On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber declared that the push for gay marriage is literally satanic and will bring God's judgment down upon this nation.
"When you put two men together within the same-sex agenda," Staver said, "it is not about the institution of marriage; it is about having the protection, the legal status, it's about using that as a hammer to crush anyone who believes in objective reality, marriage reality, that it is the union of a man and a woman, anyone who believes in human sexuality between a man and a woman and that there are certain limits to moral boundaries that we shouldn't cross and that certain limits are on human sexuality. They literally want to ultimately destroy the institution [of marriage]. This is literally a satanic attack, in my view, and there's no question about it."
Barber, of course, readily agreed, saying that "the whole idea of marriage equality is nothing more than a push to gain the official government sanction on evil."
"It is unnatural, it is immoral, it is self-destructive and it is destructive to society," he added. "If our Supreme Court, if our government puts it stamp of approval on that which is evil, woe to our government ... Woe to our nation when God's judgment comes down upon a nation that calls evil good and good evil."
Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is set to pick up the coveted endorsement of Rep. Louie Gohmert.
Jake MacAulay is "no longer a slave to my sinful disposition. Instead of admiring Jay Z and Beyoncé as the musically, and artistically talented superstars they are, I lament the message that they both promote in their music."
Matt Baber declares that support for gay marriage comes from "the father of lies — taking something that God has created, perverting it and falsifying it in order to push sin and immorality."
Father Peter West of Human Life International warns that "it would be a tragedy now if Ireland were to choose a path which ultimately brings about destruction of the family and society."
Finally, Sen. Mike Lee, Tony Perkins, and Ken Cuccinelli will be among the featured speakers "on the inaugural Media Research Center Caribbean cruise."
A helpful tip from Rev. Austin Miles: "The sub-human creature called Obama, can rightfully be identified as a charismatic monster that rose straight from the pits of hell. From hell did he come and to hell shall he return."
In their latest WND column, the Benham brothers repeat a spurious quote often attributed to George Washington.
Janet Porter is demanding an apology from President Obama for supposedly "condemning the words of Jesus."
Cindy Jacobs and her prayer warriors recently went to New York to save America from economic calamity.
Finally, Matt Barber will not comply with the despots who are seeking to legalize gay marriage: "To coerce, through the power of the police state, faithful Christians to abandon the millennia-old biblical sexual ethic and embrace the sin of Sodom would likewise require that Christians sign-off on fornication, adultery, incest and bestiality. Such is the unnatural nature of government-mandated moral relativism."
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber said that the push for marriage equality is nothing more than an attempt to destroy what God has created and likened it to someone tossing paint all over Michelangelo's masterwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
"Assume that you're looking at Michelangelo," Staver said. "He spends all of his life preparing and perfecting the art of painting that only he can do and such great artistic work that it literally stands the test of history and ripples through time. And so, as part of his creative effort, he paints hours and weeks and days and years on the Sistine Chapel ... Here somebody walks into the Sistine Chapel with a paint bucket and a big brush and says, 'Michael, you got it all wrong, this is frankly ugly' and gets up there and thinks he knows better and starts splashing paint all over this beautiful painting and destroying it."
"And yet, here we've got God, who is the creator," he continued, "who knows the creation that He created and the crown jewel of all the magnificent things He created is you and I in His image that has the unitive, the procreative, and the spiritual component. And then the created being shakes its fist at God and says, 'Ah, no, we've got a better idea God and we're going to change what you created and we're going to elevate it and promote it and put laws around it and try to protect it because we think we know better.' The audacity of the created being, shaking its fist at the natural creation of God almighty."
Barber was in complete agreement, saying that "to try to build on this building block of vile affections and abominations something that is supposed to be equal to, akin to, what God created, God's union of a man and a woman, is offensive. It's shaking its fist at God":
Last month, a few radical anti-gay activists held a three-hour press conference prior to oral arguments at the Supreme Court on the issue of marriage equality. Entitled "Crimes against Nature and the Constitution: Cultural Marxism and America's Moral Collapse," the event featured Cliff Kincaid, Peter LaBarbera, Alan Keyes, and Matt Barber, who added his own voice to those threatening revolution if the Supreme Court strikes down anti-gay marriage bans.
"Same-sex marriage and the free exercise of religion, particularly biblical Christianity, cannot coexist in harmony," Barber warned, saying that Christians are already being "forced to call evil good and good evil."
Reading from the Religious Right pledge to defy any Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, Barber warned that such a ruling will "bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch."
"We were hearing a lot of talk about revolution," he stated, "well, revolution is at hand":
Sometimes Matt Barber’s anti-gay diatribes are so over the top, you have to wonder if he’s just trolling for a reaction. His latest, titled “A Prayer for Marriage,” is a mean-spirited doozy.
Barber slams loving gay couples and parents in the most dismissive terms he can muster, imploring, “Lord have mercy on those precious babes, acquired like so much chattel, as selfish adults set up to play house.”
He decries marriage equality as a “sterile, shameful, feculent mockery of Your masterful design for our fruitful multiplication.”
He says anti-gay activists “battle the powers and principalities who pull temporal puppets by marionette strings aflame from the pits of hell.”
Like many anti-gay rants from Religious Right leaders, Barber’s “prayer” reeks with shirt-rending shame for America and American Christians for not having done enough to stop the advance of LGBT equality.
Sodom crumbles about as we gaze palmward, distracted and glassy-eyed, at shimmering digital confections.
They pound at our temple doors, demanding to know our heavenly hosts.
Yet naught we do.
Your bride has been unfaithful, Lord Jesus. As it was in the days of Noah, we tempt our Lord God.
We entreat Your mercies, but merit Your wrath…
Forgive us, Lord Jesus. We, Your bride, repent of our own part in this national sin. Forgive us for undermining this gift You have given – for succumbing to the devilish devices of divorce, infidelity and spousal neglect.
For our selfish ambition.
For making unholy, holy matrimony.
Guide and direct us.
Mortify this national sin, oh God.
Barber rails against Supreme Court justices for debating “that which is closed for debate,” and complained, “At least four of the nine appear poised to defy Your Supreme Authority.”
Liberty University’s Matt Barber took anti-gay activists’ vow to disobey a Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality to its extreme yesterday, telling Iowa radio host Steve Deace that if the court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage, it will “no longer be legitimate” as a court.
Saying that such a ruling would be the “Dred Scott of marriage,” Barber told Deace that if the justices “presume to redefine the institution of marriage, thereby destroying the institution of natural marriage, this Supreme Court will no longer be legitimate.”
Barber said that there “would be no rationale” for such a decision. “There’s no constitutional rationale,” he said, “there’s no historical rationale, there’s no biological rationale, there simply is no rationale other than that they want it so very badly, ‘they’ being homosexual activists and other cultural Marxists, leftists, people who are seeking to undermine the institution of natural marriage and ultimately God’s design for human sexuality.”
When Deace asked him what would happen if the Supreme Court were to side with anti-gay activists on the marriage issue, Barber echoed his colleague Mat Staver in saying that the movement would have to then get to work making sure that gays and lesbians can no longer get married anywhere in the U.S.
First, he said, the movement would have to work to repeal state-level judicial decisions instituting marriage equality, “and then work from there to make sure that marriage is not redefined in any of our 50 states here and to undo the damage that has already been done.”
Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.
Comparing any sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality to the Dred Scott case, the activists vow that they will not recognize such a decision and indicate that they would try to convince national and state executive branches not to enforce it.
We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.
On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.
Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.
We pledge to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.
The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.
As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.
Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.
Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.
Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.
As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.
The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.
In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.
We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.
We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber likened the supposed "persecution" of Christians in America to the attack in Kenya earlier this month in which Islamic terrorists killed 147 people, saying that Christians all over the world are under attack from the "Islamo-progressive axis of evil."
Barber said that while those murdered in Kenya were victims of "hard persecution," at the same time "right here in the United States, Christians at an escalating rate are experiencing a softer persecution, but it's still anti-Christian persecution."
Just as John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking out against "sexual immorality," so too are Christians being persecuted in America today, Barber said.
"You have those who are pushing for sexual immorality and acceptance of sexual immorality and Islamists kind of both targeting Christians for persecution," he said, "some with hard persecution, others with more of a soft persecution. We're not being beheaded here in the United States yet but certainly advocates of sexual relativism are what I call the Islamo-progressive axis of evil."
"So-called progressives, they have a common enemy," Barber continued. "The common enemy is truth, is Christ, is Christians, is Christ followers":
Last month, California State University announced that it would no longer recognize a campus Christian organization because the group would not abide by the university's non-discrimination policy, and naturally Matt Barber and Mat Staver responded by likening the university's decision it to Nazi persecution of the Jews.
On Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program today, Barber declared that this is just another example of "soft persecution" of Christians in America that, it left unchecked, will lead to Christians being imprisoned as they are in China or tortured and beheaded, as they are by ISIS.
"Soft persecution," Barber said, "can ultimately lead to hard persecution and if things don't change here in the U.S., that's the path we're heading down."
Not to be outdone, Staver readily agreed as he proceeded to liken the situation to Nazi Germany.
"Even though this kind of persecution or discrimination is not on the same level as what we see in some of these places around the world," he said, "it is a precursor to that same kind of thing. Once they say that you're a Christian and because of that, you're not going to have the same rights, we're going to stigmatize you; this is what happened with the Jews. It didn't start off with the gas chambers. It started off with taking away their right to work. It started off with putting the Star of David on these individuals and stigmatizing them and precluding them from other rights and liberties that every other person would have who is not a Jew. So this is something that we need to stand up against":
It seems that whenever a Christian receives any sort of criticism for speaking out against marriage equality, the entire Religious Right immediately begins to complain that said person's right to free speech is being violated and screaming about how they are facing persecution at the hands of modern-day fascists.
So it is interesting to watch anti-gay activists freak out over the fact that a lesbian pastor has been invited to speak at American Baptist College in Tennessee, as demonstrated by the fact that Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber are demanding that the college president be fired for allowing it to happen.
Recently, ABC president Forrest Harris responded to the controversy by defending the speech and saying that "it's sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people" and that "we can't be guided and dictated by a first-century world view." In return, Barber and Staver responded by using their radio program today to call for Harris to be fired.
"Hasn't [Harris] disqualified himself for this particular leadership position," Barber asked, "when he's calling God a liar and completely attempting to discredit the truths of Scripture, saying that Scripture isn't even true? How can he even be in this position of authority and be trusted to carry out the duties of a Christian president of a university."
"I don't think he can," Staver responded. "I think he ought to be removed. I think the alumni and supporters of the association ought to remove him ... For a president of a college like that that has a Christian tradition, that person has no right leading that college. They ought to remove him":
Watching Glenn Beck rant about the supposed lack of ethics and standards in the media is pretty hilarious considering that he is currently being sued for defamation and slander after repeatedly falsely accusing someone of being a terrorist on his radio and television programs.
MRC's Dan Gainor fumes that "the American media are grabbing a rainbow flag and leading the charge."
Last week, a Boy Scouts chapter hired a gay Eagle Scout to serve as a camp leader and Matt Barber warns that "this will place boys at a risk rate of 10 times the previous rate for being sexually assaulted on these camping trips."
BarbWire's John Biver declares that "'sexual orientation' is a fiction ... There are males, females, and those with a birth defect. You ignore that at your peril."
Finally, this column by Mychal Massie warning of a conspiracy by Karl Rove and Reice Priebus to smear Ted Cruz's wife by linking her to the Council on Foreign Relations is a perfect example of the utter lunacy of the far right.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, as Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed Liberty Counsel's effort to defend Puerto Rico's ban on gay marriage, Barber once again shared his view that the push for marriage equality is literally satanic.
"From the spiritual level," Barber asked, "who is the Lawless One? Who is the Great Deceiver referred to in Scripture? The Lawless One is the Father of Lies himself and so this kind lawlessness, we know who is behind it. We know who is behind this push to redefine marriage, from a spiritual standpoint. If God designed human sexuality and designed them male and female, we know who is attacking God's design for human sexuality, God's design for the differences between the sexes and coming together in the institution of marriage as one as one flesh. And it also is a representation of the church, of Christ's relationship with the church, the bride of Christ. And so that is something that Satan hates, it is something that he wants to attack and undermine, so from a spiritual standpoint, isn't it what this all kind of derives from?"
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber railed against criticism of Indiana's recently-enacted "religious freedom" law, saying that such leftist "propaganda" was no different than how the Nazis demonized Jews in Germany.
After Staver asserted that gay rights activists are out to destroy religious freedom, Barber responded by warning that attacks on the Indiana law were laying the groundwork for persecution of Christians in America.
"You wonder how, in Nazi Germany, the propagandists were able to get an entire nation of people on board with persecuting to Jews the level that they're doing," Barber said. "We see it being repeated here with an entire nation of people, these leftists media propagandists, getting them on board for a soft persecution, at least at this point and time, of Christians here in the U.S.":
The American Family Association is calling on its activists to cancel their subscriptions to Angie's List because the company opposes Indiana's newly passed "religious freedom" law.
Radio host Peter Heck says that criticism of Indiana's law "is the reincarnation of a neo-fascist view."
Matt Barber declares that criticism of the law is all about focing "the affirmation of homosexual behavior and the homosexual lifestyle and to do away with any public exercise or representation of Christianity."
Cindy Jacobs will be taking her prayer warriors to New York City next month because a great economic "shaking" is about to occur.
Larry Tomczak warns that "opposition to Christianity is becoming more aggressive and hostile. Nowhere is this more evident than in the areas of natural marriage and sexual purity."
Finally, for $60 a year, you can get "exclusive" access to daily audio and weekly video commentaries from Mike Huckabee!
On yesterday's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber accused President Obama of engaging in a "sinister" and "treasonous" plot to destroy Israel and America by trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.
After hailing the recent victory by Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party in Israel's election, Staver declared that Israeli citizens who support "land for peace" are simply "stupid," whereas Obama is "sinister" for opposing Netnayahu and dealing with Iran.
"I think he has, ultimately, an objective," Staver said. "He doesn't like America. He doesn't like Israel. He doesn't stand with our allies in the Middle East. He has sympathies that ultimately undermine the Judeo-Christian values that we support and that connect us with the land of Israel."
Barber was in complete agreement, declaring that Obama is "dealing with Iran right now to enable them and help them obtain the means to destroy Israel."
"That's not a matter of opinion, that's a matter of fact," Barber said. "It's treasonous! ... It exposes the fact that this president hates Israel [and] I believe, as you just stated, that he hates America as well":
Earlier today, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his campaign for president at Liberty University (LU), the ultraconservative school established by Jerry Falwell. His decision to choose Liberty is rather telling, considering that LU is a radically right-wing university with a law school staffed by some of the most viciously anti-gay Religious Right activists operating today.
Of course, given that LU itself was founded by Falwell, who blamed gay people for 9/11, this should not come as much of a surprise.
Staver continues to call for a revolution to fight gay marriage and is currently leading an effort to get anti-gay Christians to ignore any Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans, saying that refusing to obey such a ruling is like refusing to turn a Jew over to the Nazis:
When Staver announced his resignation from Liberty's law school last year, LU President Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced that Rena Lindevaldsen would take over as interim dean. Lindevaldsen previously served as senior litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel, where she was the lead attorney in a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an "ex-gay" woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner. Lindevaldsen even wrote a book about the saga while she and Liberty Counsel continue to insist that they have no knowledge of Miller's whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working at the Liberty University Law School.
Furthermore, Staver and Lindevaldsen even reportedly taught a class at Liberty based on the Miller case in which students were instructed that the "right" thing for a Christian lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in "civil disobedience" to uphold God's law. In 2012, the school was hit with a lawsuit over its alleged involvement in Miller's kidnapping.
When Lindevaldsen spoke at a right-wing conference earlier this month, she told the audience at a breakout panel on "sexual rebellion" that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the "big deal" is about LGBT rights, she responds that "it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God." Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is "the heart of where Satan’s attacking":
Matt Barber is another Liberty University/Liberty Counsel crossover. He formerly served as vice president of Liberty Counsel Action and still co-hosts Liberty Counsel's daily radio program with Staver, while also holding positions as associate dean and adjunct professor at Liberty.
Baber happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than "one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it "love.'"
He has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act was necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens end their own lives because they "know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral," proclaimed gay adoption to be "tragic," "unconscionable," and "reprehensible," and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are "running interference for the pedophile movement."
He has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he'd like to see a ban on "gay propaganda" in the U.S., as well as defending Uganda's harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.
Several other anti-gay activists also hold teaching positions at Liberty University, including Shawn Akers, who has said that measures to prevent the bullying of LGBT youth are "a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and Communist countries" and accused gay rights advocates of bullying Christians and persecuting them in the same way as Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews.
Any way you cut it, it is clear that Liberty University is home of a slew of anti-gay bigots. The fact that Ted Cruz chose this as the venue at which to announce his presidential campaign speaks volumes.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio show, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber declared that Ben Carson has effectively destroyed his presidential chances by apologizing for his statement that prison sex proves that homosexuality is a choice and vowing not to talk about the issue of gay rights anymore.
Barber blasted Carson for backtracking after he had "rightly" stated that being gay is a choice, saying "it took, I think, a day for him to come out with hat-in-hand and give this blathering mea culpa, just apologizing and saying how he'll never do this again and then promising never to talk about this issue again. So they have intimidated him into silence. From a political standpoint, now Ben Carson is dead in my eyes."
Staver agreed, saying that there is no way that Carson can refuse to talk about this issue "because it is a real threat against our faith and freedom and we can't ignore it."
"We need politicians and we need leaders who can speak boldly on this issue and who will not shrink," Staver said. "Saying that you're never going to speak on it and apologizing is not the kind of leadership you need":
On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.
At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality.
Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.
1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail
While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.
The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”
Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.
Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”
Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.
2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues
Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.
Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:
Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:
This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”
3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism
Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.
Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.
What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.
Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:
4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It
Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.
Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”
“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”
5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other
One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.
Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.
Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":
It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.
As we mentioned earlier, the mood at Saturday’s Awakening conference in Florida around the issue of gay marriage was utter panic, and nowhere was that expressed more clearly than in a panel titled “Same-Sex Marriage and Sexual Rebellion: Freedom Under Fire,” moderated by off-the-rails anti-gay pundit Matt Barber and featuring a pastor, two “ex-gay” activists, and Rena Lindevaldsen, the Liberty University dean who has murky ties with the case of an “ex-lesbian” who fled the country with her daughter to defy a court order giving the child's other mother custody.
Lindevaldsen set the tone for the discussion when she lamented that too many conservative Christians aren’t committed to fighting gay rights and instead ask her “why is this such a big deal and why does it matter?”
"It's a big deal because it's a big deal to God," she declared.
Quoting the late Chuck Colson , she told the audience, “In every action we take, we are either helping to create a hell on Earth, or bringing down a foretaste of heaven…We are either advancing the rule of Satan or establishing the reign of God.”
“There’s no middle ground, there’s no neutrality, there is no compromise,” she added, telling Christians who are on the fence about gay rights that “it’s not loving” to let gay people “go on not knowing that God has a better plan for their lives, this is not the way that God designed them to be.”
“This is the heart of where Satan’s attacking,” she said. “He is seeking to destroy human sexuality and marriage. Why? Because we are the reflection, marriage is the reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church. And so if you’re going to destroy the only human reflection we have of that, we’re going to destroy marriage.”
Later in the panel, “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan similarly warned Christians not to be taken in by LGBT rights, saying that the Human Rights Campaign’s famous equals sign bumper stickers are “not about equality” but “about dominance” and hide an effort to destroy the Constitution.
(Audio again via American Bridge):
When you see that blue bumper sticker with that bright yellow sign, it’s not about equality, it’s about dominance. It’s about silencing any voice that’s against what they want to do. And the real issue is this — I want you to understand this. The Constitution of the United States is a Calvinist document — I’m not a Calvinist — it’s a Christian document, it was written by reformers, based on the word of God. The problem that the secular left has, secular progressives, whatever label you want to put on them, the anti-God folks, our Constitution. And their goal is to undo it, if that means by reinterpreting it rewriting it, but it is to undo it.
So know this, especially the homosexual agenda, if I go down the list, I got a thing called “the big pink plan for a lavender culture,” another talk I do, which goes to what the agenda is. I was there when they were talking about what they want to do. It’s not about equality, it’s about dominance.