Religious Right's Russian 'Pro-Family' Ally May Be Helping Fund Pro-Putin Propaganda

A leading Russian operative with the U.S-based World Congress of Families may be helping fund an English-language website dedicated to providing positive coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report today by The Interpreter, a website run by a think tank critical of Putin.

The Interpreter’s Anton Shekhovtsov reports on a series of leaked emails between the editor of Russian Insider, a new pro-Putin publication, and Alexey Komov, the World Congress of Families’ Russian representative, in which the editor seeks funding from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev for his website.

Shekhovtsov notes that both Malofeev and Komov have been involved in coordinating activities among European far-right groups, along with their “pro-family” activism:

The leaks reveal that Bausman, rather than relying on crowdfunding for Russia Insider, asks for money from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev via his associate Alexey Komov.

There were several interesting articles devoted to Malofeev in the international and Russian media. In the context of this blog, Malofeev is known for providing financial assistance to the pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine (for this very reason Malofeev was sanctioned by the EU, Norway and Switzerland), organising homophobic conferences in Russia, assisting French far right politicians in getting Russian money, and building European far right alliances.

Komov is a no less interesting figure. He is an employee of several organisations founded and funded by Malofeev, as well as a representative of the homophobic World Congress of Families in Russia. He is also an honorary president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, Russia’s front organisation in Italy established by the far right Lega Nord party. Komov even gave speech at the party’s congress at the end of 2013 that elected Matteo Salvini as its leader.

Malofeev is the one who brought together the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and a number of French far-right activists in 2013 at a “traditional values” roundtable in Moscow that just happened to coincide with the passage of a spate of anti-LGBT laws in Russia. Komov was the leading organizer of the planned World Congress of Families in Moscow last year (which ended up dropping the World Congress of Families name), and, as Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder reported, was found to be feeding information about the event to Malofeev.

As we have noted, the rush to embrace “traditional values” has been an important part of Putin’s propaganda efforts in Russia and the region.

Ben Carson Says He Also Saw The Nonexistent Footage Of Muslims Celebrating 9/11 In New Jersey

Not content with Donald Trump having all the attention for his latest string of bigoted statements, Ben Carson told CNN today that he too saw footage of Muslim residents of New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks:

Trump did get back up from his primary opponent Ben Carson, who told reporters gathered in Nevada that he did see celebrations of American Muslims in New Jersey after 9/11.

"I saw the film of it, yes," he said. Asked what kind of film, he said: "The news reels."

"There are going to be people who respond inappropriately to events like that. I think that was an inappropriate response I don't know if on the basis on that you can say all Muslims are bad people," Carson said.

ABC News also captured his remarks:

Trump’s campaign has been unable to substantiate the candidate’s claim that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Arab Americans celebrating 9/11 in Jersey City, probably because the video does not exist since the event he described didn’t happen.

Like Trump, Carson has expressed a number of anti-Muslim views, claiming that no Muslim should ever be elected president unless they renounce their faith and calling on the government to monitor mosques and other “anti-American” houses of worship.

UPDATE: His campaign now says he made a mistake and apologizes:

The Fog Of War: Conflicting Targets In The War On Christmas

Last week, the American Family Association released its "Naughty or Nice List," designed to let consumers "know which companies are Christmas-friendly" so they can patronize them this holiday season in an effort to fight back against the "secular forces in our country that hate Christmas because the word itself is a reminder of Jesus Christ."

Today, Liberty Counsel released its own "Naughty or Nice List," which likewise "applauds retailers who acknowledge the reason for the season, and exposes those who do not."

We have looked over both lists and realized that conservative Christians activists who intend to use them to plan their holiday shopping are going to find themselves very confused as to just which retailers are "naughty" and which are "nice," considering that several stores received opposite designations on the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel lists.

For instance, Liberty Counsel lists Barnes & Noble, Bath & Body Works, Best Buy, CVS and Staples as "nice," while the AFA lists those same stores as either "naughty" or "marginal":

Conversely, the AFA lists Dick's Sporting Goods, The Gap, Old Navy and TJ Maxx as "nice," while Liberty Counsel lists them all as "naughty":

Kevin Swanson: Criticism Of Me Is Criticism Of God Himself

On Friday, Religious Right radio host Kevin Swanson touted his “amazingly successfully” Freedom 2015: National Religious Liberties Conference, which featured Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee, claiming that “God blessed that conference in so many different ways.”

But as Swanson acknowledged, the event “experienced a media firestorm” in part due to his remarks declaring that gays who do not repent should be sentenced to death.

Swanson told “Generations Radio” listeners that the outrage over his remarks is proof that America is at war with God.

“Any time the nation has taken up a fight with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe, you don’t pick a fight with the Creator of all of the galaxies, all of the planets, this entire solar system, you don’t pull together a couple of ants and lift a fist to the Almighty and think you can get away with it,” he said. “This is, I think, the reason why the media firestorm — we have touched the conscience of a nation and they realize they’re in trouble, they’re in trouble with the God of the universe.”

GOP Senator: People Of Faith The New Targets Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

As we have continually noted over the last few years, the Religious Right is in the process of an attempt to radically redefine the term “religious liberty” to encompass not just the right to live out one’s own faith but also the right to cite one’s faith as justification for infringing on the rights of others, whether by denying service to gay people in public accommodations, kicking people out of housing because of their sexual orientation, or preventing your employees from accessing affordable birth control even if you don’t pay for it.

So it was startling last week to hear Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, in an address on religious liberty to the Family Research Council, claim that it is in fact progressives who have redefined the term “religious liberty” in order to persecute people of faith, making believers, in Lankford’s words, the targets of a new “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“We have an undercurrent of conversations happening in the country, where there’s become a redefinition of the term ‘religious liberty,’” Lankford said. “ Is this a term that has the same meaning as we use it out in the common vernacular? And I would tell you, across the country and multiple places that I’ve visited, no is the correct answer. This term is attempting to be redefined by our culture to say if you’re for religious liberty, then you’re hatred [sic] towards other people, you’re exclusive, you’re divisive, you’re a person who needs to be isolated because you’re for religious liberty.”

“I would say to you, people of faith in the workplace and in public settings have become the new individuals that are targeted towards ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” he added. “If you have faith, don’t tell anyone and don’t ask anyone if you have faith, and if you have it don’t live it out publicly because people don’t want to see it.”

Lankford, for the record, has said that he would oppose workplace protections for LGBT people because “ homosexuality is a choice.”

Mike Huckabee Makes Up False Claim As Proof 'There Is A War On The Christian Faith In This Country'

During Friday night's "Presidential Family Forum" in Iowa, Mike Huckabee attempted to gin up outrage among the conservative Christian audience by falsely claiming that the federal government is working to deport a family from Germany who have sought asylum in America in order to homeschool their children.

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and in 2010, the Romeike family sought political asylum in America, arguing that they would face fines, imprisonment and loss of custody of their children if they were deported back to Germany. The case worked its way through the legal system for years until the Supreme Court finally refused to grant their appeal, only for the Department of Homeland Security to announce in 2014 that the Romeikes would be granted "indefinite deferred action status" and be allowed to remain in America.

But that is not the story Huckabee told during a discussion of education at the forum on Friday night. Instead, the former Arkansas governor declared that "every Christian believer in this country [should be] absolutely livid" over the fact that "this week, the Justice Department of the United States started deportation process against the Romeike family to send them back to Germany, which will take their kids from them."

"The very week the president wants to bring Syrian refugees to America and import them," Huckabee stated, "he wants to deport a Christian family."

Such an action, Huckabee insisted, is proof that "there is a war on the Christian faith in this country that is being carried out by this administration."

Given that the case of the Romeike family has been an important issue for the Religious Right for years, one would think that if the government had reneged on its pledge to allow them to remain in the country and begun the process of deporting them, that might have made some news. 

But we have been utterly unable to find a single news article reporting this or a single piece of evidence to back up Huckabee's claim. We even called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been representing the Romeike family from the beginning, to ask if their organization had any knowledge of this and were informed that HSLDA is unaware of any steps taken by the DOJ to deport its clients.  

Rick Santorum: Obama Won't Bomb ISIS! (Except Those 6,000 Airstrikes)

Rick Santorum declared at Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa that President Obama refuses to bomb ISIS, despite the fact that the U.S. has launched over 6,000 airstrikes against ISIS militants. He then went on to say that airstrikes are actually a bad idea that actually benefit ISIS, which he said has the sympathies of the majority of Muslims.

After recounting how he told President Bush that “we have to stop calling this a war on terror” and instead declare “war against radical Islam,” Santorum said that “the theology of a majority of people in the Middle East are exactly the theology of ISIS,” even though “they may not be violent.”

“We have a president who won’t even identify ISIS as Islamic nor will he identify it as a state,” Santorum said. “He says we can’t bomb them because we can’t recognize them as a state because it will give them too much prestige; we can’t say they’re Islamic because it will give them too much credibility. This is delusional and it’s costing lives.”

The U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS has killed over 20,000 ISIS fighters and helped Kurdish forces retake cities such as Sinjar, Kobani and Tel Abyad.

Mike Huckabee: Obama Must Resign For Protecting Islam Over America

At one point during Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” in Iowa, the discussion descended into a debate over Ted Cruz’s call for Secretary of State John Kerry to resign because he, along with President Obama and Hillary Clinton, “served as apologists for radical Islamic terrorists.”

Naturally, Mike Huckabee tried to one-up Cruz’s stance, and instead said that President Obama should step down for supposedly being more concerned with attacking Republicans than defeating ISIS.

“I’d like for Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect America and instead protect the image of Islam,” he said.

Donald Trump Campaign Repeats Lie That Thousands Partied On 9/11

Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that “thousands and thousands” of Arab American residents of Jersey City, New Jersey, celebrated as the Twin Towers collapsed during the September 11, 2001 attacks. This event never occurred, but Trump still insists he saw it on TV.

In order to defend this patently false claim, Trump campaign aide Dan Scavino took to Twitter last night in an attempt to back up Trump’s assertion:

Scavino pointed to unproven claims that as many as six people were detained following the attacks.

He did not link to any news stories but he was likely referring to what the AP described at the time as “rumors of rooftop celebrations of the attack by Muslims,” which the AP determined were “unfounded.”

But even Scavino’s six suspected 9/11 celebrators still fall far short of Trump’s claim that “thousands and thousands” were celebrating, and the campaign still hasn’t come forward with the television footage that Trump insists is real.

Ben Carson: Monitor 'Anti-American' Groups, Churches And Media Outlets

Ben Carson called for a return to McCarthyism this weekend, telling a group of reporters at a campaign stop in South Carolina that he would support the government “monitoring a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American.” The Associated Press noted that Carson “did not expound on just how an administration would determine what constitutes ‘radicalization’ or ‘anti-American.’”

However, Carson has left many clues as to what he considers “anti-American” … and it mostly means the political left.

Back in May, Carson said a rally attendee was “absolutely right” when he claimed that the Obama administration holds a “strong anti-American spirit that is undermining everything that we stand for.” He went on to say that the “progressive agenda” was pushing an anti-American plot, citing author W. Cleon Skousen’s book “The Naked Communist.”

Carson frequently mentions Skousen’s conspiracy-ridden book, which paints America as a country under attack from a grand but secretive leftist agenda, on the campaign trial.

For example, he told a National Organization for Marriage gala that the gay marriage movement and other progressive goals emerged from a Marxist, New World Order effort to “bring America down.”

He similarly told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that America’s true “enemies” are those pushing pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage views by trying “to divide everybody up.”

Of course, the irony seems to be lost on Carson that accusing his political opponents of being “anti-American” may itself come across to most people as divisive.