Scarborough joined Perkins the night before the event on Perkins’ radio show, where he declared that conservative Christians must form an “army of faith that will stand up to tyranny” and take back ground from Satan.
After alleging that anti-Christian persecution is on the rise in America, Scarborough said that “we’re living in the age where the church is fair game, Satan is — the comedians, the media and others take no thought about defaming preachers and defaming the church.”
“Satan, like a roaring lion, is coming after the church,” he said.
On her program last Friday, Rachel Maddow also took note of the fact that the leading 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls had no problem participating in an event organized and co-hosted by an extremist like Scarborough:
The event itself was broadcast on Saturday morning from the headquarters of the Family Research Council, the group led by Perkins, and wound up being four hours of sanctimonious self-pity and mind-numbing dullness interspersed by short videos submitted by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum all blatantly pandering to the Religious Right.
After Bush kicked things off by providing a vague promise to be a "strong advocate of religious liberty" as president, Carson turned things up a notch by declaring that "the greatest threat to religious freedom in America today is secular progressivism," as demonstrated by the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, and vowing that, if elected president, he will work with Congress to pass legislation exempting Christians from having to recognize this decision.
Carson was followed by Cruz, who insisted that Christians "face an unprecedented attack on our first freedom from an aggressive secular state that seeks to push faith out of the public square entirely" and likewise promised that, if elected president, he'll make it his first order of business to see that "the persecution of religious liberty ends today."
Later in the broadcast, Carly Fiorina told those watching that "religious liberty is under assault in our country" and that America needs a leader who will fight to "take our country back." And that leader should be her, Fiorina explained, because "my faith has been tested in good times and in bad and never found wanting."
She was followed by Huckabee, who trotted out his standard campaign promise to simply ignore the Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage and abortion and essentially outlaw them both through executive action.
Up next, Rubio declared that "it shouldn't surprise us, this all-out assault on our liberties, because we have a president that, when he was a candidate the first time, he said that those of us that have traditional values are bitter people who cling to our guns and to our religion." He went on to promise that, as president, he will proudly "stand up for those" who are called "bigots and haters" for opposing gay marriage and abortion.
Santorum finally closed things out by decrying the "virulent assault" on religious liberty in America as demonstrated by "the lack of tolerance" for those who oppose gay marriage, promising that, as president, he will not only sign the First Amendment Defense Act, but "then we'll move further" and reverse the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling.
In yet another example of what the Religious Right’s recent focus on “religious liberty” is really about, five Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak this weekend at a “religious freedom” event hosted by a conservative pastor who has repeatedly declared that AIDS is God’s punishment for gay people’s “immoral act” and has called for a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality.
Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee are scheduled to join a “Free to Believe Broadcast” on Saturday, hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, two of the most outspoken anti-gay activists in the country.
Both, even while attempting to curtail the rights of LGBT people, have claimed that it is their rights that are being violated by the LGBT movement: Perkins has said that the supposed persecution of anti-gay Christians in America is inspiringISIS, and Scarborough has declared that he is ready to burn to death in the fight against gay marriage.
But neither Scarborough nor Perkins has ever been particularly interested in a “live and let live” truce with LGBT people.
Scarborough has declared that AIDS, “a homosexual disease,” is God’s “judgment as a result of an immoral act.” Just last year, he repeated his belief that AIDS is “God’s judgment on a sinful generation, adding that “God would probably give us the cure for AIDS today” if the U.S. stopped supporting gay rights:
He also said last year that marriage equality is part of Satan’s effort to “destroy this country,” warning that gay parents will lead their children “into an early grave called hell”:
Scarborough is so concerned about gay people that back in 2013 he brought up the idea of issuing a “class action lawsuit” against homosexuality, much like actions taken against the tobacco industry:
In 2014, Scarborough agreed with Islamic fundamentalists who call America the “Great Satan,” saying that God would be perfectly justified in sending a nuclear bomb to destroy the country because of such sins as President Obama’s appointments of a handful of gay ambassadors:
And that’s just Scarborough. Perkins has a vile anti-gay record of his own, which Brian summarized last month.
Also appearing at the event will be Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who has warned that gay people seek to “groom” and “entrap” children, and David and Jason Benham, brothers who became Religious Right martyrs when they lost a TV show they were set to star in after their anti-gayactivism came to light.
The fall of marriage equality bans in all 50 states following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision was a disaster for the conservative movement, whose leaders have spent years demonizing same-sex couples and warning that the legal recognition of their marriages will unleash a wave of terror on the nation.
Even the not-exactly-pious GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, is activelycourting the anti-gay Right, although he has trouble explaining why he should be seen as a strong defender of “traditional marriage.”
In the eyes of many conservative activists, Obergefell was the product of a culture that had been slipping away for years, bringing America into an apocalyptic period where growing acceptance for homosexuality is ushering in disastrous consequences.
Weeks before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah declared that if the court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and conservative states didn’t seceded from the union in protest, anti-gay activists like himself would flee the country. “Are there any governors or legislatures out there among the 50 states willing to secede to offer a refuge for the God-fearing?” he asked, warning that if states were to stay in the U.S. following a pro-equality decision, the world should expect “a pilgrimage by millions of Americans.”
End Times radio host Rick Wiles told his listeners that the country would “be brought to its knees” if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of marriage equality and that there would be “pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country,” caused by “riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space.”
Texas pastors Robert Jeffress and Rick Scarborough also got in the mix. Jeffress said the ruling could pave the way for the Antichrist while Scarborough said conservatives must “fight until we die” and “push back with all our might” against a ruling in favor of gay marriage, which he said would “unleash the spirit of hell on the nation.” Scarborough even boasted that he was ready to go to jail and face death: “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.”
As one might expect, the responses to the ruling were not much different from the predictions.
The day after the ruling, Wiles declared that he received a message from God, who asked him to tell the people to “flee” the country before God destroys it through economic ruin, food shortages, terrorism, disease and slavery. “America is over,” he declared. Later, Wiles predicted that America is “going to see gunfire” from people resisting the government over gay marriage. “Somebody’s going to jail, somebody’s going to die, somebody’s going to suffer,” he said.
Michael Bresciani of the Christian Post said Obergefell would lead to “an economic crash much more serious than the stock market crash of 29,” while WND’s Farah envisioned “more civil and racial strife” or “an attack on our country from foreign power or terrorist group.”
Fox News pundit Todd Starnes said that “pastors who refuse to perform gay marriage and preach from the Bible should prepare for hate crime charges,” while Illinois pastor Erwin Lutzer told religious parents to prepare to “be diagnosed as culturally intolerant and personality intolerant,” as a result of which “their children will be taken away from them.” Perkins of the FRC claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision would threaten the freedom of speech and gun rights.
American Family Radio host Sandy Rios, who also serves as the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director, said that homosexuality may have been “a factor” in the deadly Amtrak crash in May. She suggested that the engineer, who is gay, may have been having a breakdown as he experienced “some confusion” related to homosexuality.
Fellow AFR host Bryan Fischer specifically blamed flooding in Texas on God’s judgment for homosexuality, saying that “you can make a geographical connection” between flooding and homosexuality. (We wonder what that means for American Family Radio’s home town of Tupelo, Mississippi, which was hit by a tornado last year).
Huckabee also suggested that America is in “a dangerous place” because “if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it’s apparent that man believes he has become his own god,” and God will not protect such a nation.
The Religious Right has a long history of absurdly claiming that evangelical Christians are facing persecution in America, and the Obergefell ruling only amped up such rhetoric.
Huckabee warned that the gay rights movement “won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel,” lamenting that too many Christians don’t realize “how close they are to losing all of their freedoms.” Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also got in on the action, warning that a gay “jihad” is “going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Glenn Beck predicted that Obergefell would result in serious repercussions for the media, claiming that “anybody on this show [who] says they’re for traditional marriage” will have their airtime in jeopardy as the ruling “could mean the end of radio broadcasts like mine.”
Nothing set off more persecution rhetoric than the Kim Davis saga, in which the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk blocked her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a court order, citing “God’s authority.” She was temporarily placed in the custody of U.S. Marshals after she said she would continue to flout the courts and was only released after deputy clerks started to issue the licenses.
Even before the Davis case, many Republicans had been insisting that government officials may not have to treat court rulings on marriage as authoritative after all, and can simply flout the process of judicial review. Obergefell gave them the perfect opportunity to put these arguments into action.
Before quitting the presidential race, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted the decision, explaining that “no earthly court can change the definition of marriage.” Huckabee said that if elected president, he would tell the Supreme Court: “Thank you for your opinion, but we shall ignore it.” “It’s a matter of saving our republic to say that, as president, we’re not going to accept this decision, we will ignore it and we will not enforce it,” he said.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also claimed that when civil law conflicts with “God’s rules,” then government officials must choose the latter because “God’s rules always win.” Rubio, along with his fellow GOP presidential candidates Cruz, Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina, also pledged to sign legislation confronting the supposed discrimination faced by gay marriage opponents.
The “700 Club” host worried in September that gay marriage would trigger a perilous financial crisis, warning that “the rupture of the entire financial framework of our world” could occur because of the Obergefell ruling. He again alleged in November that “the wrath of God” is headed to America now that “it’s a constitutional right for sodomites to marry each other,” possibly in the form of “a massive financial collapse.”
“They’re going to make you conform to them,” he said of gay rights advocates. “You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is.”
“Christianity, the founding principle of this nation, is criminalized,” he said in response to the Davis controversy. “You go to jail if you believe in God and stand fast for your beliefs against the onslaught of secular humanism and the flood that comes about with it.” (Robertson, of course, has not been jailed).
Warning viewers that “the homosexuals don’t just want to be left alone, now they want to come out and stick it to the Christians,” Robertson said that gay rights laws are creating “absolute tyranny” and “it's high time we call it what it is and we stand up for freedom.”
The televangelist also offered his patented advice to people with gay children.
He told one mother to send her daughter, who is dating another woman, to a Christian summer camp and “pray that God will straighten her out.” He said that the girl was probably “pressured” into embracing a lesbian identity because “there’s so much lesbian stuff, I mean, lesbian this, lesbian the other, so much homosexual — the media is pushing this as hard as they can possibly push it.” He told another viewer who has a gay son to treat him like a drug addict, and advised yet another parent that God could change his gay son if only the son were to start “acting like a man.”
Here at Right Wing Watch, we listen to hours of video and audio each day in order to find the short clips that we share with our readers. It’s been a doozy of a year, in which presidential politics has collided with the farthest of the far right, and here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve had the dubious pleasure of witnessing it all. It’s hard to pick our favorite/most horrifying memories of the year, so instead we’ve looked back at the 10 most watched videos and most listened-to audio clips of the year.
10. Sandy Rios Investigates The Amtrak Crash
Days after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in May, killing eight and injuring hundreds, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios pointed out “an interesting part of the story” that was likely “a factor” in the crash: the conductor’s homosexuality.
June was not a happy month for anti-gay activists, as exemplified by Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, who days before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision warned that gay marriage was a satanic plot to destroy Christianity and may very well bring God’s judgment on America.
Televangelist Pat Robertson is not always quite on point with the advice he gives to viewers of “The 700 Club” at the end of every program, such as when he told a bereaved mother who had just lost a young child that the child could have turned out to be the next Hitler .
4. The Gay ‘Jihad’
Ted Cruz went there during a campaign event in Iowa in April.
3. Rick Perry’s ‘Accident’
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a very ill-timed “oops” moment when he called the mass shooting at a church in Charleston an “accident,” in the process of claiming that the crime was the result of drugs rather than guns.
2. Phil Robertson’s Imagination
Back in March, controversial “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson tried to make a convoluted point about atheists supposedly having no moral code by telling a gruesome hypothetical story about a family of atheists getting raped and murdered.
1. Rick Scarborough’s Martyrdom
Nobody took the hysteria over the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision quite as far as Rick Scarborough, who declared a few days before the court handed down its decision that he was ready to burn to death in his fight against gay marriage.
Vision America's Rick Scarborough spoke at a "Prayer For Our Warriors Conference" at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Arizona recently, where he reiterated his view that AIDS is God's judgment for sin and declared that we'd probably be able to find a cure for the disease if this nation would simply repent for tolerating homosexuality.
Earlier in his remarks, Scarborough complained that we at People For the American Way regularly monitor his speeches and blasted our founder, Normal Lear, for having established an organization that has supposedly "subverted the truth" by regularly attacking "those of us who stand for God and country without apology."
Apparently, in Scarborough's world, standing for God and country takes the form of declaring that AIDS "was God's judgment on a sinful generation."
"I believe that God would probably give us the cure for AIDS today," he stated, "if we put our foot down and said, 'We not longer tolerate this, we're not going to fund it with healthcare, we're going to hold you accountable.' I believe if we started repenting across this country, some sharp probably Christian or Jewish researcher would find the AIDS cure."
Scarborough also noted that since his comments were probably being monitored by PFAW, this statement would most likely be the only thing that we would report on from his speech.
Vision America recently posted a new promotional video celebrating the organization's work mobilizing pastors for the purpose of getting their congregations more involved in politics, which featured footage of Rick Scarborough literally throwing a copy of the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision to the ground and stepping on it while vowing never to disobey the Bible.
The video was presumably produced to be shown during the organization's recent "Heroes of Faith" gala as it was clearly aimed at encouraging donors to continue to fund Vision America's efforts by highlighting Scarborough's various speaking engagements, including one where he was shown grandstanding on the gay marriage decision.
"You cannot redefine that which God has already defined," Scarborough proclaimed of the Supreme Court decision at the start of the video. "However, they did place our nation at odd with God's revealed moral law. I choose to obey God rather than men."
The video then showed footage of Scarborough preaching in a church, holding up a copy of the decision in one hand and a Bible in the other while declaring that "five lawyers just said God was wrong when he defined marriage. There comes a time when men have to choose who they're going to obey and what's going to be the authority in their life."
"Well, I've made my choice," Scarborough said, tossing the court decision to the ground and then stepping on it. "I'm not going to obey that."
Later in the video, the narrator warned that "five unelected lawyers ... have empowered God-haters to come after true believers."
Last night, Vision America's Rick Scarborough spoke at St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City, Florida, as part of the church's weekly "Spiritual Revolution - Reclaiming America" series, where he declared that the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision will kill this nation and warned that children will now be adopted by gay parents and wind up in Hell.
"The reason Satan is trying to destroy this country right now is because we send more missionaries, do more good than any nation in history," Scarborough thundered. "But that's all at stake right now because by the act of five unelected judges mandated something upon this country that, for the first time could kill it!"
Gay marriage is far worse than abortion, he explained, because Christians can simply "opt out" and refuse to have abortions but "when homosexuals begin lining up to adopt those children, they will literally disciple them into an early grave called Hell."
Texas pastor and conservative activist Rick Scarborough appeared this week on the National Emergency Coalition conference call hosted by E.W. Jackson, a Virginia preacher and Republican politician.
Scarborough, who repeatedlypredicted that he and other pastors would be arrested and thrown in jail following the passage of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act back in 2009, told listeners to get ready to face death as a result of gay marriage: “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.”
“The preachers need to get out front, the leaders need to get out front, out front of these ordinary citizens and say, ‘Shoot me first,’” Scarborough said, referring to the bakers and florists who are supposedly being persecuted as a result of gay rights laws.
Scarborough went on to say that gay marriage is a Satanic plot: “The end game is the complete destruction of the church of the Lord Jesus, the replacement of it with this liberal theology that’s not a theology, it’s a philosophy, human-made, it goes back to the Garden of Eden when Satan wanted to be God. We now have a race of humans that don’t want to acknowledge that there’s a God.”
“They’re after God,” he said of Supreme Court justices who may move to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage. “This country better be aware, we’ve suffered a lot of injustices, but I’m not sure God is going to tolerate this one very long.”
On Tuesday, as the Supreme Court was hearing arguments on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans, E.W. Jackson convened a conference call with Texas-based pastor Rick Scarborough and conservative attorney William Olson to discuss how a decision in favor of marriage equality would destroy America.
“Gentlemen, we’re facing a crisis unlike any before,” Scarborough told callers, saying that while Roe v. Wade was “a dreadful decision wreaking havoc upon the nation and upon the world” at least “with abortion we can opt out of that.”
Marriage equality, he warned, would be a different story.
“I have portrayed it as two trains on the same track going in opposite directions,” he said. “One is the train of free speech and religious rights, religious liberty as defined in the First Amendment. But the other train is this newly created, unnatural civil right of two men being able to marry one another or two women marrying one another.”
“And only God knows where we go after that,” he continued, “because once you tear down that wall, how do you keep a man from marrying a child, or five men from marrying one woman or one man marrying five women? Once the wall is torn down and God’s law is no longer supported by our federal laws and our statutes, then we move into a realm that we’ve never lived in before, but I can assure you religious liberty will not survive that. And there will be a collision, a collision unparalleled in American history.”
He urged callers to sign a pledge organized by Religious Right leaders vowing to meet any marriage equality decision with civil disobedience. If enough people sign the pledge, he said, maybe the court “will pause and say, ‘We’re about to sow to the wind and reap a whirlwind.’”
“This is the day for modern-day Bonhoffers in America to stand up and speak up,” he said, referring to the German pastor who was executed by Nazi forces.
Olson warned at a Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality would mean “we no longer have a written constitution, we no longer have rule of law, we have had Darwinian revolution influence the courts.”
“So we have an extraordinary moment where we might be losing just about everything…if an adverse decision is not met with resistance,” he said.
Olson told callers that while “we’re not being told we cannot preach the Gospel, but it’s awfully close to that command that requires us to obey God and not obey man.”
Referring to Scarborough’s comment at a press conference last week that he would be willing to die fighting marriage equality, Olson said, “As extraordinary as that sounds, that is not an impossibility.”
Anti-gay activists, he said, will have to practice civil disobedience such as “jury nullification” and encouraging state elected officials to refuse to enforce a marriage equality decision. This led Jackson to slam Republican politicians who say they would attend the wedding of a gay or lesbian loved one.
“The popular compromise it seems for politicians these days is, ‘I’m opposed to same-sex marriage, but I would go to a same-sex ceremony to support a friend,’” he said. “It’s unconscionable.”
Gay marriage, Scarboroguh wrote, will lead to the end of “religious freedom and freedom of speech,” if not the end of America itself.
Scarborough added that he and “millions” of other opponents of gay rights are prepared to “respectfully refuse to acknowledge” a Supreme Court ruling on marriage rights that they disagree with: “In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, we will view any attempt to enforce such a ruling as unjust, and our duty to the Constitution, more importantly, our duty to our God, will force us to disrespect it.”
I’m not surprised that some recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans now say they approve of same-sex marriage. We have heard a steady drumbeat for the past decade of a one-sided national discussion on the subject. But there was also a time when the majority of Americans approved of separate restrooms and classrooms for our fellow black American citizens. The majority is not always right.
When considering the outcomes of polls on this issue, one must ask, “Who wants to be labeled a bigot for declaring what their heart truly believes about sodomy and ‘alternative lifestyles’?” I believe that the majority of Americans know in their hearts that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are morally wrong.
Attempts to redefine marriage are a rejection of God and the Bible. The genius of America and religious freedom is – you don’t have to accept or believe any of what I have just written. You can choose to reject it all and make your own alternative truth.
But you cannot change what God has spoken and verified in nature. Many have tried, and history documents their folly.
In the past, stating such a position was known as practicing religious freedom and freedom of speech, both constitutionally protected rights – rights which of necessity will be sacrificed if the high court approves same-sex marriage.
To the members of the Supreme Court I say: There are tens of thousands of people of faith, in fact, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, whose faith and conscience will not allow them to respect any decision that fundamentally rejects their God, His Word and the natural order. If a majority of the court redefines marriage, thousands of Christians will respectfully refuse to acknowledge such a ruling has jurisdiction over their lives.
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, we will view any attempt to enforce such a ruling as unjust, and our duty to the Constitution, more importantly, our duty to our God, will force us to disrespect it.
Speaking from the pulpit of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May 2004, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Dobson’s words were simulcast into churches across the country as part of a “Battle for Marriage” rally that just happened to coincide with President George W. Bush’s hard-fought reelection campaign. Three months earlier, the president himself had announced to the nation that “to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.”
Opposition to same-sex marriage emerged as a key component of the president’s reelection strategy that year, as the Bush campaign worked with Religious Right leaders, including Dobson, to marshal conservative voters to the polls to back state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and other unions. Ballot measures in 11 states, all successful, aided the president’s reelection bid and helped to swing the momentum, for a time, to the side of the anti-gay Right.
While a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples had failed to clinch the required votes from eitherhouse of Congress, after the 2004 election, Dobson stressed that “mainstream Americans” supported such an amendment, knowing that they “could not stand idly by while the radical gay agenda was forced down their throats.”
A decade later, Dobson left Focus on the Family, reportedly in part because the organization he had founded refused to give a leadership position to his divorced son. Dobson and his son Ryan now host a radio program called “Family Talk” and Focus has moved on under the less fiery leadership of Jim Daly. Ted Haggard, the pastor of the church where Dobson spoke at the 2004 “Battle for Marriage,” eventually left his post after acknowledging that he had relationships with men. An architect of Bush’s 2004 re-election strategy, Ken Mehlman, announced six years later that he is gay. Another Bush campaign strategist, Karl Rove, said in 2013 that he could see a future GOP presidential nominee endorsing gay marriage.
This dramatic shift toward marriage equality may culminate this year when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of cases challenging the constitutionality of the remaining state-level bans on same-sex marriage.
But the Religious Right is not ready to give up what was, until recently, a winning culture-war issue.
Now, as even many conservative pundits are predicting that the Supreme Court will strike down the remaining state bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders are preparing their response.
In a conference call with other movement figures, Dobson was steadfast in his opposition. If the Supreme Court strikes down the state bans and states across the country fail to convene “a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution” on marriage, Dobson warned, “we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two.”
Worse, Dobson said, there could be a war: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”
This style of apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision is not uncommon in a movement whose leaders are preparing to commit civil disobedience and calling on states to defy the court if it issues a broad ruling in favor of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
The Religious Right’s current strategy in the fight against marriage equality — claiming to be the real victims while making wild warnings about imminent anti-Christian persecution — was previewed in the 2009 signing of the Manhattan Declaration and the campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act the same year.
That same year, Religious Right activists launched a relentless, but unsuccessful, campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Right alleged that the bill would criminalize Christian teachings and the Bible, throw pastors in jail, quash free speech and legalize pedophilia and other illegal sex acts. In the five years following the law’s enactment, none of the wildpredictions about its effects have come close to materializing. But that hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from recycling the very same discredited claims to warn against nationwide marriage equality.
For example, Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas pastor and activist with close ties to politicians including Sen. Ted Cruz, has repeated his unfounded claims about the 2009 hate crimes act almost verbatim when discussing the potential dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage. As did Mike Huckabee, who told pastors on a conference call that preaching against homosexuality will be criminalized. Just this month, Scarborough warned that if gay couples are no longer barred from marriage, preaching from the Bible will become a crime and anti-gay conservatives will be throwninjail. Five years ago, he made almost exactly the same dire warning about the hate crimes act.
The Religious Right’s apocalyptic rhetoric about marriage equality has only become more incendiary as many of the ban’s defenders begin to expect that they will lose at the Supreme Court.
Nazi Germany, Jim Crow comparisons
Increasingly, Religious Right leaders have been portraying the push for equal rights for the LGBT community as a fascist, Nazi-style movement that will usher in a wave of oppression. And much like how Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement resisted Jim Crow, these activists argue, conservatives must also defy gay rights laws that they view as equally if not more oppressive.
Bryan Fischer, the conservative radio host and former American Family Association spokesman, regularly claims that gay people are modern-dayNazis and to blame for the rise of Nazism in Germany, asserting that Adolf Hitler was “an active homosexual” who recruited gays into his cause because “homosexual soldiers basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after.”
David Lane has said that Christians in America “must risk martyrdom” over the issue of marriage equality. Likewise, American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios has repeatedlyurged opponents of gay rights to “prepare for martyrdom.”
Even more frequently, anti-gay activists maintain that gay rights will usher in a new form of slavery and Jim Crow.
“Apparently someone forgot to tell the Stormtroopers in the homosexual movement about the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and freedom of both will and conscience,” Fischer said last year. “The leaders of the Gay Gestapo have become our new slave masters. They can now send us to the hole if we refuse the massa’s demands.”
Fischer has also charged that gay rights measures violate the constitutional ban on slavery, and even declared that as a result of gay rights, “Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.”
Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, has similarly claimed that gay rights advocates are practicing an “anti-religious” version of Jim Crow, while Fox News pundit and RedState editor Erick Erickson has said that “gay rights activists use the tactics of Bull Connor to push for what they declare civil rights.”
Perkins, the Family Research Council leader, is one of the most visible and vocal figures in the Religious Right, frequently appearing on national television and hosting his own daily radio show. Perkins also organizes an annual conference, the Values Voter Summit, which brings top Republican politicians together with Religious Right activists. But despite his veneer of respectability, Perkins is just as extreme as activists considered to be on the far-right fringe: He has spoken out in defense of Uganda’s “kill the gays” measure and called gay rights supporters Satanic, among other things.
Perkins has also taken to warning that if the Supreme Court sides with marriage equality advocates, the U.S. will see a full-blown revolution.
Perkins warned in 2012 that if the Supreme Court were to strike down same-sex marriage bans throughout the country, “I’m telling you what, I think you will create a firestorm of opposition. I think that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, when you look at a nation that is so divided along these moral and cultural issues that you could have — I hate to use the word — a revolt, a revolution. I think you could see Americans saying, ‘you know what, enough of this,’ and I think it could explode and just break this nation apart.”
“They’re sowing the seeds of the disillusion of our republic,” Perkins said of gay marriage supporters in 2014. “I think there’s coming a point that they’re going to push Christians to a point where they’re not going to be pushed anymore, and I think we’re very quickly coming to that point.”
As the Supreme Court considered a pair of marriage cases in 2013, Perkins said that the threat of a revolution may keep the justices from striking down same-sex marriage bans:
I believe the court will push as far as they think they can without creating a social upheaval or a political upheaval in this country. They’re smart people, I think, they understand how organizations and how societies work and if you get your substructure out of kilter with the superstructure, if you get government out of whack with where the people are and it goes too far, you create revolution. I think you could see a social and cultural revolution if the court goes too far on this.
Just last month, Perkins again predicted that the Supreme Court could trigger an uprising with a ruling in favor of marriage equality: “If the court imposes upon the nation a redefinition of marriage, I don’t think the nation is going to accept it, I absolutely don’t, and the conflict that is going to come as a result of it.”
Perkins may not find much support for his anti-gay revolution from the public at large, but he may find his some willing participants in his fellow Religious Right leaders.
“The church and people of faith and values need to rise up” against such a ruling, he said in 2013. “We just simply cannot allow this to become the law of the land.”
The previous year, Staver warned that marriage equality “could be the unraveling of the United States” and trigger a civil war:
This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country.
After the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of DOMA, Staver declared that the country was “crossing into the realm of rebellion, we’re crossing into the realm of revolution.”
The Alabama Example
After the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision led to a string of federal court decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders pleaded for governors and other state officials to openly flout the rulings.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, said state and local officials should simply refuse to enforce such rulings, explaining: “Well, the courts have spoken and it’s an important voice, but it’s not the voice of God and the Supreme Court isn’t God.”
Finally, they found their answer in Roy Moore, the elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Moore emerged as a conservative hero over a decade ago, when he defied orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument that he installed in the courthouse rotunda during his previous term as chief justice. When the standoff eventually led to Moore losing his post, he parlayed his newfound fame into two unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns and even a presidential “exploratory committee.” Moore also launched his own far-right legal advocacy group, the Foundation for Moral Law.
Moore returned to the court after winning a statewide election in 2012 and two years later, he once again made national headlines when he ordered state probate judges, who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, to disregard a Bush-appointed federal judge’s decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Moore demanded that the state flout the ruling, saying that it had no need to implement the decision.
His case against marriage equality is simple: “Homosexuality is wrong and we all know it. Marriage of the same sex is wrong and we all know it.” Moore’s legal advocacy organization, now led by his wife, defended his order to probate judges by explaining that “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”
Moore took his show to the road, telling a rally in Texas held in his honor that he hopes he will not have to “give his life” in the fight against gay marriage. He warned at a Family Research Council event that the government will soon legalize “parent-and-child” marriages and justify “taking your children simply by the same logic they’re following.”
“Christians need to stand up and do their duty to God as their duty to their country,” he said.
Some Republicans and their allies in the Religious Right hope that Moore’s defiant stance will serve as a model for the rest of the country.
A bill introduced in Texas not only declares that the state does not have to follow any U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, but it goes one step further by blocking funding for the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill would go so far as to punish state employees who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, barring such employees from “a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.”
In North Carolina, a group of Republican lawmakers want to create a religious exemption for officials in charge of issuing marriage licenses who don’t want to follow a recent court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Staver’s group, Liberty Counsel, filed a lawsuit “requesting emergency protection from the state courts for any magistrate who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.”
GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma reacted to a court ruling striking down their state’s marriage ban by proposing a bill which would remove any judge who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple and deny salaries, benefits and pensions to any state employees involved in marrying gay couples. Another bill in Oklahoma would remove judges from the marriage licenses process altogether and instead restrict marriage duties to “an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he or she belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi.”
End of the Line
While social conservative leaders have mostly focused on the purported repercussions of a decision that they see as unfavorable, they also have a plan in case the court sides with their arguments: demand that states roll back same-sex marriage rights and re-impose bans previously removed by the voters, lawmakers or courts.
For now, though, right-wing leaders will be focused on doing what they always do: misleading their supporters about the so-called dangers of gay rights, making reckless charges of religious persecution, and supporting unconstitutional means to promote their discriminatory goals.
However, Dobson and his allies do see the silver lining of legal gay marriage. In a conversation with Dobson the week before the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the marriage cases, pastor Jim Garlow and former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher predicted that Americans will ultimately reject gay marriage once the country experiences its horrible consequences; that is, if America is able to survive that long.
Conservative activist E.W. Jackson said at an anti-gay press conference at the National Press Club earlier today that conservative Christians are prepared to die in the fight over gay marriage, just like the Christian students in Kenya who were recently murdered by radical Islamic terrorists.
Jackson, who was the 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, added that gay marriage is “sowing the seeds of our eternal destruction” as it is removing people's reliance on God’s truth. “We will give our lives standing for the truth,” he said.
Janet Boynes, an ex-gay activist, also warned that the Supreme Court will try to send people “back to slavery” by ruling in favor of marriage equality, while preacher Rick Scarborough said that he is prepared to die over the marriage debate.
This morning, James Dobson, Mat Staver, and Rick Scarborough organized a press conference at the National Press club in support of their pledge to refuse to accept any Supreme Court ruling that legalizes gay marriage.
During his remarks, Scarborough declared that marriage equality is an attack on God and dismissed the idea that the majority of Americans support gay marriage by asserting that a majority of Americans once also supported segregation.
"I am not surprised that some recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans now say they approve of same-sex marriage," he said. "We have heard a steady drum beat for the last decade of a one-sided national discussion on the subject. But there was also a time when the majority of Americans in this country approved of separate restrooms and separate classrooms for black American citizens. The majority often gets it wrong."
"Marriage can no more include same-sex couples than a rock can fall up," Scarborough continued. "The court can no more redefine marriage than it can redefine gravity ... Today I declare before Heaven, I will no deny God, nor His word to curry any man's favor. With great caution should anyone indulge the notion that one can change what God has said ... To deny the created order is to attack God's very nature":
Last year, we produced a report noting that, prior to the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, anti-gay Religious Right activists issued all sorts of dire warnings about how the law would lead to Christianity being outlawed and pastors being tossed into prison. Five years after it was signed into law, none of their predictions had come true, but that is not stopping these same activists from continuing to issue the same sorts of absurd warnings.
Today, for the third day in a row, James Dobson dedicated his radio program to discussing the Supreme Court's upcoming marriage equality case with Mat Staver, Rick Scarborough, and Tim Wildom and, once again Scarborough warned that efforts to ban the use of "ex-gay" conversion therapy on minors will result in Christianity being outlawed and pastors being arrested and imprisoned.
Scarborough actually cited the 2009 Hate Crimes law in making his case, claiming that it was written so that any pastor who preaches against homosexuality can be charged as an accessory to a hate crime if someone who hears that sermon goes out an attacks somebody.
After admitting that this has not actually happened since the law was enacted, Scarborough warned that it will happen if conversion therapy for minors is banned.
"Once this law is passed, they're going to quickly mold around a whole legal strata of laws where they can begin coming after the more visible," he said. "They're going to do that with the most visible preachers, like us who are right now on the broadcast."
Later in the program, Dobson took issue with pastors "who are compassionate toward those who have attractions to same-sex individuals."
"I would like them to think, just for a moment, about 'LGBT,'" Dobson said. "The 'B' stand for bisexual! That's orgies! Are you really going to support this?"
On his radio program today, Family Talk's James Dobson hosted a discussion with Rick Scarborough of Vision America, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, and Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association about how anti-gay Christians should react if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on gay marriage.
As usual, most of the talk revolved around the call for right-wing Christians to engage in civil disobedience and resist any such ruling but, at one point, Scarborough and Dobson went off on a tangent, attacking President Obama for voicing his support for bans on "ex-gay" conversion therapy for minors, with Scarborough fuming that such bans will outlaw the teaching of the Gospel and are turning America into a nation like Saudi Arabia.
Scarborough said that if the Supreme Court strikes down gay marriage bans, then "our nation is now sanctioning a lifestyle that God forbids." He warned that such a ruling will endanger children by telling them that such relationships are okay while making it "illegal for me to share the Gospel with a child."
"That child grows up in his life never knowing right from wrong from a biblical perspective and they die and crash into Hell," Scarborough said. "So what we're discussing has eternal consequences."
Dobson was likewise outraged, saying that teaching young children about homosexuality is "draconian" and blasting Obama for opposing conversion therapy.
"What does the president of the United States, who knows nothing about this issue, have to do with telling the rest of us how live our lives?" Dobson bellowed.
"That's the kind of thing you'd hear if you were trying to teach the Scripture in a Muslim country," Scarborough added. "You can't say that in this country":
Echoing James Dobson, who said on the same call that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality could usher in a second civil war, Scarborough insisted that anti-gay activists must “fight until we die” to stop gay marriage, just as Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in his struggle against the Nazis.
“We don’t capitulate, we fight until we die, we push back with all our might,” Scarborough said. “This is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer moment for every preacher in America. This is a moment where we find whether the Christians who claim to know Jesus really confess Christ, that is what we’re attempting to find out.”
“There’s going to have to be a massive response to this if we get the adverse ruling that from all predictions will come apart from God’s intervention,” he continued.
“Are we going to sit back and let the country be destroyed? Or as believers, are we going to stand up and be counted?” he asked. “As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord for this, we’re going to go to jail if necessary, we are not going to take this just sitting back and watching it.”
Acknowledging that the Religious Right is now acting out of “desperation” to “oppose the destruction of marriage and the endowment of a wicked behavior,” Scarborough called on state judges to follow the example of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and refuse to recognize federal court rulings in favor of marriage equality.
Insisting that the Supreme Court will “silence” Christians and the “thousands of ‘former homosexuals,’” Scarborough compared a potential marriage equality ruling to Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell.
“Now the high court is threatening to unleash the spirit of hell on the nation, if they deny what nature clearly teaches on this subject of gender and marriage,” Scarborough said. “The time has come for pastors and leaders to stand up and declare what innately we all know to be true – that this idea is morally unacceptable and we will not allow it proceed without our objection. There can be no compromise on this issue.”
With all due respect, I must refuse to honor any ordinance or judicial ruling that makes restricting marriage to a union between one man and one woman, which God ordained and our nation throughout our history protected, invalid. Regardless of the consequences.
It is the duty of all Christ’s followers to lovingly uphold a standard of righteousness and be true to God’s Word, which never changes. God’s Word provides an offer of hope and forgiveness through Jesus to anyone who is caught up in sin, but if we compromise His Word, on what authority can we offer His hope?
Homosexuality is a sin – but it is not an unforgivable sin nor worse than any other sin. Though some who have chosen homosexuality may choose to reject me for saying this, I am willing to suffer such if that is the cost of being true to God’s Word. If Christians quietly allow marriage to be redefined, we will find ourselves being forced to be quiet as judges impose the acceptance of more and more aberrant behaviors.
We will soon find ourselves in a brave new world with tyrannical laws and regulations forcing us not only to accommodate same-sex marriage but to keep our message of love and forgiveness to ourselves, lest our message cause some to be offended. Paul spoke clearly about such a time as this: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
Those who are advancing this agenda want Christians to be silenced, thinking that to be a good thing. But if they succeed, they will cut off the very Gospel that can change their lives and provide hope and forgiveness, not only for sexual sin, but for all sin.
There are thousands of “former homosexuals” who can testify that Jesus has the power to set us free from any sin. Traditional marriage doesn’t discriminate. There are many former homosexuals now rearing their children in such marriages, and they are living proof of God’s forgiveness and matchless love.
That alone is reason enough for Christians to defend marriage as God designed it.
We must be reminded that the courts are not the final word on this subject. The Supreme Court has gotten it wrong more than they want to admit. More than 200 previous decisions of the Supreme Court have either been rescinded or overturned. Some of those past rulings have been infamous for wrongheadedness, like Dred Scott v. Sandford or Buck v. Bell.
Now the high court is threatening to unleash the spirit of hell on the nation, if they deny what nature clearly teaches on this subject of gender and marriage. The time has come for pastors and leaders to stand up and declare what innately we all know to be true – that this idea is morally unacceptable and we will not allow it proceed without our objection. There can be no compromise on this issue.
Anti-gay pastor Rick Scarborough, notorious for insisting that HIV/AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality, is working with Religious Right leader James Dobson, televangelist James Robison and conservative legal activist Mat Staver to recruit leading Religious Right activists and politicians to sign a pledge to commit civil disobedience in protest of a potential Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Scarborough told WorldNetDaily in an interview yesterday that once gay marriage becomes the law of the land, there will be mass arrests of Christians, even though such an event has never taken place in the dozens of states where gay marriage is legal. The government “better have a lot of prisons and jails,” Scarborough said, if they dare to legalize same-sex marriage.
He added that members of Congress “are lining up to sign the document” pledging to go to jail rather than recognize a Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
A team of prominent Christian leaders is preparing a statement that will inform the public – including justices on the U.S. Supreme Court – that they will engage in civil disobedience rather than follow a ruling that establishes homosexual “marriage” in the United States.
Among those leading the charge is James Dobson of Family Talk Radio, Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and James Robison of Life Today, whose brand new publication called The Stream reported on a recent telephone conference call discussing the issue.
Stream Executive Editor Jay Richards told WND there were about 20 other Christian leaders on the call. He said members of Congress have expressed an interest in the plan, which will be disclosed in the next few days in a statement regarding marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, Scarborough wasted no time in an interview with WND explaining what is, and is not, going to happen.
“We’re taking a very adamant stand,” he said. “If the court declares same-sex ‘marriage’ to be on the same par as a civil right, that’s a bridge too far. We won’t obey. We’ll go to jail.”
Scarborough confirmed congressmen “are lining up to sign the document.”
“The undeniable case is that when same-sex “marriage’ becomes, declared by the Supreme Court, as the law of the land, they will begin to enforce it, like all civil rights laws.”
That is where the civil disobedience will loom large.
“We’re saying, before that, we will never obey that tyrannical law. It’s counter to natural law, and God’s higher law.
“We will simply refuse to comply with recognizing same-sex ‘marriage’ as legitimate,” he said. “The Supreme Court does not have the inherent right [to make that change]. We’ll going to continue doing what we’ve always done.”
He said the hope is that thousands of churches and millions of Americans will join.
Those who plan to use the power of federal law enforcement to enforce same-sex marriage, he said, “better have a lot of prisons and jails.”
On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.
At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality.
Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.
1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail
While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.
The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”
Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.
Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”
Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.
2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues
Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.
Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:
Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:
This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”
3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism
Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.
Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.
What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.
Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:
4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It
Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.
Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”
“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”
5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other
One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.
Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.
Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":
It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.