy month for anti-gay activists, as exemplified by Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, who days before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision warned that gay marriage was a satanic plot to destroy Christianity and may very well bring God’s judgment on America.
Televangelist Pat Robertson is not always quite on point with the advice he gives to viewers of “The 700 Club” at the end of every program, such as when he told a bereaved mother who had just lost a young child that the child could have turned out to be the next Hitler .
4. The Gay ‘Jihad’
Ted Cruz went there during a campaign event in Iowa in April.
3. Rick Perry’s ‘Accident’
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a very ill-timed “oops” moment when he called the mass shooting at a church in Charleston an “accident,” in the process of claiming that the crime was the result of drugs rather than guns.
2. Phil Robertson’s Imagination
Back in March, controversial “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson tried to make a convoluted point about atheists supposedly having no moral code by telling a gruesome hypothetical story about a family of atheists getting raped and murdered.
1. Rick Scarborough’s Martyrdom
Nobody took the hysteria over the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision quite as far as Rick Scarborough, who declared a few days before the court handed down its decision that he was ready to burn to death in his fight against gay marriage.
Ted Cruz's presidential campaign has been openly contemptuous and downright dismissive of anyone who has tried to get the Republican presidential hopeful to explain why he spoke at a conference last month organized and hosted by extremist pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson.
On multiple occasions prior the conference, and twice during the conference itself, Swanson explicitly endorsed the idea of imposing the death penalty for homosexuality, yet the Cruz campaign has cavalierly waved away questions about his appearance along side Swanson at his conference, insisting that Cruz is not some sort of "gay basher":
Recently two left-wing media mainstays, MSNBC and The Daily Beast went after Cruz’s appearance at a religious freedom conference that he and two other candidates were invited to. The two liberal organizations played a video clip from another extreme left group, People for the American Way’s RightWingWatch, and imagined the conference a “kill the gays” event.
Cruz’s response to their misrepresentations was simple. He elected not to respond, “acknowledge or take their bait,” the staffer explained. “We’ve seen their follow up attempts and accusations to place Cruz into their definition of gay bashers, but that’s not even close to who he is. You have to look at his record and history, not what the left wants him to be.”
Cruz's refusal to denounce Swanson and his views is rather interesting, especially since Swanson himself has no trouble denouncing anyone who does not share his "kill the gays" views.
For instance, on a radio program from March of this year, Swanson criticized Bob Jones III for daring to apologize for comments he made 35 years ago advocating that gays be stoned to death.
"As far as I know," Swanson said, "the Apostle Paul has not backtracked on Romans 1, in which he refers to the unnatural relation between males and males, females and females, and says such who does these things are worthy of death ... I'm going to be the last guy who stands up and says whatever Paul was saying when he said they're worthy of death, whatever Moses is saying in Leviticus 20:13 as communicated to God's people as the very law God, from the lips of God himself, I'm going to be the last person to say, well, God's law is unjust. And if anybody wants to say that, I'm going to be standing about 40 feet away, whatever the diameter of lightening is."
Later in that same broadcast, Swanson took issue with those who get outraged at the prospect of the government putting people to death for homosexuality, saying that it is no big deal when compared to the prospect of gay people spending eternity in Hell.
"When people focus on the civil penalty for the sin of homosexuality," he said, "they're diverting attention from the real issue, and that is the judgment of God upon that behavior ... Capital punishment? Execution at the hands of the state? Big deal! Big deal! That's nothing. That's nothing. In comparison with the judgment of God, the judgment of the civil courts, of the human courts, as compared to the judgement of Almighty God? No comparison!"
If Cruz wants to prove that he is not one of those "gay bashers," denouncing Swanson and his rhetoric would be an easy way for him to do so. But so far, Cruz and his campaign have conspicuously refused to that while touting the endorsements of severalotheranti-gayextremists ... and that speaks volumes.
Swanson has long promoted the idea that government should impose biblical law in order to get on the right side of God but, like his fellow Christian Reconstructions, believes that conservatives like himself must change the culture first before the government can begin imposing Old Testament laws such as the death penalty for homosexuality.
While Cruz has tried to avoid questions about his attempt to woo Swanson, his campaign finally released a statement to Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, defending his appearance at the event by insisting that Swanson’s call to put unrepentant gay people to death was “not explicit.”
As Maddow pointed out, Swanson’s statements about the death penalty were not the only ones at the conference. One conference speaker, Phillip Kayser, distributed a booklet he wrote arguing that gay people should be killed by the government if they do not renounce homosexuality, listing proper biblical punishments as hanging, stoning and “being thrown off a cliff or dashed on rocks.”
“It is not necessarily news any more that there are people like this on the right, who view homosexuality according to their version of biblically-ordained judicial principles,” Maddow said. “But it is news, it is always news, when people from the purported mainstream of American politics, people who are vying to be the next president of the United States, show up at events like this and speak from the same stage where pastors are justifying the death penalty for gay Americans.”
“For Ted Cruz, he can’t really say he didn’t know what was going on at that conference, and there’s a case to be made that he should be ready to answer some real questions about it,” she added.
Earlier this month, a lesbian candidate was elected mayor of Salt Lake City, and the news did not sit well with Religious Right radio host Kevin Swanson, who told listeners on Friday that this is just one more sign that the end of America is at hand.
Denouncing Mormonism as a “sham religion,” Swanson said that the Salt Lake City mayoral election shows that homosexuality is just “the tip of the iceberg” while other sins like child molestation and porn addiction “hide under the water.”
“Sure enough, the bastion of conservativism is ultimately the place at which the future of this nation is being eroded in the most fundamental sense,” he said.
This led Swanson to talk about a LGBT conference sponsored by The Economist, lamenting that the magazine wants “to be that edgy, progressive organization that promotes the homosexuality in the business world and the very thing that will destroy nations. People don’t believe that, that homosexuality will be the catalyst by which nations are destroyed, because they don’t believe that God exists and they don’t believe God is judge and they don’t believe that God has the right to determine right and wrong, good and evil as he does in the word of God.”
Swanson told “Generations Radio” listeners that the outrage over his remarks is proof that America is at war with God.
“Any time the nation has taken up a fight with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe, you don’t pick a fight with the Creator of all of the galaxies, all of the planets, this entire solar system, you don’t pull together a couple of ants and lift a fist to the Almighty and think you can get away with it,” he said. “This is, I think, the reason why the media firestorm — we have touched the conscience of a nation and they realize they’re in trouble, they’re in trouble with the God of the universe.”
After rallying with Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal at his anti-gay conference in Iowa two weeks ago, far-right pastor Kevin Swanson returned to his "Generations Radio" program to discuss the terrorist attacks in Paris, specifically focusing on the Bataclan theater massacre.
According to Swanson, the mass shooting at the theater was "a message from God" since it targeted fans of the rock band Eagles of Death Metal and reportedly occurred as the band played a song titled "Kiss the Devil."
"When you get a wake-up call like what happened at France's 9/11 last Friday night at the concert,” Swanson said, “I think we all need to pay attention to what's happening: This is a message from God. God is shooting a shot across the bow and we better be paying attention to this."
Swanson, who described the concert as "a worship service to the Devil," said that he would ask survivors of the massacre: "Did you love the Devil's works as your friends were being shot up in the massacre?"
"Did you appreciate the works of the Devil as your friends were being shot up in that concert?" he added.
Today, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reports that she reached out to the campaigns of the three candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the presidential race), and found them rather reluctant to talk about it.
A spokesperson for Huckabee, who at the event deflected a question about Swanson’s extremism, told Basu after viewing video of some of Swanson’s remarks that Huckabee “appreciated the opportunity” to speak at the conference. The Cruz and Jindal campaigns didn’t bother to reply at all. (Before the conference, Cruz had been asked about his participation by CNN’s Jake Tapper, but brushed off the question.)
Calls and emails seeking a reaction to Swanson's remarks by spokespeople for Cruz and Jindal (who suspended his campaign Tuesday) went unanswered. Huckabee’s spokeswoman Alice Stewart asked for documentation and was sent a video link. She responded the next day saying, "Gov. Huckabee appreciated the opportunity to speak with an audience in Iowa about the importance of standing up for our religious liberties."
Basu also reached out to The Family Leader, an influential Iowa conservative group that sponsored Swanson’s conference and will be hosting candidates for a “presidential family forum” later this week. A Family Leader spokesman at least went as far to say that the group doesn’t condone executing gay people, but didn’t comment on the wisdom of sponsoring Swanson’s conference:
Asked if Vander Plaats or the Family Leader condemn Swanson’s remarks, Drew Zahn, its director of communications wrote in an email: “The Family Leader absolutely condemns any call for violence against homosexuals. Our involvement with the conference was intended to advocate and preserve our First Amendment religious liberties and the rights of conscience for all Americans. The Family Leader consistently advocated the Bible's principle of treating others as you would be treated, a principle come to life in the friendship between TFL President Bob Vander Plaats and One Iowa's Donna Red Wing.”
But Zahn wouldn’t say whether the organization would express those views to Swanson, or would have withdrawn sponsorship from the program if they had known what he would say.
We really wonder how long Cruz and Huckabee will be able to continue to plead ignorance about Swanson’s extremism after being asked about it repeatedly.
In a press gaggle at last weekend’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee dismissed concerns about the extremism of its organizer, Kevin Swanson, telling a reporter that he didn’t “have any knowledge” that Swanson backs the death penalty for homosexuality.
An unnamed reporter asked Huckabee, apparently directly after his speech to the conference, about “reports that there are a few pastors speaking her today that say that if you’re homosexual, you should be prosecuted, you should actually be killed.”
“Obviously, I don’t agree with that,” Huckabee responded. “I don’t think anyone’s ever accused me of saying that. And I don’t know, did anyone say that from this stage today?”
“I can’t go with ‘there are some reports that,’” Huckabee responded. “Give me a specific, give me something to react to, that won’t work for me, because I don’t have any knowledge of that. All I know is what I said, I can’t be responsible for what anybody else said on that stage, and apparently nobody said that on that stage.”
If Huckabee had stuck around just a few minutes after his speech, he would have heard Swanson saying exactly that, bellowing to the audience that the biblically ordained punishment for homosexuality is death. If he had stuck around until the next day of the conference, he would have heard Swanson return to the theme, saying that he doesn’t want the government to impose the death penalty for homosexuality quite yet because he wants to give the culture time to change and gays time to repent before imposing his version of biblical law.
Or so writes Michael Brown, the Religious Right radio host who, in a BarbWire column today, says that Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal should not have appeared at a conference last week that was organized by radical activist Kevin Swanson, who advocates that the government execute gay people.
Swanson closed his National Religious Liberties Conference, which was attended by the three Republican presidential candidates, by explaining that the government should only execute gay people once they have enough time to repent. The summit also included two other speakers who want the government to treat homosexuality as a capital crime, one of whom distributed a pamphlet at the conference justifying such executions.
Responding to Rachel Maddow’s coverage of the event, Brown writes that the candidates must have been in the dark about Swanson’s extremist views, and that had they known, the Republican presidential candidates would have denounced him and rejected the invitation: “[T]he presidential candidates who attended this rally (Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz) were there to identify with the cause of religious liberty, and they too would categorically reject some of the words spoken at the conference (as well as reject some of the positions advocated by at least one of the speakers outside of the conference).”
It’s not as if Swanson’s views weren’t very easy to find.
Jake Tapper of CNN asked Cruz about appearing alongside Swanson before he (and his father) took part in the summit, reading the candidate Swanson’s remarks about the need to hold up signs at gay people’s weddings telling them that they should be put to death. Other outlets have also extensively reported on Swanson’s record before the event took place.
In fact, one presidential candidate who had been confirmed to speak at the conference pulled out of the event after he got wind of Swanson’s radical views.
Anyone who does a simple Google search for Kevin Swanson should know that he thinks that execution is the biblical punishment for gay people, and has been saying as much on his radio program for several years.
Does Brown really expect us to believe that no one on these three presidential campaigns knows how to use the Internet?
It seems more likely that these candidates just don’t mind catering to some of the most extreme anti-gay activists in the country; instead, they see it as a boon to their campaigns.
These diatribes against homosexuality at the summit, which was attended by three Republican presidential candidates, went hand-in-hand with calls to roll back women’s rights to use contraceptives, with both birth control access and gay rights seen as threats to the family and liberty.
Swanson said as much in his closing speech at the Iowa conference, claiming that while the Quiverfull movement has experienced more “persecution” than anyone in the history of America, its ideas are now taking hold in the wider Religious Right.
“It’s interesting, some of the greatest preachers in America are effectively saying contraception was a problem from the beginning,” he said, specifically citing Southern Baptist theologian Al Mohler and well-known pastor John MacArthur. “And they’re joining ranks with a fair number of those who used to be in the full quiver movement, who, by the way, have received so much persecution. I have never seen anybody receive such persecution, at least in this country, as the full quiver folks. And they didn’t always have their theology right, but now major theologians in America are saying, ‘I think we had a problem in these areas.’’
Conservatives are beginning to realize, Swanson said, that the wide availability and use of contraception is what led to marriage equality throughout the country.
“Why homosexual marriage?” he asked. “Well, 50 years of Playboy and Penthouse, pornography, illegitimate divorces and contraception.”
He seemed to make the same argument when he blasted the “tens of millions of sometimes Christian women” who use “abortifacients” that create a “hazardous condition” in “that birth canal up into that womb” — an apparent reference to hormonal birth control rather than to abortion-causing drugs.
“If they have created a hazardous condition, exactly what the lex talionis brings out,” he said, “then God most certainly knows that somehow a snake pit’s been put in that womb.”
Extreme as he is, even Swanson isn’t on board with the full Quiverfull agenda, writing in a blog post last year that although he agrees with the principle of men being the head of the family, he wouldn’t go as far as stopping women from taking college classes, going on mission trips or holding elected office.
But the Quiverfull ideology’s rejection of birth control as a social ill and its conflation of birth control and abortion isn’t just taking hold among extreme activists like Swanson — it’s increasingly becoming the norm in the wider Religious Right.
These rants about “Harry Potter,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Frozen” weren’t out of place at a conference led by Kevin Swanson, a Colorado-based pastor who has warned on his radio program that these fictional characters — along with the Girl Scouts, women’s soccer and day care — are turning kids gays.
What was most remarkable about these polemics against fictional children’s book characters is that they came at an event that was also attended by three men vying for the Republican nomination for president, including a sitting governor and a sitting U.S. senator.
When Swanson announced that he was convening a conservative summit in Des Moines, Iowa, called “Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference,” it was clear that it was designed to get the attention of Republican presidential candidates. Four agreed to participate, but one unnamed candidate later withdrew, reportedly after a wise campaign aide Googled Swanson's name and found his catalogue of crazy statements.
But Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal had no such qualms. All three joined Swanson on stage at the conference for individual Q&A sessions, where he inquired about their views on Kim Davis and the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision.
The trio declared their unequivocal support for Davis, the rogue Kentucky clerk who attempted to block marriage licenses for gay couples in her county, and derided the Obergefell ruling as an unlawful violation of both constitutional and biblical codes, so egregious that it should be rebuked if not outright ignored. Another speaker, Cruz’s father and campaign surrogate Rafael Cruz, called on government officials to defy a Supreme Court intent on “trying to cram homosexual marriage down our throats.”
Swanson closed out the “liberty” conference with a fiery speech in which he proclaimed that although he does believe in the death penalty for gays, he wouldn't advocate for the government to execute gay people — or, at least, not yet.
The conditions aren't right, Swanson explained. The culture hasn't fully embraced his movement's version of Christianity, and therefore gay people don't know that homosexuality is a death penalty crime that they must renounce before it provokes divine destruction. He said he would recommend that the government wait to impose the death penalty until the culture shifts, giving gays time to repent.
Draconian measures to stop homosexuality are warranted, in Swanson’s view, not only because he believes the Bible mandates them, but also because he thinks that the gay threat is coming from all directions: country music, soccer, schools, day care and Girl Scout cookies.
The views that Swanson expressed at the conference reflect his ties to a movement known as Christian Reconstructionism.
Reconstructionists not only call for "lesser magistrates" like Davis to defy rulings like Obergefell by invoking "God's authority," as Davis did, but also to demand that all government officials enforce Old Testament laws (or, at least, the Old Testament laws that they want enforced). After all, they say, whatever contradicts God's law is no law at all.
Philip Kayser of Biblical Blueprints told one breakout session at the conference that while it may be unrealistic to expect the national imposition of biblical law at this point, it can still be achieved at state and local levels. He urged government officials like Davis to flout the federal government in order to impose their religious beliefs over whatever jurisdiction where they have sway. Such “interposition” is justified, Kayser said, as long as public officials do it in a "biblical and Christ-centric" way. "In my book, she is a hero," Kayser said of Davis. "Magistrates must follow Christ in their interposition."
Another Reconstructionist preacher who spoke at the conference, Joel McDurmon, has said that the U.S. must embrace and enforce Old Testament laws, but that is achievable only once the country is successfully evangelized.
Some Reconstructionists also back “biblical patriarchy,” the idea that Christians must follow strict gender roles within the family, which for women means bearing and raising as many children as possible in order to repopulate the earth with believers.
In order to change the culture in their direction, the thinking goes, believers must first have lots of children (birth control is considered just as bad as abortion, as it fills women's wombs with “dead babies,” at least according to Swanson). Then, these families must adhere to the rule of male headship over the family. These strong, male-led families then create strong, male-led churches, which will then create strong, male-led societies, ones where government welfare programs and intervention in the economy aren't needed, and cultural ills like feminism fall away as cosmopolitan liberals, with their low birth rate, are outvoted.
But for Reconstructionists, the war isn't just about demographics. It is also a cosmic battle.
That is where Elsa comes in.
While these women may be having a "Quiverfull" of children (a la the Duggars), Satan is coming for them, and he takes insidious forms, such as Disney movies.
How many children are taken into these things and how many Christians are taking their kids off to see the movie "Frozen," produced by an organization that is probably one of the most pro-homosexual organizations in the country? You wonder sometimes, I’m not a tinfoil hat conspiratorialist, but you wonder sometimes if maybe there’s something very evil happening here. If I was the Devil, what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to five- and six- and seven-year-olds in Christian families around America?
Friends, this is evil, just evil. I wonder if people are thinking: “You know, I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my five-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way.” I wonder if the average parent going to see "Frozen" is thinking that way.
One conference presenter, Geoff Botkin, told attendees that "Let It Go," the iconic song from “Frozen,” is "Satan's rebellion anthem," as it convinces children to rebel against God. He lamented that Christian families are unwittingly turning their kids over to Satan when they see "Frozen" or let them "sing 'Let It Go' while taking a shower."
As Botkin explained in his session, which focused on the "ten planks of communism," of the three major threats to America, Christians who don't abide by biblical law are the greatest, even worse than Islam and progressivism.
Even worse than Christians who aren't abiding by Old Testament dictates, he said, are the Christians who preach social justice, advocate liberal policies and are fully inclusive of women and the LGBT community. These scorned people of faith were also meeting that weekend in Des Moines to warn about cries of "religious liberty" becoming a cover for a larger right-wing agenda.
But three Republican presidential candidates, who have all turned the imaginary persecution of Christians in America into a central campaign message, didn't seem to mind that they were appearing at a conference whose organizer who is looking forward to the day when America is repentant enough that the government can impose the death penalty on gay people, rails against children's books and movies, and attacks large swathes of Christians as apostates.
As the three Democratic presidential candidates were attending a South Carolina candidate forum hosted by Rachel Maddow on Friday, three Republicans running for president were at a conference organized by a radical right-wing pastor who has defended the death penalty for homosexuality.
“A pretty major theme of the event both in terms of the literature that was available at the event and the way the host of the conference spoke from the stage, a significant theme was the practical challenges and the timing of how exactly and when exactly the United States of America should start rounding up gay people in this country in order to execute them,” she said.
“It really was a ‘kill-the-gays’ call to arms,” Maddow continued. “This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality.”
Seeing that the Republicans who appeared at this event will be at the Fox Business debates tonight, Maddow said it might be worth asking them why they would attend “a kill-the-gays rally.”
“I don’t know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics,” she said.
It turns out that the spirit of the Disney movie’s hit song “Let It Go,” in which Queen Elsa sings about freedom after leaving her home, was not one of the freedoms valued at the “Freedom 2015.”
At a session titled “The Decline of Freedom: From the Bill of Rights to the Ten Planks of Communism, America’s Domestic Enemies and Where They Came From,” Geoff Botkin of the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences said that “Let It Go” is furthering America’s rebellion against God, warning that the country is already under 50 divine judgments that will only subside once the government and the wider culture begin to abide by biblical law.
He likened “Let It Go” to Eve’s temptation by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, deriding the song as “Satan’s rebellion anthem” that corrupts children.
The popularity of the song and its “spirit of licentiousness” shows that people don’t want to follow the totality of the Bible, he said, warning that God “will chasten our nation” as a result of the movie’s popularity.
Botkin also lamented that “Let It Go” fans are “rejecting God’s law” and therefore become “enemies of God” and God “does go to war against you.”
Botkin delivered most of his presentation beside a photo of the “Frozen” characters Elsa and Olaf:
When three Republican presidential candidates decided to address a conference in Iowa this weekend organized by Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson — a radical activist who thinks that Girl Scout cookies and the movie “Frozen” are turning girls into lesbians and has defended the death penalty for homosexuality — it showed once again that the Republican primary seems to be a competition of who can move farther to the right.
Swanson cleverly focused his Iowa conference on the theme of “religious liberties,” warning that “persecution against Christians is on the rise in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, China, Oregon, and Kentucky.” It was apparently an invitation that Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal — who are constantly harping on the theme that American Christians are on the road to facing persecution on par with Christians living under oppressive regimes — couldn’t pass up.
Swanson made clear what he meant by anti-Christian persecution in interview at the conference with Seattle-based radio host Michelle Mendoza, when he complained that media reports on his anti-gay comments, including his recent remarks that AIDS is “God’s retribution” for homosexuality, is part of a larger attempt to “shut down Christian media.”
Saying that the “liberal media” had taken his AIDS remarks out of context, Swanson proceeded to repeat the very same point to Mendoza.
“Any kind of disease,” he said, “this is the point I made in one of my broadcasts, any kind of disease is God’s wakeup call to us and it points us to the basic problem — Hey, there wasn’t disease, there wasn’t death in the world until sin came into the world with Adam and Eve. So, it’s a basic theological concept, every Christian in America would agree with me. Obviously, non-Christians may disagree but the fact of the matter is God has given us a warning. He gives us something of a warning with disease and death, and we ought to turn to Jesus Christ because he is the overall solution to this.”
Swanson said that in a conversation with Cruz at the conference, the Texas senator “agreed that it’s very possible that the FCC may shut down Christian media in the future if they continue to hold to the position that homosexuality is a sin.”
“Christian colleges may go away very soon, Christian media may go away very soon, conservative media may not survive, so this is going to affect every single part of life since the Obergefell ruling,” he said.
In an interview promoting the conference on the Kentucky radio program “Just Ask Joyce” last month, Swanson made a similar argument, warning that “you can kiss your liberties goodbye” if the right person isn’t elected president in 2016.
Christians must “prepare to see our radio programs and our ministries, and our churches, our schools, completely wiped out by … the homosexual forces” as a result of the Obergefell decision, he said. “This is a decision of seismic proportions for the entire socioeconomic system, for entire social systems, for entire civilizations, for our religions in our country.”
Then, in the same speech, Swanson declared that anyone who believes in God must see that there “might be a connection” between wildfires and flooding in Colorado and the state’s government refusing to enforce biblical law, and specifically a picture that ran on the front page of the Denver Post showing Colorado’s House speaker kissing his husband after a vote on civil unions.
“You see, when this happens, it is the most egregious, the most abominable, the most arrogant insult to Almighty God,” Swanson said of the Denver Post photo. “And then, the very same year, we had the very worst fires, the most devastating fires we ever did in the state and the worst floods. In the very same year, we had the most devastating floods and the most devastating fires and the worst possible legislature in terms of well, any standard of God’s laws as conveyed in [the Bible].”
“You’ve got to believe that God is the judge of the earth and indeed there might be a connection between the worst flood, the worst fires, and the worst government in the history of the state of Colorado,” he said.
He then defended his statement that thanks to gay rights and pro-choice laws, Colorado might be becoming worse than North Korea, saying, “Well, they murder. We put homosexuals on the front page of newspapers.”
America is held to a higher standard, he said, because of its “godly heritage” stemming from “white guys” like Irish immigrants.
“We’ve got a heritage, we’ve got a great heritage, goes back 2,000 years,” he said.
“Seems to me there’s a lot of white guys in America with a lot of heritage that goes all the way back to the 500s and 600s with Patrick and others. Friends, is America a more evil nation than North Korea in the eyes of God? And I say maybe. Maybe not, I don’t know. But I’d say we’re getting pretty close.”
Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson closed out his National Religious Liberties Conference today — following speeches yesterday by Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal — with an extended rant about the many reasons why America needs to repent in order to avoid God’s judgment, including legal abortion, birth control, immoral themes in country music and gay characters in “Harry Potter” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Warning that “we are on the very cusp of judgment as I see it and we need to call America to repent,” Swanson listed off the various sins of which Americans need to repent.
“America, repent of your rebellion against God!” he yelled. “America, repent of stumbling the little ones! America, repent of ‘Harry Potter’! America, repent of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’!
“America, repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter, that Hiccup’s mentor in ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ emerged as a homosexual himself in order that history might repeat itself one more time, in order that little six- and seven- and eight-year-olds might stumble, in order that tens of millions of parents, it would be better that a millstone be hanged around their neck and they be drowned at the bottom of the sea than that there would be so many people stumbling so many children in public schools, in movie theaters, in homes in which children are raised to be stumbled by the Dumbledores and by the mentors of Hiccup in ‘How to Train Your Dragon’!”