Steve Crampton, a Religious Right activist who is running for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court , said last month that the U.S. is at risk of becoming a “slave nation” if attacks on “religious freedom” and the “rule of law” continue. He in particular praised the Alabama Supreme Court’s resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans.
Crampton told Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith that the federal government is “running roughshod over states and their rights” and that “it’s essential, if we’re going to preserve our liberties as our founders intended, that states reassert themselves.”
“One of the seminal issues, I believe, in our day, in our state of Mississippi as elsewhere, is how far does the federal government go constitutionally in basically ordering the states around,” he said. “And I think the big example that we have, maybe the most glaring one nationally right now, is what’s going on in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court has issued very fine opinions and very studied analyses of the issue of same-sex marriage and whether the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obergefell opinion is actually binding on a state that was not a party to that lawsuit and that had, as Mississippi has, its own state marriage amendment that unequivocally protects marriage as between one man and one woman.”
“So, long and short of it is,” he continued, “all of our freedoms, I think, today are grave risk, in particular religious freedom. I believe it is under attack as never before in our nation’s history. And because religious freedom is the first freedom, it’s foundational, if it goes, everything goes. So it’s a time when either we stand up or we shut up and become almost a slave nation. Because the rule of law is at grave risk.”
On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer interviewed right-wing activist and attorney Steve Crampton about the Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas law aimed at limiting access to legal abortion under the guise of protecting the health of women.
Fischer and Crampton, who is currently running for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court, mocked the idea that having to travel hundreds of miles and spend hundreds of dollars to obtain an abortion because unnecessary requirements had shut down dozens of women's health clinics in Texas created an "undue burden" upon women, saying that nobody is entitled to have medical care located nearby.
Fischer absurdly likened this situation to people with cancer who incur significant expenses and travel requirements in order to obtain treatment at renowned hospitals like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota or the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
"Nobody says that is an undue burden and therefore we are going to require every community to have a MD Anderson clinic," Fischer said, "and we're going to require every state to have a Mayo Clinic."
"I think you're exactly right," Crampton replied. "Where it is written that we have a right to access a hospital or, in this case, a specialty kind of thing, within X number of miles of our home? I don't think that's in my version of the Constitution."
At least week's Watchmen on the Wall conference, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins presented Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant with the first ever "Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award" for having signed a radical anti-LGBT bill into law earlier this year that will allow businesses to deny service to gay people.
While introducing the governor, Perkins said that America’s elected leaders should be "ministers of God," while Bryant praised the hate group leader as something of a modern-day David.
"I remember in Sunday school, reading one of my favorite stories," Bryant said."It was about a giant, a bad giant, who came into a valley one day and he called to the Israelites, 'Send down your champion and let me vanquish him.' We were in that valley, but Tony Perkins was there with us. He was there as surely as Our Lord and Savior, as surely as the God of all gods stood there with us. And I can tell you how fortunate we are in this nation and in this organization to have a man of faith and leadership in Tony. God bless you for what you do."
Later, Bryant recalled how "all of the secular progressive world had decided that they were going to pour their anger" out on him for pledging to sign the legislation, wrongly thinking that he could be pressured into backing down because they were unaware that Christians like him would line up to be crucified before turning their backs on Jesus.
"They don't know us very well, do they?" he asked. "They don't know that Christians have been persecuted throughout the ages. They don't know that if it takes crucifixion, we will stand in line before abandoning our faith and our belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So if we are going to stand, now is the time and this is the place."
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant joined the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins on his “Washington Watch” program yesterday to discuss the criticism he’s been receiving for a law he signed that permits businesses in the state to refuse services to LGBT people and others.
Perkins told Bryan that the ACLU is suing the state over the new law because it only cares about religious freedom claims “that don’t conflict with its sexual agenda.”
“Well, of course,” Bryant said. “I mean, they cherry-pick these issues. If they had any integrity at all, they would say, ‘We understand Mississippi is actually trying to make sure that Christians and people of other faiths are not discriminated against.’ It is a nondiscriminatory law. It prevents discrimination against simply that segment of the population that has a deeply held religious view about marriage.”
He added that his “dear friend Pat McCrory,” the governor of North Carolina, is facing similar backlash for a sweeping bill aimed at removing legal protections for LGBT people.
“And we’re criticized, we’re threatened, we’re bullied, we’re told by corporations that we’re doing the wrong thing?” he asked. “Where on earth have we come to simply say, ‘I do not wish my daughter in her school or in her university to have to have a male in the shower and in the dressing room and in the restrooms.’”
He said, however, that he had some hope: “I think the rest of the nation is beginning to wake up and say, ‘What world do they think we’re living in? This is not Hollywood, this is not more liberal areas, this is America, where common sense still prevails.’”
Yesterday, Religious Right activist Steve Crampton announced that he is seeking a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court and, given that he has worked for two anti-gay hate groups — the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel — it is no surprise that he is an anti-gay extremist.
Back when he worked for Liberty Counsel, Crampton was a frequent co-host of the organization's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, where he once shared his view that "the life of the average homosexual is not controlled by reason" but is rather driven by a perverted lust and passion that has "overwhelmed them."
He also warned before the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act that such a decision would mean that gays "will eradicate us and they will not stop until the homosexual totalitarian view of the world is forcefully imposed on every American."
And he declared that gay rights activists "abhor freedom" and "will basically stop at almost nothing in order to accomplish their goals."
He even asserted that gay rights activism is "destroying America" and "the most totalitarian kind of philosophy that is afoot in America today."
And he once insisted that "society itself is on the verge of total collapse if we give up what marriage really means."
Yesterday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant took time out of his day to be interviewed by Tim Wildmon, head of the Mississippi-based anti-gay hate group the American Family Association. As Wildmon and his co-hosts showered Bryant in praise and prayer for recently signing a radical anti-LGBT bill into law, the governor said that he didn't understand why the law provoked so much outrage, since it was just an effort to balance the scales of justice by allowing people to openly discriminate in the name of "religious liberty."
"This is about the churches," Bryant said. "The next stop will be American Family Radio and it will be Mississippi College, it will be St. Dominic's Hospital as lawsuits will be filed; it will be churches where pastors can say, 'I can't perform that ceremony,' a lawsuit will be filed, it will go to a federal court and the federal court will say, yes, they should be a protected class, those who choose to marry and want to be married in the church and that church might lose its tax-exempt status and they'll have to close. And church after church after church across this country will close."
"We think people of faith have rights," he continued. "I know that's a strange notion, but we believe the scales of justice must be balanced for those people of faith and those that have other ideas about their desires in life. And that's what the scales of justice must do is be balanced and we believe that this is a step in protecting the civil liberties of people of faith just as the First Amendment of the Constitution does."
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is unjustifiably convinced of his own cleverness and enamored with trying to defend acts of bigotry by arguing that those who oppose such bigotry are the real bigots.
He has used this laughable tactic time and again, so it was no surprise to see him post a new column today arguing that singer Bryan Adams is racist for having canceled a concert in Mississippi in protest of the state's recently enacted anti-LGBT law.
As Fischer sees it, the new law prevents black Christians in the state from being bossed around by the "white man in government," which means that the law outlaws racial discrimination and therefore Mississippi is now "the leading civil rights state in the Union."
Anyone who opposes this law, Fischer states, is therefore racist and wants to "drag Mississippi blacks back to the civil rights Stone Age of the 1960s in which their religious principles and rights of conscience had no legal protection, an era in which black pastors could be thrown in jail for standing for principles of liberty and equality":
Bryan Adams canceled a Mississippi concert in protest of a new civil rights bill that protects the conscience rights of blacks in a state that once was world-renowned for racial prejudice.
So on the grounds of personal principle, Bruce Springsteen is now officially a general in the war on women, and Bryan Adams is now the leading bigot in the South.
The Mississippi law that has Adams all wigged out protects the conscience and liberty rights of blacks (and whites) who serve as pastors, county clerks, heads of non-profits and adoption agencies, and who operate businesses as wedding vendors. Their right to freely exercise their religious convictions is what HB 1523 is all about.
Because this law protects the rights of blacks as well as whites, there are some striking implications for blacks in Mississippi, which is still regarded by many as a haven of racist bigotry.
Black pastors won’t be forced to perform same sex wedding ceremonies against their conscience just because a white man in government says they have to. Black churches won’t be forced to rent their houses of worship for same sex wedding ceremonies. Black county clerks won’t be forced to issue same sex wedding licenses that violate their conscience just because a white boss says she has to.
Blacks that run adoption agencies will be free to place adoptive children in a home with a mother and a father without fear of government discrimination at the hands of some white bureaucrat. Black fire chiefs like Kelvin Cochran won’t have to worry about getting fired in Mississippi for believing that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
In other words, HB 1523 is a brilliantly conceived anti-discrimination bill. It does not foster discrimination, it prevents it. It is a world-class civil-rights bill of which Martin Luther King, Jr. would be justifiably proud. Anybody and everybody who is against invidious discrimination ought to love this law.
Mississippi can proudly take its place now as the leading civil rights state in the Union, providing more legal protections for people of faith and conscience than any other place in America.
But Adams is having none of it. He is evidently happy to drag Mississippi blacks back to the civil rights Stone Age of the 1960s in which their religious principles and rights of conscience had no legal protection, an era in which black pastors could be thrown in jail for standing for principles of liberty and equality.
Adams’ apparently believes that black pastors, clerks, non-profit leaders, and wedding vendors in Mississippi have no rights the white man is bound to respect.
On Tuesday Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a sweeping bill that allows businesses, individuals, and organizations to cite religious or moral beliefs in order to discriminate. As the ACLU outlines, the new law is likely to have far-reaching implications for LGBT people as well as single mothers, who “could be turned away from social services like homeless shelters, denied medical care, or be fired from their jobs.” The specific beliefs “protected” include the views that marriage is between opposite-sex partners only; that sex should only occur within marriage; and that gender identification is based only on the sex a baby was assigned at birth. People with different religious beliefs on the same issues receive no such special treatment under the law.
Dr. Christopher Cockrell, a Meridian, Mississippi member of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, released the following statement:
“This is a very sad week for our state. People being turned away from shelters or denied medical care simply because of who they are is unjust and discriminatory, and it flies in the face of basic human decency. This is not a law that reflects the values of most Mississippians, including religious leaders, and it may open up a Pandora’s box for more discriminatory bills to come.
“Religious freedom should never be cited as an excuse to harm others. Targeting people who are already vulnerable for state-sanctioned discrimination can only be described as appalling.”
There are few Religious Right activists who can match American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer when it comes to relentless hatred and hostility toward the LGBT community, so it stands to reason that if he starts heaping praise upon something, there is a very good chance that that thing is awful.
Naturally, Fischer kicked off his radio broadcast today by showering praise upon a piece of legislation signed into law today by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant that gives businesses, organizations and government officials the right to openly discriminate against gay people in the name of "religious liberty."
In Fischer's warped view, the new law actually prohibits discrimination by protecting the rights of Christians to discriminate against others ... because not being allowed to discriminate is itself a form of discrimination.
Hailing the new law as "outstanding" and "the best in the nation," Fischer rejoiced that Christians in his home states of Mississippi are now protected from "invidious discrimination" by "heterophobic bigots."
"Martin Luther King Jr. was all about protecting rights of conscience," Fischer laughably proclaimed. "That's what drove him; the right of conscience and protecting the right of conscience. Martin Luther King Jr. would be ecstatic with this bill. He would love this bill."
Apparently Fischer thinks that King was organizing and protesting not to end racial discrimination but rather in favor of the right of whites to openly discriminate against blacks in the name of "conscience."
The Religious Right’s ongoing effort to create special legal protections for anti-LGBT discrimination continues in Mississippi, where a “breathtaking” and “horrific” anti-LGBT bill — even worse that North Carolina’s recent law — is waiting final passage in the House. National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown is urging NOM supporters to contact Gov. Phil Bryant and Republicans in the state house in support of legislation that passed the state senate last week.
In an email alert sent today, Brown asks activists to stand up for “the rights of Christians and people of faith to be free from recrimination and harassment from extremists who believe that religious liberty must be eliminated when it comes to the gay agenda.” Brown apparently has no sense of irony or shame, arguing for pro-discrimination legislation while complaining, “It is outrageous that gay and lesbian extremists have been allowed to discriminate against, harass and punish Christians and others when it comes to marriage.”
More from Brown’s urgent email:
All across America, LGBT extremists are working overtime to force devout Christians and other people of faith to personally participate in celebrating a same-sex 'marriage' even when doing so violates their deeply held religious beliefs. Those who have refused to abandon God's commands when it comes to marriage have been hit with lawsuits and huge fines, lost their jobs and even been put in jail. This must stop, and at least in Mississippi it will stop if you act today…
For years, LGBT activists lied to Americans about gay 'marriage,' claiming that redefining marriage to suit their demands would not hurt anyone. Instead, people's lives have been ruined and the sexual extremists are intent on forcing every person in America to genuflect at the altar of gay "rights."
…House Bill 1523 protects pastors, churches and individuals from having to solemnize a gay 'wedding' and protects individuals and small businesses like florists, bakers and photographers from being forced to perform services at a gay 'wedding' ceremony that violates their deeply held religious beliefs. The legislation also prevents LGBT extremists from forcing their gender ideology on Mississippi which would allow men to force their way into intimate facilities reserved for girls and women, including showers and restrooms, simply by claiming they "identify" as women. Biology determines gender, not "feelings!"
…Just as they have done in other states, LGBT extremists have orchestrated a campaign of "manufactured outrage" utilizing Hollywood celebrities, corporate giants and billionaire sports owners who wish to curry favor with gay activists. Their well-orchestrated play book threatens boycotts, companies threatening to leave the state and sports leagues hinting a state may be denied high-profile events like a Super Bowl or college bowl game. They are making identical threats and false claims of "discrimination" in Mississippi and we need people of faith and marriage supporters all across the nation to let the leaders of Mississippi know that we want them to lead by example and stand strong for people of faith.
On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer interviewed Mississippi state Sen. Chad McMahan about an upcoming vote on a bill that, according to the Human Rights Campaign, "would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspect of their lives, including at work, at schools, and more."
After McMahan complained that many rallies had been held opposing the bill but no rallies had been organized to support it, Fischer went off on a long rant about how conservatives don't have time to participate in political rallies because they are too busy being decent, hard-working Americans, whereas gays channel their undying hatred of God and Christians into non-stop political activism.
"Conservatives," Fischer stated, "we're busy working hard at our jobs, showing up to work on time, working late when we need to, then we want to spend time with our families, we want to take our kids to soccer practice, coach them in t-ball and Little League, we want to help them with their homework, we want to go to parent-teacher conferences, we want to be involved in our church so we go to home Bible studies or cell groups, we might be involved in the choir, we might want to be involved in a Sunday School class, and we would like to have a little recreational time for ourselves so we play a little bit of golf or we play a little church league softball or whatever. We just do not have the discretionary time to put into political rallies."
Gays, on the other hand, Fischer said, have none of these sorts of obligations because they don't have children or families, which then sent him off on a tangent about how allowing gays to adopt children is "a form of child abuse" and is therefore something that "no loving, caring, rational society" should ever allow.
"Homosexuals don't have children, they don't have families," Fischer declared, which allows them time to channel their hatred for God into political activism.
"They're motivated because they're agitated," he said. "They're angry at the church. They're angry at Christians. They're angry at God ... It's easy to see why all the noise, why all the agitation out there is on behalf of those who are trying to kill this thing out of their hatred for Christ, their hatred for God and their hatred for the Scriptures. And I don't hesitate to use that term. It's vitriolic. You know, unless you've come up against this in some way directly, you have no idea how venomous the hatred, the bitterness, the anger is on the part of homosexual activists. They are driven people and they are driven by hate. You know, there's a lot of hatred on this issue but virtually all of it is coming from the homosexual activist community directed at us and our values."
Update: Cruz canceled his Mississippi campaign swing due to an illness.
We have noted several times before that there seems to be no activist who is too extreme to be embraced by Ted Cruz's presidential campaign and that continues to be the case as today, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer announced that he will be joining Cruz at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Monday.
Fischer said on his radio program today that he'll be speaking at a Cruz campaign rally over the weekend which the GOP candidate will not be attending and again at another rally in Ellisville, Mississippi on Monday at which Cruz will be present.
As we explained in a post that we wrote last year, Fischer is one of the Religious Right's most radical activists and regularly displays stunning levels of bigotry against gays, Muslims and anyone who doesn't share his extremist views:
Back in 2009, Bryan Fischer was an obscure state-level Religious Right activist with a history of getting fired for his radical views. From his position as head of the Idaho Values Alliance, Fischer was mostly known for launching boycotts against Hallmark stores for offering cards for gay weddings and celebrating a fatal plane crash as God's payback for abortion.
Fischer's radicalism and bigotry were obvious even back then, but that didn't stop the American Family Association from wooing Fischer away from Idaho with an offer to serve as the organization's "director of issues analysis" and host a daily radio program down in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Within months of his arrival at AFA, Fischer was already using his national platform to spread his unmitigated bigotry, starting with his demand that all Muslims be banned from serving in the U.S. military, a position that he continues to steadfastly promote to this day.
Within a year, Fischer was using his position at AFA to declare that homosexuality should be illegal and that gays should be treated like criminals and banned from serving in public office. While Fischer was advocating for the deportation of all Muslims and an end to the building of mosques in America, the AFA continued to provide him a platform, just as it did when he began calling for whales and bears to be put to death for biblical infractions and blaming the Holocaust on gays.
The AFA plucked Fischer from obscurity, gave him a salary and a national platform from which to regularly proclaim that gays are Satanic perverts but then tried to pretend that it was not in any way responsible for Fischer or his views, such as:
- Fischer: Muslims Are Stupid and Violent Because of Inbreeding.
- Fischer: Gay Sex Is "Domestic Terrorism. I Don't Know What Else You'd Call It."
- Fischer: If DADT is Repealed, America Will Be Defended By Sexual Perverts and Deviants.
- Fischer: Every Mosque Is An IED and Every Muslim Is Guilty of Treason.
- Fischer: "Homosexuals Are Defined By One Characteristic Only: They Want to Use the Anal Cavity for Sex."
- Fischer: Native Americans Are Mired In Poverty and Alcoholism Because They Refuse to Accept Christianity.
- Fischer: Native Americans Need to Leave The Reservation, Convert To Christianity, and Become Full-Fledged American Citizens.
- Fischer: Welfare Just Gives Money To "People Who Rut Like Rabbits."
- Fischer: All Immigrants Must "Convert To Christianity."
- Fischer: Muslims Represent A "Toxic Cancer" To American Society.
- Fischer: Gays Are Nazis.
- Fischer: "Liberals Hate God."
- Fischer: Make Homosexuality "A Criminal Offense."
- Fischer: First Amendment Does Not Apply To Mormons.
- Fischer: 'Every Homosexual Represents a Heightened Security Risk.'
- Fischer: God Will Cure AIDS If Gays Stop Having Sex.
- Fischer: 'It's Perfectly Appropriate to Discriminate Against' Homosexuality.
- Fischer: Government Should Mandate that Everyone Attend Church and Tax Those Who Don't.
- Fischer: Removal of Prayer & Ten Commandments from Schools Responsible for CO Shooting.
- Fischer: Gays are Driven by a 'Dark, Venomous, Demonic Hatred'.'
- Fischer: 'Muslims are Worshiping a Demon.'
- Fischer: 'Political Leadership Ought to be Reserved for the Hands of Males.'
- Fischer: The 9/11 Terrorists Were 'Agents of God's Wrath.'
- Fischer: God Didn't Stop CT School Shooting Because He's a 'Gentleman' Who Doesn't Go Where He Is Not Wanted.
- Fischer: Sodomy Is 'An Ugly Word Because It Describes Ugly Behavior.'
- Fischer: People Who Believe In Evolution Are 'Disqualified From Holding Political Office In The United States Of America.'
- Fischer: God Will Use ISIS To Punish America For Gay Rights.
- Bryan Fischer Suggests The Charlie Hebdo Attack Was God's Punishment For Magazine's Blasphemy.
- Fischer: 'Being An Active Homosexual Should Disqualify You From Public Office'.
- Fischer: You'll Never 'Find A More Directly Demonic Energy Than When You Deal With The Homosexual Agenda.'
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant was among the governors who demanded an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S., calling the plans to take in at least 10,000 refugees “extremely dangerous” and pledging to “do everything humanly possible to stop any plans from the Obama administration to put Syrian refugees in Mississippi.”
He appeared today on the American Family Radio show “Today’s Issues” to highlight his opposition to refugees, citing a group of Syrians who turned themselves into U.S. authorities on the Mexican border as further proof that America is facing a serious threat from the refugees.
Bryant also told American Family Association President Tim Wildmon that “the president wants to attack our faith” by saying “that we as Christians should be more open and welcoming.”
“I’ve seen the left-leaning media use the Jewish population in World War II that were fleeing Nazi Germany as an example. Well, unless I missed my history lessons, the Jews coming out of Europe at that time were not blowing people up, they were not having terrorist attacks on innocent people throughout the world, they had not dedicated themselves to the destruction of America,” he said. “So the very idea that we would use Jewish refugees as somehow an example of what’s happening now with the governors as we resist the Syrian refugees is just disingenuous and the Jewish population should be angered by that association from the White House and left-leaning media across America.”
In fact, as Daniel A. Gross writes in Smithsonian Magazine, “government officials from the State Department to the FBI to President Franklin Roosevelt himself argued that refugees posed a serious threat to national security,” turning away thousands of Jewish refugees during World War II due to “widespread fears of a supposed ‘fifth column’ of spies and saboteurs that had infiltrated America.” Even Roosevelt cited “the unproven claims from his advisers that some Jewish refugees had been coerced to spy for the Nazis.”
Bryant may also want to take note of the statement issued by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which recently urged “public figures and citizens to avoid condemning today’s refugees as a group” and “remember that many are fleeing because they have been targeted by the Assad regime and ISIS for persecution and in some cases elimination on the basis of their identity.”
Mississippi is the last state in the nation that bans adoption by gay couples and this ban is currently being challenged in court by several same-sex couples, prompting Bryan Fischer to warn that gay activists are seeking to reimpose slavery on the south.
On his radio show today, Fischer declared that "if the homosexual lobby is successful on this, then they will be forcing the state of Mississippi, against its will" to drop its ban on gay adoption, which is nothing more than tyranny and the imposition of slavery.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Fischer said, "that is just a form of tyranny. When you compel people to do things contrary to their will, contrary to their conscience, that's slavery as well as tyranny. So you think about it, who's bringing slavery back to the south? Who's bringing slavery back to the Confederate States of America? It's the homosexual lobby. When you compel people to provide services against their will, that is involuntary servitude, that is slavery. I submit to you that it is the homosexual lobby that's single-handedly bringing slavery back to the Confederate States of America."
Tomorrow morning, Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Tupelo, Mississippi, for a presidential campaign rally, which just so happens to be where the headquarters of the American Family Association, a viciously anti-gay hate group and the home of some of the most bigoted voices on Religious Right radio today, is located.
Naturally, Cruz will be stopping by the AFA while he is in town for an in-person radio interview with AFA president Tim Wildmon, who is the sort of reasonable person who reacted to the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling by calling it "a spiritual 9/11."
As Bryan Fischer explained on his American Family Radio program today, Cruz will be sitting down with Wildmon in-studio for an interview at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time tomorrow morning ... an offer that Fischer made clear was likewise open to any GOP presidential candidate who is willing to stop by the AFA headquarters:
After the manifesto of the man who committed a mass murder at a black church in Charleston last week was found to contain material lifted from the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens, formerly the White Citizens’ Councils, GOP politicians have been scrambling to erase their ties with the group, with several Republicans returning or donating to charity a total of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the group’s president.
But it’s proving to be more difficult for some in the GOP and their allies in the Religious Right to brush over a long history of ties with the group. As the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported, dozens of elected officials have attended the group’s meetings, including former RNC chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and current Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has also spoken to the group, as has former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr.
Lott and the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms even went so far as to provide endorsements of the CCC, according to its newsletter.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, now a GOP presidential candidate, submitted a video presentation to the CCC’s 1993 national convention, which the group’s newsletter later reported was a smash it. TPM:
Then-Lt. Gov. Huckabee was invited to speak at the group's 1993 national convention by the its founder, Gordon Lee Baum, according to a 2008 Huffington Post report. Baum told The Huffington Post that Huckabee "sent an audio/video presentation saying 'I can't be with you but I'd like to be speaker next time'" because he was compelled to remain in Arkansas during the convention while then-Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) travelled out of state.
The group's 1993 newsletter, which was obtained by Edward Sebesta, who researches neo-Confederate groups, hailed Huckabee's videotaped address as a smash hit.
"Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," the newsletter read.
Huckabee agreed to speak in person at the group’s convention the next year but canceled after a human rights group told him that he’s be sharing the stage with a white supremacist and Holocaust denier.
Back when he was a Louisiana state legislator, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke to a 2001 meeting of the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens. When asked about it several years later, Perkins said he could not “remember speaking at the event.” Unfortunately for him, there’s a picture:
Perkins also has ties to David Duke, a Louisiana politician and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Alabama chief justice, a Religious Right hero who is currently battling the federal courts in an effort to stop marriage equality in his state, addressed CCC’s national conference in 1995, reports Buzzfeed.
This is hardly Moore’s only troubling racist tie. Much of his career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, who shares many of his views on the role of “biblical law.” (SPLC reports that the League of the South’s and CCC’s “membership rolls overlap a good deal” and that the two groups have collaborated on events.)
John Eidsmoe is the intellectual godfather of a strain of Christian nationalism that takes to an extreme the idea that “God’s law” must always be put before “man’s law.” He is a former legal advisor to Justice Moore and now works for the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that Moore founded. He is also famously a mentor of former Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Perhaps even more than the Religious Right, the anti-immigrant movement sometimes has a hard time drawing a line between itself and the explicitly racist white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For instance, the work of white supremacist Sam Francis, an editor for and enthusiastic endorser of the CCC, occasionally ends up cited in the work of more “mainstream” anti-immigrant activists.
The best example of this nexus may be Ann Coulter, the anti-immigrant pundit beloved of CCC spokesman Jared Taylor and who cites white nationalist Peter Brimelow as an intellectual influence, but who has also been welcomed at Religious Right events like the Values Voter Summit.
Coulter took it upon herself in her 2009 book “Guilty,” to defend GOP politicians who had spoken to CCC, writing that the group’s statements in opposition to “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind” were in no way endorsements of segregation:
Republican politicians who had given speeches to a conservative group, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), were branded sympathizers of white supremacists because some of the directors of the CCC had, decades earlier, been leaders of a segregationist group, the Citizen Councils of America, which were founded in 1954. There is no evidence on its Web page that the modern incarnation of the CCC supports segregation, though its “Statement of Principles” offers that the organization opposes “forced integration” and “efforts to mix the races of mankind.” But mostly the principles refer to subjects such as a strong national defense, the right to keep and bear arms, the traditional family, and an “America First” trade policy.
Another prominent anti-immigrant activist with ties to CCC is Roy Beck, head of the influential lobbying group Numbers USA, who addressed the group in the late 1990s. The Center for New Community dug up this photo:
This post has been updated to add Roy Beck.
Recently, a pro-Confederacy group in Mississippi launched an effort to get a measure on the ballot in 2016 that, if passed, will establish a "Confederate Heritage Month" in the state, as well as designate English as the official state language. Among the provisions contained in the measure are requirements that whenever an American flag is displayed on a public building, a state flag of the same size must also be displayed and "whenever the pledge of allegiance to the national flag is recited, the state flag salute shall be recited immediately thereafter." On top of that, "whenever the national anthem is played in a public venue or at a public event in Mississippi, either 'Dixie' or 'Go, Mississippi' shall be played immediately thereafter."
Perhaps the most controversial provision of the measure is the requirement that Christianity be recognized as the official state religion, which is just the sort of thing one would expect the Mississippi-based American Family Association to embrace and support. After all, the AFA's leading spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has repeatedly said that the Constitution was not designed to protect any religion other than Christianity and that states have every right to establish an official religion.
But, amazingly, Fischer and the AFA are not supporting the effort:
Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, told CP that he questioned the need for Initiative 46.
"I'm not clear who is behind this initiative or exactly what problems they're trying to solve," said Fischer of the AFA.
"I will be surprised if the organizers are able to get the number of signatures they need since most Mississippians aren't going to see the need for it. Mississippians like the state just fine as it is."
Fischer added that many "of the provisions in the initiative would be more appropriately handled at the state legislative level if they are to be handled at all."
"Constitutional remedies should be reserved for issues of primary importance. The issue of school mascots, for instance, doesn't rise to that level," said Fischer.
"Our main concern here at AFA is for religious liberty to be preserved in Mississippi, and we believe that our state constitution and the recently passed religious freedom restoration act provide adequate protection for religious freedom here in the Magnolia State."
The federal court ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples getting married is worth reading for many reasons. Paul wrote earlier at People For the American Way's blog about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’s compelling explanation of the role of the courts in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. The ruling is also filled with rich historical detail about the extent to which the state of Mississippi and the federal government have discriminated against LGBT citizens over the years, as well as the ways in which groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the notorious Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission used anti-gay rhetoric and innuendo in their attacks on African American civil rights leaders and institutions.
This history is an important rebuttal to bogus claims by anti-gay activists that gay people do not need to have their rights protected in law because they have never suffered from discrimination.
Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:
Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”
One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.
Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.
This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.
He never did.
Reeves also discusses the case of Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.
Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”
Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”
The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.
As Reeves makes clear, this kind of persecution was not only reserved for civil rights activists.
Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.
These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”
Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.
Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”
Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”
Reeves’s ruling also makes clear that official discrimination is not only in the state’s past.
In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”
In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”
Reeves details a number of recent complaints and lawsuits challenging discriminatory treatment by state and local governments as well as legal inequities such as the fact that Mississippi law permits a single person to adopt a child but not gay or lesbian couples.
This kind of restriction was once supported by pseudoscience. We now recognize that it actually “harms the children, by telling them they don’t have two parents, like other children, and harms the parent who is not the adoptive parent by depriving him or her of the legal status of a parent.”
Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.