Just today, People For the American Way releaseda report about the latest attacks on Planned Parenthood, which noted that contraception access isn’t collateral damage in the Right’s attacks on abortion rights, but instead is an intended target.
What better way to illustrate this than a graphic that Priests for Life spokesman and Fox News contributor Alveda King shared in a press release today about the latest anti-Planned-Parenthood video.
Priests for Life, which has claimed partial credit for the latest Planned Parenthood smear, explains that the “3 headed monster” of “sexual perversion” (including “homosexuality” and “fornication”), “abortion and unnatural contraception,” and anti-miscegenation laws (which haven’t existed in the U.S. for nearly 50 years) are preventing Americans from fulfilling God’s commandment that they “be fruitful and multiply”:
As she frequently mentions, Alveda King is a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a family connection that she attempts to hold up to lend a patina of moral authority to her work. (Never mind that King was a supporter of government-funded family planning programs who once accepted an award from Planned Parenthood.) That may explain why the younger King stretches to equate homosexuality and contraception with racism as heads of the demon-beast that will destroy America.
As the Senate prepares to vote this afternoon on a bill to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood, People For the American Way has released a new report detailing the activists behind the latest round of attacks on the women’s health organization, their ideology and ultimate goals.
A group called the Center for Medical Progress has promised to release a dozen videos that it claims show that Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts” for profit. That claim is easily debunked, but as PFAW details, the specific accusations are only part of the point:
The latest Planned Parenthood smear falls in a long line of attacks on the organization that have failed at proving any wrongdoing but succeeded at reinforcing long-held myths about the organization within the anti-choice movement. Previous attacks by activists related to the latest series of videos have made flimsy attempts to “prove” that Planned Parenthood targets people of color and harbors sex traffickers. Similarly, the latest attack hopes to reinforce the longstanding anti-choice myth that Planned Parenthood is a massive “industry” that preys on women for profit.
None of these specific claims have held up to the smallest amount of scrutiny, but that was never the point.
Instead, the Center for Medical Progress’ campaign is part of a long-running effort to undermine access to reproductive health care — including contraception, reproductive health screenings, sex education and legal abortion — by providing cover to legislators who want to dismantle women’s access to reproductive care.
The report also details the anti-choice activists behind the Center for Medical Progress, including Live Action’s Lila Rose, who has called for abortions to be performed “in the public square” and Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, who once publicly celebrated the death of an abortion provider. These activists, PFAW notes, want not only to criminalize abortion in the United States but to undermine access to contraception. In doing so, they are willing to cut off basic medical care for hundreds of thousands of women.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver joined VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program on Thursday to discuss his work urging government officials to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.
Staver urged governors and other elected officials to “stand up and resist” the Supreme Court’s ruling, praising officials in Alabama and Texas who are pushing back against it.
Such officials, he said, could create “sanctuary cities” free from gay marriage and abortion rights, just as some cities have become sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.
“You know what, if some cities can create sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, why can’t a city or a state create a sanctuary city or state to protect the preborn?” he asked.
“And to protect marriage,” VCY’s Jim Schneider chimed in.
“…and to protect marriage, absolutely.”
Staver is representing one Kentucky County clerk, Kim Davis, who is refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, which he said she can’t do because she would be giving those couples a “license” to “engage in a sinful activity with a sinful relationship.”
“And understand what their dilemma is,” he said. “They provide a license to do something. They provide a license that gives you the legal authority to drive a car. They provide a license that gives you a legal authority to operate a business. So they’re providing a license that gives you a legal authority to do what? To engage in a sinful activity with a sinful relationship, a same-sex so-called marriage.”
Claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision put people like Davis in the “firing line,” he said that she was simply unwilling to “authorize someone to do something that itself is sinful, that is repugnant to her and the scriptures and to natural millennia of human history, natural law.”
American Family Association official Sandy Rios claimed on her radio program yesterday that women who have had an abortion end up either “brokenhearted” and suffering “tremendous guilt” or get “hard as nails” and become “mean and evil and angry.”
Rios, who made the comments while promoting rallies protesting Planned Parenthood, concluded that this is because women who have had an abortion have “violated the very core of who they are as women, and that is mothers, mothers who give life.”
John Zmirak, a conservative activist and a senior editor of James Robison’s The Stream website, said yesterday that as a group of anti-choice activists continues to put out new videos smearing Planned Parenthood, “I think they’re going to need to put police in front of Planned Parenthood clinics to keep them safe and intact because the public outrage will just be so great.”
In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway, Zmirak praised the “pro-life journalistic heroes” at the Center for Medical Progress for their strategy of slowly releasing videos that they falsely claim show that Planned Parenthood is selling “baby parts” for profit.
“I’ve got to think that what’s coming next is even more damning,” he said. “If that continues, I think they’re going to need to put police in front of Planned Parenthood clinics to keep them safe and intact because the public outrage will just be so great.”
The prediction that Planned Parenthood clinics will need “police” to keep them “safe” is not an idle threat coming from a movement whose extreme fringes have a long history of violence. In fact, one of the activists behind the Center for Medical Progress, Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, has a disturbing history of ties to activists who have perpetrated violence against abortion providers.
In a separate interview last week with Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman, Zmirak compared the anti-Planned Parenthood “investigators” to people who go “undercover to infiltrate Al Qaeda” or the mob.
“We know people who go undercover in the drug trade, and we send people undercover to infiltrate Al Qaeda,” he said. “I knew someone who did that and it changes you. I can’t imagine what it must be life to spend three years among these people, having to deceive them — you know, it’s your duty, they don’t have the right to the truth because they’re engaged in a criminal enterprise.”
“It’s like infiltrating the mafia,” he continued. “It really is an instance of organized crime. We should start thinking about Planned Parenthood as human organ traffickers, just like the Russian mob.”
Troy Newman, the leader of Operation Rescue and one of the anti-abortion activists behind the new set of Planned Parenthood smear videos, joined VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program to discuss his debunked accusations that the woman’s health organization is selling “baby parts” for profit.
Newman targeted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — or, as he called her, “Cruella de Vil” — for coming to the defense of Planned Parenthood and calling for an investigation into his group, the Center for Medical Progress.
“This is a classic deflection by the liar-in-chief, Cruella de Vil,” he said. “Who believes this woman? She’s been discredited on so many occasions, her abortion clinics are essentially pedophile protection rackets.”
“If one iota of her accusations against me are true, I would not be here, I would be sitting behind bars,” he added.
The program’s host, Jim Schneider, asked Newman about a fakequote from Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, falsely claiming that she called racial minorities "human weeds."
“That’s exactly the truth,” Newman responded.
He then went on to accuse current Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards of “targeting the minorities in this country for extermination” and repeated his false claim that it was “Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said the reason we had abortion to begin with was to have fewer people of the people we didn’t want.”
Newman claimed that Planned Parenthood places the vast majority of its clinics in minority neighborhoods in order to target people of color and “take a lot of them out.” (In reality, a study last year found that 60 percent of abortion providers are located in majority-white neighborhoods.)
“And that is the whole eugenic mindset,” he said, “that the people that they don’t like, the ivory tower rich people look down upon minorities and the poor and say we want fewer of those people because they’re a blight on society, so let’s locate our abortion clinics, birth control clinics down there and make sure we can take a few of them out, or take a lot of them out.”
Anti-abortion activist Alveda King claimed in a radio interview yesterday that female journalists may be hesitant to be critical of abortion rights because they have had abortions themselves or have been rendered infertile by “the chemicals and things that they try to use for birth control.”
King was discussing with Rebecca Maxwell, guest host of the “Steave Deace Show,” the recent set of videos smearing Planned Parenthood by suggesting that the organization sells fetal tissue for profit. The media was forced to cover these videos, King said, even though they had been “hesitant to deal with” legal abortion in general, perhaps because of their own personal histories.
“One reason that people have been hesitant to deal with it: shame, secrecy,” she explained. “And even if you think about the media, how do we know [whether a journalist who] is reporting this information has had to grapple with abortion or loss of fertility through using the chemicals and things that they try to use for birth control?"
"There are so many layers," she added. "How do we know that the men themselves weren’t involved in having their own child aborted? So it’s bringing it right up to you, it’s unavoidable, it’s true.”
The myth that hormonal birth control causes long-term infertility has been debunked by no less a flaming liberal outfit than Fox News, which notes that the “birth control and infertility myth has been circling around since the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill in 1960.”
Richard Land, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, said yesterday that a conservative group’s new series of videosfalsely claiming that Planned Parenthood is “selling aborted baby” parts may be the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” of the fight against legal abortion.
“I think that this may be the equivalent of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’” Land said on Newsmax TV. “You know, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote that book, she put a human face on slavery. And Lincoln met her after the war had started and said, ‘I’m finally glad to meet the woman who wrote the book that started the war.’ I think that you may, the American people may now be forced to confront the evil and the barbarity and the savagery of the pro-abortion movement.”
On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," John Hagee seized upon the false and deceptively-editedsmear video purporting to show a Planned Parenthood executive engaging in the illegal sale of "aborted baby parts," which he naturally likened to Nazi Germany.
"Planned Parenthood was caught on video chatting about the harvesting and sale of infant body parts over a glass of wine," Hagee said. "It brings to mind the evil of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and Dr. Mengele, the Doctor of Death, and his gruesome brutal butchery of children for his demonic research for the Third Reich."
The discussion in the video, Hagee said, was no different than when "Hitler's monsters tallied up cattle cars transporting Jewish people to Auschwitz," which is why viewers must call Congress and "demand that Planned Parenthood be defunded" in order to "stop this tax-funded murder in the United States of America."
Troy Newman, one of the anti-choice activists behind a new set of videos smearing Planned Parenthood, claimed in a radio interview yesterday that the women’s health organization was “founded on a eugenicist philosophy” and that its founder was “embedded with the Nazis,” claims that he backed up with a fake quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about the need to “exterminate” populations she doesn’t like.
Iowa-based talk radio host Steve Deace was telling Newman about a column he recently wrote in the Washington Times arguing that if state governments are taking down the Confederate flag, the U.S. should also “purge” the “viciously racist” Planned Parenthood.
“Look, Planned Parenthood was founded on a eugenicist philosophy,” Newman responded, “in other words, ‘exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of,’ which is a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sitting Supreme Court justice. That’s what abortion is all about.”
He added that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was “embedded with the Nazis,” adding, “That’s not rhetoric, folks, look it up, it’s absolutely true.”
We followed Newman’s advice and looked it up, finding (unsurprisingly) that Justice Ginsburg has never expressed the desire to “exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of.”
There is also plenty of information available debunking Newman’s claims about Sanger. While Sanger did back some repugnant but then-fashionable eugenics principles such as the sterilization of people with hereditary diseases (which Planned Parenthood now publicly rejects), she was not “embedded with the Nazis,” nor did she support racial eugenics. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr., praised Sanger in accepting an award named after her from Planned Parenthood.
Yet this new line — the women’s health organization as a horror-movie butcher looking to enrich itself off helpless pregnant women — has quickly become an established “fact” not only within the anti-choice movement, but in the larger conservative movement and among Republican politicians.
This is not because they have been given any new information. Again, the central premise of the new videos is easily disproved — Planned Parenthood follows standard medical guidelines in donating fetal tissue for medical research with the patient’s consent. It is because the videos (or what they claim is in the videos) illustrate an attack that the anti-choice movement has been attempting to level against legal abortion providers for years.
As the anti-choice movement has rebranded itself to be about “protecting” women from legal abortion, it has taken to calling abortion providers the “Abortion Industry,” alleging that they are more interested in turning a profit than in providing health care. This charge is most frequently leveled at Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that both the health care provider and its advocacy affiliate are nonprofit organizations.
Back in January, the anti-choice legal group Americans United for Life released a report titled “ Abortion, Inc.,” which attempted to show that Planned Parenthood is on a “Big Abortion, Big Profits trajectory.” The report concludes by alleging that the health group’s advocacy arm fights anti-choice laws that chip away at abortion access in order to “protect its abortion business’ financial success.”
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins made a similarly outlandish claim last week when he tied the false claims about Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue and its advocacy affiliate’s opposition to laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregancy. “This suggests why they may have been opposed to bans such as this, these five-month bans, because the longer the pregnancy goes, the more valuable the parts,” he claimed.
A similar rhetorical trick is going on here. Anti-choice groups want to stamp out legal abortion and drive women seeking abortion to dangerous, underground alternatives. They also want to destroy Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of medical services to more than five million people a year, only a small percentage of which include abortion. But in order to do so, they are painting abortion providers as a big, bad industry out to get the very women who seek their services.
It’s clear that these videos were made with the “Abortion Industry” talking point in mind. There is a legitimate debate to be had over the legal use of fetal tissue for medical research, which has led to a number of medical advances, including vaccine development. But that isn’t the point of this smear. Instead, it is a dishonest attempt to undermine abortion rights by portraying abortion providers and pro-choice groups as profit-hungry predators. This smear is nothing new — this is just its most lurid and best-publicized iteration.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, suggested during a conversation with Gov. Scott Walker on his “Washington Watch” radio program last week that Planned Parenthood opposes 20-week abortion bans such as the one recently passed by the House because they can make more money selling the “parts” of later-term fetuses.
Perkins was discussing a right-wing group’s deceptively edited shock video that purported to show that the reproductive health group sells “aborted baby parts” for a profit, in violation of federal law. In reality, the group donates fetal tissue to medical research with the patient’s consent.
“This suggests why they may have been opposed to bans such as this, these five-month bans, because the longer the pregnancy goes, the more valuable the parts,” Perkins alleged.
Walker, who signed such a ban into law in Wisconsin today, didn’t address Perkins’ claim directly, but restated his desire to make sure that “Planned Parenthood is defunded from any tax dollars, be it at the local or state or the federal level.”
Jindal, who reacted to the phony scandal by launching an investigation into Planned Parenthood in his state, repeated his call to defund the organization, saying that it’s not a health care organization because when a woman receives an abortion she is not a “patient.”
“They try to defend themselves by saying this is health care and patient-centered,” he said. “This is not health care. Abortions are not health care, and this is not about the patient. The patient in this case is that unborn baby. They’ve got no concern for the unborn baby, and you can see that in the video.”
Jindal also dismissed the famous Bill Clinton phrase calling for abortion to be "safe, legal and rare," saying, "Well, it's never safe for the baby, first of all."
Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman joined Jim Schneider on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program last week to discuss his efforts to shut down abortion providers, who he said are bringing God’s judgment down on America.
When a caller asked about God’s judgment for legal abortion, Newman responded that God doesn’t always make His displeasure known with “some sort of cataclysmic judgment, like the Flood” but often comes “one step at a time, one small step until the people groan so heavily and they return back to God and then they’re slowly restored.”
“If you look at what’s going on in America….we’ve had some terrible weather patterns lately, our economic clout has been taken away, the stock market is artificially inflated, there’s a lot of people that are predicting collapse there, the dollar is a fiat currency, is on shaky ground, our moral decay, our morals have decayed so far, the attack on Christians and people of faith,” he said.
“You know, it’s easier to be a homosexual in this country than it is to be a Christian, you’re a protected class there while we’re a minority. I just think that at some point, people, this country’s going to have to hit the reset button.”
Another caller asked Newman to respond to “a lot of these religious denominations that affirm abortion” and “give ecclesiastical cover for this just outrageous and demonic activity.”
“The scripture is clear that those that handle the word of God and claim to be ministers of the Gospel will be held to a higher degree of judgment,” Newman responded. These religious denominations “that approve of abortion and homosexuality and other sins,” he said, would then receive especially harsh judgment from God.
“I don’t want to be on the Day of Judgment, period, but I definitely don’t want to be in their shoes,” he said.
Newman also answered the caller’s question about the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, saying, “It’s time that we really stop giving so much weight and credence to the judges that are making up law.”
Newman said that, as a pastor, he would refuse to marry same-sex couples (something no pastor is being forced to do anyway), just as he is refusing to buy health insurance or pay a fine in defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.
In a speech to the National Right to Life Committee’s convention in New Orleans this morning, Sen. Marco Rubio called Roe v. Wade a “historically and egregiously flawed” decision and vowed to fight abortion rights “at home and around the world”
“My pledge to you is this: If you help send me to that place, I will never forget this place,” he said.
He went on to compare the fight against abortion rights to the battles for abolition, civil rights and women’s suffrage: “Sometimes in contemporary American life, we come to believe that all the great causes are over, that the past generation fought all the important battles: abolition, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s suffrage. But it’s not true. In fact, one of the most important battles is the one that you are engaged in now.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry gave a rambling speech to the National Right To Life Committee’s convention this morning boasting of the radical anti-choice legislation that he signed as governor to claim that he would be the most “pro-life” of all the GOP presidential candidates.
Channeling Scott Walker, Perry boasted of a law he signed in Texas requiring women seeking an abortion to first undergo a sonogram and another banning abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregancy, saying, “I know it works. On my iPad there’s that 20-week picture of my first grandbaby, and her mother understands now the most preciousness of life.”
“That was one of the tools we used in protecting women’s health, in being able to say that that is a very important date, if you will, that 20-week period where we outlawed abortion in the state of Texas,” he said.
Perry added later in his speech that abortion rights opponents must react to “those who live with those scars of abortion” with “healing and acceptance,” which he contrasted with President Obama’s “divisiveness” on abortion rights.
“For six and a half years, we have had a president who has used divisiveness as a tool for his political advantage,” he said. “He’s advertised in the battleground states that Republicans are a threat to women’s health. It’s time we had a president who transcends petty politics, who heals this nation, who brings us together, who can change truly this culture that we see in America today and do it through love, do it through tolerance, do it through healing.
"Because this is the most important truth: As long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, the only way to stop abortion is one pregancy at a time, one woman at a time, one heart at a time.”
Perry specified that he would help unite America by making sure that Roe v. Wade is overturned, promising that he wouldn’t nominate “squishy” judges to the federal courts. “If I’m the president of the United States and have the opportunity to put individuals on the United States Supreme Court, they will not be squishy. They will be individuals who understand what the constitution says. They will be individuals who understand what the 10th Amendment says.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told the National Right to Life Committee’s convention this morning that the Supreme Court’s decision striking down bans on gay marriage was part of the spread of the “cancer” that began with Roe v. Wade.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very difficult time in America,” the GOP presidential candidate said. “We’ve seen some court decisions that I know have people very upset about what the future of the family and marriage and our culture is looking like.”
Roe v. Wade, he said, is “the cancer that is infecting the body of America” and “you saw Roe and its subsequent decisions bare its ugly head in the case of the gay marriage decision just a few days ago.”
The court’s majority in the marriage equality case, he said, declared that “it is what we say it is and we can do whatever we want to do to whomever we want to do it to.”
“And it was the Roe decision, the Casey decision and subsequent decisions on abortion that have led us to this decision on marriage,” he said. “It’s a fundamental rewriting of the Constitution, ignoring truth, ignoring Nature and Nature’s Law.”
He told the audience that he would keep on fighting marriage equality just as he kept on fighting abortion rights after Roe: “When did it become the law of the land that the Supreme Court has the final say on anything? They do not have the final say on anything! The American people have the final say on everything!”
In the first of a promised series of social media share images, American Right to Life compares “ fetal anesthesia” measures — a tactic that the anti-choice movement has been using to make certain abortions more expensive and harder to obtain, while working to move public opinion to its side — to “urging ISIS to anesthetize before a beheading”:
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.