Kevin Swanson Angry Gays Are Using Accountants

Religious Right broadcaster Kevin Swanson appeared today on American Family Radio’s “Today’s Issues” to promote his National Religious Liberty Conference in Iowa next month. Of course, when someone like Swanson, who backs laws that make homosexuality an offense punishable by death, talks about liberty, he means liberty from the oppressive gay menace.

Swanson told host Tim Wildmon, the president of the American Family Association, that persecution in America is “happening all over the place,” lamenting that now “accountants who refuse to submit forms for homosexual couples” are facing persecution.

“We’re looking at a massive increase in persecution,” he said, warning that religious radio stations will soon be taken off the air if they “refuse to give equal time to homosexuals on the basis of sexual orientation.”

He continued: “We’re all at stake. If you don’t want your pastor in jail, if you want your religious radio station still broadcasting, if you want your job and if you’re a Christian, you had better take this matter seriously in the 2016 elections. The next Supreme Court justices appointed by the next president will be, I think, the determining factor as to whether or not we will live in a highly socialist country in which Christians are persecuted or if we are going to remain free as Christians in the marketplace and in our churches.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/22/15

  • RH Reality Check: The Right’s Answer to Gutting Planned Parenthood? Elementary Schools, Homeless Shelters, Jails.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 10/22/15

  • Tami Jackson of BarbWire laments that “Obama and his administration, from the first day of the first term, have been at odds with the biblical Christian worldview, mocking and decreeing ungodly legislation at will.” 
  • WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush unveils his “many quote verifiable charges” against President Obama. 
  • Texas Eagle Forum is upset that Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t defying the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision.

World Congress of Families Culture Warriors Battle Repro, LGBT Rights In Europe With Help From US Friends

This is one in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

Americans have long viewed Europe as a stronghold of progressive social policies. But as BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reported last year, there is a resurgent Religious Right political movement in Europe whose advocates draw moral, strategic, and financial support from their allies in the United States, including the American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom and Personhood USA.

In Europe the culture war is taking the form of attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights — even sex education — or what conservative Catholics and their allies collectively deride as “gender ideology.” Right-wing groups are active at the European Union, Council of Europe, European Parliament and other international institutions. The ACLJ’s European branch led the signature drive for the “One of Us” campaign — an anti-abortion effort that used a new European Citizens Initiative process. The initiative was rejected but the organizing that went into it has energized anti-choice activists — the Knights of Columbus called it “the revitalization of Europe.”The World Congress of Families facilitates this reactionary cross-fertilization with conservative groups from around the world.

Earlier this year, the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) released a report on the growing threats to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union which also documented global connections among conservative groups and activists.  Also this year, voters in Slovakia passed a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples in the country’s constitution, an effort supported by American groups including the WCF, Alliance Defending Freedom, CitizenGo, Personhood USA, and the World Congress of Families. Several years ago, many of the same people signed a petition supporting Romania’s constitutional amendment on marriage, which stated that “equating same-sex couples with families can only weaken the natural family — which does society’s vital work of procreation and childrearing.”

The World Congress of Families meeting in Salt Lake City next week features a number of speakers who are intimately involved in this push to restrict access to abortion and prevent advances in LGBT equality.

As we noted in an earlier post, WCF will honor Luca Giuseppe Volonté of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and Andrea Williams of UK’s Christian Concern. Williams, who allies with Alliance Defending Freedom, has encouraged Jamaica to continue criminalizing same-sex intimacy. Volonté, who is affiliated with a variety of right-wing groups, says conservatives in Europe are resisting marriage equality because they experience it as a “totalitarian” ideology.

Another speaker is Ignacio Arsuaga, the founder of CitizenGo and HazteOír, groups designed to bring online organizing techniques to European culture-war conservatives.  HazteOír made a name for itself mobilizing protesters against liberalized abortion legislation in Spain in 2010, and hosted the 2012 World Congress of Families in Madrid. In 2013 his group bused supporters into France to support anti-marriage-equality protests there.

Arsuaga’s CitizenGo is affiliated with ActRight, created by Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. Brown joined CitizenGo’s board in 2013.  Brown has backed anti-gay efforts in France and Russia and participated in events designed to strengthen ties between Europe’s right-wing and Putin’s Russia. As BuzzFeed’s Feder reported last year,

Arsuaga, Volontè, and La Manif Pour Tous President Ludovine de La Rochère were all in Washington on June 19 to support the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage. Their more important business, however, might have been in a closed-door summit the next day, where representatives of around 70 countries met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage, according to Volontè and another participant. 

Also participating in the Salt Lake City WCF will be Lech and Ewa Kowalewski, anti-abortion activists affiliated with Human Life International and the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements. They denounce the “contraceptive mentality” — for them even “natural contraception” is a contradiction because “contraception is never natural.” In 2014 they toured the U.S. as part of a worldwide “pro-life pilgrimage.”  They were on the International Planning Committee for World Congress of Families VI in Madrid.

Another participant is Maria Hildingsson, Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, which the Catholic News Agency said last year is “the only independent organization clearly registered in the EU as Catholic.” It rejects “an individualistic conception” of human rights that is says are supported by “hegemonic powers which tend to impose their partial views on developing countries within the international economic and political arena.”

Hildingsson opposes promotion of “gender ideology” and opposed the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. Her group worked with a global coalition of conservative groups to oppose an inclusive definition of family in the United Nations during deliberations on sustainable development goals. This summer, she met with Orthodox Church leaders from Europe and Russia to strategize against efforts by the European Union that aim, in the words of a report on the meeting, “to destroy the traditional notions of marriage and family and to legalize surrogate motherhood and abortion.”

Another speaker, Silvio Dalla Valle, works with the Association for the Defense of Christian Values, which is “inspired by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” and works in Italy and Eastern Europe.  He was on the planning committee for Moscow meeting that took place last year without the formal sponsorship of WCF but with participation by WCF staff and allies,and spoke last year at a WCF regional event in Bolivia. Dalla Valle is a co-founder of and legal adviser to the Osservatorio della Cristianofobia (Observatory on “Christianphobia”) a project to lobby the United Nations and European institutions to take a strong stance against persecution and discrimination against Christians. He received a “Global Leadership Award” from the Howard Center, the World Congress of Families’ parent organization, in 2010.

Lola Volarde, director for UN affairs at the Institute for Family Policy, is also participating. Volarde’s group promotes “natural family” policies in Latin America in addition to its work at the European Union level, and it opened its delegation to the UN in 2013. You can see Velarde speaking in Mexico last year.

Arsuaga, Velarde and Brian Brown are all on board of the Political Network for Values, a group launched last year that brings together advocates and elected officials from around the world to work for legal protection for life “from its moment of conception” and advocate for policies the promote marriage as “an institution between a man and a woman.” The group also declares its opposition to “the tyranny of relativism” and euthanasia.

Last month, the Political Network for Values held a summit in Washington, D.C. which was sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Institute for Family Policy, CitizenGo and others. The network says the regional summit “brought together in Washington DC more than 70 policy makers from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Spain, Hungary, Kenya and the United States.” The group was addressed by three members of the U.S. Congress, Jeff Fortenberry, Chris Smith and Vicky Hartzler, who talked about the “fight for religious freedom in the U.S.”

 

Bryan Fischer Enthusiastically Backs Trump On Mosque Closures

Yesterday, Donald Trump told Fox Business Channel that he would “ absolutely” support shutting down mosques in America in order to fight ISIS, so naturally American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer came to the Republican presidential candidate’s defense today, repeating his frequent assertion that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.

“So the question is, can you close down a mosque in the United States of America given the First Amendment and its guarantee of the free exercise of religion,” Fischer said, “and the answer is that you absolutely can. Yes, Donald, yes, Virginia, we can constitutionally close down mosques in the United States of America.”

This is, he explained, because “the only religious tradition that is being explicitly and expressly protected in the First Amendment is the free exercise of the Christian religion.”

Ted Cruz Says He Won't Attack Any Republican Rival, Proceeds To Attack All Other Republicans In The Race

Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody today posted clips from a recent interview with Sen. Ted Cruz, in which the typically sycophantic Brody thanked the Republican presidential candidate for refusing to criticize his GOP rivals, a frequent Cruz talking point.

Of course, in the very next clip, Cruz proceeded to criticize his opponents for refusing to bravely fight against Planned Parenthood, unlike Ted Cruz.

Five Of The GOP's Craziest 'Benghazi Cover-Up' Conspiracy Theories

The 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was viewed by some on the Right as the subject of “the biggest cover-up in history” and a sign of the coming apocalypse, so it came as no surprise that House Republicans eventually organized a special committee to investigate the attack, which had already been examined by several other congressional and executive panels.

Republicans have tried for years to use the terrorist attack — which led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens — to go after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is testifying before the committee today. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently admitted that the special committee was formed to bring down Clinton’s popularity in advance of the 2016 presidential election.

Of course, uncovering facts has never been the GOP’s primary motivation when it comes to Benghazi (or much else). As these five instances show, Republicans and their allies in the conservative media have been much more concerned with creating bizarre scenarios to claim that the administration, and fellow Republicans, are suppressing the truth of the attack.

1) ‘No Evidence’ But What The Hell…

Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch unveiled an elaborate conspiracy theory earlier this year, alleging that the Obama administration wanted Libyan militants to kidnap Stevens in order to then do a prisoner swap for terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. However, the compound attackers botched the job after Stevens died, Fitton said, and therefore we can never know if the administration was actually ready to release Abdel-Rahman.

Fitton conceded in an interview with WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi, a fellow Benghazi truther, that there is “no evidence” to support his theory.

“Given what we know now, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the terrorist attack on Benghazi could have been a kidnapping attempt aimed at releasing the Blind Sheik,” Fitton said.

He noted, however, there is “no evidence” that the Obama administration may have been complicit in any kidnapping plot related to the Benghazi attack.

And since he can’t find any evidence to substantiate this claim, Fitton is pretty sure that there must have been a cover-up, insinuating that the State Department was trying to stop his group from receiving corroborating information.

2) Cover-Up Of The Cover-Up!

When President Obama first proposed bombing the Syrian regime after it used chemical weapons on civilians in Ghouta, Glenn Beck knew that Obama didn’t want to stop such war crimes — but instead wanted to cover up what really happened in Benghazi.

According to one conspiracy theory, Stevens was actually organizing an operation to transfer weapons from Libya to Syria to aid Islamic extremists (which of course raises the question of why these extremists would then want to attack the American post in the first place).

Seizing on that conspiracy theory, Beck speculated that it wasn’t the Assad regime that used the chemical weapons in Ghouta, but rebels using weapons delivered from the U.S. via Benghazi. Now, Beck reasoned, Obama wanted to bomb Syria because he was “covering the trail of the lost weapons from Benghazi.”

Beck later claimed that David Petraeus stepped down as CIA director not because he leaked classified information to his mistress but because he was about to blow the Benghazi scandal wide open. Beck’s theory ran into a slight hitch when Petraeus publicly praised Clinton’s response to the attack.

Beck has also alleged that the administration “let them die” in Benghazi after issuing a stand-down order, an accusation refuted on his very own news website.

3) ‘I Don’t Have Any Proof’

The arms-running conspiracy theory cited by Beck emerged in the right-wing outlet WorldNetDaily, a home of credible journalism such as “Is Obama Biblical ‘Lord of the Flies’?” and “Does Bible Code Predict President Romney?.”

While we weren’t surprised that Beck would pick up a conspiracy theory from such a website, it was a bit more shocking when a U.S. senator brought up WND’s conspiracy theory in a hearing with Clinton. At a 2013 hearing, Sen. Rand Paul demanded that a dumbfounded Clinton tell him if the U.S. was transferring weapons from Libya into Syria via Turkey.

Paul admitted that he didn’t “have any proof” before suggesting that the gun-running scheme was what was really happening “and the cover-up was an attempt to massage and get over this issue without getting into the gun trade.”

Investigations, including one led by Republicans, have found that Stevens was trying to find weapons, but in order to keep them out of the hands of extremists, with no evidence at all that he then sent those weapons to Syrian groups.

4) Marijuana A Benghazi Distraction!

Ben Carson is very upset about the Obama administration’s push to reform American drug laws. The GOP presidential candidate told Joseph Farah, the editor of WorldNetDaily (notice a theme?), that the administration’s push to liberalize laws on marijuana, along with its stance on the trademark of the Washington Redskins, is all part of a plot to “distract people” from the Benghazi attack.

Carson told Farah last year that most people now just think Benghazi “is a singer.”

“And these people vote and they have no idea,” he lamented.

Carson isn’t the only one to latch onto the “distraction” theme. Conservative activist Robert Knight of the American Civil Rights Union dedicated a column in the Washington Times about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s since-lifted suspension by insisting that the “Deflategate” scandal was part of an effort to distract people from Benghazi. Iowa radio broadcaster Steve Deace similarly wonder if NFL prospect Michael Sam’s decision to come out of the closet was also just a Benghazi distraction.

5) Benghazi Special Committee Is Part Of The Benghazi Cover-Up!

Since every single official committee, including ones led by Republicans, that has investigated the Benghazi attack has ended up debunking the conspiracy theories percolating through the right-wing media, a group of conservative activists has launched the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi to find the real truth.

This unofficial committee has embraced so many conspiracy theories surrounding the attack that its members even believe that the GOP-led Benghazi Special Committee is aiding the cover-up!

One member, Ret. Navy Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, told, guess who, WorldNetDaily, that committee chairman Trey Gowdy needs to go, lamenting that “this is a continued cover-up.”

Enjoy This Catchy Jingle On Judicial Power, Starring Bjork

One of the more bizarre things that we’ve ever come across in our daily monitoring is this video, posted yesterday on Dave Daubenmire’s News with Views YouTube page, featuring a song called “Courts Cannot Make Law” written by Christian Reconstructionist and Maryland Republican politician Michael Peroutka superimposed on a scene from Lars von Trier’s 2000 film “ Dancer in the Dark,” staring Bjork.

Peroutka, who has said that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis gave “the entire country a civics lesson” when she defied federal court orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because “any purported law that is not harmonious with [God’s] word can’t be law and is not law,” includes lyrics such as:

There’s a battle going on, a war for your soul

It’s a devil’s deal, it’s mind control

They want you to believe that you have no hope

They’re counting on the fact that you are a dope

And:

You won’t learn the truth in government schools

It’s up to you to know the rules

What The World Congress Of Families' 'Natural Family' Means For Women

This is the third in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here and an exploration of WCF’s anti-LGBT politics here.

While the World Congress of Families has become well known in the U.S. for its anti-LGBT activism, that is just one part of its larger vision of promoting what it calls the “natural family” throughout the world. In fact, in keeping with the vision that Allan Carlson and Paul Mero laid out in their "natural family" manifesto, this year’s conference will feature not just anti-LGBT activists, but opponents of abortion rights, contraception, sex education and liberalized divorce laws.

These issues are closely intertwined in this worldview. One scheduled WCF speaker, Evan Lenow of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, explained it clearly in a 2011 lecture on “The Challenge of Homosexuality For Gender Roles.” Lenow laid out the argument that the Bible prescribes separate but equal roles for men and women in marriage, with women required to “submit themselves to the leadership of their husbands, just as the church submits to Christ.” Same-sex marriages, where gender roles are by necessity “egalitarian,” he said, “subvert” this biblically ordained relationship.

For many of these activists, all manner of evils date back to the “sexual revolution” and, in particular, the widespread availability and use of contraception.

Allan Carlson, WCF’s founder and a speaker at the Utah event, has been a strong critic of the role of contraception in changing the roles of women and families in society, including speaking at a 2006 anti-contraception conference and appearing in the anti-contraception film “Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?

A panel on “Understanding the Sexual and Cultural Revolution” will feature the Family Research Council’s Pat Fagan, who has argued that the Supreme Court decision ending bans on contraception for unmarried people was wrong because “functioning societies” ought to “punish” and “shame” people who have sex out of wedlock. Fagan links the “contraceptive mindset” to any number of social ills. “Since the introduction of contraception, everything else has fallen,” he has said.

Joining Fagan on the “sexual and cultural revolution” panel will be the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Katie McCoy, who has argued strongly against efforts to allow women to serve as Southern Baptist pastors.

A forum on “The Beneficial and Harmful Influences of Feminism,” moderated by WCF’s Larry Jacobs, will feature declared anti-feminist activists Babette Francis of the Australian Endeavor Forum and Gayle Ruzicka, the head of the Utah chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, who is also a radical anti-gay activist.

WCF has set aside time to showcase the latest round of attacks against Planned Parenthood, with a panel featuring Live Action’s Lila Rose, Americans United for Life’s Charmaine Yoest (who happens to be the daughter of WCF head Janice Shaw Crouse), and Priests for Life’s Alveda King. King has falsely claimed that hormonal birth control “exposes” women to breast cancer and insisted that this is part of an elaborate money-making scheme by Planned Parenthood. Moderating the panel will be a representative of Heartbeat International, a network of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that claims it can replace Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that it does not prescribe birth control.

A discussion on “International Pro-Life Initiatives” will feature Keith Mason who, through his group Personhood USA, advocates fetal “personhood” initiatives that would outlaw all abortion and could even threaten legal contraception. Mason’s group has become active in fighting reproductive rights advances at the United Nations and has begun pouring money into unspecified projects in Europe.

The fight against legal abortion, contraception and egalitarian gender roles is tied in with a founding principle of the World Congress of Families: the fear that demographic change is dooming European and American culture.

A panel on “demography,” moderated by Personhood USA’s Keith Mason and notably consisting entirely of men, will likely address some of these fears, and in particular the idea that contraception is the root cause of a perceived cultural decline. The panel will include Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute, who has argued that “[i]n its own way, contraception is an even greater tragedy than abortion” because it “involves the deliberate rejection of God’s creative power.”

Also speaking on the panel will be WCF’s Don Feder, who told a WCF event in Belgrade earlier this year that contraception leads to “death” by “preventing life from happening,” and who warned at the Moscow conference last year that humanity is financing “ its own extinction” through birth control.

Joining them will be Igor Beloborodov, a Russian demographer who warned at a 2011 demographic forum featuring a number of American activists that birthrates were falling as a result of people who want to “push up sales of contraceptives, to increase the number of abortions, to make homosexuality more popular.” He presented this slide listing “global threats to family and life,” including “small families,” “homosexuality” and “feminism”:

The World Congress of Families will also include staunch opponents of comprehensive sex education in schools, including Dr. Miriam Grossman and the Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka, who have both supported instituting abstinence-only sex-ed in Utah. This is an especially interesting dynamic given that WCF extended an invitation to Elizabeth Smart, an abduction survivor turned anti-sex-trafficking advocate from Utah who has spoken about how the lessons she had learned in abstinence-only sex-ed contributed to her reluctance to flee her captor.

Also speaking at the event will be proponents of rolling back no-fault divorce laws, a little-noticed flip side to the conservative campaign against marriage equality for LGBT people. Repealing state no-fault divorce laws, which allow married couples to end their marriages without one party being found to be at fault, is a plank of Carlson and Mero’s “natural family” manifesto. A panel on divorce at the Utah summit will include Beverly Willett, the cofounder of the Coalition for Divorce Reform, which aims to make it more legally difficult for most couples to divorce and Michael McManus, who has also advocated against no-fault divorce laws.

Rand Paul: The Polls Are Skewed!

Sen. Rand Paul has been trailing in Republican presidential polls, with a new Quinnipiac poll in Iowa placing him with single-digit support, behind Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

But the Kentucky Republican isn’t giving up hope, telling Newsmax TV in an interview posted online yesterday that the polls have been “skewed” by the presence of “a celebrity reality TV star.”

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