Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacted to the news that “the Pentagon has published a handbook for transgender service” by claiming that it would be better if the military disbanded altogether than accommodate transgender service members.
Perkins spoke about the new handbook on his “Washington Watch” program with Jerry Boykin, the FRC’s executive vice president.
“So we see the administration pushing forward without congressional input on integrating transgenders [sic] into our nation’s military,” Perkins said. “What else can this administration do to the military other than just disband it?”
Later, he added: “I probably need to take it back when I said that the only thing worse the president could do would be to disband the military. Actually, that might even be better. We’re probably better off without a military that is not compromised, because we think we have a military that’s defending our country and able to do that but we have a military that in many ways is a hollowed-out shell.”
When asked how he would approach mental health issues such as PTSD and if he would support spiritual counseling for veterans affected by them, Trump implied that veterans who are “strong” don’t suffer from such afflictions.
“When you talk about the mental health problems,” he said, “when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in the room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.”
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins interviewed Rep. Louie Gohmert yesterday about reports, which turned out to be erroneous, that the man who shot five people in a Washington state mall last weekend had voted three times despite not being a citizen. Gohmert was positively jubilant about the false report, saying that it was “the perfect evidence” to contradict “liberal judges” who say that there is no widespread voting by noncitizens.
Gohmert, a Texas Republican, then linked the story to efforts to pass criminal justice reform legislation, claiming that Democrats are relying on the votes of “felons,” “people that can't speak English”—who he claimed are unable to follow the news—and undocumented immigrants in order to win elections.
“But, you know, what does it say about your party if you want felons to vote and you want people who don’t speak English to vote and you want people that are here illegally to vote?” he asked. “If your platform will only get voted into office by those people—felons, people that can’t speak English and haven’t been able to follow personally what’s actually going on in politics without getting an interpretation, and those who are illegally here, show no regard for the law—I would think you’d need to think about changing your platform.”
The congressman added that the Washington shooter “seems to be a big fan of Hillary Clinton,” which shows who “the Democrat drones” are.
Perkins responded that the Obama administration is “trying to basically flood the zone” with “Syrian refugees and others” in order to help Democrats.
“Exactly,” Gohmert replied. “And they know which party will be most helpful to them who have no regard for the law.”
People who have served time for felonies are in fact allowed to vote in many states, thanks to bipartisan efforts to restore their voting rights. While most naturalized citizens are required to pass an English test, in many cases election materials are translated for those with less English proficiency. However, Democrats are not allowing undocumented immigrants to vote without obtaining citizenship, as Gohmert asserts.
Donald Trump has repeatedly pledged to make conservative Christians more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions on churches’ and other tax-exempt nonprofits’ ability to do electoral work. On Wednesday two Republican congressmen, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Georgia’s Jody Hice, introduced H.R. 6195, what they call the “Free Speech Fairness Act,” which would lay the groundwork for a President Trump to do just that.
Trump has said he decided to call for repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which dates to 1954, when he heard from pastors that it restricted their ability to help him get elected. He has made it clear that he sees its repeal as a way to build Christian conservatives’ political muscle. So it was a bit unconvincing to have Scalise and Hice portray their legislation not as a vehicle for turning churches into more effective political machines, but merely an effort to protect the trampled-upon free speech rights of pastors and nonprofits.
Scalise and Hice say their bill would allow churches and nonprofits to make political statements if those statements are in the ordinary course of their regular work and any expenses related to them are de minimis. In their example, a preacher could endorse a candidate as part of a sermon, and a church could do the same in its normal newsletter. Under their rules, they say, the church couldn’t launch a new political direct mail campaign that is outside the normal scope of its work. But given the massive communications networks that many megachurches and nonprofit religious broadcasters have, this seems like more of a fig leaf than an actual limitation.
Before coming to Congress, Hice was a pastor in Georgia. He said he was one of 33 pastors who challenged the Johnson Amendment back in 2008 with the help of ADF, a challenge that grew into “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an annual project that encourages pastors to violate legal restrictions by endorsing candidates from the pulpit and daring the IRS to come after them. Not coincidentally, this year’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday is this weekend, October 2.
Speakers at this week’s press conference portrayed the Johnson Amendment as a dire restriction on free speech and religious liberty. ADF’s Holcomb said it has had “devastating impacts on religious freedom and the freedom of speech.” Hice said it is “unconscionable that our government would force individuals to choose between their constitutionally protected rights or their faith.”
Perkins quoted Martin Luther King Jr. at the press conference, and his commentary on the new bill at the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal features a large photograph of King. Jackson also cited the civil rights movement. But the example of King actually undermines their hyperbolic claims about Johnson Amendment, which was in effect in the late 1950s and 1960s when African American pastors and churches served as moral and logistical focal points for the civil rights movement. They were not “muzzled” any more than conservative megachurches have been “muzzled” in speaking out about abortion for the past 40 years or rallying their members to vote against equality for LGBT people.
Under the existing IRS rules, the Family Research Council has no problem communicating on the issues of the day with the 11,000 pastors in its network. Indeed, there are currently multiple voter registration and GOTV operations being carried out by Religious Right networks through conservative evangelical churches. Trump and other Republican presidential candidates have appeared before gatherings of pastors brought together by Christian nationalist David Lane, who has recruited hundreds of pastors to run for office.
Their First Amendment freedoms are quite intact. But they’re looking for more—the ability of churches, religious broadcasters and other nonprofits to engage in direct electoral advocacy with tax-exempt funds. Speakers at Religious Right conferences routinely blame what they see as America’s moral decline on timid preaching, and they blame that on pastors who are intimidated by the IRS or hide behind the supposed threat of the IRS to avoid taking strong political stands. Charisma’s Bob Eschliman even said in praising the new bill that the Third Great Awakening—a national spiritual revival longed for by Religious Right leaders—cannot come about until the nation’s pulpits are “unshackled from the Johnson Amendment.”
Perkins, who is honorary chairman for Pulpit Freedom Sunday, bragged about the fact that he worked with the Trump campaign to get language calling for repeal of the Johnson Amendment into the Republican Party platform. He praised Trump for making it a campaign issue, adding, “I hope the next time that I’m talking about this could possibly be as he’s signing it behind his desk as president.”
Donald Trump’s campaign has given the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody a sneak peek at the members of a “pro-life advisory council” that the candidate is set to introduce today. Earlier this month, Trump sent a letter to “pro-life leaders” laying out a number of promises that he would make to their movement and announcing that Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the anti-choice electoral group Susan B. Anthony List, would spearhead the new anti-abortion coalition for his campaign.
Trump has given the anti-abortion movement some serious heartburn during his campaign as he’s continually reshaped his position on the issue and bungled their talking points, including at one point saying that women should face “some form of punishment” for abortion if the procedure is recriminalized. But since earning the Republican nomination, he’s started to win over many skeptical anti-abortion leaders with promises to appoint Supreme Court justices who share their views and to help them dismantle Planned Parenthood.
Brody writes that the full list released today “may indeed give comfort to those remaining evangelicals who are having a tough time making their way to the voting booth this Election Cycle.” Indeed, while Trump has attempted to say different things about abortion rights to different audiences, this new coalition shows that he is ready to go all-in with a movement that ultimately wants to ban the procedure without exception.
On the new list of Trump’s anti-choice allies are a number of legislators who have taken the lead on fighting abortion rights in Congress, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who led the House select committee investigating Planned Parenthood, Rep. Diane Black, Rep. Trent Franks and Rep. Chris Smith. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is on the list, as is Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Ruse, who works at the United Nations to attempt to stop the adoption of language friendly to LGBT equality and reproductive rights, has declared, for instance, that “comprehensive sexuality education” is “a phrase created in the pits of hell by wicked individuals who wanted to undermine the family and ultimately destroy any institution that stands between the family and the state.” After meeting with Trump earlier this year, Ruse said that the GOP candidate “doesn’t care about” reproductive rights and therefore will “let our side do exactly what we want to do.”
In response to a caller to a Catholic radio program who said that Trump’s stances on things like nuclear warfare and going after the families of suspected terrorists aren’t exactly pro-life, Pavone said that the potential of Trump dropping an atomic bomb is less dangerous than the certainty of Hillary Clinton continuing the “raging holocaust” of legal abortion. On another radio program, Pavone argued that it is more important that a candidate be “right on abortion” than on “poverty, immigration, war and peace, homelessness [and] health care.”
Pavone, after Trump said he supported punishing women who have abortions, floated the possibility of legal punishments for abortion “accomplices,” such as the person who brings a woman to a clinic.
Other activists in Trump’s coalition have been leaders of the effort to chip away at abortion access by attempting to regulate abortion providers out of existence. When Yoest was at Americans United for Life, she was at the forefront of what she called this “stealth strategy” of “trench warfare and gaining ground under the radar.”
Five years ago today, the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy officially came to an end. And, five years later, conservatives’ dire predictions about the consequences of the policy’s repeal have yet to come true.
This falls into a familiar pattern. Many of the same activists and commentators have made similarly apocalyptic—and unfounded—warnings about the effects of hate crimes laws and marriage equality.
Here are just five of the bogus claims made by those who opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
Just two years ago, Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain who is now a Colorado Republican state lawmaker, approvingly read a quote from Chaplain John R. Kauffman, who said that gay service members will be “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.”
Conservative columnist Laurie Roth said that thanks to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, military service members would be free to have intimate moments with goats and boars.
3) ‘Virtual Genocide’
In 2011, American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer predicted that after the policy’s repeal took effect “the homosexual lobby” would be “committing one hate crime after another against service members” who objected to homosexuality.
“We are going to see principle-driven officers, one after another, become the victims of systematic hate crimes,” he said. “This is going to be a pogrom. This is going to be virtual genocide, military genocide, career genocide for people of faith in the military perpetrated by the homosexual lobby.”
4) Reinstatement of the Draft
Before the congressional vote to repeal the policy, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins criticized President Obama’s “drive to repeal the ban on open homosexuality in the military” by warning that it “could have this unintended consequence: It could bring back the draft.”
He said that supporters of the repeal wanted to “appease a small base of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi” and “sacrifice the lives of young Marines who are putting their life on the line for this nation.”
“I don’t know how they can live with that, knowing that the blood of those young Marines will be on their hands,” he added.
Perkins’ fellow Religious Right activist Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness similarly warned that the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “could put remaining troops in greater danger” and “break the All-Volunteer Force.”
“The draft will return with a vengeance and out of necessity,” Fischer wrote. “What young man wants to voluntarily join an outfit that will force him to shower naked with males who have a sexual interest in him and just might molest him while he sleeps in his bunk?”
5) ‘Sitting Around Getting Massages All Day’
In 2014, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said that gay service members, just like in Ancient Greece, won’t perform well in battle because they will be “sitting around getting massages all day” from their same-sex lovers rather than preparing for battle, making them “vulnerable to terrorism.”
As this weekend’s Values Voter Summit got underway, Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, said that he hoped the event would help conservative Christians become “comfortable” with the idea of voting for Donald Trump.
The event ended up being packed with references to the importance of voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton. And, on Saturday, FRC members received a direct mail piece from the organization making an argument for conservative Christians to support the GOP nominee and his fellow Republicans in order to fight Democrats who are trying to put “the priority of sexual unrestraint ahead of religious freedom in every area of our lives.”
While never mentioning Trump or Clinton by name, the mailing, signed by the group’s president, Tony Perkins, makes its point clear.
Perkins first boasts of the FRC’s role in shaping the ultraconservative Republican platform, contrasting it with the Democrats’ platform of “sexual unrestraint”:
[T]he major political parties have confirmed their nominees, and in spite of the understandable misgivings of many true conservatives, this election now presents America with a clear choice:
· One party has declared in its platform that they will continue putting the priority of sexual unrestraintahead ofreligious freedom in every area of our lives.
· The other party has committed itself to the most strongly conservative platform of any we’ve seen in a century.
And you had a hand in this platform victory. Your support for FRC Action made it possible for us to bring maximum influence to bear on the Republican Party platform-development process.
With your strong support, I was able to add eight amendments to the platform and was able to work with other delegates on dozens more, many of them designed specifically to champion and protect religious liberty. Your investment in FRC Action produced a tremendous return.
He then moves on to a defense of Trump, citing the GOP nominee’s promise to appoint judges who will uphold the Religious Right’s priorities, his vow to repeal IRS restrictions on politicking by churches that receive nonprofit tax breaks, and his “support for the freedom to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in the public sphere.”
“This is not an evangelical Christian candidate,” Perkins writes, “but these are connection points with evangelical Christians who have seen their beliefs constantly attacked in recent years. These are starting points for a new administration with a renewed friendliness toward Christian values”:
The candidate of one party has consistently reached out to Christian groups. The other has opposed everything we believe and everything we’ve worked for.
· One of these candidates would continue to appoint liberal activist judges and justices who will deny religious liberty for families like the Stormans…continue to use the sexual revolution (new “genders,” redefining marriage, etc.) to attack religious freedom…and will continue allowing the killing of unborn children.
· The other candidate has committed to appointing judges who will adhere to the confines of the Constitution. This candidate has also embraced the cause of religious liberty.
This candidate has specifically called out the Johnson Amendment, which restricts the freedom of churches to address political issues. This candidate has even expressed support for the freedom to say “Merry Christmas” in the public sphere!
This is not an evangelical Christian candidate, but these are connection points with evangelical Christians who have seen their beliefs constantly attacked in recent years. These are starting points for a new administration with a renewed friendliness toward Christian values.
The only thing more ironic than Donald Trump complaining about Hillary Clinton’s criticism of the “deplorables” who support his candidacy is Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council pointing to her comments as proof that liberals are mean-spirited and “narrow-minded.” Perkins, who was speaking on Fox Business News, even hinted about Clinton possibly imprisoning her opponents:
In response to Stan’s question, Perkins first seemed to indicate that he didn’t know what the alt-right was, but then praised the Trump campaign for giving “voice to a lot of people who feel like their voice has all but been snuffed out under this administration,” saying that “there have been a lot of alternative voices that have risen up” as the Obama administration “has increasingly tried to marginalize people who do not surrender to a progressive, liberal agenda.”
AlterNet: I’m wondering what you make of Trump’s hiring of Steve Bannon, who said that he had provided the platform for the alt-right.
Tony Perkins: The what?
AlterNet: The alt-right, which Hillary Clinton—
TP: —I didn’t hear his comment, so I can’t really speak to that. I can speak to the fact that, in the last eight years, this administration, which Hillary Clinton has been a part of, has increasingly tried to marginalize people who do not surrender to a progressive, liberal agenda. And there have been a lot of alternative voices that have risen up, just because Americans feel they are under constant threat by this administration’s policies. So, what has given Donald Trump, I believe, the nomination, is that he has given voice to a lot of people who feel like their voice has all but been snuffed out under this administration.
On Thursday, Michele Bachmann told “Washington Watch” host Tony Perkins that President Obama is planning to steal the election for Hillary Clinton, pointing to recent comments by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about how his department can work with states “on how best to secure online data and protect individual polling places from the potential threat of hackers.”
The former Minnesota congresswoman told Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, that “every one of your listeners should worry that this administration could possibly not only seek to federalize these elections but also be aiding and abetting what effectively is stealing an election to ensure the right outcome so that in their minds Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.”
If a federal takeover of the election process occurs, Bachmann said, “we should be screaming from the housetops that the administration is trying to steal this election and put the fix in.”
Bachmann also urged members of Congress to impeach Johnson and other officials who are bent on “nationalizing these local and state elections.”
Congress should even consider shutting down the government over the matter, she said, and should explain to voters “that the president is trying to fix the outcome of this election.”
“Otherwise, why are we bothering to go through these primaries and this huge, long process of electing a president only to have it undermined by having the president steal the election by having the federal government, in an unprecedented, first-ever time, of taking over the state and local duty of running elections?” she asked.
Countless articles have been written on Donald Trump's relationship with the Religious Right, often by those who argue that his rise reveals the movement's increasing irrelevance. After all, how could social conservatives ever get behind a thrice-married failed casino mogul who is more comfortable at the Playboy Mansion than at church? He has bragged that he has never asked God for forgiveness, insisted that Jesus Christ had a massive ego (in an interview with Playboy) and, in an episode that carries obvious symbolism, threw cash on the communion plate in an Iowa church.
It's almost as if the Religious Right cares more about gaining political power than defending Christian teachings.
Trump is slated to make an appearance today at the Values Voter Summit, the annual Washington, D.C., convention organized by the Family Research Council that's the marquis event on the Religious Right's calendar. Trump's appearance at the summit isn't discordant; as his campaign has progressed, it has become clear why the movement has rallied behind him and why he has relied on its support.
Trump once told a crowd at a Christian university not to forgive their enemies but to "get even." The leaders of today's Religious Right have been preaching that message for years, treating politics as a no-holds-barred battle against opponents who they regard not just as people with different points of view, but as spiritual enemies.
For instance, Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council (FRC), has described supporters of LGBT rights as pawns of Satan.
Trump's demagogic, hateful rhetoric has nothing on the Religious Right, whose leaders have been belittling and denigrating LGBT people, religious minorities and Christians who don't agree with their right-wing political ideology for years.
It wasn't surprising that most Religious Right leaders who talk a big game on religious liberty either stayed silent or were openly supportive when Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the country. A spokesman for the American Family Association, a cosponsor of the Values Voter Summit, had called for a Muslim ban long before Trump ever did.
While many evangelicals, along with Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants, have worked tirelessly to reform the country's immigration system, conservative Religious Right groups like the FRC and the AFA have denounced immigration reform.
Trump and Religious Right groups have also joined together in portraying American Christians as a marginalized group under constant persecution thanks to the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits houses of worship and other nonprofits from explicitly endorsing candidates if they want to maintain their tax-exempt status, and injustices like the "War on Christmas," with Trump even claiming that he was personally a victim of anti-Christian persecution because he was subject to a routine IRS audit.
And above all, the movement's leaders are thrilled that Trump has promised to give them the Supreme Court of their dreams, even letting conservative activists hand-pick his nominees.
The Religious Right, with its constant talk of the country's imminent undoing by evil anti-American actors, promotion of conspiracy theories and patently hateful rhetoric, paved the way for Trump's success in the GOP primaries. Now, Trump needs the movement to help put him over the top in November, and will be more than happy to further its agenda if he makes it into the White House.
At the Values Voter Summit, Trump will surely pander to the Religious Right. But he should also thank them.
Donald Trump is set to appear Friday at the Values Voter Summit, a Washington, D.C., conference organized by the Family Research Council that brings together what we’ve called “some of the country’s most extreme opponents of LGBT rights, vocal conspiracy theorists and outspoken critics of the separation of church and state.”
But pandering to extremists is nothing new for Trump. And he himself has found political success by promoting many of the Religious Right’s fears about supposed anti-Christian persecution in America and a pro-Muslim bias within the Obama administration.
Trump will be joining some of the country’s most hateful groups at the Values Voter Summit. Here are just 10 of the convening’s sponsors and exhibitors:
1)Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX)
PFOX is dedicated to promoting ex-gay conversion therapy and “educating society on the facts about sexual orientation in order to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against ex-gays and those trying to overcome same-sex attraction.”
The group’s materials have described coming out as “a kind of murder of the family” and railed against “homofascism.” One of the group’s top officials, Greg Quinlan, has claimed that President Obama and Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan are all secretly gay and has accused gay people of “sexual cannibalism.” Quinlan even blamed suicides among gay youth on gay “recruitment”: “We’re making martyrs out of kids that we’re recruiting to behave as homosexuals when no one is born that way, and that’s the problem and that’s the issue.”
PFOX also has ties to the FRC, the summit’s chief sponsor: FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg is a PFOX board member and the FRC has promoted PFOX’s events.
Jeet Heer of The New Republic writes that the Birchers’ conspiratorial nature helped set the stage for Trump’s nomination: “Far from belonging merely to the lunatic fringe, the Birchers were important precursors to what is now the governing ideology of the Republican Party: Trumpism. Bircherism is now, with Trump, flourishing in an entirely new way. Far from being drummed out of conservatism, it has become the dominant strain.”
3)Americans For Truth About Homosexuality
A former Family Research Council official, Peter LaBarbera founded Americans For Truth About Homosexuality in order to apply “single-minded determination to opposing the radical homosexual agenda” or, as he sometimes calls it, “the hydra-headed monster of the Homosexual/Transsexual Lobby.”
In LaBarbera’s ideal America, the government would imprison doctors who perform sex reassignment surgery for transgender people, close the door to refugees who are gay, launch a campaign against “homosexual behavior” just as it did against tobacco products and “re-stigmatize” homosexuality.
4)Family Watch International
With a global focus, Family Watch International has promoted ex-gay therapy and laws criminalizing homosexuality overseas.
One of the most glaring examples of its activism is in Nigeria, where the group’s leadership pushed the country’s lawmakers to adopt a law that “punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison” and “prohibits anyone from officiating a gay union, bans same-sex ‘amorous relationships’ and membership in an LGBT advocacy group.” The law has led to dozens of arrests.
Liberty Counsel is a conservative legal advocacy firm with close ties to Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell. The group recently gained national attention for its work representing Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who defied federal courts by attempting to obstruct the recognition of marriage equality in his state.
Anita Staver, Staver’s wife and the president of Liberty Counsel, recently said that she would take her gun into restrooms in reaction to Target’s decision to let transgender customers use the restroom that matches their gender identity, although she was unable to connect the store’s policy to any criminal acts.
Intercessors for America, as we’ve reported, has “prayed to stop anti-bullying laws to protect LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth, warning they ‘can only lead to God’s judgment,’ and that support for marriage equality ‘leads a soul to eternal damnation.’” The group also “believes that federal government is developing technology to implant microchips in all citizens as a form of mind control.”
9)Tradition, Family And Property
The Roman Catholic organization Tradition, Family and Property is a group of men who dress up like knights with trademark red capes and costumes and tour the country protesting events they perceive as anti-Catholic, as well as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The group is particularly active in its opposition to gay rights, advocating for colleges to disband LGBT clubs and protesting Desmond Tutu due to his “affirmation of the homosexual agenda.” One of the group’s board members suggested that tornadoes were God’s judgment for gay marriage .
10)Family Research Council
The Values Voter Summit’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, is far from a mainstream group.
Donald Trump is scheduled to speak this week at the Values Voter Summit, the annual confab hosted by the Religious Right powerhouse the Family Research Council. While Trump has claimed that he will be a better “friend of LGBT Americans” than Hillary Clinton (just “ask the gays”), his appearance at VVS shows the extent to which he has cozied up with some of the country’s fiercest opponents of LGBT equality, going so far as to offer them their pick of Supreme Court justices.
While the Religious Right has changed its messaging in recent years to claim that conservative Christians in the U.S. are facing persecution from LGBT rights activists, it was not long ago that many of the same groups were fighting to preserve laws that made gay people criminals—and some still support enacting these policies at home and abroad.
The Family Research Council, which is the chief organizer of the conference, is a case in point. In 2003, when the Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of Texas’ ban on “sodomy” in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, the FRC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state. When the court ruled against Texas in the case, the FRC called it “a direct attack on the sanctity of marriage” and the group’s president, Tony Perkins, declared, “What’s at stake here is the very foundation of our society, not only of America but all Western civilization.”
Not only has Perkins defended state laws criminalizing same-sex relations, he once defended a notorious anti-gay bill in Uganda that at the time he discussed it proposed life in prison or even the death penalty for people who have sex with someone of the same sex. Perkins lauded this bill as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable,” criticizing President Obama for opposing it. The FRC even spent $25,000 to lobby Congress about a resolution denouncing the Ugandan bill—the group later claimed that it didn’t oppose the resolution, it just wanted to make its language less friendly to gay rights. In 2011, FRC asked its members to pray to give Malawi the “courage to withstand U.S. coercion” and maintain its ban on homosexuality.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the FRC who will have a speaking slot at this weekend’s summit, has perhaps been the most clear about the organization’s views on the subject. Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2010 if he thinks “we should outlaw gay behavior,” Sprigg replied, “Yes.” In a 2008 television interview, Sprigg mused, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”
The American Family Association, another sponsor of the Values Voter Summit, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case, writing in the amicus brief that a law like Texas' could prevent the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy” and would even protect the gay people it targeted by sparing them “illness, disease and death resulting from [their] conduct.” That same year, the AFA published an essay lamenting that the disappearance of sodomy laws showed that “Judeo-Christian views” were being abandoned in favor of “moral relativism.” In 2011, then-AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer said that homosexuality should be a “criminal offense.”
First Liberty, another sponsor of the event, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case (under its previous incarnation as the Liberty Legal Institute), with the group’s leader Kelly Shackelford—also a speaker at this year’s VVS—declaring that there is “no constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy.”
Other figures at the Values Voter Summit have also supported criminal bans on homosexuality.
Many Religious Right leaders have rallied behind Trump because he has promised to give them their ideal Supreme Court justices and lower court judges. Very recent history shows that these groups aren’t just interested in using the courts to reverse marriage equality—which would be harmful enough on its own—but also to severely roll back years of hard-won legal protections for LGBT people. Trump says that he’d be better for the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton—but we doubt that he’ll bring that message to the Values Voter Summit.
Donald Trump is slated to join conservative activists and a number of GOP elected officials at next weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual Washington, D.C., event sponsored by the Family Research Council.
The activists joining Trump at the Values Voter Summit are some of the country’s most extreme opponents of LGBT rights, vocal conspiracy theorists and outspoken critics of the separation of church and state:
As the president of the Family Research Council, the summit’s main sponsor, Tony Perkins heads the organization’s efforts to erode gay rights, reproductive rights and the separation of church and state.
Denied that there is a correlation between anti-gay bullying and depression and suicide, saying instead that gay and lesbian teens know they are “abnormal” and therefore “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict.”
Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”
Predicted that marriage equality would “create a revolution” that would “break this country apart.” and lead to “the dissolution of the republic.”
Defended Uganda when it sought to make homosexuality a crime warranting long jail sentences and in some instances the death penalty, saying that Uganda was under attack from those trying to force the “homosexual agenda down the throats of other countries.”
Insisted that homosexuality can “go away” once “the underlying psychological problems are addressed.”
James Dobson is the founder of the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family and currently hosts the “Family Talk” radio program. Recently, he signed on to advise Trump as part of the GOP nominee’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board. Dobson:
Compared officials who back the removal of Confederate symbols from government property to ISIS terrorists.
“Duck Commander” Phil Robertson and his family were already reality TV celebrities when they were launched into a new role as right-wing activists after Robertson made racist and homophobic comments in a 2013 magazine interview. Since then, Robertson has appeared at Republican events and in campaign ads, including one for Ted Cruz, and he is now starring in a “Christian war film” called “Torchbearer,” directed by Trump campaign CEO Steven Bannon. Robertson has:
Claimed black people during Jim Crow were not mistreated but were “singing and happy.”
Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking" America.
Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”
William Federer is a conservative author, columnist and media commentator who focuses on the role of Christianity in American history. He has been embraced bymanyRepublicanleaders such as Ben Carson, who plagiarized from Federer’s writings without attribution. Federer has:
While she is no longer a member of Congress, having retired in the midst of a campaign finance scandal, Michele Bachmann has continued to be a vocal conservative activist and End Times forecaster. Bachmann, who recently became a member of Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, has:
Former congressman Allen West has remained active in conservative politics since losing his re-election bid in 2012, joining Fox News as a contributor and becoming executive director of the National Center for Policy Analysis. West has:
A veteran of social conservative campaigns such as the successful effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness is an outspoken critic of attempts to include LGBT people and women in the military. She has:
The FRC fell back again on these martyrdom stories in a fundraising email from the group’s president, Tony Perkins, in which Perkins lists a number of debunked tales ofChristian persecution in the military in order to claim that President Obama’s focus on “undoing the foundation of faith” in the armed forces is “just as dangerous” as the rise of “a new terrorist group”:
There is a grave threat to America's military you won't hear about from the mainstream media. No, it's not a new terrorist group. But it's just as dangerous. President Obama is bent on undoing the foundation of faith that has been a source of strength to America's servicemen and women since Valley Forge. In the irony of ironies, those charged with defending your religious freedom are losing theirs.
Christian servicemen and women need you to stand with them NOW because the persecution they are suffering is going from bad to worse. All you have to do is look at the growing number of those serving our country in uniform who have been punished just for remaining true to their faith.
Army Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn was issued a career-stopping reprimand for the "crime" of mentioning in a suicide prevention class how Scripture helped him through troubled times.
Chaplain Wes Modder was nearly drummed out of the Navy because he gave a biblical answer to a question a sailor asked him about same-sex marriage.
And the persecution of Christians in the military doesn't stop with chaplains whose very job it is to provide spiritual counseling.
Monifa Sterling, a Marine Lance Corporal, was court-martialed for daring to post a Scripture verse in her workstation.
When Air Force Sergeant Phillip Monk wouldn't affirm same-sex marriage, his commander threatened to ruin his career.
These aren't isolated incidences. Individuals in the service who dare to live their faith are being singled out and put in the crosshairs, not for doing anything wrong, but for what they believe. No one who puts on our nation's uniform should ever be forced to deny his or her faith to serve our country. And no organization in Washington does more to defend the religious freedom of our troops than FRC.
FRC is urging the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to make the religious freedom of our servicemen and women a top priority. We are pressuring the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to stop the persecution that is threatening the careers of so many dedicated service members. We are building a strong coalition of high-ranking military officers -- past and present -- to push back against President Obama's efforts to expunge faith from the military.
While chatting with End Times preacher Jonathan Cahn, Perkins joined him in wondering if God was directing Hurricane Joaquin to strike Washington, D.C., and New York as a sign of divine judgment for the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.
“All of these things are quite amazing when you look at them collectively,” Perkins said. “I know that there are those on the left like to mock these things, but America has a history, our leaders actually, our presidents, our governors, when these things have happened in nature like hurricanes, all of these external events that put our nation at risk, there’s a long line of historical tradition here, not so much in recent years, but they have stepped back and said, ‘Is God trying to send us a message?’”
Hillary Clinton has faced her share of sexist attacks in her presidential campaign, and plenty of Clinton supporters have been accused of voting for her “just because she’s a woman,” but attacking Clinton explicitly for being a woman has generally been considered to be beyond the pale. Except, that is, among a small segment of Religious Right activists who believe that God proscribes women from taking political leadership roles and are willing to talk about it.
Back in 2008, when John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, some Religious Right leaders had muddled reactions to a female nominee who also happened to share many of their policy priorities.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins explained that there was no contradiction in supporting a woman as vice president even though he is a member of a denomination that bars women from serving as pastors because the Bible only prohibits a woman from being a “spiritual leader.” Richard Land, then the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, said that it was perfectly fine for Palin to serve in the role as long as her husband was okay with it. Al Mohler said that while he was thrilled with Palin’s politics, if he were her pastor he “would be concerned about how she could balance these responsibilities and what this would mean for her family and her roles as wife and mother.”
Michele Bachmann met some similar reactions when she ran for president in 2012, complicated by the fact that Bachmann herself had declared adherence to submission theology, the belief, as Sarah Posner has explained, that the “husband is the spiritual head of the household, the wife his obedient ‘helpmeet,’ the vessel for their children, devoted mother, and warrior for the faith.” Bachmann deflected those criticisms using logic similar to Perkins’, saying that the presidency “is not a spiritual position, it is a position of authority in our government, it is very different from that of a wife to her husband.”
Not everyone was convinced. While Bryan Fischer, then an official with the American Family Association, wrote early on in Bachmann’s campaign that the congresswoman was “in fact submitting to her husband by running for president ” because her husband had urged her to run, he did not seem completely convinced of his own point. Fischer said on his radio program the very same week that a woman should be allowed to become president only as a last resort “if God can't find any men with the spine and with the testicular fortitude” to lead. In that case, he said, God would “send a woman to do a man’s job.” As the election approached, Fischer went back to stating his belief that political leadership should be “reserved for the hands of males.”
It’s not surprising, then, that the question of whether a woman should be president has bubbled up again this year among some of the same people. Fischer declared this week that he doesn’t “believe that women should be entrusted with high political office,” implying that it would be reasonable to “vote for Trump because he's a man.”
Sam Roher, a former Pennsylvania state legislator who heads the American Pastors Network, which works to organize politically engaged conservative pastors, cited the book of Isaiah this month to argue that having women in political leadership is a mark of judgment upon a nation. “God does raise up women,” he explained, “there is no question about it, but the real condemnation is not the women in office, the condemnation is the disregard and the absolute inability for male leadership to perform as God intended it and I believe that that's the application for us now.”
Gary Dull, a board member of the pastors’ network who also runs its Pennsylvania chapter, used the same passage from Isaiah to argue more firmly that women should not lead nations. “In God's line of authority,” he said last month, “it seems very clear in the scripture that a woman should not be in authority over men, which would limit a woman from being the president of the United States of America or even a queen of some other particular nation.”
And this isn’t even to mention the fringe activists who have said that women shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, including Theodore Shoebat, who recently managed to feed a conspiracy theory about Khizr Khan to the Trump campaign. Jesse Lee Peterson, a frequent guest on conservative talk shows, has also argued that women should never have been given the right to vote.
Those who think a female candidate should be disqualified from the presidency are mercifully few. And submission theology, which deals with a woman’s role in the household and the world, varies greatly among those who preach it. But as the reactions to Clinton’s candidacy have shown, the question of whether a woman should be president hasn’t been entirely settled in the Christian Right. After all, as Phyllis Schlafly says, who needs a woman president when “all our greatest presidents have been men"?
As we have noted, most Religious Right leaders supported Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, while Trump’s “amen corner” consisted primarily of prosperity gospel preachers (like Paula White, who says Trump is “hungry in his heart” for God) and dominionist “prophets” and “apostles.”
And the Lord spoke very clearly to me, and he said to me, ‘This man is going to win the nomination and I want you to be ready to serve my cause when I call you.’…In this instance, it’s not because Donald Trump has heralded his faith or the name of God, but the Lord has put His favor upon him, and how amazing it is that the favor of God can overcome so many mistakes, so many bumbles, so many things that otherwise we would think would destroy somebody in business, destroy them in politics, destroy them in relationships. But yet it’s very evident it was the will of the Lord to do this and here we sit now.
2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fightfor religious freedom
Pastor Michael Anthony, president of Godfactor and founder of the National Week of Repentance, attended Trump’s June meeting with evangelicals and said he is convinced God is using Trump to move Christians to act to defend their religious freedom. “I think God was speaking through him at that moment, to the church, to tell us why are you being silent about the most important thing about your lives?”
3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was a big Ted Cruz backer and has publicly been a somewhat reluctant supporter of Donald Trump. He told radio host Sandy Rios that Trump has made plenty of mistakes, but that if he “walks in that grace that is available” and surrounds himself with good people, he could “cast a vision that moves America back to the country that honors God again and therefore would be a recipient of His blessing.”
4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel
Many conservative evangelicals have embraced a theological approach to Middle East policy, interpreting Bible verses to suggest that in order to enjoy God’s blessing, America must unconditionally support the Israeli government. Says Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United For Israel, “we have a mandate from the Bible and that mandate is to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people.” Even though Trump said earlier this year that he would be “neutral” regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute (a position he later backed away from), right-wing leaders have long denounced Obama as an enemy of Israel. The Times of Israel notes that Hagee, “has all but endorsed Trump by name.” Indeed, Hagee told his viewing audience that God would hold them accountable for their vote, saying, “I’m not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years.” Hagee has complained that “three million evangelicals did not vote in the past election,” saying “God forbid that happen again. We are going to storm the voting booths of America this time around.”
Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s strongest Religious Right allies and a member of the campaign’s evangelical advisory board, declared that it is “biblical” to support a “strongman” to lead the government. Jeffress said he would run “as far as possible” from a candidate who said he would govern according to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. “Nowhere is government told to forgive those who wrong it, nowhere is government told to turn the other cheek. Government is to be a strongman to protect its citizens against evildoers. When I’m looking for somebody who’s going to deal with ISIS and exterminate ISIS, I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find, and I believe that’s biblical.”
Wallnau: "Donald Trump's got this like Elijah mantle on him.” In the biblical book of 2 Kings, the prophet Elijah passed both his physical cloak and spiritual authority to his disciple Elisha when Elijah was taken to heaven in a flaming chariot. The reference to Elijah’s mantle is another way for Wallnau to express his belief that Trump is carrying out a divine mission. Elisha also seems to have had a Trumpish temperament when it comes to accepting criticism; the Bible reports that when some boys jeered at him and called him Baldy, he called down a curse on them and two bears came out of the nearby woods and mauled 42 of the boys.
9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing
“Donald Trump is more prophetic than people think,” Wallnau has said. “There is a Cyrus anointing on this man. He is like a Reformer in secular garb." In a video posted on his Facebook page following a meeting between Trump and religious leaders, Wallnau recounted telling Trump that he would become the 45th president of the United States because he has a "Cyrus anointing" upon him as proclaimed in Isaiah 45, referring to the Persian king who freed the Jews from captivity. “And I believe God had put His hand on you as a Cyrus to be a governor and that the Bible talks about this critical 45th chapter, as the 45th president, it is the decisive moment in American history for leadership,” Wallnau said. He has also explained his Cyrus theory in an interview with Steven Strang.
Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election...
Note: In February Johnson said his prophecy had been misunderstood and that it did not mean Trump would become president, simply that it provided “prophetic insight and direction for the body of Christ,” something Johnson also said about the prophetic dream he had in which the Holy Spirit told him, “Marco Rubio is carrying a Thomas Jefferson anointing for this generation. He will break the back of tyrants and restore the patriotic spirit in America.” It must be said, the Holy Spirit gives Johnson a lot of messages about Republican politicians, telling him in May that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is “my Esther of the hour.”
10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’
Trump “Christian policy” adviser Frank Amedia told Steven Strang that there is “a skirmish going on” in the “heavenlies” right now that “is the beginnings of the preparation of the way of the coming of the Lord.” As part of this preparation for the Second Coming, he said, a “breaker anointing” has taken place, giving Trump the power to break up “established norms” that have not served the “Kingdom of God.” Amedia said, “I perceive that Donald Trump has been raised up with that breaker anointing to just begin to crush all of the strangleholds that have been placed upon this country.”
11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’
12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’
Rick Wiles aired his “Trunews” radio show from a Trump rally in Kissimmee, Florida, in August. Wiles was excited about Trump accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton of having founded the terrorist group ISIS (this was before Trump described the comments as sarcasm). “Donald Trump is telling the truth: Obama and Clinton are behind ISIS. This is what ‘Trunews’ has said for years,” Wiles said, adding later in the show, “It’s like he’s a battering ram, it’s like God has picked him up and used him as a battering ram to beat down the walls of the New World Order.”
13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan
In April, “Trunews” host Rick Wiles invited self-proclaimed prophet Mark Taylor on to his End Times news program to discuss “his amazing 2011 prophecy that Donald Trump has been marked by God to lead America.” Taylor, a retired firefighter, explained that God told him that Donald Trump will be the next president and that anyone who criticizes him will be struck down, explaining that God has been preparing Trump for his entire life to become an extraordinarily successful president who will fight Satan. “The kingdom of darkness is attacking this man like never before,” Taylor said. “God is using this man—he’s not rattling the gates, because when you rattle the gates you don’t make entry—this man is literally splitting the kingdom of darkness right open.”
14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House
In January, Lou Comunale published a YouTube video (which now has more than 400,000 views) promoting a videotape he uncovered of late “prophet” John Paul Jackson interpreting a woman’s dream in 2012. A key element in the dream was a big bulldozer going “right through the White House just like it was a deck of cards.” “Only when you look at it now,” says Comunale “does it look like he’s actually talking about Donald J. Trump in the White House.”
16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is one of Trump’s strongest supporters on the Christian Right. When he introduced Trump on campus in January, Falwell compared Trump to his father, who was proud to be “politically incorrect,” and to Jesus and Martin Luther King, who said radical and unpopular things that upset the religious and political establishment.
17. Trump is like King David
During the primaries, Falwell responded to evangelicals who were critical of his endorsement by saying it’s wrong to be worried about electing the “most righteous” candidate. “God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer,” Falwell said. “You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief. It means sometimes we have to choose a person who has the qualities to lead and who can protect our country and bring us back to economic vitality, and it might not be the person we call when we need somebody to give us spiritual counsel.”
18. Trump is like Saul/Paul
At Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” conference in March, televangelist James Robison literally screamed at participants that they must vote even if Trump was not their preferred candidate. Robison said he hoped that people who are close to Trump, like Falwell and Jeffress, will lead him to a “road to Damascus experience” like that described in the biblical story of Saul, who persecuted Christians but who became Paul the evangelist after an encounter with the risen Jesus. For the world to see God transform someone “who so obviously needs changing,” said Robison, would demonstrate God’s power even more effectively than if the Religious Right had been able to play kingmaker and get their preferred candidate the nomination.
19. Trump is like Samson
Anti-Islam extremist Walid Shoebat has decried Trump critics as “scum” and mocked Fox News’s Megyn Kelly as a “Delilah” sent by Trump’s enemies to try to take him down. “I thought that while this Samson (Trump) sinned, he must have God’s blessings since he is destined for a purpose.” Shoebat said Trump’s rejection of the GOP’s “autopsy report” was a sign that perhaps “God finally intervened.” Samson and Delilah are another scriptural reference, this time from the book of Judges. Samson was a warrior granted super-human strength by God; his unshaven hair was a sign of his commitment to God. But the duplicitous Delilah badgered him into revealing his secret and shaved his head while he was sleeping, allowing him to be captured by the Philistines. God eventually granted him the strength to bring down the pillars supporting the Philistines’ temple, killing himself and thousands of them.
20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln
Wallnau again: “When God wants to move in history, he doesn’t always pick the favorite evangelical.” He explained that God brought Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill to power at crucial moments in history, and that God is now raising up Trump for our time. He knows this, Wallnau said, because God told him so.
21. Trump is like George Washington
Wallnau again, citing the apocryphal story of George Washington supposedly surviving in battle despite his coat and hat being riddled with bullet holes thanks to the protection of God, told Trump that he too is being protected by God. "You've said things and done things that should have put the equivalent of a bullet in your coat," Wallnau said that he told Trump, "but they've passed through you because of the anointing. God is really watching over you.”
22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler
“The thing is, Trump’s supporters know that Trump is an Oscar Schindler, who did not mind bribing the Nazis to get to do what is good,” says Walid Shoebat. “No President can get elected without playing the game. They know that like Obama, who said he ‘loves Israel’ to only gain votes, Trump has to kiss dogs to get to the seat of power. Smattering of moderate-to-liberal policy positions he will gain the votes from democrats. Just as Obama did it, Trump will do the same trick.”
23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil
In June, Jeffress declared of the 2016 election, “This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a battle between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, and I think it is time for people who say they are conservative Christians to get off the fence and go to the polls and vote their convictions.” Jeffress said that unlike President Obama, who he said “hates” conservative Christians, Trump will be a “true friend in the White House” and “appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.” Said Jeffress, “This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about good and evil.”
24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist
American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer declared in August that Hillary Clinton must not be allowed to become president because she is driven by a “profound anti-Christ impulse.” Said Fischer, “Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist because she is against Christ, she is against Christianity, she is against the free exercise of the Christian faith, she doesn’t want the Christian faith to be a part of the public square, to influence public policy in any way, she is against everything that Christianity stands for…She is an opponent of all that is good and right and noble.”
Religious Right activist David Barton, who served as a member of the GOP’s platform committee this year, joined fellow platform committee member Tony Perkins on Perkins’ radio show Saturday, where he proudly noted that the group put together a platform that has been called “the most conservative platform in modern history.”
Barton was particularly happy that conservatives repelled attempts by some delegates to insert LGBT-friendly language into the platform.
“They turned the entire platform meeting into LGBT issues, they get CNN to run the story, and they call us narrow-minded and single-issued?" he said. "My gosh, the only thing that was important to them in this thing was homosexual sex.”
“It took the focus off the things that were important,” Barton continued. “I was particularly in the subcommittee on the Constitution, and man, the declaration we have of the Constitution, the principles of the declaration, the language of the Constitution, all we did with the First Amendment and the Second Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Ninth Amendment, Tenth, we got a powerful platform, and you’re in the family section, what you guys did was so many – I’ve heard it called that this is the most conservative platform in modern history, and I believe that. I think that’s probably true.”
We have lost count of how many times the Religious Right has been declared spent as a political force. Those declarations have always been wrong, and this year’s Republican Party platform is the latest sign of the movement’s continued power.
Four years ago, we called the GOP platform “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Yet this year’s platform is even further to the right.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2012, Religious Right leaders spent the entire week in Tampa bragging about how they had essentially written the platform. But pro-LGBT Republicans were remarkably confident that it would never happen again. At the time, the Log Cabin Republicans vowed that never again would the party platform be hostile to LGBT equality. Former member of Congress Jim Kolbe said the anti-gay sentiment in that year’s platform was “the last gasp of the conservatives.” The upbeat attitude had us wondering about “the fine, fuzzy line dividing optimism from delusion.”
Even an amendment that would have recognized the LGBT victims of ISIS terror was deemed too much. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is bragging that he and fellow Louisiana delegate Sandy McDade, Eagle Forum’s political chairman, watered that language down so that it refers generically to all people terrorized by ISIS.
The platform includes Religious Right-approved language opposing marriage equality and endorsing legislation to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious liberty. And it calls for eliminating the IRS provision that prevents churches, like other nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral advocacy — one of the promises Donald Trump has made to win Religious Right support.
A seemingly last-ditch effort by LGBT-friendly delegates to require a vote on a “minority report” to replace the long platform with a short statement of principles is now being denounced by Perkins and Religious Right activist David Barton as an attempt by gays to hijack the platform process. Its odds of success seem vanishingly small.
Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory Angelo says he’s “mad as hell” about the new platform, but in the same email he tries to distance the document from Donald Trump, who Angelo praised last December as “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency.”
Trump may be willing to let Caitlin Jenner use the bathroom of her choice at his office building, but he was unwilling to lift a finger to keep the party from supporting states that pass laws preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that match their identity — or from declaring in many ways that the party remains officially opposed to legal equality for LGBT people.
The presumptive Republican nominee is all bluster and toughness when he is denouncing political correctness, but he turns meekly obliging when dealing with the Religious Right leaders he is counting on to turn out the vote.