Religious Liberty

Jim Bakker: If Trump Loses, Supreme Court Will Shut Me Down

Charisma magazine is highlighting an exchange between televangelist and noted survivalist huckster Jim Bakker and Ramiro Peña, senior pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, that took place on Bakker’s show last week.

While asking Peña a question about the future of the Supreme Court, Bakker said that he believes his TV ministry will be shut down unless Donald Trump wins the presidential election:

If Donald Trump isn’t elected, do you envision America to look good, bad or ugly? What will it look like, say, four years from now if we do not change the court? I know what the last eight years — we have seen the greatest deterioration. I’m afraid if we have another four years we will not even be able to function. I believe that they’ll shut me down. I believe they’re gonna shut anybody outside the church, all religious activity down. What will America look like if we don’t get on the right track?

Peña responded:

Let me speak to the church for just a moment. Just hear me, church. If we don’t elect Donald Trump president, we’re going to end up electing someone who we absolutely know will put justices on the Supreme Court that will be pro-abortion, that will be pro-gay-marriage, that will rob us of religious liberty, will continue to take away and wear away at our right to bear arms. That is the kind of jurist who will be on the Supreme Court and on the federal bench…

Peña noted that Trump has released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees that was vetted by the Federalist Society, and said that if he is elected Trump would have the opportunity to name at least three, and maybe as many as five, justices to the high court:

He has said he will appoint pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. So on that point, if for no other reason, even if you don’t like some of the things that he has said or done, for that point alone, for the sake of the Supreme Court, and the future of our nation that Pastor Jim is talking about, that’s why I am so convinced that he must be elected the next president of the United States.

 

Ralph Reed Makes The Case For Donald Trump

One theme of this year’s Republican National Convention is the Religious Right getting fully on board the Trump Train. Even before he vanquished Ted Cruz, his final primary opponent, Trump has been aggressively courting the Religious Right, and he has recently sought to shore up support from the movement leaders who backed Cruz and other candidates.

Yes, Trump is a habitual liar whose Bible-waving and political use of religious is transparently cynical, but that isn’t stopping Religious Right leaders from rallying around him. And why not? He allowed the Religious Right to write anti-gay discrimination into the GOP's platform. His promise to fill the Supreme Court with right-wing justices gives them hope that marriage equality in the U.S. will be short-lived. And he is even promising to overturn the federal law that forbids churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral politics, and to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.

In Cleveland this week for the RNC, Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed spoke with Doug Wright, “Utah’s most listened to talk show host.” Polls show that many of Utah’s Mormon voters are resisting the call to unite behind Trump.

When asked why so many evangelicals are supporting Trump in spite of his “interesting” background, his use of “vulgarities,” and other things that might concern a conservative Christian, Reed said, “You’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, you’re electing a commander-in-chief.”

Reed reminded Wright that evangelicals backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election even though they had a different approach to faith, and even though Romney had previously held pro-choice and pro-gay views, something for which some conservatives have criticized Trump. “I thought we were members of a faith where we were supposed to welcome converts,” said Reed.

In fact, said Reed, he thinks Trump “has the potential to be the greatest advocate for our values, and do the most to advance that agenda, precisely because he doesn’t necessarily come from where we come from.” In other words, because people don’t view Trump as a Religious Right activist, they might be more receptive to his call for ending the ban on church politicking.

Here’s Reed’s basic case for Trump, starting with the fact that “he is a professing Christian.”

More importantly…he shares our values. He’s pro-life. He’s pro-traditional marriage, which is very important to us…He’s pro-religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby Decision, supports Little Sisters of the Poor, has placed in the platform, at his insistence, at this convention, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, a call for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment to the internal revenue code, which threatens churches that speak out politically with the loss of their tax-exempt status. That has been used to harass and persecute the Christian community for over half a century. Donald Trump will end it.

RNC Preview: Dominionists To Hold Pre-Convention Christian Nation Prayer Rally

For the past couple of months, Christian-nation advocate David Lane and dominionst Doug Stringer have been organizing a day-long prayer rally that will take place in Cleveland this Saturday. Timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention, the event will be the latest in the series of “The Response” rallies organized around Republican politicians. They are modeled after a series of “The Call” events organized by dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle.

The first Response, which was promoted by some of the most extreme and divisive Religious Right figures, served as the unofficial launch of Rick Perry’s doomed presidential bid in 2011. The Perry event reflected Lane’s perennial goal of uniting conservative evangelicals behind a single candidate. Other Response rallies have been hosted by Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Pat McCrory of North Carolina.

Stringer has been on the ground in Cleveland meeting with local clergy to promote Saturday’s event as a nonpolitical opportunity for Christians to come together across racial and denominational lines to pray for America. That was also the message delivered on a pre-Response conference call last week, on which Stringer and other organizers described the event as a time of unity and prayer so that the Christian church can be a source of healing and hope at this “providential time” in our nation.

That’s the bait part of the bait-and-switch nature of these events. The switch comes at the rallies themselves, which, along with prayer and praise music, promote the Religious Right’s political agendas on abortion, LGBT rights and separation of church and state.

As we noted when the Cleveland Response was announced:

Lane and Stringer took the Response to Charlotte, North Carolina, in September 2015. At this “nonpolitical” event, Religious Right rock star David Benham talked about gay rights groups who he said were out to “force” their agenda on the country, portraying a “spiritual battle that is now waging before us in this nation, the home of the brave and the land of the free.” Lane opened the “nonpolitical” North Carolina Response rally with a prayer that talked about the lack of prayer and Bible reading in the public schools, abortion, and “homosexuals praying at the inauguration.” Another speaker prayed for God to “help us be like Kim Davis, obeying the Constitution and defying federal criminals.”

Event sponsor David Lane is an intensely political operative who believes America’s mission is to advance the Christian faith. He has been trying to organize “an army” of conservative pastors to run for office in hopes that each of them will mobilize hundreds of volunteers to help turn out the evangelical vote.

While Lane’s dream of getting Religious Right leaders to coalesce around a single candidate was, to a significant extent, achieved this year with nearly unanimous backing for Ted Cruz, many evangelical voters did not follow the script. Lane is now putting his faith in Trump, who he believes “can be one of the top 4 presidents in American history.”

Another hint of the “nonpolitical” nature of the Cleveland event comes from its promotional materials, which included a video from E.W. Jackson, a failed Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia; Jackson has called the Black Lives Matter movement “demonic,” said promotion of LGBT equality is “spitting in the face of Almighty God,” and accused President Obama of being more interested in “defending Islam” than “defending America.”

Also gathering in Cleveland before the RNC is the Council for National Policy, a secretive network that brings together activist leaders from right-wing to far, far right. Politico reported this week that Ted Cruz is meeting with the group on Friday, which may act as a quiet launch for a 2020 White House run.

 

House GOP Follows Orlando Tragedy with a License to Discriminate

On July 12, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, an odious anti-LGBT bill that would redefine and hijack the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty.
PFAW

Why Newt Gingrich is Christian Nationalists’ Dream Veep

Christian-nation extremist and political operative David Lane declared in TIME this week that Newt Gingrich would be Donald Trump’s “Dream Veep,” calling Gingrich “Churchillian” and “still the most feared Republican in America.”

It might seem strange that Christian Right figures would rally around Gingrich, the thrice-married former speaker of the House who abandoned that office nearly two decades ago after an ethics scandal and clear signs that his colleagues were about to drive him from the office. But here’s why: Gingrich has spent the past decade promoting the Christian Right’s revisionist history, beliefs about a divinely inspired American exceptionalism, anti-Obama conspiracy theories and diatribes about the supposed war on Christianity in the U.S.

For example, Gingrich and his current wife Callista, a former Hill staffer with whom he conducted an affair while married to his second wife, published an op-ed in The Washington Times in May ranting that the “secular left” is engaging in a “crusade against the role of faith in our society.”

Newt and Callista have, following in the footsteps of GOP operative David Barton, made a cottage industry out of pushing similar claims. It is certainly no coincidence that an updated third edition of the couple’s 2006 book, “Rediscovering God in America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation’s History and Future,” has just been published.

The preface to the new edition warns that “the secular Left’s effort to drive God out of America’s public square” has “only gotten worse” since the book’s original publication. And in another sign of Gingrich embracing the extreme views of Christian right leaders and their political allies, the book echoes right-wing leaders’ rhetorical attacks on the federal courts, which Mike Huckabee made a central theme of his candidacy:

For two generations we have passively accepted the judiciary’s assault on the values of the overwhelming majority of Americans. It is time to insist on judges who understand that throughout our history – and continuing to this day – Americans believe that their fundamental rights come from God and are therefore unalienable….

…Judicial supremacy...only survives due to the passivity of the executive and legislative branches, which have refused to use their respective powers to correct the Court…

If we are to truly secure our religious liberty in America, the people and their elected representatives will need to reject the theory of judicial supremacy and passivity as a response to Supreme Court rulings that ignore executive and legislative concerns and which seek to institute policy changes that constitutionally rest with Congress.

And just to make it clear, Gingrich believes a president who isn’t afraid to act can lead Congress in nullifying decisions, such as the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, that he disagrees with:

A president who believes that judicial supremacy is a threat to our freedoms will use any appropriate executive branch powers, by itself and acting in coordination with the legislative branch, to check and balance any Supreme Court decision he or she believes to be fundamentally unconstitutional.

For the past decade, “Rediscovering God in America” has become a major brand for Gingrich, Inc. It’s incorporated into the title of a second Newt-Callista book about the role of God from America’s colonial era through the civil war, and it’s in the title of not one but two Citizens United-produced “documentaries” based on the Gingrich books, a God TV special, and conferences featuring the likes of David Barton and dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle. In 2009, Right Wing Watch reported on one of the conferences and produced a highlight reel, which includes Engle praying that God will protect Gingrich from “the evil schemes of the enemy.”

But Gingrich has been doing more to win Religious Right loyalty than writing books and giving speeches. In 2008, he started an organization called Renewing American Leadership, which launched a project called Pray and ACT. Among the dominionist figures involved in the effort were Lou Engle and Lance Wallnau, who has been saying for months that Donald Trump is anointed by God.

Renewing American Leadership won fans among anti-gay activists when it poured $150,000 into the successful 2010 campaign to unseat Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in the state. Christian nationalist “historian” and GOP operative David Barton was a founding board member of Renewing American Leadership; anti-gay activist Jim Garlow was brought on as president after he made a national name for himself organizing California churches in favor of California’s Prop 8. Gingrich, Garlow and Barton hosted a conference call for pastors gloating about their 2010 victories. In it, Gingrich said that “taking on the judicial class” and telling judges that “we are not going to tolerate enforced secularization of our country” is “one of the most important things we can engage in.”

Gingrich has stuck with his attacks on secularism. In 2011, he spoke at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church and declared that he was "convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

Gingrich’s personal re-branding as a conservative Christian culture warrior explains why some of the same Religious Right figures who are backing Trump are pushing Newt for VP.

When Gingrich was campaigning for the 2012 presidential nomination, Jerry Falwell Jr. was among those who rallied to the former speaker’s side when other religious conservatives questioned his appeal to evangelical voters. (Gingrich had given the 2007 commencement address at Falwell’s Liberty University.) Lane was also among those who vouched for Gingrich during that race, as did Wallnau, who “urged adherents to read an eighteen-page treatise Garlow had written outlining the reasons conservative Christians should support Gingrich,” The Nation reported. “Among them: his ‘Churchillian fortitude,’ his ‘understanding of war’ and his talent for taking ‘a verbal chain saw to the hollow trunks of the trees of radical secularism.’”

During that 2012 presidential run, Gingrich appointed dominionist Dutch Sheets a national co-chair of his Faith Leaders Coalition. In a major 2012 story on Gingrich’s appeal to the Religious Right, The Nation’s Mariah Blake reported on Gingrich’s appearances at David Lane’s events for conservative pastors, where his remarks were “an ideological hand grenade” in the context of Barton’s Christian-nation history:

Gingrich adds that he has studied the founding documents, including the Declaration, and believes they call for “a very bold restructuring of Washington, DC, on a scale that nobody in Washington in either party is prepared to talk about.”

Lane is now making a full-court press. Back in May, he declared that Trump “can be one of the top four presidents in American history” and urged him to pick Gingrich in order to “mobilize evangelical and Catholic pro-life conservatives who stayed home in the last election cycle.” And on July 4, a day before his Gingrich endorsement in TIME, Lane was quoted in a Washington Times story raving about Gingrich:

“Newt may be the only living former legislator who can walk in on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, with the working knowledge to orchestrate and drive an agenda for limited government, deregulation of business, lower taxes and return of control to the states,” Mr. Lane said.

“Besides helping pull the wagon to get Trump elected, Newt may be the only adult in the room when it comes to governing with the institutional knowledge and grit to make the hard decisions to save America,” the Los Angeles-based Mr. Lane added.

It’s not clear what Trump sees in Gingrich, beyond his arrogance, narcissism and appeal to an important part of the Republican Party’s base that Trump is actively courting. But it might just as well be Gingrich’s reputation for cutthroat politics. During his heyday in the 1990s, Gingrich did much to encourage ugliness and bitter partisanship in American politics. A now infamous memo from his political organization GOPAC, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” urged conservatives to smear their opponents with words such as “betray,” “corrupt,” “decay,” “disgrace,” “pathetic,” “radical,” “sick,” “traitors” and many more.

Sound familiar?

Hispanic Evangelical Group Throwing Immigrants Under The Trump Train?

One legacy of the 2016 presidential campaign may well be a divide between religious and political conservatives who took a principled stance against the racist campaign of the apparently amoral Donald Trump, and those who jumped on board the Trump train in spite of his long record of lies, abusive and divisive rhetoric, and his shameless, transparently cynical use of religion to promote his candidacy.

Those divides may be clarifying in the wake of Trump’s meeting with hundreds of religious conservative leaders on Tuesday in what organizers had laughably described as a nonpolitical conversation.  At least it seems to becoming clearer where Samuel Rodriguez and his National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) are going to stand. And it’s not with the immigrants who Trump bashes as a core of his campaign strategy.

As we’ve noted before, Rodriguez loves positioning himself as someone who is above partisan politics even while acting as a Religious Right culture warrior whose main political goal is to get more Hispanics to vote for conservative candidates. Rodriguez has spent years telling conservative white evangelicals that they’re wrong to want to deport millions of Hispanic Christian immigrants, telling them that Jesus-loving Hispanic immigrants can help save Christian culture in America. Conservatives are hurting themselves, he has argued, by pushing Hispanics away with harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Along those lines, Rodriguez has publicly criticized Trump’s bigoted language about Mexicans, Latino immigrants, and Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump has accused of being biased because of his Mexican-American heritage. Last November, NHCLC’s Executive Vice President Tony Suarez said, “The only thing more embarrassing than his campaign is watching preachers support Trump and even manipulate scripture to invent false prophecies regarding Trump.” 

In April, Suarez met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders to discuss “the political and spiritual direction of the Republican Party.” According to an NHCLC press conference at the time, Suarez “addressed the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the upcoming election and the spiritual implications surrounding the immigration issue.”

"The members of Congress, specifically those that profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, must prayerfully consider the spiritual implications of mass deportation, as well as the current strategies espoused by both Republican candidates," said Suarez. "If a mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country were to take place, it would virtually close most Hispanic churches in our country." 

After Trump’s perfunctory video message to an NHCLC conference in May included no mea culpa for his anti-immigrant demagoguery, Rodriguez said, “I have no plans on endorsing Donald Trump whatsoever.”

Since then there have been no signs that Donald Trump is willing to reconsider, prayerfully or otherwise, his plans for a “deportation force” or his insistence that he will build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it – a centerpiece of his campaign. And he has not apologized for his despicable smear of Judge Curiel, and by extension all Americans of Mexican heritage.

But politics is politics, and now Suarez, despite his past criticism of Trump, is on Trump’s new “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” while officially remaining uncommitted to him. And even Rodriguez is telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that yesterday’s meeting could be “a tipping point” for evangelicals and Trump, praising the candidate’s “very well-defined, articulated commitment to religious liberty and life, the Supreme Court especially….”

If you were paying attention, you could see this coming. Rodriguez has given Trump political cover before, saying that Trump is not a racist and blaming liberal media for promoting the idea that he is. And last month Rodriguez declared that it is every Christian’s duty to vote and that getting conservative justices on the Supreme Court is more important than immigration reform.

Another NHCLC leader, Mario Bramnick, was among evangelicals who met privately with Trump last month; Bramnick emerged gushing about Trump’s “genuineness” and “tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.” Two months earlier, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference, where he declared in prayer that “the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening.”

Reports from and about the most recent meeting seem to show Trump in typical form, calling himself a “tremendous believer,” questioning the faith of Hillary Clinton, and telling people not to pray for political leaders who “are selling Christianity down the tubes.”  Trump pandered to the conservative Christian activists by saying “You really don’t have religious freedom” and pledging to “get rid of” IRS restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. He said he’d make Macy’s put “Merry Christmas” signs in its store windows. And he promised them Supreme Court justices hand-picked by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.

In putting together this event and building an advisory board without requiring its members to endorse him, Trump’s campaign seemed to be trying to recreate a critical moment in the marriage between the Religious Right and the Republican Party – a day in 1980 in which Ronald Reagan said to thousands of evangelical leaders, “I know you can’t endorse me … but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you’re doing.” In a press release about Trump’s new advisory committee, the campaign said:

The leaders on the executive board were not asked to endorse Mr. Trump as a prerequisite for participating on the board.

Rather, the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from Evangelical leaders, communities and voters, winning the majority of the Evangelical vote throughout the primaries.

The meeting appears to have had its intended effect, and not only with Rodriguez. The conservative Townhall reported that Pastor Michael Anthony felt that God was speaking through Trump to encourage pastors to get more involved in politics to defend religious freedom. “I think that no matter what political party you’re a part of, if you were in this room today, you would have to admit there was a unity and a gentleness in this meeting that were remarkable,” said Anthony. “If we can do this in a room of 1,000, I think there’s hope for the nation.”

Matt Barber: Christians Must Take America Back From Demonic 'Islamo-Progressive Axis Of Evil'

At last week’s Road To Majority conference sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America, anti-gay pundit and Liberty University law school associate dean Matt Barber promoted his new book, “Hating Jesus: The American Left’s War on Christianity.”

Barber’s remarks were a typically toxic mix, portraying Christians in America as being under assault from the “secular left, so-called progressives, orthodox Islamists and other pagan traditions, as well as fanatical atheists and others.”

Mankind’s enduring culture war, this is something we did not start. It’s nothing new. It first began in a garden, long ago, and today has reached a fever pitch worldwide, and right here in America in our own backyard. The battle lines are drawn, not so much as between conservative and liberal, as many presume, but rather between biblical and unbiblical, between truth versus deception, and in its most distilled form, the culture war is really a worldly manifestation of an otherworldly battle between good and evil.

Barber admiringly quoted Catholic Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has equated “atheistic secularism” and Islamic fundamentalism with Nazism and communism, “almost like the beasts of the apocalypse.” These two movements, he said, have “the same demonic origin.”

Barber said the progressive left is overwhelmingly anti-Semitic and anti-conservative-Christian, and called President Obama an “apologist for radical Islam.” And he repeated the Religious Right’s charge that the LGBT equality movement is somehow allied with radical Islamic jihadists in a war against Christian civilization:

Liberals and Islamists seem to have forged a bizarre and notably incongruous partnership that I call the Islamo-progressive axis of evil. You ever notice? It just defies logic that secular leftists will trip over themselves to make excuses for radical Islamists who, believe me, they’re coming for them too. The only explanation that I can see for this strange connection is best illustrated by the old adage, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ And the common enemy, of course, is who? Christ Jesus. It is the person of Christ Jesus who is truth. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through him. He is the personification, the embodiment of truth, and so they align against him. And so, Christians in America, ladies and gentlemen, are under attack…

Is this George Washington’s America or is this Joseph Stalin’s Russia? It’s starting — the lines are becoming pretty blurred ... We American Christians are now struggling to maintain our fundamental constitutional freedoms, and are now living under the daily threat of legal, reputational and even physical abuse simply for exercising our faith. Now let me be clear here. We are moving from a soft persecution to a hard persecution here in the United States. Now we’re not being beheaded. No, we’re not being burned alive … but we need to be praying for our brothers and sisters around the world.  We are on that trajectory.

Like many speakers at Road to Majority, Barber denounced efforts to protect the ability of transgender people to use facilities appropriate for their gender identity, portraying the issue in apocalyptic terms:

There are wicked sacrileges being forced upon the American people today, things we couldn’t even imagine five years ago, by our own godless government in the name of so-called progress. Things like utterly evil and insane presidential edicts that open up little girls’ bathrooms and showers to grown men terrorizing themselves, violating their privacy and threatening their safety … Things like the sin-centric and oxymoronic notion of genderless marriage; forced taxpayer funding of child sacrifice and forced participation by Christ’s followers in all of the above sins, under penalty of law, to name but a few of these travesties that are being foisted upon us.

Amid the sprint to the election 2016, the secular left’s utter disdain for both Christ and his followers is reaching a fever pitch. Self-styled progressives, and that is America’s cultural Marxist agents of ruin … they typically disguise their designs on despotism in the flowery and euphemistic language of  and you have heard all of these  reproductive health, anti-discrimination, civil rights and their favorite, of course, multiculturalism. But their ultimate goal here is to silence all dissent and force Christians to conform to their pagan demand or, potentially, face even incarceration.

In addition, said Barber, the U.S. has become “a global force for evil” whose chief export is immorality.

On top of this, the United States has become, in many ways, a global force for evil. Once the moral authority of the world, our chief export now is immorality. We are evangelizing against Christianity as a government, official government policy, pushing radical homosexualism, pushing the transgender agenda worldwide, and using the power of the purse to blackmail countries, poor countries, into acquiescing and casting aside their Christian history and beliefs and embracing this evil …

And also like other speakers, Barber promoted the importance of electing Donald Trump to the White House without mentioning him by name, calling the upcoming election “absolutely critical” to the future of the nation. Christians are called to be salt to the culture, said Barber, and when the culture is an open wound, salt is going to burn. America is “ripe for revival,” he said. “We are going to burn people.”

We must fight back as Christians. It’s time to stop being nicer than Jesus … there is such a thing as righteous anger. We need to be angry because righteousness is being trampled and evil is being promoted to your children …

We can set this nation back on a path toward peace and prosperity and, most importantly, a deep love for God, both individually and, as our founding fathers intended, corporately. We can take America back for Christ, but we can only do it with and through Jesus Christ himself.

 

Move Over, Putin: Scott Lively Has A New Anti-Gay Strongman-Crush

Like other Religious Right leaders, American globe-trotting anti-gay activist Scott Lively has long been a vocal supporter of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay policies. A few years ago Lively wrote Putin a gushing fan letter praising his “moral leadership” and “firm and unequivocal stand” against “the seemingly unstoppable spread of homosexuality.” He even tucked in a copy of his infamous book, “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” saying he hoped that the U.S. and Russia would be able to cooperate in the future and “redeem the future of mankind from a Fascist Leviathan, just as we did in World War II.”

But Putin is apparently no longer the only apple of Lively’s eye. On Monday, Lively posted a reflection about his latest authoritarian man-crush, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who Lively calls a modern hero of the Christian faith. Lively seems unconcerned about Orbán’s attacks on religious freedom.

Orbán makes no effort to hide his “illiberal” authoritarian nationalist vision. A year ago, in a Politico article titled “Europe’s New Dictator,” Colin Woodard wrote that Orbán’s “dictatorial tendencies” were laying “the course of a deepening tragedy at the heart of Europe with lasting implications for the west.” Woodard notes that Orbán and his party have purged the civil service, packed the courts with political loyalists, restricted freedom of the press, and rewritten the Constitution to give a sheen of legitimacy to all of his efforts. He’s also gone after government watchdog groups and other nonprofits.

Last fall, Foreign Policy’s James Traub published a series of articles on Hungary’s rightward shift, in which he labeled Orbán a “right-wing demagogue” and quoted an analyst saying that while Orbán is not religious, he “constantly invoked Hungary’s ‘Christian’ culture.”

Lively is particularly offended that former U.S. President Bill Clinton criticized recent anti-democratic trends in Poland and Hungary, “two countries that would not have been free but for the United States and the long Cold War.” Lively fumes:

First of all, it must be pointed out that Bill Clinton has absolutely no right to speak for the generation of Americans that liberated Europe because that generation, including its leaders, was Christian. The “democratic” values it fought to preserve and promote included quite prominently the right to life, the sanctity of marriage and the natural family, and the concept of national sovereignty. The “democratic values” of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are abortion, homosexuality, and global socialism.

If by “democracy” Clinton means the will of the people versus government tyranny he is doubly discredited. The people of Hungary (and Poland and Russia) overwhelmingly support family values and oppose open borders, while the Clinton/Obama cabal are blatantly, tyrannically and lawlessly ignoring the will of the American public by ramming “gay marriage” and the LGBT agenda down our throats and inviting third world invaders to illegally flood across our southern border by the millions.

Under the Christian leadership of Prime Minister Orban, the Hungarian constitution was revised in 2011 to state that human life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one women. More recently, Mr. Orban had shown great courage in defying the European Union’s suicidal “open borders” policies, especially regarding the threat represented by Islamic “immigrants.”

If these Biblically consistent positions that the leaders of Hungary and Poland have taken on behalf of the majority of their citizens make them “Putin-like,” then perhaps the rest of the world should give Putin more respect in comparison to Clinton and Obama. If that’s what it means to be “Putin-like,” the intended condemnation is actually a compliment.

Lively encourages his readers to send Orbán “a note of support and thanks.”

FRC’s Weak Defense Of Its Skewed Idea Of ‘Religious Liberty’

We were delighted to see that Tony Perkins — or one of the Family Research Council writers who helps him put together his daily “Washington Update” email — has read People For the American Way Foundation’s recent report, “Who is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?” While Perkins declared that the report is “not perfect” — aww — he is proud that we recognized FRC as one of the leading groups pushing legislation that would give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious liberty.

We do have a few quibbles about Perkins’ response, in addition to its Trumpian and not-very-original headline, “People For the UnAmerican Way.”

Perkins says we are wrong to describe FRC as “anti-gay,” explaining, “What we are is a Christian organization that refuses to accept as moral any behavior God declares is immoral and damaging to individuals and society.” Now some might take Perkins’ declaration that gay people are per se immoral and dangerous, like FRC’s support for laws that punish homosexuality with prison terms, to be at least a little bit anti-gay.

Perkins does call us “anti-Christian,” without offering any evidence. It's rather ironic that FRC would label us "anti-Christian" for daring to highlight the bigotry of individual conservative Christian activists and Religious Right organizations, but insist that they are not in any way "anti-gay" even though they openly advocate for discrimination against an entire class of people based solely on their sexual orientation. 

It’s good to remember that when Religious Right leaders use the word “Christian,” what they usually mean is “Christians who share my right-wing political beliefs.” Perkins should be careful throwing around the term anti-Christian. After all, he doesn’t believe that gay-affirming Christians deserve legal protection because their views are not sufficiently orthodox.

On the question of religious liberty: We support it. We encourage progressive people of faith to make their voices heard in the public arena so that Perkins and FRC and their allies cannot credibly claim — though they try — to speak for all Christians or people of faith. As FRC’s own actions make abundantly clear, the First Amendment protects their right to preach, publish, broadcast, and advocate for their beliefs about the immorality of homosexuality. We support the Family Research Council’s right to celebrate, as it recently did, the launch of an international “pro-family” group that includes some of the world’s most religiously repressive regimes. And we support Perkins' right to define and defend religious liberty in very selective ways.

But here’s where we differ. We don’t think that supporting religious freedom is the same thing as allowing individuals or corporations to use religious beliefs as a blanket justification for ignoring laws that promote the common good or taking actions that restrict the rights of other people. Religious liberty is a cherished constitutional principle; so is equality under the law.

Oddly, the last paragraph of Perkins’ response to our report is devoted to quoting research that going to church is good for a person’s health, as if our report had somehow suggested that people should not be part of a religious community. As part of his litany, Perkins suggested that being a churchgoer “is one of the greatest ways to treat the modern culture’s disease — of incivility, hostility and general pessimism.” Perkins and his group don’t exactly provide a lot of support for that theory. In fact, incivility, hostility and general pessimism are a pretty good description of the rhetoric FRC uses about LGBT people and their other perceived enemies in fundraising mail, model sermons and public pronouncements.

 

The Movers Behind The Anti-LGBT 'Religious Liberty' Movement

In the first few months of this year, for the second year in a row, more than 100 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures, many of them promoted under the banner of protecting religious liberty.  A new report by People For the American Way Foundation, “Who is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?,” explains that “it takes a right-wing village to turn a cherished American principle into a destructive culture-war weapon.”

The report makes clear that the wave of anti-equality legislation promoted in the name of religious liberty is not an outgrowth of local conflicts but the latest step in a long-term campaign by national Religious Right legal and political groups to resist legal equality for LGBT people. As Americans have come to know and embrace their LGBT family members and friends, harsh anti-gay rhetoric has become less effective, says the report, leading social conservatives to try to reclaim the moral and political high ground by reframing debates over marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections as questions of religious liberty.

These efforts are being promoted by “a network of national Religious Right organizations that oppose legal recognition for the rights of LGBT people,” notes the report, which profiles some of the leading organizations while noting that they “represent the tip of the iceberg of a much larger movement that is trying to eliminate legal access to abortion and roll back legal protections for LGBT people, couples, and families — and trying to do so in the name of religious liberty.”

The groups covered in the report include:

·         Family Research Council and FRC Action

·         Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action

·         National Organization for Marriage

·         Alliance Defending Freedom

·         Liberty Counsel

·         American Family Association

·         Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

·         American Principles Project

The report includes links to additional resources on the organizations behind the Right’s use of religious liberty as political strategy for resisting equality. 

New Report Details the Religious Right Groups Weaponizing Religious Liberty

Today, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAW Foundation) released a new report analyzing the Religious Right groups that are co-opting the American principle of “religious liberty” to drive anti-LGBT legislation across the country. The report, “Who Is Weaponizing Religious Liberty? It Takes a Right-Wing Village to Turn a Cherished American Principle Into a Destructive Culture-War Weapon,” details the efforts of key groups including the Family Research Council and FRC Action, Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action, the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association, the Becket Fund, and the American Principles Project.

PFAW Foundation President Michael Keegan stated:

“The discriminatory and unconstitutional anti-LGBT laws that we’re seeing across the country aren’t emerging organically; they’re part of a deliberate strategy to attack LGBT people. This report shows how national Religious Right groups are driving this state-by-state campaign, and they’re undermining real religious liberty in the process.” 

The report explains:

“[The] flood of anti-LGBT and ‘religious liberty’ legislation is not the result of isolated local efforts. It is part of a larger campaign by Religious Right groups to resist and reverse advances toward equality for LGBT Americans by portraying equality as inherently incompatible with religious freedom.

“Together these organizations constitute a powerful cultural and political force that will not disappear after a few losses in the courtroom or at the ballot box. Indeed, in the wake of their marriage equality defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, they have redoubled their efforts. They are eagerly creating folk heroes out of public officials and business owners who refuse to provide services to same-sex couples. And they are pushing Republican officials to enact legislation at federal as well as state levels that would further weaponize religious liberty, turning it from a shield meant to protect individual religious practice into a sword to be wielded against individuals and groups disfavored by Religious Right leaders.”

As the report notes, opposition to reproductive choice and the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act are also part of social conservatives’ “religious liberty” strategy.

You can read the report here. For questions, or to schedule an interview with an expert on the issues discussed in this report, please email media@pfaw.org.

People For the American Way Foundation is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

###
 

Who Is Weaponizing Religious Liberty?

It takes a right-wing village to turn a cherished American principle into a destructive culture-war weapon.

RNC Faith Liaison: Supreme Court Will Bring Religious Right Voters To Trump

The Republican Party’s faith outreach director, former South Carolina GOP chair Chad Connelly, says conservative Christians will vote for Donald Trump based on the future of the Supreme Court.

The biggest thing on evangelicals’ minds, I think, is the fact that we’re gonna be looking at a Supreme Court that could be vastly different going forward. And electing somebody like Hillary Clinton, who is obviously biased against the things that most evangelicals, Christians believe in, would be disastrous for religious liberty, for property rights, gun rights, religious freedom and stuff like that. I think it’s gonna settle out just fine and our folks will go our way.

Connelly told CBN’s Heather Sells that his friends and fellow church members had been split among Republican candidates, but that voters have now “given us two choices.” Trump’s plans to meet with Religious Right leaders and activists next month are, said Connelly, a sign that Trump knows you “don’t leave anybody out, especially not the base.”

Connelly travels the country encouraging pastors to register their congregants to vote and convince them to cast ballots based on a “biblical worldview.” Like speakers at virtually every Religious Right gathering, he said that what’s happened to the country “is literally our fault” because pastors haven’t preached aggressively enough. “Voting is not political,” he said, “it’s spiritual. It’s our witness and testimony to the community of what we believe in.”

He said he doesn’t think conservative pastors going to sit on the sidelines any more. He tells pastors, “Get your people registered and talk to them about the issues of the day and then make sure they go vote those issues in the voting booth.”

I spoke at a church…not long ago where the pastor kind of apologized to his congregation before he introduced me. He said he’d been preaching for 39 years and had never tried to connect the dots of the things going on with biblical worldview, and he said, “that’s gonna change.”

Asked whether Trump should apologize to Latino Christians who have been offended by his rhetoric, Connelly said, “I’ll leave his campaign decisions to him” and pivoted back to the Supreme Court.

I’ve been with Latino and African American and Anglo pastors all over the nation and they see this Supreme Court deal as a very big thing. You know the next president’s gonna probably appoint two, maybe three, and potentially four Supreme Court justices. That’s a 50-year decision for Christians out there.

To those conservative Christians who aren’t happy with their choices, Connelly says, “no man’s perfect.” But he says that people who are upset about Planned Parenthood and “judges rewriting God’s definition of marriage” should realize that “the Republican Party is the natural home for people of faith.”

Says Connelly, “I mean, let’s face it...it may be 100 years before the other party swings back and pays any attention to Christian values and biblical values like you and I care about.”

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd also cited the Supreme Court in defending his decision to meet with Trump in June:

This election is about who will appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices. This election is about the dignity of human life from the womb to the tomb. This election is about the most significant religious freedom concerns in American history. I'm not about to sit at home on Election Day because I'm accountable to God and, I believe, I am accountable to my fellow Americans to vote. This is why I am meeting with Donald Trump, and why I would be willing to also meet with Hillary Clinton.

Trump Offers No Apologies For Rhetoric, But Some Conservative Latinos Warming To Him

As we reported last week, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez gave Donald Trump a chance to “redeem the narrative” with Latino voters by showing a videotaped message from the candidate to attendees at an NHCLC gathering last Friday; a video from Hillary Clinton was also played. Rodriguez has criticized Trump’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and mass deportation plan, but has also given him political cover, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last month that Trump is not a racist and blaming such a characterization on “liberal media.”

Rodriguez has said he hopes Trump will apologize for his “hurtful, erroneous, and dangerous statements” about Latino immigrants. And he said earlier last week that he would only show Trump’s video if he deemed it sufficiently conciliatory and respectful.

Conciliatory and respectful are clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Trump’s two-and-a-half minute video, apparently shot on a cell phone while he sat in his private jet reading from a piece of paper, included no apologies for any of the harsh rhetoric that Rodriguez has complained about.

Instead, Trump made the kind of broad promises that have characterized his campaign — creating good schools, safe communities and providing “massive tax cuts” for the middle class — without many details about how he would do so, other than controlling immigration and making “great trade deals.” Hillary Clinton’s video did address Trump’s rhetoric without mentioning him by name, saying, “That is not who we are as a people.”

Trump told Hispanics that poor people would pay nothing under his tax plan: “You’re going to start paying taxes after you’re making a lot of money, and hopefully that is going to be soon.” Other tidbits from his video:

  • “The world is taking our jobs and we’ve got to stop it. We’re going to take care of minority unemployment. It’s a huge problem, it’s really unfair to minorities, and we are going to solve that problem.”
  • “National. Hispanic. Christian. Three great words. We’re gonna to take care of you, we’re gonna work with you, you’re gonna be very happy, you’re gonna like president Trump.”
  • “I’m going to win and we’re going to take care of everybody. Our country is going to be unified for the first time in a long time”

Before the NHCLC conference last week, Trump met privately with some evangelical leaders, in a meeting arranged by Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Representing NHCLC at the meeting was Mario Bramnick, who praised Trump’s “genuineness.”

“Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants,” he said. “We all came out really sensing his genuineness.”

He added: “We didn’t get into specifics other than that he wants to work with us, work with the Hispanic community, Hispanic leadership on substantive policy regarding immigration.”

Bramnick also said Trump embraced the Religious Right’s “Christian persecution” narrative, telling Charisma:

"He told us in the meeting that he's very, very concerned that Christians are losing their rights in America, that we no longer can even speak or express what we believe," Bramnick said. "And he did say that if he becomes president, he's going to change things to make sure that we as Christians have our religious liberties restored. He said he's concerned about Christians, he's concerned about Jews, and he wants to help."

In March, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s “Awakening” conference, quoting Cindy Jacobs’ prophecy that Florida had determined that George W. Bush would be president and that God would use Florida to shift the nation again. “God by his Holy Spirit can appoint the president that God has ordained,” said Bramnick.

At the Awakening conference, Bramnick prayed:

Father, awaken the sleeping the church. Unite us. We come against the diabolic spirit of division in the body of Christ, that spirit that would put us to sleep, spirits of anti-Christ and witchcraft, and we declare out of Orlando, the church of Jesus Christ is arising, not by power, not by might, but by your spirit. And father we declare out of Orlando, shift for Florida, shift for the United States, and the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States, and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening…

It’s not just the NHCLC giving Trump another look. Some other Latino conservatives are showing some willingness to rally around him. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar noted over the weekend that last October, Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush White House official who now heads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said Trump was “done” in the eyes of the Latino community. Aguilar declared, “If Donald Trump is the GOP candidate, we won’t work to support him and we are sure he will lose the general election because there’s no way a GOP candidate can win the White House if they don’t get more support from Latino voters.” But now that Trump is the nominee, Aguilar is singing a different tune, saying that if Trump were to “seek my support and show he’s willing to change his tone and be open to some form of legalization, I would be willing to reconsider my position.”

BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo recently noted that there are a lot of major conferences coming up. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have both sent formal invitations but “have had difficulties getting responses from the Trump campaign.” The National Council of La Raza has not yet decided whether to invite Trump to its July conference.

 

 

Liberty Counsel: Send Money To Help Roy Moore Resist Supreme Court Marriage Tyranny

Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group that is actively promoting efforts by right-wing judges, lawmakers and activists to nullify U.S. Supreme Court rulings on abortion and marriage equality, is raising money for its ongoing support of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. As Miranda reported yesterday, Moore’s backers are holding a rally on Saturday to support his defiance of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. 

In a direct mail letter, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver warns that Moore and other Christian leaders “are facing intense backlash for upholding God’s unwavering TRUTH.”

“In Alabama and across America, state judiciaries and legislatures are standing up against the federal judiciary, resisting tyrannical rule and upholding the moral law of God,” writes Staver, who asks for money to “defend Christian leaders who are being targeted by deep-pocketed, radical activists.”

Staver says “you and I must continue to pray and take an active stand against the forces destroying the foundations of our nation.” More from his letter:

I support Chief Justice Moore’s action that sends a “shot across the bow” regarding the Supreme Court’s egregious 5-4 marriage opinion on same-sex “marriage.” The United States Constitution does not prohibit states from affirming the natural crated order of one man and one woman joined together in marriage.

Like Daniel in the lion’s den, Chief Justice Moore is being persecuted for his faith by liberal legal professionals and radical LGGBT activists. But like Daniel, Chief Justice Moore will not bend, having faith that God will protect those who seek and follow His Word.

Staver asks recipients of the letter to sign and return (along with some money) a “Vote of Confidence” letter to Moore, which says in part:

Thank you for not bowing your knee to the U.S. Supreme Court’s egregious 5-4 marriage opinion on same-sex “marriage.” No civil authority, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has the authority to define marriage as anything but the union of one man and one woman!

I pray that God continues to guide and protect you, and to give you and other Christian leaders the continuing strength to turn the tide of immorality sweeping our nation.

Staver also includes a card reminding people to pray for Moore that he suggests placing in your Bible or on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.

 

Anti-Gay Activism Trumps Religious Freedom At UN 'Family' Event

Religious Right activists say they’re fighting to save religious liberty in America from the gay rights movement, but many of the same leaders are happy to partner with the most religiously repressive regimes in order to resist advances toward LGBT equality around the world.

Consider Monday’s “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World” event at the United Nations. It was sponsored by anti-gay and anti-choice groups like the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and Family Watch International, which work to keep LGBT-friendly language out of international documents and agreements. Their cosponsors included the 25 countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF), a coalition of UN member states created last year to “reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Among the freedom-loving members of GoFF whose representatives spoke at Monday’s “high-level event” was Iran, which the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has just accused of seeking to “eradicate” the country’s Baha’is.

In fact, there’s a lot of overlap between GoFF members and countries identified by the Commission, currently chaired* by social conservative strategist Robert George, as the worst in the world for religious freedom: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iraq. Also included in GoFF are countries where anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have been generating hostility and threatening the lives and freedoms of LGBT people, including Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

But there was no talk of that unpleasantness at Monday’s three-hour event, which featured GoFF delegates pushing to have the U.N. emphasize “pro-family” policies in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The GoFF “Statement in Support of the Family” was presented by Valentin Rybakov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus, where, according to Human Rights Watch, authorities “pressure and arrest human rights activists and critics on spurious charges” and “regularly harass independent and opposition journalists.” Of course, there’s a similar situation in Russia, which doesn’t keep American Religious Right groups from swooning over Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies.

One of Putin’s defenders is C-Fam’s Austin Ruse. In a Monday email to his supporters, Ruse bragged that C-Fam “was asked by a number of Member States to organize this conference,” adding that “the family is under extreme pressure at the UN from those who want to redefine the family and to accept the notion that two people of the same sex can create a family and adopt children.”

At the UN, Ruse singled out Sudan and Saudi Arabia for praise, citing situations in which their representatives had “saved” UN documents from unwanted language on the family. For the record, the USCIRF calls Saudi Arabia “uniquely repressive” when it comes to religious freedom and says Sudan’s government “represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.”

During his remarks at the event, Ruse said the powerful force that “family” advocates are up against is the sexual revolution, which portrays family as a “patriarchal prison where pleasure and freedom go to die.” Without any apparent sense of irony, he declared that “tyrants have always known” that the family is “the real enemy to what they want” and its destruction is “how they get to the individual.”

Ruse announced the creation of a new coalition, Civil Society for the Family, which he said would be active in supporting GoFF’s work in defense of “traditional morality.”

The event also featured remarks from C-FAM’s Susan Yoshihara, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, Human Life International’s Shenan Boquet, CitizenGo and HazteOir’s Gregory Mertz, the Institute for Family Policy’s Lola Volarde, and anti-marriage-equality activists Sherif Girgis and Helen Alvaré. Religious leaders who spoke included California pastor and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens and Catholic Bishop John O’Hara of the Archdiocese of New York, who assured the group that they have Cardinal Dolan’s “enthusiastic support.”

A few highlights from other speakers:

  • Sharon Slater, representing Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Caucus, said she is deeply concerned about the “global assault” on the “health and innocence of children” from comprehensive sexuality education, which she called a “war on children and our families.”
  • FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that attempts to create a new definition of marriage that distances it from its roots in the “order of nature itself” are inconsistent with countries’ responsibility to protect and support the institution. Marriage, he said, “predates all other forms of government” and “it is not the place of government to redefine or interfere with the natural family.”
  • Gregory Mertz, representing what he said are the 4.3 million members of CitizenGo and HazteOir, online organizing platforms for social conservatives, said the definition of family is “routinely under attack” and that the U.N. ignores its obligation to protect it. Last year when GoFF’s creation was announced, CitizenGo asked people to sign a petition praising these “brave governments” in order to “show these courageous countries” that “we stand behind them 100 percent.”
  • Sherif Girgis, co-author with Robert George and Ryan Anderson of a book on marriage, said that undermining the “stabilizing norms of marriage” will hurt “every aspect of the common good that a stable marriage serves.”
  • Susan Yoshihara told a story about being shut down by school officials when she wanted to opt her young daughter out of a reading of a book that talked about families with two dads or two moms. She said there would have been more of a conversation before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, but that officials’ attitude now is “we won, you lose” — which she said was an example of why the law matters, and why it is important to resist changes in international law.
  • Helen Alvaré described defense of the family as both a rational and noble calling and said one can simultaneously affirm the “radical equality” of men and women while also recognizing their intrinsic complementarity, the topic of a 2014 Vatican conference for which Alvaré served as spokesperson. 

The statements from GoFF representatives were short and often repetitive statements about the centrality of the family to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Russian delegate discussed Putin’s promotion of “traditional family values” and noted that the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics, has named 2017 the Year of the Family. The Russian representative also said it is important to UN organizations to stay within their mandates and for countries that support traditional families to speak up so that silence isn’t considered an acceptance of “dangerous trends.” He made a reference to pro-LGBT stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration in February, which infuriated some “traditional family” supporters. He said supporters of the traditional values need to be more active at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The representative of Sudan also talked about the divinely created complementarity inherent in “the nature of each sex.” He complained that many international documents on women do not recognize the natural family but “deliberately seek to weaken and erode it.” Efforts to promote alternative forms of the family are incompatible with universal principles in human culture “which distinguish us humans from the rest of God’s creation.”

The event had a bit of theater as well. A short video from Family Watch International showed a succession of people saying nice things about families, including Janice Shaw Crouse and Alexey Komov — who are currently attending another global social conservative event, the World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia — among others. In addition, half a dozen children took turns reading “A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families: A Call from the Children of the World,” a document promoted by the UN Family Rights Caucus that they say has been signed “by thousands of children from every continent of the world.” Among its claims: Every child has a right to a married mother and father and the “right to innocence and childhood”— which is cited to attack sex ed programs and could be used to defend the kind of anti-gay “propaganda” laws that Russia and other countries are using to squelch advocacy for equality in the name of protecting children.

* UpdateHouse Speaker Paul Ryan announced on May 18 that Robert George has completed his second term and has been replaced on the Commission by the executive director of the Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz.

Samuel Rodriguez: Getting Conservative SCOTUS Trumps Immigration Reform

As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform.

But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations.

While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’s all-but-certain nomination, Rodriguez makes it clear that he is first and foremost a Religious Right culture warrior.

Rodriguez pushes the Religious Right line that religious freedom is threatened in America. There is an attempt to “silence Christians” in America, he says, and Christians cannot sit out elections because “today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.” He also believes there is a spiritual battle under way to “annihilate” the family.

In the end, his advocacy for immigrant families takes a back seat to his opposition to legal abortion and marriage equality. He said as much at an Evangelicals for Life event in January, telling Latinos that it’s fine to march for immigration reform —“as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” — but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

Although Rodriguez manages to cultivate a public image as a nonpartisan bridge-builder, he regularly partners with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right. The stridently anti-gay Liberty Counsel serves as NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver serves as an NHCLC board member and its chief legal counsel. Last fall Rodriguez called Cindy Jacobs, who has predicted a new civil war between God-loving and gay-loving states,  “one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God.”

In a story last week by right-wing pundit Todd Starnes of Fox News, Rodriguez dismissed talk by some evangelical leaders that Christians should, in the words of pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Of evils choose none.” Rodriguez says not voting is “sacrificing your Christian worldview on the altar of political expediency. It is silly to talk about not voting for either candidate. Every single Christian should vote.”

And while Rodriguez doesn’t mention Trump by name, it is clear that he will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders:

“I will vote my Christian values,” Rodriguez said. “It’s life, the family ethos, it’s religious liberty, it’s limited government. That’s the person I’m going to vote for.”

Rodriquez conceded that the 2016 candidates are not his “dream team” – but he’s only concerned about one issue – the Supreme Court.

“I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists – that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.”

This is a very different message than Rodriguez conveyed in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in July, which he co-wrote with Southern Baptist official Russell Moore, where he described Trump as an unchristian, unethical and unelectable politician.

Trump tweeted earlier this week that Moore is “a terrible representative of Evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart!”

Unlike Rodriguez, Moore is standing by his opposition to Trump.

 

Tony Perkins: If Americans Followed Obama, The Koran Would Be The State Book Of Tennessee

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, devoted his “Washington Watch” radio program yesterday to discussing a Tennessee bill making the Bible the state’s official book, which was vetoed by the state’s Republican governor after being approved by its legislature.

At one point, a listener called in to share his wish that “the United States government would enact a bill where the Holy Bible was the Bible of the United States,” noting that many government buildings have references to the Bible on them.

Perkins responded that “if the left has their way, they’re going to break out the jackhammers and the sandblasters and they’re going to try to take that off of the buildings. They’re trying to certainly take it out of the hearts and minds of people, especially our children, as they drive it far from our schools and now from the public square, and eventually they’re going to get back around to these buildings.”

He told the caller that he was right that “the best defense is a good offense” and that “we need to show that, you know what, the American people are not going to take this lying down. We have every right to have our views reflected in our government by our elected officials.”

Perkins then returned to a conversation he had had with an earlier caller who had opposed the Tennessee bill and asked Perkins how he would feel if a state named the Koran its official book.

“Well, if the Koran as the state book could get through Tennessee,” he said, “our nation is a lot worse off than I ever thought, even though after we’ve had Barack Obama for seven years and I know he’s done everything he can to promote Islam in this country, but we’re not at that point yet because the American people are not following him.”

The Religious Right’s Bicoastal Political Prayer Rally Weekend

Two major prayer rallies organized by Religious Right figures are being held on Saturday —one at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and one in Los Angeles. The two events will be linked with a simulcast “Bridge to Prayer.”

The Washington event, United Cry DC 16, is scheduled to run for seven hours and will be broadcast on GodTV. It features an impressive number of familiar Religious Right figures, including Tony Perkins, Jerry Boykin, Harry Jackson, Samuel Rodriguez, Jim Garlow, Alveda King and E.W. Jackson. Joining them will be bestselling doomsday author and “Messianic” Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz and “Hour of Power” preacher Bobby Schuller.

Also in the lineup is Doug Stringer, the “apostle” who has hosted a number of “The Response” political prayer rallies organized by Christian nationalist political operative David Lane in recent years with Republican governors like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley and Pat McCrory.

WorldNetDaily is excited about the event, promoting it with a breathless story, declaring “what an assembly it promises to be.” WND even tries to put a good face on the lousy weather forecast, saying, “Perhaps the Almighty is already calling attention to the event by providing some freakish spring weather, with the possibility of snow in the forecast. But hardy souls will brave the elements because they consider the gathering a divine calling.”  A Thursday email from event organizer Lewis Hogan was not so excited about the weather, urging people to pray away the rain.

This is not the first “solemn assembly” called by Religious Right leaders to put America on the right path during an election year. While the Great Awakening whose beginning is predicted at every Religious Right event hasn’t yet materialized, organizers believe it’s just around the corner. Meanwhile, they say, America’s embrace of marriage equality is just asking for God’s wrath.

In WND’s story about United Cry DC, Rabbi Cahn complained that America hasn’t heeded his warnings:

In the course of the last few years, America has not turned back to God but has grown much farther from Him. We’ve witnessed a rapid acceleration in the nation’s apostasy from God and His ways. We have called good evil and evil good. We are now at the threshold of persecuting God’s people as we celebrate godlessness. The Bible is very clear on the consequences. To any nation that has been given so much as America, much is required. If we don’t turn back to God, we are advancing toward judgment.

“The fact that it is also the year of a presidential election and a critical moment with regard to the Supreme Court, raises the stakes even higher.

On the same day as the United Cry rally in DC, Dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle and friends will be in Los Angeles hosting another in his multi-year “supernatural series of events” under the banner of “The Call.” In a video promoting the event Engel talking animatedly about the symbolism of speakers flying only on United Airlines so that America can be united.Engle has held a number of “Call” events over the last decade and a half, including one on the National Mall in September 2000 and one in 2008 in California focused in part on promoting the anti-gay Proposition 8.  This one, called Azusa Now, is scheduled to run for 15 hours at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Mississippi Pastor Speaks Out Against “Appalling” Right-to-Discriminate Law

On Tuesday Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a sweeping bill that allows businesses, individuals, and organizations to cite religious or moral beliefs in order to discriminate. As the ACLU outlines, the new law is likely to have far-reaching implications for LGBT people as well as single mothers, who “could be turned away from social services like homeless shelters, denied medical care, or be fired from their jobs.” The specific beliefs “protected” include the views that marriage is between opposite-sex partners only; that sex should only occur within marriage; and that gender identification is based only on the sex a baby was assigned at birth. People with different religious beliefs on the same issues receive no such special treatment under the law.

Dr. Christopher Cockrell, a Meridian, Mississippi member of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, released the following statement:

“This is a very sad week for our state. People being turned away from shelters or denied medical care simply because of who they are is unjust and discriminatory, and it flies in the face of basic human decency. This is not a law that reflects the values of most Mississippians, including religious leaders, and it may open up a Pandora’s box for more discriminatory bills to come.

“Religious freedom should never be cited as an excuse to harm others. Targeting people who are already vulnerable for state-sanctioned discrimination can only be described as appalling.”

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