Anti-Choice

Jerry Boykin: 'Don't Pray For God's Blessings On America,' 'Pray That God Will Forgive Us' For Abortion And Pornography

In an interview with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios at the Values Voter Summit this morning, Family Research Council Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin predicted that God will soon humble America with a Civil-War-like reckoning for legal abortion and pornography, which he equated with “the evil, the sin of slavery.”

“If we ask God to humble us, if we ask God to bring us to a point where we do turn back to him… we’ve got to be prepared for greater persecution, we’ve got to be prepared to be knocked to our knees, not just invited to our knees, but knocked to our knees,” he said.

“Pray that God will forgive us,” he added. “Don’t pray for God’s blessings on America, I stopped doing that three years ago.”

He then said that legal abortion, pornography, and families “disintegrating at an incredible rate” have brought the country to a similar point that brought about the Civil War, which he said happened because “Americans realized that slavery was wrong and they began to repent for the evil.”

Every great revival in America, every great awakening in America started with an attitude of repentance. If you look at the Civil War, it came about because Americans realized that slavery was wrong and they began to repent for  the evil, the sin of slavery, which brought about the second Great Awakening, which brought about the Civil War. That’s where we are right now, where we’ve brought so much evil, we’ve killed 55 million of our children, we’ve destroyed our families, they’re disintegrating at an incredible rate, pornography is a multi-billion dollar evil. All that is evil that we’ve brought into our society and called it good.

The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who's Who Of The 2014 Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.

The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.

The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.

But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:

  • Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
  • Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
  • 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.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the "War on Terror" as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
  • Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
  • Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
  • Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:

  • Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
  • Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
  • Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
  • Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks  of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.

Benham Brothers

Twin brothers Jason and David Benham were catapulted to national attention this year when an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause célèbre for the Religious Right, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual fight" between God and the “kingdom run by Satan.”
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • 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.”

E.W. Jackson

The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:

  • Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
  • Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
  • Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
  • Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

Star Parker

Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:

  • Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “into the closet.”
  • Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
  • Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
  • Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America," specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:

  • Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
  • Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
  • Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
  • Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.

Sandy Rios

Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. Rios has also:

  • Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
  • Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
  • Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
  • Warned that the “homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
  • Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT! for America, where she works with local activists throughout the country to promote fears that Sharia law is taking hold in the U.S. and must be banned and to challenge textbooks that she believes are insufficiently critical of Islam. She makes frequent media appearances to warn of what she calls the “ secret Islamification” of the West. Among other attacks on Mulsim-Americans, Gabriel has:

This post was updated to include Brigitte Gabriel following an FRC announcement that she would speak at the summit. A previous edition of this post listed incorrectly listed James Dobson, one of the founders of the FRC, as a speaker.

The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who’s Who Of The 2014 Values Voter Summit

To: Reporters and editors
From: Drew Courtney, Director of Communications, People For the American Way
Date: September 22, 2014
Subject: The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who’s Who of the 2014 Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.

The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.

The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.

But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:

  • Contended that the anti-bullying “ It Gets Better ” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
  • Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “ radical sexualism ” and “global homosexuality.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “ boxcars.”
  • Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
  • 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.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the "War on Terror" as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
  • Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
  • Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
  • Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:

  • Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
  • Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
  • Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
  • Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks  of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.

Benham Brothers

Twin brothers Jason and David Benham were catapulted to national attention this year when an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause célèbre for the Religious Right, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual fight" between God and the “kingdom run by Satan.”
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • 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.”

E.W. Jackson

The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:

  • Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
  • Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
  • Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
  • Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

Star Parker

Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:

  • Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “ into the closet.”
  • Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
  • Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
  • Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America," specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:

  • Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
  • Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
  • Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
  • Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.

Sandy Rios

Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States . Rios has also:

  • Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
  • Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
  • Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
  • Warned that the “ homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
  • Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.

A previous version of this memo incorrectly listed James Dobson as a speaker. 

Anti-Choice Activist: Gays Demand Acceptance Because They Feel Guilty About Their 'Horrible Lifestyle'

Late last month, Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life and the National Personhood Alliancehosted Brian Clowes, the director of education and research at the Catholic group Human Life International, to discuss not their mutual opposition to abortion rights but the topic of LGBT rights, which Smith believes is inseparable from the anti-choice fight.

Over the course of 45 minutes, the two activists ran through an encyclopedia of anti-gay myths, including that gay men are prone to molest children, that people become gay because of abuse or neglect in their childhood, and that gay people have dramatically reduced lifespans.

Despite the fact that all of these claims have been thoroughly debunked, Clowes backed them up by saying, “The main principle to keep in mind is that every principle the Catholic Church teaches about sexual morality can be backed up by science, hard science and a lot of it.”

“Interestingly, you’ll find that if you get out of the homosexual lifestyle, you’ll be a lot happier,” he said. “If you’re living under God’s law, God wants us to be happy, so it’s going to be like that.”

The two went on to compare homosexuality to alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity.

“The term ‘gay’ certainly doesn’t apply here,” Clowes said. “It is a horrible lifestyle and it will kill you in the end. And those last few years of your life are not going to be happy because you’re going to be extremely sick, dying of cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, whatever.”

Earlier in the interview, Clowes claimed that LGBT people are demanding tolerance and acceptance because they are “involved in all kinds of sinful, but extremely unhealthy activities and their conscience is bothering them.”

“If they feel bad about themselves, it’s the church’s fault, it’s the homophobes’ fault,” he said. “You know what I’m talking about here? So the only way they can get rid of that nagging little voice of guilt is to have everybody say, ‘It’s all right that you’re gay, we support you in your choice.’ And they will never be satisfied until everybody who opposes them is simply shut up.”

Linda Harvey And Molly Smith: Anti-Choicers Must Oppose Gay Rights Because Gay Rights Cause Abortion

Molly Smith, the director of Cleveland Right to Life, lost her group’s affiliation with National Right to Life Committee last year when she criticized Sen. Rob Portman for announcing his support for marriage equality after his son came out as gay.

The national group chided Smith [pdf] for taking on “an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life,” but her group pushed back, saying that “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement .”

Then, earlier this year, Smith was picked as the head of the National Personhood Alliance, a new group meant to be an even more extreme rival to National Right to Life.

Which is to say, feelings are still raw. The subject came up in Smith’s interview this month with anti-gay activist Linda Harvey, who wholeheartedly agreed with Smith that anti-choice activists must also oppose LGBT rights because, she said, LGBT rights lead to a greater incidence of abortion.

“The Planned Parenthood and anti-life lobby is heavily imbued and connected to homosexuality,” Harvey told Smith. “They’re in favor of opening up the doors and spreading the boundaries of sexuality all across the board. That includes homosexuality. The lines are very blurred, and unless you stand strong on this issue, you’re going to see much more, and you do see much more, out of wedlock sexuality and then of course, more abortion.”

Harvey said that she had seen Planned Parenthood march in the Columbus, Ohio, LGBT pride parade: “Why are they doing that? Because they know, you muddy the water, and you get a lot more of their business, abortion.”

Smith and Harvey then discussed polls showing rapidly increasing support for gay rights, which they decided must be skewed.

“I’m beginning to lose all kinds of respect for these polls,” Smith said.

“Yes, they’re inaccurate, they portray things in the wrong way,” Harvey agreed, adding that if polls gave people “all the information” about LGBT people “they would change their minds” and realize that “maybe these people are defending something that is not defensible and is, indeed, shameful.”

Infighting Among Anti-Choice Groups Intensifies With Personhood Trademark Feud

The effort of hardline “personhood” groups to break free of an anti-choice movement they see as too compromising is hitting a roadblock as the two major groups advocating fetal personhood are now feuding with each other .

The conservative website Z Politics printed an email this week from Personhood USA, the group that brought radical “personhood” initiatives to states like Colorado and Mississippi, announcing that it has cut ties with a new group, the National Personhood Alliance (NPA), which was founded this year by the disgruntled former Georgia chapter of the National Right to Life Committee. NPA hoped to bring together activists who believe that the strategy of groups such as NRLC to chip away at abortion rights doesn't go far enough, pledging to instead enact personhood laws that would give legal rights to zygotes.

Personhood USA initially supported the new group, as did its national spokeswoman Rebecca Kiessling, and Z Politics reports that NPA’s founder, Dan Becker, “initially gained support from Personhood USA by suggesting that the two groups work alongside one another as counterparts.” In fact, NPA is billing its first convention next month as “the founding coalition of two new national groups seeking to give voice to the pro-life battle of the 21st century.”

But the good feelings apparently didn’t last long, as Personhood USA is now accusing Becker and NPA of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property” — including copying its logo — and “violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood.” (For what it’s worth, the only official “personhood” trademark we could find in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database belongs to Becker’s group).

Personhood USA’s email also hints at possible legal action.

After much prayer and deliberation, the Personhood USA board is deeply sadden to inform you, that Personhood USA will not be participating in the new National Personhood Alliance.

From everything Dan Becker had told us about his vision of NPA while he was in our employment. We had great hopes that it would be a complement to the Personhood movement, a counterpart to Personhood USA. Instead it appears that National Personhood Alliance is trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property.

NPA has incorporated in Georgia as a 501c4 under the name “Personhood Inc.” and will be doing business as “Personhood”, Violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood. In addition, the emails and documents we have seen indicate that they intended to use our logos, branding, and intellectual property.

One of the main concerns here is duplication of focus and confusion among all grassroots supporters.

When we contacted Dan and asked that NPA stop using our logos and name, he agreed to stop using our logos and to allow us to preview any new logos before they are implemented, but he has refused to un-incorporate Personhood Inc. and suggested we enter into arbitration.

We have worked for years developing our branding. We are known as Personhood, PersonhoodUSA, Personhood Education, Personhood PAC & have invested in promoting Personhood(insert your state). We do not want to fight over a name, but we do feel if a separate virtually identical organization is started it will hurt the movement.

We want to honor God and protect all innocent life. We want to see the movement grow and branch off in new directions. We want abortion to be abolished. We want to fight abortion, not each other.

All we ask of NPA is to create it’s own logos, names, and branding without using ours, and ask that they keep NPA as it was presented to us: a separate organization with unique purpose created to build the movement. Not a divisive, confusing organization meant to compete with Personhood USA.

Americans United For Life Takes Credit For One-Third Of New Anti-Choice Laws

Americans United for Life — which acts as sort of the ALEC of the anti-choice movement — sent an email to supporters today taking credit for a full one-third of the spate of state-level restrictions on abortion access that have been passed around the country since 2010.

AUL President Charmaine Yoest writes:

I just received a greatly encouraging report for our Americans United for Life (AUL) legal experts. As you may know, there has been a surge in pro-life laws since 2010. Our legal experts tell me that one third of these laws were enacted as a result of AUL’s legislative work—work we were able to do thanks to you!

Can you believe that? One Third! This equates to 74 life-affirming laws we were able to enact because of you.

You know as well as I do that we don’t have nearly the budget, staff or resources of the multi-billion dollar Big Abortion Industry. But Big Abortion is running scared. And they should be. At AUL, we have the best strategy, the best legal minds, and the truth on our side! We are already seeing the life-saving results.

Rest assured, we will win this country back for Life… and we are winning even now…but we need your help today to keep advancing.

The Guttmacher Institute reported in January that more state-level abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade. This is in a large part due to the incredible success of the anti-choice movement’s incremental approach to pushing restrictions that it claims protect women’s health, but which are in fact meant to close abortion providers and cut off access.

AUL has been at the center of this effort, offering “model legislation” to legislators, much of it aimed at slowly chipping away at abortion access.

New Anti-Choice Group Launches With Michael Peroutka Lecture On How Roe v. Wade Isn't Actually The Law

Last weekend, Iowa conservative talk show host Steve Deace held an event to launch Personhood Iowa, a new group he helped organize that is affiliated with the National Personhood Alliance, a new coalition of groups that seek to outlaw abortion in all cases along with banning common forms of birth control. 

In keeping with the group’s apparent mission to be so extreme that it will never attract any mainstream support, Deace invited Michael Peroutka, a regular guest on his radio show, to give an opening speech to Personhood Iowa activists.

Peroutka, in addition to running the far-right Institute on the Constitution and a successful debt-collection business that allowed him to buy a dinosaur for the Creation Museum, is now the GOP nominee for a seat on the Anne Arundel, Maryland, county council. Peroutka’s close ties with the neo-Confederate League of the South is causing hand-wringing in the state Republican party, with its gubernatorial nominee today disavowing Peroutka’s candidacy.

Peroutka — who recently declared that the Maryland General Assembly is no longer a valid legislative body because its passage of marriage equality violated “God’s law” — told the Iowa activists that everything from seat-belt mandates to the progressive income tax to Obamacare to Roe v. Wade are not valid laws because government only has the authority to uphold what he deems to be “organic law.” In fact, he said, all of these things are “pretended legislation,” a term used in the Declaration of Independence to refer to acts of Parliament governing the American colonies.

Peroutka also presented the audience with a contrast between what he sees as the “biblical worldview,” which he says is based on the idea of literal biblical creationism, and the “pagan worldview,” which he says is based on the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution, he claimed, was responsible for the Columbine school shooting and the Holocaust, yet is still being taught through “the tragedy of public education.”

Peroutka has previously argued that it is impossible to be a patriotic American and also believe in evolution.

Anti-Choice Activist Who Clashed With National Right To Life Over Gay Rights To Head Rival Group

A new anti-choice organization meant to be an even more extreme version of the National Right to Life Committee has picked its first president — and they chose someone who embodies the growing schism within the anti-choice movement.

The National Personhood Alliance, which was formed last month by a disaffected former Georgia affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, announced last week that it had named Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, as its first leader.

Cleveland Right to Life caused a stir in the anti-choice movement last year when it vowed to oppose the reelection of Sen. Rob Portman, an abortion rights opponent, because of his support for marriage equality. This prompted National Right to Life president Carol Tobias to send Smith a letter informing her that her chapter could no longer be affiliated with the national group because it “embraced an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life.” Smith then fought back, blasting National Right to Life for distancing itself from anti-gay politics in order to keep the support of Sen. Portman.

The most prominent split in the anti-choice movement is about the strategy of allowing rape and incest exemptions to abortion bans — National Right to Life has supported bills that include exemptions, arguing that such bills are better than no legislation at all, while the National Personhood Alliance’s members oppose any hint of compromise in abortion bills.

But Smith’s appointment as the new group’s president highlights the larger divide within the movement. As the anti-choice movement’s leaders get savvier about pushing their message to a wider audience in ways meant to appear more moderate (pushing for “health” regulations that close clinics rather than picketing them, for instance), they are inciting a backlash among those who see anti-choice activism as an integral part of a larger war.

Leaving the issue of LGBT rights alone is a smart strategic decision for leading anti-choice groups, as is the willingness to accept “compromises” like rape exceptions. But by rejecting this kinder, gentler makeover of the movement, the National Personhood Alliance reminds us of what is still at the heart of the opposition to abortion rights.

Hobby Lobby: 'Closely Held' Does Not Mean 'Mom and Pop'

In the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, the Court held for the first time ever that a for-profit corporation counts as a “person” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that a “closely held” corporation basically shares the religious exercise rights of its owners.  This leads American law into a treacherous minefield, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made clear in her dissent.

It’s worth pointing out, as Justice Ginsberg also noted, “’Closely held’ is not synonymous with ‘small.’” Hobby Lobby is a massive corporation employing some 13,000 people, but there are other closely held companies that are much larger. In a footnote, Ginsberg mentions family-owned Mars, Inc. and closely held Cargill, which are both among the largest five private companies in the country. Guess which is number two? Koch industries, with $115 billion in revenue and 60,000 employees. Brothers David and Charles Koch reportedly own 84 percent. Rounding out the top five private companies are Dell and Bechtel. Those five companies employ more than 436,000 people. What religious claims might their owners find useful to make in undermining laws that protect their workers?

PFAW Foundation

National Right To Life Speaker: Contraception And Abortion Are The Real War On Women, And They Come From 'The Pit of Hell'

The National Right To Life Convention kicked off this morning with a panel discussion featuring National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, anti-choice activist Dr. Jean Garton, and radio host and crisis pregnancy center director Joy Pinto.

All three, along with National Right to Life president Carol Tobias, who introduced the panel, struck back against the “War on Women” label that has been used for legislative assaults on abortion rights, contraception access, equal pay, and domestic violence protections.

Pinto — who runs a crisis pregnancy center in Birmingham, Alabama, which, like many such centers appears to misleading claim to offer medical consulting for women considering an abortion — argued that the “real war on women” consists of legal abortion and access to contraception, particularly emergency contraception.

She added that this “war on women” came from the “pit of hell” and implied that women who have abortions are like Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the hopes of eternal life: "It's the same lie. It's the same war."

Personhood Bills So Toxic Cory Gardner Is Desperately Trying To Deny He's Sponsoring One

Earlier this week, a coalition of extreme anti-choice groups launched a national alliance to compete with the anti-choice behemoth National Right to Life Committee. The new group is angry that National Right to Life has backed abortion bans that contain exemptions for rape survivors and that it opposes radical “personhood” measures, which would not only criminalize abortion but also certain forms of birth control.

While National Right to Life supports sweeping abortion bans in principle, the group has a purely strategic reason for taking these stances —both personhood and no-exceptions abortion bans are incredibly unpopular.

Which is why Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is desperately trying to claim that he no longer supports personhood measures, releasing this bizarre new ad trying to reassure voters that he did indeed flip-flop on the issue:

Steve Benen points out that Gardner isn’t even telling the truth about his own flip-flopping, as he is still a cosponsor of a national personhood bill in the House:

The congressman, for example, claims he’s “changed his mind about Personhood.” In reality, Gardner has announced, “In the state of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support.” But in Washington, Gardner isstill, as of this morning, a co-sponsor of federal Personhood legislation.

Politicians aren’t supposed to say they’ve changed their mind about Personhood if they haven’t actually changed their mind about Personhood.

Also in the ad, Gardner said he reversed course – even though he didn’t – “after I learned more information.” That, too, is an odd claim. Gardner is effectively positioning himself as a politician who decides to restrict women’s rights first, then gets information about his plan second. This is an awkward sales pitch for a statewide candidate to make.

And finally, Gardner said he flip-flopped – even though he didn’t – because he “listened” to the people of Colorado. But that’s also demonstrably wrong. After Coloradoans voted against Personhood, Gardner ignored them and pushed another Personhood measure. When that failed, Gardner ignored Coloradoans again and pushed for a federal Personhood measure. That’s not listening to the people; it’s the opposite.

He later tried to kinda sorta reverse course, but by all appearances, the only people the congressman was “listening” to were Republican pollsters.

Meanwhile, Personhood USA, which has backed the formation of the new national alliance, is furious at Gardner for pretending to change his mind.

Spurned Georgia Group Launching Even More Extreme Rival To National Right To Life Committee

A no-compromise anti-choice group that was recently ousted as National Right to Life Committee’s Georgia affiliate is launching a new, even more extreme national group to compete with NRLC.

In April, we wrote about the drama in Georgia, where an upstart group backed by pundit Erick Erickson succeeded in booting Georgia Right to Life from its spot in the NRLC. Their feud was over not ideology, but strategy. NRLC and Erickson backed a 20-week abortion ban in the House that included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest; Georgia Right to Life and other hardline groups said that those exemptions made the bill unacceptable:

While all the major anti-choice groups share the same goal — criminalizing all abortions under nearly all circumstances — they differ in how to go about reaching that goal in a post-Roe v. Wade world. This came to a boil last year, when the House voted on a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the last minute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added rape and incest exemptions to the bill after the legislation’s chief sponsor, Trent Franks, stoked controversy when he said “ the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low .” The addition of rape and incest exceptions then caused the anti-choice movement to split.

National Right to Life supported the revised bill and included the vote on its congressional scorecard . But Georgia Right to Life, then the state affiliate of NRLC, opposed the revised bill because of its rape and incest exceptions and urged House members to “vote against this shameful legislation.” Two Georgia Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun, who is now running for Senate, crossed party lines to vote against the bill, siding with Georgia Right to Life.

One of the loudest critics of Georgia Right to Life’s insubordination was Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the group the “Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.” A few weeks ago, a new group with Erickson on its board sprung up with the goal of replacing Georgia Right to Life as the official state affiliate of NRLC. And this weekend, they succeeded, as NRLC cut ties with Georgia Right to Life and took on Erickson’s group, Georgia Life Alliance, in its place.

Today, Georgia Right to Life struck back, announcing that it is forming the National Personhood Alliance, a new network of state-level groups that that support the no-compromise strategy. In a press release announcing the move, Georgia Right to Life President Daniel Becker takes a clear swipe at National Right to Life: “Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

"The focus of NPA will differ from most national pro-life groups," Becker said. "The general consensus of many in the movement is that it's time for a fresh strategy for ending the disregard for innocent human life. We intend to be 'standard-bearers' as opposed to 'king-makers'. This will require the application, politically and legislatively, of a higher standard than is currently embraced by most national pro-life groups today."

Becker said, "There has been an overwhelming call from many within the movement to form a new national pro-life group which will represent us on Capitol Hill."

The new organization will be officially formed at a convention to be held in Atlanta, GA on October 10th and 11th. Representatives of existing pro-life organizations and leaders from across the country are invited. Attendees who affirm the founding charter will begin the process of electing a national board of directors representing each state.

"The pro-life movement is more than 40 years old," Becker said. "From its inception in the late 1960's, the focus has primarily been on ending abortion. Our concern must be expanded to encompass the dignity and value of each human being at any developmental stage through natural death.

"To achieve that goal, we must ensure that our strategies are consistent with our policies and objectives. Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

Keith Mason, Personhood USA President: "Personhood USA looks forward to working with emerging groups like the National Personhood Alliance who share our commitment to never compromise on the lives of pre-born babies."

The new National Personhood Alliance has the support of Personhood USA and claims to have allied groups in 17 states. It has also racked up endorsements from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, talk show host Steve Deace, and a number of anti-choice activists.

'If America Laughs At This, America Is Beyond Redemption': The Right Reacts To Abortion Comedy 'Obvious Child'

Last week, I saw a screening of “Obvious Child,” the new rom-com starring Jenny Slate in which the main character gets an abortion and makes some dark jokes about it and, surprise, ends up okay.

A couple of the questions at the Q&A following the screening with Slate and the film’s director Gillian Robespierre were about the anti-choice reaction to the film. A few days before the film hit wide release, there hadn’t been much, except for a few initial whimpers of dissent when the film screened at Sundance.

But that’s starting to change as anti-choice groups get wind of the movie and find it to be promoting “evil” and putting America “beyond redemption.”

Arina Grossu of the Family Research Council told the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal this week that she was “appalled that the evil of abortion is now the subject of a ‘romantic comedy.’ “

Arina Grossu, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, told The Daily Signal that she is “appalled that the evil of abortion is now the subject of a ‘romantic comedy.’

Grossu, who has not yet seen the film, has a different take.

“The movie attempts to gloss over the gravity of abortion,” she said. “But no amount of acting or short-lived laughs can take away the reality that abortion is a grave moral evil that kills one person and wounds the other.”

Jillian Kay Melchior, writing in the National Review Online, bashes the film formaking such a difficult physical and metaphysical decision into a cheap joke, with dead babies as the punchline.”

Obvious Child is kind of funny sometimes but not that funny — which is not the film’s main problem. Obvious Child is reprehensible because, through tasteless and unsubtle humor, it trivializes something that’s of grave importance for pro-choice and pro-life women alike.

Robespierre does no favor to women by making such a difficult physical and metaphysical decision into a cheap joke, with dead babies as the punchline. In trivializing abortion so radically, she infantilizes women and undermines the feminism she purports to endorse.

LifeSiteNews went with sarcasm: “Finally, a movie that presents the murder of an innocent as the laugh riot it is!”

“Has Hollywood hit a new low?”asked the Daily Caller.

And Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center took the long view, warning, “If America laughs at this, America is beyond redemption.”

The feminist film critics can exhale now. Someone has finally concocted their dream movie: an "abortion comedy." Because apparently nothing sounds funnier than an unplanned one-night stand and a courageous destruction of God's most beautiful and most innocent creation.

It's called "Obvious Child." Feminist lingo sells this monstrosity.

Rolling Stone magazine described one scene of allegedly hilarious "empowerment" between female characters. "You're going to kill it," Donna's best friend Nellie says before a standup comedy set the night before her abortion. "Tomorrow I am," Donna replies, and "the two unravel in sheepish giggles.

If America laughs at this, America is beyond redemption.

Of course, to sell the movie, they oddly claim this abortion-advocating movie doesn't have an agenda. "Our film is not an agenda movie in any way," Slate told Rolling Stone. "The whole point is that women have this procedure, and they should have it safely, and it's a part of life. It doesn't have to be this giant obelisk sticking out." That is not an agenda, no siree.

A little murder is a part of life. A little life matters not at all.

Feminists like these movie-makers don't see a moral dilemma. They see abortion as a natural part of the daily grind. You wake up, you get an abortion, you have a cheeseburger. The critics call this a "refreshing matter-of-factness" about abortion.

It can also be described as feminist nihilism. The selfishness and autonomy of the woman is paramount, and the accidental baby is just cannon fodder. When the murder of the innocents is celebrated as comedy, civil society is destroyed.

Of course, with the exception of Melchior, none of these critics seem to have actually seen the movie that Bozell claims will destroy America.

The Wilks Brothers: Fracking Sugar Daddies For The Far Right

Last June, presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz traveled to Iowa for an event convened by David Lane, a political operative who uses pastors to mobilize conservative Christian voters. 

Lane is a Christian-nation extremist who believes the Bible should be a primary textbook in America’s public schools, and that any politician who disagrees should be voted out. Lane’s events are usually closed to the media, but he has given special access to the Christian Broadcasting Network’s sympathetic David Brody.  Brody’s coverage of the Iowa event included short video clips of comments by brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who were identified only as members of Lane’s Pastors and Pews group.

CBN’s Brody reported, “The Wilks brothers worry that America’s declining morals will especially hurt the younger generation, so they’re using the riches that the Lord has blessed them with to back specific goals.”  One of those goals may be David Lane’s insistence that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. 

Here’s Dan Wilks speaking to Brody: “I just think we have to make people aware, you know, and bring the Bible back into the school, and start teaching our kids at a younger age, and, uh, you know, and focus on the younger generation.”  And here’s Farris: “They’re being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right.”

That was the first time we had heard of the billionaire Wilks brothers, who have become generous donors to right-wing politicians and Republican Party committees.  While both Farris and Dan have given to conservative groups and candidates, it is older brother Farris whose foundation has become a source of massive donations to Religious Right groups and to the Koch brothers’ political network. Farris also funds a network of “pregnancy centers” that refuse, on principle, to talk to single women about contraception (married women need to check with their husband and pastor).

Like David Barton, Farris thinks conservative economics are grounded in the Bible. Like Mitt Romney, he says people shouldn’t vote for politicians who promise “free this, free that.” Like any number of Religious Right leaders, he saw Barack Obama’s re-election as a harbinger of the End Times and he believes God will punish America for embracing homosexuality. Unlike all of them, he’s on the list of the world’s richest people.

They’re Fracking Billionaires!

Dan and Farris Wilks became successful working in and then running the masonry business that was started by their father; they have now turned the company over to the next generation of Wilks men.  But Dan and Farris really hit the big time when they got in on the ground floor with fracking, the controversial natural gas drilling technique that has boomed over the past decade. 

The fracking boom has produced a surge in wealthy Texans. In 2002, the Wilks brothers created Frac Tech, which produced equipment used in fracking, or in industry parlance, “well stimulation services.”  In May 2011, Dan and Farris sold Frac Tech to a group of investors led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund for $3.5 billion. Their share was reportedly 68% of that total, and they showed up on the 2011 Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion each.  The most recent Forbes list put their estimated wealth at $1.5 billion each. (In our gilded age, that puts them near the bottom of the Forbes 400, and barely gets them into the top 40 in Texas. But you can still do an awful lot with $3 billion.)

The Wilks brothers have gone on a land-buying spree out West, amassing huge holdings in Montana, Idaho, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado.  In December 2012, the Billings Gazette reported that they had amassed more than 276,000 acres in Montana, or more than 430 square miles; more recent reports say they own more than 301,300 acres in the state.  Among their purchases was the historic 62,000-acre N Bar Ranch, which had been listed for $45 million. 

The brothers reportedly started building an airstrip that summer across from the N Bar Ranch headquarters to make travel to their property on their 18-passenger corporate jet a little easier. The Wilks brothers have proposed a land swap with the Bureau of Land Management to consolidate their holdings; last month their attorney said they were “blindsided” when BLM said it would not trade the 2,700-acre Durfee Hills after hunters complained about losing access to the land and its elk.

In January 2013, they bought a nearly 18,000-acre ranch in Idaho, which brought their total in that state to almost 36,000 acres.  In 2011, Farris was reported to have paid $16 million for what was then the most expensive ski-accessible home in the history of Snowmass Village, Colorado. 

An Aspen newspaper reported in 2012 that Dan owned two homes in Aspen, one worth $8.3 million and another worth $4.9 million. At the end of 2012 they bought the Advancial Tower, a 17-story skyscraper in Dallas reportedly appraised at $16.25 million. And last August, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Wilks brothers had bought 122 acres of land in a business park in Southlake, Texas. Farris also reportedly paid to have a “world class” recording studio installed in his 20,000-square-foot home and to have his church’s audio-visual system similarly upgraded.

Members of the Wilks family have been philanthropists in their hometown over the years, funding, for example, a community center and mobile emergency command post for local fire departments.   More recently they have distributing their wealth in support of right-wing causes and conservative politicians. According to Forbes, Dan has six children, Farris has 11.

A(nother) Foundation for the Far Right

The Wilks brothers and their wives have stashed a sizeable chunk of money in charitable foundations: Farris and his wife Joann created The Thirteen Foundation, while Dan and his wife Staci started Heavenly Father’s Foundation. The Thirteen Foundation has become a major funder to Religious Right organizations and to right-wing political outfits that are part of the Koch brother’s network.

In 2011, Farris and Joann each put $50 million into The Thirteen Foundation, and they started writing huge checks. In 2011 and 2012, the last year for which giving records are publicly available, the foundation gave away more than $17 million. Here’s where much of it went:  

Media Revolution Ministries (Online for Life)                             $2,242,857

American Majority Inc                                                               $2,114,100

State Policy Networks                                                              $1,526,125

Focus on the Family                                                                 $1,400,000

Franklin Center for Gov't and Public Integrity                          $1,309,775

Life Dynamics Inc.                                                                    $1,275,000                  

Liberty Counsel                                                                        $1,000,000

Heritage Foundation                                                                   $700,000

Family Research Council                                                              $530,000

Texas Right to Life Committee Education Fund                           $310,000

Texas Home School Coalition                                                      $250,000

Heartbeat International                                                              $197,000

Wallbuilders Presentations, Inc                                                    $85,000

National Institute of Marriage                                                       $75,000

These gifts amount to a massive infusion of funds into some of the most aggressive right-wing organizations that are fighting legal equality for LGBT people, access to contraception and abortion services for women, and promoting the Tea Party’s vision of a federal government that is constitutionally forbidden from protecting American workers, consumers, and communities by regulating corporate behavior. 

American Majority, the Franklin Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the State Policy Networks are all part of the Koch brothers’ right-wing political network, promoting policy attacks on public employees and their unions, outsourcing public resources for private profit, privatization of public education, and more:

  • The Franklin Center, closely allied to the American Legislative Exchange Council and other right-wing groups, produces and supports ideological advocacy sites that that it pretends is “nonpartisan” journalism.
  • American Majority trains and supports Tea Party activist networks.
  • The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing propaganda behemoth masquerading as a think tank. It promotes Religious Right social conservatism and Tea Party anti-government ideology, arguing that the two are “indivisible.”
  • The State Policy Network comprises mini-Heritage Foundations – right-wing “think tanks” at the state level that work closely with ALEC and right-wing lawmakers.

The Thirteen Foundation’s gifts are a boon to some of the most extreme Religious Right groups in the country. Among the recipients:

  • The Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group affiliated with Liberty University, is home to right-wing legal activist Mat Staver and the increasingly unhinged Matt Barber. Liberty Counsel promotes extreme anti-Obama and anti-gay rhetoric, warning that the country is descending into religious tyranny and on the verge of revolution.  Staver and Barber support laws criminalizing homosexuality and call the Obama administration’s opposition to such laws in other countries “immoral.”
  • The Family Research Council, designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, hosts the annual Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion for far-right religious and political groups and right-wing politicians. FRC and its leader Tony Perkins oppose equality for LGBT Americans and promote the myth of anti-Christian persecution in the U.S.
  • Wallbuilders promotes the historical revisionism of “historian” David Barton, whose claims have been widely discredited but who remains influential within the Religious Right and the GOP. In addition to his “Christian Nation” history, Barton argues that the Bible opposes the minimum wage, progressive taxation, capital gains taxes, the estate tax, and unions and collective bargaining.

See the section on the War on Women below for information about anti-choice organizations on the list. Other gifts supported Prime Time Christian Broadcasting, Inc., which runs God’s Learning Channel, “a satellite network dedicated to bringing the gospel of the kingdom into the entire world and teaching everyone about the Torah and the true roots of Christianity“; the Wounded Warrior Project; and a number of local churches that seem to be affiliated with the church at which Farris is an elder. One gift that seems like an outlier was $50,000 to the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which funds legal services for the poor, advocates for immigration reform, and filed a lawsuit on behalf of a binational same-sex couple.

Farris’s brother Dan and his wife Staci each gave $55 million to their Heavenly Father’s Foundation, according to the group’s 2011 990 form. That year the foundation reported $110 million in income but only $309,000 in disbursements, mostly to the Mountain Top Church in their hometown of Cisco ($287,000) with smaller amounts to a pregnancy center called the Open Door ($20,000) and to the American Diabetes Association ($2,000).

Its 2012 contributions were primarily to several churches but also included ministries that provide meals to the poor, a five-year pledge to a local domestic violence crisis center, $20,000 to the Open Door pregnancy center, $1.7 million to a drug and alcohol treatment center whose 30th anniversary celebration in May featured Mike Huckabee, and intriguingly, $100,000 to the Eastland County District Attorney’s office to cover “budget shortage.”

Of course, individual contributions that Wilks family members make to advocacy organizations are not publicly reported.

In Politics, Paying to Play

The Wilks brothers made a bit of a splash in Montana when it was revealed that they were the top donors to 2012 Republican legislative candidates in the state.  A February 2013 report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that Dan and Farris Wilks and their wives “donated to more than 70 candidates, all Republicans, and generally gave the maximum contribution allowed by law to legislative candidates, $160 for a general election.”

The report said that 70 percent of Republican legislators got contributions from the Wilkses. (AP noted that all bills aimed at regulating fracking in the 2011 legislature were killed by Republican-led committees.) According to the Institute, 64 of the state-level candidates they supported won – 63 legislators and Attorney General Tim Fox.

The Wilkses also gave heavily to Dennis Rehberg, a former Republican U.S. congressman from Montana who gave up his seat to mount an unsuccessful challenge against Sen. Jon Tester in 2012, and to Steven Daines, the Republican who won the House seat vacated by Rehberg and who is now running to for U.S. Senate. 

Collectively, Dan and Farris and their wives gave the Rehberg and Daines campaigns each $10,000 in 2012, with another $37,500 going to the Rehberg Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee that funneled money to Rehberg’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Farris and Joann have together given $10,400 toward Steve Daines’s 2014 reelection.

Their political giving has not been limited to Montana.  In Texas, according to state campaign finance records, the brothers each gave $25,000 to Texans for Rick Perry in 2012.  Farris also gave $2,500 to State Rep. Stefani Carter, the first Republican African American woman to serve in the state House; Farris and Joann also gave $5,000 to the failed Supreme Court campaign of Steve Smith. 

Last year, Perry announced he would not run for a fourth term as governor.  Earlier this year, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, reported nearly $31,000 in in-kind contributions from Farris and Dan for use of an airplane. Farris also gave $1,000 in January to the Texas Home School Coalition PAC.

This year, in the election for California’s 44th Assembly District, Dan, Staci, and Farris Wilks have given thousands to the campaign of Rob McCoy, a conservative evangelical pastor who is also backed by Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee. In the June 3 primary, the Wilks-backed McCoy came in second place to Democrat Jacqui Irwin, a City Councilwoman from Thousand Oaks, beating the more moderate Republican candidate, businessman Mario de la Piedra. Irwin and McCoy will face off in the general election.

During the 2012 election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission’s database, the brothers and their wives together contributed $125,000 to the Romney Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee benefitting the Romney campaign and the Republican Party. 

Joann also contributed $25,000 to the Faith Family Freedom Fund, a “soft money” fund run by a former Family Research Council executive and housed in FRC’s Washington, DC building. The fund makes independent expenditures for or against candidates; in 2012 it spent in support of Todd Akin, George Allen, Steve King, and other right-wing candidates, and against Claire McCaskill, Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, and other Democratic candidates.

In 2011, Farris gave the National Republican Congressional Committee $2,500, and he gave $7,600 to the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund between 2010 and 2012. In 2010 Farris gave Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Sharron Angle $1000 and in 2008 he gave $2,500 to the McCain-Palin Victory Committee.

Wilks and the War on Women

As Kate Sheppard reported last August for Mother Jones, The Thirteen Foundation’s 2011 gift to Life Dynamics, a Texas-based anti-abortion group, funded a campaign to mass-mail DVDs to lawyers encouraging them to sue abortion clinics into oblivion.  Crooks and Liars blogger Karoli has noted that Life Dynamics “actively engages in espionage against organizations serving women” and operates campaigns to harass doctors who perform abortions. 

The more than $2 million that The Thirteen Foundation gave to Media Revolution Ministries in 2012 allowed for a vast expansion of the group, which had only an $80,000 budget the year before. The group, also known as Online for Life, says it “implements cutting-edge Internet and traditional marketing outreaches to connect with abortion-determined women and men.” In other words, they try to “intercept” women who search for abortion information and send them to anti-choice “pregnancy centers.”  

Those funds may have been used to help “pregnancy centers” buy ads on search terms like “abortion clinics” to “intercept” women who went online.  NARAL Pro-Choice America cited Online for Life’s Google ads  when it announced in April that  its investigations had led Google to take down ads from crisis pregnancy centers that violated the search engine’s rules against deceptive advertising.

The Thirteen Foundation also gave $450,000 in 2011 to Care Net, a network of Christian “pregnancy centers” whose “standards of affiliation” include this requirement:

The pregnancy center does not recommend, provide, or refer single women for contraceptives. (Married women seeking contraceptive information should be urged to seek counsel, along with their husbands, from their pastor and physician.).

The Wilks are also backers of Open Door, a local Christian “crisis pregnancy center” to which the Thirteen Foundation gave more than $90,000 in 2012. Farris and Joann have also been benefactors of Texas Right to Life.

The Wilks Worldview

With the exception of the brief interaction with CBN’s David Brody, the Wilks brothers have generally been media-shy. But the worldview of Farris, the older of the two brothers, whose foundation is backing the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, is quite clearly revealed in the sermons he preaches.

In addition to his business ventures, Farris, the older brother, is also a pastor at the church founded by his father, The Assembly of Yahweh (7th Day).  The church’s doctrine seems to be an amalgam based on the elder Wilks’ anachronistic interpretations of the Bible. It combines biblical literalism with a heavy emphasis on the Old Testament: The church celebrates its Sabbath on Saturday, follows the dietary rules laid down in Leviticus, and celebrates Jewish holidays but not “the religious holidays of the Gentiles,” which include “Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, White Sunday, Good Friday, and Halloween.”  (I had to look up White Sunday, which is a traditional Samoan holiday. There’s a significant Samoan community in Texas).  Women may not speak during worship.

The church’s doctrinal points align with the Religious Right on many policy issues.  Abortion is “murder,” including pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. Homosexuality is “a serious crime – a very grievous sin.”

A number of Farris Wilks’ sermons can be heard through his church’s website.  Back in November 2012, he was pretty despondent about the re-election of Barack Obama:  “I do believe that our country died that Tuesday night, to all that’s honorable, that’s good, that’s ambitious, and that has justice. The old way of life that we will take care of ourselves, we will be self-sufficient as much as we are able, the pride in pulling your own weight, or paddling your own canoe.”  The sermon includes small-government quotes from Thomas Jefferson, anti-socialist quotes from Winston Churchill, and a bootstraps approach to poverty. “The best way to get out of poverty is to go to work,” he says. “That is one of the simplest ways to make it go away.”

Wilks said he was “refreshed” by biblical texts about the End Times, speculating that the election went the way it did “because maybe it’s time to wrap up some things, maybe it’s time to move on to the next one thousand years.”  And he warned of persecution against Christians:

I will tell you now that you need to be ready for a little bit more scoffing and ridicule than maybe we’ve experienced in the past, because I think not only us but the Christian community at large is coming under attack, not only in America but throughout the world.  We see it on the late night talk shows. One man in particular. And some time you think, man, it would almost be nice if the judgment would happen so we can see what would happen to those people. …for the things they are saying, which are so vulgar and violent against Yahweh…his mercy must be inexhaustible to put up with that…

Several months later, after his participation in the David Lane event in Iowa, Wilks was feeling motivated to do more to impact the future of America.  In a July 2, 2013, sermon he referred to claims made by discredited Religious Right “historian” David Barton about the country’s founders and Barton’s assertion that many of our laws come from the scriptures.  And in a sermon he described as a “study of Sodom and Gomorrah,” he laid out his belief that the country is facing a clear choice:

As most of you probably know by now, we are in a battle for our society. Will we follow the secular religion of man, him being supreme, and evolving, or will we submit to Elohim, who has the right to give us laws and commandments to follow since he is the one who created us? Who is in charge? Is it man, or is it our creator?

He read scripture passages that referred to the story of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in what he said was punishment for “base and demented” sexual practices, the tolerance of which in America “could bring about the end of our nation.” He warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would soon lead to bestiality being promoted and accepted. “I do believe we live in a nation that will start to vomit some of its people out,” he warned.  After reading a passage from Isaiah in which the land and its inhabitants are cursed for their depravity, he said:

I fear that that is where we are as a nation. We have been in the blessed part of our nation, but I think we’re coming to the point now…we’re going to reap what we have sown, and what we have sown has not been good…what it says here, that the earth lies polluted under its inhabitants. Think of all the murder that has happened in this country….all the babies that have been murdered…think of all the perversions in the realm of sexual perversion of all kinds…all the breaking of Yahweh’s covenant….and so you recognize that at some point Yahweh’s going to say it’s time to wrap up… it’s time to move on to a kingdom of people that want to serve me, that want to be redeemed, that want salvation…we have to draw some lines in the sand for ourselves….

He also mocked environmentalism and the effort to save certain animals or the polar caps.  “We didn’t create the Earth so how can we save it?”  When you realize that Yahweh is in control, “it’s much simpler,” he says. “You can turn over some of those responsibilities to him.” Maybe the melting of polar ice is us “getting a little scorched here” as a message from God.

Later last summer he returned to the Sodom and Gomorrah theme, denouncing the gay pride movement as an example of lust and defiance of authority described in the Bible. “What we’re fighting against today is not a sexual revolution particular to our own enlightened age, but it’s a return to pre-Christian pagan sexual immorality or perversion.”

And Farris sounded like the most extreme anti-gay Religious Right leaders in portraying gay people as child predators: 

If we all took on this lifestyle, all humanity would perish in one generation…So this lifestyle is a predatorial lifestyle in that they need your children and straight people having kids to fulfill their sexual habits. They can’t do it by their self. They want your children….But we’re in a war for our children. They want your children. So what will you teach your children? A strong family is the last defense.

And, he said, they won’t stop, predicting that pedophilia and bestiality will soon be legal.

Just before Christmas he preached on spiritual apathy in America. He warned that apathy is closing church doors in America just as liberalism and secularism. He railed against people forgetting the Sabbath and spending too much time on entertainment. He warned that God would lift his “mantle of protection” against the U.S. because it is no longer protecting the family.

Earlier this year, Farris preached on “Government That We Can Believe In.”  In that sermon, he proclaimed that he loves America but that all nations fail at some point. The founding fathers did a good job, but the nation’s cornerstones are now crumbling: “It’s because of the lack of morality, the lack of continuity of one like belief in our heavenly father – those are the things that are bringing our nation to its knees.”

But this sermon focused less on sexual immorality and more on the threat of socialism. Yahweh, he preached, is “someone who respects private ownership” and the Torah is “set up on the free enterprise system.”

He said “there are only two basic ideas in the whole world” – and those are free enterprise and socialism. The U.S., he warned, is “inching closer to socialism.” You either have more government or more freedom; the more money taken from you in taxes, the fewer choices you have in life. He acknowledged that he has a “personal stake” in this, saying he pays a “huge amount” in taxes.

He urged congregants not to vote for politicians who promise “free this, free that,” saying that would lead us to become one of the poor nations of the world. “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.”

An Answer to Prayer?

Televangelist James Robison recently told participants in a Tea Party Unity conference call that he is praying for a merger of the Tea Party and the Religious Right.  It’s enough to make one wonder where Robison has been for the past few years.  There has always been a overlap between the Tea Party and the Religious Right movements.  And since the early days of the anti-Obama Tea Party organizing, right-wing strategists like Ralph Reed and Rick Scarborough have been trying to more fully merge the organizing energies of the two movements into an electoral machine. 

Groups like the Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation have worked hard to limit the influence of libertarians in the conservative movement by portraying social and economic conservatism as “indivisible,” while Republican activists like “historian” David Barton have claimed that there is a biblical underpinning for the far-right’s anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government agenda.

Maybe the miracle Robison was really looking for was a big pile of cash to fund his next project. In which case, the answer to his prayers might be found in the person of Farris Wilks, preacher, right-wing activist, and billionaire.

The Ten Commandments And The 4,300-Year-Old Dinosaur: Michael Peroutka's Web Of Christian-Nation Influence

Two weeks ago, the Creation Museum — the anti-evolution themepark run by the advocacy group Answers in Genesis — received a huge gift: a $1 million dinosaur skeleton meant to help the museum illustrate its belief that dinosaurs were part of the original creation 6,000 years ago and coexisted with humans until well after Noah’s flood.

The benefactor that gave the museum Ebenezer the Allosaurus was the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation, a family foundation run by Maryland-based right-wing activists and brothers Michael and Stephen Peroutka and Michael’s daughter Elizabeth. Observers immediately noted that this dinosaur came with some contemporary human baggage: Michael Peroutka is an extreme right-wing activist who is a frequent supporter and former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South and who believes that the Union’s victory in the Civil War brought on all of America’s ills, including “homo-sodomite unmarriage.”

But the Peroutkas’ influence extends far beyond fringe anti-gay, neo-Confederate activism and providing a real-life dinosaur to illustrate made-up science. Through a set of debt-collection businesses, the Peroutkas finance a host of anti-choice groups and promote a troubling Christian-Nation ideology in Maryland and throughout the country. Michael Peroutka, a 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president, is also largely self-financing his campaign for local office in Anne Arundel County.

Michael Peroutka runs the Institute on the Constitution, an “educational” group through which he promotes his Christian Reconstructionist viewpoint that “the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law” — that is, Peroutka’s idea of what constitutes God’s law. Peroutka, for instance, claims that there are no such thing as “civil rights” enforceable by the government, because “rights come from God.”

The Institute on the Constitution, according to the group’s website, is “sponsored” by and shares an address with Peroutka and Peroutka, the debt-collection firm Michael runs with his brother Stephen, who was also a  co-founder of the Institute.

It’s through the law firm and its debt-buying arm, Pasadena Recievables, that the Peroutka brothers finance the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation, which is named after their mother.

From its founding in 2003 through 2012, the last year for which tax records are available, the family’s foundation has been almost entirely financed by grants from the Peroutkas' pair of debt-collection businesses, along with investment income and a few personal donations from Michael and Stephen. Together, the family and its businesses have put $5.2 million into the foundation over nine years.

Its biggest asset, until now, has been the Allosaurus.

Ebenezer the Allosaurus was originally dug up in 2002 by a team of homeschoolers led by a conservative Christian family from Florida that ran a business providing anti-evolution excavation adventures. Also leading that expedition was Doug Phillips, a leader of the anti-feminist Quiverfull movement, who is now facing charges of sexual battery and assault against a young follower.

From the moment the bones were found, their discoverers vowed to keep them out of the hands of scientists, who estimate that the Allosaurus lived roughly 150 million years ago. “I am sure the evolutionists would love to get their hands on these bones," Phillips said at the time. “Who can blame them. It is like a gold mine for paleontologists.”

Peroutka cited those fears at the Creation Museum unveiling last month, when he told of how he came to purchase Ebenezer. He was determined to keep the dinosaur out of the hands of “anyone with a ‘millions of years’ mindset,” he said, and to keep it under the guardianship of those who believe the skeleton is just 4,300 years old:

While snatching the dinosaur from the evolutionists has been the Peroutka family foundation’s priciest project, Michael explained in his remarks at the museum that the foundation was “primarily intended to offer financial aid to groups who were dedicated to ending the holocaust of abortion.”

Of $3.6 million in grants that the Peroutka Foundation has dispensed over nine years, about one-quarter — $920,000 — has gone to the National Pro-Life Action Center, an anti-choice lobbying group chaired by Stephen Peroutka. (The Center is one of a tangled web of right-wing organizations run out of the same office in Washington). Stephen Peroutka was also the founder of National Pro-Life Radio, a network run out of the same building as the brothers’ law office that aired shows from anti-choice activists including Janet Porter, Jay Sekulow, Frank Pavone, Jesse Lee Peterson, and both Peroutka brothers.

The foundation has heaped much of its largesse on Maryland-based abortion clinic protest groups and crisis pregnancy centers, including contributing a total of $236,000 to the Baltimore-based abortion clinic protest group Defend Life, perhaps most infamous for organizing a protest outside the middle school attended by the daughter of an abortion provider’s landlord.

And although anti-choice groups have received the bulk of the foundation’s grants, it has also taken on some other causes close to Michael Peroutka’s heart.

Most notably, the foundation has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to groups associated with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, one of the nation’s loudest proponents of Christian Reconstructionist ideology, who shot to fame in 2003 when he was ousted from his original position on the state supreme court for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse.

In 2004, after the far-right Constitution Party failed to recruit Moore to run for president, Peroutka took his place as the party’s candidate. That same year, the Peroutka Foundation spent $120,000 bankrolling Moore’s nationwide speaking tour “regarding morality and the Ten Commandments” and gave $12,000 to the National Coalition to Restore the Constitution, a group that organized rallies backing Moore in an effort drum up support for a measure preventing federal courts from hearing many church-state separation cases .

In addition, the Peroutka Foundation has contributed a quarter of a million dollars to the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore ran before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court, and which is now run by Moore’s wife. Under Moore’s leadership, the Foundation for Moral Law hosted a neo-Confederate “secession day” event, and the group employs John Eidsmoe, a Michelle Bachmann mentor who has white supremacist ties. One of Moore's activities at the group was representing protesters who had disrupted a Hindu opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. “It's a shame that not one U.S. Senator stood up to defend a tradition that goes back to the very first Continental Congress of acknowledging the one true God of the Holy Scriptures," he lamented.

In 2007 and 2008, the Peroutka Foundation contributed $60,000 to Moore’s now-defunct Coalition to Restore America. In the summer of 2007, Moore spoke at a conference in Maryland organized by Peroutka, where, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “he and a string of far-right activists peddled ‘Christian nation’ rhetoric, bashed Islam, belittled American culture and the federal government and displayed an alarming affinity for the neo-Confederate states’ rights cause.” Also speaking at the conference were Eidsmoe and Gordon Klingenschmitt, the former Navy chaplain who now supplies the world with an endless supply of YouTube rants about gay “demonic spirits.” At the end of the day, everyone gathered under a Confederate flag to dedicate part of the Peroutkas’ land as “Judge Roy Moore Field.”

In 2011, the Institute on the Constitution presented Moore with an award for “choosing to obey God, and acknowledging Him both in word and in deed, regardless of the consequences” and resisting “a government which thought it was God.”

The next year, when Moore successfully ran to reclaim his seat on the state supreme court, Peroutka provided the bulk of his campaign chest.

The affinity between Moore and Peroutka extends to the issue of evolution. Moore contends that the theory of evolution is incompatible with the Constitution; Peroutka insists the “promotion of evolution is an act of disloyalty to America”:

While anti-choice groups and Moore have been the biggest recipients of the Peroutka Foundation’s generosity — at least until Ebenezer moved into the Creation Museum — the foundation has also offered smaller grants to a smattering of extremist ministries and Confederate history enthusiasts.

The Foundation has given $24,000 over six years to Pass the Salt, the ministry of unhinged anti-gay extremist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire (the one who complained last year that he was "sick and tired of being sodomized by the left"). In 2012, it gave a $6,000 grant to “You Can Run By You Cannot Hide,” the ministry of Bachmann acolyte Bradlee Dean, who travels to unsuspecting public schools to give disturbing anti-gay “seminars.”

Since 2006, the foundation has given an annual $1,000 grant to restoring a Confederate cemetery in Maryland, a project organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that has cozied up to the racist extremists in its ranks. In 2004, it donated $2,250 to a Confederate reenactment troop for "education of the public as to the causes of the War between the States."

The Peroutkas are also frequent donors to state and local campaigns. According to Center for Responsive Politics data, Michael, Stephen and Stephen’s wife Deborah  contributed $35,900 to their congressman, Rep. Andy Harris, between 2007 and 2011.

Not the least of the beneficiaries is Michael Peroutka himself, who has lent $30,000 to his own campaign for Anne Arundel County Council, about half of the $62,000 he has raised so far. His political ambitions may continue to run higher — it was rumored that he considered running for state attorney general this year before setting his sights on the county council.

Peroutka’s web of influence shows that he is more than, as one libertarian scholar put it, a "wackypants anti-gay crusader.” Peroutka's activism and  philanthropy illuminate the connections between the Creationist movement, the Christian-Nation philosophy of people like Judge Moore, anti-choice agitators, fringe anti-gay extremists like Daubenmire and Klingenschmitt, and the network of Confederate nostalgists that can never quite hide its racist roots. All are striving for a biblical and constitutional purism that exists only in the minds of those who adhere to it, and a return to an imagined past where dinosaurs stowed away on Noah’s ark, the Constitution mandated an exclusively Christian nation, and the Civil War didn't turn out quite right.

Research contributed by Ian Silverstone

Rafael Cruz Blames End Of School-Sponsored Prayer For Crime, Teen Pregnancy

Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, spoke at yesterday’s Family Research Council Watchmen on the Wall conference, where he made the case for the conservative pastors in the audience to throw themselves into politics.

Cruz argued that the First Amendment “in no way, shape or form” prevents “the church from having an influence on every area of society, as we should.”

“The church should be influencing the media, should be influencing arts and entertainment, sports, education, business and, yes, government,” he added, just so happening to list five of the seven pillars of Seven Mountains Dominionism.

To illustrate this, Cruz listed various instances where he claims the “church remained silent”: the 1963 ruling eliminating government-sponsored prayer in schools, because of which, he claimed, “teen pregnancy skyrocketed and violent crime skyrocketed”; Roe v. Wade; and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which he said led to the “erosion of the traditional family.”

“The question is, how long are we going to remain silent?” he said. “But the more important question is, will God hold us accountable for our silence?”

In Response To Uganda Documentary, IHOP Says It's 'Not Involved' in Politics

“God Loves Uganda,” a documentary about American evangelical involvement in inflaming anti-gay sentiment in that country, made its debut at last year’s Sundance Festival and reached a broader audience through this week’s broadcast on public television. The attention from this week’s broadcast has provoked a response from the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Filmmaker Ross Williams was given extensive access to IHOP leaders, including evangelist Lou Engle, who believes Uganda has a special prophetic destiny.  The documentary includes footage of Engle at a rally with supporters of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act, where he tells the crowd he was “called” to encourage the Ugandan church for standing up for “righteousness” in the face of international pressure to drop the bill.  IHOP now says it has never supported the anti-gay law.

Charisma Magazine’s Jennifer LeClaire writes that IHOP and Lou Engle are being “falsely accused of ‘demonizing’ homosexuals in Uganda.” IHOP’s response says that while it believes all sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman is sinful, “We honor the dignity and rights of all whose opinion differs from ours” and that IHOP is “open to civil dialogue and mutual respect.” The filmmakers, says IHOP, “pursued a deceptive means to achieve a hateful, polarizing result.”

In fact, Engle is a remarkably polarizing figure who has frequently describes those who disagree with him on abortion and marriage as being in league with Satan in a confrontation between good an evil. “God Loves Uganda” includes footage of Engle’s pro-Prop. 8 rally in California at which he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam.” In 2011, he organized an event in Detroit that was pitched to local pastors as a unity event for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s economy when its actual purpose was to “invade Dearborn” and convert followers of “demonic” Islam to Christianity.

Perhaps the most laughable statement in IHOP’s response is this:

Our primary mandate as an organization is prayer and humanitarian action; it is not political. We are not involved in U.S. politics, let alone politics in another nation.

Not involved in US politics? Where do we begin?

Lou Engle, an IHOP co-founder, is a dominionist who believes the church’s role is to “rule history with God.”

"The church’s vocation is to rule history with God...The same authority that has been given to Christ Jesus for overwhelming conquering and dominion has been given to the saints of the most high....We’re God’s rulers upon the earth...We will govern over kings and judges will have to submit...We’re called to rule! To change history! To be co-regents with God!"

Engle has been intensely involved in US politics, hosting “The Call” prayer rallies in election years to denounce legal abortion and politicians that support it. He worked hard to mobilize support for anti-gay Proposition 8 in California.

In 2008 he passionately opposed the election of Barack Obama and declared that by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain had “gone to war for America, for our families, and for our children. And this war, we cannot afford to lose.”

In 2009, Engle introduced Rep. Michele Bachmann and asked her to lead a prayer at an anti-health-care-reform “prayercast” organized by the Family Research Council.

More recently IHOP and its leader Mike Bickel were at the center of organizing dominionist leaders to put on “The Awakening,” a 2011 prayer rally that served as the launch of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign. Bickel served as the event’s MC. The head of IHOP’s Tallahassee branch, Pam Oslen, was on the Perry campaign’s Florida leadership team.

Right-Wing Activists Urge Catholic Church To Deny Communion To Pro-Choice Politicians

Dozens of anti-choice activists meeting in Rome this week are urging Catholic bishops to deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

Speaking at the International Pro-Life Conference in Rome, the American Catholic leader Cardinal Raymond Burke renewed his call for bishops to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Fifty-two activists joined the cause, signing a petition asking “the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.”

Among the American signers of the declaration were Preston Noell, director of Tradition, Family and Property, Marie Meaney of Heartbeat International, Joseph Meaney of Human Life International (the group that spawned the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and which organized the Rome conference), “conceived in rape” activist Rebecca Kiessling, Dawn Eskew of Personhood New York, Michael Hichborn of the American Life League, Carlos Polo of the Population Research Institute, and Bernice and Brian Follett of The Life Foundation. Also signing the petition was Luis Losada of CitizenGo, a Spanish organization whose board includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown.

The declaration reads in part:

WHEREAS Catholic politicians who support abortion are already in grave sin, and in receiving Holy Communion their sin is compounded by sacrilege;

WHEREAS by being given Holy Communion such Catholic politicians may well believe that they are spiritually healthy and thus not in need of any remedy;

WHEREAS distributing Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians causes scandal to the rest of the faithful in that they come to believe that support for abortion is not too serious a sin, and thus undermines pro-life work;

WHEREAS being refused Holy Communion is an effective wake-up call to return to an authentic life of faith;

WHEREAS it is unmerciful to allow our brothers living in obstinate public sin to languish there without warning;

We the undersigned ask the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.

Iowa GOP Senate Candidates Vow To Block Judges Who Won't Follow 'Biblical' Law

The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”

Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”

He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.

“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country," he concluded.

Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”

Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has  “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”

Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”

Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”

“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”

This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the "law of nature."

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