Kevin Swanson, the Colorado pastor and homeschooling activist who last year hosted three GOP presidential candidates at a conference in Iowa, hosted an event near Cincinnati over the weekend to help families prepare their children to avoid cultural pitfalls and be prepared to enter the metaphorical Noah’s ark of Christianity. Among the speakers were Ken Ham, the Creationist activist who just completed a life-sized replica of Noah’s ark near the site of the conference, and GOP favorites David, Jason and Flip Benham.
Swanson started things off by impressing upon attendees the need to prepare their children to fend off and avoid God’s wrath by declaring that it’s “amazing that God has not judged America” already for gay rights and legal abortion.
“It’s amazing that God has not judged America in 1973,” he said, “hard to believe that God didn’t judge America in 2001 [sic] with the Lawrence v. Texas decision, it’s hard to believe that God didn’t judge America with Obergefell.”
“It is amazing that God has not brought judgment upon this world shortly after [the Obergefell decision] happened in July [sic ]of 2015 or in August of 2015 or even in September of 2015 or maybe even October,” he added.
“So be assured, my friends,” Swanson said, “judgment is coming. I have no idea when it will come. Will it be 120 years from 1900? Will it be 120 years from 1890? Will it be 120 years from 1973, Roe v. Wade, the decision to eliminate hundreds of millions of babies in America and of course all around the world, same thing has happened since the 1960s? Will it be 120 years from 2015, the day on which the most powerful court in the world ruled against God’s institution of marriage in one of the most radical, arrogant insults against Almighty God? When will God’s judgment come? I have no idea, but I will tell you, it will come.”
(It took Noah 120 years to build his ark before the Flood came, thus the 120-year delay in judgment that Swanson is suggesting.)
Speaking to a Pennsylvania anti-abortion group in April, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver compared marriage equality foes to anti-Nazi dissidents, Martin Luther King Jr. and various biblical figures, declaring that it was time to decide whether to “obey God” or “obey man” on the issue. Those who think that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down marriage equality bans is “the law of the land,” he said, have been “brainwashed.”
“We are coming to a place, ladies and gentlemen, where we have to make a decision,” said Staver, who represented Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her war against the Supreme Court’s marriage quality ruling. “Where we have to make a decision like Dietrich Bonhoeffer made a decision, like Martin Niemoller made a decision. We are coming to the position where we are in the same place that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to make a decision, where the founders of this country had to make a decision that we will either obey God or we will obey man. And when those two directly, inherently, irrevocably collide with one another. We are in a position like Daniel in the lions’ den, like the three Hebrews that would not bow down, like Esther, who put her life on the line and engaged in civil resistance against the most powerful king on the planet. We are coming to that moment in time.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, he said, was “a lawless opinion.”
“When are we going to stop playing charades and pretend that whatever those five people say, whoever they might be, whatever they say, no matter how devoid of the Constitution it may be, that it becomes the law of the land?” he asked. “It doesn’t! If that’s your belief system, if you have gotten so brainwashed to think that whatever those five people in Washington, D.C., say, we now have to march to it like toy soldiers because if they say so, irrespective of the fact that they have no authority under the Constitution to do it, then you would support Dred Scott, you would support Buck v. Bell, because those decisions came down from the United States Supreme Court as well.”
In the case of Dred Scott, he reminded the audience, “we had to fight a civil war to overturn that nonsense.”
In the same speech, Staver warned that God would judge America because legal abortion means “we are doing the same thing” as ISIS.
The study by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh appears in “The New Atlantis,” a journal co-published by the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Center for the Study of Technology and Science, which shares an address with EPPC. The New Atlantis is not a peer-reviewed journal, and has critiqued peer review, widely considered the gold standard in scientific publishing.
Among the authors’ contentions are that the belief that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate or fixed properties is “not supported by scientific evidence.” The study also says that the stress of social stigma is not a sufficient explanation for higher rates of mental health and substance abuse problems in LGBT communities.
In his preface, co-author Mayer dedicates his work to the LGBT community, “which bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared the population as a whole,” and to “scholars doing impartial research on topics of public controversy.” He declares himself a supporter of equality and opponent of anti-LGBT discrimination.
Brian Brown at the National Organization for Marriage can hardly contain his excitement about the new study, writing in a letter to supporters, “The importance of this new study cannot be overstated.” He urges people to “help spread the word” to “make sure that this groundbreaking research gains the wide hearing it deserves despite what will surely be a concerted effort by the media to bury its findings.”
Also participating in the roll-out is the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, one of the most prominent opponents of marriage equality. Anderson says the study’s findings undermine the Obama administration’s requirement that schools accommodate transgender children as well as the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.
Today is the 92nd birthday of Phyllis Schlafly, the godmother of the right-wing movement in America. Schlafly broke onto the national scene with “A Choice Not an Echo,” her 1964 book making the case for Barry Goldwater, and she solidified her leadership with her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment. Decades later, she helped rally right-wing opposition to President Obama, hosting a “How To Take Back America” conference during his first year in office. She’s still hard at work, leading Eagle Forum and publishing her Phyllis Schlafly Report newsletter, whose June issue argued for putting Trump’s wall—“and yes, Mexico will pay”—in this year’s Republican platform. Mission accomplished.
It hasn’t been the happiest year for Schlafly, who has been embroiled in a power struggle with a group of Eagle Forum board members, including her own daughter. She also lost a trademark lawsuit against her nephew, who makes Schlafly beer.
On the other hand, Schlafly was an early and ardent backer of Donald Trump, standing up for him in the primaries against many of her Religious Right allies and Eagle Forum colleagues. At this year’s Republican National Convention, Schlafly hosted a “Life of the Party” event celebrating that the GOP has been officially anti-abortion since 1976; she told attendees that she endorsed Trump after he pledged loyalty to a pro-life platform. Party attendees were given copies of the most recent of her more than two dozen books, “How the Republican Party Became Pro-Life.” It’s a short paperback that feels as if it was thrown together after having Schlafly tell war stories about her GOP platform battles over the years.
Schlafly spends most of the book recounting stories of pro-life activists’ efforts to strengthen and protect anti-abortion language at every Republican convention since 1976. It includes the successful resistance led by Schlafly, Ralph Reed, Bay Buchanan and Gary Bauer to Bob Dole’s efforts to soften the anti-abortion language in 1996. (I was in San Diego with a People For the American Way team covering that convention; Reed was gleeful about demonstrating his power to humiliate Dole, which may well have contributed to his November defeat.)
After the quick march through convention history, Schlafly moves into a denunciation of “judicial supremacy,” calling on Republicans to repudiate the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. She also calls for nullification of 2015’s marriage equality ruling:
When supremacist judges presume to rewrite portions of our law, most especially if it is a law that we have had for millennia such as our law defining marriage, it’s time for the American people to speak up and say “No” just as Abe Lincoln did when supremacist judges ruled that blacks could be considered another man’s “property.” … All Americans must use every tool in the political process to reject judicial supremacy and return to government by “we the people.”
The book includes a short afterword by Kristan Hawkins, presidents of Students for Life, who calls Schlafly “a great American hero” and celebrates that, thanks to Schlafly and “her army,” there is today “no national Republican candidate who dares be anything other than pro-life!” The final 70 pages of the book, more than half its total length, is devoted to an appendix of anti-abortion and anti-marriage-equality references in Republican platforms and resolutions and excerpts from the 2012 platform.
Earlier this year, Schlafly urged Republican senators to hold firm in refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee “until we have a Republican who will appoint somebody of the nature of Scalia,” telling her interviewer that the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency made her “scared to death.” Republican senators have done as she asked, and Schlafly got her wish in Cleveland with a solidly right-wing platform and the nomination of Donald Trump. But given what current polls suggest that November will bring, she may want to do her celebrating now.
The latest fundraising email from the National Organization for Marriage is not a happy one; it starts with a graphic of the U.S. Capitol and the text, “This is pathetic.”
The chastising letter from NOM President Brian Brown complains:
NOM began our critical Summer Membership Drive on July 22nd. We're now three weeks into our drive — the halfway point — and we have only received 256 contributions from our members. We're only 17% toward our goal of receiving 1,500 membership contributions of at least $35.
That is pathetic.
Brown goes on to complain that with only a 17 percent participation rate, NOM can’t convince courts to uphold anti-gay “religious liberty” laws, fight President Obama’s “dangerous gender ‘identity’ agenda,” or “lobby the next President and the US Senate to only appoint and confirm Supreme Court justices who will reverse the illegitimate and anti-constitutional ruling redefining marriage.”
Brown, who recently gloated about NOM’s role in defeating a Missouri Republican state legislator who had voted against a constitutional amendment protecting anti-LGBT discrimination, fumed that unless his supporters start forking over cash, “It means that gutless, turncoat legislators who have betrayed marriage with their votes may get away with their treachery.”
Brown just doesn’t understand—he can’t imagine!—why people would be unenthusiastic about continuing to support NOM's anti-gay activism:
I really don't believe — I just can't imagine the thought — that NOM's members have quit fighting for the institution of marriage as a union between man and woman. And yet, only 256 of you have responded with an urgently needed membership contribution during this critical period.
I'm going to be blunt: we need 1,500 people to step up with a membership contribution of at least $35 in order to raise the $52,500 we're short so far this year. Without that type of response, we'll have no choice but to lay people off, cut programs and stop pursuing some of our most important work.
Regardless of what kind of response NOM’s shaming email brings in, Brown will have plenty of anti-equality work to keep him busy, as he recently became president of the World Congress of Families, a network of organizations dedicated to resisting LGBT equality and preserving anti-gay discrimination around the world.
Fresh from a week of anti-abortion protests in Wichita, Kansas, where they held an “ ecclesiastical court” holding the Supreme Court in violation of the law of God, activists affiliated with Operation Save America have descended on Montgomery, Alabama, to rally in support of Chief Justice Roy Moore as he faces ethics charges over his defiance of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.
As Moore and his attorney, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, faced a hearing in front of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary yesterday, Operation Save America leaders and other activists rallied outside the court to support Moore against judges who “hate God.”
Cal Zastrow, the anti-abortion activist who said in Wichita that he was coordinating grassroots support for Moore, posted on Facebook that Moore shared supper with some of the protesters and told them about “the big challenges he is experiencing from Sodomites and lawless courts.”
“The Alabama Court of the Judiciary has some very wicked members who aren't interested in upholding the rule of law. They hate God (but still go to churches) and will be trying to remove Chief Justice Roy Moore at a trial on Sept. 28 for his beliefs,” Zastrow wrote.
After the hearing, Moore, with Staver at his side, spoke to the press with the activists lined up behind him, including one holding a sign declaring “Sodomy Ruins Nations.”
One protester told AL.com that she was supporting Moore because he’s “the only leader in the country who is standing up for the rule of law and what’s right.”
Reacting to Ambrosia Starling, a drag queen who’s become a leader in anti-Moore efforts, the protester said: “We are women, we bear children and raise them in godly homes. That is not a woman. That’s a pervert. That’s a man in a dress acting like a woman. He’s not a woman and the law should afford him no protection. The opposite of that is true. They should protect godly homes, men and women, marriage between a man and a woman as the only ordained marriage. And it’s the only one that ever will be right. It’s not loving to allow him to continue in his perversion. What’s loving is to correct him, rebuke him and show him that perversion is not a healthy life, away from God is not a healthy choice.”
Also speaking at the rally was Rusty Thomas, the head of Operation Save America, who in an email to his supporters on Sunday praised Moore for defying the “Federal beast” and comparing the chief justice to the biblical Daniel, who, instead of being tossed into a lion's den, is fighting a “beastly” homosexuality that "seeks to devour any God honoring truth or person who upholds it in the public square."
“As individuals, I pray these confused folks who have been captured by this demonic lust find freedom through the love and truth of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. “Their agenda to remake America in their perverted image, however, let that agenda fall into the pit that they have created”:
Chief Justice Roy Moore is a godly statesmen that is doing his duty as a Lesser Magistrate. His example is so desperately needed today. We pray that other Judges, Governors, Legislators, and Sheriffs will be inspired to follow his example to reapply the Constitutional chain back on the Federal beast, restore law and order, and establish the necessary checks and balances our nation needs to preserve our liberty that is rooted righteousness and justice.
In about 2 hours, we will be taking our message to a busy intersection with signs and literature, then we will pray at the Supreme Court building where the "trial" will be held tomorrow.
Tomorrow morning, we will have a rally at noon to support Chief Justice Roy Moore and then hopefully make it in for the actual hearing. Please saturate what is happening here in Montgomery in much prayer. His is the last man standing against the immorality, injustice, and tyranny that is stalking America. God grants us the victory and may Roy Moore serve as a modern day Daniel.
As you recall, Daniel's enemies were jealous of his excellent spirit, wise behavior, and strong work ethic. They devised a plan to remove him from office and bring about his demise. They stated, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God" (Daniel 6:5).
Initially, it appeared their devious plan worked. Daniel was thrown in the lion's den where his enemies hoped for him to be devoured. And make no mistake about the vile nature of homosexuality, it is beastly. It seeks to devour any God honoring truth or person who upholds it in the public square. To their everlasting shame and demise, however, the pit they dug for Daniel, (Chief Justice Roy Moore) they fell into the same pit. The same rock they attempted to roll over Daniel (Chief Justice Roy Moore) is the same rock that rolled back on them. Daniel was removed from the lion's den and his enemies took his place and this time the lion's munched.
As individuals, I pray these confused folks who have been captured by this demonic lust find freedom through the love and truth of Jesus Christ. Their agenda to remake America in their perverted image, however, let that agenda fall into the pit that they have created. May the perverted agenda that seeks to make the good guys the bad guys wind up on the ash heap of history, along with every other tyrannical, blood lust of men who dared to defy and deny the authority of Almighty God in Jesus' mighty name!
In a sermon on “the deception of the homosexual agenda” at last month’s “Summer of Justice” event in Wichita, Kansas, Bishop Otis Kenner of Louisiana declared that Satan is staging a “homosexual invasion” to stop God from taking dominion over the earth and that the “devil” in the White House is in on it.
“Because the homosexuals know that they cannot procreate, so they take our innocent sons and daughters through adoption … to try to stop the colonization of God in the earth realm,” he said. He then spoke as Satan: “‘If I can get into their minds, if I can get into their spirit, then I can break the process of God, stop the procreation process of God and the colonization of the earth realm and make more just like them.’ It’s about them colonizing the earth with their own kind.”
“In 2008, I preached a sermon called ‘Homosexual Invasion,’” he said. “God has showed me this in 2008 how the homosexuals were going to invade our country because they want to stop the colonization of God in the earth realm.”
Kenner later addressed the lighting of the White House in rainbow colors on the evening of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state-level bans on marriage equality.
Noting that the decision was handed down on June 26 of last year, he pointed out that the date included “two sixes, which means 666, the Mark of the Beast.”
“They legitimize same-sex marriages and they light the White House up with the gay pride colors to signify Satan is sitting at the seat of power,” he said.
“Will you vote for the devil because he showed up black?” Kenner said he had asked his congregation, clarifying that he wasn’t calling President Obama the devil, just that “what he did was the devil.”
This, he said, was all reason for Christians to “interpose” against LGBT rights laws and declare that “we will not allow a transgender bathroom in our schools.”
Steve Crampton, a Religious Right activist who is running for a seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court , said last month that the U.S. is at risk of becoming a “slave nation” if attacks on “religious freedom” and the “rule of law” continue. He in particular praised the Alabama Supreme Court’s resistance to the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans.
Crampton told Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith that the federal government is “running roughshod over states and their rights” and that “it’s essential, if we’re going to preserve our liberties as our founders intended, that states reassert themselves.”
“One of the seminal issues, I believe, in our day, in our state of Mississippi as elsewhere, is how far does the federal government go constitutionally in basically ordering the states around,” he said. “And I think the big example that we have, maybe the most glaring one nationally right now, is what’s going on in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court has issued very fine opinions and very studied analyses of the issue of same-sex marriage and whether the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Obergefell opinion is actually binding on a state that was not a party to that lawsuit and that had, as Mississippi has, its own state marriage amendment that unequivocally protects marriage as between one man and one woman.”
“So, long and short of it is,” he continued, “all of our freedoms, I think, today are grave risk, in particular religious freedom. I believe it is under attack as never before in our nation’s history. And because religious freedom is the first freedom, it’s foundational, if it goes, everything goes. So it’s a time when either we stand up or we shut up and become almost a slave nation. Because the rule of law is at grave risk.”
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:
Immediately rescind all Obama Executive Orders consistent with recommendations by Constitutional and trusted advisors such as The Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation, and other conservative advisors and transition committees.
Terminate all executive branch individuals still within their probationary period and freeze hiring for all regulatory positions.
The President should eliminate taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood using executive action and seek a permanent legislative solution.
The President should freeze and withdraw all regulatory activity on the Obama energy and climate agenda.
Submit legislation to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.
The President should support the rule of law and reject amnesty proposals and fully enforce and strengthen interior enforcement measures in the United States.
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 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.
One theme of this year’s Republican National Convention is the Religious Right getting fully on board the Trump Train. Even before he vanquished Ted Cruz, his final primary opponent, Trump has been aggressively courting the Religious Right, and he has recently sought to shore up support from the movement leaders who backed Cruz and other candidates.
Yes, Trump is a habitual liar whose Bible-waving and political use of religious is transparently cynical, but that isn’t stopping Religious Right leaders from rallying around him. And why not? He allowed the Religious Right to write anti-gay discrimination into the GOP's platform. His promise to fill the Supreme Court with right-wing justices gives them hope that marriage equality in the U.S. will be short-lived. And he is even promising to overturn the federal law that forbids churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral politics, and to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.
When asked why so many evangelicals are supporting Trump in spite of his “interesting” background, his use of “vulgarities,” and other things that might concern a conservative Christian, Reed said, “You’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, you’re electing a commander-in-chief.”
Reed reminded Wright that evangelicals backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election even though they had a different approach to faith, and even though Romney had previously held pro-choice and pro-gay views, something for which some conservatives have criticized Trump. “I thought we were members of a faith where we were supposed to welcome converts,” said Reed.
In fact, said Reed, he thinks Trump “has the potential to be the greatest advocate for our values, and do the most to advance that agenda, precisely because he doesn’t necessarily come from where we come from.” In other words, because people don’t view Trump as a Religious Right activist, they might be more receptive to his call for ending the ban on church politicking.
Here’s Reed’s basic case for Trump, starting with the fact that “he is a professing Christian.”
More importantly…he shares our values. He’s pro-life. He’s pro-traditional marriage, which is very important to us…He’s pro-religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby Decision, supports Little Sisters of the Poor, has placed in the platform, at his insistence, at this convention, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, a call for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment to the internal revenue code, which threatens churches that speak out politically with the loss of their tax-exempt status. That has been used to harass and persecute the Christian community for over half a century. Donald Trump will end it.
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:
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, repeatedlydeclared that the Bible demands that gay people be put to death.
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.
We have lost count of how many times the Religious Right has been declared spent as a political force. Those declarations have always been wrong, and this year’s Republican Party platform is the latest sign of the movement’s continued power.
Four years ago, we called the GOP platform “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Yet this year’s platform is even further to the right.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2012, Religious Right leaders spent the entire week in Tampa bragging about how they had essentially written the platform. But pro-LGBT Republicans were remarkably confident that it would never happen again. At the time, the Log Cabin Republicans vowed that never again would the party platform be hostile to LGBT equality. Former member of Congress Jim Kolbe said the anti-gay sentiment in that year’s platform was “the last gasp of the conservatives.” The upbeat attitude had us wondering about “the fine, fuzzy line dividing optimism from delusion.”
Even an amendment that would have recognized the LGBT victims of ISIS terror was deemed too much. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is bragging that he and fellow Louisiana delegate Sandy McDade, Eagle Forum’s political chairman, watered that language down so that it refers generically to all people terrorized by ISIS.
The platform includes Religious Right-approved language opposing marriage equality and endorsing legislation to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious liberty. And it calls for eliminating the IRS provision that prevents churches, like other nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral advocacy — one of the promises Donald Trump has made to win Religious Right support.
A seemingly last-ditch effort by LGBT-friendly delegates to require a vote on a “minority report” to replace the long platform with a short statement of principles is now being denounced by Perkins and Religious Right activist David Barton as an attempt by gays to hijack the platform process. Its odds of success seem vanishingly small.
Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory Angelo says he’s “mad as hell” about the new platform, but in the same email he tries to distance the document from Donald Trump, who Angelo praised last December as “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency.”
Trump may be willing to let Caitlin Jenner use the bathroom of her choice at his office building, but he was unwilling to lift a finger to keep the party from supporting states that pass laws preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that match their identity — or from declaring in many ways that the party remains officially opposed to legal equality for LGBT people.
The presumptive Republican nominee is all bluster and toughness when he is denouncing political correctness, but he turns meekly obliging when dealing with the Religious Right leaders he is counting on to turn out the vote.
The Republican National Convention released a partial list today of the politicians, activists, C-list celebrities and Donald Trump family members who will be speaking at next week’s convention. What the speakers’ list lacks in establishment GOP leaders it makes up for in fringe activists. One name especially stands out: Sheriff David Clarke, the Milwaukee law enforcement officer who has made a name for himself hurling anti-Obama vitriol on Fox News and elsewhere while quietly cozying up to anti-government extremist groups.
Clarke, who is African American, has built a conservative following by enthusiastically bashing President Obama, his Justice Department, Hillary Clinton and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Clarke said that Michael Brown, the black teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was a “co-conspirator in his own demise” because he “chose thug life.” After Sandra Bland, a black woman who had been thrown to the ground during a traffic stop, died in police custody, Clarke went on Fox News to chastise her. He said that he would have used even more force against a group of black teenagers who were thrown to the ground by police outside a public swimming pool in Ohio, telling people who saw a racial component in the action to “shut up already.”
Clarke has been colorful in his condemnation of President Obama and Hillary Clinton for sympathizing with the Black Lives Matter movement, calling them “straight-up cop haters.” He called Obama a “heartless, soulless bastard” for speaking up about “goons” killed by police and said that the Obama administration’s attempts to address racial disparities in policing were a plot to “emasculate the police” in order to impose dictatorial control.” He accused the president of worsening racial divides in the country by pitting “whites against blacks” and “Hispanics against Americans.”
The sheriff is also happy to throw red meat to his conservative audience on a number of other topics. After the Supreme Court struck down state marriage equality bans, Clarke called for a “revolution” to “get this country back,” complete with “ pitchforks and torches ,” urging his audience to launch a standoff against the federal government the next time a bakery or the like is fined for refusing business to a same-sex couple.
When Trump caused a national uproar when he attacked a judge because of his Mexican-American heritage, Clarke took to his radio show to defend the candidate.
Clarke first became a conservative hero when, in 2013, he aired radio ads in his county urging citizens not to rely on calling 911 but instead to learn to protect themselves against crime. Speaking at the National Rifle Association’s convention last year, he proposed adding a semi-automatic rifle to the Great Seal of the United States. Appearing on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program, Clarke warned that a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban would lead to gun confiscations that would spark “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.”
While Clarke has no patience for African Americans who have deadly run-ins with the police, he has repeatedly associated himself with anti-government militia groups who have staged armed standoffs with federal government agents or who threaten to defy federal law. Earlier this year, when a group of armed activists took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, Clarke backed their cause, saying that the country had reached a “pitchforks and torches moment” that couldn’t be solved by an election.
Just this year, Clarke spoke at a fundraising event for the New York chapter of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group aligned with the Constitutional Sheriffs that urges law enforcement officers and military personnel to defy laws they believe are unconstitutional and encourages its members to form militias ready to defy an out-of-control federal government. At that event, Clarke called Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and vowed to do “everything I can” to get Trump elected president.
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.
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.”
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.
Here are just five of the craziestpredictions that conservative politicians and pundits made about Obergefell v. Hodges, all of which are yet to come true.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
American Pastors Network president and former Pennsylvania lawmaker Sam Rohrer linked Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando to Supreme Court decisions securing rights for LGBT people, telling conservative talk radio host Steve Deace this week that Supreme Court decisions involving marriage equality and “God’s order for human sexuality” have helped to cause God to remove “His hand of protection” from the country.
Rohrer told Deace that he has a “great deal of compassion for those who are involved” in the shooting and also believes that “these kind of events are only going to be increasing” for a number of reasons, including that “the Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood folks, they have made it clear that they’re going to do that”; that “our president and those in office are soft, refuse to even identify the enemy ideology of Islam as the enemy”; and, finally, “it’s a large part because I believe God has removed his hand of blessing on this country because we’ve turned our back upon him, and when he removes his hand of protection, these kinds of things come forth.”
“God has made very clear,” Rohrer explained, “that every nation that He has established — and He establishes all nations, we’re told that all nations are established by God, even the very geographical boundaries of the nations are determined — that when a nation, any nation, does what God says, meaning that they fear Him, that they uphold and enforce God’s moral law and God’s design for the family and for the family and for civil government, all of those are His, when those things are done, then God will bless a nation.”
“One of those blessings are the increase of wealth, one of those things is a security and protection from the neighbors around them,” he continued, “even the enemies will be at peace with them, we’re told in a number of places in Scripture. But when a nation backs off of that, particularly a nation such as ours that has a very biblical basis in an understanding of biblical principles — that’s where our Constitution came from, Declaration of Independence before that came out of that. When those things were there and put in place, when a nation turns their back on those things as we have and [are] increasingly, arrogantly doing, then at that point the justice of God says ‘I cannot any longer bless’ and these things which you’re doing will lead to not His lack of blessing, but insecurity and so forth.”
Deace returned to the theme later in the interview, saying that America’s current standing with God is “essentially like when a parent has an unruly child that persists in a behavior or an addiction that is destructive and has tried repeatedly to reach them, has tried repeatedly to intervene, they will not listen, and so they reach a point where you essentially have to allow them to hit rock bottom on their own in order to get the message and just kind of pray that they don’t kill themselves in that process.”
Rohrer agreed that this was a “fairly accurate representation” of what is going on and outlined a number of ways that he believes that Americans have “turned their back on” God, including marriage equality and a redefinition of “God’s order for human sexuality.”
“You know,” he said, “God has established, and made it very, very clear, that He’s established the family, He’s established the church, He’s established the institution of civil government … But when a nation, when a family, when the church fails to employ, fails to do and, even worse, turns their back on God’s moral law and His design, there is nothing but difficulty and trouble that comes and follows from that.”
“And, unfortunately, as a nation, we’ve once known God,” he said, “‘In God we trust’ is our motto. But … Congress wouldn’t even pass that motto now, they wouldn’t even bring it up and the president wouldn’t sign it. And our courts declare to be immoral what is moral, we redefine God’s institution of marriage, we redefine God’s order for human sexuality and we expect God to sit back and continue to bless? He can’t.”
In August of last year, shortly after the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Obergefell marriage equality ruling, televangelist Pat Robertson discussed the ruling with Steve Strang, the founder of the Pentecostal magazine Charisma, on his podcast.
Robertson warned that “the homosexuals don’t want equality, they don’t want equal treatment, what they want is to destroy everybody who disagrees with them.” He predicted that there will be “a vendetta” against “any organization that disagrees with homosexuality,” saying that “what was done to Bob Jones University, that’s just a warm-up of what’s going to happen unless there’s something dramatic that takes place.” (Bob Jones University lost its tax exempt status in the 1980s because of its rules barring interracial dating.)
Robertson told Strang that with rulings like Obergefell, the Supreme Court has broken down America’s defenses against “radical Islam and the other forces of secularism trying to destroy us”:
The Supreme Court, to think that we’ve got five men and women, five unelected people who are controlling of the moral destiny of this nation and they’re stripping us of the defenses that we have to have against radical Islam and the other forces of secularism trying to destroy us. The Supreme Court is making it more and more difficult to assert these foundational values.
We're asking supporters from all over the country to make a special effort to attend this year's March to protest the US Supreme Court's illegitimate, anti-constitutional ruling redefining marriage, to object to the Obama administration's outrageous attempts to impose the gender-bending agenda of LGBT extremists and to call Congress to account to do something about this crisis.
The March for Marriage has been held for several years now, though it has never attracted a huge crowd, and it was certainly not the “game-changer” in the marriage equality fight that Brown promised in 2013. NOM has a habit of inflating their turnout figures; when they claimed that 10,000 people showed up in 2014, the right-wing website WND reported that it was more like 2,000, what one pastor called a “dismal turnout” and a victory for the Satanic left. Last year’s march was held days before Supreme Court arguments in the Obergefell case, which was followed by the court’s historic marriage equality ruling two months later.
In his new email, Brown calls that decision “one of the most infamous, illegitimate rulings in the Court’s history,” and denounces Obama administration efforts to protect the right of transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. Obama, he says, “fancies himself a god,” which is why he is promoting such “insane and dangerous” policies.
President Obama acts as if he is a King by declaring that all public schools and other public institutions must immediately accept this new orthodoxy or be declared guilty of discrimination. He threatens them with loss of federal funding, lawsuits and reputational ruin as a "bigot" guilty of "discrimination." The impact on other Americans — frightened girls, for example, when confronted by males in a bathroom — matter not a whit to Obama. Nobody but his allies among the LGBT lobby have any rights. We have none.
Truth be told, his extreme agenda on this issue makes me wonder if Obama actually sees himself as something bigger than a King. It seems to me that only someone who fancies himself a god could have the capacity to think that he could actually redefine humanity itself, decreeing that men can be women if they so choose (and vice versa) and nobody else is supposed to notice, and certainly not complain if they do.
Let's be clear: the ideology that the LGBT extremists are advancing and President Obama is imposing is insane and dangerous. It must be stopped.