The American Family Association (AFA) has been a long-time promoter of "traditional moral values" in the media, particularly television. AFA built its reputation on organizing boycotts against sponsors of TV shows with "anti-Christian" messages and ideas, or against companies it claims support the so-called "homosexual agenda" or marriage equality.
As we have notedseveraltimesbefore, American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer has an understanding of the First Amendment that makes absolutely no sense, as he regularly insists that it only applies to Congress ... except for all the times when he insists that it applies to all sorts of government entities.
Fischer's incoherence has been on full display regarding the case of Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach from Washington state who was fired after he refused to stop praying with players and students after games. Despite the fact that Fischer has repeatedly declared that "it is constitutionally and historically impossible for a school to violate the First Amendment ... [b]ecause a school is not Congress," he simultaneously insists that the school district has violated Kennedy's First Amendment rights by not allowing him to pray after games.
"Good for you, coach Joe Kennedy," Fischer declared. "He's taking the district to court for violating his First Amendment rights, which is exactly what they've done ... What does the First Amendment say? It says that Congress—and Bremerton [School District,] they interpret that to mean any governmental authority, that would include schools because they're government schools—is not allowed to prohibit the free exercise of religion. What did Bremerton School District do when they told Joe Kennedy, 'You can't pray at midfield after a game'? They prohibited his free exercise of religion! They told him, 'Your constitutional right—even though this is government property and the government is specifically prohibited from infringing on your free exercise rights—we are going to destroy the First Amendment here, doesn't apply in Bremerton, doesn't apply on a football field, you have lost that right. You have not only lost that right, you have lost your job.'"
Today, Fischer posted a column blasting a report recently released by the United States Commission on Civil Rights that further undermines his argument in the Kennedy case, as he explicitly states that a school district can never be guilty of violating the First Amendment:
The very first word in the First Amendment is “Congress.” The First Amendment was intended as a restraint on Congress and Congress alone. It is simply impossible for any other entity - be it a state, a county, a city, a school district, a school teacher, or a student - to violate the First Amendment for the simple reason that it wasn’t written to restrain them.
Only Congress can violate the Founders’ Constitution, and it can do so in only two ways. First, it can violate the Establishment Clause by picking one Christian denomination and making it the official church of the United States. As long as Congress doesn’t do that, it can do anything it wants with regard to religious expression. It can pay a chaplain to pray Christian prayers and proclaim as many national days of prayer as it would like.
States under the Founders’ Constitution are free to regulate religious expression in any way they would like without any interference from the federal government. States can even have an established religion if they want to, and at the time of the Founding, 10 of them did.
Secondly, only Congress can violate the Free Exercise clause because it applies specifically and exclusively to Congress. Congress - and by extension the entire federal government, including the judiciary - is flatly prohibited from interfering with the free exercise of the Christian religion in any way, shape or form. Any such effort on the part of any branch of the federal government, whether it’s the legislative branch, the executive branch, or the judicial branch, is flatly and permanently forbidden by the Founders’ Constitution.
The federal government has zero authority to tell schools what they may and may not do with regard to Bible reading in classrooms, prayer at assemblies and graduation ceremonies, or the posting of the Ten Commandments on school room walls. Those matters are for state and local authorities to decide. Period.
Just last month, Fischer accused the Bremerton School District of violating the First Amendment, but today, he stated that it is "impossible" for a school district to ever violate the First Amendment.
Unless Fischer is arguing that he believes that local public schools are also "Congress," then his argument makes no sense, especially since he asserts in his latest piece that states are "free to regulate religious expression in any way they would like."
Under Fischer's own argument, any state would be free to prohibit Kennedy or anyone else from exercising their religion for any reason, or, for that matter, to restrict the freedom of speech, freedom of the press or the right to peaceably assemble, which are also protected by the First Amendment.
Fischer's outrage over the Kennedy case proves that he clearly does't believe, or possibly doesn't even understand, his own stated position.
On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer reacted to the arrest of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is a suspect in a string of bombings that took place in New York and New Jersey last weekend, by reiterating his call to ban all Muslim from immigrating to the United States, which he justified by onceagain falsely claiming that the U.S. had imposed a travel ban during the height of 2014's Ebola outbreak.
"I have been suggesting for a number of years that we need to suspend Islamic immigration," Fischer said, "because I honestly do not see an alternative. I've said before that Islam is like the Ebola virus of culture; it causes a culture to bleed out from the inside. When we had that Ebola crisis, we had to suspend immigration from any country where there was an Ebola outbreak because we could not know who was a carrier and who wasn't until it was too late, so you just had to be careful with everybody."
Fischer's analogy is total nonsense, especially when you recall that during the outbreak, he accused Obama of intentionally refusing to impose a travel ban because he wanted the disease to come to America as punishment. As we pointed out before, the United States never imposed any sort of travel ban during the Ebola crisis because doing so would have been counterproductive. Instead, the government put in place protocols requiring that anyone traveling to the U.S. from Ebola-affected nations enter through one of five specific airports where enhanced screening would take place:
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that all passengers arriving from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa must go by way of a handful of U.S. airports as part of measures to control the spread of Ebola.
"Today, I am announcing that all passengers arriving in the United States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place," Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement.
Starting on Wednesday, those passengers will then be subject to "secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States," the statement said.
The airports are: New York's JFK; Newark, N.J.; Washington, D.C.'s Dulles; Atlanta; and Chicago O'Hare.
Of course, we don't expect Fischer to actually stop using his favorite analogy just because it happens to be totally false.
On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer reacted to the arrest of Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is a suspect in a string of bombings that took place in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, by calling for families of Muslims who engage in terrorism within the United States to be stripped of their citizenship and deported.
Rahami is a U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan, which prompted Fischer to declare that Rahami should be charged with treason and, if he is found guilty, his entire family should be deported.
"Anybody who is an American citizen who has an Islamic background and has become a citizen like this guy did, what he did really does represent an act of treason," Fischer said. "Citizenship can be revoked for what these individuals do, so revoke their citizenship. Let everybody know we're going to revoke the citizenship for your entire family. We believe in keeping families together, so we will send you all back to your homeland together so you can all be together. But you need to understand, that's what's going to happen if any one member of your family commits an act of terror against the citizens of the United States."
American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer declared on his radio program on Friday that a person who does not believe in God or who supports abortion rights is unqualified to serve as a judge at any level in America.
Fischer got onto the subject after praising Donald Trump on his radio show for naming Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Antony List as the head of his presidential campaign's pro-life coalition.
"I would submit to you that no man is qualified to sit as a judge in America who does not understand and believe that there is a Creator and that the Creator is the source of every single one of our fundamental, inalienable rights," Fischer said, "and that the first of these rights given to us by God is the right to life."
"No one is qualified to sit on any bench in the judiciary at any level, whether municipal or county or local or state or federal," he continued, "no man is qualified to sit on the bench who does not believe in a Creator, does not believe that the Creator is the source of all of our rights and does not believe that the very first of these rights, these legal rights, the constitutional rights, is the right to life."
On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer reiterated his view that the "proliferation of languages" in America is a curse that God has placed upon this nation "to protect us from ourselves" because we have become fundamentally evil and a menace to the entire world.
"This kind of diversity is not a blessing," Fischer said. "This kind of multiculturalism is not a blessing, it is a curse" that God has imposed upon us so that we cannot communicate easily with one another in order to thwart our evil plans, just as he did those seeking to construct the Tower of Babel in the book of Genesis.
By not insisting that those seeking to immigrate to the United States first be required to pass an English literacy test and be willing assimilate into our culture, Fischer said, America is bringing God's curse upon ourselves.
"The confusion of languages is a check on the evil that otherwise a nation would do," he claimed, "and I think that's what's happening here in America, that this is a part of God's judgment on America because we have drifted from Him and now, increasingly, the plans and intentions of the heart of the American people, the American government, our cultural leaders are evil."
"I think what's going on here," Fischer concluded, "God is saying, 'This lack of assimilation that is caused by this profusion of languages, it's actually something that I am using to check the evil that the United States otherwise would do.'"
On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer took a call from a listener who floated the theory that Hillary Clinton's recent bout of pneumonia was really a sign that a demon "has latched on to her." While Fischer was not able to diagnose whether Clinton's illness was demonic in nature, he did say that "it's certainly possible that there is some kind of demonic influence in her life."
"I think it's almost inevitable," Fischer said, "given what she's done with her life and the things that she's done. You can open the doorway of your life to demonic presences in a lot of different ways and a lot of them are things that Hillary Clinton has done. So there's no question, from a biblical standpoint, that she herself has opened her life up to demonic influence."
During his radio broadcast yesterday, American Family Radio's Bryan Fischer excoriated President Obama for supposedly giving the internet away to the United Nations because he hates America.
As with his opposition to net neutrality, Fischer's position was rooted entirely in his own ignorance about the issue, but that didn't stop him from accusing Obama of selling out the nation.
What is happening is that, at the end of the month, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will expire, allowing oversight of ICANN to transition to an international body. Since ICANN "merely makes sure that the URLs work as internet users expect them to, and IANA [the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority] acts as a maintenance of registries, the so-called phonebook for the internet," nothing about this transition "gives away the internet" because ICANN performs the purely clerical function of keeping the IANA registry up to date.
But Fischer obviously doesn't understand anything about this process, which is why he fumed yesterday that "President Obama is going to turn over the internet to the United Nations."
"He's going to let the United Nations run the entire, worldwide internet," Fischer stated. "There is no president who would do that if he truly loved his country and cared about its security. No president would do that. You put this in charge of the UN, there there is nothing on the internet that's safe! There's nothing on the internet that they cannot make a way for somebody to get at. There will be no possibility of any kind of genuine cyber-security any longer if the UN is in charge of the internet ... This may sound like an exaggeration, but the only reason you would do this is to sell out your own country."
American Family Association radio host and government affairs director Sandy Rios was one of the speakers at a Friday luncheon at the Values Voter Summit. Like other speakers, she took an apocalyptic tone about this year’s elections.
Rios told attendees she doesn’t think Americans understand how much is at stake in this election, recounting harrowing stories of a woman who had told her about the persecution and lack of freedom she had experienced under communist rule in Romania.
To those who suggest that if Trump loses, “next time we’ll get our guy in,” Rios said, “I am just here to tell you, as a Watchman on the Wall, that is not likely to happen” unless God intervenes “miraculously.”
What was more likely, she suggested, was a loss of freedom under a Hillary Clinton presidency. America is at a crossroads, she said, suggesting that freedom would be threatened under a Clinton presidency. “We have a candidate who said deeply held religious beliefs will have to be changed,” she said.
Without naming Clinton, Rios cited other reasons people should fear her as president. “We can’t even comprehend what life might be like even in a year if we don’t take an active part in this election.”
“Those of you that name the name of Christ will have trouble finding jobs,” she said, and kids won’t be able to get into college without having the “right” opinions.
“There’s going to be trouble,” she warned, including a “totally unleashed” Internal Revenue Service.
“I don’t think people have stopped to think about the price we will pay if we don’t do what we can do,” she said. “It’s an imperfect solution, no doubt, but we cannot stand by.”
She also urged participants to support people working on the culture war’s front lines. “I’m begging you,” she said, “do not desert them.”
Family Research Council official Jerry Boykin was previously a lieutenant general in the Army, where in 1980 he participated in the disastrous attempt to rescue 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, which ended in failure and the deaths of eight service members.
In an interview this morning with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios at his group’s annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Boykin explained that while the failed rescue mission was “tragic” and “the most devastating thing in my life,” it did have a “real positive” in that it “brought down Jimmy Carter” and helped lead to the election of Ronald Reagan.
Rios asked Boykin if the next president will be able to undo the “decimation” of the military under President Obama, like she said George W. Bush was able to do after Bill Clinton’s presidency.
“That’s a good example,” Boykin replied, “but you know what’s a better example, at the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Ronald Reagan came in. Look, I was part of the failed rescue attempt in 1980 where we were trying to go into Iran and rescue 52 Americans that were being held in the embassy there. I was part of that operation. I watched eight good men die in the desert 100 miles from Iran and it was the most devastating thing in my life.”
“But you know what?” he said. “Two things that came out of that. Number one, it brought down Jimmy Carter and that was a real positive. Number two, it brought in Ronald Reagan. So even in that kind of tragic situation, there is something positive, God uses those things for good. And we brought in Ronald Reagan and his focus was to restore our military and think of what he did. I mean, he went on a determined campaign to make sure that did not happen again. And what we have today is an incredible military, particularly special operations, that is now in decline again because of the Obama administration and the next president is going to have to come in and do exactly what Ronald Reagan did.”
Boykin also warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, she would implement unconstitutional hate speech prohibitions.
He told Rios that at a strategic planning meeting more than a year ago, the FRC had decided to spend “50 percent of our time on religious liberty” and warned that “times are going to be even more difficult for Christians” if Clinton is elected.
He pointed to the United States’ support for a UN resolution on “religious tolerance” while Clinton was secretary of state as evidence that Clinton supports imposing blasphemy laws and speech restrictions in the U.S. In fact, Clinton worked to remove support for blasphemy laws from the resolution, although some critics say that the resolution’s wording on the subject still left too much wiggle room for governments wishing to impose speech restrictions.
Boykin told Rios that the “biggest thing that Americans need to be concerned” with a Clinton presidency “is the First Amendment.”
“You just said it, hate speech,” she said. “She has, in fact, agreed to UN Resolution 16/18 which says that if you say anything disparaging about Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, you can be taken to jail. And by the way, that’s happening in Europe right now. People are being arrested for what is considered hate speech because they are speaking out against what’s happening there, they’re speaking out against the rapes and the murders and the pillaging of the cities there and the terrorist attacks and some of them have been arrested for hate speech. That’s coming to America if Hillary Clinton is the next president.”
As president, Putin has consolidated his power through attacks on the independent media, the persecution of political opponents, and restrictions on civil society. He has annexed Crimea, supported violent separatists in Ukraine, fostered anti-democratic right-wing forces in Europe, and made the weakening of NATO a major strategic imperative.
None of that has kept Donald Trump from praising Putin and welcoming Putin’s praise for him. In Wednesday night’s forum on national security issues, Trump said, “I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. And I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.” When asked about some of Putin’s troubling actions, Trump didn’t criticize the Russian president, suggesting instead that he could “start naming some of the things that President Obama does at the same time.”
Trump went on to praise Putin’s leadership and pooh-pooh concerns about Putin’s authoritarianism: “I mean, you can say, oh, isn’t that a terrible thing—the man has very strong control over a country.” Then on Thursday, Trump appeared on RT, a network operated by the Russian government, to slam American media and U.S. foreign policy and dismiss as “unlikely” the idea that the Russian government was involved in hacking the DNC’s email as American intelligence agencies believe.
Some conservatives have criticized Putin’s anti-democratic actions and strategic aims, and some Republicans were not happy about Trump’s recent remarks. But his running mate Mike Pence said it is “inarguable” that Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a Trump supporter, told CNN that Putin is a better leader for Russia than President Obama has been for the U.S., praising the increase in “hyper-nationalism” in Russia. Conspiracy-theory-promoting radio host Alex Jones, whose “amazing” reputation Trump has praised while appearing on his show , has expressed his admiration for Putin’s promotion of homeschooling and “masculine men.”
Trump will find himself in friendly company at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, an annual political gathering for the Religious Right. As Right Wing Watch has documented extensively, many U.S. religious conservatives have been cheerleaders for Putin because of his government’s anti-gay policies and his public support for “traditional values” and “Christian civilization.” Brian Brown, who heads both the National Organization for Marriage and the World Congress of Families, actually traveled to Russia a few years ago to testify on behalf of anti-gay legislation there.
In fact, Franklin Graham went to Russia just last fall, where he met with Putin, slammed President Obama for supporting “policies that contradict the teachings of God” and praised the Russian president for “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda.” Graham reportedly said, “I call for prayers for the president of Russia, who is protecting traditional Christianity.” Graham also praised Russian involvement in Syria, which the Russian Orthodox Church has called a “holy battle.”
Putin has developed a mutually beneficial partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church, promoting Orthodoxy as a crucial element of Russian nationalism and a vehicle for extending Russian power and undercutting U.S. influence. Some American Religious Right leaders are taken with Putin’s promotion of a Christian state; the director of last year’s World Congress of Families summit, Janice Shaw Crouse, embraced the blasphemy-law prosecution and jail sentences given to members of the band Pussy Riot for protesting in a cathedral.
Perhaps Putin’s strategic partnership with the Orthodox Church has inspired Trump’s promise to conservative evangelical leaders that he will make Christianity more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. So far, it has worked for him, helping him line up support from the leaders of the Values Voter Summit.
Donald Trump is set to appear Friday at the Values Voter Summit, a Washington, D.C., conference organized by the Family Research Council that brings together what we’ve called “some of the country’s most extreme opponents of LGBT rights, vocal conspiracy theorists and outspoken critics of the separation of church and state.”
But pandering to extremists is nothing new for Trump. And he himself has found political success by promoting many of the Religious Right’s fears about supposed anti-Christian persecution in America and a pro-Muslim bias within the Obama administration.
Trump will be joining some of the country’s most hateful groups at the Values Voter Summit. Here are just 10 of the convening’s sponsors and exhibitors:
1)Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX)
PFOX is dedicated to promoting ex-gay conversion therapy and “educating society on the facts about sexual orientation in order to eliminate negative perceptions and discrimination against ex-gays and those trying to overcome same-sex attraction.”
The group’s materials have described coming out as “a kind of murder of the family” and railed against “homofascism.” One of the group’s top officials, Greg Quinlan, has claimed that President Obama and Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan are all secretly gay and has accused gay people of “sexual cannibalism.” Quinlan even blamed suicides among gay youth on gay “recruitment”: “We’re making martyrs out of kids that we’re recruiting to behave as homosexuals when no one is born that way, and that’s the problem and that’s the issue.”
PFOX also has ties to the FRC, the summit’s chief sponsor: FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg is a PFOX board member and the FRC has promoted PFOX’s events.
Jeet Heer of The New Republic writes that the Birchers’ conspiratorial nature helped set the stage for Trump’s nomination: “Far from belonging merely to the lunatic fringe, the Birchers were important precursors to what is now the governing ideology of the Republican Party: Trumpism. Bircherism is now, with Trump, flourishing in an entirely new way. Far from being drummed out of conservatism, it has become the dominant strain.”
3)Americans For Truth About Homosexuality
A former Family Research Council official, Peter LaBarbera founded Americans For Truth About Homosexuality in order to apply “single-minded determination to opposing the radical homosexual agenda” or, as he sometimes calls it, “the hydra-headed monster of the Homosexual/Transsexual Lobby.”
In LaBarbera’s ideal America, the government would imprison doctors who perform sex reassignment surgery for transgender people, close the door to refugees who are gay, launch a campaign against “homosexual behavior” just as it did against tobacco products and “re-stigmatize” homosexuality.
4)Family Watch International
With a global focus, Family Watch International has promoted ex-gay therapy and laws criminalizing homosexuality overseas.
One of the most glaring examples of its activism is in Nigeria, where the group’s leadership pushed the country’s lawmakers to adopt a law that “punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage with up to 14 years in prison” and “prohibits anyone from officiating a gay union, bans same-sex ‘amorous relationships’ and membership in an LGBT advocacy group.” The law has led to dozens of arrests.
Liberty Counsel is a conservative legal advocacy firm with close ties to Liberty University, the school founded by Jerry Falwell. The group recently gained national attention for its work representing Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who defied federal courts by attempting to obstruct the recognition of marriage equality in his state.
Anita Staver, Staver’s wife and the president of Liberty Counsel, recently said that she would take her gun into restrooms in reaction to Target’s decision to let transgender customers use the restroom that matches their gender identity, although she was unable to connect the store’s policy to any criminal acts.
Intercessors for America, as we’ve reported, has “prayed to stop anti-bullying laws to protect LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth, warning they ‘can only lead to God’s judgment,’ and that support for marriage equality ‘leads a soul to eternal damnation.’” The group also “believes that federal government is developing technology to implant microchips in all citizens as a form of mind control.”
9)Tradition, Family And Property
The Roman Catholic organization Tradition, Family and Property is a group of men who dress up like knights with trademark red capes and costumes and tour the country protesting events they perceive as anti-Catholic, as well as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The group is particularly active in its opposition to gay rights, advocating for colleges to disband LGBT clubs and protesting Desmond Tutu due to his “affirmation of the homosexual agenda.” One of the group’s board members suggested that tornadoes were God’s judgment for gay marriage .
10)Family Research Council
The Values Voter Summit’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, is far from a mainstream group.
Donald Trump is scheduled to speak this week at the Values Voter Summit, the annual confab hosted by the Religious Right powerhouse the Family Research Council. While Trump has claimed that he will be a better “friend of LGBT Americans” than Hillary Clinton (just “ask the gays”), his appearance at VVS shows the extent to which he has cozied up with some of the country’s fiercest opponents of LGBT equality, going so far as to offer them their pick of Supreme Court justices.
While the Religious Right has changed its messaging in recent years to claim that conservative Christians in the U.S. are facing persecution from LGBT rights activists, it was not long ago that many of the same groups were fighting to preserve laws that made gay people criminals—and some still support enacting these policies at home and abroad.
The Family Research Council, which is the chief organizer of the conference, is a case in point. In 2003, when the Supreme Court was considering the constitutionality of Texas’ ban on “sodomy” in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, the FRC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state. When the court ruled against Texas in the case, the FRC called it “a direct attack on the sanctity of marriage” and the group’s president, Tony Perkins, declared, “What’s at stake here is the very foundation of our society, not only of America but all Western civilization.”
Not only has Perkins defended state laws criminalizing same-sex relations, he once defended a notorious anti-gay bill in Uganda that at the time he discussed it proposed life in prison or even the death penalty for people who have sex with someone of the same sex. Perkins lauded this bill as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable,” criticizing President Obama for opposing it. The FRC even spent $25,000 to lobby Congress about a resolution denouncing the Ugandan bill—the group later claimed that it didn’t oppose the resolution, it just wanted to make its language less friendly to gay rights. In 2011, FRC asked its members to pray to give Malawi the “courage to withstand U.S. coercion” and maintain its ban on homosexuality.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the FRC who will have a speaking slot at this weekend’s summit, has perhaps been the most clear about the organization’s views on the subject. Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2010 if he thinks “we should outlaw gay behavior,” Sprigg replied, “Yes.” In a 2008 television interview, Sprigg mused, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”
The American Family Association, another sponsor of the Values Voter Summit, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case, writing in the amicus brief that a law like Texas' could prevent the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy” and would even protect the gay people it targeted by sparing them “illness, disease and death resulting from [their] conduct.” That same year, the AFA published an essay lamenting that the disappearance of sodomy laws showed that “Judeo-Christian views” were being abandoned in favor of “moral relativism.” In 2011, then-AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer said that homosexuality should be a “criminal offense.”
First Liberty, another sponsor of the event, likewise backed Texas in the Lawrence case (under its previous incarnation as the Liberty Legal Institute), with the group’s leader Kelly Shackelford—also a speaker at this year’s VVS—declaring that there is “no constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy.”
Other figures at the Values Voter Summit have also supported criminal bans on homosexuality.
Many Religious Right leaders have rallied behind Trump because he has promised to give them their ideal Supreme Court justices and lower court judges. Very recent history shows that these groups aren’t just interested in using the courts to reverse marriage equality—which would be harmful enough on its own—but also to severely roll back years of hard-won legal protections for LGBT people. Trump says that he’d be better for the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton—but we doubt that he’ll bring that message to the Values Voter Summit.
Michele Bachmann has a dire warning about what will happen to America if Hillary Clinton becomes president: "I don't want to be melodramatic but I do want to be truthful. I believe without a shadow of a doubt this is the last election. This is it. This is the last election."
Media Matters is threatening legal action against Fox News over reports that the network, under Roger Ailes, "hired a private investigator in late 2010 to obtain the personal home- and cell-phone records of Joe Strupp, a reporter for the liberal watchdog group Media Matters. "
John Eidsmoe and the Foundation for Moral Law are asking the Supreme Court to hear the case of "persecuted" Christian baker Jack Phillips.
Finally, the American Family Association is calling on the NFL to discipline Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand during the national anthem: "It is important for the NFL to take necessary steps to insure that its players, coaches, and teams show proper respect for our country and our police officers. If Kaepernick is allowed to continue his deeply offensive actions, it will only lead to other such movements by other players in the future."
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios wondered this morning if the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement that it may designate electronic voting systems as “critical infrastructure” in order to guard against cyberattacks is in fact the “creepy laying of groundwork” for an Obama administration plot to blame Russian hackers for a Trump victory in November in order to overturn the results.
Rios, the AFA’s governmental affairs director and an American Family Radio host, asked the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky about the news on her radio program this morning.
“So this really is, honestly, it just seems like, oh boy, the creepy laying of groundwork for something that could be really bad,” she said. “Like, okay, I’m going to step off the plank here. Let’s say maybe the election ends up being really, really close and because they’ve already laid the groundwork that Donald Trump is connected with Putin, they’re best buddies according to—well, he claimed that he had a relationship with him and then they claimed, the left claims that he has a really good relationship with him and now they’re inferring that the Russians may mess with the election.
“So, gee, if it’s close, maybe it’s probably the Russians, then, that are messing with our election apparatus and so then the Justice Department and the executive branch come in to kind of fix it. Right, Hans, something like that?”
Von Spakovsky responded that while he “wouldn’t quite go so far as them blaming it on the Russians,” the Obama administration could use the DHS’s move to place “virulent left-wing partisans” from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in polling places to falsely claim that there is voter suppression taking place in swing states.
“So they would be in the polling places,” he said, “and they would be the ones coming out, maybe in a state that’s close, saying, ‘Oh, we saw all kinds of voter suppression efforts going on in that precinct, in that area, and therefore that throws in doubt the results of the election’ if their favored candidate loses.”
In the latest example, Fischer declared on his show yesterday that liberals reflexively call conservatives "bigots" or "homophobes" or "Islamophobes" because they seek to use name-calling as a way to shut down debate since liberals know that they can't make substantive arguments.
"Name-calling is the first refuge of a man without an argument," Fischer said. "So, when somebody starts calling you a name, that's an indication they know they are out of intellectual ammunition, they cannot defend their position."
That is an interesting claim to hear someone like Fischer make, since just the day before, on his Wednesday radio program, he spent a segment engaging in all sorts of name-calling against LGBT activists.
"There's no tolerance there on the left," Fischer fumed. "They say they're the voices and the paragons of tolerance and compassion. They are anything but. They're cruel, they're mean-spirited and they're hateful. You want to know where the hate is in the whole discussion about homosexuality? It's on the left! They are the haters. They are the bigots. They are the anti-Christian haters, they're Christophobes, virtually every last one of them."
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios joined “Breitbart News Daily” this morning to discuss her organization’s ongoing boycott of Target for allowing customers to use the restrooms that match their gender identity. (Breitbart News, whose head just became the CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has been feverishly promoting the idea that the retail chain’s policy will lead to sexual assault.)
Rios told Breitbart’s Alex Marlow that the boycott “isn’t just about Target” but is about scaring other corporations and governments so that they don’t adopt similar policies and leave people like Rios with nowhere left to relieve themselves.
“If we do not keep the pressure on Target,” she said, “this will quickly—we know how major corporations are, they are scared to death of anything that isn’t politically correct—this will spread like wildfire, we will not be able to go to the bathroom anywhere.”
Hillary Clinton has faced her share of sexist attacks in her presidential campaign, and plenty of Clinton supporters have been accused of voting for her “just because she’s a woman,” but attacking Clinton explicitly for being a woman has generally been considered to be beyond the pale. Except, that is, among a small segment of Religious Right activists who believe that God proscribes women from taking political leadership roles and are willing to talk about it.
Back in 2008, when John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, some Religious Right leaders had muddled reactions to a female nominee who also happened to share many of their policy priorities.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins explained that there was no contradiction in supporting a woman as vice president even though he is a member of a denomination that bars women from serving as pastors because the Bible only prohibits a woman from being a “spiritual leader.” Richard Land, then the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, said that it was perfectly fine for Palin to serve in the role as long as her husband was okay with it. Al Mohler said that while he was thrilled with Palin’s politics, if he were her pastor he “would be concerned about how she could balance these responsibilities and what this would mean for her family and her roles as wife and mother.”
Michele Bachmann met some similar reactions when she ran for president in 2012, complicated by the fact that Bachmann herself had declared adherence to submission theology, the belief, as Sarah Posner has explained, that the “husband is the spiritual head of the household, the wife his obedient ‘helpmeet,’ the vessel for their children, devoted mother, and warrior for the faith.” Bachmann deflected those criticisms using logic similar to Perkins’, saying that the presidency “is not a spiritual position, it is a position of authority in our government, it is very different from that of a wife to her husband.”
Not everyone was convinced. While Bryan Fischer, then an official with the American Family Association, wrote early on in Bachmann’s campaign that the congresswoman was “in fact submitting to her husband by running for president ” because her husband had urged her to run, he did not seem completely convinced of his own point. Fischer said on his radio program the very same week that a woman should be allowed to become president only as a last resort “if God can't find any men with the spine and with the testicular fortitude” to lead. In that case, he said, God would “send a woman to do a man’s job.” As the election approached, Fischer went back to stating his belief that political leadership should be “reserved for the hands of males.”
It’s not surprising, then, that the question of whether a woman should be president has bubbled up again this year among some of the same people. Fischer declared this week that he doesn’t “believe that women should be entrusted with high political office,” implying that it would be reasonable to “vote for Trump because he's a man.”
Sam Roher, a former Pennsylvania state legislator who heads the American Pastors Network, which works to organize politically engaged conservative pastors, cited the book of Isaiah this month to argue that having women in political leadership is a mark of judgment upon a nation. “God does raise up women,” he explained, “there is no question about it, but the real condemnation is not the women in office, the condemnation is the disregard and the absolute inability for male leadership to perform as God intended it and I believe that that's the application for us now.”
Gary Dull, a board member of the pastors’ network who also runs its Pennsylvania chapter, used the same passage from Isaiah to argue more firmly that women should not lead nations. “In God's line of authority,” he said last month, “it seems very clear in the scripture that a woman should not be in authority over men, which would limit a woman from being the president of the United States of America or even a queen of some other particular nation.”
And this isn’t even to mention the fringe activists who have said that women shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, including Theodore Shoebat, who recently managed to feed a conspiracy theory about Khizr Khan to the Trump campaign. Jesse Lee Peterson, a frequent guest on conservative talk shows, has also argued that women should never have been given the right to vote.
Those who think a female candidate should be disqualified from the presidency are mercifully few. And submission theology, which deals with a woman’s role in the household and the world, varies greatly among those who preach it. But as the reactions to Clinton’s candidacy have shown, the question of whether a woman should be president hasn’t been entirely settled in the Christian Right. After all, as Phyllis Schlafly says, who needs a woman president when “all our greatest presidents have been men"?
As we have noted, most Religious Right leaders supported Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, while Trump’s “amen corner” consisted primarily of prosperity gospel preachers (like Paula White, who says Trump is “hungry in his heart” for God) and dominionist “prophets” and “apostles.”
And the Lord spoke very clearly to me, and he said to me, ‘This man is going to win the nomination and I want you to be ready to serve my cause when I call you.’…In this instance, it’s not because Donald Trump has heralded his faith or the name of God, but the Lord has put His favor upon him, and how amazing it is that the favor of God can overcome so many mistakes, so many bumbles, so many things that otherwise we would think would destroy somebody in business, destroy them in politics, destroy them in relationships. But yet it’s very evident it was the will of the Lord to do this and here we sit now.
2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fightfor religious freedom
Pastor Michael Anthony, president of Godfactor and founder of the National Week of Repentance, attended Trump’s June meeting with evangelicals and said he is convinced God is using Trump to move Christians to act to defend their religious freedom. “I think God was speaking through him at that moment, to the church, to tell us why are you being silent about the most important thing about your lives?”
3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was a big Ted Cruz backer and has publicly been a somewhat reluctant supporter of Donald Trump. He told radio host Sandy Rios that Trump has made plenty of mistakes, but that if he “walks in that grace that is available” and surrounds himself with good people, he could “cast a vision that moves America back to the country that honors God again and therefore would be a recipient of His blessing.”
4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel
Many conservative evangelicals have embraced a theological approach to Middle East policy, interpreting Bible verses to suggest that in order to enjoy God’s blessing, America must unconditionally support the Israeli government. Says Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United For Israel, “we have a mandate from the Bible and that mandate is to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people.” Even though Trump said earlier this year that he would be “neutral” regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute (a position he later backed away from), right-wing leaders have long denounced Obama as an enemy of Israel. The Times of Israel notes that Hagee, “has all but endorsed Trump by name.” Indeed, Hagee told his viewing audience that God would hold them accountable for their vote, saying, “I’m not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years.” Hagee has complained that “three million evangelicals did not vote in the past election,” saying “God forbid that happen again. We are going to storm the voting booths of America this time around.”
Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s strongest Religious Right allies and a member of the campaign’s evangelical advisory board, declared that it is “biblical” to support a “strongman” to lead the government. Jeffress said he would run “as far as possible” from a candidate who said he would govern according to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. “Nowhere is government told to forgive those who wrong it, nowhere is government told to turn the other cheek. Government is to be a strongman to protect its citizens against evildoers. When I’m looking for somebody who’s going to deal with ISIS and exterminate ISIS, I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find, and I believe that’s biblical.”
Wallnau: "Donald Trump's got this like Elijah mantle on him.” In the biblical book of 2 Kings, the prophet Elijah passed both his physical cloak and spiritual authority to his disciple Elisha when Elijah was taken to heaven in a flaming chariot. The reference to Elijah’s mantle is another way for Wallnau to express his belief that Trump is carrying out a divine mission. Elisha also seems to have had a Trumpish temperament when it comes to accepting criticism; the Bible reports that when some boys jeered at him and called him Baldy, he called down a curse on them and two bears came out of the nearby woods and mauled 42 of the boys.
9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing
“Donald Trump is more prophetic than people think,” Wallnau has said. “There is a Cyrus anointing on this man. He is like a Reformer in secular garb." In a video posted on his Facebook page following a meeting between Trump and religious leaders, Wallnau recounted telling Trump that he would become the 45th president of the United States because he has a "Cyrus anointing" upon him as proclaimed in Isaiah 45, referring to the Persian king who freed the Jews from captivity. “And I believe God had put His hand on you as a Cyrus to be a governor and that the Bible talks about this critical 45th chapter, as the 45th president, it is the decisive moment in American history for leadership,” Wallnau said. He has also explained his Cyrus theory in an interview with Steven Strang.
Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election...
Note: In February Johnson said his prophecy had been misunderstood and that it did not mean Trump would become president, simply that it provided “prophetic insight and direction for the body of Christ,” something Johnson also said about the prophetic dream he had in which the Holy Spirit told him, “Marco Rubio is carrying a Thomas Jefferson anointing for this generation. He will break the back of tyrants and restore the patriotic spirit in America.” It must be said, the Holy Spirit gives Johnson a lot of messages about Republican politicians, telling him in May that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is “my Esther of the hour.”
10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’
Trump “Christian policy” adviser Frank Amedia told Steven Strang that there is “a skirmish going on” in the “heavenlies” right now that “is the beginnings of the preparation of the way of the coming of the Lord.” As part of this preparation for the Second Coming, he said, a “breaker anointing” has taken place, giving Trump the power to break up “established norms” that have not served the “Kingdom of God.” Amedia said, “I perceive that Donald Trump has been raised up with that breaker anointing to just begin to crush all of the strangleholds that have been placed upon this country.”
11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’
12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’
Rick Wiles aired his “Trunews” radio show from a Trump rally in Kissimmee, Florida, in August. Wiles was excited about Trump accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton of having founded the terrorist group ISIS (this was before Trump described the comments as sarcasm). “Donald Trump is telling the truth: Obama and Clinton are behind ISIS. This is what ‘Trunews’ has said for years,” Wiles said, adding later in the show, “It’s like he’s a battering ram, it’s like God has picked him up and used him as a battering ram to beat down the walls of the New World Order.”
13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan
In April, “Trunews” host Rick Wiles invited self-proclaimed prophet Mark Taylor on to his End Times news program to discuss “his amazing 2011 prophecy that Donald Trump has been marked by God to lead America.” Taylor, a retired firefighter, explained that God told him that Donald Trump will be the next president and that anyone who criticizes him will be struck down, explaining that God has been preparing Trump for his entire life to become an extraordinarily successful president who will fight Satan. “The kingdom of darkness is attacking this man like never before,” Taylor said. “God is using this man—he’s not rattling the gates, because when you rattle the gates you don’t make entry—this man is literally splitting the kingdom of darkness right open.”
14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House
In January, Lou Comunale published a YouTube video (which now has more than 400,000 views) promoting a videotape he uncovered of late “prophet” John Paul Jackson interpreting a woman’s dream in 2012. A key element in the dream was a big bulldozer going “right through the White House just like it was a deck of cards.” “Only when you look at it now,” says Comunale “does it look like he’s actually talking about Donald J. Trump in the White House.”
16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is one of Trump’s strongest supporters on the Christian Right. When he introduced Trump on campus in January, Falwell compared Trump to his father, who was proud to be “politically incorrect,” and to Jesus and Martin Luther King, who said radical and unpopular things that upset the religious and political establishment.
17. Trump is like King David
During the primaries, Falwell responded to evangelicals who were critical of his endorsement by saying it’s wrong to be worried about electing the “most righteous” candidate. “God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer,” Falwell said. “You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief. It means sometimes we have to choose a person who has the qualities to lead and who can protect our country and bring us back to economic vitality, and it might not be the person we call when we need somebody to give us spiritual counsel.”
18. Trump is like Saul/Paul
At Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” conference in March, televangelist James Robison literally screamed at participants that they must vote even if Trump was not their preferred candidate. Robison said he hoped that people who are close to Trump, like Falwell and Jeffress, will lead him to a “road to Damascus experience” like that described in the biblical story of Saul, who persecuted Christians but who became Paul the evangelist after an encounter with the risen Jesus. For the world to see God transform someone “who so obviously needs changing,” said Robison, would demonstrate God’s power even more effectively than if the Religious Right had been able to play kingmaker and get their preferred candidate the nomination.
19. Trump is like Samson
Anti-Islam extremist Walid Shoebat has decried Trump critics as “scum” and mocked Fox News’s Megyn Kelly as a “Delilah” sent by Trump’s enemies to try to take him down. “I thought that while this Samson (Trump) sinned, he must have God’s blessings since he is destined for a purpose.” Shoebat said Trump’s rejection of the GOP’s “autopsy report” was a sign that perhaps “God finally intervened.” Samson and Delilah are another scriptural reference, this time from the book of Judges. Samson was a warrior granted super-human strength by God; his unshaven hair was a sign of his commitment to God. But the duplicitous Delilah badgered him into revealing his secret and shaved his head while he was sleeping, allowing him to be captured by the Philistines. God eventually granted him the strength to bring down the pillars supporting the Philistines’ temple, killing himself and thousands of them.
20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln
Wallnau again: “When God wants to move in history, he doesn’t always pick the favorite evangelical.” He explained that God brought Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill to power at crucial moments in history, and that God is now raising up Trump for our time. He knows this, Wallnau said, because God told him so.
21. Trump is like George Washington
Wallnau again, citing the apocryphal story of George Washington supposedly surviving in battle despite his coat and hat being riddled with bullet holes thanks to the protection of God, told Trump that he too is being protected by God. "You've said things and done things that should have put the equivalent of a bullet in your coat," Wallnau said that he told Trump, "but they've passed through you because of the anointing. God is really watching over you.”
22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler
“The thing is, Trump’s supporters know that Trump is an Oscar Schindler, who did not mind bribing the Nazis to get to do what is good,” says Walid Shoebat. “No President can get elected without playing the game. They know that like Obama, who said he ‘loves Israel’ to only gain votes, Trump has to kiss dogs to get to the seat of power. Smattering of moderate-to-liberal policy positions he will gain the votes from democrats. Just as Obama did it, Trump will do the same trick.”
23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil
In June, Jeffress declared of the 2016 election, “This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a battle between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, and I think it is time for people who say they are conservative Christians to get off the fence and go to the polls and vote their convictions.” Jeffress said that unlike President Obama, who he said “hates” conservative Christians, Trump will be a “true friend in the White House” and “appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.” Said Jeffress, “This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about good and evil.”
24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist
American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer declared in August that Hillary Clinton must not be allowed to become president because she is driven by a “profound anti-Christ impulse.” Said Fischer, “Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist because she is against Christ, she is against Christianity, she is against the free exercise of the Christian faith, she doesn’t want the Christian faith to be a part of the public square, to influence public policy in any way, she is against everything that Christianity stands for…She is an opponent of all that is good and right and noble.”
Bryan Fischer was very impressed with Donald Trump's proposal to implement an "extreme vetting" process for screening immigrants who wish to come to America and took it upon himself to draft a simple nine question test to be given to all Muslims seeking to enter this country.
Fischer, who has been calling for a complete ban on Muslim immigration and the deportation off all Muslims currently living in the United States for years, said that anyone who failed to provide a satisfactory answer to any of these questions should automatically be denied entry:
1. Do you believe in Israel’s right to exist?
2. Do you renounce all Palestinian acts of terror against Israel and Israelis?
3. Do you believe the 9/11 attack was carried out by Muslims or by Jews?
4. Do you believe the Holocaust occurred?
5. Have you made the pilgrimage to Mecca?
6. Do you support legal punishment for those who leave the Islamic faith?
7. Do you want the United States one day to be governed by Sharia law?
8.Are you willing to give up any right to have Muslim holidays on school calendars and halal food in school cafeterias and prisons?
9.Do you believe anyone who creates an image of Muhammad should be punished?
On his radio show today, a caller worried that Fischer's test might be undermined by "taqiyya," a reference to the false claim that Muslims are allowed to advance the cause of Islam. But Fischer had an obvious answer: require Muslims to take the test while strapped to a polygraph machine.
"I tried to devise these questions," Fischer said, "to make it virtually impossible for a Muslim to resort to taqiyya ... I think these questions ought to be administered with a polygraph machine, frankly. I think that anyone that's from a Muslim country that wants to immigrate to the United States, they not only should ask these questions, they should do it hooked up to a polygraph machine."