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How The Religious Right Browbeat A Private School In Rehiring An Anti-LGBT Religious Right Activist

Last week, we noted that Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin announced that he had been fired from a teaching position he held at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Boykin asserted that he had lost his job because of comments he had made earlier in the year at a Religious Right conference where he had voiced his opposition to transgender protection efforts by declaring that "the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain't going to have to worry about surgery."

Boykin, a notoriously anti-gay and anti-Muslim right-wing activist, claimed that he was only joking but that the "LGBT community once again came after me" and pressured "the college leadership to terminate me and they did."

Predictably, the incident became a rallying cry for the likes of Ted Cruz, who used it to fundraise for his own Senate re-election bid, and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, who wrote a column decrying the upposed persecution of Boykin.

Thanks to the outcry from Christian conservatives, Hampden-Sydney backed down and rehired Boykin, who called it "a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus." 

Interestingly, Andrew Beaujon of The Washingtonian reported today that the entire story of Boykin's alleged firing was apparently an utter misrepresentation of what actually took place and was seemingly whipped up for the purpose of browbeating the college into re-hiring Boykin.

According to Hampden-Sydney College, the position held by Boykin "was created to be a rotating position, allowing Hampden-Sydney to bring distinguished individuals from a wide variety of professional backgrounds to the campus." 

The decision not to renew Boykin's contract had reportedly been made back in March, well before concerns had even been raised about his "jokingly" violent remarks: 

If the “LGBT community” indeed went after Boykin, its campaign was remarkably incompetent. Asked about the existence of such an effort, Hampden-Sydney spokesperson Tommy Shomo says, “There was a letter from Hampden-Sydney constituents expressing concerns over some of Gen. Boykin’s  public remarks, recent and past, and questioning his association with the College.” Shomo says the letter was received in April, after the college had already decided, in March, not to renew.

But thanks to the outrage generated by the false narrative created by Boykin, Cruz, Starnes and other Religious Right activists, Hampden-Sydney College was forced to back down and rehire Boykin for one more year:

After discussions with Hampden-Sydney College, Gen. Jerry Boykin has accepted another year's contract to teach in the College's Military Leadership and National Security minor as Wheat Professor. Boykin stated, he "loves the college and its students and would be honored to teach for another year."

Interim President Dennis Stevens said he was pleased that General Boykin will be with Hampden-Sydney for one more year.

At the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, the College will continue with its plan to restore the Wheat Professorship to short-term appointments in order to bring multiple perspectives on leadership to its students.

None of this should come as a surprise, since constantly alleging that he's been the victim of anti-Christian persecution has been a hallmark of Boykin's career.

At NRA Convention Trump Helps Stoke Fear, Feed Gun Industry Profits

From the moment Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, certain members of the media have been eagerly predicting his pivot away from the far right into the mainstream of American politics.

Today, while collecting the National Rifle Association’s endorsement at the group’s annual convention, he continued to keep both his campaign and his rhetoric firmly rooted in the policies and rhetoric of the far right.  

Trump began his speech by claiming that Hillary Clinton wants to “abolish the Second Amendment.” Politifact rated this Trump claim “false” nine days ago.

In uttering this lie, Trump aligns himself with a longstanding NRA strategy. In both 2008 and 2012, the organization and its leadership made similar claims about Barack Obama, yet none of them ever came to pass. NRA board member Grover Norquist even acknowledged these statements were hyperbole.

Creating a climate of fear around the notion that a Democratic president will strip Americans of gun rights is not only designed to whip conservative voters into a frenzy, it also benefits the bottom line of the NRA’s benefactors in the gun industry.

As Jarret Murphy explained in The Nation:

There is no divorcing the politics of guns from their profits. America’s gun lobby and gun industry both benefit from creating a fearful vision of life in the United States—a picture of criminals constantly menacing our families and a government hellbent on taking our guns—that is very effective at selling weapons. In fact, in large part because of the way anxieties about his gun policies have been manipulated, the Obama era has been a golden age for firearms manufacturers, and the run-up to Election 2012 could be for Glock and Remington what the Christmas shopping season is for Macy’s and Sears: a time to cash in before the narrative changes.

This sentiment was reflected by gun industry analyst Jim Barrett, who told The Blaze in 2012, “The driver [of the gun industry's financial success] is President Obama. He is the best thing that ever happened to the firearm industry.”

The Blaze reported in the run-up to the 2012 election:

Major gun company stock prices are up. The number of federally licensed, retail gun dealers is increasing for the first time in nearly 20 years. The U.S. gun lobby is bursting with cash and political clout.

The NRA’s endorsement, if nothing else, means that Donald Trump will attempt to keep this gravy train of fear fueling the bottom line for gun manufacturers for another four years.

Right Wing Round-Up - 5/20/16

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 5/20/16

  • Dave Daubenmire is just about at his wit's end: "I saw this week that President Obama’s approval rating is nearing 50% again. What in the world is wrong with people? Have we fallen so far that the American people approve of this obvious Son of Satan?"
  • After being fired from a teaching position at Hampden-Sydney College, Jerry Boykin has now been re-hired for at least a year.
  • Tucker Carlson says that Glenn Beck "acted like he was auditioning to be Mark Zuckerberg's manservant" during the recent meeting at Facebook.
  • Some Orwellian language from Louisiana Right to Life on a new 72-hour waiting period law: "This important bill empowers women considering abortion with additional reflection time before an abortion so they can consider their options more effectively."
  • Ben Carson and Tony Perkins are organizing a meeting between Religious Right leaders and Donald Trump.
  • Finally, Janet Porter has released a new video promoting her campaign against Target: VIDEO

Dominionist Prayer Rally Planned For Eve Of Republican Convention

Christian-nation advocate David Lane and dominionist Doug Stringer have organized a series of prayer rallies with Republican governors, starting with the 2011 event in Houston that served as an unofficial launching pad for Rick Perry’s failed 2012 presidential bid. Now they’re planning their next one in Cleveland, Ohio, just before the Republican convention.

On Thursday, Stringer and other organizers held a conference call to discuss plans for the Cleveland rally — like others it is going by the name “The Response” — and to ask pastors to get their congregants to take part. “There is a battle for the soul of a generation,” Stringer said, “the soul of our nation.”

Stringer, a far-right preacher who once linked the September 11 attacks to homosexuality, told pastors that the Response is not about promoting politicians or political agendas, only about lifting up the name of Jesus, repenting as individuals and as a nation, and praying for God’s mercy and blessing on the country. This is the “bait” part of the “bait-and-switch” nature of these Response events, as we have previously described:

The rallies are in effect a series of bait-and-switch events. They are disingenuously promoted as non-political gatherings to create Christian unity by bringing people together across denominational and racial lines to pray for the state and the country. And while that promise of ecumenical prayer and worship is undoubtedly what brought many people to the event in Charlotte, the “non-political” veneer was discarded almost immediately.

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

It’s not surprising that the events take on a political cast given that organizer David Lane is a self-described political operative who is recruiting “an army” of conservative pastors to run for office in an effort to boost engagement and voting by conservative Christians. Lane is putting his faith in Trump, according to TIME Magazine:

“I’m going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top 4 presidents in American history,” he recently wrote to his followers. “We intend Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians to bring biblical-based values to the public square, bucking up a Trump Administration willing to confront totalitarian ‘Political Correctness.’”

Previous Response events have been organized and promoted by extreme anti-gay, anti-choice, and religiously divisive groups and leaders. One of the videos promoting the Cleveland Response features E.W. Jackson, a failed Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia; Jackson has called the Black Lives Matter movement “demonic,” said promotion of LGBT equality is “spitting in the face of Almighty God,” and accused President Obama of being more interested in “defending Islam” than “defending America.”

Stringer said participants would be supported by more than 2 million prayer intercessors from around the world. Another organizer asked people to consider joining the prayer force that would be engaging in weeks of prayer ending in a fast.

But the Response is going to have some competition. Stringer said on the conference call that God is calling people to be in Cleveland, and that some who had planned to attend the Reset prayer gathering in Washington, D.C., on July 16 will go to Cleveland instead. Reset is being organized by a number of ministries, including Lou Engle’s TheCall, and organizers hope it will “fill the mall” with a million people for “a historic gathering and a time of spiritual healing for our nation.” A similar situation — dueling prayer rallies on the same day — took place in April, when Engle and friends had a day-long rally in Los Angeles while others met at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

 

Paranoia-Rama: Fake News And Fox News

Not content with just spreading birther conspiracy theories about the president, at least one far-right broadcaster is now looking into whether Michelle Obama is lying about her gender, while conservative “investigator” James O’Keefe blows his latest operation.

Trump's Christian Liaison Threatened To Withhold Food From Haitians Who Don't Give Up Voodoo

According to a Time report today, Donald Trump is trying to make up with the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, the Hispanic evangelical group headed by Samuel Rodriguez, who has spent much of the presidential campaign cycle criticizing Trump for his anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rhetoric.

An official with NHLC, Mario Bramnick, apparently met with Trump earlier this month and came away thinking that “Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.”

The meeting was reportedly organized by televangelist Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries, who is the Trump campaign’s “liaison for Christian policy.”

We had never heard of Amedia before, so we did a news search and found an AP story from February 24, 2010, titled “Voodoo practitioners attacked at ceremony for Haiti earthquake victims”:

Angry crowds in a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attacked a group of Voodoo practitioners Tuesday, pelting them with rocks and halting a ceremony meant to honor victims of last month's deadly earthquake.

Voodooists gathered in Cite Soleil where thousands of quake survivors live in tents and depend on food aid. Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols. When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.

Tensions have been running high since the Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless. More than 150 machete-wielding men attacked a World Food Program convoy Monday on the road between Haiti's second-largest city of Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince. There were no injuries but Chilean peacekeepers could not prevent the men from stealing the food, U.N. spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux said.

Religious tension has also increased: Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, Mormons and other missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake to feed the homeless, treat the injured and jockey for souls. Some Voodoo practitioners have said they've converted to Christianity for fear they will lose out on aid or a belief that the earthquake was a warning from God. "Much of this has to do with the aid coming in," said Max Beauvoir, a Voodoo priest and head of a Voodoo association. "Many missionaries oppose Voodoo. I hope this does not start a war of religions because many of our practitioners are being harassed now unlike any other time that I remember."



"There's absolutely a heightened spiritual conflict between Christianity and Voodoo since the quake," said Pastor Frank Amedia of the Miami-based Touch Heaven Ministries who has been distributing food in Haiti and proselytizing.

"We would give food to the needy in the short term, but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel."

In a YouTube video posted in 2011 of a post-earthquake visit to Haiti, Amedia channeled Pat Robertson by attributing Haiti’s problems to a lack of literal fatherhood and a relationship with God, saying that the country had been afflicted by “the curse of Voodoo”:

The redemption of the country has to be in the fathering of the country. Pastors need fathers; the president need a father; and the families need fathers. There’s a lack of a fathering spirit here. And once that’s restored, the relationship with the Father in heaven and then the fathers here on earth, and there’s a mentoring and a fathering going on, this land will heal.

It’s the curse of Voodoo that has taken away the fathering in this land.

Sandy Rios: Openly Gay Army Secretary Can't Lead Men Into Battle

Yesterday, American Family Association official Sandy Rios criticized the confirmation of Eric Fanning to be Army secretary. Rios didn’t find anything wrong with Fanning’s qualifications, she was just upset that he is a gay man.

As a gay man, Rios said, Fanning cannot be an “alpha male.”

“When it comes to leading men into battle, when it comes to being secretary of the Army, I’ll take an alpha male any day,” she said. “I’m sorry. I know these war-like men too well and I don’t think most of them — very few of them are gay. You that are in the gay community, if you were to describe your friends and colleagues who are in this community, I don’t think you would describe them as warriors. I’m sure there are some, but still, I would prefer an alpha male.”

Rios compared Fanning’s confirmation to the controversy surrounding Jerry Boykin after the Religious Right activist made remarks threatening violence against transwomen.

“That’s where we’ve come: an openly gay man is the secretary of the army while the founder of the Delta Force, because he disapproves of transgender bathrooms in North Carolina, is fired from teaching at a college,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kim Davis: Gays Were Trying To Shove The Supreme Court Ruling 'Down My Throat And Make Me Eat It For My Dinner'

On the latest episode of "Truths That Transform" from D. James Kennedy Ministries, the organization's president, Frank Wright, interviewed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis about her fight against the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, during which she refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because doing so conflicted with her religious beliefs. 

Davis, who imposed her personal religious view on the entire county, told Wright that she was simply following the law because the Supreme Court had no authority to strike down Kentucky's law banning gay marriage or to make her violate the Bible and that those who were demanding that she do her job were trying to shove the ruling down her throat. 

"I was obeying my law," she insisted. "I had couples bring in the whole Supreme Court ruling and I said, 'You know, I really don't need to see this because that's not a law, that's a ruling' [and they'd say] 'Well, why won't you do this?' And so then I go to the Bible and I'd tell them, [and they'd respond,] 'Don't be reading me the Bible.' Well, you asked why I couldn't issue you a marriage license and I'm explaining to you, I'm showing you why I cannot. They didn't want to hear that though. They wanted to shove that paper down my throat and make me eat it for my dinner."