Anti-gay pastor Scott Lively is standing with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine crisis, hailing Putin’s government for cracking down on LGBT rights and becoming a “defender of true human rights.”
Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Lively said that LGBT equality in the US is destroying the Constitution and the rule of law, creating “special rights for favored groups” and putting America “in a death spiral of moral and ethical degeneracy.”
In contrast, he writes, Russia “has begun embracing Christian values regarding family issues.”
“And this is why the greatest point of conflict between the U.S. and Russia is the question of homosexuality (I believe even the conflict in Ukraine is being driven to a large extent by this issue, at least on the part of the Obama State Department and the homosexualist leaders of the EU.),” Lively writes.
It is therefore obvious why America is in decline and Russia is on the ascendancy in the matter of human rights. America has largely turned her back on God, reorganized her government and culture on a statist model and is plummeting in a death spiral of moral and ethical degeneracy. As our collective former (Bible-based) values of self-restraint and personal responsibility steadily decline, external controls and surveillance by the new police state increase. The rule of law becomes the rule of man, and equal justice under law becomes special rights for favored groups.
Conversely, Russia has begun embracing Christian values regarding family issues, albeit imperfectly, in stark contrast to its aggressively godless Soviet past. Repression in Russia is decreasing as rapidly as it is increasing in the U.S.
The crux of the human-rights debate is what it means to be human. Russia appears to be returning to its pre-Soviet understanding that humans are made in the image of God, and that our “rights” are really duties of respect and care for each other imposed on us by Him. This is why the first principle of both the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights is the protection of the Christian church, from which the very concept of modern human rights emerged. And this is why the greatest point of conflict between the U.S. and Russia is the question of homosexuality. (I believe even the conflict in Ukraine is being driven to a large extent by this issue, at least on the part of the Obama State Department and the homosexualist leaders of the EU.)
There is no human right to sodomy to be found in nearly 4,000 years of human-rights jurisprudence. It is an invention of Cultural Marxists in the late 20th century and rests on their dangerous premise that the state, not God, grants us our rights. In fact, the “right” to sodomy is really an anti-right, because it can only be granted at the expense of the true human rights of religious freedom and family values. Thus, the first principle of the Magna Carta stood unbreakable in Britain for almost 800 years until the recent introduction of “sexual orientation regulations” (SORs), and the first principle of the First Amendment stood for over 200 years until SORs were passed here in the United States.
Today, both the Magna Carta and the First Amendment are deemed to be trumped by the “right to sodomy” in case after case, and pro-homosexual activist federal judges in the U.S. are striking down “Defense of Marriage” laws in the most morally conservative states in the union with brazen disregard for the Constitution and the will of the people.
I ask you, which is the greater threat to human rights: Russia’s law preventing homosexual activists from disseminating their propaganda to children, or the lawless decrees of these American federal judges? I submit that the former is not a threat at all, but a reaffirmation of true human rights (in that case the right of parents to raise their children according to their own values), while the latter is an egregious affront to liberty and an undermining of respect for the rule of law, which endangers all human rights.
Russia has a long way to go even to meet today’s tarnished standards in America, but if current trends hold, Russia will eventually supplant the U.S. as the greater defender of true human rights. Unfortunately, at the pace that our country is falling, that day may not be far off.
On today's "Pray In Jesus Name" program, "Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt interviewed Michel Brown about a variety of issues, including the announcement by NFL prospect Michael Sam that he is gay.
Brown said that Sam was being selfish by coming out because he was putting himself ahead of the good of any team that drafts him by forcing the team to have to deal with his sexuality. Brown went on to lament that our culture has reached a point where it celebrates "when a man says that I am attracted to other men," at which point Klingenschmitt joined in to declare that "it's a tragedy every time somebody comes out of the closet."
"It's not something we should be celebrating," Klingenschmitt said:
Still reeling from the demise of Arizona’s “right-to-discriminate” bill, Michele Bachmann said last week that she is tired of gay people “bullying” her and the American people.
The Minnesota congresswoman told talk show host Lars Larson in an interview at CPAC that the gay community distorted the Arizona bill by making it about gay rights — even though the bill’s sponsor himself said it was about same-sex marriage.
“There’s nothing about gays in there, but the gay community decided to make this their measure,” Bachmann said. “And the thing that I think is getting a little tiresome is the gay community have so bullied the American people and they have so intimidated politicians that politicians fear them and they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere. Well, not with the Constitution you don’t.”
She added that gay people and “activist judges” are trying to take away her freedom: “If you want take away my religious liberties, you can advocate for that but you do it through the constitutional process and you don’t intimidate and no politician should give away my religious liberties or yours.”
Michele Bachmann says she thanks God for the Koch Brothers, the billionaire duo who have contributed tens of millions of dollars to conservative causes. During an interview at the Koch-sponsored Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Bachmann defended the pro-GOP mega-donors against recent criticism from Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
The Minnesota congresswoman claimed that more wealthy donors would give to conservative causes if progressives weren’t “intimidating people from giving money to our cause” and suggested that people who criticize conservative donors be tried under the anti-organized crime RICO Act.
Bachmann told conservative talk show host Lars Larson that she thanks God for the Kochs and their giving:
I just thank God that there’s a billionaire or two on our side. All the billionaires seem to be on the radical left, so I’m glad that we have a couple on ours. I hope we get a few more that are willing that come out but realize also this is an intimidation movement, I’m sure that the donors on our side don’t like to have their names vilified and that’s what this is about, intimidating people from giving money to our cause, that’s it. There’s something called the RICO statute, the racketeering law, that should be applied against them for doing this.
Just last week, Dr. Steve Hotze made news for sending out a Republican Party fundraising letter in which he declared that "our Founding Fathers would be furious to find out that the Constitution was being interpreted to allow sodomites to marry."
This sort of rhetoric is not at all surprising coming from someone like Hotze, who was responsible for anti-gay mailings that attacked Houston mayor Annise Parker and who believes that "medical problems are frequently caused by personal sin":
Hotze was able to better articulate his views in 1986, when he was one of dozens of ministers, professionals and laypersons who signed the Coalition on Revival's Manifesto for the Christian Church. The coalition claims on its Web site to be a national network of religious leaders aligned in a mission "to help the Church rebuild civilization on the principles of the Bible so God's will may be done on earth as it is in heaven." They want all aspects of life -- government, science and education -- to adhere to fundamental biblical beliefs. These beliefs include the following:
• A wife may work outside the home only with her husband's consent
• "Biblical spanking" that results in "temporary or superficial bruises or welts" should not be considered a crime
• No doctor shall provide medical service on the Sabbath
• All disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve
• Medical problems are frequently caused by personal sin
• "Increased longevity generally results from obedience to specific Biblical commands"
• Treatment of the "physical body" is not a doctor's highest priority
• Doctors have a priestly calling
• People receiving medical treatment are not immune from divine intervention or demonic forces
• Physicians should preach to their patients because salvation is the key to their health
So naturally, when Hotze was in Washington, DC last week, he was invited to have a personal meeting with Sen. John Cornyn to discuss Cornyn's support for Hotze's lawsuit against Obamacare:
After telling CPAC attendees that President Obama is coming for their cars and furniture, Dinesh D’Souza stopped by Sandy Rios In The Morning to claim that Mitt Romney would have defeated Obama if voters only watched D’Souza’s film, 2016: Obama’s America.
“I believe if every American had seen that film, Obama would not have been re-elected, I really believe that,” he said, warning that the president is ushering in America's decline.
D’Souza, who in previous interviews has claimed that Obama is “actively supporting” terrorist attacks by “radical Muslims” and “is weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadis,” told Rios that the president is more interested in fighting conservatives in the US “using the instruments of the state” than fighting Russian president Vladimir Putin and “Islamic radicals.”
D’Souza: I believe if every American had seen that film, Obama would not have been re-elected, I really believe that. We tested the movie on focus groups, it would make people violently anti-Obama once they watched that film. The problem of course was Romney and the fact that he had his own strategy and his strategy was—
Rios: Never say anything bad about Obama.
D’Souza: Well, no. He had a group of experts and consultants and they told him, ‘This is how you win the election,’ and so he went with it. But look, I’m very proud of the film. I think that’s interesting about that film is that many people thought it would be in a sense irrelevant after the election, it’s an election-type film, but it’s more relevant than ever now. If you want to see what’s going on in the Ukraine, you’ll see that what’s really going on—the reason Obama is not opposing Putin is he doesn’t want to. Obama has a view that America shouldn’t be this big fat bully in the world, he’d like to see China have more power, Russia have more power, Brazil, India; he’s going for what I call a multipolar world to replace the world of one superpower, us. That’s his goal.
D’Souza: With Obama you get this idea that his real enemies, from his point of view, it’s not Putin and it’s not Islamic radicals, it’s us. He’s waging a kind of war, a political war if you will, using the instruments of the state against conservatives and he’s good at that war and he’s fighting it aggressively. I don’t believe in this idea that Obama’s an amateur, he’s a bungler; no he’s very effective at what he wants to do.
Many in the anti-immigrant movement felt slighted by this year’s CPAC, which they claimed did not devote enough time to their cause. Center for Immigration Studies director Mark Krikorian lamented to the Washington Post that the American Conservative Union “pushed out” groups like his from the event; while others, including Phyllis Schlafly, Rep. Steve King, and Frank Gaffney held their own alternative event across the street.
But they needn’t have worried. Even if the ACU was trying to appear more moderate on the issue of immigration – chiefly by hosting a panel featuring conservative immigration reform advocates – anti-immigrant rhetoric was still plentiful at the event. After all, CPAC welcomed the sponsorship of ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant “English only” group run by a white nationalist, even while refusing to include groups representing LGBT and atheist conservatives.
And then, there was plenty of anti-immigrant commentary from the main stage, notably from Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann and Ann Coulter. But some of the biggest anti-immigrant applause lines came from Graham Ledger, an anchor on the new Washington Times-connected One America News network, who argued that conservatives needed to unite to oppose multiculturalism and implied that schools no longer teach "the American culture."
“How about we make the case for one common language?” he urged. “How about we make the case for a secure southern border? How about teaching the American culture in schools?”
As we have pointed out before, the key to David Barton's success is the fact that his audiences blindly accept everything he says without question, never bothering to actually verify any claim that he makes. It has gotten so bad that Barton is now basically free to say things that, with even a moment's thought, any person ought to be able to realize cannot possibly be true.
But still, nobody ever challenges him and so we end up witnessing exchanges like this one from "WallBuilders Live" today where he boldly declares that more Christians were murdered for their faith last year alone than in the last two thousand years combined!
"There were more Christians martyred for Jesus Christ last year," Barton told his co-host Rick Green, "than in the previous two thousand years combined. Just last year."
"It's hard to imagine," responded Green:
A study by Open Doors released earlier this year reported that there were 2,123 such "martyr" killings of Christians globally in 2013:
Reported cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013 from the year before, with Syria accounting for more than the whole global total in 2012, according to an annual survey.
Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, said on Wednesday it had documented 2,123 "martyr" killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said.
So if there were more killings last year than in the previous two thousand years combined, that means that either, up until 2013, there had basically been only one Christian killed per year or, more likely, Barton is just terrible at math.
Last week at CPAC, American Family Radio host Sandy Rios interviewed Rob Tappan, the director of external relations at Koch Industries, which was a top sponsor of the conservative summit. Rios asked Tappan about Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s recent criticism of Charles and David Koch’s exorbitant spending on behalf of right-wing political groups, including Americans for Prosperity (AFP).
Since AFP is obviously a front group for the Koch brothers, Rios asked the Koch Industries spokesman, “Are you guys—now you’re running ads in Michigan? I’m sure that you’re doing things in other states too, where are some of the other hotspots we might not know where you guys are placing some of your ads against Obamacare?”
Tappan tried to clarify that he Koch Industries and AFP are separate entities, but it was clear that both Tappan and Rios understood that the groups are not really different at all.
“We are certainly very supportive of them from a resource standpoint as well as a philosophical standpoint, we love AFP and all of the things that they do,” Tappan added. “Make no mistake, Charles Koch and David Koch are very simpatico with everything that AFP does as well as any one of a number of organizations that they support and try to help flourish.”
Religious Right talk show host Kevin Swanson railed against the Disney film Frozen on Wednesday, accusing Disney of using the movie to turn children gay.
Swanson told cohost Steve Vaughn that Satan is using the movie “to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian.”
Swanson: Man, how many children are taken into these things and how many Christians are taking their kids off to see the movie Frozen, produced by an organization that is probably one of the most pro-homosexual organizations in the country? You wonder sometimes, I’m not a tinfoil hat conspiratorialist, but you wonder sometimes if maybe there’s something very evil happening here. If I was the Devil, what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?
Vaughn: I would make a movie.
Swanson: I would buy Disney. If I was the Devil, I would buy Disney in 1984, that’s what I would have done.
Vaughn: Then you would start making all these nice little movies that throw little things in there that make sin look enticing, in fact some of the worst of sins, make it look enticing or at least to start to indoctrinate slowly, turn the heat up on the frog in the pan.
Swanson: Friends, this is evil, just evil. I wonder if people are thinking: “You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way.” I wonder if the average parent going to see Frozen is thinking that way. I wonder if they are just walking in and saying, “Yeah, let’s get my five-year-old and seven-year-old indoctrinated early.” You know they’re not, I think for the most part they’re oblivious. Maybe they do pick up on pieces of it but they just don’t get up and walk out.
Swanson also criticized Disney for its opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on openly gay troop leaders, saying that parents should know that the company, along with public schools, is aiming to have “their children indoctrinated” into “the lifestyle of sodomy.”
He added that it would be the “worst nightmare” of parents to have their child “turn into a sodomite.”
Swanson: I’m guessing the majority of American parents don’t want their little boys turning into sodomites, at this point. if you were to interview, stick a microphone in front of most parents dropping their kids off at the average K-6 school in Colorado where they’re sporting their GLSEN signs everywhere, but if you just interview them and you ask them: “Is your vision for this little 6-year-old boy, 8-year-old boy, 9-year-old, 10-year-old boy that he turn into a sodomite?” My guess is that 60 to 70 percent of them would say, “that would be my worst nightmare.”
Of course that changes over time and it does change, everything is slipping here. You feel it slipping, can’t you? You feel the whole sexual thing slipping down and it’s affecting boys. I think the position of parents with 18- to 22-year-old boys tends to change, especially as they’re being indoctrinated by Disney and others.
American society I think is going to fracture on this one. The Boy Scouts are the fault line, you got six percent leaving, you got Disney pulling funding. This is fracturing our society and I can see how it might, I can see how some parents might be very strong, they don’t want their children indoctrinated in any way into the lifestyle of sodomy.
Vaughn: And if you fall into that camp, you got to get them out of Sodom, you got to bring them home.
"Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt recently interviewed Matt Barber during the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, where the two discussed the legal discrimination bill that was vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
As Barber explained, such laws are necessary because gay activists are intent on forcing Christians to participate in sinful activity and adopt a "post-modern, pagan view of human sexuality" or else risk being run out of business or thrown into jail.
"You know, pretty soon," Barber warned, "Christians are going to have to start wearing a yellow cross. Are we in 1939 Germany here"?
Likening modern-day American Christians to Jews under the Nazi regime seems to be Barber's favorite comparison at the moment.
BarbWire, the new conservative website run by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, today posted a Heritage Foundation article called “Four Businesses Whose Owners Were Penalized for Their Religious Beliefs.”
But Barber added his own editorial flare to the article by adding an image of an anti-Semitic Nazi poster which reads, “He who wears this symbol is an enemy of our people,” to describe the supposed persecution of business owners in the US who discriminate against gay customers.
The Topeka Capital-Journal today provides some interesting backstory to U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf’s boast that his “firearm of choice is the Ruger SR-556,” a semi-automatic rifle.
According to the Capital-Journal, Wolf bought the weapon six months before announcing that he would primary incumbent senator Pat Roberts. After the purchase, he thanked the seller for “helping Karrie and me get into the big black scary gun community.”
At least one prominent Kansas Republican isn’t buying Wolf’s act. Anne Hodgdon, whose husband sold Wolf the rifle, told the newspaper, "It bothers me when people feel they have to own sexy guns to be a Second Amendment patriot. It was part of Milton Wolf creating an image for himself. He's playing a role.”
Wolf, the primary challenger to three-term U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, speaks about buying a lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association, discloses possession of a Kansas concealed-gun permit and reveals his wife, Karrie, to be a more accurate shot than himself.
In the same breath, the Leawood physician identifies his favorite assault weapon and assures voters not everyone in his family thinks like distant cousin Barack Obama.
"My firearm of choice is the Ruger SR-556," he said. "I have hatred towards no man — only towards bad government that destroys our freedom."
At campaign stops, Wolf didn't repeat reasoning he shared with a federal firearms salesman for buying a pair of Ruger carbines six months before entering the race.
"Thanks again for helping Karrie and me get into the big black scary gun community," Wolf said in an email to the seller. "We'd love to give them a test drive with you guys sometime soon."
Anne Hodgdon, a prominent Kansas Republican, said she was uncomfortable with Wolf's repeated campaign references to the SR-556s. Her husband, J.B. Hodgdon, sold the weapons to Wolf. Wolf sent a note confirming the acquisitions in April and his campaign went live in October.
"It bothers me when people feel they have to own sexy guns to be a Second Amendment patriot," Anne Hodgdon said. "It was part of Milton Wolf creating an image for himself. He's playing a role. There are people buying into it."
Wolf, a physician, is still facing a scandal over his posting of x-rays of gunshot victims on his Facebook page.
He frequently uses the issue of gun rights to attack President Obama, who is his second cousin. In September, the Christian Post conveyed this anecdote :
"It's true, Barack Obama and I are cousins. And I would guess because of that you may wonder if I'm the real deal or not. You may have a little concern about me. Let me assure you that I am from a branch of the family that has actually read, understands and believes in the constitution," declared Wolf.
"In fact, I think I'm everything that's wrong with Barack Obama's America. I've got a wife, a job and a gun," he continued, before adding that he has several guns, not just one.
As we have noted time and again, once a tale of supposed anti-Christian persecution makes its way into the Religious Right echo chamber, it never, ever dies and simply continues to be repeated as true for years even after it has been debunked.
The most recent example comes courtesy of Janet Porter, who has made the tale of two middle school girls who were allegedly forced to ask one another for a kiss as part of an anti-bullying seminar the focus of her most recent daily commentary:
Middle school girls who were part of a mandatory “anti-bullying” presentation in New York were forced to obey the teacher’s instructions to ask other girls for a lesbian kiss.
This indoctrination session was conducted at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, New York, and the Parents were never informed.
Remember when they yanked the Ten Commandments off the school walls because they might influence children not to steal, lie and kill? Now, the homosexual activists are welcomed in to the schools to push their agenda on unsuspecting children.
If you’re unable to pull your children out of the government schools, you must be more vigilant than ever.
If this tale sounds familiar, that is because it first surfaced nearly a year ago after being promoted by none other than Todd Starnes, only to be quickly debunked by school officials:
[Red Hook Central School District Superintendent Paul] Finch said the student volunteers worked with the school’s principal, Katie Zahedi, and other guidance counselors about the workshop’s format. Zahedi explained on a Facebook forum, according to the Journal, that the role-playing mentioned by Coon was “not to pretend to be gay” but to practice saying “no.”
“In planning the discussion, we made it clear that absolutely no discussion of any sexual acts is appropriate to middle school, and they used the examples of a kiss,” [school principal Katie] Zahed Zahedi wrote. “It was a separate activity for boys and girls and ultimately about respect and safety.”
Whats more, the Red Hook School District website posted important facts to clarify inaccurate reporting about the workshop:
- Contrary to a few media reports, female students were not forced to engage in any “lesbian kissing”.
- Contrary to a few media reports, male students were not told to carry condoms.
- Contrary to a few media reports, sexual activity among young adolescents was not condoned or promoted in any way.
The school district also posted an email it sent to Fox News regarding its report of the workshop. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
These sessions were designed by the building leadership in an effort to have eighth graders treat each other with respect and to develop in our young adolescents an appreciation for personal dignity. To suggest that we would condone or promote sexual activity among teenagers is absurd. It is equally absurd to suggest that an activity, designed to have young women feel more confident saying no to unwanted advances from boys, is in some way promoting a lesbian lifestyle. It is my understanding that the role playing activity is part of a program supported by conservatives such as Laura Bush.
The definitions given to students, while overly granular in my opinion, were put forth to make sure that students understand that all gender identities and/or sexual orientations are protected in law in New York State as part of an effort to curb harassment, discrimination, and bullying. It is our intent to adjust this document and be less granular in future lessons.
In response to concern about the workshop from parents, the school the following week hosted an open meeting to receive feedback.
“Having attended the parent information session last week, I can speak with absolute certainty that the parents present at the meeting appreciated the District’s intent and left knowing that the middle school principal will adjust for any implementation weaknesses moving into the future,” Finch wrote in his letter to Starnes.
This entire tale was exposed as totally bogus literally almost a year ago but Religious Right activists like Porter will continue to use it as an example of anti-Christian persecution for years to come simply because the truth of such stories is far less relevant to them than is a story's usefulness in promoting their agenda.
We’ve watched every speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and posted highlights of many of them here on the blog. But we don’t want to ignore the equally important stories that have been playing out behind the scenes of the American Conservative Union’s annual gathering.
Here are five stories you shouldn’t miss from this year’s CPAC:
5) So Much For Diversity
Despite everything we hear about how the GOP is really making an effort this time to attract non-white voters, very few CPAC members bothered to show up for the summit’s panel on minority-outreach.
Ironically, the panelists repeatedly said that the first step to solving the GOP’s demographic problem would be for Republican candidates to show up in communities of color. But it seems conservative activists don’t even seem all that interested in attending a panel at the National Harbor hotel.
4) Shaming Poor People
Rep. Paul Ryan showed off the latest version of “compassionate conservatism” when he attacked liberals for providing people “a full stomach and an empty soul.” He also suggested that parents who take advantage of programs offering free meals to hungry schoolchildren don’t really care about their kids.
“Once I heard someone say what was important to him as a boy was that he didn’t want school lunch, he wanted a brown bag because the brown bag that he brought with his lunch in it meant that his mom cared about him,” Ryan recalled.
3) Corporate Takeover
It is no surprise that the American Conservative Union advances a pro-corporate agenda, or that the group is being rewarded handsomely for it. Slate’s Eli Clifton reports that the ACU takes huge donations “from some of America’s biggest and least popular industries: guns, big oil, and cigarettes.”
Perhaps more importantly, the ACU promotes the tobacco industry when new regulatory measures are proposed. The ACU publicly defended the interests of the tobacco industry when the FDA proposed imposing restrictions on menthol cigarettes. Responding to a July 2013 invitation for public input from the FDA, the ACU wrote to express its “strong opposition to the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration of a tobacco product standard for menthol in cigarettes.” The ACU also used its influence to promote legislation benefiting the oil and gas industries. In addition to contributions from the Anschutz Foundation, funded by oil tycoon Philip Anschutz and the Koch brothers, Chevron contributed $20,000 to the ACU Foundation in 2010. The oil and drilling industry found no shortage of support from the ACU. In December 2011 the ACU wrote to Rep. Jim Jordan, then-chairman of the Republican Study Committee, urging Jordan and all members of the House to support the “Jobs Through Growth Act,” which would “reverse the absurd finding of EPA that carbon dioxide is a ‘pollutant.’ ” “The bill would also expedite the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline,” said the ACU letter. The bill gained 59 co-sponsors but died in committee.
Along with the many inevitable jokes about how climate change can’t exist because it is cold in the winter, CPAC also hosted industry-backed panels that labeled climate change science “modern witchcraft” and “human racism.”
2) Respectable Conservatism?
Is CPAC becoming more mainstream and less crazy?
While many of the Right Wing’s most fringe and conspiratorial activists appeared at the CPAC alternative “The Uninvited” — which viewed CPAC as too liberal and infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood — CPAC was nonetheless kicked off by Ted Cruz and featured key speeches from characters such as Donald Trump, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin.
Discredited right-wing conspiracy theories about Benghazi and the IRS have become fully embraced by even “mainstream” GOP figures and were mentioned frequently throughout the convention. While there may be some extreme right-wing activists who are upset with CPAC, that in no way makes the event more “moderate.”
In fact, in what has become almost an annual tradition, while the event shut out groups representing gay and atheist conservatives, it welcomed the sponsorship of an anti-immigrant group led by a white supremacist.
1) Anti-Gay Activism Is Alive And Well
Despite reports that CPAC is becoming more welcoming to gay people and gay rights supporters, anti-gay politicians and rhetoric were still a major factor at the summit. CPAC barred the gay conservative group GOProud from sponsoring or having a booth at the event. The much-touted “compromise” merely allows GOProud members to attend as individuals, which the GOProud founder dubbed an “unconditional surrender.”
Staunchly anti-gay organizations such as CitizenLink (the political arm of Focus on the Family) and the Liberty Alliance, however, were top sponsors. Another sponsor, Tradition, Family, and Property, an ultraconservative Catholic youth group, distributed anti-gay fliers that depicted GOProud as a rainbow-colored beaver undermining the conservative movement.
Main stage speakers didn’t hold back either.
Oliver North urged the GOP to fight marriage equality with the same tenacity as the fight against slavery. He also suggested that by repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Obama administration is treating military service members like “laboratory rats in some radical social experiment.”
While conservative talk show host Michael Medved admitted that he supports the right of gay couples to adopt children, he said that conservatives must continue to oppose marriage equality and even denied that same-sex marriage has ever been banned. “There’s never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage, that’s a liberal lie,” he said.
And Dr. Ben Carson, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, won raucous applause for his denunciation of gay “extra rights,” specifically the right to marry.
CPAC today invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to debate “liberal” journalist Mickey Kaus, who ended up holding the same right-wing views on immigration reform as Coulter, and who even praised ultraconservative GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions. The two tried to outdo each other in bashing supporters of immigration reform, but it was hard to top Coulter.
Coulter attacked MSNBC for “celebrating the browning of America.” “But if you don’t celebrate it you’re a racist,” she added. “It’s going to be people who are not from America who are going to be in theory funding older, white people who are getting to their Social Security and Medicare age. I don’t think that can last, at some point they’re going to say, ‘Screw it.’”
“I used to think everything was about sex, now I realize everything is about immigration,” she added later. Coulter praised Mitt Romney for taking the “most aggressive” stance on immigration and called on the GOP to nominate another staunchly anti-immigrant candidate.
Coulter ended with this call to arms: “Amnesty is forever and you got to vote for the Republicans one more time and just make it clear; but if you pass amnesty, that’s it, it’s over and then we organize the death squads for the people who wrecked America.”
UPDATE: During a press conference with Eagle Forum head Phyllis Schlafly, Coulter compared the increasing Latino population to rape:
“My favorite network for humor is MSNBC. They’re always sneering, demographics are changing. No this isn’t a natural process,” Coulter said. “It’s like you’re being raped and the guy is telling you ‘my penis is in you.’ No, you’re raping me. Demographics are changing by force. There is nothing natural about it.”
“I also don’t think you can remind people enough Democrats have not been winning people through their dazzling arguments,” Coulter said. “They have changed the voters and in the 2012 election, if the country had not changed, by force, on purpose, by people trying to harm this country, i.e. Ted Kennedy, Romney would have won a larger landslide against Obama than Reagan won against Carter in 1980, because he won 4 points more of the white vote. Back in 1980, the country was nearly 90 percent white now.”
Ah, Friday night at CPAC. If you weren’t joining the “drunken yuck monkeys” whose loutish behavior so incensed Matt Barber, and you weren’t attending the white nationalist party whose invitation was shared by the Southern Poverty Law Center, you could catch an advance screening of Persecuted, a movie scheduled for release later this year. Some of us who attended the screening felt pretty persecuted ourselves by being forced to watch the trailer over and over and over again in the half hour before show time. Maybe that was a plan to put us on emotional edge for this “thriller” about religious liberty in America being destroyed by the sinister forces of freedom, equality, and religious pluralism.
Since I’m writing about a movie few people have seen, I will say for the record, SPOILER ALERT.
But first a little context: Bemoaning the dominance of liberals in Hollywood is a familiar theme at right-wing conferences like CPAC and the Values Voter Summit. But conservatives in Hollywood are organizing. And they’re working hard to convince studios to produce more films with “pro-family” and religious themes. (Son of God and Noah are examples.) A Friday morning panel on the topic featured actor and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson; Persecuted producer Daniel Lusko; Gerald Molen, a producer of Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America and his upcoming film America; and D’Souza himself. If anyone had qualms about having Dinesh D’Souza being held up as a “values” icon, they kept it to themselves.
But back to Persecuted, which features Thompson, Dean Stockwell, Bruce Davison, and James Remar. The cast includes a couple of well-known Christian performers, comedian Brad Stine and singer Natalie Grant. As in real life, Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson plays a journalist.
As a movie, the film is Preposterous. But as an insight into the paranoia and worldview of Religious Right activists, Persecuted is as fascinating as it is disturbing.
The plot revolves around an evil senator who is obsessed with a piece of legislation, “The Faith and Fairness Act.” It’s never clear exactly what the Act does, but it seems to force all religions to operate under a single umbrella organization, and to allow members of any faith the ability to preach in others’ houses of worship. It thus combines the Religious Right’s fear that liberals are itching to silence Christian broadcasters by reviving the long-defunct Fairness Doctrine, and their resentment that people view them as intolerant for believing their faith is the only avenue to truth and God.
Standing tall against this plot is evangelist John Luther (John Calvin/John Wesley and Martin Luther?). Luther is sort of a Billy Graham figure who has overcome a past of drug abuse to become a national figure. His ministry, we are told, reaches more people than the evening news. Early in the movie, the evil Senator Harrison tries to bully Luther into backing his legislation at a religious rally; when Luther refuses to compromise his faith for the senator’s political gain, Harrison puts in motion an elaborate plot to destroy him. The also-evil president of the United States is in on the scheme: he looks a little bit like Ted Kennedy and sounds more than a little bit like Bill Clinton.
The plan involves murdering a teenage girl and framing Luther as her rapist and murderer. While Luther is on the run, Harrison corrupts the rest of the ministry’s leadership with promises of “earmarks” and personalized tax breaks, and they throw the ministry’s support behind the senator’s new law.
Somehow, Luther, the most hunted man in America, is able to sneak into the launch event for Sumac, the new organization that brings together Jews, Christians, and Muslims and brings to fruition Sen. Harrison’s “dream of a tradition of faith as diverse as our skins.” If the point about the dangers of diversity and religious pluralism isn’t obvious enough, the senator says America is “no longer a Christian nation…it never has been,” echoing a statement by President Obama that caused spluttering outrage among right-wing Christian leaders. By the way, in the movie, the whole governmentally-forced-religious-merger thing is justified as a response to the threat of terrorism.
Still with me? Luther has an amazing knack for evading government agents disguised only by sunglasses and a hoodie, and shows a remarkable ability to outrun professional killers even with a bullet in his back. Eventually, with help from his dad (confusingly, and without explanation, a Catholic priest), another young priest, some honorable FBI agents, and Gretchen Carlson, Luther is able to clear his name, but at great price: his father is killed by Secret Service assassins.
The movie doesn’t quite wrap things up in a happy-ending bow. There’s a climactic scene in which the good FBI agents come to the rescue, and Luther, despite having nearly bled to death, manages to kill the murderous Secret Service agent. Next thing we know, he is making his post-recovery return to his ministry’s headquarters, where all the sell-out executives are still in place, telling him how much money has been pouring in along with cards from well-wishers. Luther glares at them, grabs his Bible, and heads to the White House, where the sinister president introduces Luther at a press conference and, as he is headed to the podium, whispers in his ear to say nice things.
The movie ends with Luther clutching the podium and staring into the camera. Will he speak Truth to power? Will he denounce the president and his money-grubbing ministry colleagues? How soon will filming start on the sequel?
Let’s review the symbolism in Persecuted. The enemies of religious liberty are those who use the language of fairness and equality and those who say America is not a Christian nation. Religious pluralism is portrayed not as a matter of respecting freedom for every faith tradition, but as a deceptive, coercive tool of government to erase religious difference and put all faiths under the politically correct thumb of government. Other religious leaders are either co-conspirators or complicit sheep. The only non-Christians I remember in the film were those sitting silently on the dais as Sen. Harrison launched his religious takeover project. Oh, and about that growing cohort of religions “nones” in America? Luther’s dad tells him at one point that those who believe in nothing must destroy him in order to achieve their goals. And with the exception of some FBI agents, government officials are as soulless and devoid of scruples as the characters on House of Cards.
Luther and his father symbolize the alliance between right-wing evangelicals and conservative Catholics. We aren’t told how it is that Luther’s father came to be a Catholic priest, but perhaps he was an Episcopalian who left for the Catholic Church when his own denomination became insufficiently conservative on sexuality issues. After Luther finds his father murdered, he spends the rest of the cat-and-mouse drama with his dad’s bloody rosary beads wrapped around his hands: a symbol of the shared willingness for martyrdom pledged by conservative evangelical and Catholic signers of the Manhattan Declaration?
It’s hard to say what kind of impact Persecuted might find, but any contribution it makes to our civic discourse is likely to be negative. Its backers clearly hope that a marketing campaign targeting conservative Christians will find an audience and help push a trend toward bigger-budget movies with that audience in mind.
Whether or not Persecuted is a box-office success, it is one more story-telling weapon in the arsenal of the right-wing media machine that is dedicated to promoting the ideology that America was meant by God to be a Christian nation, and that the federal government and the forces of pluralism and “political correctness” are agents of tyranny bent on forcing Christians to bend to their will. Sort of like Ben Carson’s speech at CPAC.
Last year, Ben Carson grouped gay people with the likes of the pro-pedophilia group NAMBLA and “bestiality supporters” as nefarious forces trying “to change the definition [of marriage].” Carson later apologized for the remarks, but today at CPAC the potential presidential candidate sang a different tune, saying that he will “continue to defy the PC police who have tried in many cases to shut me up.”
“I still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson said to applause, and denied that he ever compared homosexuality to bestiality. “Of course they’re not the same thing. Anybody who believes that is a dummy, but anybody who believes somebody who says that somebody said that is a dummy, that’s the problem.”
“Of course gay people should have the same rights as everyone else,” Carson continued. “But they don’t get extra rights, they don’t get to redefine marriage.”