Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress is out with a new book, “Countdown to the Apocalypse: Why ISIS and Ebola Are Only the Beginning,” and shared with Janet Mefferd yesterday some of the signs, besides ISIS and Ebola, that we are witnessing the Last Days.
One of the signs of the impending End Times, according to Jeffress, is the success of the gay rights movement, which he claimed is making people “desensitized” to the persecution of Christians and “will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist, to persecute and martyr Christians without any repercussions whatsoever.”
According to Jeffress, gay marriage has incontrovertibly driven down the marriage rate and is therefore undermining society.
“It is absolutely no coincidence that last year the marriage rate in the United States was the lowest it’s been in 93 years, and the reason is very clear,” he said. “If marriage is anything you want it to be, why bother to get married at all? Whenever you counterfeit something, you cheapen the value of the real thing, and gay marriage is a counterfeit marriage. What you’re doing is you’re causing all kinds of societal problems where there is not a stable family situation, where there are no marriages, partners come and go, and trying to rear children in that kind of involvement is a prescription for disaster.”
Jeffress and Mefferd also agreed that the book and film “Fifty Shades of Grey” — or as Jeffress called it, “Fifty Shades of Perversion” — is are signs that we are seeing the End Times.
Robert Jeffress was the guest on James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program today, promoting his new book, "Countdown to the Apocalypse: Why ISIS and Ebola Are Only the Beginning," where he made his case that acceptance of gay marriage is proof that we are now living in the End Times.
"I think the greatest sign of the End Times that we see in our country right now is the increasing moral disorder in our country that we're seeing played out in our culture right now," the prominent Southern Baptist pastor said. "Especially in the realm of gay marriage. What was thought to be unbelievable just 10 or 20 years ago, our culture is now celebrating. A perversion that was once condemned is now celebrated."
Jeffress went on to warn that the Supreme Court will most likely strike down all the gay marriage bans in America relatively soon and then gay activists "will not rest, these extremists, until they make us all bow down and bless what God has called a perversion."
The Bible warns, Jeffress said, that "in the Last Days, there will be no restraint and you see that not only in the acceptance of gay marriage, but also in abortion, you see it in the lawlessness where police officers are gunned down routinely. All of these things are a sign of the Last Days":
Pastor Robert Jeffress was a guest on AFA's "Today's Issues" program this morning where he voiced his offense at a joke about Jesus made recently by the host of the NPR game show "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!," saying that such attacks on Christianity should not come as a surprise considering that our society is "under Satan's control."
"There's not just only a war on Christmas, there's a war on Christianity," Jeffress said. "It began two thousand years ago when Herod tried to kill Christ and it's been continuing ever since then ... There is a kingdom of God and there is a kingdom of Satan, of light and darkness that are at war with one another and this world system is under Satan's control, at least temporarily."
Jeffress went on to say that the fact that it is "open season on Christianity while every other world religion is treated with respect" is proof that Christianity is true.
"The Bible teaches that the Gospel is an offense to people," he explained, "and I think we can point out to unbelievers, you know, the fact that Christianity is singled out for attack probably gives validity to the authenticity of the Christian faith":
While filling in for Bryan Fischer on the "Focal Point" radio program today, guest host Fred Jackson interviewed pastor Robert Jeffress about last night's "I Stand Sunday" event in Houston. Jeffress said he hoped that the event would wake Christians up to the fact that their religion is under attack by Satan and that this nation is well on its way the wholesale persecution of Christians.
When Jackson asked why Christians are being attacked in America while there are no similar sorts of attacks against Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, or "Islamics," Jeffress said that it was obviously due to the fact that Satan "has been trying to extinguish the Christian message ever since he inspired Herod to try to kill the Christ child."
"There is a spiritual reason why Christianity is uniquely under attack like this," he said, as he and Jackson both hoped that the controversy in Houston will wake Americans up to the fact that "spiritual warfare is very real."
Jeffress admitted that the so-called "persecution" of Christians in America is nothing like what is experienced by Christians in other countries, but warned that this nation is still marching down the path toward that same sort of persecution happening here in the very near future.
"You start, first of all, by marginalizing Christians," he said, "which Christians are increasingly being marginalized. And then you paint them as extremists, which is what is happening right now. And then once you've succeeded in turning the public's attitude toward Christians as that of being extremists, then it's okay to launch a persecution against them. And I believe that's what's happening right now and I believe we're going to see it increasingly occur":
Two current Religious Right fixations — the “persecution” of American Christians and the need for conservatives to do more to influence the pop culture — have come together in movies like “Persecuted” and “We the People—Under Attack.” The latest entry, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty,” was screened by Rick Santorum at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night.
Santorum said the movie will be released in September. His EchoLight Cinemas is trying to create an alternative to Hollywood distribution channels by building a network of thousands of tech-equipped churches who will sell tickets for "One Generation Away" and other movies. He says the long-term strategy is to bring more people into churches and put the church back at the center of the culture.
"One Generation Away" is described as a documentary, but it’s really a preaching-to-the-choir call to arms for conservative Christians and pastors to get more involved in culture war battles while they still have the freedom to do so. Among the film’s producers are Donald and Tim Wildmon from the American Family Association, which Santorum said is packaging a shorter version of the movie into more of an activist tool.
The title comes from Ronald Reagan – specifically from a speech to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 1961, a time in which Reagan was working with conservatives to rally opposition to Medicare – “socialized medicine”:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
The thrust of "One Generation Away" is that religious freedom in the United States is disappearing fast, and if the church doesn’t fight for it now, it will soon be gone forever. Before running the film on Monday, Santorum quoted Cardinal Francis George, who said during the debate about insurance coverage of contraception, “I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison. I expect his successor to be a martyr.” That’s just the kind of hyperbolic “religious persecution” rhetoric we have come to expect from Religious Right leaders and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy.
At one point toward the end of the movie, it seems as if the filmmakers might be striking a more reasonable tone, with a couple of speakers saying that Christians should stand up for the rights of people of different faiths — even though the AFA’s chief spokesman opposes First Amendment protections for non-Christians— and others actually acknowledging that it is problematic for American Christians to be complaining of “religious persecution” over policy disputes when Christians and others are facing horrific, deadly persecution in many other parts of the world.
But that caution is quickly abandoned as the movie makes a direct comparison of the status of the Christian church in America with the church in Germany as the Nazis came to power. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who tried to mobilize German Christians to resist Nazi tyranny and was executed by the regime, is held up as the model that American Christians need to be willing to follow.
Eric Metaxas, a Bonhoeffer biographer who became a Religious Right folk hero when he questioned President Obama’s faith at a National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, warned that if the church doesn’t link arms to fight, all will be lost. “The good news,” he said, “is that the American church is slightly more attuned to the rumbling heard in the distance than the German church was in the 30s. The bad news is, only slightly, right?”
The movie cuts to Mike Huckabee saying that Bonhoeffer could have saved his life if he had been willing to soften his faith, but that instead he resisted and rebuked the Nazi regime. And then we’re back to Metaxas to complete the Nazi analogy:
“The parallel today is simply that. You have a government, a state, which is getting larger and larger and more and more powerful, and is beginning to push against the church. There’s a window of opportunity where we can fight. If we don’t wake up and fight before then, we won’t be able to fight. That’s just what happened in Germany. And that’s the urgency we have in America now. And people that’s incendiary, or I’m being hyperbolic. I’m sorry, I wish, I wish, I wish I were. I’m not.”
Filmmakers said at the screening that they had conducted 75 interviews for the movie, and it sure feels like it. It includes names that will be well-known to RWW readers, like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Alveda King, Robert George, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration, and Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation.
Also appearing are Rep. Doug Collins; Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress; Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the infamous and discredited Regnerus “family structures” study; Stephen McDowell of the dominionist Providence Foundation; Gregory Thornbury of Kings College; lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Beckett Fund, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; and a number of pastors.
The film also includes interviews with some opponents of the Religious Right, including Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Princeton’s Peter Singer, and Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Santorum told the audience at Heritage that he wishes he had even more of his opponents included in the film because “they scare the hell out of me” and would help motivate the right-wing base.
In order to keep the movie from being one brutally long succession of talking heads, the filmmakers resort to a tactic of constantly shifting scenes, a couple of seconds at a time, in a way that feels like they got a volume discount on stock images of Americana: boats on the water, kids playing softball, families walking together. There are also odd random fillers, like close-ups of the pattern on a couch in the room in which a speaker is sitting. The endless, repetitive succession of images actually makes the film feel even longer than it actually is. (Zack Ford at ThinkProgress had a similar reaction to this technique.)
The meat of the film, or the “red meat,” mixes the personal stories of people being victimized by intolerant secularists and/or gay activists with miniature David Bartonesque lectures on the Christian roots of America’s founding; the fact that the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the U.S. Constitution; the notion that the American government is trying to replace “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” and require any expression of faith to take place behind church walls; and the disgracefulness of making any analogies between the civil rights movement and the LGBT equality movement. The 1947 Supreme Court decision in which Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase was invoked by the Court and “changed everything” is portrayed as nothing more than a reflection of Justice Hugo Black’s hatred of Catholics.
Featured “persecution” stories include:
In spite of the parade of horrors, the movie tries to end on an upbeat note, saying that the early Christian church expanded while it was being suppressed, and that it will only take “one spark of revival” to change the nation. A familiar theme at Religious Right conferences is that blame for America’s decline rests with churches that don’t speak up and pastors who don’t preach or lead aggressively enough. One Generation Away ends on this point, telling Christian pastors it is their responsibility to wake up and challenge their congregants to live their faith “uncompromisingly.”
During the Q&A after the screening, Santorum said the fact that Hobby Lobby was a 5-4 decision demonstrated the importance of the 2016 election. “Part of me almost wishes we’d lost,” says Santorum, because that would have made the threat clearer to conservative activists. “We are one judge away,” he said, adding that “if we get a Democratic president, our five, or four-and-a-half, justices are not going to hold out forever.”
“I just worry,” he said to the young people in the audience, “that the longer we delay, and America sleeps, and your generation is indoctrinated the way it is, the harder it will be to come back.”
Surprise! Yesterday, the same Republican politician who tried to save his foundering presidential campaign with a gay-baiting TV ad defended ex-gay therapy and compared homosexuality to alcohol abuse.
Speaking at a summit in California, Texas Gov. Rick Perry responded to questions about the Texas Republican Party’s endorsement of ex-gay therapy in its new far-right platform by arguing that homosexuality is like alcoholism: “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. 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.”
Perry is far from the only Republican figure to have expressed this view.
Another former GOP presidential candidate who is also considering a second run, Gov. Mike Huckabee, likened homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2009 interview with Esquire:
Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: "Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."
Fellow 2012 presidential contender Rick Santorum cited “people who were gay and lived a gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore” as a reason to oppose gay rights. Michele Bachmann’s husband heads a clinic that practices ex-gay therapy. Ted Cruz’s father and political adviser, Rafael Cruz, has defended ex-gay therapy as legitimate “biblical” counseling, adding, “sexual orientation is a choice, it’s not a civil right.”
Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema recently got in trouble with his own party after he, among other offensive remarks, compared gay people to alcoholics. So did top Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Tony Perkins. Robert Jeffress, a Texas pastor close to Perry, also “equates being gay with alcoholism or a genetic proclivity toward violence,” according to the Dallas-based D Magazine.
Despite story after story about the GOP’s purported shift on gay rights, the party is still mired in anti-gay bigotry.
Robert Jeffress was a guest on the American Family Association's "Today's Issues" radio program yesterday where he warned that it is probably inevitable that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality and when that day comes, the federal government will then set about shutting down any opposition to gay marriage by revoking the broadcasting licenses of Christian radio stations.
"What about stations who have license that are granted by the FCC?," he asked. "Can the FCC support stations that engage in hate speech or intolerance or that discriminate against the constitutional rights of others? I think that could very well be the basis for denying licenses to Christian stations around the country that want to broadcast the truth":
Yes, this is probably exactly what will happen, just as the government systematically shut down Christian radio stations for opposing abortion after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to choose back in 1973, which is why we never hear the Religious Right talk about this issue these days.
Last night, members of Congress and Religious Right activists gathered in Statuary Hall inside the US Capitol for an annual event called "Washington: A Man of Prayer" at which they honored George Washington by collectively praying that God would protect and defend the United States of America.
Hosted by Mike Huckabee, the two hour event featured a variety of elected leaders, such as Rep. Tim Huelskamp and Rep. Steve King, who spoke together from the podium. Huelskamp asserted that God is at the heart of America because there is a small chapel located literally in the very center of the continent in Kansas, while King proclaimed that America was established by God.
"When He moved the Founding Fathers around like men on a chessboard," King said, "it was preordained. He guided them." Asserting that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written with "divine guidance," King declared that, as such, Americans must be "very aware of how God brought forth this nation":
Among the other speakers at the event was Jonathan Cahn, author of "The Harbinger" which claims that 9/11 was God's judgment upon America and that rebuilding the Freedom Tower without properly humbling ourselves before God was an act of utter defiance.
During his remarks, Cahn made this same case, saying that America is calling good evil and evil good and passing "laws that war against the laws of the almighty" which is why this nation experienced the wrath of God at Ground Zero just as ancient Israel did:
Cahn was followed by Robert Jeffress, who asserted that while some issues such as taxes or immigration reform ought to be rightly debated by the government, other issues like abortion and gay marriage "are beyond debate, for the judge of the universe has already rendered his opinion":
Jim Garlow made a similar point during his remarks, saying that there is no way that this nation can expect God's blessings is abortion remains legal and gay marriage is accepted.
"Can we actually expect the blessing of God when we violate the ways of God?," Garlow asked. "He's God, we're not. We really need him!"
Fox News pundit Todd Starnes is outraged that TV shows these days include “families with two mommies or two daddies or a mommy who identifies as a daddy,” arguing in a Charisma column today that the gay community is largely responsible for the rise of divorce and single parent households.
Starnes interviewed Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who told him that marriage equality for same-sex couples “is having devastating sociological effects” because “when you counter something, you cheapen its value.”
“The traditional nuclear family is on the verge of disaster,” Starnes writes. “And once the nuclear family explodes, the United States should brace for a cultural Armageddon.”
I grew up in a time when father still knew best—when Mr. Cunningham was dispensing words of wisdom to Fonzie, when Andy took Opie fishing and when Cliff Huxtable declared that he brought his son into the world and he could take him out. It was a time when Hollywood reinforced the values of the traditional American family. Television shows like The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and The Brady Bunch presented portraits of strong families where parents ruled the roost and children knew their place.
Those days are long gone. Nowadays, children know best and dads are portrayed as dithering dolts. Instead of a mom and dad and two kids, the cul-de-sac includes families with two mommies or two daddies or a mommy who identifies as a daddy—and they’ve been saddled with gender-neutral offspring.
Critics might argue that the nation’s divorce rate is actually declining. But [Robert] Jeffress believes that’s evidence of a much greater problem.
“Fewer and fewer people are getting married, so fewer people are getting divorced,” he says. “The overall health of the American family is in critical condition.”
Jeffress believes the legalization of same-sex marriage has “cheapened” traditional marriage.
“When you counter something, you cheapen its value,” he says. “When you say marriage is whatever you want it to be, people begin wondering—why bother getting married anyway? This counterfeit of marriage is having devastating sociological effects. More kids are being raised in one-parent homes. You simply cannot break God’s most basic moral law without serious ramifications.”
What Can We Do?
The solution is simultaneously simple yet challenging. Simple in that we must return to God’s pattern for the family. God is the one who created the family. Before the church, He created the family—the fundamental unit of community.
Yet re-establishing that unit as God intended it within our culture is easier said than done, obviously, because of the fervent opposition to biblical values.
The warning signs are all around us. The traditional nuclear family is on the verge of disaster. And once the nuclear family explodes, the United States should brace for a cultural Armageddon.
Can we prevent such a catastrophe by returning to God’s design for the family? Like it or not, answering that question begins with the church.
Robert Jeffress was interviewed yesterday about the decision by a federal judge striking down Texas' same-sex marriage ban. Not surprisingly, he did not agree with the ruling, declaring that there is no such thing as a constitutional right to marry, which is why siblings are not allow to marry one another.
It was God who created the institution of marriage to be between one man and one woman, Jeffress stated, warning that America will not survive if it continues to condone "what God has condemned."
"As an American," he said, "I also realize that no nation can survive that condones what God has condemned. And God has condemned homosexuality, just like he does adultery or per-marital sex, as being wrong and, as a nation, we cannot be blessed by God if we're rejecting God":
Oddly, we don't see a lot of Religious Right activists leading efforts to outlaw adultery and per-marital sex or make it legal to discriminate against people on such grounds.
Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress warned today that churches that don’t embrace right-wing politics are going to “surrender the control and the direction of this country to the godless, immoral infidels who hate God.”
He made the remarks at a National Religious Broadcasters convention press conference that also featured Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and pastor Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. During the press conference, Paul Stanley of the Christian Post asked Jeffress about pastor John MacArthur, a conservative megachurch pastor who at times has criticized the Religious Right.
Jeffress responded that MacArthur’s views would have silenced pastors protesting Nazism: “It’s that kind of thinking among German pastors that allowed for the Holocaust. I would ask anybody who would use that reasoning: ‘Then you would’ve stayed quiet while Adolf Hitler was slaughtering the Jewish people, six million of them?’”
Jeffress also predicted that soon all same-sex marriage bans will fall and as a result, the government will implement “hate speech” laws that would take away the free speech rights of gay rights opponents and put people in jail.
Senators and presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will head to Iowa this week as featured speakers at a closed-door event for conservative pastors that has been organized by David Lane, an anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Mormon, Christian-nation absolutist who has declared war, not only on secularism and separation of church and state, but also on establishment Republicans who don’t embrace his vision of an America in which the Bible serves as “the principle textbook” for public education and a “Christian culture” has been “re-established.” He decries Supreme Court rulings on prayer and Bible reading in public schools, and says, “It’s easily defended that America was founded by Christians, as a Christian nation.”
Cruz and Paul may be motivated by the fact that a similar David Lane-organized pastors briefing is credited with Mike Huckabee’s win in the 2008 Iowa caucus. Evangelical political strategist Doug Wead has described Lane as “the mysterious, behind the scenes, evangelical kingmaker who stormed into Iowa in 2008 and tilted the whole thing from Romney to Huckabee,” even though subsequent renewal projects failed to deliver South Carolina and Florida to Huckabee.
Still, Lane, a self-described “political operative,” has plans that go well beyond Iowa. The “Rediscovering God in America” event scheduled for July 17 and 18 is just one of an ongoing series of pastors briefings that are central to the American Renewal Project’s 12-state strategy to turn out conservative evangelical voters in the 2013-2014 election cycle. (Those states: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Nevada, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.)
In December, Lane described his project’s goal this way: “to engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture.” And he has a clear message to representatives and senators: “Vote to restore the Bible and prayer in public schools or be sent home. Hanging political scalps on the wall is the only love language politicians can hear.”
Lane is abundantly clear about his belief that the choice facing America is a return to its founding as a Christian nation or a continued descent into what he describes as paganism. He wrote in December:
America was a Christian nation. The Mayflower Compact declared, “In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, having undertaken – for the glory of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith…”
Let’s decide if America is a Christian nation or a pagan nation – and get on with it; the sooner the better.
Lane told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that “America has left God” and that “unrighteousness” is “the greatest threat to freedom.” Brody says Lane “believes it’s time to remove politicians from office who have led America down this immoral and unsustainable broken path.”
A Christian-Nation Warrior Within the GOP
To be fair to Paul and Cruz, they are only the latest Republican presidential hopefuls who have allied themselves with the zealous David Lane in order to tap his network of politically engaged pastors. Lane has been holding “pastors briefings” in 15 states since the mid-1990s. He wrote last year that state Restoration and Renewal projects had hosted more than 10,000 pastors and spouses in ten states since 2005 alone, in events that have been used to engage pastors in anti-gay initiative battles and introduce them to politicians favored by Lane. Pastors’ expenses are covered with money from the American Family Association and other religious right mega-donors. The American Renewal Project operates as a project of the AFA; Lane also operates the California-based Pastors and Pews.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is also reportedly scheduled to participate in this week’s Iowa gathering, which may confirm his apparent interest in another run for the presidency. Perry has a long-term relationship with Lane. In 2005 and 2006, Lane and his network played a huge role in mobilizing support for Perry’s re-election as governor. Six pastors briefings were held around the state, and all six were addressed by Perry. As Governor, Perry hasn’t disappointed Lane and his friends.
Heading into the 2012 election cycle, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour, and Newt Gingrich spoke to 600 pastors, ministry leaders and spouses at a March 2011 Iowa Renewal Project Pastor’s Policy Briefing. But as the primaries approached, Lane was not satisfied with the field. He played a key role in organizing conservative religious leaders to push Perry into the presidential race. And he masterminded and served as national finance chair for “The Response”, an August 2011 prayer rally that served as Perry’s unofficial campaign launch.
Lane enthusiastically applauded anti-Mormon attacks on Mitt Romney made by Perry backer Robert Jeffress at the Values Voter Summit in October 2011. The Daily Beast revealed emails between Lane and religious broadcaster Dick Bott in which Lane praised Jeffress, saying the message “juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false god of Mormonism, is very important in the larger scheme of things.”
After Perry’s candidacy imploded, Religious Right leaders split between Gingrich and Santorum, dooming last-ditch efforts to prevent Romney from becoming the GOP nominee. Lane backed Gingrich. He organized a conference call in Florida in late January 2012 to which he said he invited some 125,000 Florida evangelicals, including 2,400 pastors; the call reportedly had 1,000 participants and a recording was emailed to the other 124,000. But obviously he failed to prevent Romney from becoming the nominee.
During the flap over Perry backers’ attacks on Romney’s Mormonism, Lane had actually told broadcaster Bott that he would sit out the 2012 elections rather than vote for Romney. But whether or not Lane actually cast his personal vote for Romney, he continued mobilizing conservative Christians in an effort to defeat Barack Obama. In Ohio, for example, Lane was part of a major effort by Republican evangelicals to put Romney over the top in that state. Lane organized “several glitzy mass rallies for the state’s churchgoers featuring high-profile religious and political leaders,” the Washington Times reported last November. Lane and Ralph Reed each produced voter guides for “Ohio’s faithful.”
Although Perry’s tanking disrupted Lane’s plans to get conservative evangelicals to coalesce around a single candidate in 2012, it seems clear that he has similar intentions for 2016. He told the Houston Chronicle in June, “We’re going to try to eliminate the stuff that they [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and Romneys left.”
At War With the GOP
Lane’s comment about “the McCains and Romneys” is just the tip of the iceberg of contempt that he has for what he sees as a cowardly, compromising Republican establishment. He denounces moderate Republicans who are “bound and determined to deposit homosexuality – and homosexual marriage – into the Grand Old Party.” And he insists, “Those doing this to our country must be removed from office and from leadership.” (These aren’t necessarily idle threats: Lane was at the center of the successful 2010 campaign to remove from office three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had been part of a unanimous ruling in favor of marriage equality. “Lane called the judges “Judicial Gods” who believe they have the “right to rule a free people” and “impose their will” however they see fit.”)
Lane was outraged last year when many Republican Party leaders abandoned Senate candidate Todd Akin in the wake of his infamous comments about “legitimate rape”— Lane was especially indignant because at the same time the GOP was backing openly gay Senate candidate Richard Tisei in Massachusetts. Lane mobilized support for Akin among conservative pastors and complained loudly about the GOP. “Following the pounding of Todd Akin by the GOP kings and lieutenants in the last 36 hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real issue is the soul of America,” he wrote in an email to activists. In October, almost 400 pastors who had gathered for a Pastors’ Policy Briefing in Missouri prayed over Akin, whose cause Lane said was “the opening battle for the soul of the Republican Party.” After all, he argues, “someone’s values must reign supreme.”
After the 2012 elections, Lane drew his battle lines:
The moderate GOP chieftains and lieutenants’ philosophy of government and set of values – in the long run – are incompatible with Christian morality and principles. As these secular “pastors” – the GOP chieftains and lieutenants – seek to bully and dictate their worldly, amoral ethics – according to their importance, omnipotence and power of the purse – there can be no amicability and meeting of minds….
Christian conservatives are coming to their moment of truth within the Republican Party. Be friendly and disarm, or annoy and aggravate the GOP kings and lieutenants by laying down the law on Christian principles and Christian values.
Another way to put it is: I don’t think that “restoring America” is a Christian imperative. Being a witnesses [sic] to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the imperative. If that restores America, wonderful; if it means that America collapses – like Rome – the byproduct of the Permanent Republican Majority or a decadent, sinful, immoral culture and people, the church is God’s permanent “nation.”
Lane writes that after launching a public fight for putting the Bible, Jesus, the Ten Commandments back into public schools, “then we will watch Providence call for ‘punishment executed by angels‘ to those who oppose His word.”
Lane says he believes there is “good news in the current Republican collapse and failure – brought about as a byproduct of the amoral, empty philosophy of the Permanent Republican majority” – and that is a political opening for evangelicals. In February, Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody said that Lane’s battle against Republicans who are more worried about the party than “sustaining a moral and righteous nation” is “the next confrontation to watch.”
Pastors as Cause of and Solution to America’s Descent into Hell
It is a recurring theme at Religious Right gatherings that the real reason for America’s slide from greatness into moral decay is that its preachers aren’t preaching aggressively enough. Lane is also in this camp. The relatively media-shy Lane told the New York Times in 2011, “From my perspective, our country is going to hell because pastors won’t lead from the pulpits.”
He complains that the “the Church didn’t even shudder when the Bible, prayer, Jesus, and the Ten Commandments were removed from the public schools in 1963.” And he says there was “not a peep from the Christian Church” in response to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, when the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”
Lane is fond of quoting Peter Leithart’s Between Babel and Beast. Last fall he included this segment in one of his frequently repetitive online commentaries:
American churches have too long discipled Christians in Americanism, and that makes Christian involvement in the American polity far smoother than it ought to be. Churches must repent of our Americanism and begin to cultivate martyrs—believers who are martyrs in the original sense of ‘witness’ and in the later sense of men and women ready to follow the Lamb all the way to an imperial cross.
In a different commentary, this one for WND, Lane also quotes from Between Babel and Beast:
Until American churches actually function as outposts of Jesus’ heavenly empire rather than as cheerleaders for America – until the churches produce martyrs rather than patriots – the political witness of Christians will continue to be diluted and co-opted.
Lane also quotes Leithart in a June 2013 commentary that seemed to be too much even for the virulent WND, which has removed the post. Here’s part of the Leithart he approvingly quotes:
Americanists cannot break Babelic or bestial power because they cannot distinguish heretical Americanism from Christian orthodoxy. Until we do, America will lurch along the path that leads from Babel to Beast. If America is to be put in its place – put right – Christians must risk martyrdom and force Babel to the crux where it has to decide either to acknowledge Jesus [as] imperator and the church as God’s imperium or to begin drinking holy blood.
To that bracing section Lane adds his own words:
Where are the champions of Christ to save the nation from the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage, homosexual scouts, 60 million babies done to death by abortion and red ink as far as the eye can see on America? Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?...
As to the future of America – and the collapse of this once-Christian nation – Christians must not only be allowed to have opinions, but politically, Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America and quit believing the fabricated whopper of the ‘Separation of Church and State,” the lie repeated ad nauseum by the left and liberals to keep Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning, and pagan media….
Christian America is in ruins…
You ask, “What is our goal?” To wage war to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage with all of our might and strength that God will give us. You ask, “what is our aim?” 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 sees the solution as the political organizing he does among pastors. “Bible-believing pastor,” he wrote last fall, “without overstating it, the survival of America is on your shoulders.” According to the New York Times, at a 2011 briefing in Iowa Mike Huckabee “lavished praise on Mr. Lane for ‘bringing pastors together so they go back to their pulpits and light them on fire with enthusiasm, to make America once again the greatest country on earth under God.’”
Lane’s increasingly war-like rhetoric has given people pause. Lane frequently closes his commentaries – including the one recently pulled from WND -- with the question, “Will a Gideon or Rahab the Harlot please stand.” In the Old Testament, Gideon is called by God to defeat the armies of enemies of the Israelites and end the worship of false gods. Rahab the Harlot is another Old Testament character: she enabled the Israelites’ conquest of the city of Jericho by helping two spies sent into the city by Joshua. She and her family were the only ones spared when the city was destroyed and every other man, woman and child was killed. Politicians who stand with Lane might consider asking him just what he means by his frequently repeated calls for a Gideon or Rahab to stand up among American evangelicals.
This IS the Religious Right – and the GOP’s Dominant Right Wing
Sadly, Lane’s extremist views and rhetoric do not make him much of an outlier among today’s hard-right political figures. He is closely allied with major Religious Right leaders and has no problem attracting current and former members of Congress and Republican presidential aspirants to his closed-door gatherings. Among those scheduled to take part in this week’s Iowa event are Christian-nation “historian” David Barton, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, and the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon. In 2010, Lane joined Barton and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, and Lane offered a 12-day, $4000, Next Great Awakening Tour of historical sites in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington.
Also part of this week’s program in Iowa is Lane’s friend Laurence White, who says “if we do not stop abortion then God will destroy and God should destroy America.” Another participant is Ken Canfield, who ran for Governor of Kansas in 2006 on a platform calling for a “no exceptions” ban on abortion; he came in second in a crowded GOP primary .
Lane, like other Religious Right leaders, sees the acceptance of homosexuality as a sign that America has turned its back on God. In one column he approvingly cites an author who describes gays and lesbians as “parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.” Last summer he asked pastors to “exhort the flock, entrusted to you by the Living God, to refrain from shopping at Target Stores until its leadership ends pushing homosexual marriage in America.”
He’s even got the Tea Party’s anti-big-government rhetoric down. He wrote in February as sequestration approached, “we should immediately begin the mobilization of pastors and pews to contact—read tongue-lash and rail against – local Congressman and U.S. Senators to decry the immoral debt being piled on our kids and grandkids because Congress lacks the guts to make hard, painful decisions and cut spending.”
In fact, Lane covers all the issues important to the modern day right, connecting them to court decisions upholding the separation of church and state, which he says created a religion of secularism:
This ‘religion of secularism’ has produced red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration, tax-funded abortion, homosexual marriage in several States, Evangelicals held in contempt, and God expelled from the classrooms of America – and the public square.
Lane is connected to Champion the Vote, a project of United in Purpose, which had aimed to unseat President Obama with an effort “to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.” United in Purpose produced DVDs of Lane’s 2011 event in Orlando to distribute for house parties. In the wake of Rick Perry’s supposedly non-political “Response” rally, the American Family Association sent out emails to those who registered for the event to engage them in Champion the Vote. It said the Response “was just the beginning of a nationwide initiative to return America to the principles on which she was founded, with God at the center of our nation.”
Politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul should be held to account for partnering politically with David Lane. But given the increasingly small differences between the GOP’s right wing and its really right wing, we probably shouldn’t expect politicians cozying up to Lane to show any discomfort with his extremism. As Ted Cruz said in another context, “If standing for liberty , if standing for free market principle and the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then, then I am a very proud wacko bird.”
Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas spoke about his role in the anti-choice demonstrations in Austin, Texas, yesterday with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios, who in turn shared with Jeffress the real force behind abortion rights: promiscuous men.
“It is generally, from my opinion, the promiscuous white men who are pushing abortion,” Rios said. “I would even say the promiscuous black ones like our president, oh forgive me I shouldn’t say that, but they’re the ones who want sexual license, they do not want responsibility; abortion has always helped men more than it helps women.”
Jeffress predicted that the Supreme Court might take up a new challenge to Roe and claimed that “Roe v. Wade was the Dred Scott decision of our generation.”
The megachurch pastor maintained that abortion rights opponents will “buy a little more time for our country before God’s judgment” comes to America for decriminalizing abortion, just as God punished Israel and Nazi Germany: “He raised up the Babylonians and the Assyrians to judge Israel for engaging in child sacrifice; he raised up the Allied forces to crush Nazi Germany for taking kids to the gas chambers by the trainloads.”