During Friday night's "Presidential Family Forum" in Iowa, Mike Huckabee attempted to gin up outrage among the conservative Christian audience by falsely claiming that the federal government is working to deport a family from Germany who have sought asylum in America in order to homeschool their children.
Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and in 2010, the Romeike family sought political asylum in America, arguing that they would face fines, imprisonment and loss of custody of their children if they were deported back to Germany. The case worked its way through the legal system for years until the Supreme Court finally refused to grant their appeal, only for the Department of Homeland Security to announce in 2014 that the Romeikes would be granted "indefinite deferred action status" and be allowed to remain in America.
But that is not the story Huckabee told during a discussion of education at the forum on Friday night. Instead, the former Arkansas governor declared that "every Christian believer in this country [should be] absolutely livid" over the fact that "this week, the Justice Department of the United States started deportation process against the Romeike family to send them back to Germany, which will take their kids from them."
"The very week the president wants to bring Syrian refugees to America and import them," Huckabee stated, "he wants to deport a Christian family."
Such an action, Huckabee insisted, is proof that "there is a war on the Christian faith in this country that is being carried out by this administration."
Given that the case of the Romeike family has been an important issue for the Religious Right for years, one would think that if the government had reneged on its pledge to allow them to remain in the country and begun the process of deporting them, that might have made some news.
But we have been utterly unable to find a single news article reporting this or a single piece of evidence to back up Huckabee's claim. We even called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been representing the Romeike family from the beginning, to ask if their organization had any knowledge of this and were informed that HSLDA is unaware of any steps taken by the DOJ to deport its clients.
At one point during Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa, the discussion descended into a debate over Ted Cruz’s call for Secretary of State John Kerry to resign because he, along with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, “served as apologists for radical Islamic terrorists.”
Naturally, Mike Huckabee tried to one-up Cruz’s stance, and instead said that President Obama should step down for supposedly being more concerned with attacking Republicans than defeating ISIS.
“I’d like for Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect America and instead protect the image of Islam,” he said.
At Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” hosted by the Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Mike Huckabee doubled down on his pledge to “ignore the court” and “defy the court” as president by recriminalizing abortion and gay marriage through executive fiats.
“I’m convinced the next president should ignore the unconstitutional and illegal rulings of the courts, including that of same-sex marriage, because it is not the law of the land,” Huckabee said.
Only then, Huckabee argued, would God be able to bless America.
Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus.
Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at the forum, at which the candidates are arranged family-style around a Thanksgiving table. (At the 2011 forum, Michele Bachmann memorably took it upon herself to serve water to all of the male candidates.)
The endorsement of Vander Plaats, whose backing helped catapult Huckabee and Santorum to Iowa caucus victories in 2008 and 2012, is one of the most coveted in the state. While most observers think that Cruz will nab Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the activist is keeping his options open. Vander Plaats told a reporter that although Donald Trump was unable to make tonight’s forum, he told him, “If you can guarantee me your endorsement, I will turn the plane around and get there.”
As Vander Plaats’ previous endorsements of Huckabee and Santorum show, he has a powerful machine ready to push an ideologically pure social conservative. Back in 2010, Vander Plaats also led a successful effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the court’s landmark unanimous marriage equality decision.
But to get that endorsement, candidates must cater to an activist far the right of mainstream voters. Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that “goes against the law of nature” is by definition unconstitutional . He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefor its purpose is “to promote righteousness” and to apply “God’s principles and precepts.” He once warned that God might withdraw his blessing from America because of a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa state capitol.
Vander Plaats has suggested that marriage equality could lead to legal protections for pedophilia and “ a parent marrying their child” and compared the “public health risk” of homosexuality to second-hand smoke. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “decisive leadership” in preventing “homosexual propaganda” in his country.
Taking its anti-gay sentiment to a new level, The Family Leader was a sponsor of a conference earlier this month — at which Cruz, Huckabee and then-candidate Bobby Jindal spoke — whose organizer, Kevin Swanson, called for the death penalty for gay people and warned that God would judge America for liking the Harry Potter series too much. (The group later clarified that it does not support violence against gay people but declined to denounce Swanson.)
Speaking at an event last year, Vander Plaats played a video showing a gay pride event alongside the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings as illustrations of the “darkness” that has fallen over America:
Vander Plaats had also dabbled in birther conspiracy theories, implying in 2011 that the president’s birth certificate was missing and praising Trump for his “bold” crusade to uncover the truth about the president’s past.
A couple of weeks ago, we reported extensively on a conference in Iowa organized by extremist pastor Kevin Swanson, at which three Republican presidential candidates joined Swanson on stage shortly before he went off on a series of rants about how the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death, Harry Potter is bringing God’s judgment on America, and how if your gay child gets married you should show up to the wedding covered in cow manure.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment on the conference, but other than that, as a number of commentators have noted, the media has been strangely silent on the Republican candidates’ participation in this event.
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 an interview with Brietbart News’ Stephen Bannon on his Sirius XM program this morning, Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee insisted that the Obama administration wants to “protect Muslims and the reputation of Muslims more than they want to protect the United States.”
Huckabee was addressing the reluctance of President Obama and the Democratic presidential candidates to declare that the U.S. is at war with “radical Islam,” the same linguistic strategy used by President Bush.
“So we have both Shia and Sunni radical Muslims, but this is an administration that doesn’t even want to say that they’re radical Muslims,” Huckabee said. “They just want to protect Muslims and the reputation of Muslims more than they want to protect the United States, and you cannot win a war if you don’t even identify your enemy.”
Alleging that the Democratic candidates were reluctant to use the term because “they want to be politically correct, they don’t want to offend anybody,” Huckabee said, “If you want to talk about offense, I’m offended that our government seems to want to protect the reputation of a radical religion more than it wants to protect American citizens.”
“When I go deer hunting, I’ve got to know the difference between a deer and a cow because if you don’t know your target, you’re likely to make a real mess of things,” he added. “This is a president who doesn’t know a deer from a cow, and he’s going out there and insulting Americans by making it as if there’s something wrong with us because we’re not just real excited about” bringing in refugees from the Syrian civil war.
Since the news broke that one of the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on Paris that killed more than 120 people on Friday may have snuck into France by infiltrating the waves of refugees from Syria’s civil war, at least nine Republican governors and one Democrat have said that their states will refuse to accept Syrian refugees (something that they can’t actually do) and GOP presidential contenders including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have called on the president and Congress to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the country as a whole. Cruz has suggested accepting only Christian refugees from the country, while Jeb Bush has hinted at the same thing.
This is a dream come true for the anti-refugee movement in the U.S. which had already been trying to claim that Syrian refugees — who go through a long and arduous security screening process before being admitted to the U.S. — represent a threat to national security.
The leading activist focusing specifically on preventing the resettlement of refugees in the U.S., Refugee Resettlement Watch’s Ann Corcoran, wrote on her blog today that other commitments kept her from writing much today, “But, LOL!, there are so many people writing about refugees now that I can soon retire!”
Prominent anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney responded to the news of the Paris attacks by calling for “a moratorium on Muslim migration” to the U.S., circulating a post from Corcoran calling for the same.
Pamela Geller predictably went even farther, writing on her blog yesterday that President Obama “should be brought up on charges” if he allows any more Muslims into the U.S.
NO MUSLIM MIGRANTS. Obama should be brought up on charges if he moves forward and brings these murderers here. They mean to kill us.
As refugee resettlement experts explained to Politifact last month, trying to game the refugee resettlement process would not be a likely method for an ISIS terrorist trying to reach the U.S.:
The U.N. has said 10 percent, or about 400,000, of the Syrian refugees in camps need to be resettled. President Barack Obama announced that in fiscal year 2016 (through Sept. 30), the United States would accept at least 10,000 refugees from Syria.
Those 10,000 aren’t necessarily the type of people who would be ISIS operatives as Trump fears, according to Mock.
"The priorities go to torture survivors, people with serious medical conditions, children and teens on their own, and women and children at risk," Mock said. The people selected undergo screening by state agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. The process can take years.
That doesn’t make for an efficient method of terrorizing the United States, Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Daveed Gartenstein-Ross said. While it’s a legitimate concern that there are ways of beating the screening process, he said, there would be more efficient ways for ISIS cells to reach America than what Trump is fearing.
"Instead of sitting around hoping you win the refugee lottery and then wait years, then pass the screening to get to America, it would be much easier for a terrorist group to send a person through Europe or put them onto an airplane to the United States," Gartenstein-Ross said. "If they could otherwise pass the refugee screening process, they could certainly get on an airplane."
As the libertarian Niskanen Center notes, “not one” of the millions of refugees admitted under the U.S. refugee resettlement program since 1980 “has committed an act of terrorism in the U.S.”
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.
Indiana broadcaster Joyce Oglesby ran audio of the interaction on her radio program on Friday.
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?”
The reporter responded that while nobody had said such things from the stage yet that day, the organizer and other speakers had previously made such remarks.
“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.
And if Huckabee or anybody on his staff had bothered to do any basic research before agreeing to attend the conference, these statements would not have come as a surprise. One of Huckabee’s fellow GOP candidates — likely Ben Carson — reportedly dropped out of the conference after we reported on Swanson’s extremist views. Likewise, People For the American Way called on Huckabee and his fellow candidates Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal to drop out of the summit a full week before it started, citing Swanson’s long history of extremism, including his defense of the death penalty for gay people. As the Cato Institute’s David Boaz writes today, showing up at Swanson’s conference showed “appalling judgment” on the part of Huckabee, Cruz and Jindal.
It seems that after this weekend’s conference, there are plenty of specific reports available for Huckabee to react to. He should be asked to explain himself.
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.”
As soon as Huckabee left the stage, Swanson declared that if his own son were to marry another man, he would only attend the wedding after smearing cow manure all over his body.
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."
Kayser, like Swanson, has repeatedly backed instituting the death penalty for gay people in order to comply with biblical dictates, a position he outlined in a pamphlet he distributed at the summit. (Kayser’s pamphlet also calls for capital punishment for blasphemers, Sabbath-breakers, apostates and witches.)
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.
As Swanson explained on his radio show last year:
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.
On her program last night, Maddow filled her viewers in on Friday’s Republican campaign event, showing videos of Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee engaging in question-and-answer sessions with extremist pastor Kevin Swanson, who then went on to say that he would smear cow dung over his body to protest a gay couple’s wedding and urged the government to execute gays in the future if they don’t repent.
As Maddow also pointed out, Swanson’s views on homosexuality were well-known even before he hosted the weekend’s National Religious Liberties Conference, and he wasn’t the only speaker at the conference who had called for homosexuality to be treated as a capital crime.
One conference speaker distributed literature at the event laying out how and why gay people should be put to death, discussing stoning and throwing people off cliffs as possible punishments. In fact, Swanson’s views are so extreme and so easy to find that one presidential candidate reportedly pulled out of the event once their campaign was tipped off to his radicalism.
“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.
Her remarks on the right-wing conference start at the 5:55 mark:
Phillip Kayser is among the several speakers joining Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa this weekend, and as we've reported, he, along with the conference's chief organizer, Kevin Swanson, has called on the government to execute gay people. Kayser's views are so extreme that back in the 2012 election, Ron Paul's campaign tried to cover up his endorsement.
However, it seems that in today's GOP, calling for the execution of gay people isn't beyond the pale.
At the conference, where he is giving two speeches on how local officials and others can defy the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision, Kayser distributed the very pamphlet calling for the death penalty for gay people that caused a stir back when he endorsed Paul.
In the pamphlet, “Is The Death Penalty Just?,” Kayser unsurprisingly concludes that the death penalty is in fact just, and lists homosexuality among the offenses deserving of capital punishment. Ironically for a "religious liberties" summit, he also claims that the government should treat "breaking the Sabbath," "blasphemy and cursing God publicly," "publicly sacrificing to other gods" and "apostasy" as death penalty crimes as well.
He writes that government officials are "subject to Biblical statutes and judgments," claiming that "Christians should advocate the full implementation of all God's civil penalties in every age.... Every Old Testament statue continues on the books, and without those statutes, we could not have a consistent ethnical standard." Even "pagan" nations are obliged to follow biblical law, he writes, as "God held gentile kings accountable to these civil laws."
Kayser believes that the government should execute murderers, among whom he includes abortion providers: "What could be more pro-life than having the state pass laws establishing a certain date after which all doctors who continue to perform abortions will be executed? Certainly, a handful of doctors might be killed [pro-death for killers], but think of the millions of little lives that would be saved!"
He writes that the death penalty should also apply to those who commit acts of blasphemy; apostasy; breaking the Sabbath; sorcery and witchcraft; kidnapping; rape; adultery; prostitution; bestiality; and of course, homosexuality.
But don't worry, Kayser has good news for the gays who rather not be stoned to death or get "thrown off a cliff," methods he mentions as biblically approved ways to execute someone.
While "these crimes are so heinous that they deserve death in God's eyes," he writes, with cases "of sexual sins, people who kept these things to themselves could not be prosecuted because it would require two or three witnesses (depending on judicial discretion), the pressing of charges by a victim-citizen, the exclusion of government from spying, sting operations, etc., and other checks and balances."
Essentially, Kayser says that the government should put gay people to death, but only if they get caught.
"Even after a society implemented Biblical law and made homosexuality a crime, execution would be rare," he explains, because "the civil government could not round them up." What a relief!
"Only those who were prosecuted by citizen-victims could be punished, and the punishment could take a number of forms, analogous to the flexibility in dealing with adultery — which ranged all the way from forgiveness, to divorce, to death," he continues. "Some people characterize this as a victimless crime since homosexuals cannot get married. But there are plenty of circumstances (homosexual rape, homosexual incest, homosexual death threats against politicians, etc.) where victims might be motivated to bring charges."
Kayser writes that "natural knowledge" endorses the view that homosexuality is "worthy of death."
"It is not just the sinfulness of homosexuality that is known, but also the justice of the death penalty for homosexuality," he said. "The reason men have an innate sense of justice is because God's law reflects not only His holiness but also His justice and goodness (Rom. 7:12). Romans 13 says that magistrates are subject to all three."
And remember, this is the kind of literature being promoted at a "religious liberty" conference.
This morning, Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal joined radical right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson on the stage of Swanson’s “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Iowa to hawk their candidacies to a crowd that includes several Christian Reconstructionists.
Huckabee knew just how to appeal to this group, using his short time on stage to repeat his promises to simply ignore the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality if he were to become president.
“Here’s what the president should do, and if I were president this is what I would do,” he said. “On the same-sex marriage decision, I would simply say, ‘It is not law.’ It is not law because the people’s elected representatives have not made it law and there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Supreme Court power to make a law. They are the Supreme Court, they are not the supreme branch or the Supreme Being.”
“And so,” he added, “when people say, ‘What can we do? Let’s introduce a constitutional amendment, let’s propose a — .’ No. Let’s just exhibit and exercise the power that is already within the constitutional authority and structure and the president simply say, ‘Thank you for your opinion, but we shall ignore it because there’s nothing in the Constitution that affirms that and we are not going to impose upon all 50 states something that the federal government has no control over, which is the definition of marriage.’”
On the topic of abortion rights, Huckabee repeated his support for radical “personhood” proposals that seek to bypass a constitutional amendment overturning Roe by simply granting full constitutional rights to zygotes.
“I don’t know how we honestly can pray ‘God bless America’ when we have acted like a savage, uncivilized country in relationship to unborn children,” Huckabee said.
“But once again,” he said, “instead of us wringing our hands and maybe pretending that we’re going to change the Constitution or overturn Roe v. Wade — which, by the way, overturning Roe v. Wade does absolutely nothing to stop abortion, it simply turns it back to the states, they can have all the abortions they want. But what we have not done is what we should be doing and what I would do, which is to say we would invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment as it relates to this issue. Because here’s the fact: We don’t have to pass a constitutional amendment. We already have two of them.”
As we’ve reported, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are scheduled to speak at a “religious liberties” conference in Iowa this weekend organized by pastor and homeschooling activist Kevin Swanson. It’s bad enough that presidential candidates would want to associate with Swanson, whose record of wildly anti-gay, anti-women statements we have exhaustively chronicled. But the candidates will also be rubbing shoulders with an array of activists representing the extreme Christian Reconstructionist and Christian Patriarchy fringes of the Religious Right.
Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal likely agreed to join the conference because of its ostensible “religious liberty” theme, which has increasingly become the Religious Right’s unifying battle cry. Speakers include David and Jason Benham, who have become popular martyr figures on the right-wing speaking circuit after we reported on their vicious anti-gay activism and they lost a planned HGTV reality show; Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in what Aaron later described as a battle with Satan; and Sgt. Phillip Monk, whose tale of being persecuted by a lesbian superior in the Air Force has been roundly debunked.
Interestingly, one actual victim of anti-Christian persecution, Naghmeh Abedini, whose pastor husband is imprisoned in Iran, was scheduled to speak but has since been removed from a list of confirmed speakers.
Behind this “religious liberty” veneer, however, is a gathering of some of the most extreme segments of the Religious Right, including those whose idea of “religious freedom” is the freedom to impose their specific scriptural interpretations on others. Swanson’s colorful rhetoric on the role of women and the biblical punishments for gay people comes out of an affinity with two controversial movements that will be on full display at his event: Christian Patriarchy and Christian Reconstructionism.
A number of speakers at this weekend’s conference have been associated with Vision Forum, the now defunct ministry run by influential Christian Patriarchy leader Doug Phillips, who resigned in 2013 after admitting to having an affair. That movement is closely bound with Christian Reconstructionism, the idea that America must return to its supposed foundations in a certain interpretation of biblical law. John Eidsmoe, one of the leading lights of Christian Reconstructionism will be speaking at the conference, as will Joel McDurmon, who now runs the Reconstructionist group Vision America.
One theme at the conference will be “interposition,” the idea that government officials have the duty to defy laws and court rulings that they believe are unconstitutional or unbiblical (for many those are the same thing), an idea that has returned to prominence in the midst of the Kim Davis saga.
Here is a brief introduction to some of the activists who will be sharing the stage with Huckabee, Cruz and Jindal this weekend:
Swanson, a Colorado-based homeschooling activist, pastor and radio host, rejects the term “Christian Patriarchy” but says he ascribes to the passage in Ephesians that guides the movement’s view of male headship and female submission in marriage. Swanson also takes hardline Christian Reconstructionist positions, such as his view that the death penalty for gay people is just. Just a sampling of Swanson’s views includes:
Eidsmoe gained wider name recognition when Rep. Michele Bachmann named him as her mentor , but he has long been an influential leader in Christian Reconstructionism. Eidsmoe has run into controversy in the past for ties to white supremacist and neo-Confederate groups . He now works for the Foundation for Biblical Law, a group established by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Eidsmoe has:
Christian Reconstructionist Nebraska pastor Phil Kayser first attracted the national spotlight in 2011 when he endorsed Ron Paul for president and it came out that he had “authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law .” Kayser confirmed to a reporter that this was indeed his position. He will be addressing the “religious liberty” issue with a talk on “Martyrdom, Civil Disobedience, Protest, and Flight” and another on “Can a County Clerk Refuse to Sign a Marriage License? Interposition by the Lesser Magistrate.”
As Kyle wrote last week, “Joel McDurmon, president of the Christian Reconstructionist organization American Vision, which espouses the Christian Reconstructionist view that ‘men must choose in their civil affairs to be governed by God’s law’ as explicitly set out in the Old Testament.”
McDurmon says that "God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty." He also said that a proposal in Uganda to impose the death penalty for homosexuality didn’t go far enough because it should also impose “Old Testament law” by making adultery a capital crime as well.
After we reported on his views last week, McDurmon released a statement clarifying that he does not support the death penalty for “homosexuality in general” but merely “the ‘act’ of sodomy.”
North Carolina pastor Scott Brown is the director of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, a spinoff of Vision Forum. Articles on Brown’s website present an array of Christian Patriarchy views, including:
This is just skimming the surface. Also speaking at Swanson’s conference will be former Vision Forum activist Geoff Botkin; James Lansberry, who has been working to help conservative evangelicals bypass the Affordable Care Act; and Bill Jack, an occasional cohost on Swanson’s radio program who took the Cake Wars to a new low when he tried to get a baker to write “God hates gays” on a cake.
Along with Cruz, Huckabee and Jindal, a number of activists with a cozy relationship with the GOP have also been confirmed to attend, including Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley of the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute and Colorado Republican state senator Kevin Lundberg.
WASHINGTON – Over 25,000 people have already signed a People For the American Way petition speaking out against the Republican Party for standing with extremists who have repeatedly defended the death penalty for LGBT people. The petition calls on Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal to speak out against the violent bigotry of the so-called National Religious Liberties Conference at which they are scheduled to speak this weekend in Des Moines. The conference organizer, Kevin Swanson, has openly and repeatedly defended capital punishment laws for LGBT people, said that he thinks Girl Scout cookies and the movie "Frozen" will turn young girls into lesbians, and called the death of abortion providers divine “upcommance.”
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan stated:
“It is unconscionable that GOP candidates would participate in a conference whose organizer believes gay people deserve to die because of their sexuality. We’ve seen throughout this primary campaign that Republican candidates are fighting over who can be more anti-women, anti-gay, anti-immigrant. They’ve now reached a new low.”
Kevin Swanson and other speakers at the event have a lengthy history of disturbing remarks about women and LGBT people. Here’s just a few examples from Right Wing Watch, a project of People For the American Way:
Speaking at a candidates’ briefing in Iowa last week, Mike Huckabee responded to a question about the status of state anti-sodomy laws, which were struck down by the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, by launching into a speech about how, as president, he would ignore the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality decision because “the court cannot make law.”
“We have a situation here in Iowa where the federal government has usurped their authority,” a questioner at the Caffeinated Thoughts briefing asked Huckabee. “Sodomy is against the law, on the books, this very day, and the Supreme Court has issued a decree and we have states’ rights here, they have no jurisdiction over Iowa, just as they have no jurisdiction over prostitution in Las Vegas, Nevada. What we are asking for is we’re asking for some brave soul to stand up and say that this is wrong, you’ve violated states’ rights, we’re going to impeach the five justices that voted like they didn’t have a brain in their head.”
“Well, I think, let’s be very clear,” Huckabee responded, “the court cannot make law.”
While he didn’t directly address Lawrence, Huckabee said that the next president should simply ignore the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling.
“It means that the next president ought to have the courage to say, ‘We appreciate the court decision, but we ignore it because it’s not constitutional, there’s nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to dictate or mandate what the definition of marriage is, and until the elected representatives have decided on this, there’s nothing for us to follow other than, ‘Thank you for your thoughts and opinions,’” he said. The former governor has repeatedly argued that court rulings have no legal authority unless Congress or state legislatures pass new laws.
Huckabee added that his Supreme Court nominees would have to publicly declare that they “do not believe in judicial supremacy.”
Elsewhere in his talk, Huckabee repeated his pledge to ban abortion (and possibly some forms of birth control) through a “personhood” edict granting full constitutional rights to zygotes and fetuses, thereby bypassing any effort to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade, an idea that he said was “fairy dust.”
In response to an audience member who asked about how to deal with the “mainstream media,” Huckabee responded that Iowans can ask him directly about his views on issues like abortion rights.
“If I tell you that I’m pro-life, demand to test me on that,” he said. “If I tell you that I really don’t believe in judicial supremacy, put me to the test. Ask me just exactly what I would do. If I tell you that we will end abortion, not just by promising to have a constitutional amendment, which is fairy dust to say we’re going to do those [things], but to tell me how I’m going to do it by invoking the Fifth and 14th Amendment, put me to the test and see if I know what I’m talking about.”
Mike Huckabee reacted yesterday to the news that the Department of Homeland Security was reportedly planning ways to circumvent a Texas judge’s injunction of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration by suggesting that congressional Republicans should stop the Obama administration from functioning altogether by cutting off funding for the White House.
“I think he probably will. Why wouldn’t he?” Huckabee said in an interview on Newsmax TV. “He’s got a Republican Congress that has never tried to slow him down on his unconstitutional actions. They don’t try to slow down the judicial branch when it goes into judicial overreach and practices what Thomas Jefferson would have called judicial tyranny. They’ve ignored the typical checks and balances that are the constitutional duties of the other branches of government. So I think Obama’s going to just go ahead and do whatever he thinks he can get away with, and up until now he’s gotten away with pretty much anything he wanted to do.
“And I hold the Republican Congress responsible and accountable. It’s time for them to step up, and if they have to cut the funding out of the White House and simply not appropriate funds for him to function, they have the power of the purse, they simply need to start exercising it.”
Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are slated to appear this weekend at a conference in Des Moines hosted by Kevin Swanson, an extremist pastor and radio host based in Colorado.
We’ve reported extensively on Swanson’s extremist views, including his defense of the death penalty for gay people and worry that the movie “Frozen” will turn kids gay, and have been going back through the archives of his “Generations Radio” program this week to learn about his views on other issues.
One illuminating episode of “Generations Radio” came in 2009, four days after Kansas abortion provider George Tiller was murdered in his church by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder. Calling “Tiller the Killer” a “mass murderer,” Swanson declared that the abortion provider had received his divine “upcommance” and insisted that the deaths of 14 people in a Montana plane crash earlier that year was divine retribution for one of their relative’s owning of abortion clinics.
“It was anarchy and this vigilantism is not a good thing at all,” Swanson said of Tiller’s murder. “But … so was the fact that you had a guy who was in his abortuary for the last 30 to 40 years killing 60,000 babies. That’s anarchy too!”
“If anybody’s keeping count …Let’s see, Tiller killed 60,000 babies, so that’s 60,000 dead babies and one dead abortionist,” he continued. “So, let’s just say, the abortionists are still ahead on this one.”
Swanson’s cohost, Dave Buehner, had a similar attitude. “Let’s just say Tiller was the mass murderer and he died and I’m not shedding a tear for him,” Buehner said. “And I might at times be tempted to cheer that he is no longer killing babies — okay, at all times I’m tempted to cheer.”
“It is interesting that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword,” Swanson continued. “Wasn’t that what Jesus said? And this is really, pretty much, what happens. People tend to get their upcommance, and that’s precisely what happened to Tiller the Killer.”
“I believe, I am convicted of the fact that there is a God in the heavens and He is sovereign over everything that happens, including the fact that George Tiller the Killer is dead,” Swanson said later in the program.
He cited the fact that Tiller’s father, also an abortion provider, had died along with his mother, sister and brother-in-law in a plane crash, and that a 2009 plane crash in Montana had killed 14 family members, including small children, of a man who owned several abortion clinics.
“By the way, a couple of months ago out in Montana there was a plane crash out there where 14 family members of the owner of one of the largest abortion clinic franchises in the country died in that particular plane crash,” Swanson said. “Now, George Tiller the Killer is dead too. Is there a God in the heavens? Is He involved in the affairs of men? That’s what the word of God says. So God’s providence is all over all of these things, we have to believe that God is in the heavens and He rules.”
Later in the program, Swanson turned his ire to the pastors of Tiller’s church, who he said were operating “a synagogue of Satan" because they had not excommunicated Tiller.
In fact, he and Buehner insisted, any church that fails to excommunicate abortion providers, women who have abortions, gay people, divorced people, people who commit adultery, or anyone who supports any of those people, is not a true church at all.
“Do not murder, do not commit adultery, and if a man lies with another man as he lies with another woman, then the two of them has committed an abomination, they both should be put to death,” Swanson listed. “We ought to just ask churches how they feel about some of these Bible verses and if they repudiate these Bible verses, then we ought to repudiate them and say, ‘Well, then you have no part with us. You are not our brothers and sisters and you are part of some of the most evil parts of this nation and we will consider you as such from here on out.’”
He then returned to the subject of Tiller: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a God in the heavens and His is over all these things. There’s a reason why abortionists are being killed in plane crashes, why George Tiller’s father was killed in a plane crash and George Tiller was killed by a vigilante. Whatsoever man sows, that shall he also reap.”