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.”
Televangelist Robert Jeffress appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s flagship program Praise the Lord last week to discuss the opening of his new $130 million megachurch campus and the controversy surrounding Tim Tebow’s scheduled but since cancelled appearance. Jeffress, who has a history of using virulently anti-gay rhetoric, argued that homosexuality violates God’s design for sex.
“Think about this one time in heaven God was sitting up there with his sketch pad and he said, ‘you know I’m going to design human beings and would it be fun of they started doing this together with one another,’” Jeffress explained. “God dreamed up sex, He thought it up for our enjoyment, He gave us the equipment to enjoy it with.”
He went on to claim that homosexuality is like plugging a TV into a 220-volt power outlet rather than the recommended 120 outlet “because those are antiquated instructions” and “it’s my TV and I can do whatever I want to with it.”
“Well it is my TV to do what I want to with it but I’m going to blow that TV into smithereens if I put it in a 220 outlet,” Jeffress said.
First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, who made headlines when Tim Tebow backed out of an upcoming appearance at his new $130 million megachurch campus, spoke at length about the controversy during a recent appearance on the Alan Colmes Radio Show. Jeffress complained that he had been taken out of context and tried to downplay and sidestep some of his most explosive remarks. But for the most part, he just cemented his reputation as an extremist.
Jeffress began his defense on an inauspicious note, noting that he has a Jewish friend in New York so he can’t possibly be anti-Semitic. While we’ve never called him anti-Semitic, we have noted that Jeffress believes Jews are destined for hell – along with Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and gays, so at least they’ll have company.
Colmes asked Jeffress about many of his most contentious remarks, such as whether he ever said that “Roman Catholicism is Satanic.” “I never used the term ‘Satanic,’” Jeffress responded. That’s technically true but highly misleading: Jeffress has said Satan is behind the Catholic Church. It only got more disingenuous from there.
Jeffress relegated the overwhelming majority of the world’s Catholics to hell while trying to make it sound like he was doing no such thing:
I believe today that there are millions of Catholics who are gonna be in heaven because of the relationship with Christ. I work with Catholic priests in our community. We march together on the pro-life issues. I think there are millions of Catholics who are in heaven.
There are over one billion Catholics alive today around the world, and there have been countless more over the course of nearly two millennia. Jeffress wants to assure us that he’s not an extremist who would just assign all Catholics to hell. So instead he damned about 99% and saved “millions” from eternal damnation. Lucky for Jeffress, they’re the same ones that show up for anti-abortion rallies. What are the odds?
Jeffress also tried to clear up a misunderstanding about President Obama and the Antichrist. He does not believe that Obama is the Antichrist per se, as some have reported, but merely believes that Obama is paving the way for the Antichrist, as we first reported. Gee, I can't imagine why there was confusion.
Jeffress was only willing to fully own up to one of his comments. “Mormonism, you said, Islam, is from the pit of hell?” Colmes asked. “Yes, now that one they actually got right Al,” responded Jeffress.
After Tim Tebow canceled his scheduled speaking engagement at Robert Jeffress' church last week, Bryan Fischer lashed out at the "bigoted bullies at Big Gay" who were supposedly responsible for pressuring Tebow into backing down.
Jeffress' addressed the controversy in a defiant sermon on Sunday that apparently send a thrill up Fischer's spine, as he played a lengthy excerpt from it on his radio program today ... but not before declaring that Jeffress is now "the most important man in America" and predicting that the Tebow controversy represents a "turning point in the culture war; we perhaps have bottomed out and with Dr. Jeffress taking such a strong and unapologetic stand for the truth, maybe we are beginning now to climb out of the abyss":
Earlier this month we broke the story that Tim Tebow was scheduled to appear at a megachurch led by far-right pastor Robert Jeffress. Today, Tebow announced on Twitter that he is pulling out of the event “due to new information that has been brought to my attention.”
Jeffress has claimed that Roman Catholicism is Satanic, criticized Mormonism and Islam as faiths from the “pit of Hell,” warned that President Obama is ushering in the Antichrist and frequently attacked gays and lesbians.
The preacher has been making the rounds on conservative media denying claims about his extremist rhetoric, and yesterday told radio host Janet Mefferd that liberals simply cannot understand his words because they are “spiritually blinded” and are “the most intolerant and hateful people.”
He added that Tebow won’t cancel his appearance “as long as he listens to the Holy Spirit and to God’s voice.”
Or maybe Tebow is just another victim of gay brainwashing:
UPDATE: In an interview today with fellow anti-gay activist Tim Wildmon, the president of the American Family Association, Jeffress said that Tebow told him “he would like to come back to our church at a later date” once the current controversy blows over.
While Tim Tebow is struggling to find an NFL team that is willing to sign him, he is apparently having no problem booking speaking gigs as the Jets’ backup quarterback is scheduled to address a Texas megachurch whose pastor is notorious for extremist statements about Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, gays and lesbians and President Obama.
Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas gained national attention during his appearance at the Values Voter Summit where he urged Christians to oppose Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the GOP nomination for president because his Mormon faith makes him a member of a “cult” that is “from the pit of Hell.”
Even though Jeffress said that supporting a Mormon would have “eternal consequences” that “outweigh political ones” and lead to God’s judgment, he ended up backing Romney over Obama, whom Jeffress believes is “paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
Besides Muslims, Jeffress labeled Roman Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists as cult followers. He has called Islam an “evil, evil religion” and claimed that Muslims, Mormons and Jews are destined to Hell.
Jeffress also attacked Roman Catholicism, which he maintains represents “the genius of Satan,” and suggested that Catholics too will go to Hell.
The megachurch pastor reserves some of his most stringent rhetoric for gays and lesbians.
He has described gays and lesbians as “perverse,” “miserable” and “abnormal” people who engage in an “unnatural” and “filthy practice” that will lead to the “implosion of our country.” Jeffress argues that the gay community employs Chinese “brainwashing techniques” in order to have homosexuality “crammed down our throats.”
Televangelist Robert Jeffress used his sermon about Armageddon to argue that America’s defense policy must include banning same-sex marriage, ending abortion rights and weakening the separation of church and state, warning that they will otherwise lead to divine punishment.
Jeffress: I think we ought to have a strong military, but there is absolutely no amount of armaments we could require to protect ourselves against the judgment of almighty God. The best defense policy we could have as a nation, instead of just the acquisition of an endless number of armaments, the best defense policy we could have to protect our nation would be to turn away from ignoring God’s almighty law; to turn away and say no to these things that God has said no to; to turn around and repent from the murder of millions of children in the womb through abortion; to turn away and say no to what God has called an abomination, homosexual marriage; to say no to the continued allowance of God’s named to be blasphemed or be banned from the public square.
Robert Jeffress has warned that a vote for President Obama is a vote for the “future reign of the Antichrist,” and told Janet Mefferd yesterday that if Obama secures re-election and marriage equality wins at the ballot box (it did), then America “is going to bring about God’s judgment upon our country” by backing “evil” and “reject[ing] God and His law.” He added later that he expects Obama to impose hate speech laws that could be used to imprison pastors and will try to give the government the right to select a church’s pastors and priests.
Mefferd: A lot of people look at this and think: what happened to my country?
Jeffress: And what’s happened to the Christian community? Take the same-sex marriage issue, for the first time ever the majority of young adult evangelical Christians support same-sex marriage or civil unions. I think it’s this false idea we have that somehow we don’t have any right to impose our values on society as a whole. But the fact is all values are based on somebody’s morality, and for the first two hundred years of our country it was based on Christian values and now it’s being based on pagan values. I remind people all the time that Jesus Christ is not just Lord over the church, he is Lord over all creation, he is not just interested in religious people and religious institutions, He is interested in all institutions, including government. Listen, God is no respecter of people or nations, God doesn’t get a lump in his throat when he hears the Star - Spangled Banner, He doesn’t hold America to a different standard than any other nation. Any nation that reverences God is going to be blessed by God, but any nation that rejects God and His law is going to be rejected by God. We as Christians have a responsibility to say without stuttering or stammering: this is wrong, this is sin, this is evil and this is going to bring about God’s judgment upon our country.
Jeffress: I do think as Americans we’re going to continue to see this attempt to restrict our religious liberty and our freedom of speech. I think all you have to do is to look at the past four years to see what the next four years under Obama will be like. I think we will live to see very quickly the enactment of hate speech legislation that will try to prevent Christians and especially churches from speaking out on issues like homosexuality or the exclusivity of the Christian faith. We just saw a year ago the Obama administration attempting to say that the ministerial exemption regarding federal hiring standards should be rescinded, that will ultimately give the government the right to say who churches could hire as their pastors or their priests. I think this is where we’re going under another four years of the Obama administration.
Leading Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress quickly moved from Romney critic to Romney booster after the former Massachusetts governor won the Republican nomination, dropping his earlier claims that electing a Mormon president will lead to God’s judgment. In a pre-election sermon, Jeffress claimed that President Obama is “paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist” and must be defeated. He attacked President Obama’s views on abortion rights and gay equality, which he says will restrict religious freedom and as a result make it “relatively easy for the Antichrist to take over without any opposition whatsoever.”
I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes, President Obama is not the Antichrist. Nor am I saying that President Obama is not a Christian, I would never make that claim, I could not look into his heart as he cannot look into my heart. Nor am I saying the President doesn’t have some good ideas, nor am I saying that he doesn’t deserve our respect and our prayers. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.
You see when Antichrist comes, he is not going to be able to suddenly seize power and suddenly make these radical changes, he’s not going to be able to suddenly restrict speech and religious worship and commerce, why to do that suddenly would cause a revolution that would topple his reign on the earth. Yet Revelations 6 says when Antichrist comes he will take over power automatically, he’ll ride a horse that has a bow with no arrow on it, his overtaking the world will be effortlessly, it will be without any effort at all. How does that happen? The only way that’s going to happen is if there is a gradual erosion of God’s laws and our personal freedoms over a long period of time, and it will be that gradual erosion of our sense of morality, our adherence to God’s laws, that gradual erosion of our personal freedoms that will make it relatively easy for Antichrist to take over without any opposition whatsoever.
That’s why ladies and gentlemen I believe it is time for Christians to stand up and to push back against this evil that is overtaking our nation. To stand up and push back against these actions that are paving the way for the final world dictator. The best way to push back against unrighteousness is at the ballot box. This coming Tuesday we have a decision, the decision is not between Republicans and Democrats, the choice before us is the choice of righteousness or unrighteousness.
It is no secret that, for all of the talk of deeply held principles and stalwart Christian convictions, most Religious Right leaders are Republican Party cheerleaders who will eventually back the GOP presidential nominee, regardless of every declaration to the contrary they may have made in the past.
This fact was perfectly demonstrated back in 2008, when James Dobson spent the entire Republican primary telling everyone who would listen that "I cannot, and I will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience" only to declare shortly before the election that "I am now supportive of Senator John McCain and his bid for the presidency."
Similarly, back during that 2008 primary, Robert Jeffress, who has never been shy about calling Mormonism a "cult," warned that Republicans could not nominate someone like Mitt Romney because "God always judges a nation that has a ruler who introduces false gods into that national life":
But yesterday, Jeffress was on with Bryan Fischer where he declared that America was engaged in "high-handed sins" and warned that failing to elect Romney would be "asking for God's judgment on our country":
Just to clarify: Jeffress once believed that electing a Mormon like Mitt Romney would cause God to judge this nation, but then Romney became the GOP nominee, at which point Jeffress decided that not electing Romney will cause God to judge this nation.
After Mitt Romney secure the Republican nomination, prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress has said that Christians should vote for the Mormon candidate over President Obama since he “espouses unbiblical principles.” Such a sentiment is striking since Jeffress attacked Romney’s Mormon faith in the 2008 and 2012 primary elections, hoping that the GOP would nominate an evangelical Christian like Rick Perry over Romney as Mormonism is “a heresy from the pit of Hell.” Now, Jeffress is rallying evangelical support for Romney, despite his prior warning that electing a Mormon will lead to God’s judgment.
Jeffress told Janet Mefferd, who has also criticized Romney over his faith, that it is still better to vote for Romney, even though he is a member of a “cult” and “false religion” that believes in a “multiplicity of gods,” than Obama because of his stances on marriage equality and abortion rights. The pastor said defeating Obama is even worth potentially giving Mormon missionaries a tool to bolster “legitimacy of their faith” and make more converts.
I still think there are concerns out there among evangelicals about voting for a Mormon. I’ve made peace with it; the way I’ve made peace with it is to make it very clear on programs like yours that Mormonism is a cult, it is a false religion, Mormons worship a multiplicity of gods, they deny the Bible, in fact they think the Bible is so error-filled there had to be a second book of revelations. I want to make it very clear that I don’t believe Mormonism is Christianity but I do think that in this case it is better to vote for a non-Christian who supports biblical principles like life and marriage than voting for a professing Christian like Barack Obama who absolutely repudiates what Jesus Christ said about some key issues.
I don’t want to minimize the Mormonism issue. I had probably the most well-known pastor in America say to me last week; you know one concern is the mission implications of this, Mormons are so involved in missions overseas, they’ll be able to point to a Mormon president as legitimacy of their faith. So I think we need to be clear that Mormonism is a false religion that leads people away from rather than toward the true God, but having said that we are making this choice in spite of that.
He warned that America is “about to go over the moral and spiritual cliff from which there is no return” if Obama is re-elected, asserting that his administration is “openly involved in high-handed sins” and shaking its “fist in the face of God” on matters like same-sex marriage.
You know in the Old Testament the Bible had what it called high-handed sins, sins that were like a clenched fist in the face of God. We are now seeing an administration that is openly involved in high-handed sins: the embracing of gay marriage. A friend of mine said to me recently, ‘think about this just ten years ago if a pastor or a sandwich company were to say marriage is between a husband and a wife, a man and a woman, no one would have batted an eye at that, but today that is labeled as hate speech,’ now what has changed? It’s not the Bible or the message that has changed, it shows what has happened in our culture. I know this sounds alarmist but I believe we are at the precipice, we are at a tipping point in our country right now, we are about to go over not the fiscal cliff, we are about to go over the moral and spiritual cliff from which there is no return, and that is why it is imperative for Christians to get out and vote in this election.
Pastor Robert Jeffress has been making the rounds to defend Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay advocacy with claims that gays lead a “miserable lifestyle” and telling his congregants to support “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”:
"The liberals have gone into a frenzy," said Jeffress. "Their first response was to try to stop the expansion of businesses with which they disagree. That should be of great concern for every American," he added.
The pastor, who last year made headlines for saying Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not a Christian and Mormonism is a cult, also urged his church members to support the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Aug. 1.
"Let's go to Chick-fil-A this Wednesday to support religious freedom in America,'" said Jeffress. Supporters of traditional marriage and fans of Chick-fil-A are expected to head to their nearest chain restaurant on Aug. 1 to encourage Cathy.
His Pathway to Victory radio ministry also replayed one of his an anti-gay sermons on Friday, where he warned that homosexuals, since they are “perverse,” could begin to molest children since “if a person will sink that low” then “there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”
Jeffress: Amazingly, some gay activists don’t even try to hide the link between homosexuality and pedophilia. There are some who are right now are actively involved in trying to legalize sex between adults and children by lowering the age of consent or removing it altogether. In all fairness, it would be wrong to suggest that all homosexuals to pedophiles, it would be wrong to even suggest that a majority of homosexuals are pedophiles, but the truth nevertheless is there. There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that, and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.
On yesterday’s edition of The Janet Mefferd Show, anti-gay pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas labeled the message of liberals “hopeless,” and said that gay people lead a “miserable lifestyle” that is predisposed to “depression, or suicide, or alcoholism.” Jefress’s comments are the latest in a string of anti-gay screeds. He has previously implied that gay rights will result in the “inevitable implosion of our country” and that gays are using a variety of “brainwashing techniques” to “inject homosexuality” into our culture.
Jeffress: God’s plan for sexuality is one man with one woman in a lifetime commitment called marriage. Any deviation from that is sin. And of course, I’m always, the retort to that is 'oh! Are you pulling a Rick Santorum and saying that homosexuality is like bestiality, uh, incest, or pedophilia'? And I say 'Yes.'. It is just as immoral as those practices. But then I’m quick to add, it’s also just as immoral as adultery, pre-marital sex, or unbiblical divorce. Any deviation from god’s plan is sin.
Mefferd: Well, but so much of what they’re trying to do now is not just say “accept us and don’t be discriminatory in your beliefs”. But also, embrace it, see that the bible really was wrong in these passages, in Leviticus and Romans I and it’s really not commending homosexuality. It’s almost as if they’re trying to co-opt the bible and make it say what it obviously does not say.
Jeffress: Absolutely, you have to do so many hermeneutical gymnastics. But what you really have to do is just throw out the bible to get to the point that you say, that uh, it’s uh normal. There are two agendas that homosexuals have in order to gain acceptance. First of all they try to normalize their behavior but also to marginalize as bigots those of us who oppose homosexuality. Normalize and marginalize are the two tactics. And they are being extremely successful about it.
Jeffress: We’re the ones that have a message of hope. And the message of hope we have is you don’t have to stay the way you are. You can experience freedom. You can experience life as god intended you to have it, by trusting in Christ and following his plan. You know, it’s the liberals that have no message of hope. It is the liberal message; 'you’re born that way, and you have to stay that way until the day you die.' I mean, why is it that gays, and I talk about this in my book, you know, have such a more preponderance for depression, or suicide, or alcoholism. It is a miserable lifestyle. And that is why we, as preachers of the gospel and Christians, we’ve got the message of hope, and we need to quit being ashamed to share it.
In March, Kyle reported that Rick Scarborough of Vision America was launching a new effort, 40 Days to Save America, to rally conservative voters before the November election and stop the “daily deluge of sinful activity”:
We fully understand and are grateful for the fact that America was birthed first in your heart. We acknowledge that America has been a blessed nation above all the nations of the world. Hallelujah!
But we also acknowledge that we have forgotten as a people that it was you and your laws that made this country the land of freedom and opportunity that has been the envy of the world for more than two hundred years. Dear Lord, forgive us of our pride and apathy that has allowed men to call good, evil; and evil, good. We acknowledge that we have grown calloused to the daily deluge of sinful activity, degradation and speaking that has become the routine in American life, and we repent.
Reignite our love for purity and holiness, and create in us a will to initiate the changes in our society that will allow you to once again bless our beloved America.
Scarborough is now unveiling endorsements of the effort from Senator Roy Blunt and Congressmen Todd Akin, Doug Lamborn, Duncan Hunter and Louie Gohmert, and major Religious Right groups like the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and the Family Research Council. Dominionist organizations including Lou Engle’s The Call and Cindy Jacobs’ Generals International have also signed on, along with Janet Porter’s Faith2Action, Jerry Boykin’s Kingdom Warriors, Sam Roriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Jim Garlow’s Renewing American Leadership.
The board of directors appears to be a who’s who of leading conservative activists and pastors:
40 Days for Life
General Jerry Boykin
Harvest Prayer Ministries
Dr. Jim Garlow
Renewing American Leadership
Bishop Anne Gimenez
Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA
Bishop Harry Jackson
Hope Christian Church
Dr. Robert Jeffress
First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX
Concerned Women for America
Father Frank Pavone
Priests for Life
Family Research Council
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Dr. Rick Scarborough
American Family Association
The anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking and release of ‘Titanic 3D’ has apparently inspired Truth in Action Ministries, formerly Coral Ridge Ministries, to produce a new short film presenting the “radical homosexual agenda” as an iceberg that could potentially destroy the United States.
The Truth that Transforms film features well-known anti-gay activists such as Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy and Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, right-wing historian Bill Federer, radio talk show host and author Michael Brown, and pastors Harry Jackson, Robert Jeffress and Erwin Lutzer.
Staver warned that the “homosexual agenda is the moral iceberg that we need to steer clear of” and maintained that it is “the biggest threat I believe in our lifetime to religious freedom and the fundamental values we share here in America.” While Jackson said the “homosexual agenda” is “one of those icebergs that if we don’t navigate around them correctly, will take us under,” Brown claimed “we’ve already hit the iceberg and the ship is already going down” and Land insisted that “we’re taking on water, the only question is whether or not we’re going to be able to survive and the ship won’t sink.” Staver predicted that opposition to gay rights is bound to be “criminalized and targeted for assault” and Federer even asserted that “there are just a couple steps before the military could be used in a persecution of those that are viewed as enemies of the new state belief system.”
Watch highlights of the film here:
Last year evangelical writer and WORLD Magazine associate publisher Warren Cole Smith created quite a stir with his column pledging not to vote for Mitt Romney if he wins the Republican nomination because of the boost his presidency would provide to Mormonism. “You can't say that his religious beliefs don't matter, but his ‘values’ do,” Smith explained, “If the beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually—but inevitably—be warped.” He pointed to the Mormon doctrine of “continuing revelation” to explain Romney’s history of flip-flops and warned that a Romney presidency “would serve to normalize the false teachings of Mormonism the world over,” drawing more people into the LDS church and away from orthodox Christianity.
But it seems that few other prominent faces of the Religious Right are agreeing with Smith’s stance.
Televangelist James Robison on Daystar told a listener that she should favor a non-Christian over a Christian just as people favored Ronald Reagan, a Hollywood actor, over Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, because Reagan better understood biblical principles:
Even Robert Jeffress, the preacher who attacked Mormonism as a “cult” at the Values Voters Summit and said Christians should prefer evangelical Rick Perry over Romney, made a similar case on Janet Parshall’s radio show in January when he said a “non-Christian who embraces biblical principles” is preferable to “a professing Christian who espouses unbiblical principles”:
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer said he will vote for Romney even though he believes a Mormon president would undermine the “spiritual health” of the U.S., and Rick Scarborough of Vision America, repeated his antipathy towards Mormonism in an interview but made clear that “if the choice comes down for me between a Mormon and Barack Obama, I’d vote for the Mormon every time.”
But the acceptance of Romney as the leader of the GOP by the Religious Right’s leadership may not come as a great surprise, as the same people have largely embraced another high profile Mormon, Glenn Beck.
Beck has become a favorite of Religious Right figures, leading his religiously-infused Restoring Honor rally at the Lincoln Memorial and introducing his clerical Black Robe Regiment, promulgating ‘Christian nation’ history with David Barton and keynoting last year’s Values Voters Summit.
The turnaround when it comes to working with Mormons, who many evangelicals see as “cobelligerents” in the culture wars along with conservative Roman Catholics and Jews, can be seen in Kirk Cameron’s own about-face.
Cameron featured Beck at the kickoff event for his movie Monumental, about how America needs to return to its theocratic Pilgrim roots, where Beck told Cameron that God confirmed to him in prayer that what they are doing is right and wants them to warn the country about America’s impending collapse.
Beck’s appearance and discussion of his talks with God in Cameron’s Religious Right “documentary” may raise eyebrows since Cameron in 2006 co-hosted an anti-Mormon film with evangelist Ray Comfort. In the show, Cameron said that it was likely Satan who appeared to Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, as the Angel Moroni and led him to golden plates that became the Book of Mormon, and even said that Mormons are “following a false Jesus” and “will end up in Hell forever.” “If you’ve ever spoken to a Mormon, sometimes you know how frustrating it could when they use the same words you do but they mean something different and you’re not sure how to finish the conversation,” Cameron said.
Watch highlights of Cameron’s anti-Mormon film here:
Despite Cameron’s dogmatic warnings against Mormonism, he is now actively working with one of America’s leading Mormons. Similarly, just as many on the Religious Right once denounced the Mormon faith, they are now prepared to vote for Romney over President Obama.
After stopping by Family Talk with James Dobson, Robert Jeffress appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show where he expounded on his claim that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Engel v. Vitale, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas is leading to the ultimate “implosion” of America. He said the first Supreme Court ruling which he argued set off “explosives” to the country’s “spiritual and social structure” is Engel, the Supreme Court decision which deemed public school-organized prayers unconstitutional.
Jeffress said the decision is wrong not because it barred the practice of government-sponsored prayers but because it doesn’t allow the government to endorse one religion over another. He acknowledged that many evangelical Christians rightfully do not want to pray non-sectarian, generic, government-composed prayers at school. Jeffress argued that his problem with Engel is that it doesn’t allow the government to endorse Christianity, maintaining that “neutrality is really hostility toward religion.”
Jeffress’ claim contradicts the stated argument of many Religious Right activists who advocate for school-organized prayer and a constitutional amendment overturning Engel and say that their stance has nothing to do with government endorsement of Christianity but simply about the need for children to pray.
Jeffress: I use the analogy of when we imploded about a million square feet of our facility at First Baptist Dallas and I learned a lot about how implosions work, what you do is you attach explosives to some key structural supports, you explode those supporting structures, there’s a delay and then the structure falls in on itself, it collapses. I said in this book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” there have been three explosive decisions by the Supreme Court in the last fifty years that have so destroyed the spiritual and social structure of our country that I believe our collapse is inevitable. We are living right now in that delay period between the explosions and the ultimate implosion. As you mentioned, that first decision was 1962, Engel v. Vitale, I know Christians say, ‘well that’s no big deal to remove a non-sectarian prayer,’ but it’s all the decisions that cascaded from that and it’s the basis on which that decision was made. It is impossible for the government to be neutral toward religion, neutrality is really hostility toward religion and especially the Christian religion.
Robert Jeffress took his book tour to James Dobson’s Family Talk and the two Religious Right leaders bemoaned that America is doomed as a result of Supreme Court decisions in Engel v. Vitale, Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. Jeffress falsely claimed that Engel “removed voluntary prayers from the school,” when it actually said it was unconstitutional for public schools to compose and organize prayers. He also claimed that Engel, along with Roe and Lawrence have “so destroyed the spiritual and moral structure of our nation that we are going to collapse on ourselves, we are going to implode, it’s only a question of when.”
Jeffress: I believe there have been three explosive decisions by the Supreme Court in the last fifty years that have so weakened our spiritual and social structure as a nation that our implosion is inevitable. In 1962, Engel v. Vitale which removed voluntary prayers from the school, all of the decisions that have cascaded down from that decision that have made government not neutral but hostile to Christianity. Then in 1973 of course Roe v. Wade that has resulted in 40 million unborn children at least being murdered in the womb.
Dobson: I think it’s closer to 50 [million].
Jeffress: That’s right. Listen, you can’t kill 20 percent almost of your population and not have economic repercussions for that. So that’s the second decision. The third decision in 2003, which our listeners may not be as familiar with, the Lawrence v. Texas decision, where the Supreme Court really paved the way for same-sex marriages.
Jeffress: Now think about it, when you first of all remove prayer and make government hostile toward Christianity, when you allow for the murder of the unborn and when you absolutely redefine the most basic institution of society, marriage and the home, you have so destroyed the spiritual and moral structure of our nation that we are going to collapse on ourselves, we are going to implode, it’s only a question of when.