Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) warned today at CPAC that America has started to “reject the sanctity of life” and the “rights set forth in the Constitution.” Speaking during a panel focused on undermining reproductive rights, Forbes warned that we are “dangerously close as a nation to rejecting the God that gave us that life” and who “gave us those rights.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was not officially welcomed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, but he was invited to speak at Friday morning’s prayer breakfast hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, along with a couple Members of Congress.
Not everybody was happy that McDonnell was on the premises: activists from the National Taxpayers Union and the insanely anti-gay Public Advocate USA gave out anti-McDonnell flyers and stickers to people entering the breakfast. McDonnell’s sin against CPAC orthodoxy was his support for a transportation plan in Virginia that activists say violates a campaign pledge against raising taxes. Public Advocate also complained that by praising the General Assembly’s approval of a gay district court nominee, McDonnell “BROKE HIS PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.”
Inside the prayer breakfast, McDonnell (like the Coalition’s Executive Director Gary Marx an alum of Pat Robertson’s Regent University) was introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes and warmly received. McDonnell gave a talk that was light on conservative red meat and focused on themes of faith and service, urging activists to pray for humility and wisdom. He did say it is the job of public officials to get things done according to “Judeo-Christian principles.” And he cited George Washington saying that the nation could not expect “the smiles of heaven” if it abandoned “eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself have ordained.”
Forbes, a leader of the congressional prayer caucus, said our nation’s problem is that God belongs on the throne, we’ve taken Him off, and we need to put Him back up there. Forbes resorted to a caricature common among Religious Right leaders, complaining about people he said were trying to change the concept of church-state separation to mean that no one in government can speak about their faith and no one in church can talk about the government.
Also speaking was Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who invoked a mural of the radical abolitionist John Brown that portrays him with a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other, and the tornado of the civil war approaching. He called the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception a “tremendous threat” and an attack of religious liberty. “What would John Brown be doing now?” he asked, suggesting that Brown would be on his knees in prayer but also on his feet demanding action from Congress. Huelskamp complained that his colleagues in Congress are not acting to protect religious liberty, and denounced their “deafening silence” on threats to marriage. Huelskamp has previously complained to Tony Perkins about “the folks on the left that would like to delete, exclude and repeal any religious liberties or any religious values throughout our entire government and our entire society.”
Rachel Campos-Duffy, a conservative activist, author, and Real World: San Francisco alum who is married to Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, talked about the dangers of churches and families having ceded territory to “an ever-expanding and insatiable government.” For example, Campos said, school breakfast programs for poor students give parents an excuse not to make breakfast for their own kids and just push them out the door rather than talking to them.
Ralph Reed didn’t make the breakfast, but Gary Marx delivered a version of Reed’s post-2012 “it’s not my fault” analysis. Marx ran through statistics on the millions of contacts the Faith & Freedom Coalition made with the 23.3 million evangelical and Catholic voters in its proprietary database, and he said five million more evangelicals voted in 2012 than in 2008, with 78 percent of them voting for Romney. He said the group is actively engaged in this year’s Virginia elections and pledged that 2014 will see the largest mid-term conservative turnout ever.
The breakfast opened with a prayer by Father John De Celles of St. Raymond Penafort Roman Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia, and closed with a benediction from Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America, who called for a reaffirmation of our “national identity” as a “Judeo-Christian nation” and denounced those who threaten the country from within by trying to "dismantle" that heritage and usurp God’s will.
Footnote: Among the VIP attendees acknowledged from the podium was conservative mega-donor Foster Friess, who backed Rick Santorum’s presidential bid but who has more recently encouraged a more moderate approach to LGBT issues, which he has said is due to his familiarity with gay people, including his brother-in-law and his partner. There was no mention at the breakfast of news that broke last night about Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s about-face on marriage after his son came out to him.
Rep. Randy Forbes is very worried about "America’s new government-imposed religion," by which he means conservative Christians not getting their way on everything.
Finally, the Family Research Council cannot possibly be a hate group because someone who interned there says they are "the most delightful, friendly, sweet, loving, caring, and Christ-like people you will ever meet."
One of the most remarkable things about the Religious Right today is the amazingly widespread belief that any criticism or disagreement with their agenda is somehow a violation of their First Amendment rights.
The Religious Right seems to truly believe that the First Amendment protects their rights to say anything they wish while simultaneously rendering them immune from criticism or opposition, as if the very same First Amendment that protects their free speech rights does not protect the free speech rights of those who disagree with them.
Case in point: the day after the election, the American Humanist Association sent a letter to all the newly elected members of Congress, encouraging them not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus. But to Rep. Randy Forbes, founder of the Prayer Caucus, this is nothing more than an attempt to "censor people" and prevent them from talking about their faith, as he explained on "Wallbuilders Live" today:
None of us, and no member of our caucus believes, that we want government to dictate what the church should do and we don't want the church dictating what the government should do.
But these extremist groups try to switch that around and they try to carry it to another dimension where they don't want anybody in government to have the right to even speak about their faith, or prayer, or God, or religion. And they don't want anyone in the church to be able to speak about government.
What they want to do is censor people from their faith and from their First Amendment rights.
Members of Congress have the right to join the Prayer Caucus if they want, just as others have a right to ask them not to do so. That is how the First Amendment works.
Disagreement is not censorship and the Constitution does not protect you from criticism.
At the end of September, Religious Right leaders will once again partner with the "prophets" and "apostles" of the New Apostolic Reformation for a pre-election "American For Jesus" rally on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall.
But apparently that won't quite be enough, so just a few days later, many of these same leaders and activists are hosting another prayer rally called "The Summons 2012" in Washington, DC that is being organized by National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is chaired by Shirely Dobson, the wife of James Dobson:
With each generation seeming to drift away from the God of our Fathers, now more than ever, it seems that we are truly at the precipice of a societal migration away from our Judeo-Christian foundation. With this in mind, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force has called a Solemn Assembly in Washington D.C. for such a time as this. The urgency of the moment, and the prompting of God, has paved the way for The Summons (October 3-7, 2012) to be a moment in time for God’s people to stand in the gap on behalf of all Americans – perhaps as Moses did for Israel (Exodus 32, Psalm 106). Based on Psalm 50:1-6, this special prayer gathering will focus on all institutions of government within Washington D.C. and include outdoor, corporate worship near the steps of the Capitol building, as well as the base of the Washington Monument. Groups will meet with various congressional leaders, travel to the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, and many other key locations to PRAY. This is not an assignment for the faint of heart. You will need walking shoes and clothing suitable for being on location and ‘hitting the streets’, regardless of weather. We invite you to join with us, and several hundred other like-minded believers, for this unique time of prayer and worship in our nation’s capital.
As we move toward The Summons in Washington D.C., please pray specifically, focusing on the seven points of prayer for each state. As we pray, day by day, and state by state, let’s pray for the Spirit of God to sweep through our nation like a ‘mighty, rushing wind’!
Seven Point of Prayer for each State
1) Government – Pray for local and state leaders asking God to grant them wisdom, discernment, and hearts that are open to His leading.
2) Church – Pray for the Churches and Church Leaders throughout that state. Ask God to preserve and protect them, as He inspires and empowers His ‘Saints’ for the work of ministry, for the building up of the Church, and for the spreading of the Gospel.
3) Military – Pray for our Military, Guard, and Reserve units and their leadership. Pray for God to grant courage, protection, and strength for our service men and women, and their families, as they serve our country.
4) Family – Pray for families in your community and across the state. Ask Him for protection, and to strengthen marriages, encourage parents toward His priorities, heal relationships, and secure traditional values in each home.
5) Education – Pray for God’s presence in our schools, colleges, and universities. Ask Him to select teachers and administrators who honor His statutes, protect our children, and inspire them to discover their God-given calling.
6) Media – Pray for Christian influence in the media industry, from local television and radio stations, to newspaper and magazine publishers. Ask for the Lord to provide Godly men and women to work in and influence the media throughout the state and in every city.
7) Business – Pray for divine intervention in the state and local economies. Ask that God raise up Godly business leaders and provide industry to provide honest employment and generous provision for individuals and families in each community.