The website GetReligion.org has been around in various permutations for more than a decade, providing a home for conservative-leaning criticism of mainstream media coverage of religion and, more specifically, news coverage that misses or ignores the importance of religion to a story. “The press…just doesn’t get religion,” is the site’s tagline, a quote from journalist and political analyst William Schneider. But a recent post by contributor Jim Davis seems to fall solidly in the “not getting it” category.
In a post about a gay American pastor who was detained by police and expelled from Russia, Davis writes that the Associated Press “blows a minor incident into a major issue.” Davis may be trying a little too hard to strike a snarky tone. Here’s how his story starts:
Don’t read this yet. Get yourself a chair. Put down that cup of whatever you're drinking.
The Associated Press reports that — Dun-dun-DUNN! — Russia doesn't like gays. And especially pro-gay-rights churches.
I know, right? That might have knocked your socks off.
AP learned this terrible truth as a missionary of the Metropolitan Community Church was arrested, then ordered out of Russia. Try to get through this without fainting...
The Associated Press story strikes me as a pretty straightforward recounting of what happened to Jim Mulcahy, an American pastor with the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Churches. According to the story, Mulcahy was sitting around a table with friends when four uniformed police showed up at the door, took the teacup out of his hand, and took him to the police station, “threatening to handcuff him if he refused to cooperate.” He was ordered out of the country on vague charges of engaging in unspecified religious activity (according to the story, police had said they heard he was planning to conduct a wedding for a gay couple).
Davis responds: “What? They took his teacup? The threatened to cuff him? The monsters!”
If I were unexpectedly arrested in a foreign country, denied access to important medication, and ordered out of the country, I don’t think the experience would feel like a big joke. I don’t know Davis but I expect the same would hold true for him. But Davis goes on with a tone that suggests Mulcahy should have known that the Russians don’t like gays, and so he shouldn’t be surprised at what happened to him. And he says AP is making a mountain out of a molehill.
OK, maybe I've been a bit cavalier with this. I wouldn't be amused if, say, a Jew or Baptist were arrested just for trying to practice their faith. I fully get the right for freedom of expression for everyone, including those with whom I disagree.
Still, on a scale of religious persecution, the Mulcahy-Samara story rates somewhere below a 2. Cloddish cops, stringent laws, a flinty judge, those are all there. But shootings, hate speech, mass expulsions – or throat cuttings, as happened to an elderly priest in France yesterday – this story doesn't come close. I suspect that if it weren't about gays, it might not have gotten AP's attention at all.
This comparison doesn’t make sense. It’s not as if the extensively-covered killings he mentions were ignored by the AP so they could run with Mulcahy’s story. In fact, what got the AP’s attention was that “the arrest was filmed by state-controlled channel NTV, whose reports often take an especially truculent, pro-Kremlin stance.” That suggests the arrest was staged to provide an anti-gay and anti-American propaganda boost for the Russian government. That makes it newsworthy, especially since strongman Vladimir Putin is participating in a mutual admiration society with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
The AP story doesn’t ignore the religion angle, reporting on Russia’s growing intolerance of free expression by LGBT people, and on new restrictions on public expression of religion by any churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church, which is closely aligned with Putin's government.
As we have noted before, many American religious conservatives have been willing to overlook Putin’s crackdown on dissent, free speech and religious freedom because they admire his anti-gay policies and his defense of “Christian civilization” against the secular democracies of Western Europe.
To paraphrase Davis, if this story were about the arrest and expulsion of an American pastor who wasn’t a gay man, I suspect Davis and Get Religion wouldn’t have been so dismissive of it.
When Marco Rubio cited the deadly attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando as a reason he was changing his mind and running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, many LGBT allies immediately noted that the Florida senator and failed presidential candidate has never been an ally of the LGBT community.
“To be using the tragedy in Orlando as a time to reflect on his Senate career, when his career and his promises on the campaign trail have been anti-LGBTQ consistently, it’s just staggering to think he would be using this moment for his own personal ambitions,” said Jay Brown of the Human Rights Campaign at the time.
It comes as no surprise, then, to see that Rubio is slated to address an event in Orlando next month that will feature some of the country’s most vehement anti-LGBT activists.
The Orlando-based Liberty Counsel Action, an extreme anti-LGBT group whose affiliate is famous for representing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her stand against the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, announced in an email today that the Florida Renewal Project will be hosting an event called “Rediscovering God in America” in August. The event will be headlined by Rubio, who will speak alongside anti-LGBT activists David Barton, Bill Federer, Ken Graves and Mat Staver.
The event will put Rubio in the company of some of the most extreme anti-gay activists in the country:
View the invitation here:
The Conservative Action Project is a network of more than 100 right-wing leaders created in 2008 as “an offshoot” of the secretive far-right Council for National Policy, making it part of an array of conservative coalitions that bloomed around and after the election of Barack Obama. Originally chaired by Edwin Meese, the Conservative Action Project is now headed by Becky Norton Dunlop, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. It includes leaders of all of what are often described as the three legs of the conservative movement: social, economic, and national security conservatives.
The Washington Post reported in 2010 that the Conservative Action Project was helping fuel closer coordination across the multifaceted conservative coalition with its weekly Wednesday morning meetings at the Family Research Council. The group also promotes shared messaging and strategy with its “Memos for the Movement.” Now this collection of right-wing leaders has identified its policy priorities for the first 180 days of a new administration.
At a forum organized by the American Conservative Union Foundation at the Republican National Convention, participants were given of a set of pocket cards containing policy proposals, quick facts and “market tested messages” on the one dozen highest priorities selected by Conservative Action Project leaders. The 12 priorities are divided into four categories: Constitutional Issues and the Judiciary; Preserving and Protecting Our Culture; Freeing Our Economy so Everyone Can Win; and Defending Our Freedoms.
The package provides a clear picture of the ideas that right-wing organizations are pushing Trump to embrace. Some are vague, like, “The President should revive Public Diplomacy,” but others are quite specific. Taken together, they’re a pretty good indication of what we’d have in store on the policy front with Trump in the White House.
Among the proposals, which signal the intense desire of right-wing organizations to infuse their priorities throughout the federal government’s executive branch agencies:
The policy proposals listed under “Restore Religious Freedom” include calls for the president to ensure passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, which carves out exceptions from nondiscrimination laws for people who claim anti-LGBT religious beliefs, and to “issue an Executive Order requiring that the Executive branch respect the 1st Amendment and provisions of the First Amendment Defense Act.”
The package proposes a new tax code that is “simpler, fairer, flatter and stimulates growth,” insisting that all tax reform “should lower individual and business tax rates, particularly the top marginal rates, to encourage saving and investing.”
It says senators “should vigorously question judicial nominees about their intent to remain faithful to the original meaning of the Constitution and laws.”
On education, the movement’s priority is to “Advance School Choice,” and it calls on the president to appoint “a movement conservative” as secretary of education. It wants the president to “champion the policy of dollars following the children,” language used by advocates for private school vouchers and other forms of public school privatization.
The Conservative Action Project’s “memos for the movement” provide a further sense of the group’s worldview. For example, it responded to last year’s marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court in apocalyptic terms, saying, “The Court’s abuse of power is of such historic proportions that the conservative movement, and indeed every American who cherishes liberty must now address the serious damage done to the cause of freedom and the very foundation of our civil society.”
The group has intensely opposed efforts to expand disclosure requirements for political “dark money,” portraying conservatives as “a persecuted class” who are “bullied to either conform or suffer retribution.”
Among its 2016 releases was a March memo urging Senate Republicans to be resolute in refusing to consider a nominee from President Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat that became vacant with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Here’s an excerpt from the group’s thoughtful and rational rhetoric:
The president and his liberal allies know what is at stake and so do we. It is nothing short of their intent to eradicate precious constitutional rights. These leftists have made clear their first target is our 1st Amendment right to political speech and the silencing of conservative voices. They mock the 2nd Amendment right of the people to protect themselves and their families and are determined to take away our constitutional right to bear arms. They welcome the prospect of unleashing unaccountable federal agencies like the IRS and EPA to impose a liberal policy agenda that will harm Americans and punish any who dare to disagree with their worldview. And not least of all, they vow to use the Court’s power to impose an “unconditional surrender” in their cultural war against our fundamental institutions of faith, family, marriage, home, and school — and will wipe out any pro-life protections, instead imposing abortion on-demand, up to the moment of birth, paid for by the taxpayers.
A major theme at last week’s “Summer of Justice,” an event that Operation Save America convened in Wichita to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the anti-abortion Summer of Mercy, was the idea that laws that violate a particular reading of the Bible are not real laws and therefore should be ignored by elected officials.
As such, organizers convened an “ecclesiastical court” in front of Wichita’s federal courthouse on Thursday to hold the federal courts and the Supreme Court in “contempt” of God’s law, as determined by them. Eight OSA members, holding coffin-shaped signs with the names of Supreme Court cases on church-state separation, reproductive rights and LGBT equality, took turns coming to the microphone to read “charges” against the federal courts. The proceedings followed a script that the group used at a similar “ecclesiastical court” in Alabama last year.
The “charge” based on Roe v. Wade held that “America has committed domestic terrorism in the womb, and we are reaping terrorism in our streets.” The charge based on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld the central finding of Roe, linked the case to the 1999 Columbine school shooting, saying that the court “declared that man can determine his own reality, standards and meanings apart from the objective truth of Almighty God,” as the Columbine shooters did.
On Lawrence v. Texas, the case striking down bans on consensual sex between adults of the same sex: “Homosexuality means the burning out of man. It will destroy those who practice this perversion and nations that condone it.”
OSA leader Rusty Thomas closed the proceedings by declaring that “the Supreme Court of the United States of America has sinned against God” in issuing decisions protecting reproductive rights and LGBT rights (or, as he put it, “sodomy”) and accusing the court of “high treason against God and our nation.”
“Yes, the Supreme Court of the United States of America has betrayed our God, our nation, our people, our children, and has invited the wrath of Almighty God to come upon us — all of us,” he said.
The Supreme Court, he said, has “forfeited all moral authority” and therefore “by the authority invested in us as ministers of the gospel of the kingdom,” OSA would render these objectionable rulings null and void.
He led the crowd in declaring: “We cancel these wicked decisions. We render them null and void. We prohibit their enforcement upon America and its citizens. We declare with one voice that these wicked decrees are no longer binding upon us, our children or our nation.”
“You’re literally acting today like a Moses to Pharaoh” by “telling our government what you are doing is not lawful in the eyes of God,” Thomas said.
Bryan Fischer kicked off his radio program on Friday with a Bible study on the Book of Revelation, during which he once again warned that "Satan is working overtime" through the LGBT rights community in an effort to impose the Mark of the Beast on Christians.
"This is the Mark of the Beast in our culture right now," Fischer declared. "If you want to know what the Mark of the Beast is today in America, it is the embrace of the homosexual agenda. If you want to buy, if you want to sell, if you want to engage in business, you have to embrace the god of homosexuality, you have got to embrace the agenda of homosexuality or you will not be allowed to buy or sell. That's the Mark of the Beast."
Fischer said that the NBA, in deciding to move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte in response to a new North Carolina anti-LGBT law, is punishing the state for refusing to "take the Mark of the Beast."
"If you will not take the Mark of the Beast," he said, "that is embrace the homosexual agenda, you will not be able to buy or sell, you will be closed down, you will be shut down, you will be fired, you will be punished."
One person who is unambiguously thrilled with Donald Trump's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate is Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, the demon-hunting Religious Right activist who is currently serving out the end of his term as Republican member of Colorado's state legislature.
Klingenschmitt's activist career is grounded in his claim that he was fired from a post as a military chaplain because he prayed "in Jesus' name." In reality his lost the job because he violated military rules in appearing at a political event in uniform. When Klingenschmitt sued, a federal judge found that he had never been ordered not to pray in the name of Jesus and that along with defying orders by appearing in an official capacity at the political event he had been found to have an "unsatisfactory" job performance.
But those facts didn't stop Klingenschmitt from sending out an email to his followers on Sunday recalling how Pence, when he was the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee in Congress, had met Klingenschmitt in a "divine appointment" in the halls of Congress and championed his cause.
Klingenschmitt credits Pence with spearheading a letter from a few dozen conservative members of Congress objecting to a Bush administration Pentagon policy that The Hill described at the time as calling for "nonsectarian prayers" after the emergence of "allegations that evangelical Christians wielded so much influence at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment had become pervasive."
From Klingenschmitt's email:
If you remember my story, you know in 2005 the U.S. Navy punished my chapel sermons in writing, then wrote a policy that banned praying "in Jesus' name" which cost my career.
That year I walked the halls of Congress, meeting any Members who'd defend religious freedom for Chaplains. Friends told me "go see Mike Pence" the Congressman from Indiana who was then chairman of the powerful Republican Study Committee, composed of the 70 most conservative Congressmen.
So I went to Congressman Pence's office. I had just missed him, but I glanced at his official photo to get a visual impression of his face, (something I never did otherwise), and a half-hour later I turned a hallway corner, and literally bumped into him. It was a divine appointment.
"You're Mike Pence!" I said, immediately recognizing his face from the photo.
"Yes I am!" he smiled.
He was very attentive, and although he was on the way to another meeting Congressman Pence said to me, "walk with me and tell me your story." We walked and talked for 10 minutes together.
I told Pence how 65 Chaplains were suing the Navy, all denied promotion for praying and preaching "in Jesus' name." I showed him documents how they punished me for quoting the Bible in chapel.
He looked me in the eye and said "OK, I get it. I'm with you 100%."
Pence kept his word. The next week every member of his committee, all 70 members led by Mike Pence and Walter Jones, signed a letter to the President on my behalf, demanding he let Chaplains pray "in Jesus' name."
One year later Congress ordered the Navy to reverse their bad prayer policy and we won.
I know from personal experience, Mike Pence is a Christian, Conservative, Republican, as he freely admits "in that order" and I've seen him stand up for chaplains' rights.
O’REILLY: Now this Ferrandino I understand he is the — what, t he first openly gay House Speaker in Colorado. He was a fervent gay marriage person. He objected when gay marriage was first tabled because they sent it into the same committee to kill it that he sent Jessica’s law in. All that true so far of this guy?SZABO: So far you’re correct.O’REILLY: All right. So this guy doesn’t want tougher mandatory sentences. Have you talked to him about it? Has he said anything to the press about why not?SZABO: You know, I don’t know that the press in Colorado, they covered this issue very well on — on my side of the issue and on Mr. Lunsford’s side of the issue. But I don’t believe he was willing to speak to them because obviously he’s protecting somebody. Obviously the victims hold more credence with him — I mean not the victim— the perpetrators hold more credence with him than the child victims do.
In the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we’ll be profiling some of the activists and politicians invited to speak at the event. Find more of our Meet the Speakers series here.
As Peter noted earlier today, speculation that Donald Trump may move the Republican Party into greater acceptance of LGBT people is hard to take seriously given the GOP platform committee’s approval this week of an exceptionally anti-LGBT platform, not to mention the anti-LGBT activists whom Trump himself has enthusiastically embraced in his quest for the presidency.
A preliminary list of this year’s Republican National Convention speakers should also put that idea to rest.
Along with the many businessmen and celebrity buddies of Trump who appear on the speakers list are a number of activists and politicians who have long records of anti-LGBT activism.
Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell and one of Trump’s earliest endorsers from the Religious Right, has a speaking slot. Falwell is the head of Liberty University, the school founded by his father, which is well known for itsanti-gay politics and student policies discouraging homosexuality. Liberty University is closely affiliated with Liberty Counsel, the anti-gay legal group that represented Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis in her quest to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.
Also speaking will be three former GOP presidential rivals to Trump who are known for their anti-LGBT politics.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who hooked his presidential campaign on an appeal to Religious Right voters, will have a speaking slot. As we previously wrote , Huckabee managed to cover plenty of extremist ground just in his 2016 campaign:
After all, Huckabee had vowed to outlaw abortion with a sweeping presidential decree,promised to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling before it criminalized Christianity and destroyed America, and literally turned Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ release from detention into a campaign rally, volunteering to go to jail on her behalf. The former Arkansas governor even pledged to boycott Doritos because the company released rainbow-colored chips benefiting an LGBT suicide prevention group and starred in a bizarre anti-gay film.
Then there’s Ben Carson, who attracted plenty of attention during his presidential run forclaiming that prison rape proves that being gay is a choice. Carson insisted that “abnormal” LGBT people shouldn’t get “extra rights” and called for the impeachment of justices who back gay marriage. He also argued, as Brian has summarized, that the gay rights movement is “part of a wideranti-American, anti-God, anti-Constitution plot conjured up by communist subversives and the New World Order.”
Cruz and Huckabee were both so eager to win the votes of anti-gay extremists that they attended a conference last year at which the organizer, radical pastor Kevin Swanson, repeatedly declared that the Bible demands that gay people be put to death.
And there are many more. Newt Gingrich, when he was running for president in 2011, signed the National Organization for Marriage’s candidate pledge to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and said that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In 2008, Gingrich warned that "there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, is prepared to use harassment.” Mike Pence, who’s now being reported to be Trump’s vice presidential pick, has a long record of opposing LGBT rights, including signing a bill in Indiana last year that would authorize broad discrimination against LGBT people, before backing down under public pressure to amend the law.
While few sitting members of Congress are showing up to the convention, among those invited to speak are several with strongly anti-LGBT records. Just this year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy personally twisted arms to ensure the last-minute defeat of a provision that would have protected LGBT people from employment discrimination from federal contractors, creating a chaotic scene on the House floor. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was instrumental in making the 2012 Republican platform reach new levels of anti-LGBT sentiment (although this year’s platform is even worse). Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, when she was a state legislator, tried to get a referendum on the ballot in an effort to overturn the state supreme court’s landmark marriage equality ruling. She has claimed she wants to leave the marriage issue to the states, but at the same time has said that she would support a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.
According to some news reports, Donald Trump has settled on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, though other reporters say their sources tell them the decision has not been finalized. Trump has said he will announce his decision on Friday morning.
Pence has a long record before becoming governor that includes time in nearly every branch of the country’s huge right-wing political infrastructure: He headed a state-level “free-market” think tank; had a career in talk radio; and served in Congress, where he led the right-wing Republican Study Committee.
That’s a lot of right-wingery that we and others will be exploring in depth if he is indeed Trump’s running mate. But here are a few initial points about Pence’s relationship with the Religious Right, whose leaders seem to be largely coming around to Trump’s candidacy despite initial skepticism.
Pence has been much beloved on the Religious Right. Early in the 2012 election cycle, he won the Values Voter Summit straw poll and won gushing praise from CBN’s David Brody. Even the American Family Association’s far-right radio host Bryan Fischer predicted that Pence would be the 2012 nominee.
Pence has participated in Christian-nation advocate David Lane’s political events and he has been an aggressive proponent of defunding Planned Parenthood. He has connections with other Religious Right leaders through the National Day of Prayer task force.
Pence was unhappily in the national media last year when Indiana became embroiled in a high-profile controversy over a state “religious liberty” law pushed by anti-gay groups and signed by the governor. Pence seemed to have been caught completely off-guard when business and community leaders joined equality activists in a backlash to the law.
Pence tried to defend the law on national television, with disastrous results. Pence’s main problem is that he was essentially caught in a lie. He pretended the bill had nothing to do with legalizing anti-gay discrimination, when that was the clear purpose of the religious groups that pushed the law and gathered around him when he signed it.
But having said that protecting discrimination wasn’t the law’s intent, he was not well positioned to resist demands by business leaders and media that he sign an amendment saying so. When he ultimately signed off on such an amendment, some Religious Right leaders were furious. Some compared his reversal to an act of betrayal like Judas selling out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
It is not clear how warmly Religious Right leaders will embrace Pence as Trump’s running mate. Earlier this week, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera responded to rumors about Pence as VP by tweeting, “HOW ironic it wld be if Mike Pence ever became VP. Pence declined to run for president in part b/c he FAILED conservatives on relig liberty.”
Others may be more forgiving given Pence’s long track record, and may rationalize that his heart was in the right place but he was forced to back down when business leaders and the LGBT lobby — twin enemies of the Religious Right these days — ganged up on him.
We have lost count of how many times the Religious Right has been declared spent as a political force. Those declarations have always been wrong, and this year’s Republican Party platform is the latest sign of the movement’s continued power.
Four years ago, we called the GOP platform “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Yet this year’s platform is even further to the right.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2012, Religious Right leaders spent the entire week in Tampa bragging about how they had essentially written the platform. But pro-LGBT Republicans were remarkably confident that it would never happen again. At the time, the Log Cabin Republicans vowed that never again would the party platform be hostile to LGBT equality. Former member of Congress Jim Kolbe said the anti-gay sentiment in that year’s platform was “the last gasp of the conservatives.” The upbeat attitude had us wondering about “the fine, fuzzy line dividing optimism from delusion.”
Well, there’s nothing left to wonder about. In spite of an organized and well-funded campaign by LGBT-friendly conservatives, Religious Right activists made sure that they dominated the platform committee. During the committee’s deliberations on proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday, every effort to moderate the language on LGBT rights was rejected, including tame language that would have acknowledged growing support within the party for marriage equality. The Log Cabin Republicans are calling this year’s document “the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history.”
Even an amendment that would have recognized the LGBT victims of ISIS terror was deemed too much. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is bragging that he and fellow Louisiana delegate Sandy McDade, Eagle Forum’s political chairman, watered that language down so that it refers generically to all people terrorized by ISIS.
The platform includes Religious Right-approved language opposing marriage equality and endorsing legislation to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious liberty. And it calls for eliminating the IRS provision that prevents churches, like other nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral advocacy — one of the promises Donald Trump has made to win Religious Right support.
A seemingly last-ditch effort by LGBT-friendly delegates to require a vote on a “minority report” to replace the long platform with a short statement of principles is now being denounced by Perkins and Religious Right activist David Barton as an attempt by gays to hijack the platform process. Its odds of success seem vanishingly small.
Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory Angelo says he’s “mad as hell” about the new platform, but in the same email he tries to distance the document from Donald Trump, who Angelo praised last December as “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency.”
Not long after that, as journalist Michelangelo Signorile noted, Trump accepted the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr. and promised to put right-wing justices on the Supreme Court. In January he promised to make Christianity (read right-wing Christianity) more powerful. More recently, Trump reiterated his promises in a closed-door meeting with hundreds of conservative Christian leaders, where he told them, “I’m on your side.”
Trump may be willing to let Caitlin Jenner use the bathroom of her choice at his office building, but he was unwilling to lift a finger to keep the party from supporting states that pass laws preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that match their identity — or from declaring in many ways that the party remains officially opposed to legal equality for LGBT people.
The presumptive Republican nominee is all bluster and toughness when he is denouncing political correctness, but he turns meekly obliging when dealing with the Religious Right leaders he is counting on to turn out the vote.
During Monday and Tuesday’s Republican platform committee deliberations, an already right-wing draft was pushed even further to the right by activists on the platform committee. But now Religious Right activist David Barton and other delegates are complaining that they were duped by pro-LGBT activists into signing a minority report that could force a floor vote on replacing the entire platform with a much shorter statement of principles.
Through endless hours of amendments — some substantive and some petty wordsmithing — attempts by libertarian-leaning delegates to introduce more moderate language on LGBT equality, the drug war and other issues were routinely voted down, even an amendment that would have acknowledged the LGBT victims of ISIS terror.
Throughout the grueling process, a few delegates repeatedly complained that the platform should be seen as a vehicle for marketing Republican Party principles, and should not be something so long and so deep in the weeds on policy disputes that nobody will bother reading it. One of those voices was Utah’s Boyd Matheson, who had proposed an alternative approach that would simply lay out a set of principles, based on the platform on which Abraham Lincoln ran for the presidency in 1860.
That could have saved everyone a lot of time, but the committee didn’t go for it. The committee wrapped up its deliberations on Tuesday evening, voting to approve the amended draft, which will get final up-or-down approval by the committee on Monday before going to the convention as a whole for approval.
But that’s not the end of the story, because 37 delegates signed a “minority report,” which The Dallas Morning News’ Lauren McGaughy describes as “a sort of petition by those who couldn't muster a majority for their proposals.”
“In this case,” McGaughy writes, “it supports doing away with the whole platform and replacing it with something shorter and simpler.” Among those who signed the petition were Matheson and Barton, the Religious Right activist who played an active role in shaping this year’s platform as well as the 2012 version.
Now, however, Matheson and Barton are among those claiming that they were “duped by a group of pro-gay rights delegates” into signing something that could be a source of division on the floor of the convention:
Boyd Matheson of Utah wrote the language in the minority report, but he said he did not support doing away with the whole platform and replacing it with his mission statement. In fact, he withdrew support of his own proposal Tuesday afternoon amid the fight.
"A minority report is a divisive issue that some people are trying to use to air their issues on the floor for the convention," Matheson said late Tuesday.
David Barton, a Texas delegate who helped him edit the language, went a step further, saying "someone hijacked the process."
He added: "It looks to us like they created a controversy."
Matheson and Barton allege that a group of LGBT-friendly Republicans who had tried -- unsuccessfully -- to include some positive mention of the gay community in the party's platform was behind the scheme.
The two said they would send an email to the other 35 delegates who also signed the report on Wednesday morning saying just this. Texas' other platform committee delegate, Diana Denman, also signed the minority report, and expressed her interest in removing her name.
Other delegates suggest that Barton and Matheson knew exactly what they were signing but “got cold feet afterward when they feared being associated with a gay rights push.”
Family Research Council Action, whose leader Tony Perkins was another active member of the platform committee, pushed out an alert yesterday warning that LGBT activists were attempting to “hijack” the platform.
Perkins and the Family Research Council are delighted with the far-right platform, saying the GOP’s support for “traditional family values” is “stronger than ever.”
In another message to FRC supporters yesterday, Perkins celebrated the Religious Right’s platform victories:
I am very happy to say that the final platform document overwhelmingly approved by the delegates may be the strongest statement of conservative principles by a GOP platform to date. As Gayle Rozika, a Utah delegate for whom this was the 6th platform, told me this is the most conservative platform in her experience. Her efforts, along with those of delegates like Carolyn McLarty (Okla.), Len Munsil (Ariz.), David Barton (Texas), Jim and Judy Carns (Ala.), Kris Kobach (Kan.), Sandy McDade (La.) and a host of other conservative leaders were effective in ensuring the GOP platform provides a clear and compelling understanding of the core conservative principles that those associated with the Republican party prioritize and pursue.
Our coalition of delegates -- including FRC Action and other groups like the March for Life Action, Eagle Forum, and Concerned Women for America -- proved invaluable. The platform is an important document, showing the Party of Lincoln continues to respect freedom, and the rule of law, the idea that all humans deserve respect, not because of some category, but because we have inherent dignity and are made in the image of our Creator. The platform is a useful document -- a standard for the party in local, state, and federal elections, use in town halls, and it provides standards to which we should hold our elected officials. Platform Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), led by co-chairs Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Va.) and Governor Mary Falin (R-Okla.) all did an excellent job allowing delegates to offer amendments and debate the issues with sincerity and respect. They deserve much respect for their efforts.
National Organization for Marriage spokesman Joe Grabowski urged the Republican Party maintain the opposition to LGBT rights in its platform yesterday, saying in a radio interview that LGBT advocates are promoting “social experimentation upon our children” that will result in greater costs to the state and arguing that “it’s just responsible to the laws of nature” for the GOP to continue to oppose LGBT rights.
Grabowski said on the Christian radio program “Issues, Etc.”:
Marriage as the building block of society, stable families, loving mother and father; all of these things have been shown to be the best environment to raise children so that they don’t become costs to the state, so that the state programs don’t have to step in and take care of the fallout when children come from broken homes, broken marriages, and from social experimentation upon our children, which is really what a lot of policies advocated by LGBT activists essentially are. So, it’s fiscally responsible, it’s constitutionally responsible and it’s just responsible to the laws of nature to continue to be the party of these family values.
NOM ended up getting its wish; yesterday morning the GOP’s platform committee shot down attempts to moderate its opposition to LGBT rights and added language calling for the reversal of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.
We noted yesterday that Religious Right leaders had spent months making sure that the Republican platform committee would be stacked with “strong conservative voices” in order to resist an organized effort by pro-equality Republicans to replace anti-gay language in 2012’s far-right platform with something more inclusive. Yesterday’s platform committee session made it clear that the Right Wing was successful, as efforts to amend the draft platform language were repeatedly batted down.
Instead the committee affirmed the party’s support for marriage only for one man and one woman. The platform specifically rejects the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and calls for its reversal “whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”
A delegate from D.C., Rachel Hoff, identified herself as the first openly gay member of the platform committee and joked that as she hadn’t been raised in a Republican family, she wasn’t “born this way” and chose to be a Republican. But her colleagues were unmoved by her heartfelt plea for a more inclusive platform and rejected language that would have encouraged a “thoughtful conversation” and recognized the growing support among Republicans for marriage equality (a 2014 Pew poll found more than 60-percent support for marriage equality among Republicans under 30).
There were a few libertarian-leaning voices on the committee, and they tended to appear younger than the average member, but they were out-gunned on LGBT issues as well as challenges to drug war orthodoxy and support for medicinal marijuana. Perhaps in deference to the twice-divorced and thrice-married Donald Trump, platform committee members did vote down an amendment condemning no-fault divorce. The committee voted to keep in language calling on government officials to encourage schools to teach the Bible as literature.
Some of the debate was spirited even if the results were ultimately one-sided. When a conservative delegate proposed inserting “traditional” before “two-parent families” in a section about what is best for children, a couple of delegates called it an extra slap in the face to LGBT people and an insult to single parents, but the amendment passed. When a New York delegate challenged language supporting the First Amendment Defense Act — a federal bill to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination — a Virginia delegate accused her of calling the bill’s supporters bigots, language she had not used.
Among the members of the committee who have worked to make sure the platform keeps the party’s social conservatives happy: the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins; discredited Christian-nation “historian” David Barton; former Texas Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar; Eagle Forum political chair Sandy McDade; right-wing attorney James Bopp; and Center for Arizona Policy founder Len Munsil.
Munsil, who now heads Arizona Christian University, gave the prayer to open today’s platform committee session, which began a little after 8 a.m. with a discussion of the platform’s economic policy section. Munsil’s prayer had echoes of the Christian-nation rhetoric of activists like Barton and David Lane; he referenced the Mayflower Compact, said God has blessed America because “we have honored You and Your word,” and prayed, “in the mighty name of Jesus,” for “an awakening among our leaders.”
Last week, extremist anti-gay activist Theodore Shoebat posted a video in which he gloated that when Jesus Christ returns, he'll slaughter every single gay person in the world.
Shoebat, who last year was featured alongside several Republican members of Congress and GOP presidential candidates in an anti-gay "documentary," was using an incident in Australia where two men were arrested for sexually abusing a 10-month-old girl to yet again make his case that all gay people should be put to death.
"In a biblical society," Shoebat stated, "every fag would be rounded up and killed. But that's not going to happen, but believe me, when Jesus comes back, Jesus is going to kill all these sodomites. You're going to be praying to be living under a Catholic society from the Middle Ages because when Jesus comes back, it's going to be a lot more brutal."
"He's going to find all you bastards and he's going to slaughter every single one of you," said Shoebat with a smile on his face. "I can't wait for that day to come. It's going to be a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful world."
Last Tuesday on the “Jesse Lee Peterson Radio Show,” Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality told guest host and fellow anti-gay activist Matt Barber that the gay rights movement is “a liberal cult,” “an anti-God movement” and a “sin movement.”
Barber argued that with African-American leaders’ acceptance of gay rights, “secular socialism” has “infested the black community.”
“The blacks are a noble people, certainly, and there are many … Bible-believing Christians who are offended and disgusted by these illegitimate comparisons between mutable, changeable, deviant behaviors, homosexual behavior, and immutable, neutral characteristics such as skin color,” Barber said. He claimed that “black leaders have completely sold out to the radical LGBT lobby and are complicit in making these illegitimate comparisons.”
“Yeah, the sellouts keep growing, Matt,” LaBarbera said. “You know, I sort of see this as a liberal cult, this homosexual revolution. Everybody’s joining it who, you know, who’s basically gotten rid of their Christian understanding of the world. They’ve just rejected God. It’s an anti-God movement. When you would purport to redefine humanity, redefine the rules of humanity, and let’s, you know, people are talking about the transgender issue now, but let’s remember the gay revolution started with transgenders. It was drag queens at that Stonewall bar who started throwing bottles and such at the police. And so we’re in a cult here, it’s a liberal cult, and a lot of corporate America has bent the knee, and many, many people, I think you once said, Matt, you think over half the evangelical Christians will accommodate themselves to this sin movement, and I fear you’re right.”
The Illinois Family Institute’s Laurie Higgins is not pleased with President Obama’s recent designation of a national monument commemorating the Stonewall uprising, writing today that the recognition of the gay rights turning point “dishonors” the National Park Service and promotes “the celebration of wickedness.”
“Was Obama’s unseemly act a proclamation of social and political liberation from unjust oppression,” she asks, “or was it the ordination of a gnostic/neopagan monument to the unyoking of sex from truth?”:
Obama Dishonors National Park Service
… During this centennial year, President Barack Obama has decided that what the world needs now is a national park dedicated to sexual deviance. In his unbiblical belief that homoeroticism is something to be publicly celebrated, on June 24 President Obama proclaimed that the 1969 Stonewall riot that took place outside a seedy homosexual bar in NYC and which officially marks the start of the social and political revolution to normalize sexual deviance should be commemorated[.] …
This proclamation follows as expectedly as dark night follows day from a president who has defaced the White House in the garish and misappropriated colors of the rainbow to honor the destruction of marriage by the five Supreme Court justices. About this defacement, Obama was pleased to say “how good the White House looked in rainbow colors.”
The rainbow, the symbol of God’s promise never to destroy the world for our iniquities, is now the appropriated symbol of the celebration of iniquity. The rainbow has been purloined by the perverse to represent the wholesale rejection of God’s order for maleness, femaleness, sex, and marriage. And our president, who claims to be a follower of Christ, not merely shares in the celebration of wickedness but uses the office established by God-fearing men to promote it.
Does Obama know something St. Paul did not, because while Obama celebrates faux-marriage, the creation of intentionally motherless and fatherless children, and riots in support of body- and soul-destroying sexual acts, St. Paul warns of the eternal consequences of homoeroticism:
“The men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:27).
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Was Obama’s unseemly act a proclamation of social and political liberation from unjust oppression, or was it the ordination of a gnostic/neopagan monument to the unyoking of sex from truth?
Sunday marked the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision, which, if Religious Right activists were to be believed, was to usher in a horrible tyranny that would lead to mass deaths and war.
Of course, the Right’s doomsday predictions about what would happen if same-sex marriage became legal nationwide were totally unfounded, and only a tiny contingent of conservativescame to a protest the ruling in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
While the conservative movement certainly hasn’t given up on the fight against LGBT rights and is thrilled by Donald Trump’spromise to appoint anti-LGBT judges who would oppose the marriage ruling, many activists have once again shown that they are more interested in stirring up fears about the LGBT community than in the facts.
1) War’s A-Brewin’
Many “mainstream” Religious Right leaders said that if the Supreme Court were to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage, Americans should prepare for a revolution.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, for example, said there would be an anti-gay “revolution” that would “just break this nation apart” if marriage bans were overturned, warning that such a ruling would “literally split this nation in two and create such political and cultural turmoil that I’m not sure we could recover from it.”
Mat Staver and Matt Barber of the Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel made similar statements, with Barber declaring that “revolution is at hand” and Staver claiming that there would be a “new American Revolution” resisting marriage equality. Former House GOP Leader Tom DeLay insisted that “all hell” was “going to break loose” if the court sided with LGBT activists on marriage.
“We’ve got to fight to our deaths to save this great country,” said Cliff Kincaid of the conservative group Accuracy In Media, while Vision America’s Rick Scarborough vowed that he was willing to “burn” in defiance of gay marriage, which he said would “unleash the spirit of hell on the nation.”
One year later, no anti-gay revolution has occurred and Rick Scarborough has not self-immolated.
Just before the ruling, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah called on governors “to secede” from the union in order “to offer a refuge” for the “millions of Americans” who he believed would flee the country as a result of marriage equality. “The rewards could be great. I would certainly consider relocating. How about you?” he asked. “If not a state, are there any nations in the world interested in a pilgrimage by millions of Americans?”
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson warned that the U.S. could witness a second civil war over a same-sex marriage decision and televangelist Rick Joyner predicted that the court would “start an unraveling where our country fractures like it hasn’t since the Civil War.”
Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs, for her part, said that she and other “prophets” had heard from God about a great “conservative revolt” and a “War between the States” that would take place as states threatened to secede to preserve “biblical marriage”.
Conservative activist Alan Keyes said the ruling amounted to “a just cause for war” and was “likely to produce the separation and dissolution of the United States,” while one author, former Reagan aide Douglas MacKinnon, called on a group of Southern states to form a new country called Reagan that would not tolerate gay rights.
We are still waiting for such a brave governor to threaten secession.
3) God’s Punishment
Gay marriage would lead to a divine reckoning, many conservative pundits predicted, possibly in the form of a global financial crash, a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack or “a fireball from space.”
“It is just a question of how soon the wrath of God is going to come on this land,” televangelist Pat Robertson warned. Florida-based pastor Carl Gallups, now a staunch Donald Trump ally, maintained that “this ruling may prove to be the final death knell of divine judgment upon our once great nation.”
Radio host Rick Wiles predicted that “God will cut off America’s food supply and this nation will be hit with disease, pestilence, drought, natural calamities and a great shaking” and urged people to flee the country.
End Times author Jonathan Cahn even wondered if God would use Hurricane Joaquin to damage Washington, D.C., as a sign of his displeasure with the same-sex marriage decision.
The hurricane, in the end, did not hit D.C.
Following the passage of the 2009 law that expanded hate crime protections to LGBT people, many right-wing politicians and analysts falsely claimed that the act legalized pedophilia. Of course, it did nothing of the sort and child abuse is still a crime.
Many of these same people claimed years later that the Obergefell ruling would also legalize pedophilia, which, obviously, it did not do.
DeLay warned that the ruling would pave the way for a secret government plan to legalize “12 new perversions, things like bestiality, polygamy [and] having sex with little boys.” Ben Carson, then a GOP candidate for president, suggested that NAMBLA would benefit from the ruling.
5) Outlawing Religious Belief
Mike Huckabee said that America was witnessing “the criminalization of Christianity” and that any pastor who didn’t want to officiate a wedding for a same-sex couple would be liable to face criminal charges :
If the courts rule that people have a civil right not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage, then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor who believes in biblical marriage who says ‘I can’t perform that wedding’ will now be breaking the law. It’s not just saying, ‘I’m sorry you have a preference.’ No, you will be breaking the law subject to civil for sure and possible criminal penalties for violating the law…. If you do practice biblical convictions and you carry them out and you do what you’ve been led by the spirit of God to do, your behavior will be criminal.
No pastor has been arrested for refusing to officiate a same-sex couple’s wedding, reading from the Bible or preaching against homosexuality, all things that conservatives predicted would happen.
Many pundits, however, have wrongly used the case of Kim Davis to claim that their fears were realized.
Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was temporarily incarcerated by a federal judge when she refused to abide by court orders which found that she was unlawfully denying same-sex couples marriage licenses. Davis, who boasted that she was defying the Supreme Court decision and subsequent rulings because she was working under “ God’s authority ,” was released after deputy clerks in the county office agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Davis was not incarcerated because of her religious objections but because, in her role as a government employee, she clearly defied the rule of law. She was not attempting to exercise her religious freedom as a private citizen but was trying to impose her personal religious beliefs on the functions of government, and make all the people in her jurisdiction abide by her faith.
On Wednesday, American Family Association president Tim Wildmon joined Sandy Rios to discuss his recent meeting with Donald Trump in New York.
Wildmon said that in Trump’s private meeting with Religious Right leaders on Monday, the GOP candidate said if he were president, all of his Supreme Court and federal judicial nominees would oppose abortion rights and be vetted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
Wildmon said that while Trump didn’t seem to “understand” the dangers to religious freedom posed by “the LGBT movement,” he was confident that he would be “coachable” on the issue.
“He is now surrounded by men that our audience would trust, okay, as godly people,” Wildmon said. “And he is being counseled and advised on a lot of these issues which he’s had a steep learning curve on because he has basically lived in a New York secular world his whole life and he’s having to come to know who we are, but he wants to be — I genuinely say this — he wants to be our friend. He wants to understand us.”