The 2014 Equine Posterior Award: Vote For Your Favorite Right-Wing Extremist

It’s time to cast your vote for the winner of People For the American Way’s annual Equine Posterior Achievement Award, which recognizes the worst of the worst in right-wing extremism.

Our 2014 nominees outdid themselves this year in promoting conspiracy theories, inventing persecution myths and pushing bigotry, and now it’s your turn to decide who wins this year’s coveted award.

Ted Cruz: Last year's EPAA winner Ted Cruz didn’t run for office in 2014, but that didn’t stop him from rallying Religious Right voters. The possible 2016 presidential hopeful spent the year supporting anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy and helping to block the nomination of Debo Adegbile.

Cruz was an outspoken opponent of the proposed amendment to overturn Citizens United, claiming it would “repeal the First Amendment” and “muzzle” pastors. Also threatening the free speech of pastors, Cruz contended, are equal rights for LGBT people, to which he is as vehemently opposed as ever.

The Benham Brothers: After reporting on HGTV’s plans for a new home improvement reality show starring notorious anti-gay, anti-choice extremist David Benham and his brother Jason back in May, the Benham brothers have now taken their tale of "persecution!" throughout the Religious Right speaking circuit.

When HGTV dropped the show just hours after our first reporting on their anti-gay activism, including their claims that homosexuality is “destructive” and “demonic, Religious Right leaders from Pat Robertson to Bryan Fischer wasted no time in drumming up a “Christian persecution” narrative and declaring the Benhams modern-day martyrs. The Benhams enthusiastically embraced their new role, repeatedly likening themselves to ISIS beheading victims and making an appearance at the 2014 Values Voter Summit.

Gordon Klingenschmitt: What a year for Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt! Klingenschmitt, whose whole career has been based on a myth about his supposed religious persecution in the military, used his “Pray in Jesus Name” program this year to spread the word that it’s basically child abuse for a kid to be raised by gay parents, and that transgender people are just in need of an exorcism and a spanking. (Of course, this is a man who once tried to perform an exorcism on President Obama.)

But in between spouting anti-gay vitriol and denouncing Obamacare, Klingenschmitt somehow managed to run a campaign for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives and won! Congratulations to Colorado’s new anti-gay, demon hunting state legislator.

Jody Hice: Jody Hice is a Georgia Republican who won a seat in the U.S. House this year despite saying that women should ask their husbands for permission before entering politics, that homosexuality “enslaves” people, and that Muslims shouldn’t have First Amendment rights. He blamed everything from the Sandy Hook School shooting to the Penn State abuse scandal on the separation of church and state. He’s a big believer in the power of “blood moons” and he thinks our public schools are a lot like Nazi Germany.

And, again, he will soon be a member of Congress.

Texas State Board of Education: This year, we nominate the Texas State Board of Education for an Equine Posterior Achievement Award for their approval of social studies textbooks that were more about the ideological beliefs of the board members than, you know, actual history.

While the approved textbooks were an improvement on the original proposed content, which included blatant denial of climate change and negative stereotypes of Islam as a violent religion, the final editions emphasize the biblical influence in America’s founding, even going so far as to reference Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy.

Glenn Beck: This year Glenn Beck assured his viewers that his many prophetic visions and predictions would finally, definitely come true. It’s hard to imagine where Beck found the time for all his clairvoyance and divine inspiration, what with everything else he accomplished this year including devising plans to fix the VA and destroy ISIS. But 2014 hasn’t been a banner year for Beck. In March, he was sued for defamation after falsely accusing one of the victims injured in the Boston Marathon bombing of being behind the attack. (Unfortunately for Beck, a federal judge recently allowed the lawsuit to move forward.)

Pat Robertson: This year, EPAA staple Pat Robertson kept up the HIV fear-mongering with his assertion that you can get AIDS from a towel -- you may remember last year, when he accused gay people of intentionally spreading HIV by cutting people with special rings.

There was hardly a news story this year that Robertson didn’t weigh in on, from Michael Brown’s death to marijuana legalization, and even Robin Williams’ suicide. He spread the word about the demonic threat posed by Ouija boards and the serious risk of fighting climate change. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Pat Robertson his show can cure the neck injuries and asthma of its viewers, after all.

Ben Carson: Right-wing activist and potential presidential candidate Ben Carson kicked off 2014 with a rousing CPAC speech denouncing “extra rights” like marriage equality for gay people. Despite repeatedly speaking out against marriage equality and calling it a Marxist plot, Carson believes that gay rights supporters are trying to inhibit his right to free speech. Carson also shared his many opinions on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, blaming Michael Brown’s death on his lack of a father figure, and accusing protestors of being part of a “me generation” started by women’s libbers.

Bryan Fischer: Bryan Fischer spent a lot of 2014 being grossed out, horrified, and otherwise offended by openly gay football player Michael Sam. After that, he said that commemorating Harvey Milk is a lot like honoring Jeffrey Dahmer, asked Michelle Obama to start an anti-lesbian campaign, and expressed his preference for sharia law and displeasure with Pope Francis. Perennial EPAA nominee Fischer also chimed in on Ferguson, claiming that Michael Brown was possessed by a homicidal demon.

Kevin Swanson: Religious Right broadcaster Kevin Swanson took to the airwaves in 2014 to warn his audience about the sinister motives of “The Hunger Games” movies, the potential for LGBT nondiscrimination laws to protect murderers and rapists, and the threat of “Antichrist” Presbyterians. But maybe most memorable were Swanson’s ruminations on popular culture, including his speculation that Beyonce may be possessed by a demonic spirit, and his claim that the Disney movie “Frozen” is a Satanic movie that turns kids gay.

'And So It Begins': 90-Year-Old Glenn Beck Delivers Dire Message From The Future

The best thing about Glenn Beck owning his own network is that he answers to nobody and so there is nothing to stop him from indulging every insane idea that he has, resulting in hour-long programs like last night's end-of-the-year recap in which a 90-year-old Glenn Beck recorded a dire message from the future about how 2014 was the year in which the whole world fell apart.

Living alone in an abandoned building with only a few tiny candles and a small fire for light and heat, future Beck somehow managed to scrounge up some batteries and video cameras with which to record his message. And even though the world in 2054 is apparently short on food and fuel and energy and everything else, future Beck still somehow managed to obtain stockpiles of footage from news programs that aired forty years earlier and even had the capacity to edit those clips into his dire message about how everything from Ebola, to ISIS, to the Federal Reserve all brought about the complete collapse of capitalism and society starting in 2014.

Beck specifically pointed to the standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch as a turning point in U.S. history, insisting that God told him at the time: "And so it begins."

There truly is no way to completely capture the ridiculousness of Beck's broadcast last night which, after the novelty wore off, ended up being just mind-numbingly dull, but this three minute clip of Beck explaining that 2014 was the year that "we all went dead inside" gives you a sense of what it was like.

"I'm not crazy," he explained. "I was naive, but I was not crazy":

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/18/14

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 12/18/14

  • Perhaps declaring that "Jesus is the reason for the season" is not the best thing to say at a menorah-lighting ceremony?
  • Phyllis Schlafly continues to warn that Ebola will cross into America over the southern border.
  • FRC continues to pray against gay marriage: "Lord, the war on marriage is a war against God and man, for you said, 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.' Help us prevail in defending the cornerstone of all human relationships - the very image of God displayed brilliantly through the sacred union of a man and woman!"
  • Similarly, ALIPAC is praying against immigration reform by "calling on Americans to unite in prayer together to ask God for strength and protection against the corrupt and deceitful politicians that are destroying America."
  • Glenn Beck has named Hobby Lobby's Steve Green as his "man of the year."
  • Finally, tonight is Glenn Beck's end of the year special, in which Beck reports from the future that 2014 was the year in which everything was lost:

Jindal Rally Organizers Remove Controversial Prayer Guide, Still Think Gays Are Responsible For Natural Disasters

Last week, we reported that the anti-gay, Christian nationalist organizers of a supposedly nonpolitical prayer rally that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is hosting next month had reused some materials from a similar rally hosted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry back in 2011, including a prayer guide blaming LGBT rights and legal abortion for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

Blaming Hurricane Katrina on gay people and abortion, it turns out, didn’t go over so well in the state that was hardest hit by the 2005 storm, and after reporters in Louisiana started asking the organizers and Jindal’s office about the prayer guide, it was scrubbed from the rally’s website.

But disappearing one document can only do so much to hide the fact that Jindal is partnering with some pretty extreme organizations to put on his "The Response" event. In fact, the offending document was replaced on the event’s website by a letter from organizer Doug Stringer which only slightly more vaguely blames “earthquakes, floods, fires, and an escalation of natural disasters across the country and the world” on “the continued moral failures of our leaders.”

And when the New Orleans Times-Picayune approached Bryan Fischer, a spokesman for the event’s main funder the American Family Association, about the controversial prayer guide, he told them that his group stood by the original content. "We do know that natural disasters can be a form of God's judgment on an unrepentant nation,” Fischer told the Times-Picayune, before explaining that it’s “fitting that a part of the country that is obviously at risk for natural disasters would lead the nation in modeling repentance."

Still, the AFA initially issued a prayer guide that has offended many Louisiana residents. It implied legal abortion, same-sex marriage and pornography use contributed to Hurricane Katrina and other disasters. Though the prayer guide has been taken down, Fischer reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday. He said Louisiana should be especially concerned about the morality of the country, given its vulnerability to natural disasters.

"We do know that natural disasters can be a form of God's judgement on an unrepentant nation," Fischer said, "It's fitting that a part of the country that is obviously at risk for natural disasters would lead the nation in modeling repentance."

Rafael Cruz: Marriage Equality A 'Delusion,' Government Is 'Cramming' Immorality 'Down Our Throats'

While speaking at a “God Calling” event hosted by the Greater Orlando Tea Party back in September, Sen. Ted Cruz’s father and adviser Rafael Cruz warned that “wicked” elected officials in government are bent on “legislating their immorality and cramming it down our throats.”

Cruz said during the question and answer session of the event that advances in marriage equality and abortion rights are the fault of conservative Christians who didn’t get involved in politics. However, Cruz said, Christians who believe in the “social gospel” are wrong to get involved in politics since they don’t espouse right-wing ideas and even back the “delusion” of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Responding to a question about how pastors should speak about marriage equality, he said that church leaders need to talk about the issue even if their views upset people. In the same way, he said, church leaders should speak out strongly against legal abortion despite “the fear that there is going to be a young lady in the congregation who has had an abortion and she is going to be offended.”

“But you see, the opposite is true, because that young lady who has had an abortion has something eating at her heart continuously and she needs healing for what’s troubling her heart. The best thing you can do is talk about it and offer counseling and restoration and healing and forgiveness,” he said. “We cannot just hide it, we need to address it not only to be able to bring healing to those that are scarred by it but also to prevent others to fall in the same pit.”

Cruz then waded into how churches should take a firm stance against pornography, which he said is at least partly responsible for “the great majority” of sexual assaults.

How Glenn Beck 'Accurately' Predicts The Future

Despite his terrible track record, Glenn Beck is genuinely convinced that his wild predictions about the future always come true because, as he said just yesterday, he can see the future.

One of the reasons that Beck is able to delude himself and his audience into believing this myth is because he routinely hedges his bets by insisting that he is "terrible at timing," which makes all of his predictions opened-ended, meaning that they can never be proven wrong since it is always possible that they simply haven't come true yet.

But the main way in which Beck is able to so "accurately" predict the future is that he constantly spews countless theories on his shows, so that whenever anything happens anywhere in the world that could in any way be spun as a confirmation of something he once predicted, he seizes upon it and takes a victory lap.

On his radio show today, Beck hauled out his trusty chalkboard upon which he wrote down his thoughts about President Obama, Russia, and the North Korea/Sony hacking incident in order lay out at least 20 absurdly vague predictions about looming global chaos and conflict:

  • Chaos in Russia
  • Russian expansion into the Ukraine and beyond
  • War with the West
  • War in the Middle East
  • War involving Syria and Iran and possibly North Korea
  • Chaos in Europe
  • Muslim extremists in Europe
  • Nazis/Communists/Anarchists in Europe
  • A caliphate in the Middle East
  • Terrorist attacks in Pakistan
  • Terrorist attacks spreading into India
  • Terrorism in Australia
  • Terrorism spreading into Asia
  • Communists in South America
  • Hyper-inflation
  • Border conflicts
  • Chaos in the United States
  • Race riots in the United States
  • Political chaos
  • Banking chaos
  • The rise of a police state

"It's what's coming," Beck warned.

Now that Beck has covered all of his bases, pretty much no matter what happens anywhere in the world in the future, he will be able to claim that he predicted it:

Pat Robertson Supports Cuba Opening In Principle But Opposes It Because Obama

Televangelist Pat Robertson kicked off “The 700 Club” today with a joke about President Obama’s move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, saying, “If our president had been an Indian, he would have sold Manhattan for twenty-four bucks.”

Later in the show, however, Robertson said he actually supports “opening up to Cuba” … in principle. But since President Obama did it, now Robertson is against it and thinks it shows Obama’s “weakness.”

“Now listen, I am for opening up to Cuba, we have been sending aid in there, we’ve had missionaries and stuff going on in Cuba,” he said. “You know, it’s cool, we want to say the Cubans are friends, we want that and we want Cuba to be free.” But he argued that America’s 52-year-old sanctions against Cuba were just about to work in toppling the Cuban government until Obama’s announcement offered Cuban leaders a “bailout.”

He then got a little confused about the state of Latin American politics, calling the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez — whom Robertson once wanted assassinated — the current leader of El Salvador: “They were dependent on money from Nicaragua, excuse me, from the regime of Chavez in El Salvador…But Chavez is out of money and that country is gone and busted.”

Robertson also attacked “King Obama” for hiring aides who “don’t love America” and failing to help political prisoners in Cuba, even though Cuba agreed to release fifty-three political prisoners, along with a U.S. citizen and an American intelligence agent.

Michele Bachmann: 'Any Normal Human Being' Would Support The Tea Party

After bragging about how she manages to outsmart liberals time and time again, Rep. Michele Bachmann told WorldNetDaily in a lengthy interview published today that “any normal human being” would back the Tea Party movement.

“So the Tea Party I think is a very important — and those ideals are a very important movement. People still believe in Second Amendment rights, people still believe in upholding the rights of the unborn, a number of us still continue to contend for traditional marriage between one man and one woman. These are all important value sets and I think that is part of the lamp that I tried to carry is to continue the values that brought us up to be the greatest country in the world in all of human history,” she said. “We have a Judeo-Christian history. We are not a theocracy but we live on principles that are Judeo-Christian principles.”

She said that just like the Pilgrims, the U.S. isn’t building a theocracy, while warning that “we wouldn’t be” America “if we throw out and eschew those values, the morality and the principles of the Judeo-Christian ethic.”

Texas School Board Let Anti-Muslim Group Pressure Publishers To Rewrite Religion Textbooks

Last month, the Texas State Board of Education approved a set of social studies textbooks after some disputes between Christian Right members of the board and scholars who had reviewed the texts. Although experts recruited by the Texas Freedom Network to review the proposed texts managed to convince textbook companies to remove some objectionable material, some claims demanded by conservative members of the board remained, including assertions that Moses was a direct influence on the founding of the U.S.

In an article for Religion Dispatches today, one of TFN’s reviewers, David R. Brockman, who teaches religious studies at Southern Methodist University, writes about his experience as a textbook reviewer and his frustrations with the board’s process for reviewing curricula on world religions. “The curriculum standards and the adoption process in Texas don’t simply lack balanced and accurate coverage of the world’s religions; they work against it,” he writes. “And while textbook publishers generally struggle against this tide, they are sometimes dragged along with it.”

In one example, Brockman writes that the Christian Right bloc on the school board “insisted that the publishers address” a last-minute set of comments submitted by Truth in Texas Textbooks, a group associated with the anti-Muslim organization ACT! for America, whose reviewers, with one exception, had no “relevant social studies credentials” and demanded that the textbooks include hostile and sometimes false comments about Islam. Although the textbook companies mostly refused TTT’s requests (many with clear exasperation), a few were successful, including a redefinition of the word “jihad”:

The problem is that, in 2014 at least, the conservative majority on the SBOE quite clearly gave comments from ideologically-driven pressure groups (such as Texas Eagle Forum and Texas Values Action) greater weight than comments from credentialed field specialists (such as myself and my fellow reviewers).

A mere two weeks before the SBOE was to take its final vote on the textbooks, and long after other public groups had filed their comments, Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT), which has allies on the SBOE, presented their reviews—469 pages of material. Two days before the final adoption vote was to take place, Christian Right members of the SBOE made much of the TTT criticisms and insisted that publishers address them.

To judge from its website, the only TTT reviewer with relevant social studies credentials was a professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. However, he reviewed only one world history textbook, and quite appropriately restricted his comments to his areas of expertise.

The other reviewers on TTT’s list appear to have no academic credentials in history, geography, economics, or religious studies (though they do include a Ph.D. in “educational leadership,” and a professor of foreign languages). Despite a lack of pertinent credentials, the TTT reviewers weighed in on a wide range of topics, including prehistory, climate change, economics, political science, and U.S. government.

But they directed special vitriol at the alleged “dangers” posed by Islam. One reviewer wrote of Islam’s “threat to the Western world,” while another lumped Muslims together with communists and socialists commenting, bizarrely, that “The greatest fear for a communist, a socialist or a Muslim is Truth.”

Other TTT comments were just plain false: “Islam is spread by the sword while monotheistic religions are not.”

(Try telling that to an Aztec or Inca—not to mention the fact that Islam is a “monotheistic religion.”)

Yet despite TTT’s lack of credentials and the obviously biased and tendentious nature of their critiques, conservative SBOE members insisted that publishers give them the same level of attention they gave comments from credentialed scholars.

Sadly, in some cases, publishers actually changed their text to suit TTT, as when Pearson Learning ( see page 16) removed from its world history text the factually correct statement that jihad “is most frequently used [by Muslims] to describe an inner struggle in God’s service.” In its place Pearson inserted more ambiguous wording: “For some Muslims, [jihad] means a struggle against one’s evil inclinations. For other Muslims, it refers to a struggle or violent holy war to defend or spread Islam.”

While this change may please TTT and other anti-Islam groups, it deprives students of the important fact that the “holy war” interpretation of jihad is held by only a small minority in the Muslim community today.

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