Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina kicked off the annual Values Voter Summit today by explaining how his experience as a small business owner makes him uniquely qualified to legislate on the issue of reproductive choice.
Too many people in Washington, he said, have never had a "real" job and so, unlike him, they have never had to deal with an employee coming to them and revealing that she is pregnant. But that once happened to Scott and so he took his employee to a crisis pregnancy center (which are often Christian organizations designed to mislead women away from seeking abortions), which helped his employee to "make the choice of life."
And so, Scott proclaimed, "as an elected official, when I have the responsibility and the opportunity, the privilege to protect life, I do so having been in the private sector, realizing the importance that we should place on life and the choice of life."
Like Ted Cruz before him, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson made a stop at MorningStar Fellowship Church in South Carolina last week, where he was introduced by extremist pastor, self-proclaimed prophet and Oak Initiative president Rick Joyner.
After Joyner hailed Carson for bringing class, dignity and "true nobility" to the presidential race and praised him for his depth of knowledge, Carson took the microphone and laid out a rather interesting argument in favor of the idea of "American exceptionalism."
"When you think about in terms of an exceptional nation," Carson said, "I mean, before this nation came on the scene, [for] 100 years, 500, 1,000, 5,000 years people did things the same way. You know, the farmer would chop down corn and put it on the wagon and take it into town and sell it; within 200 years of the advent of America, men were walking on the moon."
"It changed the trajectory of mankind and the progress of mankind," he concluded, "so to say it's not exceptional is nuts! It's the most exceptional nation ever."
Last night, Glenn Beck appeared with Ted Cruz at a campaign rally held at Rick Joyner's MorningStar Fellowship Church in South Carolina, where the conspiracy theorist radio host spent a good half hour weeping and shouting as he called upon Christians to rally behind the candidate that God is raising up to save America: Ted Cruz.
After claiming that he was the only one to have accurately predicted the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 economic crisis and the supposed rise of the caliphate, Beck warned that America is doomed if we elect anyone other than Cruz.
"This is your last call, America," Beck proclaimed. "This is your last call."
"I'm here as a fellow citizen," Beck said, his eyes welling with tears, "and I'm begging you, please do not dismiss the peril we are in. Fall to your knees and pray to God to reveal to you what the hour is. Ask our dear Lord to show you who the man is that has the integrity, who has the connection, who will fall to his knees at the Resolute Desk, who, before he acts, doesn't think of a poll but looks to the Constitution and the holy scriptures; our Bible and the Constitution both come from God, they are both sacred scriptures!"
"I know there is a God. I testify to you that I see a storm coming," he continued, saying that God has a plan to save this nation but it requires Christians to do everything they can to elect Cruz.
"This is your last call, America," Beck bellowed. "Stand for the man I believe was raised for this hour: Ted Cruz."
Last month, we noted that Ted Cruz attended a national security forum held at Rick Joyner's MorningStar Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina.
Joyner is a self-proclaimed prophet who frequently talks of his prophetic dreams about chaos and revolution descending upon America and resulting in martial law. He is the sort of right-wing Christian leader who issues warnings about how the devastating 2011 earthquake in Japan would push America into Nazism and declares that Hurricane Katrina was God's judgment for homosexuality. He's also the type to declare that gay marriage will usher in national destruction, a second civil war, divine judgment, a ban on men and women marrying each other and even the Mark of the Beast.
Politico’s Shane Goldmacher reported this week that Ted Cruz is planning a major rally on “religious liberty” at Bob Jones University in November. Even though it has been clear for a while that framing opposition to LGBT equality, abortion and contraception as religious liberty issues is a core strategy of right-wing culture warriors like Cruz, Bob Jones is still a stunning choice. After all, the “religious liberty” Bob Jones is most famous for defending was its long insistence that its segregationist policies were mandated in the Bible.
Of course Cruz’s choice could be a cunning and calculated one based on the fact that his campaign’s roadmap to victory requires a big boost in turnout among conservative evangelicals who are disaffected with politics. Appearing at Bob Jones University, specifically to talk about religious liberty, is the granddaddy of all dog-whistles to the far right.
A bit of background: During the 1970s, the federal government began to crack down on segregation academies that had sprung up in response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision more than a decade earlier. The IRS formally promulgated its policy that racially discriminatory private schools were not entitled to federal tax-exempt status in 1971. After years of fighting with Bob Jones, the IRS revoked the university’s tax-exempt status in 1976. The school kept fighting, ultimately losing at the Supreme Court in 1983 in an 8-1 decision.
Religion scholar Randall Balmer writes that it was the federal government’s move against segregationist schools, even more than the Roe v Wade decision, that gave Paul Weyrich the opening to create the Religious Right political movement. He tapped into conservative evangelicals’ anger at the federal government interference in segregationist religious schools. In his book about the Religious Right, “Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament,” Balmer wrote about a conservative 1990 conference at which Weyrich spoke:
Let's remember, he said animatedly, that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roe decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.
Bob Jones University was one target of a broader attempt by the federal government to enforce the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Several agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, had sought to penalize schools for failure to abide by antisegregation provisions. A court case in 1972, Green v. Connally, produced a ruling that any institution that practiced segregation was not, by definition, a charitable institution and, therefore, no longer qualified for tax-exempt standing…
For his part, Weyrich saw the evangelical discontent over the Bob Jones case as the opening he was looking for to start a new conservative movement using evangelicals as foot soldiers. Although both the Green decision of 1972 and the IRS action against Bob Jones University in 1975 predated Jimmy Carter's presidency, Weyrich succeeded in blaming Carter for efforts to revoke the tax-exempt status of segregated Christian schools. He recruited James Dobson and Jerry Falwell to the cause, the latter of whom complained, "In some states it's easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school."
So what game is Cruz playing? Is he going to play up right-wing fears that the federal government will go after the tax-exempt status of schools with anti-gay policies? Is talking about religious liberty at Bob Jones some oddly aggressive way to make the right-wing argument that there are no parallels between racial discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity?
Cruz made that argument during a June interview on the Today show, when he declared that “there’s no religious backing” for denying marriage licenses to interracial couples. That, of course, is an absurd argument, as the federal judge who had upheld Virginia’s laws against mixed-race marriages in Loving v Virginia specifically cited the Bible in defense of the law. And as Brian noted in June:
Cruz should know better. After all, the Tea Party leader announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell, one of the fathers of the modern Religious Right movement, who denounced both desegregation and interracial marriages in religious terms.
Indeed, the Southern Baptist Convention was created in a split with northern Baptists over slavery. Southern Baptists preached that the Bible endorsed slavery, citing “slaves obey your masters” verses that were still being used by the Christian Coalition in the 1990s to justify attacks on labor unions.
GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry tried to burnish their Religious Right credentials this weekend by speaking at a “We Stand With God” rally in front of the South Carolina capitol, where Perry promised that he would root out corruption in Washington just like Jesus kicked the money changers out of the Temple and Cruz warned that the U.S. will soon be throwing pastors in jail like Iran.
The keynote address of the event was given by North Carolina Baptist pastor Ron Baity — previously known for warning that God would send a calamity worse than the Ebola virus in punishment for gay marriage — who told the crowd that marriage equality and legal abortion are inviting God’s judgment on America.
Pastors, he said, must stand up to criticism and preach that homosexuality is an “abomination” and “preach against Planned Parenthood.”
“The judgment of God will eventually fall on a nation that cheapens marriage,” he warned. “God had an urban renewal program for Sodom and Gomorrah!”
Baity warned that the U.S. will soon have to change its national bird from the eagle to the buzzard because “we have come to a time in America where we are ashamed of the old-time religion, we are ashamed of the Word of God, we are ashamed by the pastor that would stand in the pulpit, dare to raise his voice, point his index finger and dare to say, ‘Here’s the way, walk me in.’”
Repeating the message he recently gave to the viciously anti-gay American Family Association, Sen. Ted Cruz told a conservative Christian rally in South Carolina this weekend that “we live in a country where life is under assault, where marriage is under assault, where faith is under assault” because evangelicals have failed to vote in great enough numbers. If they finally do, he said, God “will heal our land.”
Cruz urged pastors in the crowd to preach against Planned Parenthood and attacked the Supreme Court’s “fundamentally illegitimate, lawless decision that purports to tear down the marriage laws of every state.”
“Marriage was ordained by God Almighty and Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit,” he declared, promising that “every justice I appoint to the United States Supreme Court will follow the law and follow the Constitution and not impose their radical views on the people of America.”
“If you ask ourselves why do we live in a country where life is under assault, where marriage is under assault, where faith is under assault,” he said, “the last election, 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home. Fifty-four million. Is it any wonder we have the country we have when believers are not honoring the commands of the Scripture? We’re told to be salt and light. You can’t be salt if you don’t come into contact with that which you are to preserve. You cannot be light if you’re hidden under a bushel.”
However, he said, “there is a spirit of revival and awakening sweeping this country today” and evangelicals “will stay home no longer.” When conservative evangelicals vote in great enough numbers, he said, God will “heal our land.”
Over the weekend, GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry — joined the GOP’s evangelical outreach coordinator Chad Connelly and North Carolina pastor Ron Baity — famous for warning that God would send a disease worse than Ebola in punishment for gay marriage — at a “We Stand With God ” rally in front of the South Carolina state capitol meant to remind elected leaders that there are still people who “stand for God’s definition of family.”
Cruz, unsurprisingly, focused much of his sermon-like speech on claiming that advances in LGBT rights are in fact “persecuting” conservative Christian business owners who refuse to serve LGBT customers. Discussing a few of the people he brought to his persecution-palooza in Iowa earlier this month, he warned the South Carolina crowd that they might be next and that eventually the U.S. will become like Iran, which has imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini.
“This is the world we’re living in,” he said. “If you think your faith is safe, next may be you. Next may be me. Next may be your pastor who preaches the Word from the pulpit. Next may be your sister or brother or mom who volunteers at the pregnancy crisis center. And you want to know how bad it can get, at that rally, we had Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, a Christian pastor, sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran for the crime of preaching the Gospel.”
Cruz was introduced by South Carolina Religious Right activist and radio hsot Tony Beam, who claimed that Christianity would soon be criminalized as part of the effort to “get rid of Christians” and establish a dictatorship.
“You know, if you look back and you look through history, there’s a three-step process that’s always resulted in tyranny and dictators,” Beam said, “and that process is this: First comes the demonization of any people you want to get rid of. We saw that start in the 1970s as the church began to be demonized and God’s people were made fun of and it’s continued to today. The next step is marginalization. They take the people they want to get rid of and they push them to the side of the debate and they ignore them. You know, a lot of the national media may ignore us today, but we can’t be ignored because we stand for the sovereign God of the universe.
“And so, after marginalization comes criminalization. And you know we live in a country now that’s tried to criminalize God-fearing believers for trying to run a business to honor God.”
Cruz thanked Beam for the “tremendous” introduction:
On Saturday, Rick Perry and Ted Cruz joined several thousand right-wing Christians for a "We Stand With God" rally on the steps of the South Carolina capitol building, where Perry went into full-blown preacher mode as he likened himself to Jesus in his willingness to clear the money changers out the temple and sought to mobilize an army of Christians soldiers to take back this nation.
"Literally the foundation of America is under attack from those on the left," Perry thundered. "It's under attack from Washington, D.C. You know, talking about Washington, D.C., early in the ministry of Jesus Christ, he saw corruption in the temple and he got angry about it and he did something about it. He went in there and he overturned the tables of the money changers. He saw corruption, just like today we need somebody that's got the backbone to go to Washington, D.C., and turn over the tables of the money changers, of the corruption, of the greed that we see in Washington, D.C. And the question is: Will you join me in that effort? Will you load up? Are you ready to sacrifice? Are you ready to stop the corruption, the crony capitalism, the greed that we see in that temple of government in Washington, D.C.?"
"Jesus was angry," Perry said. "I'm angry. I hope you're angry."
"What are you willing to die for?" he continued. "Are you willing to rise up and stand for God and to go forward and live for the principles and the values that this country were based upon ... Are you ready? Onward Christian soldiers!"
Yesterday afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a law removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, so naturally Bryan Fischer used the news to reiterate his absurd theory that the racist symbolism and history of the flag is really "a Democratic issue."
Fischer, whose knowledge of American history apparently doesn't include anything that has happened since 1965, spent a segment on his radio program yesterday insisting that Republicans in South Carolina should have refused to even vote on the removal of the flag because "this is a Democratic Party icon" and evidence that Democrats "have been horrible racists from day one" and that the party's past is "so black, and so bad, and so dark, and so tinged with racism" that Democrats must now remove it in an effort to cover up the party's sordid history.
Fischer's attempt to hang the issue of the Confederate flag on the modern Democratic Party is so laughable that we decided to conduct a simple test and take a look at all of the members of the South Carolina legislature who voted against the bill to remove the flag from outside the capitol. There were three in the state Senate and 20 in the state House.
See if you notice any pattern:
Kevin Boling, a South Carolina pastor and host of the Greenville-based “Knowing The Truth” radio program, told his listeners after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling that while the rainbow represents God’s covenant with mankind after punishing humanity with Noah’s Flood, “the rainbow has been adopted by the sodomites here upon the face of the earth as a symbol of the movement that is actually a movement that will bring about the wrath of God.”
Boling quoted a passage from Romans that lists various sins that are “worthy of death” before launching in to his warning to the “sodomites.”
“Listen, my friend, to drape yourself in the symbol of God’s wrath being spent when you’re actually using it as a symbol of liberation from God himself and from his Word and from his Commandments, you are heaping to yourself additional condemnation,” he warned. “For the believer, they see in this that there is now no condemnation for us in Christ, but for those who are impenitent, unwilling to come to Christ on his terms, who are celebrating their sin rather than celebrating their savior, for them they are heaping to themselves even more the judgment of God upon them.
“Flee the wrath that come, my friend. Flee the wrath that come by coming to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Immediately after a white gunman killed nine worshippers at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month, Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America started laying blame on the church’s slain pastor, who was also a state senator, for supporting gun control and not allowing concealed weapons in his church.
In an interview with Armed America Radio that was posted online last week, Pratt doubled down, claiming that the shooter, Dylann Roof, targeted a church “populated by liberals” and pastored by “Mr. Anti-Gun” because he knew his victims would be unarmed.
“Since this particular church was pastored by a state senator who was Mr. Anti-Gun,” he said, “then it became pretty obvious that yep, that was a gun-free zone, a bunch of liberal Democrats in there, and the dirtbag that struck, I think knew exactly what he was doing. There’d be plenty of black churches that he could have gone into, and he probably could have met effective resistance, but he went to one where it would be known to be populated by liberals, and then he had open season.”
Pratt made a similar argument about the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson that critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, claiming that the shooter “didn’t find any resistance” because Giffords is a Democrat.
South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright, the top Tea Party challenger to Sen. Lindsey Graham in last year’s Republican primary and now a state co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, took to the floor of the state senate today to urge legislators to focus not on removing the Confederate flag from state grounds but to instead confront the “national sin” of marriage equality.
Raw Story grabbed the video of Bright warning that "the devil is taking control of this land, and we’re not stopping him":
It’s important to note that Bright’s anti-gay rant was not a tangent unrelated to the issue of the Confederate flag, which South Carolina lawmakers are debating today. Bright, a leader of the effort to keep the flag on statehouse grounds, has directly linked the two issues, writing in a Facebook post in defense of the flag that “the recent SCOTUS decisions teach us anything, it’s that states’ rights are under attack more than ever.”
In an email urging his supporters to sign a petition supporting the Confederate flag last week, Bright defended the flag as a symbol of the “brave Confederates” who “made a bold stand against an oppressive government that far overstepped its Constitutional limits” and of “a culture that values freedom, even in the face of federal tyranny.”
Is there any doubt that states’ rights are under attack more than ever before?
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the latest liberal hysteria surrounding the placement of the Confederate battle flag has swept the nation. And unfortunately, many of my conservative friends and colleagues have fallen prey to this radical, Big Government scheme.
With all the noise surrounding this issue, please allow me to be abundantly clear where I stand. It is my fervent belief that the Confederate flag is a proud symbol of the following:
- Resistance against a federal, centralized power that FAR overreached its Constitutional limits.
- States’ rights and Constitutional liberties, which many have fought and died protecting.
- Southern heritage and a culture that values freedom, even in the face of federal tyranny.
It is certainly important for us to take steps that prevent future acts of violence. But in this pursuit of peace, should we also dismantle the historical symbols that memorialize states’ rights?
My answer is an emphatic “NO!”
The plain and simple truth is that the placement of this flag will not prevent future tragedies. It’s abundantly clear that the radical liberal agenda is behind this push to remove the flag, which raises the question: where does it all end?
Are we to also remove the names of Confederate officers from our roads? Should we crumble all the Civil War monuments that dot our nation’s landscape?
[NAME], it’s time to take a stand. Right here. Right now.
Over 150 years ago, brave Confederates made a bold stand against an oppressive government that far overstepped its Constitutional limits. Will you please take a stand with me now by signing my online petition to keep the flag flying ?
States all over the nation are giving ground to the radical liberals by removing the symbol of states’ rights from their historical monuments. But if we can make a stand here and now, we can send a strong message to the elites in DC that states’ rights are still alive and well.
Please click here now to sign my petition , which I will then present to my colleagues in the South Carolina legislature. Let’s show them how much we value our heritage!
Cruz, for his part, has criticized people “parachuting” into South Carolina to denounce the flag.
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.
This April, a group of more than 100 progressive African American clergy gathered in Columbia, South Carolina for the Spring Training Institute of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council. Among a week of trainings, advocacy meetings at the state capitol, and strategic conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement, this ecumenical body of women and men took time to gather together for a prayer in front of the capitol where the confederate flag still waves.
That week, less than two months before our friend and brother Reverend and State Senator Clementa Pinckney, along with members of the congregation, were massacred at Emanuel A.M.E. church by a shooter who embraced the Confederate flag, clergy stood hand in hand in prayer, reflection, and even tears for the removal of this symbol of hate and bigotry.
The public prayer was the culmination of ongoing work led by South Carolina faith leaders like Reverend and State Representative Terry Alexander. Rep. Alexander has long been a guiding voice in this push, meeting with other elected officials and advocating strongly for its removal.
Why did we pray that day that started out with dark clouds and rain and turned into one of sunshine and light? Because the Confederate flag remains a visible, strategically placed reminder of a southern heritage that embraced slavery, segregation and hate. Because a symbol rooted in the dehumanization of Black Americans is still prominently waving at the capitol, still validated by a government body.
We first prayed facing this symbol of disunity – a symbol of the painful past – for a present and future of peace, unity, and prosperity as a people and a country. We then prayed and sang with our backs turned to it, rejecting the division and pain that it continues to represent. In memory of the love and compassion of Senator Pinckney and the eight others, it’s time for the state of South Carolina to do the same.
On his television program last night, Glenn Beck interviewed right-wing activist Star Parker about last week's racist shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Beck and Parker were both encouraged that positive developments would come out of this tragedy ... such as more people who live in the inner city deciding that they need guns for self-protection.
"This weekend, I heard with the gun debate, black families in Chicago and inner cities going, 'No, no no, it's time now to arm," Beck said. "It's going the other direction. While the left is pushing for gun control, the inner city, the African Americans are the ones saying, "No, no, no."
"I'm glad they are getting to the place where they embrace our constitutional right to bear arms, the Second Amendment," Parker responded. "Because if you think about why there is so much murder in the black community, especially our at-risk communities where we have concentrated poverty through welfare policy, the blacks, only 16 percent even own an arm. So when you have an unarmed people, then those that are armed, the gangsters, will come and wreak havoc over your community."
"I hope that it takes a little bit of time" for blacks in the inner city to fully arms themselves, Parker added, "because we don't want a race war."
Later today, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will hold a press conference to reportedly call for the Confederate flag to be removed from the grounds of the state capitol in the wake of the racist shooting at a Charleston church last week.
On his radio program today, Glenn Beck said that while this issue should be left up to the people of South Carolina, he supports removing the flag because flying "the Confederate flag makes no sense to me whatsoever."
"It's a flag of another country," Beck said. "Why are you flying that? Are you proud that you were another country at some point?"
On top of that, he added, it is a symbol of slavery, saying that if you look at the constitution of the Confederacy, "there's no ifs, and, or buts" that slavery was the central issue of the Civil War.
"It was not about state's rights because you didn't have a right as a state in the Confederacy to go against slavery," he said. "So there's no state's rights there. That's not about state's rights."
"This is a legacy of rebellion against the United States that had everything to do with slavery," he continued. "It wasn't about state's rights, it was about slavery. And that was a [rebellion] that was put down; we have healed since then and it was only brought back as a symbol against the civil rights movement. It's a thing of the past."
This was originally published at The Huffington Post
As with every Wednesday night in most African American churches, pastor and people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as "Mother Emanuel," were engaged in prayer, worship and study. The atmosphere no doubt would have been relaxed, with familiar faces sharing, even with the stranger among them, testimonies, laughter, and some words of encouragement. In that atmosphere, in the place where so many throughout history have gone for fellowship, to feel safe, to be vulnerable, where loving "thy neighbor as thyself" and welcoming all who walk through the doors are central themes known even by children, the unimaginable took place.
The stranger, a young white gunman allegedly telling the Black worshipers that "you've raped our women and you are taking over the country," opened fire at that historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people, including Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a friend, supporter and member of the African American Ministers Leadership Council's (AAMLC) ecumenical ministerial alliance, which I lead. Yes, this was a ruthless attack on innocent people in 2015, but it is also reminiscent of the attacks on the Black Church in the '60s, the '50s, the post-Reconstruction era. All of these cowards, whether consciously or not, have targeted the Black Church in an effort to intimidate and diminish the power of its presence as a refuge of hope in the African American community.
Many clergy I have spoken with have been up for two nights, praying, calling, sharing, trying to make sense of an act that is honestly difficult to talk about and brings out a flood of deep emotions. In every conversation or prayer is the painful acknowledgement of the role that race played in this crime, something that Americans around the country from all walks of life get. However, stunningly and probably predictably, some right-wing politicians and pundits not only don't seem to get it, but are attempting to distract and confuse others about what was the obvious, real motivation of this massacre. Seriously?
Rick Santorum said the shooting was an example of recent "assaults on religious liberty," a reference to the idea promoted by him and others that policies preventing discrimination against LGBT people are persecuting conservative Christians. Seriously? That comparison between the long and violent history of white supremacy in America and efforts to secure dignity for gay and lesbian people in the public square is worse than offensive. We can argue about public policy all we want, but we all should be able to realize that being targeted by centuries of racist violence at the center of comfort and power in your community is not the same thing as being fined for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple. This is the kind of "colorblind" analogy that dismisses the very real experiences of Black people in America.
How very sad and not all too shocking to note once again what has become a sad pattern among right-wing commentators. Various conservatives have made similar attempts to play down the racial aspects of the killings of 9 innocent persons, and issue after issue public policies that disproportionately affect African Americans, policies born out of institutionalized efforts to oppress African Americans, are said to be "not about race." Yet, in everything from voting rights to criminal and reproductive justice to housing policies to defunding public education, the common denominator we see is the negative impact policies have on African Americans. It's not hard to see that these laws are strategically aimed at depressing rights and are anything but colorblind coincidences.
A young white man entered an African American place of worship with a loaded gun, sat down in that place for an hour with African American men, women and children, muttered anti-Black racist remarks, shot and killed those persons. Seriously? What about this cannot be viewed as "about race"?
I am thankful for all the Americans of all races who are mourning these senseless killings, angry about the lack of humanity that led to them, and praying for the victims and their families. You don't have to be African American to know this was an assault rooted in a dynamic of American life that too many of our elected leaders would like to ignore or dismiss as ancient history. This is a universal tragedy played out in a very specific American context. To diminish that is to diminish the lived experience of a people whose strength and courage this gunman was trying to take away.
Many are gathering for prayer services even now for the families of those who died for no other reason other than being Black. On Saturday members of AAMLC will join congregations around the country and open their doors for hope, unity and love. The doors will be open to pray yes, and also to register persons to vote and engage in conversations about why Black lives, all lives matter.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." It is because of love that racial hatred -- yes, seriously, what this was about -- will not be victorious. I hope and pray that the country will decide "to stick with love" and confront with honest and open hearts the realities we live with and work together to change them. Seriously!
This piece by PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery was originally published in the Greenville News.
Gov. Nikki Haley appeared at a Christians-only prayer rally in Charleston on Saturday. It was an unfortunate decision to lend the prestige of her office to that exclusionary event, one organized by political strategists who view the 2016 elections as an opportunity to turn America back to what they believe are its origins as a country founded by and for Christians.
The event was organized by the American Renewal Project, run by political operative David Lane under the umbrella of the American Family Association. The rally was emceed by Doug Stringer, an “apostle” who promotes the belief that the right kind of Christians are meant to be in charge of every sphere of influence in society, and who has blamed the 9/11 attacks on America turning away from God.
Haley’s video promoting the event invited “everyone” and said it had nothing to do with politics or government. Both statements are disingenuous at best. The South Carolina Baptists’ page urging participation in the rally promised “Evangelical Christians only to lead in program.” Members of the Response “prayer force” were told that it is God’s will “to have His hand-picked civil leadership in place at all times.” In daily calls for prayer in the weeks before the rally, people were asked to pray that the nation would repent for, among other things, political correctness, abortion, and “an unbiblical definition of marriage.” One pre-rally dispatch urged, “Repent of times when citizens have voted for someone based on personal preference and not the will and heart of God, whose values and beliefs were in conflict with His Word.”
Lane is out to recruit 1,000 conservative pastors to run for political office, mobilizing an “army” of volunteers who will determine the outcome of the 2016 elections. Hundreds were scheduled to attend a recruiting session the day before Haley’s “non-political” prayer rally.
But the problem is not getting people involved in politics. The problem is the political agenda Lane’s projects are designed to advance. In Lane’s worldview, America will either be a Christian nation or a pagan nation and there will be no peace until we decide which. He wrote in Charisma in January that “there can be no reconciliation of opposites, particularly the spiritual and the secular.” In one of his many online diatribes he asked, “Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”
Lane denounces court rulings upholding church-state separation; calls for Christianity to be established as America’s official religion with the Bible as a primary textbook in public schools; vehemently opposes equality for LGBT people; and demands the impeachment of judges whose opinions he disagrees with.
This vision of America is both historically inaccurate and deeply out of pace with our times, in which America’s religious landscape is increasingly diverse and a large and growing majority supports legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.
A problem with treating politics as spiritual warfare is that you turn political opponents into spiritual enemies. People who disagree on public policy issues are not just wrong, but evil. For David Lane, that’s a self-evident truth. But for a political leader like Nikki Haley, it’s a damaging proposition that makes it harder to govern on behalf of all the people she was elected to represent.
Peter Montgomery is senior fellow for People For the American Way and an associate editor at Religion Dispatches.