It seemed quite fitting that the Values Voter Summit closed out two days of speakers, including eight Republican presidential hopefuls, by featuring two preachers who warned that God's judgment upon America is inevitable.
"When a nation drives out God, it always brings in other gods," Cahn said. "This god is the god of darkness. Kali is also the god of death and destruction, here over New York City. We are racing to judgment and I believe a great shaking is coming."
For good measure, Cahn also declared that the jailing of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was also a sign of God's impending judgment.
Following Cahn was Joel Rosenberg, who likewise warned that God's judgment was inescapable, though he provided a bit of hope that we might be able to at least forestall it if we were to outlaw and end abortion.
"We're facing implosion," he stated. "We're not just facing a rough patch, we're facing implosion. We cannot kill 58 million babies and escape the judgment of God ... The train has left the station. Judgment is coming. There is no way out."
Star Parker spoke at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday afternoon, where she ranted about gay marriage and warned that its legalization is "bringing horrible hostility into the public square."
"We have 500,000 orphans in our foster system," she said. "Most God-fearing Christians don't even know we have an orphan system, but those homosexuals know because now that they're married, that's where they're going to get their children, right out of our foster system!"
Liberals have "declared a war on marriage, weakened women and opened the door to this culture of meaningless," she warned. "The feminist movement was nothing more than the promotion of monism, the elimination of gender binary. It's an attack on the Creator, the created, the distinction. He said if we look at marriage, we see Him. Conjugal and sacramental marriage is the capstone of creation and, as a result of its collapse, homosexuality is now dividing us and bringing horrible hostility into the public square."
"As the Apostle Paul defined in Romans," she said with disgust, "men leaving the natural use of the woman, burning in their lust for one another. Men with men, committing what is shameful."
While House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is rounding up votes to seal his bid to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House, far-right congressmen are backing an insurgent bid by Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., who tried to unseat Boehner earlier this year.
Specifically, Webster has long history of collaborating with the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a ministry founded by Bill Gothard. Ingersoll writes that Webster’s speeches to Gothard’s group emphasized that “God is on his side and that God opposes his opponents,” even “attribut[ing] the fact that he has often run unopposed to God’s intervention as a result of these prayers.”
Most controversially, Webster spoke at one IBLP event about the need for wives to submit to their husbands and for husbands to be the heads of their households, which, as Sarah Posner notes, is strongly in line with Gothard’s views about the dominance of male authority. Posner writes:
[S]ubmission is a central tenet of Gothard's teachings. His evangelical critics have described the insular world of Gothard's organization as "a culture of fear" and Gothard's teachings as a "parody of patriarchalism," the "basest form of male chauvinism I have ever heard in a Christian context," and "anti-woman." The core of Gothard's authoritarian teachings is a chain of command of spiritual authority from God to the husband and father, who is responsible for seeing to his wife's and children's obedience in order to ensure their eternal salvation.
While GOP leaders like Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry have also worked with Gothard groups, his best known disciples are the Duggar family, which recently faced its own sex abuse scandal. Gothard’s teachings on patriarchy and sexual abuse, which appeared to blame women survivors, drew controversy in the wake of the Duggar scandal.
Even Michael Farris, a Religious Right activist and leader in the conservative Christian homeschooling movement, felt compelled to condemn Gothard and Doug Phillips, another Christian patriarchy movement leader embroiled in a sex scandal, claiming that their teachings are “truly dangerous.”
Webster boasts of how his “commitments,” based on Gothard’s teachings, cause his enemies to fail. In the [Advanced Training Institute] video, he recounted making “commitments” that included never watching TV in a hotel room, getting up early in the morning, and praying for a “hedge of thorns of protection” around his Florida district so that he would win reelection. (Both Webster and Gothard have made much of the fact that for several of his reelection bids in the Florida legislature, Webster ran unopposed.) Webster said that he prayed for anyone considering a run in his district to “lose interest.”
That “that hedge of thorns has protected me all these years,” Webster continued, even when his political opponents referred to him and allies as “conservative, gun-toting Bible thumpers.” He claims that “pride is so destructive,” yet seems quite proud that his “hedge of thorns” has made his political career a success.
Razing Ruth, another anti-biblical patriarchy blog, describes Gothard’s teaching on the “hedge of thorns”:
Bill Gothard teaches that Satan can gain “jurisdictional authority” over a person’s soul. When a father or husband, as the authority and spiritual protector of the family, fears that this (Satan attempting to get ja) has happened or may happen, the man is instructed to “pray a hedge of thorns” around his wife/family/son/daughter. In doing so, Gothard teaches that the man will have created a “stronghold for Christ.”
We will see how far Webster’s rhetoric on spiritual warfare and biblical authority takes his campaign for speaker.
Right-wing radio host Mark Levin spoke at the Values Voter Summit today, where he declared that secularism has become the established religion of the United States and the Supreme Court is now essentially imposing secular Sharia upon the entire nation.
The media and the "Sunday show dress-up hosts," Levin stated, are too stupid to understand that the First Amendment was not intended to create a separation of church and state, but rather simply to prevent the establishment of a theocracy.
"The federal government is not supposed to establish a religion," he said. "What we have now though is the federal government as a religion, secularism has become a religion. And just as in Muslim countries they have these Sharia courts to enforce Sharia law, well, we have a Supreme Court that exists to enforce apparently secularism."
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council introduced Kim Davis at the Values Voter Summit this evening, where the Kentucky county clerk received the Cost of Discipleship Award for prohibiting her office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in repeated violation of court orders.
"These are times in history that are unlike anything that we had before," Staver declared. "God birthed Kim Davis, and Joe Davis, and each one of you for this moment in American and world history ... [God is] looking for people who love Jesus Christ and who will stand for Him, who will not flinch when their time is called and that person is Kim Davis and Joe Davis. May God raise up more."
Perkins echoed that sentiment, proclaiming that it is time for Christians who hold public office "to resist the edicts of unelected and virtually unaccountable rulers who issue unjust edicts that conflict with the truth of God."
"Kim Davis should not be an outlier," Perkins said. "Kim Davis should not be something that surprises America. There should be Kim Davises in every elected office, at every level ,who say 'No' to judges who redefine the revealed truth of God."
At that point, Davis was welcomed onto the stage to a long standing ovation, where she then delivered a very short speech declaring that "I am only one, but we are many!"
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
While some Religious Right groups are busy trying to turn Kim Davis into a modern-day martyr, other conservative activists are addressing more pressing concerns, such as Pope Francis’ murderous agenda, ISIS infiltration of American churches and looming cannibalism.
5) Welcome To America, Pope Francis!
Alex Jones welcomed Pope Francis to the U.S. the only way he knows how: by ranting that Francis is bent on turning Americans into slaves and paving the way for the death of at least one billion people.
Jones added that he was “going to vomit” while thinking about the fawning media coverage of the “slimebag” pope.
Naturally, Davis' defenders are using her flouting of the law to raise money.
Liberty Counsel, the extreme anti-gay group that is representing Davis, put it this way in a fundraising email: “The American Civil Liberty Union’s motion to again hold Kim Davis in contempt reveals that their interest is not their clients’ license but rather a marriage license bearing the name of Kim Davis. They want her scalp to hang on the wall as a trophy!”
Another conservative group, the Family Research Council, said in a fundraising email that Davis’ plight would lead to mass persecution of Christians.
Consider that carefully. If "politically correct" government officials will put a Christian like Kim in jail for the faith we all SHARE -- well, what plans do they have in store for YOU?
Depending on the circumstances, they'll do whatever is necessary to drive Christianity from influence in America by indoctrinating your children or grandchildren . . . ruining your job or career . . . getting you to compromise your faith . . . go silent . . . shut up . . . affirm sexual immorality . . . or deny key parts of the Bible.
3) ISIS Everywhere!
While groups like the Family Research Council and Liberty Counsel are on the lookout for phony cases of anti-Christian persecution, televangelist Jim Bakker thinks that people should really be investigating all of the ISIS terrorists who have stealthily joined every church in the U.S.
Bakker is far from the only one trying to stir up fears in order to sell merchandise. Chuck Holton of the NRA radio show “Frontlines,” for instance, warned this week about a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack.
Along with killing nine out of every 10 Americans, Holton said, an electromagnetic pulse attack will lead to people be “eating each other in the streets, because when you have these sort of systemic issues in our government of nearly half of the people in the United States receiving some sort of subsidy from the government, imagine what happens when all the EBT cards start flashing zeroes.”
Earlier this month, Mike Huckabee spoke to Trinity Baptist Church’s “Calling America Back to God Rally” in Van Wyck, South Carolina. Huckabee claimed that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was illegitimate, saying that the court “cannot overturn God when it comes to the definition of what marriage is.”
“They can no more redefine the purpose of marriage then they can redefine the laws of gravity and say that we can all go floating everywhere we go and don’t need to take cars anymore,” he quipped.
Later in his remarks, Huckabee addressed Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis’ legal battle, defending her for preventing county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to eligible couples. “I think we put the wrong Democratic woman in jail,” he said. (Davis has since become a Republican).
Huckabee said that Americans have “rebelled against a holy God” and tried “to rewrite the word of God to make it tune to our lifestyle.”
“We cannot possibly survive if we defy any standard that God has given to us,” he said, before calling for a “spiritual revival” that would cause God to “give us the political reformation that we need.”
In a rather transparent attempt to appeal to the Christian conservatives who make up the audience at the Values Voter Summit, Donald Trump brought a Bible with him to the podium when he spoke today, because "it brings back so many memories."
Trump them proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes delivering his standard stump speech, which consisted of relentless boasting interspersed with personal attacks on his rivals and vague but grandiose promises to solve all of this nation's problems.
At one point, after wondering why we even need to hold an election considering that he is leading in all the polls, Trump took a moment to assure the audience that he is actually a nice person.
"People were not sure I was a nice person," he said, "and I am. I am. I am. I am. I'm a giving person. I believe in God, I believe in the Bible. I'm a Christian. I have a lot of reasons. I love people."
Trump later closed out his speech by hoisting his Bible in the air and declaring "this is the key."
Donald Trump offered up his typical word salad to the Values Voter Summit today, but this time while hoisting his Bible in the air and claiming that it is “the reason” that he is leading among evangelical voters in Iowa and declaring that it is “the key” to saving America.
“The word ‘Christmas.’ I love Christmas," he said. "I love Christmas. You go to stores, you don’t see the word ‘Christmas.’ It says ‘Happy Holidays’ all over. I say, 'Where’s Christmas?’ I tell my wife, ‘Don’t go to those stores. I want to see Christmas. I want to see Christmas.’ Other people can have their holidays but Christmas is Christmas. I want to see ‘Merry Christmas.’ Remember the expression ‘Merry Christmas’? You don’t see it anymore. You’re going to see it if I get elected, I can tell you right now.”
Of course, Trump himself has waged war on Christmas:
Rick Santorum kicked off his remarks at the Values Voter Summit today by declaring that the United States will never be a great nation or receive God's blessing so long as gay marriage and the right to an abortion remain legal.
Bragging that he has attended every VVS event since it began 10 years ago, Santorum thanked those in attendance for "standing up and bringing to this city the issues that are at the core of the problems in this country."
"America is never going to be a great country if we're a country that kills our children in the womb, ever!" he said. "We're never going to be blessed by God if we're a country that kills our children in the womb. We are never going to be a great country if we allow for the destruction of the American family, that's what's happened over the last 50 years."
During the 2013 government shutdown fight, Rep. David Nunes, R-Calif., referred to the extremist members advocating a shutdown as “lemmings with suicide vests.” But the far-right flank, often called the “Suicide Caucus,” has only grown in power since then and has recently gained momentum in its push to remove John Boehner, who they say hasn't done enough to fight President Obama, from his position as speaker of the House.
The "Suicide Caucus" is particularly angry that the House Republican leadership approved an increase in the debt ceiling and hasn’t successfully defunded Planned Parenthood or the Affordable Care Act. Of course, there was little Boehner could do to accomplish any of these goals, since Republicans could not override an inevitable veto from the president or overcome opposition from Senate Democrats. But the “Suicide Caucus” doesn’t exactly function according to logic.
Many of the most radical members of Congress became more organized with the formation of the House Freedom Caucus, which The Economist described as a group dedicated to making “reckless and unrealistic” demands of Boehner, “consistent with their record of attempting wild, hapless heists against both Mr. Obama and the Republican leadership.”
With Boehner announcing his resignation today, it’s important to remember that the people who have spent years calling for Boehner’s ouster also represent the far-right flank of the party. As Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., put it, “this is a victory for the crazies.”
And, of course, the "Suicide Caucus" treats Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as its leader, which Boehner doesn't exactly like.
The anti-Boehner caucus also got help from conservative talk radio. American Family Radio's Sandy Rios dubbed Boehner a “big liar,” AFR's Bryan Fischer compared him to Pontius Pilate and syndicated radio host Michael Savage referred to the speaker as a “deranged drunk.”
One of Boehner’s most vocal opponents was Glenn Beck, who told his listeners that they should consider themselves “done with the Republican Party” if Boehner won re-election to his post as speaker (which he did).
Beck’s choice to replace Boehner? None other than Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, the top conspiracy theorist of the House GOP.
After Gohmert tried, and failed, to win the speakership earlier this year, he explained that Americans would only turn to him to be speaker in a time of war or a similar crisis, when everyone would realize that he was the right choice all along. “The only way a guy like me could ever get elected to be speaker would be is if we were during a time of all-out war and people had figured, ‘Wow, Louie’s been right all along and maybe we should give him a chance,’” he said. “That’s the only — we’re not going to elect me in a time of undeclared war and I know that and I understood that.”
But who could better reflect the Republican Party’s decline into a hotbed of radicalism and conspiracy theories than Gohmert?
In response to Speaker John Boehner’s announcement of his resignation next month, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:
“John Boehner’s resignation should put any doubts to rest that the inmates are running the asylum in today’s GOP. Throughout his career, John Boehner has been radically anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker and anti-regulation. At his party’s behest, he’s spent his time as Speaker taking dozens of votes to repeal Obamacare, launching frivolous lawsuits against the President, slashing the social safety net and blocking efforts at meaningful immigration reform. The fact that he’s resigning in order to avoid a coup precipitated by the idea that he’s ‘too moderate’ would be funny if it weren’t so frightening.
“Ultimately, it’s clear that John Boehner’s greatest sin wasn’t that he was too moderate, but that he tried to be a grown-up in a party that demands petulance and temper tantrums as its agenda for governing. Boehner tried to lead the party of Reagan. He got fired by the party of Trump.”
End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles invited Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media onto his “Trunews” program yesterday to discuss Ben Carson's remark that he would never support a Muslim candidate for president. Wiles and Kincaid said that the Republican presidential candidate didn't go far enough, wondering why Carson didn't assert that we already have a Muslim president in the White House.
A larger conspiracy, Wiles said, must be at work, which led him to imply that the same people who are covering up the truth about President Obama's Muslim faith are the very same ones who helped Obama steal the 2012 election. Wiles knows that Obama only defeated Mitt Romney by nefarious means because he, Wiles, doesn't personally know anyone who supported the president’s reelection.
"Barack Obama was speaking to empty coliseums, empty auditoriums," Wiles said. "Mitt Romney was attracting these huge, enthusiastic crowds. It was obvious there was momentum for the Romney campaign. So on election night with suddenly Obama to win re-election it was very weird, it was strange, it was like, where are these Obama supporters? I never met anybody that was enthusiastic about re-electing Obama and suddenly he wins re-election."
Wiles said his gut feeling told him that Obama's re-election wasn't legitimate: "There was just that feeling on Election Night, something really strange and weird and evil and corrupt just happened tonight."
Rafael Cruz believes that his son, Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, is on a divinely inspired mission to overturn the city of Houston's nondiscrimination ordinance. The elder Cruz, who also serves as a campaign surrogate for his son’s campaign, is not just upset that Houston approved an ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination, but is also furious that the city even elected an openly gay mayor.
In a speech earlier this month on behalf of the group working to repeal Houston’s ordinance, Cruz lit into the Supreme Court for striking down state bans on same-sex marriage, claiming that the court "had no jurisdiction to rule over marriage."
He said the court's decision on marriage, which he has blamed on Satan, should inspire more conservative Christians to run for higher office.
"It is appalling that in a city like Houston, right in the middle of the Bible Belt, we have a homosexual mayor," Cruz said, referring to Annise Parker. He blamed the church's inability to stop a lesbian from winning elected office on the separation of church and state, which he called "a lie."
Earlier this month, a crane collapsed outside the Grand Mosque at Mecca during a storm, killing 107 Muslim worshipers, which Colorado Republican state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt declared on his "Pray In Jesus Name" show today was "the consequence of their sin" for "praying to Satan."
"There are two different Gods," he said. "There is the true God, Jehovah, the father of Jesus Christ, and there is a false god, Allah, who is the father of the false prophet Muhammad. Now which one were they praying to when an 'act of God' dumped this crane on their heads and killed 107 people? I think they were praying to a false god."
"You could either say Allah wanted to kill them," he continued, "or you could say this is the consequence of their sin when they were really praying to Satan."
"Boy, these people really have a hard time discerning which God they should be praying to," he stated.
While admitting that accident may simply have been the result of natural causes, Klingenschmitt nonetheless proceeded to pray for the Muslims who "are bringing destruction upon themselves" by worshiping "the false God of Satan who has destroyed them, both physically and spiritually; physically in this horrible accident and spiritually when their souls are cast into Hell."
Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he didn’t want “stupid” people — i.e. people who won’t vote for him — to vote at all. Then a Republican state representative in Florida was caught suggesting that the party beat Rep. Corrine Brown by redrawing her African-American-majority district to include a large population of prisoners, who are not allowed to vote in Florida.
These are just two of the instances of Republican lawmakers admitting that their electoral strategy hinges not just on winning votes, but on suppressing the votes of people who they think will oppose them.
More than 30 years ago, an influential conservative leader explained why his movement shouldn’t “want everybody to vote.”
Paul Weyrich, an operative considered to be the “founding father of the conservative movement” because of his hand in founding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, the Council for National Policy and other influential conservative groups, laid out the GOP’s voter suppression strategy in a 1980 speech in Dallas.
"I don't want everybody to vote,” he said. “Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers pushed through a package of voter suppression bills , including restrictions on early voting, something that many African American voters had taken advantage of the previous year.
Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly rejoiced in the news , saying that the early voting restrictions were “particularly important” because early voting had tended to help Democrats:
The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”
Doug Preisse, the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party (whose area includes the city of Columbus), put his party’s case frankly in an email to the Columbus Dispatch:
I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.
Before the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai declared that a new voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
In 2013, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — who has since become the state’s governor – responded to the Justice Department’s accusation that recent redistricting had discriminated against minorities by explaining that the goal was just to discriminate against Democrats and “effects on minority voters” were merely “incidental”:
DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes used his recent radio commentary to announce that he will be boycotting Frito-Lay because of the release of Rainbow Doritos.
Starnes is particularly upset that proceeds from the limited run will benefit Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project," which supports LGBT youth, declaring that he will not buy another Frito-Lay product until the company "stops giving money to a bunch of godless sickos who bash Christians."
It appears that Frito-Lay would rather do business with the likes of Dan Savage than America’s good, church-going people.
Look, it’s not my business where you dip your Dorito, but as for me and my house, I can promise you this, not a single Frito, not a single Cheeto until Frito-Lay stops giving money to a bunch of godless sickos who bash Christians.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, urged the Senate to block President Obama's nominee for Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, because having an openly gay Army secretary may send the message that the U.S. condones the sexual abuse of children.
In an interview with Gohmert yesterday on his “Washington Watch” radio program, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that the Senate should refuse to confirm a new Army secretary following a New York Times report alleging that U.S. officials in Afghanistan told service members to look the other way on cases of sex abuse among allied Afghan fighters. Perkins said that the Senate should tell the president that "we are not going to confirm your nominee, especially this guy."
"What do you think they will think,” Gohmert wondered, “when they hear that not only did we tolerate what was being done to their boys by people under our authority but we turn around and approve a Secretary of the Army that they as moderate Muslims believe is just an atrocious thing? They're going to think that that is quite consistent with us approving of what was going on between the older men in authority and these boys."
He added: "This is not a good move, but the president's priority has not been the lives of our military."
Mike Huckabee continued his campaign of outrage against President Obama for daring to include pro-gay-rights and pro-choice Christians among the thousands of people invited to a reception with Pope Francis this week, telling Newsmax TV yesterday that the president was “disrespectful” and “not being a very gracious host.”
Huckabee was galled that Obama invited these “dissidents” to “instruct the pope on what the doctrine of the church should be,” especially since, he claimed, Obama goes out of his way to accommodate other world leads by bowing to heads of state and even “will often take on robes and various costumes to fit into the local culture.”
Glenn Beck felt that his television program last night was so important that he took to Facebook to tell his fans that "if you only watch one show the rest of this year from me on the blaze, make it today's." What his viewers found if they tuned in was David Barton promoting Seven Mountains dominionism, a movement that believes that Christians must gain control of the seven main cultural centers in order to create a "virtual theocracy" in America:
Barton has been openly promoting Seven Mountains since 2011 and now Beck is likewise on board, declaring in a separate Facebook post last night that "there are seven hills of culture. If you plan on surviving as a culture you must have these seven hills."
But all of this dominionist rhetoric was really just a lead-up to the release of a poll conducted by Christian pollster George Barna that reportedly found that churchgoers want their pastors to deliver more sermons opposing things like gay marriage and abortion rights and Islam.
The poll itself was conducted by Barna through the American Culture and Faith Institute, which just so happens to be "the public opinion research arm of United in Purpose," a Religious Right effort started several years ago for the purpose of mobilizing millions of right-wing Christians to vote.
To hear Barton, Beck and Barna tell it, the poll found that the average churchgoer is simply dying to have their pastor take on a whole host of controversial issues from the pulpit:
Top 12 Issues the Church Wants to Hear:
1. Abortion: Beginning of life, right to life, contraception, adoption, unwed mothers. 91%
2. Religious persecution/liberty: Personal duty, government duty, church response, global conditions. 86%
3. Poverty: Personal duty, government role, church role, homelessness, hunger, dependency. 85%
4. Cultural restoration: Appropriate morals, law and order, defensible values and norms, self-government. 83%
5. Sexual identity: Same-sex marriage, transgenderism, marriage, LGBT. 82%
6. Israel: Its role in the world, Christian responsibility to Israel, US foreign policy toward Israel and its enemies. 80%
7. Christian Heritage: role of Christian faith in American history, church role in US development, modern-day relevance. 79%
8. Role of Government: Biblical view, church-state relationship, personal responsibility, limitations. 76%
10. Self-governance: Biblical support, personal conduct, impact on freedom, national sovereignty. 75%
11. Church in politics/government: Separation of church and state, legal boundaries, church resistance to government. 73%
12. Islam: Core beliefs, response to Islamic aggression, threat to US peace and domestic stability. 72%
Throughout the program, all three men repeatedly created the impression that this was a poll of average "church-going, Bible-believing people" and that pastors have been failing to address the issues that their congregations care most about:
But if you actually bother to read the poll, you discover that "conservatives represented 92% of the total respondents" and that it's findings primarily reflected the desires of "spiritually active Christians who hold politically conservative views."
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that conservative Christians want their pastors to preach against abortion and gay rights, but obviously conservatives are not the only ones filling the pews on Sundays.
In Barna's poll, 92% of respondents were conservative, while the other 8% were "moderates"; unsurprisingly, the moderates did not share the conservative views at all:
Christian conservatives were twice as likely as Christian moderates to desire more information (67% vs. 31%). Christian moderates, in contrast, were five times more likely to say that churches should not be involved in politics at all ... It is helpful to note that there are huge differences in the opinions of conservative Christians and moderate Christians on the importance of receiving biblical teaching on these matters from their church. Comparing their answers on the dozen most important issues to conservatives, realize that the average gap between the two segments is 30.2 percentage points, with the conservatives indicating a higher level of interest on each of these twelve subjects.
Predictably, nobody on Beck's show last night bothered to point out this rather important fact, as they repeatedly presented the poll as representing the views of regular churchgoers instead of the views of right-wing Christians, which is what it actually represents.
To make matters worse, the misleading poll findings are now being used by Beck and Barton to launch an effort aimed at pressuring pastors into preaching on the issues that the conservatives want to hear about.
Beck even posted a sample letter on his website for people to use in urging their pastors to address these issues:
We also want to encourage you to be bold in providing a Biblical perspective and spiritual guidance on the important moral, social and cultural issues confronting us today. As never before in our history, we are facing complex problems, and there is a competing cacophony of voices telling us what to think about these issues. We need clear guidance on what the Scriptures tell us about such issues such as abortion, religious persecution, sexual identity, bioethics and so much else. Our thinking, our children and our families are under attack from so many secular voices telling us how to think about these issues.
We understand many of these things will be seen as controversial to some, but this is all the more reason we need a clear spiritual perspective on them. Everyone seems to have their own opinion, but we want to know what the Bible says on each of these issues.
We have recently discovered we are not alone in our hunger for clear guidance on specific issues. A recent survey conducted by national pollster George Barna of the American Culture & Faith Institute shows that the overwhelming majority of serious Bible-minded church-goers are also hungering for relevant information.
We want – indeed, we need – to hear what God says about these things, which are pressing in upon our thinking from so many directions. We want you to know that if you will take leadership in teaching us about these things, we will have your back – we will ourselves stand up to the critics – we will stand with you and for you. We want to become better disciples and think like Jesus thought on all of these issues.
A few years ago, Beck and Barton launched the National Black Robe Regiment, which was designed to mobilize "courageous and patriotic ministers who will provide leadership and speak out on the pressing issues of the day."
We are guessing that that effort must not have been much of a success if Beck and Barton have now been forced to launch a separate effort misleadingly designed to get congregations to pressure their pastors into preaching on the issues that only conservative Christians care about.