Glenn Beck reacted to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage today by declaring that he will now begin to look for different ways to broadcast his message in case the FCC attemps to strip him of his broadcasting license because his Mormon church will not perform same-sex marriages.
"This could mean the end of radio broadcasts like mine," Beck warned. "I am on now public airwaves regulated by the federal government. If I say, or anybody on this show says they're for traditional marriage, which I am in my personal life ... that now puts this radio broadcast in jeopardy because we are on federally regulated airwaves. I will tell you that I am going to begin, today, looking for other vehicles besides the radio broadcast just so, in a two year period, should somebody start to mount this, what does that mean?"
"The world has changed. The fundamental transformation of America is over," he declared. "We are no longer a country that is following the Constitution of the United States of America. That is a thing of the past."
Following the Supreme Court ruling striking down state bans on gay marriage this morning, American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer had a bit of a meltdown on Twitter, which he subsequently cobbled together into a column that he then read on his radio program this afternoon.
In the span of two minutes, he managed to compare the ruling to 9/11, slavery, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Sodom and Gomorrah.
"From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11," Fischer declared, "because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists, They became rainbow jihadists and they blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble. And they did this by imposing sodomy-based marriage on the United States through an act of judicial tyranny."
"We the people have ceased to be our own rulers," he continued. "We are now serfs on a plantation that's being run by cultural elites who wear black robes and use the gavels like the slaveholders of old used to use their whips, to beat us, as social conservatives, into abject submission."
"Today, June 26, 2015, is a date which will live in infamy," Fischer added. "On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah."
Following his interview with Franklin Graham this morning in which Graham warned that the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage will lead to persecution of Christians and, ultimately, God unleashing His judgment upon America, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes shared his own dire predictions about what is to come.
"Gay rights now trump religious liberty," Starnes stated, utterly ignoring the actual language of the ruling. "If you think the cultural purging of the southern states has been breathtaking, wait until you see what the activists are about to unleash on the American Christians. Churches and faith-based organizations should prepare to be hit with lawsuits and government investigations. Pastors who refuse to perform gay marriage and preach from the Bible should prepare for hate crime charges. All dissent will be silenced."
Starnes went on to predict that Christians all over the nation will rise up in defiance of the ruling because if they are "given the choice of obeying God or the government, I believe Christians will obey God even if there is Hell to pay."
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes interviewed Franklin Graham today about the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, which Graham decried because "our government is recognizing sin" and it will lead to the persecution of Christians and God unleashing His judgment upon America.
While it is a sad day for America when the Supreme Court will "endorse sin," Graham vowed that "I will never recognize it in my heart" because "God gave us marriage and God does not change his mind."
Graham went on to warn Christians that "you had better be ready and you had better be prepared" because the wholesale persecution of Christianity will now be unleashed, as will, ultimately, God's judgment on this nation.
"I do believe that God's judgment will come on this nation," he said, noting that just as God brought judgment upon the nation of Israel in the Bible, so too will He bring judgment on America.
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, effectively legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.
Needless to say, anti-gay Religious Right activists and Republican politicians who have repeatedly warned that such a ruling would literally destroy America have not reacted well, as exemplified by Bryan Fischer, who fired off a series of tweets declaring that Satan is now dancing in the streets of America:
"The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do-redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.
"This ruling is not about marriage equality, it's about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court's most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny."
"The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment."
Governor Jindal said, “The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.
This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.
The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies. That would be a clear violation of America’s long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.
I will never stop fighting for religious liberty and I hope our leaders in D.C. join me.”
Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate. The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.
“But leaders don’t accept bad decisions that they believe harm the country, they have the courage of their convictions and lead the country down the better path. Marriage, the family and our children are too central to a healthy society to not fight for what is best. I realized that fact early on and that is why I lead the charge against some in my own party in 2004 to ensure the Federal Marriage Amendment received a vote and I continue to stand for marriage, for families, for freedom.
“As President, I will be committed to using the bully pulpit of the White House to lead a national discussion on the importance to our economy and our culture of mothers and fathers entering into healthy marriages so that every child is given their birthright- to be raised by their mother and father in a stable, loving home. I will stand for the preservation of religious liberty and conscience, to believe what you are called to believe free from persecution. And I will ensure that the people will have a voice in decisions that impact the rock upon which our civilization is built.”
I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges “has been with us for millennia.”
In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas.
As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.
"Five justices on the Supreme Court have overturned the votes of 50 million Americans and demanded that the American people walk away from millennia of history and the reality of human nature.
“In reaching a decision so lacking in foundation in the text of the Constitution, in our history, and in our traditions, the Court has done serious damage to its own legitimacy.
“No court can overturn natural law. Nature and Nature’s God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court.
“Marriage is rooted not only in human history, but also in the biological and social reality that children are created by, and do best when raised by, a mother and a father. No court ruling can alter this truth.
“It is folly for the Court to think that it has resolved a controversial issue of public policy. By disenfranchising 50 million Americans, the Court has instead supercharged this issue.
"Just as with Roe v. Wade in 1973, the courts will not have the final say on this profound social matter. The American people will stand up for their right to have a voice and a vote, especially as they experience the ways in which redefining marriage fundamentally impairs their freedom to live and work in accordance with their beliefs.
“With this ruling, the Supreme Court has set our government on a collision course with America’s cherished religious freedoms, explicitly guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“Americans will not stop standing for transcendent truth, nor accept the legitimacy of this decision. Truth is not decided by polls or the passage of time, but by the One who created time and everything that exists therein.
“We will not lapse into silence but will continue to speak uncompromisingly for the truth about what marriage is, always has been, and always will be: the union of one man and one woman,” concluded [Tony] Perkins.
Though expected, today's decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.
Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.
The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today's ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.
In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is "a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law."
Today's decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.
“This morning’s ruling rejects not only thousands of years of time-honored marriage but also the rule of law in the United States,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “In states across the nation, voters acted through the democratic process to protect marriage and the family. Yet, courts around the country chose to disregard the will of the people in favor of political correctness and social experimentation. And we witnessed firsthand the consequences, as individuals were repeatedly targeted by the government for not actively supporting homosexual marriage. Sadly, our nation’s highest Court, which should be a symbol of justice, has chosen instead to be a tool of tyranny, elevating judicial will above the will of the people.
“There is no doubt that this morning’s ruling will imperil religious liberty in America, as individuals of faith who uphold time-honored marriage and choose not to advocate for same-sex unions will now be viewed as extremists. But to the Court, we send this unequivocal message: We will continue to uphold God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman, and we call on all Christians to continue to pray for the nation, and for those whose religious liberties will be directly impacted by this ruling.”
In the years leading up to the landmark SCOTUS case, voters in 31 states had acted through the democratic process to uphold marriage and the family. Yet, same-sex marriage was legalized in 36 states, due in large part to overreaching judges who chose to disregard the will of the people and cater to those who advocate for homosexuality.
Today goes down in history as the day nine unelected judges kicked the Constitution to the curb — overturning traditional marriage — and put your religious freedom dangerously at risk.
The decision is in. The justices have ruled. Marriage will be redefined to conform to the pro-LGBT view of marriage.
In one appalling decision, the Supreme Court has effectively opened the door to the criminalization of Christianity when it comes to the marriage issue ... and not just Christianity, but every major religion that supports God’s model for marriage and family.
Once again, five Supreme Court justices have invented a right that is nowhere mentioned or implied in the U.S. Constitution. Instead of allowing the states the right to make decisions about marriage, these judges have elected to impose their will on the nation.
Moreover, their reasoning is sociologically illiterate. The idea that marriage is a matter of individual autonomy—and not a social institution—is the most profound flaw in their ruling. In their mind, society is composed of monads.
For people of faith, this decision is ominous. On p. 27, the majority declares that religious Americans “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” It is nice to know they respect our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“The First Amendment,” the five justices say, “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives….” That’s the best they can do? Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, rightly criticizes this genuflection to religious rights. “Religious liberty,” he says, “is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally”—it is not confined to advocacy.
In order to stop the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that refuse to marry two men or two women, Congress needs to pass the First Amendment Defense Act that was introduced last week. Nothing less is acceptable.
In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court recognized the Constitutional right of same-sex couples to be legally married.
“Today’s decision is a landmark for Justice,” said People For the American Way Foundation President Michael Keegan. “It’s a proud moment for our country and a testament to the decades of work done by millions of people to guarantee gay and lesbian people aren’t excluded from our Constitution’s promise of fairness and equal justice for all people.”
“This decision should be celebrated by everyone who cares about equality for LGBT people,” said Keegan. “But it shouldn’t obscure the fact that we have a long way to go before we’ve truly achieved that goal. Gay and lesbian couples will be able to get married in all fifty states thanks to this decision, but in 29 of those states those same couples can be fired from their jobs the moment they step out of the closet. Members of the LGBT community, especially transgender people, still face violence and intimidation simply because of who they are. Perhaps most notably, anti-gay activists are already at work trying to expand the ability of corporations and individuals to discriminate against gay couples in the name of ‘religious liberty.’
“Make no mistake: today’s decision is one for the history books. We have a lot to celebrate today. But we also have plenty of work left to do.”
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Iowa-based talk radio host Simon Conway yesterday that if the Supreme Court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage, “religious liberty in this country will radically change and it will never be the same again” and consequently all other liberties will fall away.
“The issue, for example, in marriage is really an issue about religious liberty,” he said. “That’s what the fundamental underlying issue, when the government can tell me how much I can believe, if it can restrict my faith and restrict my belief by putting a boot on religious liberty. Religious liberty is the heart of all freedoms, so if the government tells me what I can believe, they can tell me what I can say, what I can do, where I can go, with whom I can associate, they can restrict how much privacy I have. Everything falls away when the government takes away religious liberty.”
Laughably claiming that marriage equality isn’t “an issue that I’ve put front and center” but that the Supreme Court has forced him to talk about it, Huckabee insisted that the marriage case isn’t “about just having people who want to love each other.”
“No, this is not an expansion of marriage, this is a redefinition,” he said. “And when it changes, religious liberty in this country will radically change and it will never be the same again.”
Huckabee, who has vowed to block a pro-marriage-equality decision from the court if he becomes president, added, “By the way, I don’t think the Supreme Court can make a decision about same-sex marriage because they can no more suspend the law of nature than they can the law of gravity.” Such a decision, he said, would not be “the law of the land.”
“Judicial supremacy leads to judicial tyranny, and that’s where we’re headed,” he said.
Back in April, right-wing activist Star Parker joined Alaska GOP politician Joe Miller on his radio program to discuss the riots in Baltimore and the Supreme Court marriage equality arguments, which had happened on the day of the interview.
Parker naturally found a way to tie the two together, saying that the violence in Baltimore was happening “because we declared a war on poverty during the same time that we were declaring a war on marriage through the feminist movement and declaring a war on religion through scrubbing our schools of God, taking the Bible from the schools.”
Later in the interview, Parker got into the details of the marriage equality case, saying that a ruling striking down gay marriage bans would mean that “as a nation, we have to change every law.”
Gay rights activists, she said, don’t realize this and instead are acting like “two-year-olds” at a toy store who want to “get their way on absolutely everything” even if it “will send this nation into social chaos.”
Miller opined that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would be “terribly upsetting to the social fabric of this nation,” with which Parker agreed, adding that she hoped that the justices would listen to the testimony of the “children raised in [gay and lesbian] households that are basket cases.”>
She then compared a potential marriage equality ruling to the Dred Scott case, which was also “legal but not lawful in God’s eyes.”
Glenn Beck opened his television program last night by previewing the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage with David Barton of WallBuilders and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute. The three Religious Right activists warned that if gay marriage bans are struck down, churches will be stripped of their tax-exempt status, average citizens will be fired from their jobs simply for attending a church that opposes gay marriage, and the government may even attempt to strip Beck of his broadcasting license because his church won't perform gay marriages ...spectacular incidents that haven't occurred in any of the 37 states that already have marriage equality.
To kick things off, Barton flalsely claimed that 2009's hate crimes law protected pedophiles, which means that if the Supreme Court now legalizes gay marriage, pedophilia will also become legally protected.
Not to be outdone, Beck later chimed in to warn that anti-gay churches will lose their tax-exempt status, people will lose their jobs for attending such a church, and ultimately the Bible will be outlawed as a "hate book."
"Maybe right away, maybe not right away, but definitely it will happen," Beck declared.
According to the campaign’s website, “The Washington Times has agreed to deliver the petition to the Supreme Court.” It’s ridiculous to imagine that the decision in the marriage case has not already been made, even if it has not yet been made public, or to think that petitions to the Supreme Court would have any impact at this late date, which is, as the website recognizes, “just days away from deciding whether homosexual couples are entitled to marry.” So the only real purpose for the petition seems to be for the Washington Times and Lane’s American Renewal Project to build their email lists and recruit participants for a campaign of massive resistance to a pro-equality ruling.
They didn’t even bother to put much effort into the writing. Here’s the utterly non-compelling petition:
Tell the Supreme Court to Leave Traditional Marriage Alone
To: The Supreme Court
I want the Supreme Court to know I believe that marriage should remain the sanctified union of a man and women.
I want the Supreme Court to know that I believe, as Thomas Jefferson did, that judges should stick to the Constitution and not create new law when it comes to the issue of marriage in America.
I want the Supreme Court to know that I believe opening marriage to same-sex couples invalidates the institution of marriage that hundreds of millions of American men and women agreed to over the last two centuries when they said their vows.
I'm signing this petition because I want the nine Supreme Court justices to leave traditional marriage alone.
Twentieth century, let’s see, we left the secularists in charge…We had Hitler, we had Joseph Stalin and we had Mao. 120 million people [killed]. It gets worse. In the second half of the 20thcentury, we’ve murdered 400 [million] babies through abortion in China and 50 million in the United States. Let’s see, there are 500 million people we have killed in the 20th century. It’s one-tenth of the number of people who are living today, almost one-tenth.
How did we do that? We let the secularists in charge. You can’t let the secularists in charge! You have to get involved.
-Chuck Stetson, CEO of Essentials in Education, speaking at Skyline Church's Future Conference, June 2015
First they came for the adoption ministry, but I did not speak out, because I did not do adoptions.
Then they came for the wedding photographer, but I did not speak out, because I did not do photographic weddings.
Then they came for the baker, and I did not speak out because I was not a baker. Then they came for the florist, but I said nothing, because I was not a florist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
-Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, paraphrasing Martin Niemöller at the Future Conference
Last week, a few hundred pastors, parishioners and activists gathered at Jim Garlow’s Skyline Wesleyan Church outside of San Diego for what Garlow called the “Future Conference.” The name of the conference appeared to have two meanings. First, in the words of its marketing materials, that “what you thought was coming…is here now” — in other words, that a great spiritual clash in which Christians are called to be martyrs has arrived. And second, that ultimately, the future will belong to conservative Christians as they wrest control from secular authority and take “dominion” over the country and the world.
The themes of imminent martyrdom and eventual dominion dominated the four-day conference, in which 56 speakers gave what added up to more than 24 hours of TED-style speeches.
The event was heavily tinged with “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that Christians are called by God to be leaders of or to wield dominant influence over the seven main areas, or “mountains,” of culture — not only religion and family, but also government, business, education, media and entertainment.
Garlow himself has been very active in politics, as one of the organizing forces behind the effort to pass the Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban in California and a proponent of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the movement that encourages pastors to break the rarely-enforced IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. Garlow has especially close ties with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom he gave partial credit for inspiring the conference. Gingrich submitted a video address to the conference, as did two current Republican members of Congress, Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Speaker after speaker lamented the failure of the church to engage in the “culture” — through media, through education, and most importantly through politics. As Garlow wrote in an introductory letter to attendees:
Allow me to be direct: our nation is in trouble. Deep trouble. But you already knew that. That is one of the reasons you are at the FUTURE Conference. But why is our nation in trouble? Because of (how do I say this nicely?) the church. What is lacking? A clear proclamation of biblical answers to the messiness of our culture. Does the Bible actually speak to civic and national issues. Yes, it does!
Secular government and culture, the message was, are creating chaos at home and around the world. And pastors and believers who fail to engage in the wider world are letting it happen.
Just as important was the idea that, as Garlow put it, “you and I were made for this moment.” The going has gotten tough, the message was, not just for Christians facing violent persecution in places like Syria and Iraq, but also for conservative American Christians who claim to feel marginalized by advances in gay rights and who fear a potential Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans. Glenn Beck, promoting the conference with Garlow, said that he knew of 10,000 pastors who were willing to die fighting this supposed anti-Christian persecution in America.
Most speakers were careful to point out that these threats are on very different orders of magnitude, although some hinted that American Christians were on the path to much more difficult times.
This was a spiritual battle that a disengaged church was letting the forces of darkness — radical Islam, the “redefinition of marriage,” abortion rights, pornography — win. Territory would have to be regained.
A ‘Spiritual Battle’ Against Gay Marriage
As is patently obvious, this is a spiritual battle. We need the intercession of every prayer warrior, every angel, and certainly the Holy Spirit. We must bombard the gates of Heaven ceaselessly for God Almighty to reverse our tragic cultural course and restore marriage to the venerable and beautiful institution that He did create.
-Frank Schubert, National Organization for Marriage political director, speaking at the Future Conference
While Garlow gathered speakers to talk about a host of imminent threats to American Christians including terrorism, abortion rights, an economic collapse, pornography, welfare and unbiblical movies, at the top of nearly everybody’s minds was the upcoming Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.
Garlow took hope in a presentation from Troy Newman, head of the anti-choice group Operation Rescue, who boasted of a decline in abortion providers in recent years. “If America can survive long enough,” Garlow said, maybe, like in the anti-abortion struggle, a new generation will rise up and see “the casualties from same-sex marriage are so horrific, this has got to be stopped in our nation.”
He elaborated on the “horrific” consequences of marriage equality in an address to the audience the next day, referring to the thoroughly debunked study by sociologist Mark Regnerus that purported to show all manner of negative outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples.
“I’ve been concerned with how many Christians, how many pastors, cannot make the theological case or the sociological case for marriage,” he said. “The redefinition of marriage, sociologically, will be profoundly destructive, profoundly harming. The Regnerus report out of the University of Texas is going to be only one of many examples of many that will follow that are going to show the catastrophic consequences, the pain, the suffering inflicted on the human race by this redefinition of marriage.”
Schubert, a political strategist who works with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), similarly cited Regnerus’ questionable conclusions as he urged audience members to give money to NOM and to prod their pastors to speak out against marriage equality because “being silent on the most important issue of our day turns it over to the forces of darkness.” If your pastor refuses to speak out against gay marriage, he advised, “I would look for a different church.”
Schubert said that while anti-gay advocates “could very well win” the marriage case before the Supreme Court, Christians must be prepared to use “any and all efforts to encourage resistance” to a ruling they disagree with, “short of violence.” Christians, he said, should “renounce as illegitimate” any Supreme Court decision that attempts to “redefine” marriage.
NOM’s president, Brian Brown, delivered a similar message, telling attendees that the success of the LGBT equality movement means “the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
“Things have been good for a long time for us,” he said. “We don’t experience the sort of persecution we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We don’t fear for our lives in coming together and worshipping. We’ve felt for a long time that we’re a part of dominant culture. Now in the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little longer, we’ve realized that’s not the case. Things are starting to change. And that, to put it bluntly, the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”
A Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, he said, would “put a lie into law” and “that law will be used to marginalize, repress and punish those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”
Claiming that Obama administration policies opposing the violent repression of gay people overseas are actually persecuting people who oppose marriage equality, Brown said that what’s happening to Americans is nothing in comparison and so U.S. Christians should be “cheerful” about “being persecuted.” “What we see and we go and work with folks from around the world is a whole other level of hatred,” he said. “Be cheerful, be happy, you’re being persecuted! Quit being so weak! Okay? What I’m trying to say is, if that’s happening we must be doing something right!”
Anti-gay activist Michael Brown had a similar message, saying that previously bullied LGBT people have now become the “bullies” and that the LGBT rights movement “will not be satisfied until the church bows down.”
Garlow told the crowd that they were “moving into a time of testing” where evangelicals would have to stand up to the predominant culture. He recalled a “vision” he had all the way back in 1990 in which he spoke with God about a future in which there would be “churches being closed by government” on the basis of “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
But no speaker took the gay-marriage panic as far as Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who spoke to the conference via video. Marriage equality, Staver warned, will cause “a cataclysmic social upheaval in every conceivable area.”
Touting a pledge to disobey any marriage equality ruling that he has recruited hundreds of prominent anti-gay activists to sign, Staver said that gay-marriage opponents must be prepared to resist such a ruling just like the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement resisted segregation and Jim Crow: “I think we’re back in the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. If they tell you to get off the bus, you don’t get off the bus. If they tell you to go to the back of the bus, you don’t go to the back of the bus.”
“This could be the best, most magnificent time for the church,” he said. “It is moments like this, where there is an unprecedented clash, where there’s impossible odds, that God will intervene for his people.”
Staver closed his speech with a rewritten version of anti-Nazi dissident Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came for the socialists” lines, appropriating them to warn that the supposed persecution of bakers, florists and wedding photographers who deny service to gay people will open the door to a much wider persecution of Christians in America.
Beware Muslims! (Unless They Agree With You On Gay Rights)
Christians are being enslaved and beheaded and burned alive across the Middle East and he’s silent. Christians are being threatened and intimidated and sued and sequestered in Middle America and mum’s the word.
-Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, speaking of President Obama at the Future Conference
Although most speakers were careful to say that the supposed persecution of American Christian conservatives at the hands of the LGBT rights movement is on an entirely different order of magnitude than that being faced by Christians at the hands of ISIS and oppressive Islamist governments, there was a sense of joint martyrdom, that both are fighting for spiritual ground against forces allied with Satan.
As Steven Khoury, an Arab Israeli pastor, put it, “persecution is coming to America,” and he was there to help Americans learn how to stand up to it.
Garlow invited a few of the top anti-Islam activists in America to warn that the country, if it lets its guard down, risks facing subjugation at the hands of American Muslims. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warned that since 9/11, millions of Muslim immigrants have staged a “colonization” of America. He warned pastors in the crowd against any sort of interfaith dialogue with Muslims or letting Muslim groups use their church facilities, which he said “is really about providing political cover to Muslims who don’t deserve it.” Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Coughlin similarly warned pastors against falling for the “interfaith delusion.”
But nobody had a more dire warning than right-wing activist Avi Lipkin, who told pastors that “all” churches in America have been infiltrated by Muslim spies pretending to be Christian converts. These moles, he warned, are cataloguing Christians and Jews in order to kill them all when Muslim jihadists take over.
All of the talk of "religious liberty" and threats to the First Amendment seemed to be conveniently forgotten when Lipkin endorsed laws such as Switzerland’s ban on minarets, declaring: “Until Islam is banned and suppressed and erased, the Jews will not have any chance to survive in this country.”
However, he had some good news: Muslim immigration to America, he predicted, would drive U.S. Jews to the Middle East, setting up a conflict in which Islam will be “finished.” “I predict Islam will be terminated very soon,” he said to enthusiastic applause.
It was jarring, then, to later in the very same day, hear a speech from Austin Ruse, the head of the conservative Catholic United Nations advocacy group C-FAM, in which he said that some of his greatest allies in the fight to stop “radically secular countries” from inserting LGBT rights and reproductive health language into UN documents were representatives of Muslim countries.
“The pro-life, pro-family coalition in the United Nations is strange bedfellows,” he said. “It includes Muslims. And without a bloc of Muslim countries supporting life and family at the UN, we would have had a right to abortion a long time ago, and redefinition of family.”
Garlow took it upon himself to clarify this, taking the stage after Ruse's remarks to reassure the audience that “co-belligerency” with “people who are hostile to much of our values” is sometimes necessary when “they actually have an interest in some portion of our Kingdom values.” He compared Ruse’s work with Muslim countries at the UN to his alliance with Mormon leaders to pass Proposition 8 in California.
Throughout the conference, Israel was portrayed as a spiritual bulwark of the West against surrounding Satanic Islam — something exemplified by its relatively secular values. No one, however, mentioned, that Israel is one of what Ruse called the “radical secular countries” advocating for LGBT rights at the UN. Also ignored were policies such as Israel's public funding of abortion services or the fact that just days prior to the event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his "blessings" to LGBT Pride marchers.
Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, tied together this idea that “secularists” are working in cahoots with radical Islam, aided by President Obama.
“For 67 years, we’ve disparaged dead, white, European males in our college classrooms,” he said. “Are we surprised that we now have a president whose first action was to remove the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House and send it back to the British ambassador’s home? For 67 years, we’ve sent our kids off to sit under faculty who have panned a Judeo-Christian ethic and praised its antithesis. Are we surprised that we now have a White House that is seemingly more aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO than it is Benjamin Netanyahu and Franklin Graham?”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — whom Garlow partially credited with inspiring the conference — put it a different way in a video address to the event, saying that Christians are facing simultaneous attacks from “secular totalitarianism” and “Islamic supremacism,” with the two factions allied in a “war on Christianity.” Gingrich, who has spent years warning that the U.S. will soon become a "secular atheist country" that is "dominated by radical Islamists,” has been working to court pastors like Garlow who have ties to the dominionist movement.
Christians are dual citizens. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ … We are also citizens of an earthly “kingdom” … In the absence of Christians taking their dual citizenship seriously, obeying the dual commissions faithfully, and attempting to follow the dual commandments devotedly, the devil’s crowd has taken over key places of influence in our culture largely by default, even in a nation where professing Christians are still in the majority.
- Family Research Council manual for establishing a church “culture impact team,” distributed to pastors at the Future Conference
The sense of the inadequacy of secular leadership that pervaded the Future Conference was summarized by Republican Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia, who told the Future Conference via video that secular government leads to rampant divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and gang violence, all of which invite a greater presence from Big Government:
Garlow painted a similarly bleak message, saying that the struggles of the city of Detroit are the result of a lack of “bold, biblical preaching and the application of scriptural truth to all components of contemporary life.”
“The absence of biblical truth being applied to a metropolitan area literally destroyed it,” he said.
Garlow didn’t specify which exact “biblical truths” Detroit is in violation of, but conservative activist Star Parker, who declared her intention to “destroy the welfare state,” might have provided some hints.
Parker told the gathering that the U.S. is “in a similar place right now in our country to where we were in the 1850s” when we were “half free and half slave.”
“And we’re at a crossroads again,” she said, “because we’re at the place where we’re half free and half slave. We’re in the battle of our lifetime, we’re in the battle for the very heart and soul of our great country, to go into a future, if we can, even as the Scriptures told us that God actually planned for us a future and a hope, and yet that future and hope is under attack.”
“We’re either going to come up out of this biblical and free,” she said, “or we gotta come up here secular and statist.”
Chuck Stetson, who runs a program that develops “biblical literacy” courses that clear the First-Amendment bar for being taught in public schools, had a similar message, claiming that the great genocides of the 20th century (in which he included abortion) were the result of leaving the “secularists in charge.”
Lamenting that “three percent of the population” (LGBT people) are defeating "70 percent of the population” (Christians), Stetson urged conservative Christians to develop a “broader concept of missions” and to get involved in politics as well as “literature, art [and] music.”
He used the metaphor of a cruise ship: Christians, he said, were gathering around the lifeboats in an effort to save souls, even while throughout the boat, “they’re breaking out the booze, bringing out the gaming tables. They need the Christians down there.”
In fact, the Future Conference, Garlow reported, started out as a sort of founding conference for the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a new group led by Joe Mattera, a New York minister who is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). NAR is a controversial movement within evangelical Christianity which is led by self-declared prophets and apostles. Many of NAR’s leaders promote “seven mountains” dominionism, the idea that conservative Christians must take “dominion” over all seven “mountains” of culture in order to pave the way for Christ’s return.
(NAR and dominionism began to attract press attention back in 2011 when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a rally featuring many NAR leaders. Its adherents then began to downplay its core themes, saying they were seeking more “influence” than “dominion.”)
Wallnau gave a Glenn Beck-style whiteboard presentation outlining the "seven mountains" theology for the audience, explaining that if the church doesn’t occupy each of the seven spheres of culture, “the Enemy will.”
“The reason why we’re having a problem in the United States is because, honestly, we have not been pursuing the discipling of the nation, we’ve been pursuing the evangelizing of the people and the building of ministries,” he said. “And so we’ve neglected entire territory that the Enemy was all too quick to go in and take possession of.”
Peacocke — the founder of a group that works with business and community leaders to bring “God’s kingdom to earth” — put the message succinctly when the told the enthusiastic crowd that Christians have been called to be leaders in every area: “We should be leading. Virtually every place there’s a Christian, they should be a manager, they should be management. We should have the relational skillset to manage wherever we go, because that is what Christians are called to be, responsible empowerers of other people.”
In his talk, Mattera clarified that he and his allies were calling on Christians to become “leaders of culture” not through force but through simply being the best in all fields. “We’re not called to take cities, we’re called to love them and serve them,” he said, “and once we produce the greatest problem-solvers the world has ever seen, the leaders of culture will come and beg us to lead, because they’re going to see that we’re the only ones who have the answer.”
He added that a key component of this would be to follow the scriptural commandment to “multiply” and “replenish” the Earth, which he specified means having more than two children per couple.
“In general, God has called His children to have more children than any other people,” he said, “so this way we will have the people to fill every aspect of culture, not just bodies, but trained in the covenant, because the word ‘replenish’ implies that they go and they fill the earth with God’s law, with the result being subdue the earth and have dominion.”
A practical guide to the political portion of this mission was provided by Kenyn Cureton, the head of ministerial outreach at the Family Research Council, who presented pastors and churchgoers with guides for establishing “culture impact teams” — basically political committees — within churches. Politically involved churches, he said, are “fighting a spiritual battle,” not against gay rights advocates or pro-choice groups, but against Satan, who has caught cultural liberals in his “snare.”
“Who’s behind the effort to snuff out human life through embryo-destructive research and abortion?” he asked. “Who’s behind the effort to indoctrinate our children with these alternative lifestyles, redefine marriage, and even ruin our military? Who’s behind the effort to drive God out government, Christ out of culture and faith out of public life? Who’s behind that? I mean, it’s pretty easy for us to understand as believers, it’s the Devil.”
Where Politics and Religion Collide
Although the focus of Garlow’s conference was largely on the twin evils of secularism and Islam, he also invited Black and Latino pastors with whom he had worked on resisting Prop 8 to discuss criminal justice reform, on which conservatives are increasingly engaging in bipartisan coalition work, and immigration, on which some evangelical leaders have been trying to get Republicans to adopt positions, or at least rhetoric, that is less offensive to Latino voters.
One of the most revealing moments of the conference came after a speech by Mark Gonzales, a Texas pastor who through his Hispanic Prayer Network seems to be attempting to connect the NAR movement with Latino evangelicals. Gonzales told the mostly white audience that God is using Latino immigration to bring “revival to America,” but that Satan is trying to stop that revival from happening by dividing the church on the issue of immigration.
And it’s not just religious revival that Latino immigrants will bring, he said. They will also help conservatives win elections.
“When God allows this many people to come into a nation, he’s up to something,” Gonzales said. He then made a well-rehearsed pitch to the conservative audience for immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have long lived in the country if they first overcome a number of hurdles.
Immediately following Gonzales’s speech, Garlow came on stage to “clarify” for the crowd what Gonzales was saying. “What he’s talking about, so we’re all on the same page, is not amnesty,” he said.
Gonzales responded that anti-immigrant pundits do indeed call proposals like his “amnesty,” but using that word is the “biggest disservice we can do as the body of Christ.”
Parts of the audience clapped. Others did not seem sold.
Questions of biblical guidance and political expediency had, for a moment, become the same thing.
Faith2Action's Janet Porter was a guest recently on Gordon Klingenschmitt's "Pray In Jesus Name" program, where she warned that a Supreme Court ruling striking down state bans on gay marriage would result in the "criminalization of Christianity."
"We have, at this moment, freedom hanging by a thread," Porter declared. "If the Supreme Court rules wrong, if they homosexualize marriage, with the homosexualizing of marriage comes the criminalization of Christianity. That's what a stake."
As such, Porter is urging people to engage in "high octane" prayer and fasting because "our freedoms are at stake" and also to prepare themselves to disobey the court's ruling because "we need to be able to obey God rather than men."
Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolutionand civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.
Political and religious leaders opposed to marriage equality have been ramping up the intensity of their rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the constitutionality of state laws banning same-sex couples from getting legally married. Some have warned of revolution and civil war if the Supreme Court recognizes that there is no gay exception to the Constitution’s guarantee of fair and equal treatment under the law.
One recent salvo in this rhetorical campaign was a full page ad in the June 10 Washington Post in the form of an open letter to the Supreme Court. The headline read, “We ask you not to force us to choose between the state and the Laws of God.”
“We are Christians who love America and respect the rule of law,” the ad said, “However, we will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.”
Similar statements can be found in the“Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage”put together by the same people behind thePost ad. And it’s not much different from language in the Manhattan Declaration, a 2009 manifesto written by former National Organization for Marriage chairman Robert George (right) and signed by an array of conservative religious leaders. The Declaration declares that its signers will not “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”
The Post ad suggested that a pro-equality ruling would “unleash religious persecution and discrimination against people of faith,” a statement that ignores the many people of faith who do support full equality for LGBT people. The ad was signed by a bunch of far-right anti-gay activists. Here’s just a sampling:
Back here in the U.S., conservative evangelical leaders and their allies at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops falsely portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as fundamentally incompatible, a zero-sum game. That’s their justification for opposing civil unions as well as marriage equality – even for opposing laws to protect people from being fired just for being gay.
The reality is that religious liberty has continued to flourish, and our religious landscape has grown more diverse, in the decades thatpublic attitudes toward gay people have shifted dramatically toward equality. There has been no effort to require clergy to marry mixed faith couples if their faith prohibits it, and nobody wants to force any church or priest to marry or give their religious blessing to same-sex couples.
Next, let’s consider whether all this line-in-the-sand drawing is really about the supposed need for clergy, organizations, and business owners to enforce their religious beliefs about marriage in the public arena. The Catholic Church does not give its religious blessing to marriages involving people who have previously been married and divorced, unless the previous marriage is religiously “annulled.” But Catholic organizations are not loudly advocating for the right of a Catholic business owner to treat opposite-sex couples differently based on whether or not their marriages have the church’s blessing.
Similarly, many evangelical leaders say marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman “for life.” Yet in spite of the biblical passage in which Jesus says that a man who divorces his wife, for any reason other than sexual immorality, and marries another woman is committing adultery, there is no clamor from Religious Right leaders celebrating discrimination against people in second and third marriages.
It is clear that a different standard is being applied to same-sex couples. But anti-gay prejudice — animus is the legal term – is not an acceptable basis for discrimination, even if it is grounded in religious belief.
Now, there’s a reason Religious Right leaders are trying to make the conversation around marriage be about the grandmotherly florist who was fined when she declined to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding, or the conversation about contraception about the Little Sisters of the Poor, who say they don’t want to facilitate abortion. It’s an effort associate the Right’s agenda with a “live and let live” ideal that is appealing to many Americans, regardless of religion or politics.
But here’s the problem: Once you establish the principle – as Supreme Court conservatives did in their Hobby Lobby decision last year – that business owners as well as individuals and organizations should be able to ignore laws that somehow offend their religious beliefs, you have to figure out how far people will be allowed to run with it. It is not yet clear where the justices will draw the line.
That kind of line-drawing is often challenging when dealing with questions about how the government can accommodate religion without government impermissibly favoring it. Religious denominations and houses of worship have the greatest level of protection against government interference; courts and legislatures wrestle with the status of religiously affiliated nonprofits. Until Hobby Lobby, the Court had never ruled that a for-profit corporation could “exercise religion” in a way that is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but now that door has been opened, it is not clear what kinds of anti-LGBT discrimination it could permit.
Anti-equality religious and political leaders have made it clear that they will continue to oppose marriage equality even in the face of a Supreme Court ruling striking down state marriage bans. Some are calling for massive resistance and urging state leaders to refuse to comply with a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling. Professors Douglas NeJaime and Reva B. Siegel have argued in the Yale Law Journal that in such a situation, in which there is a well-organized movement dedicated to pushing the religious exemption further and further, an accommodation may actually be more likely to extend the culture war conflict than resolve it.
It is worth addressing generally fair-minded people who don’t understand why the gay rights movement won’t just be happy with a marriage win and let a few people with religious objections “opt out.” Some people may think it’s no big deal for gay couples to find another florist or baker. For one thing, that approach discounts the humiliation of being turned away from a business, a violation of human dignity that was a motivating force behind laws banning racial discrimination in public accommodation. And it may not be such a small obstacle in smaller, conservative, religiously homogenous communities, where discrimination may flourish if it is invited by law and encouraged by local religious leaders.
Consider the anti-abortion movement as a cautionary tale.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, laws were passed to allow doctors who had religious objections to performing abortions to refuse to do so without experiencing negative professional consequences. There has been little opposition to such laws. But over the past few decades, at the urging of anti-abortion activists, the scope of that kind of religious exemption has been expanded wildly to include people ever-further removed from the actual abortion procedure, and expanded to include even marginal participation in the provision of contraception. In emergency situations these accommodation could come at high cost, including the life of a patient.
NeJaime and Siegel describe these as “complicity-based conscience claims” – claims that are about refusing to do anything that might make one complicit in any way with another person’s behavior that one deems sinful. They note that the concept of complicity has been extended to allow health care providers not to even inform patients that some potential care or information has been withheld from them based on the religious beliefs of an individual or the policies of an institution.
The resistance to complying with the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover contraception takes the notion of complicity to almost surreal lengths. Just days after theHobby Lobby decision, the Court’s conservatives sided provisionally with religious conservatives who are arguing that it is a burden on their religious freedom even to inform the government that they are refusing to provide contraceptive coverage, because that would trigger the process by which the coverage would be provided by others. Cases revolving around the simple act of informing the government of an objection are working their way back toward the Supreme Court.
Similarly, some advocates for broad religious exemptions argue that organizations taking taxpayer dollars to provide social services to victims of human trafficking or women who have been victims of rape as a weapon of war should be able to ignore government rules about providing those women with access to the full range of health care they may need. Some groups are saying it would violate their religious freedom even to notify the government when they refuse to provide information or care – such as emergency contraception for teens that have been sexually abused by their traffickers. But keep the public dollars flowing our way!
Given what we know about the intensity of the anti-gay movement’s opposition to marriage equality, it is not hard to imagine how far that movement could run with the principle that religious beliefs about “traditional” marriage are a legitimate basis for discriminating against same-sex couples. They themselves have claimed as a model the (dismayingly successful) 40-year campaign since Roe v Wade to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care. In the words of the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, “Everything the pro-life movement did needs to happen again, but on this new frontier of marriage.”
Where will a similarly aggressive campaign against marriage equality lead? There is a new law in North Carolina allowing magistrates to refuse to marry same-sex couples. A new law in Michigan allows adoption agencies functioning with government money to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
Will corporations be allowed to refuse to hire someone married to a same-sex spouse based on the beliefs of the people who run the company? Will Catholic hospitals, which play an increasingly significant role in our health care system, be able to refuse to recognize same-sex spouses in medical emergencies?
The progress that LGBT people have made toward full equality has been remarkable. In my lifetime, the federal government had a formal policy to fire “sex perverts” and prevent them from getting federal jobs. In my lifetime, state laws criminalizing same-sex relationships were used to fire people from government jobs and even take parents’ children away from them. Even today, in a majority of the states, gay and lesbian people have no protection against being fired for who they are – or who they marry, even if the Supreme Court makes it illegal to keep those weddings from taking place. In all too many places, a company could fire an employee who marries a same-sex partner, the way Catholic schools across the country have been doing.
The good news is that Americans are increasingly opposed to anti-gay discrimination. Most of the laws that were proposed this year tolegalize anti-gay discrimination on the basis of religious belief failed – often thanks to the pro-equality voices of business and religious leaders as well as the hard work of LGBT people and their friends and families and our advocacy organizations.
Most informed observers think the Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality. If that’s what happens, it will be a historic victory and cause for celebration. But as the signers of the recent WashingtonPost ad have made clear, it will not be the end of the struggle.
Jerry Kenney and Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival interviewed Dr. Paul Kengor last week about his new book, and the conversation quickly turned to the issue of the mental health of the unborn future children of gay couples. Kincaid contended that “there’s gotta be a backlash to this kind of thing” from ordinary people who “are gonna feel and sense a revulsion to this; they’re gonna be disgusted by it. Because, let’s face it, they’re going after our kids.”
Kengor, who admitted he does not know with certainty what the future children of gay parents will think, is pretty sure in twenty or forty years they will say, “‘I love my mom and mom’ or ‘I love my dad and dad’ but, yeah, if you really ask me I would have preferred to have had a mom and a dad.’" However, Kengor reminds those who disagree with him that they are also not psychic, but yet they are the ones who are “so insistent on rushing right into it, with no data, no interviews, no nothing.”
“Well, you know, it’s interesting how the left uses the language,” Kennedy responded. Arguing the left “short circuits” common sense, Kennedy claimed that their language is “usually the opposite of what they’re saying.”
Kenney felt that as a straight person, he is being left out of the LGBT movement’s call for greater inclusion: “You know, what is it, the LGBT, and now they got the Q. Well where’s the H, for heterosexuals? I mean we have problems too! I’m tired of being called a bigot.”
Last week, Cliff Kincaid of the conservative groups Accuracy in Media and America’s Survival interviewed Paul Kengor about his new book, “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage.” Kincaid agreed with Kengor’s theory that gay marriage is an outgrowth of a Communist plot against America, while insisting that there is “a natural revulsion against where this whole thing is going. And [Americans] sense that our country is slipping away. And we can’t let that happen. It’s as simple as that.”
“We’ve got to fight to our deaths to save this great country,” Kincaid asserted.
Kengor hopes that his book will expose the truth about the gay rights movement, as he lamented that liberals are “unwittingly” backing a Communist agenda.
“This has been planned in advance,” Kincaid added. “This is the planned destruction of our country.”
Fox News pundit and war-on-Christians propagandist Todd Starnes is gushing over a speech by Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Floyd’s “fiery” and “powerful” and “provocative” comments were part of a diatribe against marriage equality delivered at an SBC gathering in Columbus, Ohio. Floyd called for defiance of a potential Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality with self-aggrandizing, chest-thumping remarks declaring his resistance to a non-existent threat:
“I declare to everyone today as a minister of the Gospel – I will not officiate over any same-sex unions or same-sex marriage ceremonies,” he said. “I completely refuse.”
Starnes praised Floyd for these “resolute” comments, which he says some will label hate speech. They’re more likely to be laughed off as ridiculous. No one in the gay-rights movement wants to force Floyd or any church or minister to marry a same-sex couple. It’s not part of the agenda. But standing up to this non-existent threat apparently got Floyd a standing ovation.
Floyd isn’t the only one using this strategy. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made a public fuss over signing the “Pastor Protection Act.” Abbott pretended that its passage was a huge victory for religious liberty, declaring that “pastors now have the freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights.”
In reality, the Texas law was unnecessary, as is Floyd’s brave bluster. The First Amendment is alive and well. Even if the Supreme Court strikes down state laws that keep same-sex couples from getting legally married, Southern Baptist clergy in Texas and every other state will still be free to preach their anti-gay message and refuse to marry same-sex couples. Even Robert Jeffress, a top Southern Baptist pastor and a Fox News contributor, recently told Bill O’Reilly that “nobody” in the anti-marriage equality movement believes that the government will force pastors to officiate same-sex couple’s weddings.
Floyd and Starnes are trying to muddy the religious liberty waters by equating two very different things: one -- requiring a minister to marry a couple against the teachings of his faith – would be an impermissible violation of religious liberty. The other – requiring government officials and people who run businesses serving the public not to discriminate against gay people or same-sex couples – is not.
On his radio program this morning, Glenn Beck recounted how, when his daughter was off at college, she was essentially brainwashed into believing that people like him hated gays. That was absurd, he told her, because just look at "how many homosexual friends we have, how many homosexual employees we have" as he assured her that "we have no problem" with gay people.
The reason he opposes gay marriage, he explained to her, is because gay activists only want it so that they can use it to force Christians to violate their faith, just like during the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.
In Beck's recounting of Genesis 19, two angels arrived at Lot's house when the men of Sodom and Gomorrah demanded they be sent outside so they could have sex with them, which Lot rejected, offering his own daughter as a substitute. And that is exactly what Christians are facing again today as they too are surrounded and pressured by gay activists who are forcing them to comply.
"Lot has said in his language of his day, 'Guys, don’t force us to comply. Don't force us to comply,'" Beck said. "No, you will comply! It shows that even back then, the religious were willing to — they didn’t want to fight, they're not trying to control everybody — they're just saying, no, I don’t want to participate."
"Think of the people who won't do floral arrangements for gay weddings," he continued. "Think about the people who are bakers. Now there's another one with a DJ. They just say, 'I don't want to participate.' That's what Lot was saying, we don’t want to participate. And in exchange for not participating, I'll give you something I shouldn't be offering, but I'll comprise this far but no further. We're making exactly the same mistakes and they are making exactly the same demands as were happening in Sodom and Gomorrah."
In response to a bill authorizing public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages becoming law in North Carolina this morning, Dr. Terence K. Leathers – a pastor at Mt. Vernon Christian Church in Clayton, North Carolina and a member of People For the American Way's African American Ministers In Action – released the following statement:
“Shame on our legislature for making this harmful and unnecessary bill become law. As a pastor, I believe this is not only a blow for the dignity of all North Carolinians but also a blow for true religious liberty.
“Governor McCrory did the right thing when he vetoed this bill, and the fact that our legislature overrode it shows just how far they will go in misusing the principle of religious liberty in order to discriminate. This is a sad day for our state.”
Last week, Dr. Leathers published an op-ed in The Huffington Post calling on the legislature not to misuse religious freedom to license public officials to discriminate.