The American Pastors Network, a Religious Right group hoping to organize networks of politically active evangelical pastors in all 50 states, met with Pennsylvania pastors at Lancaster Bible College on Thursday. The day-long event featured several national speakers like “historian” David Barton, activist Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ, and right-wing broadcaster Sandy Rios, who as Kyle reported yesterday, urged participants to prepare for martyrdom.
The threat of anti-Christian persecution was a frequent theme at the U-Turn conference, which took its name and themes from a recent book co-authored by Barton and evangelical pollster George Barna. For example, Steve Scheibner, an American Airlines pilot who narrowly avoided being on a flight that was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, declared, “Persecution is coming.” But, he added, “It may be the best thing that’s ever happened to the church.” Another speaker, Dale Anderson, thanked “that rascal” Barack Obama for having woken up the church.
Paul Blair gave David Barton-esque remarks about the nation’s history and cited English jurist William Blackstone in arguing that there can be no valid law that is contrary to scripture. He declared that “Judge Roy Moore,” Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, is “a hero” for defying a federal judge’s decision on marriage equality. Blair said America is in its current state because too many pastors and people have been “sheep.” He insisted that marriage equality is a line that Christians must not allow to be crossed.
Barna was the Debbie Downer of the conference, reeling off pages of statistics designed to show the moral decline of America and the diminishing influence of the church in American culture. Among the statistics that seemed to land like a punch to the gut: only nine percent of born-again Americans have what Barna calls a “biblical worldview” – just over 51 percent of Protestant senior pastors make the grade. Barna decried the fact that so many pastors do not preach about current political topics.
Barton’s speech contained no surprises for anyone familiar with his shtick about the influence of colonial-era pastors on the country’s founding, the number of Bible verses supposedly contained in the U.S. Constitution, and his insistence that the Bible is filled with specific policy prescriptions, such as opposition to minimum wages and capital gains taxes. In fact, he said, the Bible includes 613 civil laws for running the country.
Barton cited principles of warfare taught at the Army War College to argue that the church is supposed to be on offense, not defense, in current culture war battles. Making that happen is the goal of those who are working to build the American Pastors Network, including Sam Rohrer, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who serves as president of both the national and Pennsylvania networks.
Among the video presentations at the conference was a message recorded by Mike Huckabee in Israel, standing on a ridge overlooking the valley that he said would be the site of the battle of Armageddon. He stood on Mt. Carmel, the site of an Old Testament showdown in which Elijah showed up the prophets of Baal by having God rain down fire on an altar he had drenched with water. America, said Huckabee, needs pulpits willing to call down God’s fire.
Among the vendors doing a brisk business at the conference was the Institute of the Constitution, which promotes a Christian Reconstructionist ideology, and which has used its materials to train Tea Party activists in their vision of a radically, and biblically, limited role for the government.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke yesterday on his radio show “Washington Watch” with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) about a sex trafficking bill which sparked outrage after Republican leaders included an anti-abortion provision in the otherwise uncontroversial legislation. During the program, a caller suggested that the government combat trafficking by following Levitical law which, according to the caller, “requires the death of the people who enslave or the people who fund the enslavers.”
Perkins responded to the caller by lamenting that the separation of church and state has contributed to sex trafficking in America.
“It’s shocking that we could treat another human being in this way, absolutely shocking, but it’s a reflection of the moral condition of our country and society as a whole. Not just our country, it’s happening everywhere,” he said. “If you think — you know when people say, ‘oh things aren’t that bad, we don’t need religion, we don’t need God,’ when you take God, the creator, out of the equation, you kick the Ten Commandments out, you remove prayer, the Bible, you remove all of that from the public square and it’s quarantined to churches for an hour or two a week, this is what you get.”
He went on to say that trafficking survivors are among “the consequences of this godless agenda.”
Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality appeared on the Monday edition of Voice of Christian Youth America’s show “In Focus,” where he spoke to host Jim Schneider about “the ingraining of homosexuality in society.”
Outraged by a Canadian writer’s tongue-in-check column about teaching LGBTQ acceptance in schools, LaBarbera decided that this one person’s column confirms that the entire gay rights movement seeks to “penetrate the minds of the youth.”
“Homosexual activists know that they have to change the minds of young people, like all radical movements. We saw this under the Communists, under Hitler,” LaBarbera said. “This is a movement that directly threatens kids.”
After blasting parents and teachers who accept LGBT children, LaBarbera lamented that schools “will never bring in an ‘ex-gay’” to address students “because then kids can see that homosexuality is not about who you are, it’s about what you do, and if you can practice homosexuality you can leave homosexuality, you can leave it behind with the help of Jesus Christ.”
When a caller told LaBarbera that Satan is using the government, the schools and “Hell-ywood” to push gay rights, LaBarbera blasted “The Fosters” for showing a kiss between two teenage boys, holding it up as proof of gay child recruitment and the media’s attempt to push “evil” on kids.
“This is the sort of perversion that is being foisted upon the American people,” LaBarbera said. “It’s deep evil and it’s being done in the name of all these good sounding things, ‘tolerance and diversity.’ But what they’re really doing is changing kids’ minds. They’re propagandizing these kids, they are victimizing our children with this evil propaganda. It’s a form of recruitment when you sell immorality as romance.”
LaBarbera also repeated his criticisms of CNN anchor Don Lemon, claiming that since Lemon is a survivor of child sexual abuse, he should know that homosexuality is not an innate characteristic: “Somebody needs to ask Don Lemon, did you choose to be gay? It seems that since Don Lemon was the victim of a homosexual predator, somebody chose homosexuality for him.”
In a BarbWire column today, “Why A Bad Supreme Court Decision May Require Civil Disobedience,” Staver outlined his goal of bringing together “many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools” to “peacefully refuse to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”
Staver claimed that such anti-gay activists would be following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. and Europeans who shielded Jews from the Nazi regime, adding that “perhaps we would see our culture step back from the brink of insanity, or perhaps we would suffer in the face of injustice.”
Civil disobedience has a long and noble history in Western culture, and we will need a primer on it if, as seems likely, the Supreme Court rules against natural marriage in June.
Of course, civil disobedience is not justified just because we disagree with a human law, but only when that law conflicts with a higher revealed or Natural Law. When he was jailed for violating a law used to stop him from protesting injustice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,” he argued. “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
He went on to say: “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”
Merely because a legislature or a judge passes a law or issues an opinion does not make a law just. “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a dangerous doctrine indeed,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” To cite an extreme example, if you lived under the Nazi regime and the law required you to not hide or aid a Jew in any way, would you comply with Hitler or obey God? To obey Hitler, you would have to disobey God.
The U.S. Supreme Court could still come off the rails in their June decision and invent a newfound right to “same-sex marriage,” striking down state laws that recognize the reality of marriage. If the Court takes that disastrous step, we should view it the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Such a decision would fly in the face, not just of the Constitution itself, but of the natural created order.
The temptation for many will be to cave or compromise. The temptation even for the faithful will be to retreat into our churches and cloisters. In 2004, same-sex “marriage” came to Massachusetts. Contrary to the claim that such laws would usher in an age of “tolerance,” the law immediately became a legal club to beat unwilling participants. Catholic charities bravely refused to place orphans in same-sex homes, because it was contrary to their mission.
Unfortunately, they stopped doing adoptions in the state. This cannot be our precedent. What they should have done is to say, “We are called to place orphans in homes with moms and dads. We will not voluntarily surrender our calling.” Massachusetts might have used force to stop Catholic charities anyway, just as lone florists and bakers are being driven to bankruptcy in other states. But what would happen if, instead of quiet retreat, many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools all came together, prepared, prayed and peacefully refused to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God?
Perhaps we would see our culture step back from the brink of insanity, or perhaps we would suffer in the face of injustice. Whatever the outcome, the hour is late. It’s past time for us to get ready.
On Wednesday, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council blasted the New England Patriots for signing a Supreme Court amicus brief in favor of marriage equality, alleging that “the Patriots didn’t exactly live up to their name” with the team’s endorsement of equal marriage rights.
“The New England Patriots didn't just deflate footballs — they’ve deflated Americans’ respect in professional sports,” Perkins said in his radio commentary this week.
The New England Patriots didn't just deflate footballs — they've deflated Americans' respect in professional sports. Hi, I'm Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. A month after winning the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots are stepping onto another turf: the marriage debate. This month, the Patriots didn't exactly live up to their name when they joined baseball's Tampa Bay Rays and San Francisco Giants in asking the Supreme Court to overturn the votes of millions of Americans who voted to uphold natural marriage. They argue that state laws protecting marriage "hamper employer efforts to recruit and retain the most talented workforce possible in these states." But if the latest polling is any indication, Americans aren't exactly fans of these teams' agenda. Now that people are starting to see the fallout of same-sex marriage, Rasmussen is finding that more people actually oppose same-sex marriage than support — 44% to 42%. So if the Patriots are trying to move the goal post on marriage, they might want to change their game plan.
Religious Right activists and pastors gathered today for a conference titled "U-Turn: A Conversation with Pastors on Society, Culture and Leadership" that was organized by the Pennsylvania Pastors Network.
Among the participants was Sandy Rios, the American Family Association's director of governmental affairs and daily radio host, who repeated her warning to those in attendance that they had better "prepare for martyrdom" if marriage equality becomes legal throughout the country.
"There is persecution afoot," she declared, citing various examples of Christian business owners who are supposedly being persecuted by laws banning discrimination in public services. Eventually, she warned that the push for marriage equality would gravely impact "your wives, your sisters, your children who now are going to be forced to go into public restrooms and share them with men dressed like women."
"In Massachusetts, where homosexual marriage has been legal for ten years," she said, "the stories would make the hair stand up on the back of your neck."
Rios went on to state that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage, it will force every Christian in American to make a choice and so they had better be prepared to take a stand.
"You must prepare for martyrdom," she said. "I don't know what it 's going to look like, but it's coming":
Anti-gay Presbyterian theologian Robert Gagnon stopped by the American Family Association radio program “Today’s Issues” today to discuss the decision of the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, the Presbyterian Church (USA), to approve of same-sex marriage.
When the AFA’s Ed Vitagliano asked Gagnon “how in the world our culture has moved so rapidly” on acceptance of homosexuality, Gagnon responded that there were “lots of factors,” including a “full-court press” from elites and “natural concerns” about gay people wanting to form life-long unions.
Another factor, he asserted, is “heterosexual guilt.”
“A lot of heterosexuals have, you know, we’ve not done all that well in some areas of sexual ethics,” he said. “That includes issues of divorce, remarriage, that includes premarital sex, includes abortion. And if you can give a pass on the issue of homosexual practice, in effect it’s a way of exempting our own guilt, and it’s accommodating in a way that’s self-serving.”
Later in the interview, Gagnon cited a passage from Corinthians in which the Apostle Paul disciplines a man who has had sex with his father’s wife as evidence that gay people are “at high risk” of being left behind when the Kingdom of God is established.
“The repercussions for somebody living out of same-sex attractions such that they are actively entertaining those thought desires in their thought life without repentance at any point…or, even worse, engaging in it in the behavior, according to Paul, according to the united witness of scripture, they’re putting themselves at high risk of not inheriting the Kingdom of God,” he said.
Noting that homosexuality might be even more of a grievous sin than incest, Gagnon paraphrased the story: “Paul is very clear at the incestuous man, ‘Okay, if you engage in this behavior, you’re putting yourself at high risk of being excluded from the Kingdom of God. So the only last recourse we have as a church to wake you up, and also not to send a signal to the rest of the church that sexual purity doesn’t matter, is to put you on church discipline, not as a punitive measure, but as a remedial measure so that you will wake up, come to your senses and return to the church, the place of shelter and protection away from the wilds of the Enemy, the Satan, the Adversary.’”
“And that’s not Paul not loving the incestuous man,” he concluded. “It’s Paul showing he really loves the incestuous man. He cares enough for the offender to try to reclaim him to the Kingdom of God, which is what Jesus did in his ministry to sexual sinners and to exploitative tax collectors.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee celebrated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign victory during an interview today with Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg, lauding Netanyahu as “a Churchill in a world of Chamberlains.”
When Malzberg asked Huckabee why President Obama has “extraordinary disdain for Israel in general,” Huckabee responded that Obama has “an extraordinary sense of identity with and sympathy for many of the other Middle Eastern nations.”
Huckabee added that the president also resents Israel and Netanyahu’s strength: “I think he resents the strength of Israel. I think he resents very much the strength of Benjamin Netanyahu, who is absolutely forthright in his understanding of what the threats are with Islamic jihadism, a term that President Obama cannot bring himself to utter nor can his administration. I believe as a result of that he finds that Netanyahu represents what he can’t be, and that’s a very strong leader who can keep his word.”
End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles knows what is to blame for the record California drought: gay people and legal abortion.
While discussing the drought on his “Trunews” radio show yesterday, Wiles said that measures to conserve water are not going to help the state since it is currently experiencing divine punishment.
“Rain will follow repentance,” Wiles said. “The state is in the forefront of spiritual rebellion against God: abortion; homosexuality; pornography; Hollywood’s movies that promote sexual immorality, violence, bloodshed, witchcraft, occult practices; the television industry; the crime and street violence in California cities. All of it has combined to reach a level of depravity that has reached Heaven and God has no other choice but to cut off the rain. So let’s see how long Californians will suffer without water before they humble themselves, repent of their sins and call upon God to save them.”
Anti-gay pastor Rick Scarborough, notorious for insisting that HIV/AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality, is working with Religious Right leader James Dobson, televangelist James Robison and conservative legal activist Mat Staver to recruit leading Religious Right activists and politicians to sign a pledge to commit civil disobedience in protest of a potential Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Scarborough told WorldNetDaily in an interview yesterday that once gay marriage becomes the law of the land, there will be mass arrests of Christians, even though such an event has never taken place in the dozens of states where gay marriage is legal. The government “better have a lot of prisons and jails,” Scarborough said, if they dare to legalize same-sex marriage.
He added that members of Congress “are lining up to sign the document” pledging to go to jail rather than recognize a Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
Back in 2009, Scarborough similarly warned that Christians would be hauled off to jail after a gay-inclusive federal hate crimes law was signed into law, which obviously didn’t happen.
A team of prominent Christian leaders is preparing a statement that will inform the public – including justices on the U.S. Supreme Court – that they will engage in civil disobedience rather than follow a ruling that establishes homosexual “marriage” in the United States.
Among those leading the charge is James Dobson of Family Talk Radio, Rick Scarborough of Vision America Action, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and James Robison of Life Today, whose brand new publication called The Stream reported on a recent telephone conference call discussing the issue.
Stream Executive Editor Jay Richards told WND there were about 20 other Christian leaders on the call. He said members of Congress have expressed an interest in the plan, which will be disclosed in the next few days in a statement regarding marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, Scarborough wasted no time in an interview with WND explaining what is, and is not, going to happen.
“We’re taking a very adamant stand,” he said. “If the court declares same-sex ‘marriage’ to be on the same par as a civil right, that’s a bridge too far. We won’t obey. We’ll go to jail.”
Scarborough confirmed congressmen “are lining up to sign the document.”
“The undeniable case is that when same-sex “marriage’ becomes, declared by the Supreme Court, as the law of the land, they will begin to enforce it, like all civil rights laws.”
That is where the civil disobedience will loom large.
“We’re saying, before that, we will never obey that tyrannical law. It’s counter to natural law, and God’s higher law.
“We will simply refuse to comply with recognizing same-sex ‘marriage’ as legitimate,” he said. “The Supreme Court does not have the inherent right [to make that change]. We’ll going to continue doing what we’ve always done.”
He said the hope is that thousands of churches and millions of Americans will join.
Those who plan to use the power of federal law enforcement to enforce same-sex marriage, he said, “better have a lot of prisons and jails.”
Operation Save America, the radical anti-choice group that grew out of the original Operation Rescue, will be holding a multi-day event in Montgomery, Alabama, in June to express its support for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s activism against marriage equality and abortion rights.
OSA head Rusty Lee Thomas writes in a press release today that the event will bring together “hundreds of gentle Christians from across the nation” for a march drawing on “the historical lessons of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma.”
A description of the event on the group’s website boasts that “[f]or years, Operation Save America has stood faithfully with Chief Justice Roy Moore, a poet, warrior, statesmen [sic].” It specifically praises Moore’s work to develop a legal framework to support radical anti-choice “personhood” laws and his ongoing standoff with the federal courts over marriage equality.
(In case you weren’t familiar with Moore’s poetry, here’s a representative example.)
We are praying for God to record His name in Montgomery and by His Spirit bid His people come to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to the gates of hell (Abortion mills in Alabama). They will not prevail against the Church of the living God (Matthew 16:18). They never have and they never will. Jesus is Lord!
For years, Operation Save America has stood faithfully with Chief Justice Roy Moore, a poet, warrior, statesmen. Through his many battles, we supported his righteous stands in the face of persecution and tyranny. Today, the Alabama Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Moore continues to stand against injustice and once again we are going to come alongside to help.
Moore, along with Justice Tom Parker, have rendered Decisions from the court that directly or indirectly have taken on Roe vs. Wade. Currently, Moore is acting faithfully as a Lower Magistrate to resist “Gay Marriage” in his state. He is taking another just stand and once again, we will stand with him.
Alabama is also working on establishing “Personhood” for the preborn child who is made in the image of God. Alabamians are willing to stand upon the self-evident truth established by God’s Word and we our coming to stand with them.
There are at least four death camps in Alabama still applying their grisly trade to murder babies made in the image of God. This evil defiles the land and invokes God’s judgments upon us. We are coming to stand in the gap and make up the hedge. We want to give God a reason to show mercy in the midst of the American holocaust.
It’s not surprising that Operation Save America, one of the most radical anti-choice groups in the country, would find ideological kinship with Justice Moore.
Thomas has claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks were divine punishment for legal abortion. OSA’s former director, Flip Benham (father of the new Religious Right martyrs David and Jason Benham), also used the organization to promote a fringe right agenda:
As leader of OSA, Benham has condemned the interfaith Sandy Hook memorial, protested in front of mosques while shouting “Jesus Hates Muslims” and blamed the Aurora shooting on the Democratic Party, which he said promotes a “culture of death.”
He has also protested LGBT pride events, interrupted church services during a sermon by “ sodomite Episcopalian bishop” Gene Robinson and was found “guilty of stalking a Charlotte abortion doctor after passing out hundreds of ‘wanted’ posters with the physician's name and photo on it.”
During an appearance on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told host Tony Perkins that “we need to encourage this administration to go take out Iran’s nuclear capability” instead of pursuing negotiations: “I think it’s time to bomb Iran.”
“We need to make clear to Iran: You can play these silly games with our president that buys into them and our secretary of state, but the American people aren’t buying it and you’re going to pay a price,” Gohmert said.
“I’m hoping and praying the president will realize, despite the agenda he has that has put Christians in jeopardy around the world, that he will not want to leave the Democratic Party so devastated that they won’t recover for many decades,” Gohmert continued, “that maybe he’ll start being more helpful to Israel instead of slapping them around as an unwelcomed visitor and start treating them like a friend. And maybe once he starts doing that he’ll realize we do need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities that we know of and anything that they move to fix, we bomb that as well.”
Gohmert also pushed the completely bogus conspiracy theory that Obama “threatened to shoot down Israeli planes if they had gone to take out Iran’s nuclear capability.” The allegation is based on a Kuwaiti outlet’s spurious report which cited an anonymous source in the Israeli government.
“I’m just grateful that Netanyahu had announced there will be no two-state solution because, as you mentioned, [End Times author] Joel Rosenberg, he loves to point out in his favorite book, Joel, that Chapter 3, God says I am going to bring down judgment on nations that divide Israel. So I’d kind of hate to be a part of the nation that divides Israel,” he added.
The congressman also made the patentlyfalse claim that the Obama administration told the Nigerian government that it won’t aid the fight against Boko Haram until the country legalizes same-sex marriage.
“Because we’ve elected Obama as our leader, our nation bears responsibility for the things he’s doing,” he lamented, leading Perkins to rail against Obama’s “unconscionable” support for the “homosexual agenda.”
Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson said that laws that prohibit businesses from denying service to customers on the basis of sexual orientation amount to “an outrageous invasion of religious liberty and a trampling of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
“I think the courts that forced that, the officials that forced it, were dead wrong and it’s just one more nail in the coffin of the morality of this nation,” Robertson said, likening such laws to Prohibition.
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio show, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber declared that Ben Carson has effectively destroyed his presidential chances by apologizing for his statement that prison sex proves that homosexuality is a choice and vowing not to talk about the issue of gay rights anymore.
Barber blasted Carson for backtracking after he had "rightly" stated that being gay is a choice, saying "it took, I think, a day for him to come out with hat-in-hand and give this blathering mea culpa, just apologizing and saying how he'll never do this again and then promising never to talk about this issue again. So they have intimidated him into silence. From a political standpoint, now Ben Carson is dead in my eyes."
Staver agreed, saying that there is no way that Carson can refuse to talk about this issue "because it is a real threat against our faith and freedom and we can't ignore it."
"We need politicians and we need leaders who can speak boldly on this issue and who will not shrink," Staver said. "Saying that you're never going to speak on it and apologizing is not the kind of leadership you need":
On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.
At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality.
Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.
1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail
While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.
The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”
Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.
Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”
Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.
2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues
Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.
Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:
Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:
This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”
3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism
Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.
Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.
Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.
What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.
Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:
4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It
Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.
Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.
Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”
“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”
The RNC’s Connelly also made a plug for conservative churches to engage in partisan politics , urging pastors to buck IRS rules preventing politicking from the pulpit and declaring that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual.”
5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other
One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.
Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.
Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":
It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.
When Rick Santorum joined other GOP presidential hopefuls for a “national security” summit hosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney last weekend, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that they would encounter fringe conspiracy theorists in the audience, including one activist who asked Santorum a winding question about immigration, an imminent communist takeover and President Obama’s plot to nuke Charleston, South Carolina.
As we reported on Monday, Santorum responded to the activist’s accusation not by rebutting her conspiracy theory but by taking offense to her claim that Santorum, a former U.S. senator, had some responsibility for the congressional GOP leadership’s response to Obama’s immigration actions. He went on to label the president a “tyrant.”
The story of Obama’s purported plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in Charleston, which the questioner said occurred just “a few months ago,” has been circulating in far-right outlets for several years.
Jim Garrow, a fringe activist who occasionally appears in far-right media outlets insisting that he is a former intelligence agent out to expose Obama’s plan to speak to aliens, launch a Canadian invasion of the U.S. and kill 300 million Americans, has also promoted the claim, with a twist involving George Soros.
Garrow pointed to a spike in dolphin deaths, which were likely caused by the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as proof that three U.S. military officials thwarted Obama’s plot by detonating a nuclear bomb in the ocean, keeping Charleston safe from attack.
He told Jones that these three patriots, along with God, stopped Obama by safely detonating one of the devices off of the Carolina coast. Garrow’s bizarre claims must have struck a chord, as he appeared last year alongside then-Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., and aspiring anti-Obama coup leader Paul Vallely at a Michigan “Freedom Summit.”