Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson is furious that Dubuque, Iowa, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have reached an agreement on the distribution of federally funded housing vouchers. In the future, the city will no longer give preferential treatment to people already living in the Dubuque area, which HUD said put people moving to the area “from predominantly African American areas” such as Chicago and Milwaukee “at a disadvantage.”
Mickelson spoke to Mike Huckabee, the Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, about the decision on Friday. Huckabee shared Mickelson’s indignation, lambasting the “insane” decision.
“Nothing surprises me anymore about the Obama administration,” Huckabee said. “But what an interesting idea: the concept of not only redistributing income but now redistributing poverty so that his hometown is not going to experience it.”
Former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stood by a joke he made at the expense of transgender people, telling Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace on Friday that his off-color joke was a “commonsense answer to the insanity that’s going on out there.”
In a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in February, Huckabee joked that when he was in high school he would have liked to have pretended to be transgender in order to shower with the girls in gym class. The comment gained national attention after the conservative website WorldNetDaily posted it on YouTube last month, shortly before Caitlyn Jenner’s introduction in Vanity Fair put transgender rights in the media spotlight.
When Deace asked Huckabee if the criticism of his locker room joke was an example of the media’s “misplaced priorities,” Huckabee responded, “It’s absolutely an example.”
“And by the way, Steve, I take nothing back from that speech,” he added. “I’m kind of glad it’s posted because people, if they watch the whole clip, what they’re going to see is that I’m giving a commonsense answer to the insanity that’s going on out there. Because I hear people, everybody wants to be politically correct, everybody wants to be loved by the media and loved by the left and loved by the elitists. But, you know, I know I’m not going to be, so let’s just get it over with. I’d rather be a commonsense candidate for people who did take their brains to work today.”
The ability of Religious Right activists and their allies in the conservative media to paint themselves as the targets of horrible persecution, a core strategy of the conservative movement for decades, is truly astounding. No matter the issue, whether it is defending laws denying equal rights to gay people or opposing government neutrality towards religion, the strategy is always the same: play the victim.
Outside of just issue advocacy, Religious Right figures attempt to depict any criticism of their political positions and records as a direct attack on their freedoms and religious beliefs, suggesting that their deeply held beliefs should somehow give them immunity from political reproach.
This strategy has been so effective that the Duggar family, reeling from a sexual abuse cover-up scandal, has adopted it, and it was on full display in Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s interview last night with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
“Do you think in particular your Christian beliefs at issue here?,” Kelly asked the Duggar parents, who, according to police reports, took months to report their son Josh Duggar’s alleged sexual abuse of several young girls including his sisters and may not have sought counseling for their children. Josh Duggar, who resigned from his position as a Family Research Council executive when the allegations became public and who has since admitted to sexually abusing several girls as a teenager, was not interviewed.
Jim Bob and Michelle, stars of the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” told Kelly that they are victims of an “agenda” that is out to get their family and a media that won’t offer them privacy as the scandal unfolds.
This victimization narrative, coming from a family that stars in a nationally broadcast reality TV show and that has been active in conservative political causes — including campaigning against a local nondiscrimination measure in North Carolina by portraying LGBT people as threats to child safety — may seem insincere. But the Duggars they know that the strategy is effective, and that outlets like Fox News are there to help them.
Mike Huckabee too labeled the Duggar parents and Josh Duggar as victims of an “insensitive” media. CNN reports that Chad Gallagher, Huckabee’s “longtime adviser” and “the executive director of Huck PAC,” is managing the Duggar family’s public relations strategy.
As for the daughters who survived the abuse, two of whom spoke to Kelly in defense of their brother, Jim Bob explained that “they didn’t even know he had done it” since they were asleep when several of the instances occurred. “This was not rape or anything like that. This was like touching over the clothes. There were a couple instances where he touched someone under the clothes, but for like a few seconds.”
Instead, Kelly and the Duggar parents took aim at In Touch magazine, which found the police report about Duggar’s abuse through a Freedom of Information Act request, and the local police unit which complied with the request, as the real perpetrators of wrongdoings, insisting that the current media coverage has been far more damaging to the abuse survivors.
As CNN’s Brian Stelter pointed out, Fox News “barely covered” the scandal when it first came to light, far less than their cable news rivals, but was more than happy to help the family “speak to their Christian conservative base” by helping the Duggars become the latest Religious Right activists to use the play-the-victim strategy.
Conservative religious leaders have been delighted to work with parts of corporate America – most notably the Koch brothers’ political networks – to elect candidates who back right-wing social and economic policies. Religious conservatives have championed Citizens United and the demolition of regulations on campaign cash. The Kochs even promote Religious Right leaders who tell their followers that the Bible opposes minimum wage laws, unions, and progressive taxes. But many of America’s biggest companies have also become supporters of equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and that’s making religious conservatives angry.
When a number of major corporations pushed back hard against an anti-gay “religious freedom” law in Indiana, Gov. Mike Pence asked the legislature to amend the law to state that it would not allow businesses to discriminate. And that made the Religious Right furious. Reliably pro-business Republican presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Bobby Jindal have been attacking big business support for gay rights in a sometimes awkward attempt at right-wing populist rhetoric.
Today’s mail brought a direct mail letter from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins complaining, “Big Business has joined the anti-Christian bullies!” Perkins warns that “the seduction of Big Business by the homosexual rights movement is the main reason that movement has gained such momentum over our freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs.” Perkins asks for donations to “Stop Big Business’s Assault on Religious Freedom” and to support an FRC initiative to talk to business leaders and bring them around.
Another direct mail piece from Perkins, this time for FRC’s political arm, FRC Action, arrived the same day, in an envelope emblazoned with, “When you can’t make a living because you’re a Christian…THAT’S NOT FREEDOM.” The letter complains that “big corporations are foolishly aligning with the Left’s social agenda” and pledges that FRC Action will help states “create and pass a protective wall of religious freedom laws.” Perkins gripes about business opposition to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
The media published incredible false claims about what the law said and what the law would do. Hollywood celebrities, giant corporations, sports leagues, and even other states became a national lynch mob. They threatened and enacted boycotts of the state.
Tragically the governor ultimately caved in to these pressures. With the corporate community threatening boycotts and economic loss to the state, it appears that many political leaders in the state were more concerned about economic issues than moral truth, religious freedom, and the well-being of the family.
Had the only appreciable opposition to RFRA come from gay rights activists, RFRA would have been a smashing political success for Republicans. It would have made the right enemies while generating gratitude and energy in the base. They did not expect their usual friends in corporate America to join the opposition, which was an idiotic miscalculation given the fact that establishment outrage scuttled the Arizona RFRA last year.
Deneen wrote last year that “The modern corporation and modern marriage are born of the same philosophical roots: rootless individuals seeking self-gratification in whatever way they see fit, short of ‘harming’ another.” In his First Things article, he portrays corporations standing with LGBT groups as a smart business decision given pro-gay shifts in public attitudes. But he calls the gay-rights collaboration between cultural and economic “elites” a dangerous alignment that is “ready to steamroll anyone in their way.” After Indiana, he says, “religiously based opposition to gay marriage is now more likely than ever to be treated by our society as tantamount to a hate crime,” and warns that the “elite-sanctioned attack on ‘bigotry’” will “reach inevitably into the sanctuaries of the churches themselves.”
This month’s issue of Billy Graham’s Decision magazine contains, along with a fawning profile of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a “special report” on the upcoming Supreme Court gay marriage decision, featuring panicked interviews with GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver.
In an interview with Decision, Huckabee repeated his warning that marriage equality will lead to the “criminalization of Christianity,” saying, “When you elevate a lifestyle to the status of a civil right, I don’t think a lot of believers fully understand or comprehend that once it’s risen to that level and our government accepts it, then anyone who disagrees with it could be at least civilly liable, but more than likely would be criminally liable.”
He warned that if marriage equality is legalized nationwide, it will become a “criminal act” for a pastor to preach against gay marriage. Of course, this has not yet happened in any of the states where gay marriage is currently legal, nor did it ever become illegal to preach against interracial marriage after that was legalized by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago.
Similarly, Staver warned that marriage equality is an attack on “the very image of God” and urged churches to prepare for civil disobedience in the mold of pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “We’re no longer going to just talk like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we’re going to act like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”
“To attack marriage attacks the very image of God,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and former dean of the School of Law at Liberty University.
“It puts the State in the position of acting as though it knows better than God and, in fact, is the creator, with the ability to redefine God’s natural created order.”
A decision in favor of same-sex marriage would set off an unprecedented avalanche of threats on religious liberties, potentially affecting virtually every church, pastor, ministry and Christian-owned business.
“The implications are staggering,” Staver said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee warns that it could even lead to the “criminalization of Christianity.”
“When you elevate a lifestyle to the status of a civil right, I don’t think a lot of believers fully understand or comprehend that once it’s risen to that level and our government accepts it, then anyone who disagrees with it could be at least civilly liable, but more than likely would be criminally liable,” Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate, told Decision during a recent visit to the Billy Graham Library.
“The impact is this: A pastor getting up in the pulpit and proclaiming God’s Word that marriage is the act of one man and woman joining together for life would violate the civil rights of a same-sex couple. … That would make it a criminal act.”
Proponents of same-sex marriage—backed by the Obama administration—say LGBT couples are being discriminated against and deserve marriage equality protections.
Regardless of how the case turns out, Huckabee made clear that the true definition of marriage will stand.
“Even if the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is OK, it doesn’t make it OK because the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being,” he said. “The ultimate rules for marriage were not made by the Supreme Court, but by God. He is the One who gave us the blueprint.”
Liberty Counsel’s Staver said of the threat to religious liberties: “You’re not going to be able to have your own opinion if it’s a contrary opinion because the force of the police state will require individuals not just to remain silent, but to affirm and promote same-sex unions and immoral sexual behavior.”
[Liberty Institute president Kelly] Shackelford said it will be difficult for churches to follow their doctrine without interference from the government.
“Almost every ministry is going to have implications,” he said. “Every Christian organization and every church is going to find themselves in a situation where they’re going to have to decide, in many cases, whether to follow man’s new law or God’s law.”
Staver said churches, ministries and individual believers must be willing to practice civil disobedience if that’s what it takes to obey God’s Word.
“We’re no longer going to just talk like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we’re going to act like Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” Staver said, referring to the German pastor who was imprisoned for resisting Hitler’s Nazi regime.
“We have to say we will not move and we will not compromise. We must say that this is a line we cannot cross, not because we want a controversy or a conflict, not because we’re being belligerent, but because it is such a stark assault on our religious freedom and our Christian beliefs that we cannot cross it. We have to render to God what belongs to God.”
On Friday, PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney joined Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s ‘PoliticsNation’ to talk about Mike Huckabee’s response to Josh Duggar’s sexual abuse scandal. After Duggar admitted to sexually abusing young girls as a teenager, Huckabee, a presidential hopeful, posted a lengthy Facebook status supporting Duggar and his family. He claimed Duggar was victimized by the public’s “insensitive bloodthirst” for scandal, and called Duggar’s actions inexcusable, but not unforgivable.
Courtney said that while he doesn’t believe he should tell Huckabee how to respond to the allegations, it is fair to look at how Huckabee has responded to other issues. As Courtney explained, Huckabee “responded with outrage when gay and lesbian people were allowed to serve openly in the military. He responded with outrage every time we’ve seen laws to protect LGBT people at work.” And Courtney reminded viewers that Huckabee has even “responded with so much outrage to marriage equality that he’s compared gay people to Nazi propagandists and people who have sex with sheep.”
Huckabee’s support for the Duggars is shaded by his own hypocrisy, Courtney explained: Huckabee “seemed kind of stunned by the judgment that he feels the Duggars have received, but he’s responded with bitterness and judgment at every step along our country’s way to legal equality for gay people.” Courtney commented, “I hope that, frankly, [Huckabee] remembers this feeling next time he decides that he should be attacking gay and lesbian families in order to score some political points.”
Huckabee praised the Duggar family, who took over a year to bring the matter to law enforcement, saying that they “dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities.”
He adds that Josh is a good person who “confessed his sins to those he harmed [and] sought help,” despite the fact that, according to reports, Josh did not receive counseling and was only sent to live with a family friend who worked in the home remodeling business.
“Those who have enjoyed revealing this long ago sins [sic] in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive bloodthirst, for there was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.”
At a campaign stop at an Iowa gun range yesterday, Mike Huckabee dismissed concerns about lax state requirements for gun permits, saying he wasn’t very worried about a permit-holder “not being as trained as they could be” because “a good guy armed is still better than a good guy unarmed.”
A reporter attending the event at Crossroads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, asked Huckabee to comment on laws in Iowa that make it “relatively easy to get your permit to carry” without “actual hands-on training.”
“You know, I leave that to the states,” Huckabee said. “[I have] less worry about someone not being as trained as they could be, because I think ultimately a citizen who is going to arm themselves is going to want to avail themselves of significant training to become proficient. I mean, that just makes sense, for their own sake. But if they don’t, a good guy armed is still better than a good guy unarmed.”
He told the audience that he would hope permit holders would pursue extensive firearms training, “but that’s an individual responsibility, so I wouldn’t try to get in the way of what the state thinks is the right way to go about that.”
“In all due respect to Mike, who I like a lot: Join your military,” Graham said. “You’re not serving Barack Obama, you’re serving your nation. I’m a military officer, I retire in a month or so, I’m not going to speak ill of the commander-in-chief in that regard. I will take issue with his policies, but military service is not about an individual, it’s about a cause greater than yourself. Join and hold your head up high.”
Mike Huckabee has already secured the coveted endorsement of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
Randall Murphee of the American Family Association defends his organization's regular use of boycotts.
Joseph Farah wonders if the time has come for Christians to "recognize they have effectively failed to serve as salt and light in their culture and begin withdrawing from American 'mainstream' society for the sake of their own children and obedience to God rather than man."
Glenn Beck interviewed Rep. Steve King on his radio program today and King promised Beck that he could come along the next time King travels to Egypt to meet President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Finally, Dave Daubenmire is not buying all of the claims made by Religious Right leaders that they will not obey any Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage: "So now, they say it is time to disobey. WE WILL NOT OBEY! I hear them bombasting in regard to their anticipated defeat in the Supreme Court’s homo-marriage decision. Really? They are going to go to jail? James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Matt Staver, Franklin Graham, Jerry Johnson, Rick Santorum, Keith Fornier, Rick Scarborough—they’re willing to go to jail? REALLY?"
Mike Huckabee, who is announcing his campaign for the presidency today, has crafted an image of a nice, folksy “conservative who is not mad at anybody.” However, this image betrays the reality that the Republican leader has made a career of mean-spirited rhetoric and a propensity for conspiracy theories.
While he has gained national attention for his personal attacks on celebrities like Beyoncé Knowles and Natalie Portman, Huckabee has spent years launching harsh attacks on the gay community while playing into right-wing fears about Obama’s upbringing and purported creation of a tyrannical government.
Opposition to gay rights has become such an emphasis in Huckabee’s political career that he threatened to leave the GOP because party leaders “abdicated” on the issue of gay marriage.
Despite all of this, Huckabee says that he and other conservatives are the real victims of the gay rights debate. He has accused gay rights advocates of trying to shut down churches and “criminalize Christianity,” even leveling the bogus charge that pastors can be prosecuted for refusing to officiate at a same-sex couple’s wedding.
Huckabee even recommended that people refuse to join the military until after Obama leaves office because of the president’s support for gay rights, which he says amounts to anti-Christian discrimination.
Obama Conspiracy Theories
Huckabee has leveled vicious attacks at Obama by bringing up his childhood, particularly the time he lived with his mother and stepfather in Indonesia, to suggest that the president is not a real American and not a Christian. Huckabee sparked controversy after he twice told conservative pundit Steve Malzberg that Obama grew up in Kenya, where his Kenyan father — whom the president met only once — and his grandfather — whom he never met — turned him against Western countries like Great Britain.
Huckabee said that it was merely a slip of the tongue, lashing out at journalists for refusing to read “page 183” of his book where he clearly stated Obama grew up partly in Indonesia. However, the mythical “page 183” does not talk about Indonesia (in fact, nowhere in Huckabee’s book is the country mentioned.)
In an interview with far-right talk show host Bryan Fischer, Huckabee said that he agreed with Fischer’s point that Obama’s childhood instilled in him “anti-Americanism.” Huckabee added: “The point was that they felt like that due to Obama’s father and grandfather it could be that his version and view of the Mau Mau Revolution was very different than most of the people who perhaps would grow up in the United States…. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.”
“When I go back to American history, that’s why the American Revolution started,” he said. “You had a government that became a tyranny and that government began to tell people what limitations of their belief could be.”
However, while serving as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee signed into law a contraception coverage mandate that had even fewer religious exemptions than those found in the Affordable Care Act.
Such claims will resonate with Religious Right activists, who regularly make warnings about the threats of gay rights, stoke fears of Big Government and suggest that Obama is a tyrannical leader. As Huckabee told one right-wing forum organized by Porter during his last presidential campaign, in which Porter served in a leadership role, he is not catering to the movement, but is from the movement:
Rodriguez does break with right-wing orthodoxy on a couple of big issues, including his support for immigration reform and support for the embattled Common Core educational standards. But not on abortion, marriage, and the Religious Right's religious liberty rhetoric.
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.
The conference at which Bush and Huckabee are scheduled to appear will celebrate NHCLC going global through last year’s merger with a Latin American evangelical organization CONELA; a new name for the merged NHCLC/CONELA will be announced. Staver had encouraged Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver traveled to Peru to oppose moves toward LGBT equality there. Staver colleague Matt Barber praised NHCLC for “putting up a firewall” to protect Latin America from a “cancerous invasion of immorality” being exported by the Obama administration and “radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism.”
For the record, Rodriguez’s claims that the NHCLC/Conela merger makes it the biggest evangelical network in the world and the representative of evangelicals in Latin America has been publicly challenged by the World Evangelical Alliance, which recognizes the Latin Evangelical Alliance as the regional representative of evangelicals; the group was formed in 2013 by the presidents of 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America.
This week, Rodriguez announced that the NHCLC is partnering with Trinity Broadcasting Network to launch TBN Salsa, which will feature music and ministry programs aimed at English-speaking second- and third-generation Hispanics.