Values Voter Summit

‘Welcome To The War’ – Jim Garlow’s New Book On ‘Biblical Applicationalism’

One of the giveaways at the recent Values Voter Summit was a new book from Jim Garlow, a California pastor who mobilized churches to organize on behalf of California’s anti-marriage-equality Prop 8 in 2008 and says his daily one-minute radio commentaries are heard on 850 stations across the country.

After getting through Garlow’s “Well Versed: Biblical Answers to Today’s Tough Issues,” I was surprised that David Barton was not mentioned in the acknowledgments, because the book is a very Bartonesque argument that politicians should look to the Bible for policy guidance on everything from healthcare to the minimum wage to climate change.

“There is no major world issue about which the Word does not provide basic and transcendent truths,” Garlow writes. He complains that people understand that the Bible applies to their personal lives, but

…when we hear the word political, we shut our Bibles and recoil, as if God has no interest in government, in spite of the fact that it was God who first invented it (Isaiah 9:6). Christians—particularly pastors—seem to run from the political. The Evil One delights over this situation. But a Sovereign King refuses to yield any ground to the Evil One. He intends for us to do the same.

Garlow’s first chapter asks, “Why are we quiet?” Perhaps in a nod to Donald Trump, Garlow says the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which bans overt politicking by tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, including churches, “effectively silenced and muzzled all pastors.” Anyone who follows American politics can be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the notion that conservative religious leaders have been “silenced” and “muzzled,” but it is an article of faith at Religious Right gatherings that America’s moral decline is the fault of overly timid preachers. Garlow does not like timid, and neither, he says, does Jesus, whom he describes as a “man’s man” and “no wimp.”

We are in a war: a war for truth, righteousness, and justice. The pages that follow are designed to equip you for success in those battles. Welcome to the war.

Garlow says what he’s calling for is “biblical applicationalism” and a return to the idea of a nation founded on biblical truth. He repeatedly says that he is not calling for theocracy, and says he’s not a dominionist. But among those whose quotes he uses to open chapters in his book is Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar. And one of three people he thanks as members of his “spectacular research and writing team” is Gary Cass, who Garlow calls “a pastor who ‘gets it,’ who has a staggering grasp of historical theology and its relevance to current culture.” Cass is a former director of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ. Two years ago he generated controversy with a Charisma magazine column entitled “Why We Cannot Coexist,” in which he said that Muslims and Christians cannot co-exist and that “The only thing that is biblical and that 1400 years of history has shown to work is overwhelming Christian just war and overwhelming self-defense.” After the column generated a protest campaign with the hashtag #CancelTheCrusades, Charisma took down Cass’s call to “crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus name.”

Garlow does not call for a worldwide holy war, but he does complain, “Our societal and cultural desire to accept everyone has stopped us from acknowledging the evil clearly written into Islamic tenets.”

Garlow, like Donald Trump, disparages political correctness:

Not surprisingly, the promoters and users of PC tactics are those who typically hate biblical truth, traditional morality, sexual restraint, personal responsibility, the nuclear family, or any other concept based on transcendent, unchanging truth revealed by an almighty God for our society’s good.

Says Garlow, “Unfortunately, Christian religious tolerance has devolved into a secular monstrosity called multiculturalism.” Tolerance is a “weapon” to “destroy and discredit our values in the public square,” he writes.

Cultural progressives will not be satisfied with silence; they want a complete and unconditional surrender. That is the nature of spiritual warfare; there is no peaceful coexistence.

“Religious liberty is under attack from godless, sexual anarchists,” he declares. Garlow, of course, is stridently opposed to legal equality for LGBT people. “There is no God-given right to do wrong,” he writes. “Every sinful act is by definition a lawless one.” Garlow says it is “quite likely” that “there is no such thing” as sexual orientation and he seems to wish gay people would just slink back into the closet. “For years that chant was, what we do in our bedroom is our business,” he writes. “If that is the case, then they should keep their business in their bedrooms.”

Hate crimes laws are, in his view, “inherently unjust” and “are a form of legally justified revenge against someone whose actions violate some standard of political correctness.” And, he says, “Hate crimes inevitably lead to hate speech and ultimately thought crimes.”

Garlow also devotes plenty of space to arguments about the kinds of authority the Bible grants to government, ideas that are grounded in Christian Reconstructionism and have been embraced by much of the Religious Right. The term social justice “has taken a distinctly anti-scriptural meaning,” he says, and liberal churches “cherry-pick the Bible to advance a humanistic (Marxist) definition of economic justice.”

“The biggest problem is that it confuses social justice’s governmental confiscation of private property with authentic biblical justice, which it isn’t,” says Garlow. Some taxation is biblically acceptable, he says, in order to pay for things like national defense. But, he argues, “Nowhere in the Bible is the government authorized to take from the rich to give to the poor nor to redistribute wealth.” That kind of taxation, he says, is theft:

Any forced redistribution of the fruit of a man’s labor violates God’s command not to steal. Theft is still theft, even when it’s the government picking your pocket. Whether by a gun (a thief) or through a tax (by the IRS), the impact is still the same: you no longer have what you earned.

Food stamps are also unbiblical, he says. Not surprisingly, Garlow cites Star Parker, a favorite at Religious Right conferences for her attacks on welfare recipients as lazy freeloaders. Writes Garlow, “Show me a person who uses their welfare dollars to buy lottery tickets and play the casino slots, and you will see as much greed as an inner city slumlord.”

Because he argues that the Bible gives churches, not government, the responsibility to care for the poor, Garlow’s proposal for a “biblical tax code” includes a 3.33 percent tax that would be given to local houses of worship, replacing government welfare programs that he says are rife with abuse and corruption. He says by letting churches take care of people, his plan would be “assuring funds went to the genuinely needy, offering job hunting assistance, and, at the same time, proper prodding of the slothful and lazy.”

Social Security is also unbiblical, according to Garlow. “Biblically, entitlement programs and forced savings/retirement insurance programs like Social Security are never the role of the civil government,” he says. “With the Social Security Act of 1946, the government has stepped outside of its prescribed role and into areas it had no right to enter.”

Besides, “Where does it say in the Bible that we are supposed to retire at sixty-five, or at any age for that matter?” Garlow asks. He complains, “After a life of hard work, Americans now feel an entitlement to unproductivity.” But sooner or later Social Security will collapse and people will get back to “God’s design for society” by “having lots of godly, hardworking children” who will take care of their parents in old age.

Garlow also takes on climate change, writing that “at its core global warming is a battle between two worldviews in direct opposition: biblical truth and evolutionary untruths.” Garlow writes that “all the major global datasets reveal the earth hasn’t warmed since 1977” and “NASA scientists are now discovering record levels of ice in the Arctic.” Writes Garlow, “The reality is this: we’re all just fine. God remains in complete control of His creation.”

Just to do a little reality check on his claims, August 2016 was the 16th straight hottest month ever recorded globally. And while Antarctic wintertime ice hit record highs in 2012-2014 before returning to average levels in 2015, “both the Arctic wintertime maximum and its summer minimum extent have been in a sharp decline for the past decades,” according to NASA. “Studies show that globally, the decreases in Arctic ice far exceed the increases in Antarctic sea ice.”

On it goes, through 31 chapters. Our educational system “is consumed with anti-Christian bigotry.” Government should do away with no-fault divorce. Unions were legitimate at a time of deplorable and dangerous working conditions, but have “become as abusive as eighteenth century employers.” God wants workers and employers to negotiate without any third-party involvement from government or unions. In a break with the hard right, Garlow does call for immigration reform that offers those who have been in the country illegally a pathway to remaining in the country. 

Garlow also takes on the federal judiciary. He calls the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “quite possibly the strongest attack on Christians and Christian values ever written by a sitting Justice in a majority opinion.” Justices, he says, are “knowingly lying about what the Constitution says and what its words mean and, as such, are in direct violation of Exodus 20:16,” which prohibits “false testimony.”

Garlow says there’s no quick fix to bad court rulings because Congress doesn’t have the courage to impeach justices. It will require “America to experience a spiritual renewal, or at least an adherence to biblical values such as integrity.” But he does call for state officials to nullify and defy federal court rulings on abortion and LGBT equality: “We need principled, constitutional, pro-life, and pro-family state legislators and governors to defy the Feds and enforce state laws.” And he calls for individual citizens to nullify “ungodly” and “unjust” laws, citing the Manhattan Declaration’s vow of civil disobedience and adding, “May we have the discernment and courage to do what is right and obey God rather than man.”

 

Mat Staver: Legal Abortion Will 'Bring God's Wrath Down On A Nation'

At last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel distributed a new booklet written by its founder and chairman, Mat Staver, titled “Planned Parenthood Exposed!”

Staver’s booklet is mostly a rehashing of the Planned Parenthood smear videos produced by David Daleiden last year, but it ends on a more apocalyptic note.

Noting that Daleiden based his project on a similar effort by anti-abortion activist Mark Crutcher, who, in the late 1990s, also tried to attack legal abortion with a flawed “investigation” of the practice of fetal tissue research, Staver writes that Daleiden has given America “one more chance” to “bring fetal tissue trafficking to a halt” and “ultimately, to end legal abortion in America.”

If the U.S. fails to take this opportunity to criminalize abortion, he writes, we will face the wrath and judgment of God, just as God cursed Cain after he murdered Abel:

Now, America gets one more chance to make that happen—and it’s crucial we keep pressure on politicians to bring fetal tissue trafficking to a halt. And, ultimately, to end legal abortion in America.

The stakes are enormous—for the unborn, for America and each one of us.

That’s because God is just and will act to avenge the lives of innocents taken by abortion. When Cain killed Abel, God told him, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground So now you are cursed from the earth” (Genesis 4:10-11). Just as Abel’s blood cried out to God for justice and brought a curse on Cain, the blood of more than 58 million precious unborn humans—the most innocent of victims—also cries out to God.

And just as God cursed Cain, so too His curse rests on our nation which protects the right of a mother and her doctor to end the life of her child. The shedding of innocent blood pollutes or defiles a land and will bring God’s wrath down on a nation, as it did ancient Israel

Likewise, the death of innocent preborn infants, their blood spilled (and harvested) in abortion facilities across America, invites God’s judgment on modern America. “The Lord hates…the shedding of innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17) and holds people accountable for what they do to protect the innocent from murder…

Matt Bevin's Bogus 'Bloodshed' Defense

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin started taking some heat after Right Wing Watch called attention to his Values Voter Summit speech, in which he suggested that the election of Hillary Clinton might require conservatives to shed some blood in order to preserve American freedom, referencing the well-known Thomas Jefferson statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Bevin responded to the criticism by suggesting that his remarks were being misrepresented: “Any intelligent person can understand the message I delivered,” he said in a statement. Bevin told a reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader that his comments were about "military sacrifice" and the need for Americans to back the “thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas.” But, as journalist Matthew Yglesias wrote, Bevin’s actual speech “is completely at odds” with that claim, which The Atlantic’s David Graham called “pure spin.” Bevin, noted Yglesias, was “clearly talking about patriots winning back liberty from the tyranny of Democratic Party governance.”

Bevin has urged his Twitter followers to listen to his entire 15-minute speech. Fair enough. We took another listen, and it doesn’t support Bevin’s after-the-fact explanation. Bevin’s focus was on pushing on culture wars in the U.S., about which he promoted the Religious Right’s narrative that liberals are enemies of freedom who are out to silence Christians:

You wonder, how does this happen? You look at the opportunities for us to be silent. You look at the degradation of things that are happening in our society. You look at the atrocity of abortion. So many have remained silent. It’s a slippery slope. First we’re killing children, then it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Now it’s this gender-bending kind of don’t ask, don’t be a, don’t be a, you know, a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid. Just keep your mouth shut. I encourage you young people, step up and be bold, don’t keep your mouth shut.

Bevin emphasized the urgent need for social conservatives to be passionate and active in this year’s election:

I asked you at the beginning, why are you here? I’m guessing in some measure because you’re worried. You are concerned for the direction of this nation. Perhaps you want a better America, I’m guessing you do. How badly do you want it? Do you want it as badly as the people who came over here on rickety boats, risking their lives for the very freedoms we so apathetically disregard and take for granted? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as the men who, if they were lucky enough in the winter of 1776 to even own shoes, ate their shoes to keep from starving to death? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as… young men who stepped off transport carriers on Omaha Beach, knowing that they wouldn’t be likely to get more than ten yards up that beach, seeing their buddies…Do we want it that badly? I tell you if we don’t want it that badly, we don’t deserve it.

Who are we to think that somehow our generation is going to be the first generation to benefit from all the sacrifices that others have made without giving some modern-day equivalent of our own lives, fortunes and sacred honor? Step up! Be bold. This is not a time to have a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of what? Discipline. Discipline requires an intentional amount of proactivity on our part, to take in but to give back, to make calls like you’ve never made calls, to knock doors like you’ve never knocked doors, to alert people, to sound the alarm, to be the watchmen on the wall because it doesn’t do us any good if we see and we do, because we sit on the wall, what is happening in America and we keep our mouths shut. Sound the alarm! Sound the trumpet! Wake up! Wake others up!

Now, there’s no problem with Bevin exhorting people to take an active role in the political process. The problem, as we reported previously, is that Bevin said that if conservatives aren’t successful fighting for America ideologically, and Hillary Clinton gets elected, conservative activists and their children and grandchildren might have to make it a physical fight:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ.

But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

Bevin made comments similar to those in his Values Voter speech in an interview with LifeZette this week in which he warned Never Trump conservatives, “Falling on one’s sword in principle and dying in a remote corner of the battlefield as the war rages on serves no purpose whatsoever.” In the interview it is also clear that Bevin is talking about the potential for violence if conservative culture warriors aren’t successful politically:

"We’re at a crossroads in America, is what we hear, Bevin said. "But I truly believe that it’s a fork in the road, that it’s not really a crossroad — we don’t have multiple choices — we’re going to go one way or we’re going to go the other way," he said.

 "The values, the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was built upon which Kentucky itself and its constitution was founded are under assault intentionally and unintentionally," he continued.

…"We’re at a fork in the road and we going to go towards a more godless, more corrupt bureaucratic, more authoritarian approach or we have the opportunity to do something different," he said.

"Our founding fathers knew and said that the roots of liberty are watered by the blood of tyrants and the blood of patriots," Bevin said. "If we don’t step up when we have a chance to engage ideologically, philosophically, politically — then we will ultimately find ourselves forced to the point that as a people we will be forced to shed the blood of both tyrant and patriots."

"Could we recover, conceivably so, but it will come at a price that none of us would want to bear nor would we want our children or grandchildren to bear that and that is why this election matters so so much," said Bevin.

Bevin’s comments, of course, are not made in a vacuum. They come after years in which Tea Party activists portrayed President Obama as an America-hater who wants to bring down the U.S. And they come in the context of Religious Right leaders arguing that equality for LGBT people is an attack on faith and freedom.

Anti-government activists have used Jefferson’s “tree of liberty” phrase as warning to the federal government on issues ranging from health care reform to gun control to public land use. In fact, Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with that quote on it when he was arrested 90 minutes after bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman said Bevin’s comments contained “layers of dangerous nonsense.” Wrote Bookman:

In the past few weeks we’ve seen people go all but apoplectic because a black football player simply declined to stand for the national anthem. We’ve seen demands that Colin Kaepernick be fired from his job; Donald Trump even suggested that Kaepernick leave the country.

Yet here we have an elected leader, raised to one of the highest positions of authority in the land, publicly advocating armed insurrection as a valid and even necessary response to political defeat. This isn’t some powerless, frustrated 20-year-old spouting off, this is a 49-year-old governor who has raised his right hand and solemnly sworn to “support the Constitution of the United States” suggesting that violence may be the only recourse of patriots should someone other than his choice be elected president under the terms and processes laid out in that same Constitution…

This is dangerous, volatile and profoundly irresponsible. It is the paranoiac gutter talk of the worst recesses of the Internet given voice by a person in power to an apparently receptive audience in our nation’s capital, and down that path lies disaster.

Michele Bachmann: Vote Trump Or Lose America To Totalitarianism And Socialist Immigrants

In a Friday interview with Virginia-based radio host Rob Schilling, former Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann expanded on her recent comments that if Donald Trump loses in November, it will be the “last election” in America because Hillary Clinton will “change the demographics of the United States so that no Republican will ever win again.”

Bachmann told Schilling in an interview at the Washington, D.C., Values Voter Summit that while Republicans are focusing on “the fine points of somebody’s tax plan,” Democrats are simply trying to get enough votes to win the election “because they’re about power and they’re about money.”

What Republicans have to realize, she said, is that “the Democrats had a plan since 1965 to change the demographics of this country. They wanted to bring people into this country from socialist countries who agree with socialism. They didn’t want to have constitutional Republicans in this country. And so they decided to change the demographics.”

Bachmann said she agreed with Ann Coulter’s analysis that this is a demographic “tipping point” for the country, saying that “this is our last chance for Republicans to field a candidate that can win.”

President Obama, she said, “has an open border right now” in what amounts to “a taxpayer subsidized Democrat voter registration drive.” If Clinton becomes president, she added, she will grant “amnesty to all these people here illegally in the United States” who will then “receive substantial government supports in the form of food stamps and housing and free health care and free education and police and fire and all the other amenities that we provide in this country.”

“They aren’t paying their own way,” she said. “So it is a situation where this is the last election where a Republican with constitutional values will be competitive. Four years from now, we might field a Republican but they won’t be competitive because the math, it’s a math problem, the numbers will be so overwhelming for people who demand socialism because people vote their paycheck. If their paycheck is coming from the federal government or their food stamps or their health insurance, that’s what they’re going to vote for.”

When Schilling lamented that Americans are no longer “too proud to accept charity,” Bachmann agreed. “Now it’s demanding,” she said. “Now it’s demanding, ‘It’s my right. It’s my right to have health care, it’s my right to have housing, it’s my right to make you pay for my college.’ Next thing we’ll hear is, ‘You’ve got to buy me a house, not just Section 8, you’ve got to buy me a house, you’ve got to pay for my retirement.’ It’s like ridiculous.”

Bernie Sanders was so successful in the Democratic presidential primary, she said, because public schools have moved to a “full-throated embrace of socialism.” Only Trump, she said, has promised to abolish the Common Core curriculum standards and thereby “get rid of the left’s stranglehold on this country” through the schools.

Bachmann went on to warn evangelical voters that if they choose to sit out the election, they will be turning the nation over to totalitarianism forever.

“So if we get a number of believers who think it’s the morally correct thing not to choose either Hillary or Donald Trump, then we lose and you have got for the rest of time a totalitarian nation where we’ve got economic Marxism,” she declared.

Todd Starnes: Liberals 'Hate America' And Obama Doesn't Like Us

Fox News outrage machine Todd Starnes used his signature brand of skewed reporting last week to claim that innocuous comments that President Obama recently made to a group of students in Laos mean that the president doesn’t like America and thinks that American workers are lazy.

Starnes told Virginia-based radio host Rob Schilling in an interview at the Values Voter Summit on Friday that liberals “hate America” and that the president “does not believe that we are an exceptional nation, and I just don’t think he likes us.”

As evidence, Starnes cited a recent column of his in which he claims Obama “talked about how lazy American” workers are to the Laotian students. “And this is the guy who’s played golf, what, 180-some-odd times talking about American workers being lazy,” he insisted. “And again, it’s part of a routine with this guy that he goes on foreign soil and he disparages America.”

If you’re surprised that you haven’t heard the news that Obama went to Laos to call American workers lazy, it might be because that did not actually happen. Here’s what Obama actually said:

And I believe that the United States is and can be a great force for good in the world. But because we're such a big country, we haven't always had to know about other parts of the world. If you are in Laos, you need to know about Thailand and China and Cambodia, because you're a small country and they’re right next door and you need to know who they are. If you you're in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think we're so big we don't have to really know anything about other people.

And that's part of what I'm trying to change, because this is actually the region that's going to grow faster than anyplace else in the world. It has the youngest population, and the economy is growing faster than anyplace. And if we aren't here interacting and learning from you, and understanding the culture of the region, then we'll be left behind. We'll miss an opportunity. And I don't want to that to happen.

Schilling, for his part, said that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “should have been impeached immediately” after she said that South Africa’s constitution might be a better model for a country writing a new constitution today than the United States’.

Matt Barber: US In Greater Trouble Than Before The Civil War, Thanks To 'Ancient Pagan Sexuality'

Matt Barber, an anti-gay pundit and Liberty University law professor, attended last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, which he told Virginia-based radio host Rob Schilling felt “like an island of reason in a sea of insanity” because “this United States of America right now is more insane than certainly you and I have seen in our lifetimes.”

Schilling agreed, noting the rainbow display on the White House last year, which he said put “a spiritual target on the building.”

Our leaders, Barber said, are “devolving into ancient pagan sexuality of the Sodom and Gomorrah type and touting it as good, it makes you worry for your country.”

“Well we saw what happened to those places, Matt,” Schilling responded, “and I’m very concerned. And certainly maybe even a decade or at least for sure two decades ago, this seemed like a fortress that was protected by two oceans and nothing could touch us. And now you and I know there are many ways that this nation could be obliterated almost instantly.”

Barber agreed that there are “so many threats to this country right now” and that “the frog is just about dead that is boiling in the pot.”

“And I think we recognize now that we are in trouble, serious trouble as a nation, more so than any time immediately preceding the Civil War,” Barber added. “That’s how volatile the situation is here domestically, I’m just speaking about, you throw the global threat into the mix and these are tumultuous times.”

Rep. Trent Franks: If Clinton Is Elected, 'The Constitution Is Lost'

Rep. Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, had a dire message for American voters this weekend, declaring in an interview with Breitbart News’ radio program that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, the Constitution will be lost, possibly forever.

Franks spoke with Breitbart’s Matt Boyle at the Values Voter Summit, the annual Religious Right conference hosted by the Family Research Council, in an interview that was aired on Sunday.

“Well, I know that listeners to any political program are used to hearing political hyperbole,” Franks told Boyle. “I understand that and I know that it’s hard sometimes to take so-called politicians seriously. But I have the privilege of chairing a Constitution subcommittee in the Congress, and I can tell you with everything in me that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, she will appoint at least probably three Supreme Court justices and undermine this Constitution to the extent that it will essentially be vitiated and abrogated for a generation or more. I can’t express to you how serious that is. This generation could be the ones that lose the Constitution either for the next 30 years or maybe forever. And so this November is going to tell that story.”

Franks said that if Trump picks Supreme Court nominees from the list that he has put forward, which was shaped by conservative groups, then “we have a chance to save this country.”

“If Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, appoints the Supreme Court justices, the Constitution is lost,” he said. “Let me say that again: If she does it, the Constitution is lost and my children and yours will face a completely different future than they otherwise would have and the greatest republic in the history of the world has become perhaps just on the track of another European socialist experiment.”

Franks effusively praised Trump’s speech to the Values Voter Summit, saying, “I believe if every Christian, for that matter every really committed American, could have heard this speech they would have become a committed, irrevocable supporter of Donald Trump.”

He also warned that terrorists around the world will be celebrating if Clinton is elected.

“If Hillary Clinton becomes president, we ought to all start sleeping with the lights on because national security will be at grave risk,” he said. “I don’t know how to express it in any stronger terms. If she becomes president, terrorists the world over will celebrate. Their celebration will make the one at the DNC look like a slumber party. This is that significant.”

Family Research Council: Vote For Trump & GOP To Put 'Religious Freedom' Above 'Sexual Unrestraint'

As this weekend’s Values Voter Summit got underway, Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, said that he hoped the event would help conservative Christians become “comfortable” with the idea of voting for Donald Trump.

The event ended up being packed with references to the importance of voting for Trump over Hillary Clinton. And, on Saturday, FRC members received a direct mail piece from the organization making an argument for conservative Christians to support the GOP nominee and his fellow Republicans in order to fight Democrats who are trying to put “the priority of sexual unrestraint ahead of religious freedom in every area of our lives.”

While never mentioning Trump or Clinton by name, the mailing, signed by the group’s president, Tony Perkins, makes its point clear.

Perkins first boasts of the FRC’s role in shaping the ultraconservative Republican platform, contrasting it with the Democrats’ platform of “sexual unrestraint”:

[T]he major political parties have confirmed their nominees, and in spite of the understandable misgivings of many true conservatives, this election now presents America with a clear choice:

· One party has declared in its platform that they will continue putting the priority of sexual unrestraint ahead of religious freedom in every area of our lives.

· The other party has committed itself to the most strongly conservative platform of any we’ve seen in a century.

And you had a hand in this platform victory. Your support for FRC Action made it possible for us to bring maximum influence to bear on the Republican Party platform-development process.

With your strong support, I was able to add eight amendments to the platform and was able to work with other delegates on dozens more, many of them designed specifically to champion and protect religious liberty. Your investment in FRC Action produced a tremendous return.

He then moves on to a defense of Trump, citing the GOP nominee’s promise to appoint judges who will uphold the Religious Right’s priorities, his vow to repeal IRS restrictions on politicking by churches that receive nonprofit tax breaks, and his “support for the freedom to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in the public sphere.”

“This is not an evangelical Christian candidate,” Perkins writes, “but these are connection points with evangelical Christians who have seen their beliefs constantly attacked in recent years. These are starting points for a new administration with a renewed friendliness toward Christian values”:

The candidate of one party has consistently reached out to Christian groups. The other has opposed everything we believe and everything we’ve worked for.

· One of these candidates would continue to appoint liberal activist judges and justices who will deny religious liberty for families like the Stormans…continue to use the sexual revolution (new “genders,” redefining marriage, etc.) to attack religious freedom…and will continue allowing the killing of unborn children.

· The other candidate has committed to appointing judges who will adhere to the confines of the Constitution. This candidate has also embraced the cause of religious liberty.

This candidate has specifically called out the Johnson Amendment, which restricts the freedom of churches to address political issues. This candidate has even expressed support for the freedom to say “Merry Christmas” in the public sphere!

This is not an evangelical Christian candidate, but these are connection points with evangelical Christians who have seen their beliefs constantly attacked in recent years. These are starting points for a new administration with a renewed friendliness toward Christian values.

All emphases are from the original.

Pence: Trump Administration Will Begin Fight Against Abortion Rights On Day One

On Saturday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence told conservative activists at the Values Voter Summit that a Trump-Pence administration would launch its fight against abortion rights “from the first day we take office.”

After declaring that he wants to “send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” something Trump has promised to do with his Supreme Court appointments, Pence boasted of his own record opposing abortion rights and ran down a litany of anti-choice policies that a Trump White House would champion.

“The days of public funding for Planned Parenthood are over when a Trump-Pence administration arrives in Washington, D.C.,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to veto any funding for Planned Parenthood unless the group vows to do away with its abortion services.

Michele Bachmann: 'We Are So Blessed' By Trump, Who Will 'Call Out The Haters'

Former Minnesota Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann spoke to “Breitbart News Daily” at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, declaring that America is “so blessed” to have Donald Trump as a presidential candidate because “he’s willing to call out the haters that hate the United States of America” and gets that many Muslim immigrants to the U.S. “don’t understand what it means to become an American.”

“After 9/11, we’ve allowed in 2 million Muslims into the United States, many of whom don’t embrace American ideals, they continue to embrace Islamic Sharia law ideals, and they intend to foist them on the rest of us in the United States,” Bachmann said, attributing her statistics to Ann Coulter. “They don’t understand what it means to become an American and to embrace American values because Islamic Sharia laws are antithetical to American values. This is something that Donald Trump gets. He gets the border, he gets American values, he’s not ashamed to stand for American values and he’s willing to call out the haters that hate the United States of America. We are so blessed that we have this man as our candidate this time around.”

She also brought up her ongoing campaign against Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, saying “it makes total sense” to ask where Abedin’s “allegiances lie and what her influence has been on the woman who could be the next commander in chief of the United States.”

“It’s very serious,” she added. “We’ve had a president now in Barack Obama who has embraced Iran and advancing Iran’s ideals. Now we have Hillary Clinton, whose chief aide advances the interests in Saudi Arabia. We have in Donald Trump someone who wants to advance the interests of the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice to have somebody who’s more interested in advancing our interests as a country rather than Saudi Arabia’s or Iran’s?”

Tony Perkins On The Alt-Right: Trump Has 'Given Voice' To 'A Lot Of Alternative Voices'

At a press conference outside this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual Religious Right gathering organized by the Family Research Council, Alternet’s Adele Stan asked FRC president Tony Perkins what he thought of the Donald Trump campaign’s increasing embrace of the racist alt-right movement. Perkins has said that he’ll vote for Trump and this year’s Values Voter Summit was in part an effort to convince Christian conservatives to support the GOP nominee.

In response to Stan’s question, Perkins first seemed to indicate that he didn’t know what the alt-right was, but then praised the Trump campaign for giving “voice to a lot of people who feel like their voice has all but been snuffed out under this administration,” saying that “there have been a lot of alternative voices that have risen up” as the Obama administration “has increasingly tried to marginalize people who do not surrender to a progressive, liberal agenda.”

Here’s the full exchange, via Alternet:

AlterNet: I’m wondering what you make of Trump’s hiring of Steve Bannon, who said that he had provided the platform for the alt-right.

Tony Perkins: The what?

AlterNet: The alt-right, which Hillary Clinton—

TP: —I didn’t hear his comment, so I can’t really speak to that. I can speak to the fact that, in the last eight years, this administration, which Hillary Clinton has been a part of, has increasingly tried to marginalize people who do not surrender to a progressive, liberal agenda. And there have been a lot of alternative voices that have risen up, just because Americans feel they are under constant threat by this administration’s policies. So, what has given Donald Trump, I believe, the nomination, is that he has given voice to a lot of people who feel like their voice has all but been snuffed out under this administration.

Conservative Groups Urge Maximum Obstruction Of Hillary Clinton's Judicial Nominees

At a Values Voter Summit panel this weekend, top conservative legal groups promised that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, they will pressure GOP senators to obstruct her judicial nominees to the greatest extent possible, including attempting to prevent her from replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, Phillip Jauregui of the Judicial Action Group, and David Christensen and Mandi Ancalle of the Family Research Council discussed what they would urge the president and the Senate to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency. In the case of a Clinton presidency and a Republican-controlled Senate, they promised maximum obstruction of judicial nominees.

Severino, who once called Judge Merrick Garland “the best scenario we could hope for” in an Obama Supreme Court nominee and said that “of those the president could nominate, we could do a lot worse” than Garland, predictably changed her tune once Obama actually did nominate Garland to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court. At the Values Voter Summit, Severino insisted that senators would “effectively nullify their oath to uphold the Constitution” by voting to confirm Garland.

“Say you’re in a state where there’s no chance on who’s going to win on the president’s side, it’s so important to remember how significant these senatorial races are, because the senators also had an oath to the Constitution,” she said. “They have to uphold and defend the Constitution. That means, when it comes to a vote for a nominee, so even if it is someone who is absolutely not going to uphold the Constitution as it is written, like Merrick Garland even, even if he does come to a vote—and I suspect that if he remains the nominee into the next presidency, he probably would come up for hearings and a vote at some point—our senators simply cannot be voting for someone that would effectively nullify their oath to uphold the Constitution. So I think we have to remember to remind our senators of that.”

Severino dismissed the idea of the Republican Senate confirming Garland in a lame duck session if Clinton wins the election, saying that if Clinton becomes president and renominates Garland or picks someone “more radical” for the court, GOP senators could stall proceedings and “maybe we'll have eight justices for awhile.” When asked how long she thought it would be realistic for a GOP senate to block a Clinton nominee to the court, she said, “I think the court could really function as long as it needed to with eight justices.”

She said that the “best case scenario” under a Clinton presidency would be if Clinton worked with Republicans in the Senate to pick a nominee who “did actually have a record of upholding the Constitution”; it’s unclear who she thinks such a nominee could be, since she previously called Garland the “best scenario” for a Democratic Supreme Court nominee.

Severino’s message that the Senate should obstruct just about any Hillary Clinton nominee contradicts the claims made by her group and others that they are merely blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because the decision on who to appoint to the Supreme Court should be left to the next president. (In the words of a Judicial Crisis Network ad: “This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about your voice. You choose the next president, the next president chooses the next justice.”)

The Judicial Action Group’s Jauregui impressed upon the activists in the room that they would also have to be prepared to “fight vigorously” on nominations to the lower federal courts under the next president, including closely monitoring a President Trump’s nominations. He praised the effort of Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to prevent President Obama’s filling of judicial vacancies in their home state by refusing to turn in “blue slips” giving the go-ahead for hearings on nominees, hinting at an obstruction strategy conservative groups might urge GOP senators to use under a Clinton presidency.

Jauregui urged the current Republican Senate to vow now to keep the current rules barring filibusters of lower-court judicial nominees if they stay in power, no matter who becomes president, saying it would be “foolish to say the best” to do otherwise.

Severino agreed that it would be “just as well” to see the judicial filibuster abolished for good after Senate Democrats invoked the so-called “nuclear option” in the face of entrenched GOP obstruction in 2013. She said that eliminating the filibuster on judicial nominees would probably help conservatives in the long run.

“If you’re not using a weapon, you might as well not have it anyway,” she said. “So now I say, move on, I think we’re living in a world, unfortunately, a post-nuclear world where 51 votes is all you need for a nominee, and that in the long term may actually help in terms of getting some of these constitutionally sound judges on the court.”

FRC's Agenda For President Trump's First 100 Days: Roll Back LGBT & Reproductive Rights

At a panel at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, activists representing the event’s organizer, the Family Research Council, and other conservative groups laid out what they will press Republican lawmakers to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency.

Under a Hillary Clinton administration, the conservative activists said, Republicans in the Senate should do as much as they can to obstruct her nominees to the judicial and executive branch. If Donald Trump is elected, they had a wish list of priorities for his administration, focusing on rolling back advances to LGBT and reproductive rights that have taken place during the Obama administration.

Mandi Ancalle, the FRC’s general counsel for government affairs, reminded the audience that FRC had helped to shape the Republican Party’s ultraconservative platform at the GOP convention in Cleveland and was hopeful that a Republican president—i.e. Trump—would help to make much of it law.

Ancalle said that the FRC is “working to generate a comprehensive list” for the Trump administration of executive orders, executive guidance and administrative regulations that a President Trump should rescind soon after taking office, and of Bush-era policies that he should reinstate. She said that the group was working with contacts on Trump’s transition team to get their wish list into the GOP nominee’s hands.

Among the priorities that she said FRC is pushing for in the first 100 days of a Trump administration:

  • Rescind the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance assuring that federally funded emergency shelters house transgender people according to the sex with which they identify.
  • Reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which bars U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that provide abortion-related services or advocate for abortion rights abroad, even when those services are not paid for by U.S. government funding. This so-called “ global gag rule” was rescinded by President Obama.
  • Reinstate a rule instituted by President George W. Bush that provided broad “conscience protections” for health care workers refusing to participate in care for religious reasons. According to the Washington Post, the rule “was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women.” In 2011, the Obama administration rescinded much of the Bush-era regulation but maintained conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to perform abortions. Ancalle noted that the FRC wants to make sure that new regulations allow physicians not to care for transgender patients by providing hormone therapy and other treatment.
  • Rescind President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination.

Although Ancalle did not explicitly name them among FRC’s first-100-days priorities, she also criticized the Department of Education’s guidance on access for transgender students in public schools; the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate; the “completely lawless” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on access for transgender people in the workplace; and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

She also indicated that the FRC would urge a President Trump to undo the Obama administration’s work pushing LGBT and reproductive rights abroad, saying that the administration has “in some ways become a lobbying organization” and that “ambassadors that are appointed and sent overseas to represent American values have not only kind of flipped on their head what Americans stand for, what you and I stand for, but have really begun to lobby governments in attempting to accept same-sex marriage, in attempting to accept this gender identity dysphoria and attempting to push abortion acceptance and pro-abortion legislation in those different governments.”

She reminded the activists in the room that executive branch nominees—including nominees for ambassador—can be confirmed or blocked by the Senate, and urged the Senate to broadly exercise its power to block these nominees, whoever becomes president.

“It’s important that as we maintain a majority in the Senate that we’re encouraging our senators to not defer to what the president—honestly, whether it’s a Trump or a Hillary Clinton presidency—not to just defer to the president,” she said. “We’ve heard some senators say ‘elections have consequences’ and just put their stamp of approval on any secretary, on any nominee, and it’s really important that senators are out here in Washington, D.C., representing you all as you’re back at home, and representing your views on who those heads of these very authoritative departments and agencies are.”

Phil Robertson Offers To Baptize Trump On TV So 'We Would Know We Have God On Our Side'

In a speech to the Values Voter Summit on Saturday, reality TV star Phil Robertson recounted a meeting with Donald Trump in which he told the GOP presidential nominee that he would baptize him on camera to get “God on our side.”

“If you really want to see something wild, film it, Donald, film me baptizing you,” the Duck Dynasty patriarch recalled telling Trump. “The left-wingers will literally go crazy and the evangelicals will swarm you like a mighty thrall because then we would know we have God on our side.”

Robertson also told attendees to “read the Old Testament and see how many different people God worked through to accomplish His purpose.”

“Better a man who sticks his foot in his mouth every once in a while than a woman who pours out lies,” he said.

KY Gov. Matt Bevin: Election Of Hillary Clinton May Call For Shedding Blood Of 'Tyrants' And 'Patriots'

Numerous speakers at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit suggested that the American republic might not survive a Hillary Clinton presidency. During the Obama administration it has become almost routine to hear far-right leaders talk about the possibility of armed revolution against the federal government. But it was still jarring to hear a sitting governor suggest that America might only survive the election of Hillary Clinton through bloodshed.

Matt Bevin, who was elected governor of Kentucky last year after expressing “absolute” support for marriage-refusing county clerk Kim Davis, received the Distinguished Christian Statesman award from the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship on Friday night. Speaking on Saturday, he told VVS attendees that the country is facing a fork in the road: “We don’t have multiple options; we’re going one way or we’re going the other way, politically, spiritually, morally, economically, from a liberty standpoint. We’re going one way or we’re going the other way.”

Bevin recounted a story from his college days about how he confronted a professor who he said mocked Christianity, the way liberals always do: “They try to silence us. They try to get us to shut our mouths. They try to embarrass us. Don’t be embarrassed. We were not redeemed to have a spirit of timidity.” He urged young people, “Be bold. There’s enough Neville Chamberlains in the world. Be a Winston Churchill…There are quite enough sheep already. Be a shepherd.”

American freedom, Bevin said, was “purchased at an extraordinary price,” saying that one and a half million Americans have given their lives in uniform. “America is worth fighting for. America is worth fighting for, ideologically.”

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” said Bevin. “But that may in fact be the case.” He explained that it might take the shedding of the blood of tyrants and patriots for America to survive a Hillary Clinton presidency:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

 

Trump: Scalia Will Be 'The Ultimate Example' Of My Supreme Court Picks

In a speech today to the Values Voter Summit, Donald Trump reiterated his promise to give the Religious Right the Supreme Court of their dreams while warning that if Hillary Clinton appoints new justices to the bench, “you have a country that is no longer your country, it will be a disaster.”

“Maybe we use Judge Scalia as the ultimate example of what we’re looking for, okay?” Trump continued.

Trump has often pointed to his commitment to put Scalia clones on the court as a way to shore up support from Religious Right activists.

“This will determine whether or not we remain a constitutional republic,” he said. “Frankly, that’s what’s going to happen. I have pledged to appoint judges who will uphold the constitution, to protect your religious liberty and to apply the law as written. We reject judges who rewrite the constitution to impose their own personal views on 300-million-plus Americans, not gonna have that.” (Ironically, Trump once said that as president he would order the military to follow his personal views rather than the law).

Clinton’s “extremist judges,” he said, “would allow her to completely take over the American health care, the American economy, the Americans’ religious liberty, not to mention your Second Amendment, which is on very thin ice right now, as you know, because of the fact that we’re at 4-4. If they even pick one judge who’s wrong, you can kiss the Second Amendment goodbye.”

Sandy Rios Warns Of Unimaginable Threats To Freedom Under Hillary Clinton Presidency

American Family Association radio host and government affairs director Sandy Rios was one of the speakers at a Friday luncheon at the Values Voter Summit. Like other speakers, she took an apocalyptic tone about this year’s elections.

Rios told attendees she doesn’t think Americans understand how much is at stake in this election, recounting harrowing stories of a woman who had told her about the persecution and lack of freedom she had experienced under communist rule in Romania.

To those who suggest that if Trump loses, “next time we’ll get our guy in,” Rios said, “I am just here to tell you, as a Watchman on the Wall, that is not likely to happen” unless God intervenes “miraculously.”

What was more likely, she suggested, was a loss of freedom under a Hillary Clinton presidency. America is at a crossroads, she said, suggesting that freedom would be threatened under a Clinton presidency. “We have a candidate who said deeply held religious beliefs will have to be changed,” she said.

Without naming Clinton, Rios cited other reasons people should fear her as president. “We can’t even comprehend what life might be like even in a year if we don’t take an active part in this election.”

“Those of you that name the name of Christ will have trouble finding jobs,” she said, and kids won’t be able to get into college without having the “right” opinions.

“There’s going to be trouble,” she warned, including a “totally unleashed” Internal Revenue Service.

“I don’t think people have stopped to think about the price we will pay if we don’t do what we can do,” she said. “It’s an imperfect solution, no doubt, but we cannot stand by.”

She also urged participants to support people working on the culture war’s front lines. “I’m begging you,” she said, “do not desert them.”

Louie Gohmert: I Was Right That Hate Crimes Law Would Be 'Used Against Christians' (He Wasn't)

In a speech today to the Values Voter Summit, after diagnosing Hillary Clinton as “mentally impaired,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, insisted that he was right to predict that the 2009 Matthew Shepard hate crimes act would lead to the persecution of Christians.

Gohmert warned before the passage of the hate crimes bill that it would turn the U.S. into Nazi Germany and lead the way to the legalization of pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia.

In his Values Voter speech, Gohmert conveniently failed to mention a single example of the 2009 law being “used against Christians” or of the law making it legal for people to have sex with children, animals or the deceased, but that didn’t stop him from boasting that he was right all along.

Gohmert also bizarrely claimed that the Supreme Court has established secular humanism as the official government religion and that Hillary Clinton is bent on “taking away your freedom of speech and allowing that part of the Muslim Brotherhood plan” of “subjugating the U.S. Constitution to Sharia law.”

“Your religious freedom will be gone, your freedom of speech will be gone” under a Clinton presidency, he said. “Freedom of the press, well, that’s not officially gone, it’s just if you express truth in the press, the rest of the press makes fun of you.”

Jerry Boykin: God Used The Iran Hostage Crisis To Bring Us Ronald Reagan

Family Research Council official Jerry Boykin was previously a lieutenant general in the Army, where in 1980 he participated in the disastrous attempt to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, which ended in failure and the deaths of eight service members.

In an interview this morning with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios at his group’s annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Boykin explained that while the failed rescue mission was “tragic” and “the most devastating thing in my life,” it did have a “real positive” in that it “brought down Jimmy Carter” and helped lead to the election of Ronald Reagan.

Rios asked Boykin if the next president will be able to undo the “decimation” of the military under President Obama, like she said George W. Bush was able to do after Bill Clinton’s presidency.

“That’s a good example,” Boykin replied, “but you know what’s a better example, at the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Ronald Reagan came in. Look, I was part of the failed rescue attempt in 1980 where we were trying to go into Iran and rescue 52 Americans that were being held in the embassy there. I was part of that operation. I watched eight good men die in the desert 100 miles from Iran and it was the most devastating thing in my life.”

“But you know what?” he said. “Two things that came out of that. Number one, it brought down Jimmy Carter and that was a real positive. Number two, it brought in Ronald Reagan. So even in that kind of tragic situation, there is something positive, God uses those things for good. And we brought in Ronald Reagan and his focus was to restore our military and think of what he did. I mean, he went on a determined campaign to make sure that did not happen again. And what we have today is an incredible military, particularly special operations, that is now in decline again because of the Obama administration and the next president is going to have to come in and do exactly what Ronald Reagan did.”

Boykin also warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, she would implement unconstitutional hate speech prohibitions.

He told Rios that at a strategic planning meeting more than a year ago, the FRC had decided to spend “50 percent of our time on religious liberty” and warned that “times are going to be even more difficult for Christians” if Clinton is elected.

He pointed to the United States’ support for a UN resolution on “religious tolerance” while Clinton was secretary of state as evidence that Clinton supports imposing blasphemy laws and speech restrictions in the U.S. In fact, Clinton worked to remove support for blasphemy laws from the resolution, although some critics say that the resolution’s wording on the subject still left too much wiggle room for governments wishing to impose speech restrictions.

Boykin told Rios that the “biggest thing that Americans need to be concerned” with a Clinton presidency “is the First Amendment.”

“You just said it, hate speech,” she said. “She has, in fact, agreed to UN Resolution 16/18 which says that if you say anything disparaging about Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, you can be taken to jail. And by the way, that’s happening in Europe right now. People are being arrested for what is considered hate speech because they are speaking out against what’s happening there, they’re speaking out against the rapes and the murders and the pillaging of the cities there and the terrorist attacks and some of them have been arrested for hate speech. That’s coming to America if Hillary Clinton is the next president.”

The Religious Right Shares Trump's Putin Crush

One of the notable developments in right-wing-watching in recent years has been how enthusiastically many Religious Right leaders have embraced Russia’s anti-democratic president, former KGB official Vladimir Putin. It seems even more remarkable that the Republican Party’s presidential nominee has been lavishing praise on Putin even as Russia maneuvers to diminish America’s influence in the world.

As president, Putin has consolidated his power through attacks on the independent media, the persecution of political opponents, and restrictions on civil society. He has annexed Crimea, supported violent separatists in Ukraine, fostered anti-democratic right-wing forces in Europe, and made the weakening of NATO a major strategic imperative.

None of that has kept Donald Trump from praising Putin and welcoming Putin’s praise for him. In Wednesday night’s forum on national security issues, Trump said, “I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.” When asked about some of Putin’s troubling actions, Trump didn’t criticize the Russian president, suggesting instead that he could “start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time.”

Trump went on to praise Putin’s leadership and pooh-pooh concerns about Putin’s authoritarianism: “I mean, you can say, oh, isn’t that a terrible thing—the man has very strong control over a country.” Then on Thursday, Trump appeared on RT, a network operated by the Russian government, to slam American media and U.S. foreign policy and dismiss as “unlikely” the idea that the Russian government was involved in hacking the DNC’s email as American intelligence agencies believe.

Some conservatives have criticized Putin’s anti-democratic actions and strategic aims, and some Republicans were not happy about Trump’s recent remarks. But his running mate Mike Pence said it is “inarguable” that Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a Trump supporter, told CNN that Putin is a better leader for Russia than President Obama has been for the U.S., praising the increase in “hyper-nationalism” in Russia. Conspiracy-theory-promoting radio host Alex Jones, whose “amazing” reputation Trump has praised while appearing on his show , has expressed his admiration for Putin’s promotion of homeschooling and “masculine men.”

Trump will find himself in friendly company at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, an annual political gathering for the Religious Right. As Right Wing Watch has documented extensively, many U.S. religious conservatives have been cheerleaders for Putin because of his government’s anti-gay policies and his public support for “traditional values” and “Christian civilization.” Brian Brown, who heads both the National Organization for Marriage and the World Congress of Families, actually traveled to Russia a few years ago to testify on behalf of anti-gay legislation there.

As Right Wing Watch noted last year:

Evangelist Franklin Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue”; Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called upon U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions; Matt Barber marveled that Putin was able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation”; Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world”; Scott Lively lavished praise on Putin for “ championing traditional marriage and Christian values ”; and Rush Limbaugh applauded Putin for stopping “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”

In fact, Franklin Graham went to Russia just last fall, where he met with Putin, slammed President Obama for supporting “policies that contradict the teachings of God” and praised the Russian president for “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda.” Graham reportedly said, “I call for prayers for the president of Russia, who is protecting traditional Christianity.” Graham also praised Russian involvement in Syria, which the Russian Orthodox Church has called a “holy battle.”

Putin has developed a mutually beneficial partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church, promoting Orthodoxy as a crucial element of Russian nationalism and a vehicle for extending Russian power and undercutting U.S. influence. Some American Religious Right leaders are taken with Putin’s promotion of a Christian state; the director of last year’s World Congress of Families summit, Janice Shaw Crouse, embraced the blasphemy-law prosecution and jail sentences given to members of the band Pussy Riot for protesting in a cathedral.

While many Religious Right leaders suggest that President Obama is a secret Muslim who wants to replace the Constitution with Sharia law and say marriage equality will open the door to polygamy, we haven’t heard them objecting to Putin and his allies actually allowing polygamy and the imposition of Sharia in Chechnya. Similarly, those who cry that LGBT equality represents a dire threat to religious freedom have not raised a big fuss about a new law signed by Putin this summer that severely restricts the religious freedom of faiths other than the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin has also enacted restrictions on evangelism and backed separatist militias that violently attack Ukrainian Protestants.

Perhaps Putin’s strategic partnership with the Orthodox Church has inspired Trump’s promise to conservative evangelical leaders that he will make Christianity more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. So far, it has worked for him, helping him line up support from the leaders of the Values Voter Summit.

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