Samuel Rodriguez

Samuel Rodriguez Says His Freedom To Preach Is At Stake In 2016 Election

We have written before about My Faith Votes, a supposedly nonpartisan organization chaired by Donald Trump surrogate Ben Carson and supported by Religious Right activists including Robert Jeffress, Richard Lee, Alveda King and Kirk Cameron.  The group, which sponsored the meeting this summer between Trump and hundreds of Religious Right leaders, says on its website, “My Faith Votes won’t tell you who to choose but we can make the process easier.” In fact, the group is not at all shy about telling Christians who they should vote for, as a recent interview with conservative Hispanic evangelical Samuel Rodriguez made clear.

Rodriguez also has a long track record of posturing as a political independent who is not wedded to, as he puts it, the agenda of the donkey or elephant, but of the lamb, Jesus Christ. Rodriguez, who had been critical of Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric earlier in the election process, now says he has had a “wonderful conversation” with Trump and has seen a “significant pivot” from the candidate when it comes to dealing humanely with people who have been in the country illegally for many years.

During the online interview and Q&A session for My Faith Votes, Rodriguez repeated Religious Right alarms about religious liberty, saying that there is a Jezebel spirit in the land, one that intimidates and threatens Christians based on fear and hatred of Christianity and the “biblical worldview.”

Rodriguez fielded a couple of questions from people who are not happy with either of the presidential candidates and were not feeling motivated to vote. He was not having it, telling one person, “In my personal opinion, the number one deliverable from the next president will be the Supreme Court.” Citing the potential for the next president to nominate three or four justices, he said, “Who I vote for has to be connected to which nominee…has committed to nominating justices on the court that will protect life and religious liberty and respect the image of God in every American. That’s what compels me to vote in 2016.”

In response to another discouraged voter, he argued that his very freedom to preach the gospel is at risk:

We have to rise up and look beyond the candidates. We have to look at the issues that are at play here. What’s at risk, truly? Will anything impact me? If I do not vote, will I personally suffer any consequences? Well, if you’re a Christian, if you’re a Bible-believing Christ follower, the answer is yes. There are legislative initiatives right now, that serve, that actually carry the great potential of limiting our expression of our Christian faith.

What if I tell you there are initiatives out there that would attempt to silence us from preaching about what the Bible may deem as sinful, and that speech may be deemed as hate speech, because it runs counter to a cultural narrative out there, a cultural thread or a cultural dynamic? Not only that; recently, as I alluded to in the beginning of this broadcast, in California there was an attempt to punish Christian colleges and universities for believing the Bible and preaching the Bible. It’s this sort of thing taking place, not only in California but across the nation.

So staying home may very well jeopardize my ability as a pastor to reach people with the loving gospel of Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, staying at home carries the potential of enlarging and increasing the number of abortions that take place in this country. How about this: and around the world, because there are candidates that are committed to funding abortions around the world. My taxpayer money going out and helping someone else terminate a life. So if you care about the sanctity of life, and if you care about religious liberty, then you should care about voting this election.

And again, if you can’t vote for a candidate, vote for the platform, vote for the party platforms, and the party platform that best will protect your right to be a Christian and reach others with the loving, grace-filled message of Jesus Christ.

And in response to a questioner complaining that church leaders are not willing to talk to people about how to vote, he said:

Elections have consequences. Because 25 million Christians did not vote in 2012, the institution of marriage suffered a radical transformation via the conduit of judicial and executive fiat. Elections have consequences. Because 25 million Christians did not vote in 2012, we have more and more children that were aborted, and we had an agency in America that sold aborted baby parts, and they were protected…This time, the stake is even higher and greater. The consequences are more egregious and more serious. So I would tell them, if you care about the future of America, if you care about the future of Christianity in America, you must vote. And you must vote righteousness and justice. And you must vote life and religious liberty. You must vote.


Hispanic Evangelical Group Throwing Immigrants Under The Trump Train?

One legacy of the 2016 presidential campaign may well be a divide between religious and political conservatives who took a principled stance against the racist campaign of the apparently amoral Donald Trump, and those who jumped on board the Trump train in spite of his long record of lies, abusive and divisive rhetoric, and his shameless, transparently cynical use of religion to promote his candidacy.

Those divides may be clarifying in the wake of Trump’s meeting with hundreds of religious conservative leaders on Tuesday in what organizers had laughably described as a nonpolitical conversation.  At least it seems to becoming clearer where Samuel Rodriguez and his National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) are going to stand. And it’s not with the immigrants who Trump bashes as a core of his campaign strategy.

As we’ve noted before, Rodriguez loves positioning himself as someone who is above partisan politics even while acting as a Religious Right culture warrior whose main political goal is to get more Hispanics to vote for conservative candidates. Rodriguez has spent years telling conservative white evangelicals that they’re wrong to want to deport millions of Hispanic Christian immigrants, telling them that Jesus-loving Hispanic immigrants can help save Christian culture in America. Conservatives are hurting themselves, he has argued, by pushing Hispanics away with harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Along those lines, Rodriguez has publicly criticized Trump’s bigoted language about Mexicans, Latino immigrants, and Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump has accused of being biased because of his Mexican-American heritage. Last November, NHCLC’s Executive Vice President Tony Suarez said, “The only thing more embarrassing than his campaign is watching preachers support Trump and even manipulate scripture to invent false prophecies regarding Trump.” 

In April, Suarez met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders to discuss “the political and spiritual direction of the Republican Party.” According to an NHCLC press conference at the time, Suarez “addressed the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the upcoming election and the spiritual implications surrounding the immigration issue.”

"The members of Congress, specifically those that profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, must prayerfully consider the spiritual implications of mass deportation, as well as the current strategies espoused by both Republican candidates," said Suarez. "If a mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country were to take place, it would virtually close most Hispanic churches in our country." 

After Trump’s perfunctory video message to an NHCLC conference in May included no mea culpa for his anti-immigrant demagoguery, Rodriguez said, “I have no plans on endorsing Donald Trump whatsoever.”

Since then there have been no signs that Donald Trump is willing to reconsider, prayerfully or otherwise, his plans for a “deportation force” or his insistence that he will build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it – a centerpiece of his campaign. And he has not apologized for his despicable smear of Judge Curiel, and by extension all Americans of Mexican heritage.

But politics is politics, and now Suarez, despite his past criticism of Trump, is on Trump’s new “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” while officially remaining uncommitted to him. And even Rodriguez is telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that yesterday’s meeting could be “a tipping point” for evangelicals and Trump, praising the candidate’s “very well-defined, articulated commitment to religious liberty and life, the Supreme Court especially….”

If you were paying attention, you could see this coming. Rodriguez has given Trump political cover before, saying that Trump is not a racist and blaming liberal media for promoting the idea that he is. And last month Rodriguez declared that it is every Christian’s duty to vote and that getting conservative justices on the Supreme Court is more important than immigration reform.

Another NHCLC leader, Mario Bramnick, was among evangelicals who met privately with Trump last month; Bramnick emerged gushing about Trump’s “genuineness” and “tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.” Two months earlier, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference, where he declared in prayer that “the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening.”

Reports from and about the most recent meeting seem to show Trump in typical form, calling himself a “tremendous believer,” questioning the faith of Hillary Clinton, and telling people not to pray for political leaders who “are selling Christianity down the tubes.”  Trump pandered to the conservative Christian activists by saying “You really don’t have religious freedom” and pledging to “get rid of” IRS restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. He said he’d make Macy’s put “Merry Christmas” signs in its store windows. And he promised them Supreme Court justices hand-picked by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.

In putting together this event and building an advisory board without requiring its members to endorse him, Trump’s campaign seemed to be trying to recreate a critical moment in the marriage between the Religious Right and the Republican Party – a day in 1980 in which Ronald Reagan said to thousands of evangelical leaders, “I know you can’t endorse me … but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you’re doing.” In a press release about Trump’s new advisory committee, the campaign said:

The leaders on the executive board were not asked to endorse Mr. Trump as a prerequisite for participating on the board.

Rather, the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from Evangelical leaders, communities and voters, winning the majority of the Evangelical vote throughout the primaries.

The meeting appears to have had its intended effect, and not only with Rodriguez. The conservative Townhall reported that Pastor Michael Anthony felt that God was speaking through Trump to encourage pastors to get more involved in politics to defend religious freedom. “I think that no matter what political party you’re a part of, if you were in this room today, you would have to admit there was a unity and a gentleness in this meeting that were remarkable,” said Anthony. “If we can do this in a room of 1,000, I think there’s hope for the nation.”

Trump Offers No Apologies For Rhetoric, But Some Conservative Latinos Warming To Him

As we reported last week, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez gave Donald Trump a chance to “redeem the narrative” with Latino voters by showing a videotaped message from the candidate to attendees at an NHCLC gathering last Friday; a video from Hillary Clinton was also played. Rodriguez has criticized Trump’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and mass deportation plan, but has also given him political cover, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last month that Trump is not a racist and blaming such a characterization on “liberal media.”

Rodriguez has said he hopes Trump will apologize for his “hurtful, erroneous, and dangerous statements” about Latino immigrants. And he said earlier last week that he would only show Trump’s video if he deemed it sufficiently conciliatory and respectful.

Conciliatory and respectful are clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Trump’s two-and-a-half minute video, apparently shot on a cell phone while he sat in his private jet reading from a piece of paper, included no apologies for any of the harsh rhetoric that Rodriguez has complained about.

Instead, Trump made the kind of broad promises that have characterized his campaign — creating good schools, safe communities and providing “massive tax cuts” for the middle class — without many details about how he would do so, other than controlling immigration and making “great trade deals.” Hillary Clinton’s video did address Trump’s rhetoric without mentioning him by name, saying, “That is not who we are as a people.”

Trump told Hispanics that poor people would pay nothing under his tax plan: “You’re going to start paying taxes after you’re making a lot of money, and hopefully that is going to be soon.” Other tidbits from his video:

  • “The world is taking our jobs and we’ve got to stop it. We’re going to take care of minority unemployment. It’s a huge problem, it’s really unfair to minorities, and we are going to solve that problem.”
  • “National. Hispanic. Christian. Three great words. We’re gonna to take care of you, we’re gonna work with you, you’re gonna be very happy, you’re gonna like president Trump.”
  • “I’m going to win and we’re going to take care of everybody. Our country is going to be unified for the first time in a long time”

Before the NHCLC conference last week, Trump met privately with some evangelical leaders, in a meeting arranged by Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Representing NHCLC at the meeting was Mario Bramnick, who praised Trump’s “genuineness.”

“Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants,” he said. “We all came out really sensing his genuineness.”

He added: “We didn’t get into specifics other than that he wants to work with us, work with the Hispanic community, Hispanic leadership on substantive policy regarding immigration.”

Bramnick also said Trump embraced the Religious Right’s “Christian persecution” narrative, telling Charisma:

"He told us in the meeting that he's very, very concerned that Christians are losing their rights in America, that we no longer can even speak or express what we believe," Bramnick said. "And he did say that if he becomes president, he's going to change things to make sure that we as Christians have our religious liberties restored. He said he's concerned about Christians, he's concerned about Jews, and he wants to help."

In March, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s “Awakening” conference, quoting Cindy Jacobs’ prophecy that Florida had determined that George W. Bush would be president and that God would use Florida to shift the nation again. “God by his Holy Spirit can appoint the president that God has ordained,” said Bramnick.

At the Awakening conference, Bramnick prayed:

Father, awaken the sleeping the church. Unite us. We come against the diabolic spirit of division in the body of Christ, that spirit that would put us to sleep, spirits of anti-Christ and witchcraft, and we declare out of Orlando, the church of Jesus Christ is arising, not by power, not by might, but by your spirit. And father we declare out of Orlando, shift for Florida, shift for the United States, and the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States, and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening…

It’s not just the NHCLC giving Trump another look. Some other Latino conservatives are showing some willingness to rally around him. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar noted over the weekend that last October, Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush White House official who now heads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said Trump was “done” in the eyes of the Latino community. Aguilar declared, “If Donald Trump is the GOP candidate, we won’t work to support him and we are sure he will lose the general election because there’s no way a GOP candidate can win the White House if they don’t get more support from Latino voters.” But now that Trump is the nominee, Aguilar is singing a different tune, saying that if Trump were to “seek my support and show he’s willing to change his tone and be open to some form of legalization, I would be willing to reconsider my position.”

BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo recently noted that there are a lot of major conferences coming up. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have both sent formal invitations but “have had difficulties getting responses from the Trump campaign.” The National Council of La Raza has not yet decided whether to invite Trump to its July conference.



Trump's Christian Liaison Threatened To Withhold Food From Haitians Who Don't Give Up Voodoo

According to a Time report today, Donald Trump is trying to make up with the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, the Hispanic evangelical group headed by Samuel Rodriguez, who has spent much of the presidential campaign cycle criticizing Trump for his anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rhetoric.

An official with NHLC, Mario Bramnick, apparently met with Trump earlier this month and came away thinking that “Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.”

The meeting was reportedly organized by televangelist Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries, who is the Trump campaign’s “liaison for Christian policy.”

We had never heard of Amedia before, so we did a news search and found an AP story from February 24, 2010, titled “Voodoo practitioners attacked at ceremony for Haiti earthquake victims”:

Angry crowds in a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attacked a group of Voodoo practitioners Tuesday, pelting them with rocks and halting a ceremony meant to honor victims of last month's deadly earthquake.

Voodooists gathered in Cite Soleil where thousands of quake survivors live in tents and depend on food aid. Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols. When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.

Tensions have been running high since the Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless. More than 150 machete-wielding men attacked a World Food Program convoy Monday on the road between Haiti's second-largest city of Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince. There were no injuries but Chilean peacekeepers could not prevent the men from stealing the food, U.N. spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux said.

Religious tension has also increased: Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, Mormons and other missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake to feed the homeless, treat the injured and jockey for souls. Some Voodoo practitioners have said they've converted to Christianity for fear they will lose out on aid or a belief that the earthquake was a warning from God. "Much of this has to do with the aid coming in," said Max Beauvoir, a Voodoo priest and head of a Voodoo association. "Many missionaries oppose Voodoo. I hope this does not start a war of religions because many of our practitioners are being harassed now unlike any other time that I remember."

"There's absolutely a heightened spiritual conflict between Christianity and Voodoo since the quake," said Pastor Frank Amedia of the Miami-based Touch Heaven Ministries who has been distributing food in Haiti and proselytizing.

"We would give food to the needy in the short term, but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel."

In a YouTube video posted in 2011 of a post-earthquake visit to Haiti, Amedia channeled Pat Robertson by attributing Haiti’s problems to a lack of literal fatherhood and a relationship with God, saying that the country had been afflicted by “the curse of Voodoo”:

The redemption of the country has to be in the fathering of the country. Pastors need fathers; the president need a father; and the families need fathers. There’s a lack of a fathering spirit here. And once that’s restored, the relationship with the Father in heaven and then the fathers here on earth, and there’s a mentoring and a fathering going on, this land will heal.

It’s the curse of Voodoo that has taken away the fathering in this land.

Samuel Rodriguez Gives Trump Chance To 'Redeem The Narrative' With Latinos

Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians.

You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to encourage Hispanic evangelicals to support the Republican candidate. He has said Trump blew it with his early campaign rhetoric and that the candidate must “redeem the narrative” with Latinos.

This week Bloomberg reported that Trump would be delivering a videotaped message to be shown at this weekend’s meeting of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which Rodriguez heads, and whose board includes Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. The pro-immigrant group America’s Voice called on Rodriguez not to let Trump deliver a message to the group given Trump’s “hateful, incendiary rhetoric directed at our communities.”

(Just days ago, Trump attacked NHCLC board member Russell Moore, a leading Southern Baptist official, as a “nasty guy with no heart.” Rodriguez, who co-authored with Moore a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Trump’s immigration rhetoric and policies last July, said at the time that “an attack on Russell Moore is an attack on the entire evangelical community.”)

Rodriguez told the Washington Post earlier this week that he would wait to see if the message was “respectful” before deciding whether to show it. Today it is clear that Trump has satisfied Rodriguez, because the NHCLC put out a press release saying the group would show video messages from Trump and from Hillary Clinton on Friday evening.

While Rodriguez says he will not endorse a candidate, it’s hard to take him seriously as some kind of honest broker between the staunchly pro-choice Clinton and the muddled punish-the-woman Trump, who has said he would nominate Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  As we recently noted, Rodriguez has said, “I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists, that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.” And he has made it clear that he believes Hispanic Christians must make opposition to abortion, not support for immigrant families, the basis of their vote.

In an interview being promoted by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze today, Rodriguez doubles down on that message, saying it would be “morally reprehensible” for Christians to vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood, saying they would need to “repent.”

“I want to speak to every single African American, Latino, and Anglo Christ follower who believes in biblical orthodoxy — how can we justify supporting anything — be it Republican or Democrat — that in any way, form or shape defends Planned Parenthood?”

Trump has repeatedly praised Planned Parenthood but says he wants to defund the women’s health organization unless they agree to stop providing abortion services.

Rodriguez told The Blaze that it would take “a miracle” for Trump to win over the Latino community, but suggested it could be possible if he apologizes and chooses a Hispanic running mate, mentioning Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Ted Cruz.

The supposedly nonpartisan Rodriguez has filmed a video promoting the Republican Party’s faith-outreach project. Only 16 percent of American Latinos identify themselves as evangelical, according to the Pew Research Center, but they are more likely than other Hispanics to vote Republican.

Samuel Rodriguez: Getting Conservative SCOTUS Trumps Immigration Reform

As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform.

But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations.

While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’s all-but-certain nomination, Rodriguez makes it clear that he is first and foremost a Religious Right culture warrior.

Rodriguez pushes the Religious Right line that religious freedom is threatened in America. There is an attempt to “silence Christians” in America, he says, and Christians cannot sit out elections because “today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.” He also believes there is a spiritual battle under way to “annihilate” the family.

In the end, his advocacy for immigrant families takes a back seat to his opposition to legal abortion and marriage equality. He said as much at an Evangelicals for Life event in January, telling Latinos that it’s fine to march for immigration reform —“as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” — but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

Although Rodriguez manages to cultivate a public image as a nonpartisan bridge-builder, he regularly partners with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right. The stridently anti-gay Liberty Counsel serves as NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver serves as an NHCLC board member and its chief legal counsel. Last fall Rodriguez called Cindy Jacobs, who has predicted a new civil war between God-loving and gay-loving states,  “one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God.”

In a story last week by right-wing pundit Todd Starnes of Fox News, Rodriguez dismissed talk by some evangelical leaders that Christians should, in the words of pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Of evils choose none.” Rodriguez says not voting is “sacrificing your Christian worldview on the altar of political expediency. It is silly to talk about not voting for either candidate. Every single Christian should vote.”

And while Rodriguez doesn’t mention Trump by name, it is clear that he will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders:

“I will vote my Christian values,” Rodriguez said. “It’s life, the family ethos, it’s religious liberty, it’s limited government. That’s the person I’m going to vote for.”

Rodriquez conceded that the 2016 candidates are not his “dream team” – but he’s only concerned about one issue – the Supreme Court.

“I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists – that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.”

This is a very different message than Rodriguez conveyed in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in July, which he co-wrote with Southern Baptist official Russell Moore, where he described Trump as an unchristian, unethical and unelectable politician.

Trump tweeted earlier this week that Moore is “a terrible representative of Evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart!”

Unlike Rodriguez, Moore is standing by his opposition to Trump.


The Religious Right’s Bicoastal Political Prayer Rally Weekend

Two major prayer rallies organized by Religious Right figures are being held on Saturday —one at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and one in Los Angeles. The two events will be linked with a simulcast “Bridge to Prayer.”

The Washington event, United Cry DC 16, is scheduled to run for seven hours and will be broadcast on GodTV. It features an impressive number of familiar Religious Right figures, including Tony Perkins, Jerry Boykin, Harry Jackson, Samuel Rodriguez, Jim Garlow, Alveda King and E.W. Jackson. Joining them will be bestselling doomsday author and “Messianic” Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz and “Hour of Power” preacher Bobby Schuller.

Also in the lineup is Doug Stringer, the “apostle” who has hosted a number of “The Response” political prayer rallies organized by Christian nationalist political operative David Lane in recent years with Republican governors like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley and Pat McCrory.

WorldNetDaily is excited about the event, promoting it with a breathless story, declaring “what an assembly it promises to be.” WND even tries to put a good face on the lousy weather forecast, saying, “Perhaps the Almighty is already calling attention to the event by providing some freakish spring weather, with the possibility of snow in the forecast. But hardy souls will brave the elements because they consider the gathering a divine calling.”  A Thursday email from event organizer Lewis Hogan was not so excited about the weather, urging people to pray away the rain.

This is not the first “solemn assembly” called by Religious Right leaders to put America on the right path during an election year. While the Great Awakening whose beginning is predicted at every Religious Right event hasn’t yet materialized, organizers believe it’s just around the corner. Meanwhile, they say, America’s embrace of marriage equality is just asking for God’s wrath.

In WND’s story about United Cry DC, Rabbi Cahn complained that America hasn’t heeded his warnings:

In the course of the last few years, America has not turned back to God but has grown much farther from Him. We’ve witnessed a rapid acceleration in the nation’s apostasy from God and His ways. We have called good evil and evil good. We are now at the threshold of persecuting God’s people as we celebrate godlessness. The Bible is very clear on the consequences. To any nation that has been given so much as America, much is required. If we don’t turn back to God, we are advancing toward judgment.

“The fact that it is also the year of a presidential election and a critical moment with regard to the Supreme Court, raises the stakes even higher.

On the same day as the United Cry rally in DC, Dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle and friends will be in Los Angeles hosting another in his multi-year “supernatural series of events” under the banner of “The Call.” In a video promoting the event Engel talking animatedly about the symbolism of speakers flying only on United Airlines so that America can be united.Engle has held a number of “Call” events over the last decade and a half, including one on the National Mall in September 2000 and one in 2008 in California focused in part on promoting the anti-gay Proposition 8.  This one, called Azusa Now, is scheduled to run for 15 hours at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Glenn Beck And Sam Rodriguez: Persecution Of Christians Is Coming Because America Is Engaged In Modern-Day Baal Worship

Last night, supposedly "moderate" evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez appeared on Glenn Beck's television show to promote his new book. During the conversation, Beck and Rodriguez agreed that full-scale persecution of Christians is coming to American because the country is now engaged in modern-day Baal worship.

"I think people think that I'm nuts," Beck said, "and they think that if you think this way, there's something wrong with you. But let me ask you this, have you spent any time serious time considering, gosh, the time period we're entering in, I may have to make the same kind of choices that [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer did?"

Rodriguez assured Beck that he's "not crazy" because "many Christians have had conversations" about this very topic.

"There's a great probability that in our lifetime," Rodriguez stated, "that we may have to be imprisoned and suffer great persecution, prosecution, as a result of our commitment to biblical truth, to Jesus, to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are there, my friend. That's not hyperbole."

The next election is vital, he continued, because "we may be voting in a Jezebel or an Ahab" who will force Christians "to sacrifice truth on the altar of Baal."

"If people would just look up Baal and Moloch from the Scriptures," Beck responded, "we are worshiping them right now, we just don't know it, just in a different way. You used to have to sacrifice your children; it was promoted to have sexual intercourse and if you got pregnant, you brought the baby to the altar and killed the baby. I mean, it's the same thing. It was worship the god of finance, the god of war and the god of the earth. I mean, we're there!"

Evangelicals Gather Before March For Life To Plan Less Angry, Less White Anti-Abortion Movement

The annual March for Life brought thousands of people to Washington, D.C. on Friday, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This year, Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission teamed up to create more of an evangelical presence at the heavily Catholic march.  “Our burden was to see the reborn stand up for the unborn," said the Southern Baptists’ Russell Moore on Thursday. At Friday’s march, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly acknowledged that evangelicals took “a while to come to the party” on abortion.

A few hundred people attended the first Evangelicals for Life conference, which began on Thursday and continued on Friday morning until the rally and march were set to begin. Among the conference speakers, in addition to Moore and Daly, were Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. 

The day started with Moore and Daly interviewing and praying for David Daleiden, whose videos have been at the center of the latest right-wing effort to destroy Planned Parenthood. Moore gave Daleiden a chance to respond to criticism that his deceptive tactics had required lying, asking if he was engaging in moral relativizing. Daleiden explained that his “undercover” work is different from lying because its ultimate purpose is truth-telling, an extremely dubious claim in this case.

Charmaine Yoest celebrated the anti-choice movement’s success at generating a “tidal wave” of restrictions on abortion, explaining as she did in her remarks at the World Congress of Families summit in October, that those victories were based on a strategic decision to focus on state legislatures, pass restrictions, and create opportunities for the Supreme Court to chip away at Roe. She called it a “stealth strategy” and an “under-the-radar” way to go on the offensive.

Yoest and other speakers argued that the movement’s continued success will depend on putting a more loving, compassionate, woman-focused face on the movement, directly challenging pro-choice advocates who ground their legal arguments in women’s dignity. Yoest described abortion as “fundamentally anti-woman” and abortion advocates as “the true misogynists in our society.”

Rodriguez, as he often does in conservative settings, tried to convince the audience not to “drink the Kool-Aid” about changing demographics being bad news for the anti-abortion movement. Rodriguez said pro-life Hispanics can provide a “spiritual firewall” for the movement.

In reality, progressive-voting Latinos created a firewall for President Obama, which may be why Rodriguez complained that “our voting pattern runs counter to what we preach about on Sunday” and declared, “If we are pro-life on Sunday, if we preach pro-life on Sunday, we cannot support a candidate that advocates abortion on Tuesday.” Rodriguez spoke directly to Latinos, saying it’s fine to march for immigration reform -- “as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” -- but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

The most surprising and interesting remarks of the day came from Christian author Ron Sider, a pacifist and anti-hunger advocate who challenged a movement that calls itself pro-life to be more engaged in fighting global poverty, challenging subsidies to the tobacco industry, protecting the environment, fighting racism, and opposing capital punishment. He said white evangelicals would have more success at getting Black Christians into the anti-abortion movement if white Christians became supportive for Black Lives Matter.

Rodriguez also said the future of the movement had to be multiethnic, declaring that “the day of white, angry, pro-life advocates as a collective movement, that day is officially over.” He said that abortion providers target African American and Latino women, which he called “unbridled and unfettered racism.” Rodriguez said he is working with Bernice King, daughter of MLK, to launch later this year the National Christian Leadership Conference, “an organization for the purpose of advancing a culture of life, and we will be specifically targeting the Latino and African American communities.”

A few notes from afternoon breakout sessions:

  • Casey Mattox, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, talked about the anti-abortion movement’s legal and legislative successes at chipping away at the protection that Roe provided for women, and at current cases involving Texas’s restrictive law and states that have moved to bar Planned Parenthood from participating in Medicaid.
  • Roland Warren, president and CEO of CareNet, a network of pregnancy centers, talked about how they reach “abortion-minded people” online through keyword advertising and try to dissuade them by phone calls and email. He said pregnancy centers cannot provide enough support to women who choose to give birth, and called on churches to create specific ministries to provide long-term support.
  • A panel on global issues featured Rodriguez, the Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall, and Travis Wussow, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Director of International Justice and Religious Liberty. Marshall said the character of our culture affects the ability of the U.S. to lead on the world stage, either casting a shadow or shedding light. She insisted that anti-abortion advocates cannot overlook the entanglement of federal dollars in programs that promote abortion abroad. It makes a huge difference at the United Nations, she said, whether there’s a pro-life or pro-choice administration in the U.S. Asked whether she sees a link between abortion issues and the Obama administration’s promotion of gay rights as part of U.S. foreign policy, Marshall said that the State Department advances both, adding that “the idea of created reality, we are created in the image of God male and female, those Genesis 1 and 2 truths, all of them are being challenged right now. So there is an ontology, biblical anthropology, that is going to be very, very critical for churches to teach and to form young people." 

Meet Marco Rubio's 'Religious Liberty Advisory Board'

Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign has announced its creation of a Religious Liberty Advisory Board that includes Religious Right legal and political activists, including academics and some big names, like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.

The list could be seen as a response by Rubio’s campaign to last month’s closed-door meeting at which “dozens” of Religious Right leaders voted to rally behind his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. But Rubio’s director of Faith Outreach, former Manhattan Declaration Executive Director Eric Teetsel, told World Magazine that “membership on the board doesn’t equal an endorsement of the GOP candidate, and the members could advise other campaigns if they wanted.”

Among the members of Rubio’s advisory board are two Latinos who have urged conservatives to adopt a more welcoming approach to immigration: Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and  Carlos Campo, president of Ashland University and former president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

Rodriguez has been pushing the Republican Party to take a more constructive tone on immigration in order to open the door for more effective outreach to Latino voters, a tough sell on the right, even before the era of Donald Trump. Rodriguez has participated in recent Religious Right gatherings with Cruz, but has been quoted as saying he’s not in Cruz’s camp.

Rubio shaped and advocated for the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, but he later disavowed his own bill in the face of strong right-wing opposition. He is viewed with suspicion by some right-wingers but has said on the stump that he knows how to fix the immigration system better than anyone else in the race.

Also on Rubio’s advisory board are people affiliated with legal groups promoting Religious Right efforts to portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as incompatible, including Doug Napier and Kellie Fiedorek of Alliance Defending Freedom and Kyle Duncan, lead counsel for the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, and former general counsel of the Becket Fund, which was once described in Politico as “God’s Rottweilers.”

Formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, ADF is a heavyweight among Religious Right legal groups, and is spreading its anti-gay, anti-choice advocacy worldwide. Fiedorek argues that the “agenda to expand sexual liberty and redefine marriage” puts religious liberty in “great peril.” She has compared business owners who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples to Rosa Parks.

The Greens’ challenge to the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act was used by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to reinterpret the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and give owners of for-profit corporations the right to seek exemptions from laws that offend their religious beliefs. 

Another member of the Rubio board, law professor Michael McConnell, runs a religious liberty law clinic at Stanford University that was funded by $1.6 million steered to Stanford by the Becket Fund in 2013. Becket Fund attorneys appear in Rick Santorum’s 2014 movie, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.”

Advisory board member Wayne Grudem, an anti-gay seminary professor and author, argues that God will hold people accountable for shaping laws to meet biblical standards. Grudem has promoted a chart on how to “defeat the enemy’s plan” in politics. He has said that religious freedom makes it legal in the U.S. to have a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple, “but that doesn’t mean it’s morally right for people to seek to come to God that way….”

More On The Ted Cruz/Religious Right Confab In The Wilks Brothers' Hometown

We noted last week that Ted Cruz was planning to meet with hundreds of conservative pastors and Religious Right activists on a ranch owned by fracking billionaires and right-wing sugar daddies Farris and Dan Wilks. On Christmas Day, the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reported some additional details about the gathering, which was scheduled to bring some 300 conservative religious activists together with Cruz yesterday, with additional events scheduled this evening.

Cruz's trip to Cisco will culminate Tuesday evening with a private fundraiser then a public rally, both to be held with the senator's family at a community center the Wilkses helped build. The fundraiser, which begins at 5 p.m., costs between $500 and $2,700 to attend. The rally is set to start two hours later, following a concert by the Newsboys, a Christian rock band.

Religious Right activist David Barton is among the organizers:

The meeting is being organized at least in part by Keep the Promise PAC, one of four main super PACs supporting Cruz. Keep the Promise PAC is headed by David Barton, an influential Christian activist and author who formerly served as the vice chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.

Laura Barnett, a spokeswoman for Keep the Promise PAC, said the meeting is "designed as an open dialogue with Sen. Cruz and an opportunity to listen to and learn from one another." A guest list was unavailable Saturday, but Barnett said the number of RSVPs far exceeded organizers' expectations and those attending "represent a diverse cross-section of the faith community."

The Tribune reported that Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was scheduled to attend even though he’s skeptical of Cruz’s harsh positions on immigration.

"Engaging white evangelicals is nice and it's wonderful, but it doesn't get you across the goal line. It doesn't," Rodriguez said. "Ask Mitt Romney and ask John McCain. White evangelical support for the GOP does not equal occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Rodriguez suggested Cruz has made that task even harder with his recent clarification that he does not support legalization for the estimated 12 million people in the country illegally. As a result of that "immigration pivot," Rodriguez said, he is personally heading to Cisco with a "significant amount of angst."

What the World Congress of Families Tells Us About the Global ‘Pro-Family’ Movement

The World Congress of Families — an organization that hosts an annual global gathering of “pro-family” advocates —  brought together more than 3,300 people in Salt Lake City last week. The summit included authors and counselors focused on strengthening marriages as well as academics talking about the social and economic consequences of later marriages, declining birthrates and widespread divorce. It also included and anti-reproductive-choice activists from around the globe, as well as hundreds of “emerging leaders” expected to lead the movement into the future.

We’ve reported on individual speakers and will continue to do so as we dig through a week’s worth of notes and recordings — and a shopping bag full of books and other swag. But what’s the big picture? What does the WCF tell us about the state of the global Religious Right?

There were differences in priorities and approaches among the participants, but among the themes that emerged:

They See Themselves at War with the Enemies of God

Warfare imagery was common at WCF and the preceding gay-focused Stand4Truth event organized by people who needed just a little more anti-gay intensity than the WCF schedule promised. The “natural family” and “complementary” male-female gender roles were ordained by God, and therefore proponents of feminist or gender ideologies or notions of LGBT equality are not only political opponents but spiritual ones, out to destroy both the natural family and religious freedom.

Francisco Tatad, a former senate majority leader in the Philippines, said the threat to the family and human society is not simply those who deny God, but those who actually hate God:

The global attack on human dignity, on the integrity of the human person, and the family, is ultimately an attack on God. The war of religions is over, but the war on religion has hardly begun. And the target is no longer any individual religion in particular, but God himself. He has become the arch-enemy.

American Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez:

So I can share with you the fact that there is a spiritual battle, a spiritual battle, to annihilate the idea, the construct, God’s ordained institution of la familia. It is a battle. It even, before it’s a political battle or a legislative battle, it is, above all things, a spiritual battle.

And, engaging biblical allusions, it’s the spirit of Pharaoh, once again attempting to force and prompt families to make bricks without straw and to maintain families in the Egypt of bondage and fear. It is the spirit of Goliath, of intimidation. It is the spirit of Jezebel, an attempt to destroy the family via the conduit of sexual perversion and manipulation. It is the spirit of Herod, killing families through abortion, killing families through sex trafficking and violence against our children, disconnecting the child from mom and dad. These spirits are alive and well today, not only in America but across the world.

Rafael Cruz, father of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, declared, “What we see in America right now is an outright attack on Christianity.” Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, decreed that “a few rogue lawyers claiming to be the Supreme Court of the United States of America has no right to act in such a way as to restrict our freedom of religion.” Patterson told the story of a missionary doctor killed by Chinese communists in the 1950s, and declared about religious freedom, “Today the blood of thousands of martyrs calls out to all of us, ‘Do not squander the greatest and most costly gift bequeathed to you by the founders of this nation.’”

They’re Intensely Committed to Enforcing Traditional Gender Roles

The catch-all term used by the global Religious Right for just about everything it doesn’t like is “gender ideology” — something that can encompass opposition to sex education, contraception, abortion, cohabitation, marriage equality and legal recognition for LGBT people.

At WCF, speaker after speaker talked about the “complementarity” between men and women as something that was divinely ordained — grounded biblically in the Genesis creation story in which God made humankind male and female. God’s creation of two genders was cited as a sacred rationale for opposing gay couples being allowed to marry or be parents — and for denying the very existence of transgender people, who were portrayed as sick and pathetic. One of the most reliable ways to try to get a laugh at WCF was to make a joke about Caitlyn Jenner. Rafael Cruz even pulled out the old chestnut that God had created “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

Glenn Stanton, director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, said new findings on gender differences support his basic premise: “that men and women are different, and that men and women need each other in those differences.” As a scientist, he said, he believes there is evidence across cultures of a universal male and female nature. And as a Christian, he said, the issue is a theological one, grounded in the creation story declares humans male and female, who together “uniquely, mysteriously image the nature of God in the world.” He displayed a William Blake painting, “Satan Gazing Upon the Caresses of Adam and Eve” and said:

Satan came to attack humanity, not just by approaching Eve or Adam but what William Blake is telling us here is to attack a couple. He sees that man, he sees that woman, he sees them loving one another, and he says, ‘I know who loved one another, the Trinity, God, and I hate them, so I must break this up.’ The original attack was not on two human beings, it was on a man and a woman. And that attack continues today, because Satan knows what male and female represent.

Theresa Okafor, a WCF representative from Nigeria who was honored at the conference, said the complementarity of the sexes “comes from God.” She complained that Western feminist ideas threaten the family by demonizing patriarchy, blurring lines of gender and making women feel that they are autonomous from men. (In contrast, she cited as one positive example of strong cultural support for the family in Africa the fact that a woman who went to the police to report being beaten by her husband would be told to go home and settle with him.)

Every WCF participant received a copy of the Mormon Church’s 1995 Proclamation of the Family, which portrays men’s roles as providers and women’s as nurturers to be essential to God’s plan. It declares, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

Miriam Grossman is a psychiatrist whose blog identifies her as “One Hundred Percent MD. Zero Percent PC.” She insisted, “A man cannot be transformed into a woman, or a woman into a man. It is simply impossible” and decried that popular culture’s focus on transgender issues was perpetuating a “lie” and a “delusion.”

They Don’t Want To Be Called Anti-Gay While Being Anti-Gay

Well, at least some of them, anyway. Before the conference started, WCF responded to its critics by claiming that being pro-family was not the same as being anti-gay, and declared that it would never support policies that harm individual people. But in fact the program was full of people who have a record of demonizing LGBT people, including those who have actively supported laws that not only criminalize gay sexual activity but even make it a crime for gays to meet with each other or advocate for their rights.

Portraying LGBT people as a threat to children has a decades-long pedigree, including the activism of Anita Bryant, California’s Prop 8 and succeeding state constitutional amendment campaigns, and this week’s vote in Houston, where an anti-discrimination ordinance was rejected after an ugly, dishonest campaign portraying it as an open door to child molesters. Gwen Landolt, a Canadian who has been active in WCF, called it intolerable that innocent children are being “used as tools of social engineering” by being fostered or adopted by gay couples. And she said that children’s character is being deformed because schools are teaching that homosexual relationships are the equal of heterosexual ones.

As BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder pointed out, there’s division within the movement about the usefulness of strident rhetoric that, for example, equates gays with pedophilia. That division was clear at WCF. The opening keynote address was given by Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Ballard explained that Mormon theology of the family is integral to the church’s defense of “traditional marriage,” but he also touted the church’s willingness to back the Utah compromise, an agreement reached earlier this year in which the church supported legal protections against housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in return for the inclusion of broad religious exemptions. Said Ballard,

We demonstrate our best humanity when we show love and kindness to all of God’s children. We demonstrate our discipleship when we refuse strident tones, when we refuse derisive labels, and when we enter the public square seeking fair outcomes through understanding and mutual respect.

Ballard’s standard was violated frequently at WCF, including during its closing keynote from Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma University, whose address was an angry rant against liberal “ideological fascism.” Piper angrily asserted that “the rainbow banner of tolerance has become the dark flag of tyranny almost overnight.” Some conference participants objected to the Utah compromise; Austin Ruse of C-Fam has called it “lunacy” for the Mormon Church to engage in a nonaggression pact with the LGBT movement.

Another voice heard on the opening day of the conference was that of Gov. Gary Herbert, who welcomed participants to Utah, declaring “We are a great state with wonderful people and wonderful families of different varieties in this state.” That was a nod toward the kind of inclusive definition of family that is being ferociously fought by WCF partner groups at the United Nations and other international bodies.  Activists like C-Fam’s Ruse and Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater bragged at WCF about their work to eliminate references to “various forms of the family” from international human rights documents.

They’re Not Going Anywhere: They’re Organized and Organizing and God is on their Side

There was some difference of opinion among WCF speakers, based on where they are from and whether they are more focused on abortion or LGBT issues, about the extent to which they are currently losing or winning the global culture war. But there was virtual unanimity that with God on their side and a commitment to collaborative organizing, they will ultimately be victorious in defeating the LGBT movement, resisting the advance of “gender ideology,” and resurrecting as a cultural norm, protected and promoted in law, the “natural family” — a mom and a dad and a whole lot of children.

Allan Carlson, retiring after years at the head of WCF’s sponsoring organization, the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, talked about his forthcoming book, which portrays the weakening and strengthening of family systems in America since 1630 as following 50 year swings.  According to Carlson, we could be “on the cusp of a great wave of new family morality,” poised for a generational upswing— a return to early marriage, appreciation for the complementarity between men and women, and higher fertility. Carlson said the sexual revolution “regime” is “crumbling even at the point where it seems to be winning.”

Warren Cole Smith, a vice president of the Colson Center and co-author of “Restoring All Things,” recounted the story of a friend who received a call from someone nearly in despair after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, saying “it’s over.” Smith recalled his response:

What is over? What exactly is over? Has God left his throne? He has not. Is He not still sovereign? He is. When the Obergefell decision came down from the Supreme Court, did God say, ‘Wow, I sure didn’t see that coming.’? Friends, He did not say that….

The story of the universe God is still writing, the arc of history is still unfolding. Unlike what our friend said, it is not over. And I’ve read the last chapter of the book, and guess what? God wins.

That’s not to say that between now and then we won’t have lots of battles to fight and lots of problems so solve. But I want to be clear, I think we should be happy warriors in this process, knowing that God is indeed building the house. God is indeed on our side. And we have the great joy of participating in what God is doing in the world, if only we will.

The World Congress of Families, with its dozens of partner organizations and more than 3,300 participants from 65 countries, is a dramatic demonstration of the institutional cultural, legal, and political infrastructure that has been built by conservative religious organizations not only in the U.S. but around the globe, with financial and strategic support flowing in all directions. 

Seasoned activists and the hundreds of “emerging leaders” had the opportunity to get training in starting a new organization and raising money online from Ignacio Arsuaga, whose HazteOir and CitizenGo platforms have put social-media organizing techniques developed in the U.S. into the hands of conservatives in Europe and elsewhere with campaigns in an expanding number of languages. Conference attendees could take a workshop on messaging from Frank Schubert, the mastermind of fearmongering strategies used by campaigns against marriage equality in the U.S. They could study networking and coalition building with Alexey Komov, the Russian activist who says that Russia and Eastern Europe, having been helped by Western countries to throw off communism, can now return the favor by helping the West defeat the new totalitarianism of the sexual revolution.


Samuel Rodriguez Hails Cindy Jacobs As 'A Legitimate Prophet Of God'

For years, we have marveled that Samuel Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has managed to maintain a reputation as some sort of a moderate conservative evangelical leader while, at the same time, regularly partnering with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right.

Perhaps nothing better demonstrates his ties to even the outermost fringes of the movement like the praise he heaped upon Cindy Jacobs when she appeared on his TBN program "The Lamb's Agenda" last month.

Jacobs is a self-proclaimed modern-day prophet who is infamous for having once declared that a rash of bird deaths in Arkansas was the result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She routinely claims that her prayers have stopped terrorist attacks, saved the economy, prevented coups, and captured world leaders. Her prayers can likewise heal medical conditions, cure insanity, and even bring people back from the dead. Jacobs' prophetic gifts are so powerful, in fact, that even her young children had the power to stop tornadoes and prevent presidential assassinations.

With a record as impressive and verifiable as that, it was no wonder that Rodriguez would hail Jacobs as one of those "voices that God has anointed with such integrity" that she cannot possibly be anything but "a legitimate instrument of God, a legitimate prophet of God."

"There are integral vessels," he said, "there are men and women of God with integrity, whereby they utter a word and it comes from Heaven, so I want this audience and you to help me welcome one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God, Dr. Cindy Jacobs."

Koch Brothers’ LIBRE Initiative Pushes Free-Market Gospel To Latinos

The LIBRE Initiative is the Latino outreach program of the Koch brothers’ political network. With millions of dollars from the Kochs and their allies since its founding in 2011, LIBRE has established a presence in 10 states and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on deceptive political ads. Its ultimate goal, shared with the broader network of Koch organizations, is to build political power by electing anti-government conservatives to office at all levels. LIBRE’s job is to help right-wingers into office by a) convincing more Latinos to support anti-government candidates, and/or b) discouraging other Latinos from bothering to vote by running attack ads on progressive candidates.

LIBRE is also part of another right-wing tactic – convincing religious voters that opposition to progressive taxes, unions, and government regulation are actually biblical positions. LIBRE's executive director Daniel Garza himself does this, asking in an interview with a newspaper at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, “Why should the principles espoused by Gloria Steinem or Ralph Nader have more supremacy over those espoused by Jesus Christ in the Bible?”

LIBRE has a director of faith outreach, John Mendez, who preaches this free-market gospelto religious and Tea Party groups. Mendez explained in an interview with the Pacific Justice Institute that “we come in and inform them and teach them on those principles of economic freedom and free enterprise from not only a constitutional perspective, but also a biblical perspective.” He told ThinkProgressthat Scripture says “you should not be dependent on government.”

Another LIBRE spokesperson, Rachel Campos-Duffy, spoke at a conservative evangelical gathering in 2013, where she criticized school breakfast programs for low income students, saying they infringed on family bonding. She has since backed Republican cuts in food stamp funding.

Garza has enlisted others as well, including Latino evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez, who says in a 2011 LIBRE video that Hispanic people are being enslaved by big government and that it is both anti-Christian and anti-American to “punish success” – code for progressive taxation.

Garza and Rodriguez commiserate over the fact that the Hispanic community no longer embraces the values of family and entrepreneurship brought to this country by immigrant parents and grandparents, and they blame dependency on government. Says Rodriguez, “We become assimilated and acculturated, not to the good values but to the bad values of government dependency. We become acculturated and assimilated and integrated to the ideas of the New Deal, and big uber-government.”

Rodriguez refers to the Christian Reconstructionist notion that the government must not do things that the Bible says are the role of the family. He decries “the current reality of uber-subsidization, the role of government taking over the role of God and family.” When government replaces man’s role as bread-winner, and people depend on government, he says, “We are basically being enslaved by big government, and by uber-subsidization.”

Rodriguez says the family is in peril because “government is growing in our lives. We need to go back to the formula that made us great, which is the idea of our faith in the Lord and economic liberty, economic freedom.” He says government dependency is leading to the continued destruction of the Hispanic community as a community that “embodies the idea of la familia” into one that embodies “failure, misery, poverty, both economic poverty, but spiritual, mental, emotional and collective corporate poverty.”

In a 2014 LIBRE video telling the story of Garza’s family, much is made of his father’s “noble” refusal to accept assistance from the government. In his interview with Garza, Rodriguez also implies that there is something shameful about accepting welfare: “We need to rebuke the welfare presence, and embrace the presence of scripture, and of family, and of education…we really need to free ourselves from that slave mentality of Egypt….”

Garza asks when Latinos began to see rich people as the enemy, and Rodriguez blames liberals and a liberal media. He says wealth is a sign of God’s blessing. “It’s anti-Christian to think that people that have been blessed…that they are wrong….Blessed people are a manifestation of scripture….In scripture there is an incredible amount of support for the idea that, yes, provision and abundance comes from God…”

Rodriguez said that many have taken Jesus’s saying that it is more difficult for a rich man to make it to heaven “completely out of context.” Says Rodriguez, “We’re beyond that. We understand that one verse does not establish doctrine.” Jesus’s ministry, he says, had some “financial resourcing” from “resourceful fisherman,” tax collectors, and others who invested in his ministry. Adds Rodriguez, “We cannot punish success…For us to want to actually want to punish success is anti-Christian and anti-American.”

Sam Rodriguez: Gay Marriage Leads To Anti-Christian Discrimination, Hate Speech Laws

During last week’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, where Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee made their pitches for the Latino vote, NHCLC head Sam Rodriguez told a TIME reporter that Republicans will not “fight arduously” to overturn a Supreme Court decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

Of course, on the very same day Rodriguez announced that he and other NHCLC leaders signed a pledge to commit civil disobedience in defiance of any Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. Rodriguez also told a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network that such a ruling would usher in a wave of anti-Christian persecution and possibly hate speech laws banning pastors from quoting the Bible.

He warned that the Supreme Court ruling will decide the fate not only of gay rights but whether parts of the Bible “will be deemed as hate speech” and whether “I will be deemed as a bigot, as an intolerant human being and then we will have laws that will begin to discriminate against me because I am a Christian.”

“This Supreme Court decision carries the potential of initiating a chapter of intolerance towards Christians and bigotry towards Christians in the 21st century,” Rodriguez said.

The Two Faces Of Samuel Rodriguez

For years we have been noting how Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has somehow managed to craft a reputation as a moderate and nonpartisan religious leader while simultaneously serving as a leading anti-gay Religious Right activist.

Nothing better illustrates this duality than the fact that Rodriguez was among those who have signed the right-wing pledge never to accept any Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage and today announced that the board of his organization, the National Hispanic Leadership Council, has unanimously signed it as well:

Today, the board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Counsel-CONEL [sic] unanimously voted to sign the Marriage Pledge. NHCLC-CONEL represents 40,118 Evangelical Hispanic churches in America and about 500,000 in Latin America and Spain. The unanimous vote occurred at the board meeting in Houston while the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the marriage case. NHCLC-CONEL’s board is comprised of 140 members.

NHCLC-CONEL is headed by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. CNN, Fox News, NBC/Telemundo, Time magazine, and The Wall Street Journal have identified Rodriguez as one of the most influential Hispanic evangelical leaders in America.

Elsewhere today, Rodriguez was quoted in a Time magazine piece saying that he does not think that conservatives will react to such a Supreme Court ruling by demanding that it be overturned:

A longtime opponent of same-sex marriage, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez gave a benediction at the last Republican National Convention, sits on the executive board of the National Association of Evangelicals and will host two likely presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, at a gathering of 1,000 Hispanic leaders in Texas on Wednesday.

But if you ask the founder of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference how Republicans should react if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to legalize gay marriage nationwide this year, he doesn’t toe a very hard line. “The Republican position will not be, ‘We will fight arduously to turn back what the Supreme Court has ruled,’ ” he said. “I don’t think you will hear that at all, as a matter of fact.”

Rodriguez and his organization have both signed on to a pledge vowing never to accept such a ruling because "redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross" while, at the same time, he is telling Time that fighting against the legalization of gay marriage will not really be an important issue for conservatives.

Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee to Attend Samuel Rodriguez Confab This Week

Presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush are scheduled to appear at this week’s convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston. The NHCLC is headed by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez:

While Rodriguez cultivates a public posture that he is nonpartisan and committed to justice as well as righteousness – he fancies himself  a combination of Billy Graham and Martin Luther King – he cemented his position as a member of the Religious Right when he made the wildly anti-gay Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and welcomed Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver onto the group’s board.

Rodriguez does break with right-wing orthodoxy on a couple of big issues, including his support for immigration reform and support for the embattled Common Core educational standards. But not on abortion, marriage, and the Religious Right's religious liberty rhetoric.

Rodriguez has called the push for marriage equality “the war on the biblical doctrine of marriage” and warned that in America “there is an attempt to silence Christendom.” Just last week he joined more than 200 anti-gay extremists in signing a pledge to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The pledge says, in part:

Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

The conference at which Bush and Huckabee are scheduled to appear will celebrate NHCLC going global through last year’s merger with a Latin American evangelical organization CONELA; a new name for the merged NHCLC/CONELA will be announced. Staver had encouraged Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver traveled to Peru to oppose moves toward LGBT equality there. Staver colleague Matt Barber praised NHCLC for “putting up a firewall” to protect Latin America from a “cancerous invasion of immorality” being exported by the Obama administration and “radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism.”

For the record, Rodriguez’s claims that the NHCLC/Conela merger makes it the biggest evangelical network in the world and the representative of evangelicals in Latin America has been publicly challenged by the World Evangelical Alliance, which recognizes the Latin Evangelical Alliance as the regional representative of evangelicals; the group was formed in 2013 by the presidents of 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America.

This week, Rodriguez announced that the NHCLC is partnering with Trinity Broadcasting Network to launch TBN Salsa, which will feature music and ministry programs aimed at English-speaking second- and third-generation Hispanics. 

Santorum & Huckabee Join Anti-Gay Extremists In Vowing To Resist Marriage Equality Ruling

Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The pledge, which was co-written by Mat Staver of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and Deacon Keith Fournier, a Catholic activist who recently argued that marriage equality is quite literally an attack of the Devil, recycles the language of a similar document circulated by right-wing groups when the Supreme Court took up a previous set of marriage cases in 2013. Staver and a number of other activists introduced the current pledge at a press conference this morning.

Along with Huckabee and Santorum, signers include former House GOP leader Tom Delay; big players in the Religious Right including John Hagee, Samuel Rodriguez and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson; and fringe anti-gay activists including Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Cindy JacobsLinda Harvey and Bradlee Dean.

Comparing any sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality to the Dred Scott case, the activists vow that they will not recognize such a decision and indicate that they would try to convince national and state executive branches not to enforce it.

The full text of the pledge:

We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.

On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.

Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.

We pledge to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.

The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.

As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.

Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.

Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.

Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.

The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.

In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.

We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

h/t RWW reader Erik

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 11/5/14

  • Ben Carson has officially changed his party affiliation to Republican, because one needs to get all one's ducks in a row before launching a pointless vanity campaign for president.
  • Right-wing activists who screamed about Democrats in the Senate implementing the "nuclear option" are predictably asking Sen. Mitch McConnell to retain it now that it might benefit Republicans.
  • There is something quite amusing about Glenn Beck thinking that people being spectacularly wrong ought to be cause for embarrassment.
  • Samuel Rodriguez seems to think that placing Republicans in control of Congress will now help the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Finally, despite the best efforts of right-wing groups, Lawrence VanDyke lost his Montana Supreme Court campaign.

Rodriguez: Christians Must Vote Because 'Today's Complacency Is Tomorrow's Captivity'

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was a guest on James Robison's "Life Today" program this morning, where he called upon Christians to vote according to "what the Word of God says" because there is a movement at work that seeks "to silence Christians in America."

Rodriguez warned that Christians cannot afford to sit out this election because "today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity" and just as Christians in other countries are being killed by terrorists, so too are Christians in America being silenced by those who promote "moral relativism and cultural decadence."

"There is an attempt, believe it or not, to silence Christians in America," he said. "There is a war against our Judeo-Christian value system. And we speak against terrorist groups that are doing so many horrific things to our brothers and sisters in Christ and other religious minorities around the world but in our own nation, from a political standpoint, from a legislative standpoint or a public policy standpoint there is an attempt to silence Christendom. There is an attempt!"

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