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Meet The Republican Candidates Who Have Defended The Confederate Flag

Following the murder of nine people in an apparent hate crime in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night, many Americans, including prominent political figures, are calling for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the North side of the state’s capital building. Gov. Nikki Haley, who defended the flag during her campaign for reelection last year and supported its placement because business leaders had not complained to her about its posting, said today that “the state will start talking about” the flag issue again following the shooting.

The following Republican presidential hopefuls have voiced their support for the Confederate flag to remain on government buildings and public property.

Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina came to the defense of the South Carolina Confederate flag display yesterday, describing it as an integral “part of who we are”

While Graham did admit to CNN that the flag has been “used in a racist way” in the past, he argued that “the problems we have in south Carolina and the world are not because of a movie or a symbol, it’s about what’s in people’s heart.”

He added that South Carolina’s “compromise” of having both a Confederate War memorial and an African American memorial at the state capitol “works.”

Mike Huckabee

Hoping to mobilize white evangelical voters against Republican “establishment” candidates in 2008, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee demanded his fellow candidates stop asking for the removal of the Confederate flag from government offices.

Huckabee had this to say: “You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag…if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole. That’s what we’d do.”

Rick Perry

During his last presidential campaign, Rick Perry came under scrutiny for his efforts to oppose the removal of the Confederate flag from display at the statehouse when he was lieutenant governor of Texas. In a March, 2000 letter to the Sons of Confederate Veterans obtained by the Associated Press, Perry wrote, “Although this is an emotional issue, I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property.”

However, Perry seems to have begun to rethink his stance on Confederate symbols. In 2011, he opposed an effort to create Confederate flag license plates, and in an interview on Newsmax’s The Steve Malzberg Show this week Perry voiced his agreement with critics of the flag that “we need to be looking at these issues as ways to bring the country together. And if these are issues that are pushing us apart, then maybe there’s a good conversation that needs to be had about [it].”

Right Wing Steamed Over Pope's Climate Change Encyclical

In the past few decades, politically conservative American Catholics and their allies in the Republican Party got used to having the public voice of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops serving as a politically useful one that prioritized opposition to legal abortion and LGBT equality. So, needless to say, some are having a hard time adjusting to Pope Francis, whose critiques of the dehumanizing excesses of modern corporate capitalism have dismayed some right-wing Catholics. Now, the Pope’s new encyclical on climate change and care for the planet, which apparently did not pay much heed to an April appeal from “Biblical worldview”-promoting climate change denialists or warnings from the Koch Brothers, is pushing some right-wing pundits over the edge.

Alan Keyes, a far-right Catholic and perennial political candidate, argued that the facts about human contribution to climate change have not been established and warned that “the whole push for totalitarian government remediation of the allegedly terrible damage we are inflicting on God’s creation is a slander against the human race, a sin against humanity being committed as a pretext for the rape of human life, human conscience and God-endowed human liberty.”

The never-subtle Keyes said that when he looks “in the mirror of reason at the reflections Pope Francis offers in his encyclical, what I see looks unlike Jesus Christ (who as of now still comes to save and not harshly to penalize humanity).” He added, “Pope Francis’ reflections look more like Marx, Stalin or Mao Zedong – materialistic ideologues who punished not for the sake of God or truth, but on account of resentful, self-idolizing human will and ideology.”

Over at the free-market-adoring Acton Institute, Kishore Jayabalan was more respectful, saying he welcomed the pope’s encyclical, but wrote that he was disappointed that the pope “seems to blame markets, over-consumption and especially finance, rather than human sin, for all our environmental problems.”

Others have had much harsher words for Pope Francis. The reliably bloviating Rush Limbaugh said the encyclical seems to confirm that Francis is a Marxist, a sentiment echoed by Fox News pundit Greg Gutfield. James Delingpole, an editor at Breitbart, said the encyclical includes “hackneyed language and extremely dubious science you might expect from a 16-year-old trotting out the formulaic bilge and accepted faux-wisdom required these days…” At Fox Business, Stuart Varney warned of a sinister alliance between the Pope and President Barack Obama to “reshape the world by taxing the rich, taxing fossil fuels, and redistributing the wealth.” Right-wing radio host Michael Savage, furious at the encyclical, called the Pope “an eco-wolf in pope’s clothing” and “a stealth Marxist in religious garb,” claiming that Francis will put Catholics “in chains” and is reminiscent of “the false prophet in Revelation, an ecumenical spiritual figure directing mankind to worship the Antichrist.”

It’s not just a bunch of pundits.

The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg notes that Sen. James Inhofe, a notorious climate change denier, “bluntly told reporters that Francis was out of line.” Inhofe told attendees at a conference of the right-wing Heartland Institute, “The pope ought to stay with his job.” ThinkProgress notes that back in May, the Koch-funded Heartland Institute warned that “the Left” was working with the Pope on climate change, something akin to the “unholy alliance of international communism with the jihadi Islamists.”

Republican presidential candidates have also been slamming the encyclical. Jeb Bush, who has talked about his conversion to Catholicism on the campaign trail, has also suggested the Pope should butt out of the public conversation on climate change. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm,” he said.

Rick Santorum said the church is not credible when “we get involved with controversial political and scientific theories,” not a concern he seems to have when the topic is, oh, same-sex couples getting married or being parents. He told an interviewer, “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

As many have noted, the pope has studied more science than Rick Santorum. Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of America Magazine and now a senior analyst for National Catholic Reporter, flipped Santorum’s comments, saying, “It's nice — for once the Catholic Church is on the side of science.” Climate scientists agree.

Alex Jones: Charleston Shooting A Government Plot To Start A Race War, Persecute Conservatives

Alex Jones hosted anti-choice activist Clenard Childress on his “Infowars” program yesterday to discuss the Charleston church shooting, which the two agreed was a government “set-up” intended to foment racial violence, which would then justify the implementation of martial law.

Childress suspected that the shooter was “on a drug” and “given instructions” to massacre the church members in order to “cause a race war” in South Carolina.

“He wasn’t just trying to kill black people, he wanted to stir folks up, or whoever advised him,” Jones said, adding that the “this guy with a chili bowl hair cut guy” looks “mentally disabled” and probably not capable of planning such an event alone.

“We’re being set up,” Childress said.

“This is all a set-up.” Jones agreed: “Oh it is. Look at the priming, look at the preparations…. You can see all of the preparation building towards this, this is the big move, it’s a race war to bring in total chaos and then total federalization with this evil Justice Department, they even got rid of the other attorney general who had baggage, they put the new one in for the political persecutions of conservatives and Christians. They’re dropping the hammer.”

Childress added that the race war is all designed to give the government an excuse to “bring in martial law very quickly.”

Gun Lobbyist Larry Pratt Blames 'Anti-Second-Amendment' Pastor For South Carolina Church Shooting

Yesterday, Gun Owners of America’s communications director, Erich Pratt, reacted to the shooting in a church in South Carolina by blaming the church’s pastor, one of the victims of the shooting, for voting against a concealed carry bill in his role as a state senator.

In an interview today with Houston-based talk radio host Sam Malone, GOA’s executive director Larry Pratt (Erich’s father) doubled down on the accusation, claiming that the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, had left his congregation “defenseless” by opposing a bill that would have required churches to allow the concealed carry of firearms.

“The president and those that look at the world the way he does seem to be unshakably wedded to the idea that no defense is a good defense,” Pratt said, referring to President Obama’s remarks on the shooting. “And there you had a church where this horrible act was committed, where the pastor was a state senator who was a leading anti-Second-Amendment, pro-civilian-disarmament sort of guy. So when the dirtbag struck, he was pretty confident there wasn’t going to be anybody shooting back because they all believed that no defense is a good defense, that’s what they’d been preached about. It’s just, it was so needless. There was nobody who was able to resist.”

“It was a gun-free zone, thanks in part to the pastor, the state senator,” he said, blasting the pastor who supported keeping a policy that allows churches to choose whether or not to allowed concealed carry, or, as Pratt called it, “that stupid provision that if the church wants to be defenseless, that’s fine.”

H/T reader Erik

Lapin: 'The State Religion Of Secular Fundamentalism' Seeks To Obliterate Christianity

Rabbi Daniel Lapin was among the speakers today at Ralph Reed's "Road To Majority Conference," where he declared that "secular fundamentalism" has become an "official state religion" and that, just like Islam, it is seeking to "obliterate" Christianity from American society.

"The only form of sex that the official state religion of secular fundamentalism despises is the sex described as ideal in God's book, the Bible," Lapin said. "All other forms of sex [are] highly desirable and indeed brave and courageous to practice, but what you and your spouse do, that's retrogressive and negative."

"It's exactly what the Muslim hoards did when they invaded Spain in the eighth century," he continued. "They obliterated every sign of Christianity and that's what the state religion of secular fundamentalism does as it conquers our society, works at obliterating the only hope this country has, which is a fervent, revived Christianity."

Gun Owners Of America Blames Slain Charleston Pastor For Voting Against Concealed Carry

Gun Owners of America, unsurprisingly, is reacting the shooting at an African American church in Charleston this week by urging people to carry guns to church. Not only that, but GOA’s communications director Erich Pratt implies in a post on the group’s website that the church’s slain pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was partly to blame for the massacre because he had voted against a bill in the state senate that would have allowed the concealed carry of guns in churches.

A National Rifle Association board member made a similar comment yesterday.

Pratt starts off his GOA post with this image:

He goes on to attack Pinckney for being an “anti-gun activist” who opposed concealed carry in churches.

“One of the biggest problems at South Carolina church is that the potential victims were disarmed by law,” he writes. “In the Palmetto State, a concealed carry permit holder can carry in places of worship with permission from a church official. Unfortunately, the pastor was an anti-gun activist. As a state senator, the Pastor had voted against concealed carry.”

GOA is also circulating a Facebook share image urging people to carry guns to church in order to protect against attack:

UPDATE: GOA's executive director, Larry Pratt (Erich's father), doubled down on this argument in an interview with Sam Malone:

 

Mike Huckabee: Charleston Shooting Could've Been Prevented If Church Members Were Armed

Mike Huckabee spoke today to Todd Starnes of Fox News, who was agitated that the “despicable” President Obama “wants to go after the guns” following the shooting at an African American church in Charleston. Huckabee agreed, claiming he was “disappointed” that the president considered the shooting “a great opportunity for me to grandstand and jump up on the stump and talk about gun control.”

The GOP presidential candidate said that the only thing that could have stopped the shooting would have been an armed member of the church. Channeling the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Huckabee said: “It sounds crass, but frankly the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is to have a good person with a weapon that is equal or superior to the one that he’s using.”

Starnes ended the brief interview by castigating Obama for “playing politics” and “scoring cheap political points on the graves of the innocent” when he should’ve remained silent.

Rick Perry: Charleston Shooting An 'Accident' Due To Drug Use, Manipulated By Obama To Ban Guns

In an interview today with Steve Malzberg of Newsmax, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry described the mass shooting at an African American church in Charleston earlier this week as an “accident” that was possibly caused by the over-prescription of medication.

(Update: A Perry campaign aide now says that the former governor misspoke in the interview when he used the word “accident.”)

Perry and Malzberg kicked off the discussion of the shooting by attacking President Obama for mentioning the failure to pass gun reform. Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, said that the president is trying to “take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country.”

“This is the MO of this administration, any time there is an accident like this — the president is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message,” Perry said.

Instead of talking about guns, Perry said, we should be talking about prescription drugs: “Also, I think there is a real issue to be talked about. It seems to me, again without having all the details about this, that these individuals have been medicated and there may be a real issue in this country from the standpoint of these drugs and how they’re used.”

He said that such drugs are responsible for high suicide and joblessness rates, adding that “there are a lot of issues underlying this that I think we as a country need to have a conversion about rather than just the knee-jerk reaction of saying, ‘If we can just take all the guns away, this won’t happen.’”

He added that while the shooting was “a crime of hate,” he didn’t know if it should be called a terrorist attack.

Sandy Rios: Obama 'Enjoyed' Charleston Shooting

Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, attacked President Obama today for his response to the Charleston shooting, which she said is proof that he “enjoys” such incidents because it will give him another chance to “remove guns from the hands of the American people.”

Unlike the family members of the victims who offered messages of forgiveness, Rios said, “there are other people who seem to respond and fester and enjoy these problems and make the most of them, and I would include president of the United States, this of course he took as an opportunity to lay out his passion against allowing American people to carry guns.”

She accused Obama of “rushing” to link the shooting to weak gun laws, adding that “all the tragedies remind him that he wants to stop American people from having guns.”

Mike Huckabee: Gay Marriage Ruling Will 'Criminalize Christianity,' Threaten The Republic

Yesterday, Mike Huckabee sent a letter to Religious Right leaders [PDF] warning that a ruling in favor of marriage equality from the Supreme Court would be just as “backwards” and “broken” as rulings which “rationalized the destruction of human life, defined African Americans as property and justified Japanese-American internment camps.”

“I refuse to sit silently as politically driven interest groups threaten the foundation of religious liberty, criminalize Christianity, and demand that Americans abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage,” Huckabee continued. “I will fight to defend religious liberty at all costs.”

The GOP presidential candidate and former governor added that he will never worship the “false god” of the judiciary: “I also refuse to surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it, which upends the separation of powers so very central to our Constitution. Too much power concentrated in the courts is a threat to our Republic. I will fight judicial tyranny and return power to the people.”

Dear conservative leaders and pro-family activists,

I share your concerns regarding the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. As you mentioned, any decision that redefines the institution of marriage, which has existed for thousands and thousands of years, would overturn the will of American citizens in more than 30 states who have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Under the U.S. Constitution, we have three, co-equal branches of government. The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Branch, and it is certainly not the Supreme Being. Throughout our nation’s history, the court has delivered backwards, broken rulings. These nine, unelected Supreme Court justices have rationalized the destruction of human life, defined African Americans as property and justified Japanese-American internment camps.

The notion that the Supreme Court is an exclusive entity empowered to interpret the Constitution is a modern myth, which has flourished since the 1960s. I reject this idea as just another flawed, failed feature of big government, inconsistent with what our founders fought a revolution to establish.

As both an American and a candidate for president, I will never forget who I serve: my God, my country, and the U.S. Constitution.

I refuse to sit silently as politically driven interest groups threaten the foundation of religious liberty, criminalize Christianity, and demand that Americans abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage. I will fight to defend religious liberty at all costs.

I also refuse to surrender to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it, which upends the separation of powers so very central to our Constitution. Too much power concentrated in the courts is a threat to our Republic. I will fight judicial tyranny and return power to the people.

I call on all GOP candidates to join me in this fight to defend the Constitution. If you lack the backbone to reject judicial tyranny and fight for religious liberty, you have no business serving our nation as President of the United States.

Respectfully,

Governor Mike Huckabee

cc: Cathy Adams - President, Eagle Forum

Kerby Anderson - Host, Point of View radio talk show

Tad Armstrong - President, ELL Constitution Clubs

Ted Baehr - Publisher, www.movieguide.org

Brenda Baller

David Barton - President, WallBuilders

Gary Bauer - President, American Values

Jeffrey K. Beene - Colonel, USAF (retired)

Hon. J. Kenneth Blackwell - Visiting Professor, Liberty School of Law

Floyd Brown - President Western Center for Journalism

Brian Burch - President, CatholicVote.org

Phil Burress - President, Citizens for Community Values Action

Joe R. Calvert - President, Rabon Calvert Interests, Inc.

Larry Cirignano - American Catholic Citizens

Clint Cline - President, Design4

Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews - Executive Director Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty

Hon. Ken Cuccinelli - President, Senate Conservatives Fund

Bill Dallas - CEO, United in Purpose

Steve Deace - USA Radio Network & Conservative Review

Tom DeLay - Former Congressman

Penna Dexter - Co-Host, Point of View Radio Show

James C. Dobson, Ph.D. - Founder and President, Family Talk

Tim Von Dohlen - President, St. John Paul II Life Center

Ken and Roberta Eldred - Living Stones Foundation

Bob Ellis - CEO, Dakota Voice LLC

Tricia Erickson - President, Angel Pictures & Publicity Publisher

William A. Estrada - Director of Federal Relations, Home School Legal Defense Association

Carol Everett - Chief Executive Officer, The Heidi Group

Kristin Fecteau - Co-Founder, Campaign to Free America

William J. Federer

Robert K. Fischer - Meeting Coordinator, Conservatives of Faith

Mark Fitzgibbons - President of Corporate Affairs, American Target Advertising, Inc.

Richard Ford - President, Heritage Alliance

Kevin Freeman

Dr. Jim Garlow - Pastor, Skyline Church

Gina Gleason - Executive Director, Faith and Public Policy

Thomas A. Glessner - President, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates

Kristan Hawkins - President, Students for Life of America

Kirk Hays

Donna Hearne - Constitutional Coalition

Dr. Carl Herbster - AdvanceUSA

Chuck Hurley, J.D. - Vice-president and Chief Counsel, The Family Leader

Harry R. Jackson Jr. - Hope Christian Church and The High Impact Leadership Coalition

Jerry A. Johnson, Ph.D. - President and CEO, National Religious Broadcasters

Finn Laursen - Executive Director, Christian Educators Association International

Dr. Richard Lee - There's Hope America

Dr. Richard Land - Southern Evangelical Seminary

Tim LeFever - Chairman, Capitol Resource Institute

Loren Leman - Former Legislator and Lieutenant Governor, Alaska

Matt Mackowiak - Fight For Tomorrow

Joseph Mattera

Bradley Mattes - President, Life Issues Institute

Kevin McGary - Chairman and President, Frederick Douglass Foundation of Ca.

Joe Miller - President, Restoring Liberty

Tom Minnery - President & CEO, Citizenlink

Len Munsil, J.D. - President, Arizona Christian University

William J. Murray - Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition

Penny Nance - President and CEO, Concerned Women for America

Rev. Dean Nelson - Chairman, Frederick Douglass Foundation

Troy Newman - President, Operation Rescue and ProLife Nation

C. Preston Noell, III - President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Paige Patterson, PhD - President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bob Pearle - Birchman Baptist Church

Tony Perkins - President, Family Research Council President, Council for National Policy

Judson Phillips - Tea Party Nation

Everett Piper - President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Bob Vander Plaats - President/CEO, The FAMiLY LEADER

Janet (Folger) Porter - Producer and Documentarian

Dr. Robert (Bob) Reccord - Former Executive Director, Council for National Policy

Elizabeth B. Rex, Ph.D., MBA - President, The Children First Foundation

Richard Rios - Christian Coalition, California Chairman

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt - Congregation Ohr Ha Torah, Dallas, TX

Austin Ruse - President, Center for Family & Human Rights

Nancy Schulze - Founder, Republican Congressional Wives Speakers

Mat Staver - Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel

Steve Strang - CEO/Founder, Charisma Media

Frank & Sarah Teed - Arkansas Eye Surgery

Eric Teetsel - Executive Director, Manhattan Declaration

Mark Tooley - President, Institute on Religion and Democracy

Patrick A. Trueman - Attorney at Law, Washington, DC

Richard A Viguerie - Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com

Eric M. Wallace, PhD - President & Co-founder, Freedom's Journal Institute

Jennifer L. Wallace - Co-founder, Freedom's Journal Institute

C. Richard Wells - President, John Witherspoon College Rapid City, South Dakota

C. Frederick Wehba - Founder, Bentley Forbes

Dr. Donald E. Wildmon - Founder and Chairman Emeritus, American Family Association

Tim Wildmon - President, American Family Association

Walt Wilson - Founder & Chairman, Global Media Outreach