Four Republican presidential candidates are set to appear at a forum in Iowa tonight hosted by one of the state’s best known political organizers: Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats’ group, The Family Leader, along with the National Organization for Marriage, is hosting Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal for a “family leadership regional summit.”
It’s no surprise that the candidates are courting Vander Plaats: He is widely seen as the organizing powerhouse behind Huckabee and Santorum’s successful 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucus campaigns. It’s even less surprising that Republican candidates are seeking to ingratiate themselves to one of the country’s most radical Religious Right activists.
Vander Plaats, although he has been unsuccessful in his own three attempts to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, has put together a political coalition in Iowa that, along with carrying Huckabee and Santorum to caucus victories, helped to oust three state supreme court judges who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in the 2010 election. While a similar attempt two years later was unsuccessful, Vander Plaats has nonetheless become a major force in the state’s conservative movement.
5) Slavery Rhetoric
Warning Republicans not to “abandon their base” by softening their opposition to gay rights, Vander Plaats insists that fighting same-sex marriage is not a losing issue for the GOP. He believes that Republicans should stand up and be proud of their refusal to support marriage equality, just as the party fought to curb slavery during its founding era.
“We actually stand for what God has designed because, just like with slavery, the truth is on our side,” Vander Plaats said last year in an interview with right-wing talk show host Steve Deace. “We can win this battle.”
He told another outlet that Republicans shouldn’t even take the position that the states should decide their own marriage laws since same-sex marriage, like slavery, is unequivocally immoral: “You don’t leave slavery up to the states, nor should you. It’s either right or it’s wrong.” In a speech in 2012, Vander Plaats said that a court ruling in favor of marriage equality should be viewed as judicial overreach on the level of Dred Scott.
During the last presidential primary season, Vander Plaats tried to get Republican candidates to sign a pledge that, among other questionable provisions, suggested that African-American families were more stable under slavery than they are today.
4) Conspiracy Theories
In Vander Plaats’ world, the right to speak freely about “faithful heterosexual monogamy” is under attack, “Sharia Islam” is a menace in American politics and President Obama’s birth certificate is missing. (Vander Plaats has praised Donald Trump’s quixotic birther crusade as “bold.”)
Perhaps no issue has Vander Plaats more concerned than gay marriage, which he has called a grave threat to liberty and a Satanic plot. One video his group produced showed images of terrorist attacks and shootings alongside stories about same-sex couples’ weddings and gay members of the Boy Scouts to make a point about the “darkness” sweeping America
3) Gay Marriage Predictions
In his campaigns against marriage equality, Vander Plaats has done whatever it takes to scare voters about the dire consequences of gay rights. He warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to “tyranny” and sanction “a parent marrying their child.”
He defended his group’s comparison of homosexuality to second-hand smoke by explaining that both represent “a public health risk,” adding: “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle.”
Vander Plaats also took the time to criticize an Iowa anti-bullying conference that focused on the targeting of LGBT youth, saying that the state should instead be promoting abstinence-only summits.
2) Crush on Putin
Vander Plaats may still be weighing which Republican candidate to endorse this year, but he has already thrown his support behind one foreign leader: Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin signed a law that effectively bans speech in support of gay rights, Vander Plaats praised the Russian president for saying “you know what, don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country.”
He said that Putin now encapsulates the traditionally American values of “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs.”
“He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader,” Vander Plaats said back in 2013.
1) No Separation of Church and State
While Vander Plaats’ prediction about gay marriage ushering in adult-child marriage has come true in exactly zero of the dozens of states with marriage equality, he was prophetic in one respect: Vander Plaats advocated for governors to ignore court rulings on the marriage question well before it became a widespread sentiment among conservatives.
Vander Plaats insists that a governor can simply set aside any ruling that violates his or her reading of the Bible, insisting that if a judge legalizes marriage equality in a state, the state’s governor should simply issue an executive order “that places a stay on the judge’s decision” since it “goes against the law of nature and the law of nature’s God, which means, it’s against the Constitution.”
Vander Plaats believes that the U.S. government must fall under God’s jurisdiction and follow “God’s principles and precepts,” not just on social issues like marriage but also in economic and foreign policies.
“If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what He says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on,” he said last year.
Vander Plaats specifically pointed to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it a travesty that created a “constitutional crisis” by “defying the law of nature and the law of nature’s God” and “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”
As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of potential Republican presidential candidates. In this new series, we’ll be looking at the records and promises of the Republican Party’s leading presidential prospects. Next up is Rick Perry:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly won support from conservative activists, especially from the Religious Right, when he made a late entry into the 2012 presidential election, unofficially launching his campaign with a prayer rally packed with Religious Right extremists. Perry came into the race midway through his third term as governor, armed with a record of right-wing economic policies; close ties to the oil industry and opposition to regulations on polluters; antagonism to the federal government; and hostility to LGBT equality and abortion rights. Portraying himself as a candidate to the right of Mitt Romney but more electable than the rest of the GOP field, Perry gained traction until his campaign self-destructed thanks to a series of horrific debate performances and unforced errors.
Perry, who has floated the idea of secession from the United States and signed constitutionally dubious legislation defending the right of states to nullify federal laws, wants to repeal the amendments to the U.S. Constitution allowing for a progressive income tax and requiring that U.S. senators are elected directly by voters.
He believes states should be able to opt out of programs like Social Security — which he called a “Ponzi scheme” — and Medicaid. His decision to refuse Medicaid expansion in Texas has cost the state tens of billions of dollars and left millions without insurance. A staunch critic of federal economic policies who once threatened the “almost treasonous” chairman of the Federal Reserve, his opposition to the 2009 federal economic stimulus package didn’t stop him from using stimulus dollars to balance Texas’ budget and stave off a massive shortfall. But it’s unclear how much power Perry thinks economic policy actually has: he once suggested that the 2008 economic crisis was an anti-government message from God.
Perry has played with the conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama’s birth, citing Donald Trump as his source of information on the legitimacy of the president’s citizenship and saying that the conspiracy theory surrounding the president’s birth certificate is “a good issue to keep alive.”
The Texas governor has also dabbled in other anti-Obama conspiracy theories, including alleging that the Obama administration orchestrated a humanitarian crisis on the southern border for political purposes. He made waves with his decision to send the National Guard to patrol the border against Central American children, a plan he unveiled while campaigning in Iowa.
While he will likely ground his candidacy in issues relating to immigration and the economy, Perry is also a social issues warrior. As governor, Perry championed Texas’ law criminalizing consensual sex between adults of the same gender, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case. He made anti-gay animus a central part of his presidential campaign, running a desperate TV ad attacking gay military service members. After his presidential campaign, Perry became an outspoken opponent of a policy change allowing gay youth to join the Boy Scouts, likening that fight to the fight to end slavery. Earlier this year, he defended his state party’s decision to endorse pseudo-scientific ex-gay therapy by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.
As governor of Texas, Perry enacted some of the most sweeping anti-abortion rights laws in the country, even going so far as to call an emergency session of the state legislature to pass a bill to force the closure of most of the state’s abortion clinics, though a federal judge has temporarily blocked portions of the new restrictions. Perry mocked one of the bill’s principal opponents, state Sen. Wendy Davis, saying “it is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example” of being a teen mother.
Perry was recently indicted on charges that he abused his power as governor to defund an investigative unit that was looking into a project that he had championed. Despite his best effort to portray himself as the victim of a political witch hunt, a judge declined Perry’s attempt to have the indictments thrown out.
Today, People For the American Way, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org called on GOP presidential candidates to distance themselves from Conservative Political Action Conference’s ties to ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Robert Vandervoort.
As we reported last week, ProEnglish is sponsoring a booth in the event’s exhibit hall, which costs $4,000. ProEnglish has been allowed to sponsor the event for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties with white nationalist groups. Nearly every major Republican presidential contender is scheduled to speak at the event this weekend.
Here is the full text of the open letter from PFAW, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org:
Dear Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Scott Walker:
We understand that you are scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an event which is being partially sponsored by ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoort. We urge you to decline to speak at CPAC unless it cuts ties with ProEnglish and Vandervoort.
ProEnglish has sponsored CPAC for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties to the white nationalist movement. As the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported, Vandervoort is the former leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group dedicated to supporting the ideals of the infamous white nationalist publication American Renaissance. One member of the group described its mission as encouraging “white survival and maintaining white majorities.”
Vandervoort’s own writings reflect these views. He has expressed concern about the need to “halt the cultural and racial dispossession of the West's historic people” and expounded on “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.” He has wondered how “race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists” like himself can counter historical comparisons to the Holocaust and slavery.
CPAC has a troubling history of welcoming white nationalists. In 2012, the conference hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoort and fellow white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow. And ProEnglish has continued to be allowed to sponsor the event even after civil rights groups have raised concerns.
Clearly, Robert Vandervoort and his group should have no place as a financial sponsor of the nation’s largest convention of conservatives. We urge you to distance yourself from Vandervoort’s views and refuse to speak at CPAC unless ProEnglish’s sponsorship is withdrawn.
Michael Keegan, President
People For the American Way
Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director
Tamara Scott, an Iowa Religious Right organizer and RNC committeewoman who was involved in organizing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” prayer rally, said last week that a number of other Republican governors have committed to or are seriously considering holding similar rallies, which she hoped would save America from God’s destruction.
In an interview with “The View From a Pew” program, an Iowa-based webcast, Scott said that in addition to Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hosted a “The Response” event in 2011, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley “has agreed” to host a rally and organizers are trying to convince Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to do the same.
On her own program, “Tamara Scott Live,” earlier in the week, Scott said that Gov. Rick Scott of Florida had sent a staff member to the Jindal event to investigate the possibility of holding a “The Response” rally himself and that Jindal had approached Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to ask him to consider holding one as well. Scott also expressed her hope that Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas would consider hosting a rally.
Scott told the “View from a Pew” hosts that such events are needed to save American from destruction, paraphrasing the biblical book of Jeremiah: “If I build up your nation and you fall away, I’ll destroy you…If I’m going to destroy you and you repent, I will heal your land and rebuild you.”
“If our federal government is not smart enough to stick to the foundational principles of those who set this country on the great start that it had by calling on the name of Jesus — George Washington to all the men on Mount Rushmore — if they were not smart enough to understand, then our states can do it individually,” she said on the earlier program.
The Jindal rally’s organizers have hinted that other governors may be planning similar events, writing in a recent email, “There is a sense that God may be orchestrating similar days of prayer and fasting called by Governors around the nation over this next year.” Although the event’s main organizer, David Lane, has allied with a number of top Republican figures, he has yet to name names of governors he hopes to convince to host “The Response” replicas.
Jindal was forced multiple times to back away from the extremism of the organizers of his “The Response” rally, David Lane and the American Family Association. A prayer guide posted on the event’s website was removed after we reported that it blamed marriage equality and legal abortion for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Then the organizers tried to scrub the website of evidence of the participation of self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs after Rachel Maddow ran a segment highlighting her extremism. And a few days after the rally, AFA stripped its main spokesman, Bryan Fischer, of his title under apparent pressure from the Republican National Committee, which was about to send 60 of its members on a trip to Israel funded by the AFA and organized by Lane.
If “superhero” is not the word that comes to mind when you think of Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, or Rick Perry, you clearly aren’t CPAC material. The Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual right-wing gathering hosted by the American Conservative Union, is promoting this year’s event with a graphic inspired by the movie “Avengers” – or Disney’s animated series “Avengers Assemble.”
As in the Marvel universe, there are some household names, and some clearly second- or third-tier heroes. We’ll leave it to you to speculate on the superpowers wielded by Bobby Jindal, John Bolton, Laura Ingraham, Ben Carson, and others.
Last night, Rachel Maddow reported that the American Family Association has fired Bryan Fischer as its official spokesman, while letting Fischer keep his radio show on the organization’s radio network. The move apparently came as a result of growing controversy surrounding a trip to Israel for Republican National Committee delegates bankrolled by the AFA.
It didn’t look good for the RNC that the group paying the tab for the trip to Israel has a spokesman and radio host who believes that gay people are modern-day Nazis who are responsible for the Holocaust, demands Jewish conversion to Christianity (and wants to require conversion for Jewish and other non-Christian immigrants), and insists that non-Christians have no First Amendment rights: “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions to Christianity, have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of the religion.”
However, the RNC trip’s chief organizer, David Lane of the American Renewal Project, which has close ties to the AFA, is no less radical than Fischer … but his extreme views haven’t stopped Republicans from embracing Lane.
Priebus, center. Lane, far right. Via The Brody File.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has appeared at Lane’s political gatherings and praised his radical anti-LGBT activism. In fact, potential Republican presidential candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Mike Pence have either appeared at Lane’s events, which typically take place in early primary states, or participated in election-themed advertisements for Lane’s group.
Lane, who describes himself as a political operative who prefers working behind the scenes, shares Fischer’s view that God is preparing to violently punish America for its tolerance of homosexuality. Lane, like Fischer, also believes that gay Republicans and gay rights supporters in the GOP are dangerous figures who will help bring the country down. He has:
“What is our aim?” Lane asked in a 2013 op-ed. “One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, America will ultimately collapse.”
He has set his sights at the separation of church and state, warning that “America is lost, one has to think through and devise a strategy to recapture our Christian heritage and reestablish our Christian culture.” Lane has also outlined his strategy to further entrench his radical ideology in the Republican Party by holding prayer rallies like “The Response,” sponsoring events featuring GOP leaders, known as “restoration” and “renewal” events or “pastor policy briefings,” and recruiting 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.
Urging conservatives to “wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands,” Lane wants conservatives to embrace his exclusionary Christian Nationalist beliefs and abolish the separation of church and state. Lane:
Just as Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his 2012 presidential bid with a prayer rally called “The Response,” fellow Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is set to lead his own “Response” prayer event this Saturday in Baton Rouge. Many of the pastors and conservative activists who backed the 2011 rally credited Perry’s actions with various miracles, raising the bar for Jindal’s event, which is being organized by the very same people.
Unfortunately for Perry, the various miracles produced by his prayer rally did not include producing even a single delegate in his disastrous presidential campaign, but it did save Texas from the scourge of Native American cannibals, at least according to Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet who endorsed both “Response” prayer rallies.
Jacobs said that Native Americans who “ate people” produced a “curse” in Texas, until it was healed by Perry’s prayer rally:
Another evangelist who joined Perry at “The Response,” Lou Engle, noticed evidence that God blessed Perry’s bid for president. According to Engle, God sent rain to Texas in response to the governor’s campaign announcement.
“I heard that actually the day that Governor Perry announced that he’s running for president, and this is not an endorsement I’m giving here, it simply it rained I believe he said for five hours, it poured,” Engle said on a 2011 conference call. “And people think that that could’ve been a sign, I don’t know. I think that was a historic prayer gathering for a governor to call a true Joel:2 solemn assembly. You don’t always see an immediate answer to these kinds of prayers but God does, God sees and responds and I believe we’ll look back at that gathering as a historic moment in American history and that’s what I’ve got to believe.”
Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas conservative activist, also claimed that Perry’s prayers ended a drought during a conference call for his 40 Days to Save America campaign. Texas Republican leader David Barton agreed, adding that Perry’s prayers also controlled the BP gulf oil spill:
Scarborough: Our Governor here in the state of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting last May. We were at the height of a drought that meteorologists were telling us was part of a cycle that would last perhaps for a number of years and that it would take us years to get our lake levels back up and so forth. It occurs to me that, not immediately, but after that prayer event that thirty thousand people participated in, we started getting rain and in less than a year, our lakes are full, our fields are brimming. A lot of people seem not to connect the dots on that, but we've got a fresh illustration of how God honors prayer.
Barton: Yeah, that's one of those many things that historians will looks back upon and say 'look at the correlation.' But I look back over the last few years at Sonny Perdue of Georgia who called, in the middle of their drought - that was an unprecedented century drought that they had there - he called for prayer and within three days they had rain falling in Georgia again. They're back in good condition.
I recall what happened with the oil spill in the Gulf, how all the Gulf governors except for Charlie Crist of Florida got together and called for a time of prayer that God would mitigate the damage of that and cause that thing to be sealed. And guess what? All the expected damage along the shorelines to all the wildlife, it didn't happen.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s upcoming prayer rally has been organized by David Lane, a Christian-nation absolutist who believes America was founded by and for Christians and demands that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. The American Family Association, whose chief spokesperson believes the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections do not apply to non-Christians, is paying for the rally.
It’s clear that Jindal, a convert to Christianity, is positioning himself to win the support of conservative evangelicals for a potential presidential bid. (Lane for one has cheered Jindal’s recent remarks about Muslims.) But does Jindal see himself as a potential president for all Americans, or only American Christians?
Jindal’s initial letter inviting “friends and fellow patriots” to the event — on his official letterhead —declared, “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival, if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Jindal’s letter declared, “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” What does that say to non-Christian Americans about how Jindal views them and their contributions to America’s future?
Jindal also recorded a video promoting the event as the spark that would help bring the “spiritual revival” America needs.
This week the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody reported that Jindal sent a letter to the other 49 governors inviting them to attend. “We need an appeal to heaven for heaven’s intervention over us,” he wrote. “We need to pray to the Lord that He will send spiritual revival to our nation.”
“This gathering will be apolitical in nature,” Jindal writes unconvincingly to his fellow governors, adding, “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”
Is Jindal unaware that not all his fellow governors are Christians, or does he just not care?
Jindal, of course, has the right as an American to participate in a rally like this. But it is wrong for him to use the power of his office to proselytize for his own faith and denigrate the faith of others. The critics of his prayer rally have the right, and good reason, to question what his promotion of this event says about Jindal’s judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and other constitutional principles.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who only a few years ago was lamenting the GOP’s decline into “the stupid party,” is now staking out a position on the party’s far-right fringe in preparation for an expected run for the presidency. Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.
Jindal, once hailed as the GOP’s top intellectual and reformer who denounced “dumbed-down conservatism” in an era of Tea Party populism, is slated to lead a prayer rally this weekend, “The Response: Baton Rouge,” organized and sponsored by some of the most extreme figures within the party.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry organized the original “Response” prayer gathering as a prelude to his 2012 presidential bid, allying with many of the same radical activists and organizations who are supporting Jindal’s version of the rally. While Perry’s campaign ultimately imploded, the people who helped put together his prayer rally credited it for various miracles. Jindal’s event has even recycled promotional materials from the Texas rally, including a “prayer guide” blaming marriage equality for Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Joplin tornado.
“The Response” is being organized by David Lane, a Religious Right activist who boasts of his great influence and low profile, and various conservative pastors, including several who claim to be modern-day prophets and apostles, who all kicked off the prayer rally with an event at the Louisiana governor’s mansion earlier this month. The American Family Association, so notorious for its apoplectic anti-gay rhetoric and opposition to the freedoms of non-Christians that its chief spokesman earned a rebuke from Mitt Romney, is putting up the funding.
David Lane, a self-styled “political operative” who gloats that he has “operated since 2005 largely under the radar” on behalf of conservative causes and Republican candidates, is serving as the organizational muscle behind Jindal’s prayer rally.
Jindal isn’t the only potential GOP candidate who is getting Lane’s help; Lane has also arranged various events focused on energizing conservative pastors in early GOP primary states that have featured appearances from potential presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. He also organized overseas tours with various conservative activists for likely candidates including Huckabee, Perry and Paul. Lane has also teamed up with the Republican National Committee, whose chairman, Reince Priebus, sings his praises.
Lane hopes to use “The Response” as a launching pad for his effort to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.
Lane, who has connections to the top of the Republican Party, has views which are far out of the mainstream. He has:
The American Family Association, classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is providing the financial backbone for Jindal’s prayer rally, as it did for Perry’s 2011 event.
The group’s chief spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has won nationwide notoriety for his remarks about homosexuality and religious and ethnic minorities, which he shares on his daily program on the AFA’s radio network. Fischer has:
The latter half of Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally was emceed by a self-proclaimed prophet who believes Oprah Winfrey is the harbinger of the Antichrist.
It looks like Jindal’s rally will be no different: Doug Stringer, who considers himself to be a modern-day apostle and who also worked on Perry’s rally, is spearheading the Louisiana event. Stringer has blamed American “[l]icentiousness or moral looseness to the degree that it is ‘in your face,’ including homosexuality,” for the September 11, 2001 attacks, which he described as a “wake-up call” from God.
Another self-proclaimed prophet, Cindy Jacobs, is also featured on “The Response: Baton Rouge” website. Jacobs has quite the prophetic record. She:
Jim Garlow, a prominent “The Response: Baton Rouge” endorser who is involved in the “apostolic” movement, has been a leader of the movement against LGBT rights. Garlow has:
One event sponsor, Jennifer LeClaire, has used her column in Charisma News to broadcast several “prophetic” warnings about the evils of homosexuality and the “gay agenda” that is “working overtime to send millions to hell.” LeClaire has:
“The Response: Baton Rouge” has also featured endorsements from a slew of conservative politicians. Tamara Scott, as a member of the Republican National Committee representing Iowa and leader of the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America, is a key political player in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. But her political clout doesn’t hide her unbridled extremism. Scott has:
Another official “Response” endorser, longtime conservative activist and failed Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia E.W. Jackson, has pushed similarly radical views, particularly on gay rights, saying that “homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of.” He has also:
Gene Mills, leader of the Louisiana Family Forum and another key “Response” endorser, is a vocal ally of Jindal’s who helped push the governor’s policies undermining public education and promoting religious schooling. It’s no surprise that Mills leads the state’s foremost anti-LGBT group, as he has:
Supporters of marriage equality made tremendous progress this year in striking down discriminatory bans on same-sex marriages while, on the local level, more municipalities have enacted legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Radical Right, however, sees these changes as a reason to find new strategies to fight what it believes is a tyrannical government bent on persecuting conservatives and inviting divine punishment. Facing losses in court and at the ballot box, many conservatives hope that their brand of anti-gay politics may find more success overseas.
Just in case you thought that the debate over gay rights was “over,” we decided to look back on some of the anti-gay Right’s worst moments of 2014.
10. Comparing LGBT Americans To Nazis And Terrorists
There’s nothing that Religious Right activists love more than to pretend they are being oppressed by the LGBT community. This year, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel and Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association all said opponents of LGBT rights today are facing a situation reminiscent of the oppression African Americans endured under Jim Crow, while other anti-LGBT activists shamelessly compared themselves to Jewish people living in Nazi Germany. More recently, Religious Right activists compared supporters of gay rights to ISIS members bent on beheading Christians, and Pat Robertson described gay rights supporters as “terrorists.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wondered when gay people and gay rights advocates would “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians,” and “Trunews” host Rick Wiles even warned that LGBT rights activists in the U.S. are hoping to fulfill Adolf Hitler’s dream of creating “a race of super gay male soldiers.”
9. Civil Disobedience To Stop Gay Rights
While conservatives rail against civil disobedience to protest police brutality, they are hopeful that the anti-gay movement will launch its own civil disobedience campaigns. In 2014, Sen. Ted Cruz urged gay rights opponents to “disregard unjust edicts from the government” and Fox News pundit Todd Starnes predicted that conservatives would take part in acts of civil disobedience and marches reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement. Pat Buchanan, Linda Harvey and Jeff Allen also joined calls for mass civil disobedience to protest LGBT equality, while Peter LaBarbera proposed protests to stop same-sex weddings.
Janet Mefferd hoped that an anti-gay Rosa Parks would soon emerge, while Matt Barber, who has pledged to bring back “some of the civil disobedience that we saw in the 60s during those civil rights struggles” to stop the “LGBT sexual orientation agenda,” said that anti-gay activists will be acting just like Martin Luther King Jr. by demonstrating against gay rights.
8. Breakaway Anti-Gay Nation
Upset over recent gay rights victories, former Reagan administration official Douglas MacKinnon seems ready to give up on America and start a new country composed of conservative Southern states that will secede from the U.S. as a way to preserve their bans on same-sex marriage. MacKinnon outlined his plan in his book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country . . . Now,” and in an interview with right-wing talk show host Janet Mefferd, he defended the South’s original attempt at secession during the Civil War.
MacKinnon said that if the secession plan actually worked, he would name the country “Reagan.”
7. Dave Agema’s ‘Common Sense’
It wasn’t a good year for Dave Agema, the Michigan GOP politician and a member of the Republican National Committee. Not only did Agema lose his lawsuit against People For the American Way, the notoriously anti-gay activist made waves after he endorsed Russia’s criminalization of speech in favor of gay rights as a “common sense” measure and faced calls to resign from the RNC after attacking Muslim-Americans in a Facebook post. Last year, Agema posted a bizarre pseudo-scientific survey on how homosexuality is “filthy” on his Facebook page.
Agema became a right-wing martyr after people dared to criticize his bigoted statements, and he refused to step down despite statements from top GOP leaders urging him to leave his position. Instead, Agema only amped up the rhetoric, blasting people for “shoving this idea down our throat that we have to accept this homosexual lifestyle” and warning that gay rights will destroy America.
6. Duggars Show ‘Love’ For Gays By Fighting Gay Rights
While the Duggar family usually campaigns for Republican candidates across the country come election time, in 2014 they worked in their home state of Arkansas to repeal an ordinance in the city of Fayetteville that added the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to existing bans on discrimination in areas such as commerce, housing and employment.
But Josh Duggar, who claims that God sent him to Washington D.C. to work with Family Research Council in opposing LGBT rights, defended their work to strip LGBT people of their rights and legal protections because it is done out of love for the LGBT community.
5. Rick Perry Goes There
As Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign flamed out after a series of poor debate performances, he used gay-baiting TV ads in one last desperate attempt to win the GOP nomination. Now, as Perry prepares for the 2016 campaign, it seems that by wearing new eyeglasses he is all of a sudden the new wonky candidate. He showed off this new-found knowledge during an appearance in California where he reacted to the news that the Texas GOP had adopted a resolution endorsing “reparative therapy and treatment” to help people “escape from the homosexual lifestyle” by comparing gay people to alcoholics.
“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry told the Commonwealth Club of California to audible groans from the crowd. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”
4. Ted Cruz’s New DOMA
After the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, marriage equality opponents looked to their allies in Washington D.C. to try to reverse the court’s decision. Sen. Ted Cruz was more than happy to help, and the Texas senator joined Mike Lee, Utah’s freshman senator, in introducing the State Marriage Defense Act. The bill’s stated purpose is to undercut federal recognition of married same-sex couples, and while it didn’t gain much traction in Congress, it did give Cruz an opportunity to grandstand about his dreams of curtailing gay rights. He told right-wing radio hosts that his “heart weeps” due to same-sex couples’ legal victories, calling rulings in favor of marriage equality “heartbreaking” and a sign “that our constitutional liberties are being eroded.”
After the Supreme Court recently refused to hear appeals in several cases involving same-sex marriage rights, Cruz decided to introduce a constitutional amendment to ensure that the 14th Amendment cannot be used in cases involving equal rights for gays and lesbians.
3. Still Angry About Repeal Of DADT
Anti-gay activists issued countless dire predictions about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which officially ended in the summer of 2011, warning about everything from a return to the draft to a “virtual genocide” of Christian service members. None of their claims ever materialized, but conservatives are now just acting as if they did.
One American Family Association radio host blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the U.S. military’s “sissification,” and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council linked the lifting of the ban on gay service members to what he called the “absolute destruction of our military readiness and our military morale.” Gordon Klingenschmitt read a statement on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program from a press release alleging that gay service members will soon be “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, captured the mood best when he alleged that the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will make the U.S. more “vulnerable to terrorism” because gay soldiers will take after the ancient Greeks in bringing their lovers to the frontlines so they can “give them massages before they go into battle.”
2. ‘Forced’ To Watch Michael Sam’s Kiss
This year, the far Right leveled an all-out attack against openly gay athlete Michael Sam, who is apparently paving the way for the Antichrist, brainwashing children, Satanic and part of a “plan to destroy black America” by “emasculating its men.” After ESPN aired footage of him kissing his boyfriend when he was notified that he was drafted into the NFL, right-wing activists denounced his “slobber-knocker of a kiss” as “sewer filth”; “yucky”; “gross”; “cringe-inducing” and “nauseating.”
Some conservatives claimed that they were actually forced to watch Sam kiss his boyfriend, while other conservatives vowed to boycott the NFL. Rush Limbaugh feared that Sam’s decision to come out of the closet is evidence that heterosexuals are “under assault,” and one right-wing outlet warned of “the gayification of professional sports.”
1. Cheering On Uganda And Russia
This year, Uganda’s president signed into law a new version of the country’s “Anti-Homosexuality Act” which imposed extreme penalties for the crime of being gay (though dropping its provision making homosexuality a death penalty offense in certain cases). American anti-gay activists mostly offered praise to the East African nation. At least one group thought that Uganda should have kept its death penalty plank.
While the country’s top court ultimately struck down the law on technical grounds, organizations such as Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association defended Uganda, with the latter condemning criticisms of the law as Satanic. Pastor Scott Lively, who helped craft the original anti-gay bill, spoke out in favor of the new law.
Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin lawmaker who last month won his race for an open seat in the U.S. House, also attacked opponents of Uganda’s anti-gay law, warning that people like Sec. John Kerry will bring about God’s judgment on America for his criticisms of Uganda.
The Uganda news came at a time when many U.S.-based activists were already pleased with new laws in Russia criminalizing speech in favor of gay rights and enthralled with Vladimir Putin, demanding that America enact similar laws.
Bryan Fischer Bonus
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer’s daily cascade of anti-gay bigotry is difficult to summarize, but rest assured that throughout 2014 he remained in “fine form” when it came to maliciously attacking the LGBT community. Insisting that his hostility to homosexuality is just something that he was born with, Fischer regularly uses his radio program to rail against gay rights as the “greatest threat” America has ever seen and a precursor to the End Times. Fischer has even suggested that God will uses ISIS terrorists to “discipline the United States” for supporting gay rights and urged the government to ban gay people from ever holding public office.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is following in the footsteps of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and kicking off his possible presidential campaign next month with a stadium prayer rally organized by radical religious right activists. As Brian reported on Monday, the virulently anti-gay Christian nationalist American Family Association, influential Religious Right leader David Lane and Doug Stringer, a self-proclaimed “apostle” from Texas who has blamed America’s rejection of God for the September 11 attacks, are spearheading Jindal’s Baton Rouge rally.
These activists are the perfect ambassadors for the Christian nationalists that Jindal appears to be courting. In a letter introducing the rally — printed on official governor’s mansion stationary — Jindal warns of “a new world order of chaos…being driven by militant Islam seeking to impose Sharia Law worldwide” and domestic epidemics of “fatherless homes,” “drugs and crime in our inner cities” and “a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism,” problems for which Jesus Christ “is America’s only hope.”
Jindal’s prayer rally appears to be so closely modeled after Perry’s that its organizers are even reusing materials from the 2011 Texas event, including a prayer guide contending that natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, were the result of God’s displeasure with the “alternative lifestyle” of homosexuality, marriage equality, legal abortion, and Internet pornography.
The prayer guide listed on the “resources” page of the website for Jindal's rally includes suggestions for seven days of prayer leading up the event. It appears to be exactly the same as the guide disturbed to participants in Perry’s event in 2011 — it hasn't even been updated to include the increased number of states that are bringing God’s judgment on America by allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry:
Day 2 - Locust plagues
In Joelʼs day Israel experienced the destruction of a massive locust plague. The nationʼs economy was crippled because of the decimation of the agriculture. The reason these plagues came was because of the peopleʼs negligence to worship and serve God with their whole heart. Because the people grew cold and eventually departed from God, they experienced incredible hardships. The result of their inner departure was multiple external crises.
In America today we face a similar crisis. We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before. We live in the first generation in which the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. Pornography is available ondemand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes. While the United States still claims to be a nation “under God” it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity.
This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina, which rendered the entire Gulf Coast powerless.
Furthermore, because of mismanagement and greed, our national economy is in incredible disarray, with our national debt topping 14 trillion dollars. We have effectively mortgaged our childrenʼs future, while spending money we do not have on entitlements as we search in vain for “the American dream”. The first “wave of locusts” has begun to descend upon us and many are oblivious to the fact that destruction has come and is still coming.
God destined America to be a gospel beacon to the rest of the earth – a nation under God who declares His goodness, truth and mercy to a world desperately in need.
The Jindal rally’s prayer guide also includes the 2011 guide’s plea to conservative Christians to save the United States from “debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.”
There is much at stake for the church in America. In many ways we are at a crossroads of two divergent paths. Either the church will turn to the Lord with her whole heart, sparking a great revival and reformation in our nation, or she will continue in compromise, keeping the status quo as we watch our nation turn to debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.
(Emphases are ours.)
Both “Response” rallies are modeled after the “Call” rallies organized by Religious Right leader Lou Engle. The leadership team of Perry’s rally included a number of officials from the International House of Prayer, a ministry closely associated with Engle that promotes the dominionist theology that calls for evangelical Christians to gain control of all parts American culture and government.
FrontPageMag editor and increasingly unhinged anti-Obama yeller David Horowitz is hosting his annual “Restoration Weekend” for anti-Muslim activists at a beach resort in Florida this month. This year, Horowitz has recruited an impressive slate of Republican politicians, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to partake in the event’s offerings of golf, spa treatments, and Muslim-bashing.
Joining the GOP politicians at the Palm Beach weekend will be anti-Muslim activists including the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer, National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy and, as Horowitz announced this weekend on Newsmax, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Conservative pundits Ann Coulter, Michael Reagan and Ben Shapiro will also be at the event, according to its website, along with FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe, Heritage Foundation economics chief Stephen Moore and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel.
Horowitz organizes and funds the annual Restoration Weekend through his David Horowitz Freedom Center — attendees pay between $1,750 and $20,000, but the group’s most recent available tax return shows the 2012 event didn’t even break even. At past events, Horowitz has attracted GOP luminaries including Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michele Bachmann. All apparently undeterred by their host’s record of anti-Muslim extremism, including accusing former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (whose wife is Muslim) of being secret Muslim Brotherhood agents.
In just the past year, Horowitz’s commentary has moved even further to the fringe. As the Justice Department launched an investigation of the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, Horowitz accused Attorney General Eric Holder of leading a black “lynch mob.” A day earlier, Horowitz said he was “sure” President Obama was secretly a Muslim because “he’s a pretend Christian in the same way he’s a pretend American.”
Such anti-Obama conspiracy theories have a welcome place at Horowitz’s Restoration Weekends. At last year’s event, for instance, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona agreed with Robert Spencer’s statement that President Obama is either a secret Muslim or just acting like one:
Wilders, who has spoken at past Horowitz-affiliated events, including at least one Restoration Weekend, is currently on a U.S. tour that included lunch at the Capitol with Bachmann. Wilders, one of the most fiercely anti-Islam voices in Europe has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf and this year lost some prominent members of his own party when he targeted Moroccans living in the Netherlands to stir up support before the European elections.
David Lane is an extremely influential but notoriously media-shy Religious Right activist who regularly organizes secretive events at which leading Republican politicians speak to pastors in key swing states in an effort to mobilize conservative Christian voters. He is also a full-blown Christian nationalist who believes that the Bible should serve as "the principal textbook" for public education and has warned that the United States would see car bombings all over the nation as a result of God's judgment because "homosexuals [were] praying at the inauguration" of President Obama.
So naturally, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Perry have all now recorded radio ads on behalf of Lane's current voter mobilization effort, which is being funded by the political arm of the anti-gay hate group the American Family association no less.
As CBN's David Brody reported last night:
The Brody File has exclusively obtained brand new radio commercials recorded by possible GOP presidential candidates, urging conservative Christians to get out and vote in the upcoming Midterm Elections. Below you can listen to the spots recorded by Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
In one of the radio spots, Senator Ted Cruz tells the Christian audience, “The Bible is full of stories of men and women whose faith in God led them to take action during difficult times, trusting in Him for His glory. Today God’s people are once again being called to action as we seek to restore the values our nation was founded upon and to honor the legacy of those who have given their lives in defense of our freedom.” He then implores the audience to get out and vote.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says the following in one of his radio spots: “Throughout the Bible, God’s people are driven to action by their faith in difficult times. Today we’re being called to action to restore the values our nation was founded.” Then, once again there is a call to action to vote.
The radio spots will run nationwide on American Family Radio, the Bott Radio Network and the National Religious Broadcasters Network. That means that these spots will be on close to 300 radio stations across the country in more than 35 states and reaching over nearly 70 million people.
The spots are part of the American Renewal Project’s, “Get Out The Vote” effort. The American Family Association political arm called AFA Action funds it. Part of their stated goal is to, “inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture.” David Lane, the influential evangelical organizer behind this effort also holds his popular, “Pastors and Pews” events around the country in multiple states including the early GOP Primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Those events are geared for pastors to get energized and mobilized so they can get more of their parishioners excited about voting their values.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who today announced his plans to resign, has been a leader in addressing systems of racial discrimination and protecting the fundamental rights of every American to be treated equally under the law and participate in our democracy.
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the Right loves to hate him.
In February of this year, the American Family Association demanded Holder’s impeachment after he had the audacity to treat married same-sex couples like married opposite-sex couples with regard to a host of legal rights and recognitions. Shortly after, both Faith and Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed and Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp echoed the call for Holder’s impeachment because of his support for marriage equality. Televangelist Pat Robertson also joined the impeachment parade, alleging that under Holder, “sodomy” was being “elevated above the rights of religious believers.”
Holder’s commitment to redressing racial injustice was no more warmly received by the Right than his work in support of LGBT equality. After Holder spoke out against voter ID laws, which disproportionately harm people of color, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused him of “purposefully” “incit[ing] racial tension.” Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt argued that Holder’s open discussion of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system means that he is the real “racist,” asserting last year that Holder wants to “intimidate the rest of the country so that we don’t think about defending ourselves” against “attacks by black mobs on white individuals.” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went so far as to say that Holder would never “prosecute someone if the victim is white.” And after Holder visited Ferguson, Missouri last month, David Horowitz outrageously commented that the attorney general was leading a black “lynch mob.”
And those are just a handful of the attacks the Right has leveled against Holder for his work protecting equality under the law.
The fact that the far Right has reacted with so much vitriol to the attorney general’s leadership is a sign not only of how uninterested they are in the civil rights that the Justice Department is meant to protect, but also of how effective Holder’s work has been. The next attorney general should share Holder’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans – and, by extension, make all the “right” enemies among those hoping to turn back the clock on civil liberties.