American Renewal Project

Christian Nationalist David Lane Plans Massive Pro-Trump Turnout Drive

Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base.

David Lane, the Christian-nationalist political operative who sponsored the event Trump and Marco Rubio attended recently in Florida, has reportedly raised nearly $10 million to conduct a church-based voter registration and GOTV drive in six target states. Lane’s organization, the American Renewal Project, will target Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. Lane has always been secretive about his donors, but as we have reported, the foundations of Texas fracking billionaires Dan and Ferris Wilks have been major donors to his operations. 

Strategists, including GOP operatives Wayne Hamilton and Dave Carney, will meet in Dallas this week to map out the strategy. Like most news about Lane’s operations, the story was first reported by Lane’s mouthpiece, David Brody at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody reports that in the weeks ahead, Trump and Mike Pence will be invited to speak to at least half a dozen similar "Pastors and Pews" events, which are designed to energize politically active conservative evangelical pastors.

We have reported extensively on Lane’s political operations, his ties to the Republican Party and his extreme worldview, including his intensely anti-gay positions and his belief that politics is a form of spiritual warfare designed to bring the United States back to what he thinks is its mission and covenant with God to advance the Christian faith. He’s not shy about expressing that view, as Brody reports:

The central theme behind this effort is a need for spiritual revival in America. Lane recognizes that a president, whether they are republican or democrat isn’t going to save America. This is spiritual warfare playing out in an arena where somebody’s values are going to rule the day. Lane says it’s time for pastors to step up and lead from the pulpit. “Christians founded America, not secularists, agnostics, atheists or multicultural proponents like the current president,” Lane tells The Brody File. “Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians have to engage in 2016 if America is to be saved.”

Lane, of course, is not running the only pro-Trump Religious Right GOTV effort. In a Monday morning email, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition said it has started its 2016 ground campaign and is recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, distribute voter guides and make GOTV phone calls to generate “the largest conservative vote in American history.” The email starts with a recent quote from Jerry Falwell Jr. saying Donald Trump is a leader like Winston Churchill who can save America.

‘God’s Guy’: 25 Religious Right Justifications For Supporting Donald Trump

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.”

One of the latter, Mike Thompson of Las Vegas, said in April that this is the first time in American history that the “Apostles and Prophets are the primary driving force behind the presidential election.” Thompson said that the Lord has “bypassed the controlling spirits of both parties”—the left’s “antichrist” nature and the Religious Right’s “spirit of the Pharisees”—“and brought in one (Trump) who can topple their cushy lairs and debilitating influence.” Lou Comunale, a self-identified “analyst of news and biblical prophecy,” says “this election cycle is so unlike anything we’ve ever seen” because “God’s hand is upon Trump and the forces of evil have been trying to stop him.

Since Trump’s primary victory, most Religious Right leaders have rallied to his side, with a few notable holdouts. Some are backing Trump because, as former Obama faith advisor Michael Wear has said, “disliking Hillary Clinton is basically a supplement to the Nicene Creed for many evangelicals.” Some are justifying their support for Trump based on the political calculation that his policies and Supreme Court nominees will be more likely than Hillary Clinton’s to advance the Religious Right’s political agenda, including opposition to abortion. But there have also been a range of religious justifications offered for Trump’s candidacy. As Brian reported, so many religious leaders have suggested that Trump is, in David Barton’s words, “God’s guy,” that the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Jenna Browder recently asked him directly whether he thought God had chosen him.

Here are just some of the religious arguments made on Trump’s behalf:

1. God is using Trump to pave the way for the Second Coming

Frank Amedia, a pastor who has been serving as Trump’s “Christian policy” liaison, said that God told him personally last year that Trump would win the GOP nomination and help pave the way for the Second Coming. Amedia also suggested that only God could explain how Trump has survived all his blunders:

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 fight for 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.”

5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful

Trump himself has made this pitch to Religious Right leaders, pledging at a closed door meeting with hundreds of Religious Right leaders in June that he will do away with the legal ban on churches doing overt electoral politicking, which Trump said “has taken a lot of power away from Christianity and other religions.” The Atlantic’s Emma Green said his proposal “would make churches the new Super PACs.” Trump mentioned his pledge to do away with the “Johnson Amendment” in his acceptance of the Republican nomination, and it was also the focus of his remarks at an August gathering in Orlando organized by the American Renewal Project’s David Lane, a Christian nationalist political operative. “I’m going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top four presidents in American history,” Lane said in an email to 100,000 pastors. Lane is reportedly planning to spend $18 million “to mobilize evangelical voters in battleground states to support Trump and the rest of the GOP ticket.”

6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers

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.”

7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing

Seven Mountains advocate Lance Wallnau declared that "God has given this man an anointing for the mantle of government in the United States and he will prosper!" Wallnau has dedicated a section of his website to explaining why “Trump is the guy that God is going to use.” The term “mantle” in the Bible referred to an outer cloak, and is frequently used metaphorically by apostolic Christians to mean a spiritual “covering” or authority, also called an anointing.

8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’

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.

Jeremiah Johnson also compared Trump to Cyrus in Charisma last year, delivering this message from the Holy Spirit:

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’

Wallnau has said God told him specifically that Trump is “a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.” Mike Thompson “says that the Lord began speaking to him around 2005 about certain spirits attempting to control America,” writes Lou Comunale, who adds, “PLEASE NOTE: The spirits that he identifies below [Jezebel and Pariseeism] are manifested in the land through 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.”

15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’

James Dobson said in June that Trump, having recently come into “relationship with Christ,” was now “a baby Christian” who “appears to be tender to things of the Spirit.” Dobson said, “I know the person who led him to Christ. And that’s fairly recent.”

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.”

25. God doesn’t want a woman president

In July, white nationalist radio host James Edwards questioned if women should be allowed to vote and suggested that as a woman, Hillary Clinton should not be president because women can’t even be “the ruler of the house under God’s law.” Bryan Fischer said essentially the same thing this month, arguing that there is “a pretty good biblical case” that women should not be entrusted with political leadership.

Bonus: Oops-Not-Cruz-Anointing

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland joined Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board in June, even though Copeland had declared earlier that Ted Cruz had been “called and anointed” by God to be the next president. (Of course Cruz’s father thought the same thing.)

Trump: Church Attendance Will Rise When I'm President

In his typically incoherent way, Donald Trump told a meeting of right-wing pastors today that church attendance has declined in America “and a lot of it has to do with the fact that you’ve been silenced.”

“You’ve been silenced like a child has been silenced,” he told the pastors at an Orlando event organized by the American Renewal Projectmaking the bogus claim that pastors are barred from addressing political issues. “Your power has been totally taken away.”

Trump said that “they took away your voice” but he can restore it by repealing the Johnson Amendment, which he claimed will in turn increase church attendance.

He then expressed dismay that people don’t even know about the existence of Sunday school: “I mean Christianity, when you think of what’s happening and you look at the numbers, I talk about Sunday school and people don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore, it’s true, they don’t even know what I’m talking about.”

“We’re gonna bring it back because it’s a good thing, it’s a good thing,” he said“They treat it like it’s a bad thing but it’s a great thing, not a good thing, it’s a great thing.”

Donald Trump: Vote For Me To Help Me Get Into Heaven

A decidedly low energy Donald Trump addressed the far-right American Renewal Project’s Orlando gathering today, where he stayed clear of any mention of issues like abortion rights or marriage equality, even though the event’s chief organizer, David Lane, had hoped he’d discuss “homosexual totalitarianism.”

Instead, Trump spoke about how he would increase the political power of Christians by repealing the Johnson Amendment, which he falsely claimed prohibited pastors from endorsing candidates and undermined the ability of Christians at large to speak freely about politics. Americans United explains:

In 1954, then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson championed an amendment to the federal tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profits – not just churches – from endorsing or opposing candidates for political office. If they do not follow this rule, they risk paying a fine or losing their tax exemption.

The rule does not, however, stop 501(c)(3) groups from discussing candidates and their positions, nor does it stop houses of worship from advocating for or against legislation and ballot initiatives. Pastors are even allowed to endorse candidates as long as they make clear their endorsement is personal and they do not use the resources of their church to help or hurt specific politicians.

Trump seemed to undermine his own claim that Christians have no political clout or organizational ability in America today when he called on pastors to use their churches to increase voter turnout and distribute early-voting ballots for his presidential bid.

If elected, Trump pledged to be great for “all religions,” joking that a successful presidency would be the only way he could get into heaven:

In Their Own Words: Meet Donald Trump And Marco Rubio's Unhinged Anti-LGBT Allies

Following the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he was so affected by the tragedy that he changed his mind and decided to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, while Donald Trump claimed that he would best represent the LGBT community by opposing Muslim immigration.

“Ask the gays” who their true friend is, Trump said.

Now, Trump and Rubio are both set to appear in Orlando two months after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

But rather than stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, as they pledged to do, they will be addressing a summit on the dangers of “homosexual totalitarianism” organized by some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists.

While Rubio has denied that the “Rediscovering God in America” event has anything to do with LGBT issues, its chief organizer, David Lane of the American Renewal Project, said explicitly that the gathering will focus on how LGBT equality endangers religious liberty.

Besides Lane, Trump and Rubio will be joining Religious Right activists Mat Staver, David Barton, Bill Federer and Ken Graves. That Trump and Rubio would stand with these activists shouldn’t be surprising, since both have promised to back anti-LGBT legislation and support judicial nominees hostile to LGBT rights, but it does show how their promises to defend the LGBT community only amounted to cynical and shallow political ploys.

Here is just a sampling of what Trump and Rubio’s far-right allies have said about the LGBT community:

David Lane

David Lane, the main organizer of the Orlando event, said in 2013 that God would punish America over the appearance of a gay poet and a pro-gay-rights priest at President Obama’s inauguration, including with car bombings in cities across the country:

Lane has also written extensively about the LGBT rights movement, describing it as a “pagan onslaught” that “has threatened our utter destruction.”

“Homosexuality is debauchery,” he wrote, adding: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and—more so—is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.”

Mat Staver

Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver has been fighting LGBT rights for years, representing clients like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who both defied the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, and Lisa Miller, who during a custody battle with her former female partner, kidnapped their daughter and fled to Central America.

As we’ve reported, Staver “believes that the gay rights movement is ‘doing the bidding of the Devil ’ and is part of the spirit of the Antichrist and ‘demonic.’”

He has repeatedly compared LGBT activists to terrorists and warned that they are “forcinghomosexuality onto people, while at the same time he has frequently praised countries that criminalize homosexuality and pro-gay speech and has floated the possibility of civil war and revolution to stop marriage equality.

Staver has described gay people as child molesters who seek to transform groups like the Boy Scouts into “a playground for pedophiles” where they can “go and have all these boys as objects of their lust.”

In the wake of the Pulse nightclub attack, Staver criticized churches for participating in memorial events that he saw as “a homosexual love fest.”

David Barton

David Barton, a Republican Party activist and self-styled historian, has a long record of attacks against the LGBT community.

Several times, Barton has said that God is preventing scientists from finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS because such a discovery would remove the divine punishment for homosexuality, arguing that homosexuality is a curse on people and society, while “chasing the sodomites” out of a community would lead to revival.

He once warned parents of public school students that “unless you’re willing to monitor what’s going on in that classroom,” he could “guarantee” that their children “are getting homosexual indoctrination,” lamenting that many children identify as gay because schools have decided to “force them to be homosexual.”

He has also falsely claimed that ex-gay conversion therapy is now part of the scientific mainstream and insisted that gay marriage harms the economy and leads to national collapse.

Barton has evencalled for the federal regulation and outlawing of gay sex because it is ‘very repugnant’ and ‘reprehensible and disgusting.’ He has warned that gay marriage will force male and female students to share the same locker rooms, that it has legalized pedophilia and bestiality and will now force churches to hire child molesters to run their day care centers.”

Ken Graves

Longtime LGBT rights opponent and Maine pastor Ken Graves appeared at an Orlando rally last year where he warned that “militant homofascism seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and is working in conjunction with those trying to establish Islamic rule and a “secular humanist caliphate.”

Bill Federer

Bill Federer, like Barton, styles himself as a historian, and one of his historical insights is that LGBT equality leads to Islamic domination:

It is no wonder that groups including the Equality FloridaHuman Rights Campaign, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, People For the American Way and many others have condemned Trump and Rubio’s appearance at the event.

Desperate Donald Trump Seeks Stronger Support From Christian Nationalists

As his poll numbers plummet, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is doing everything he can to boost enthusiasm for his candidacy among Religious Right leaders and the conservative white evangelical voters who make up an important part of the GOP’s political base.

Trump promised the hundreds of conservative evangelical leaders he met with in June that he would make the Christian Right more politically powerful by doing away with legal restrictions on overt politicking by churches. This week Trump will reportedly be pushing that plan as he heads down the well-trod path to the far corners of Christian nationalism

Trump’s outreach has already gone well beyond Bible-waving and not-very-convincing scripture-quoting. He let Religious Right leaders write an anti-LGBT party platform and he's promised them the Supreme Court of their dreams. He picked as his running mate Mike Pence, an anti-abortion extremist who was the Religious Right’s favored 2012 presidential candidate before he decided to run for governor instead. Trump has even suggested that somehow he’d make people say “Merry Christmas.”

Now, according to news reports, Trump will be joining former foe Marco Rubio and a bevy of anti-gay speakers at a Rediscovering God in America event in Florida this week sponsored by David Lane’s American Renewal Project. Lane has been organizing these political matchmaking sessions for two decades, bringing Republican politicians together with evangelical pastors who Lane hopes will transform their churches into conservative voter turnout machines. Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump’s biggest evangelical booster, reportedly “played a key role in initiating” the appearance in Orlando. 

What is the vision of America that David Lane is pursuing, with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio’s help?

Lane believes that the United States has a covenant with God to advance the Christian faith.  He denounces pluralism, secular government and court rulings upholding the separation of church and state. He wants the Bible to be used as the primary textbook in public schools. He is wildly anti-gay and has demanded the impeachment of judges who rule in favor of marriage equality.

Lane could be drawn to Trump’s for-him-or-against him approach to politics, which fits nicely with Lane’s no-compromise worldview. He wrote last year that “there can be no reconciliation of opposites, particularly the spiritual and the secular. Therefore we need to establish if America is a pagan or Christian nation and get on with it – the sooner the better.”

Trump’s complaint that politicians are “selling Christianity down the tubes” speaks to Lane’s belief that Christians are facing persecution in the United States. On a 2014 trip to Europe he organized for a group of pastors from swing states and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, Lane drew a comparison between 1930s Nazi Germany and modern-day America.

Lane says America’s descent into secularism and other evils is not only the fault of judges and politicians, but also pastors who don’t preach aggressively enough. He has complained, for example, that there was “not a peep from the Christian church” in response to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, when he says the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”

As a political operative devoted to getting conservative pastors more engaged in politics, Lane must be thrilled by Trump’s pledge to help churches become more powerful by allowing them to use their tax-exempt contributions as political weapons. Perhaps Lane sees Donald Trump as the answer to this question he once posed: “Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”

Polls suggest that Trump is already doing well among white evangelical voters. But Lane told Bloomberg News that Trump cannot count on endorsements from Christian leaders, and that he needs the kind of direct outreach to pastors that he will be doing in Orlando to “produce a ground game.” Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, continuing his pattern of acting as Lane’s virtual press agent, gushed that Trump’s plan to show up for Orlando’s Pastors and Pews event shows that he is “well on his way to striking evangelical gold.”

Donald Trump To Address Extremist Anti-LGBT Summit In Orlando

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a radical anti-LGBT event in being held in Orlando this week exactly two months after the Pulse nightclub shooting, according to news reports from Jenna Browder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News.

As we reported last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and a host of anti-LGBT extremists are slated to address the “Rediscovering God in America” event, which is sponsored by the American Renewal Project.

Self-described “political operative” David Lane founded the American Renewal Project as a way to mobilize conservative Christian voters and inspire right-wing pastors to run for elected office. He told Jacobs that he intends to quiz Trump on how he plans to fight “homosexual totalitarianism” and the gay rights “militants.”

Lane, a vocal opponent of LGBT equality, has said that “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” in 2012 would cause “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa” as a sign of God’s judgment and that the “pagan onslaught” of the LGBT rights movement will lead to the destruction of America.

According to an invitation posted by the group Liberty Counsel Action, the speakers will also include:

  • Maine pastor Ken Graves preaches against “militant homofascism” that he says “seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and argues that gay people cannot build happy families because they are “depressed.”

Despite his own anti-LGBT record, Trump depicts himself as a champion of the LGBT community and demands that reporters “ask the gays” how much they support him.

Equality Florida plans to protest the event, citing the extremists addressing the rally, and Florida’s two Democratic senatorial candidates have criticized Rubio for his scheduled appearance.

Marco Rubio Defends Radical Anti-LGBT Orlando Event

As first reported on Right Wing Watch, Sen. Marco Rubio is slated to speak at an event in Orlando next week that will feature some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists.

Rubio has denied that the “Rediscovering God in America” event, which will take place exactly two months after the horrific shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, has anything to do with anti-LGBT activism. In response to criticism last week, the senator attacked “the media and liberal activists” for labeling “a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event” when it is “nothing of the sort.” He also called for more courteous dialogue in the debate over marriage equality that is “respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides.”

The Florida senator has clearly misrepresented the nature of the event, which is being led by political activists with a clear anti-LGBT agenda.

The Florida event is part of a series of “Rediscovering God in America” events hosted by David Lane, a self-described “a political operative” intent on infusing the U.S. government with his own brand of Christian nationalism. Lane has said that God will punish America for its growing acceptance homosexuality with “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa” and potentially the total destruction of America.

At least as of recently, Lane’s American Renewal Project, which organizes these events, functioned as part of the American Family Association, one of the most vehemently anti-LGBT groups on the Religious Right.

The very first Rediscovering God in America event, which took place in Iowa in 2011, was clearly political. At that event, Mike Huckabee called on participants to become “spiritual warriors” to fight marriage equality, and David Barton, who will also be addressing the Florida event, claimed that Jesus Christ opposed the minimum wage.

Barton is also not a pastor but a GOP activist who was a member of the Republican Party platform committee and is a former leader of the Texas Republican Party.

Barton has a lengthy anti-LGBT record, as we’ve reported:

Barton is delighted by the fact that God is preventing researchers from finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS. According to Barton, HIV/AIDS is a punishment for sin and therefore God will block a potential cure: “God says, ‘Hey you’re going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior.’” He argues that HIV/AIDS is a divine “penalty” for gay people’s “shameful sexual acts.” On a similar note, Barton has called homosexuality “absolutely reprehensible and disgusting” and said that marriage equality means we “are going down as a nation.”



Barton “guaranteed” listeners that if they have children going to public schools “they are getting homosexual indoctrination.” He even said that public schools will “force them to be homosexual.” Barton’s gay rights conspiracy theories don’t end there: Before the passage of the 2009 Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Barton said the law was “designed to single out preachers in the pulpit” and would put pastors in prison if they condemn homosexuality. Of course, that never happened.

The appearance of Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver alongside Rubio at the Orlando event should also put to rest the claim that this is an apolitical event.

Staver has claimed that gay rights advocates are terrorist-like minions of Satan who are paving the way for the destruction of America and a second revolution. When the Boy Scouts of America rescinded its ban on gay members, Staver said that the group would turn into “a playground for pedophiles,” claiming that gay people “entrap” and “groom” children and “force people into a lifestyle of destruction.” Besides pedophilia, Staver has also linked homosexuality to the 2008 financial crisis and violent crime.

He has also claimed that gay people are “forcing homosexuality on everyone by force of law” and that the Obama administration of mandating “forced homosexuality.”

Staver, whose clients include anti-gay heroes such as Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moorehaspraised moves in RussiaIndiaMalawi and Nigeria to outlaw homosexual relationships or speech in favor of gay rights.”

Other speakers at Rubio’s event will include Maine pastor Ken Graves, who rails against “militant homofascism,” and activist Bill Federer, who thinks gay rights will usher in Islamic rule in the U.S.

While Rubio may try to deny that the event is in any way anti-LGBT, even a cursory glance at the rally speakers and principal organizer reveals that the senator’s statement flies in the face of reality.

If Rubio really believed that people should be “respectful of the views and the dignity of those on both sides,” aligning with radical activists who want homosexuality outlawed and smear gay people as pedophiles and Satanists is not a good start.

Being Febreze In A Stinky World: Dominionism At Pre-RNC Prayer Rally

The Response, a day-long event pitched as a nonpolitical time to pray for the country and for Christian unity, came to Cleveland the weekend before the Republican National Convention. The first Response rally served as the unofficial kick-off to Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential bid; subsequent rallies have been hosted by Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Pat McCrory of North Carolina.

Like other Response rallies, the one in Cleveland was sponsored by Christian-nation advocate David Lane and emceed by “apostle” Doug Stringer. And like the others, the day featured music and individual and communal prayers divided into alliterative thematic sections: Revelation; Repentance (personal and corporate); Reconciliation; Revival; Reformation; and Refreshing. If you have six hours or so, you can watch the whole thing online.

Stringer said at the beginning of the rally, as he did in conference calls with clergy in the weeks before the event, that its purpose was nonpolitical and that it was intended to unite Christians across lines of race and denomination to pray for the church and the country. But given the time and place of the gathering, the ideological worldview of its organizers and the content of many of the prayers, it is impossible to take the “nonpolitical” claim seriously.

David Lane believes that the U.S. has a mission to advance the Christian faith and he is organizing to elect leaders who support his Christian-nation vision. Stringer is associated with Seven Mountains theology, which holds that all the “mountains” of culture, or spheres of influence in society — education, family, government, media, arts & entertainment, business, and religion — are meant to be run by the right kind of Christians.

It is true that much of the rally was not overtly political. I don’t believe anyone mentioned Donald Trump’s name from the stage, though I doubt I was the only one who thought of him when Stringer said that God is “repelled” by pride and arrogance. Some people prayed for racial reconciliation and for the church to be more welcoming of the stranger and for people to take orphans into their homes. But there was an undeniable political context to Stringer’s declaration that “there is a battle for the soul of our nation.”

“Our private actions have public consequences,” he said, declaring more than once that “every kingdom, every principality, every dominion, every authority must bow its knee to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

A number of speakers echoed Seven Mountains rhetoric, and some were tasked with praying for specific mountains. For example, one person prayed for the media, asking that God “remove those who stir strife and divide.” Others prayed for revival to sweep through the military and college campuses, leading to the rising of a generation “that will not accept compromise.” One prayer leader said “the devil is destroying our families” and called for “male and female marriage” to be established in the land; more than one speaker prayed for husbands to love their wives and for wives to be submissive to their husbands. 

The event itself had the feel of an extra-long service at an evangelical megachurch: big stage; rocking worship teams with great singers and musicians; song lyrics projected on a video screen; some people dancing, some kneeling, some prostrate on the floor. The event’s structure, with music and themed sections, worked to create an emotional roller coaster, taking people down into introspection and grief at their and the nation’s sin and brokenness and then up to a triumphant and celebratory victory over sin; the music ranging from quiet and tender to driving dance beats and then back again.

Introducing the section on corporate repentance — not in the sense of corporations but in the collective sense of the sins of the church and the country  Stringer cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Bible verse that is now ubiquitous at Religious Right events: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (New International Version). According to Stringer, the "my people" part of the passage suggests that Christians need to repent and clean up their own act if they are to have any hope of transforming the culture. Among examples speakers gave of “the church” prostituting itself was the acceptance of “moral licentiousness and moral looseness” as well as the existence of legal abortion and human trafficking.

Part of the design of The Response was that no speakers were introduced by name; Religious Right leaders and elected officials were mingled with local pastors and youth. Among the recognizable national figures were anti-gay activist Jim Garlow and anti-abortion activist Janet Porter. Porter could not stick with the “nonpolitical” program; she mentioned anti-abortion language in the Republican platform and made a push for her as-yet-unsuccessful effort to get a so-called “heartbeat bill” through the legislature in Ohio:

In the state where the motto is ‘With God all things are possible,’ we decree that today. In the city that joined together, that said that life begins at the moment of conception in a platform, in Cleveland, Ohio, that saw the end to hope deferred with a victory, I speak victory to life, victory to those fighting for life, victory to the heartbeat bill, which has passed the Ohio House of Representatives, has been blocked in the Senate. We say, ‘Remove the obstacles, God!’ No more hope deferred! No more delay!  We thank you for victory. And we say God, ‘do it again, do it again in Jesus’ name.’

Another speaker prayed for public officials who are "men and women of the church" and asked that God "grip" the hearts of those who are not so that they might live and legislate "according to a biblical worldview":

And the other government leaders that God has put there, we must pray constantly that the Lord would grip their hearts and compel them and they would come to know him as his personal savior that they too might live according and legislate and be leaders and speak according to a biblical worldview, that they would know the savior and know the truth and live it out.

It is essential that our laws and policies continue to reflect the truth of the Judeo-Christian principles and values that God himself has established in this nation. So let’s pray for our leaders right now. Father, pour out your Holy Spirit on the leaders of this nation for those that know you Lord Jesus, let them not lean on their own understanding but let them turn to you that you would direct their paths, Holy Spirit.

Father, those that do not know you, God we ask that you would pour out Lord, that their hearts would be open, the scales would fall off, and they would see the truth. Father, we ask that thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, in America as it is in heaven, in Cleveland as it is in heaven. God, we ask that you, Holy Spirit, that we our government leaders we would love what you love, we would hate what you hate, and that our hearts would be for you alone...

Stringer said that even unbelievers would benefit from a world in which evangelical Christians had greater influence over government and culture. Religious leaders often cite the biblical injunction for Christians to be “salt and light” in the world; toward the end of The Response, Stringer proposed a new metaphor:

Those of us who’ve overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony have an opportunity in the midst of a world that stinks to be a fragrance of the kingdom of heaven…We live in a stinky world, but we’re called to be that Febreze, that sprayer of the fragrance of heaven. Wherever there’s stink we want to spray the presence of God. 

Marco Rubio To Headline Radical Anti-LGBT Event

When Marco Rubio cited the deadly attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando as a reason he was changing his mind and running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, many LGBT allies immediately noted that the Florida senator and failed presidential candidate has never been an ally of the LGBT community.

“To be using the tragedy in Orlando as a time to reflect on his Senate career, when his career and his promises on the campaign trail have been anti-LGBTQ consistently, it’s just staggering to think he would be using this moment for his own personal ambitions,” said Jay Brown of the Human Rights Campaign at the time.

It comes as no surprise, then, to see that Rubio is slated to address an event in Orlando next month that will feature some of the country’s most vehement anti-LGBT activists.

The Orlando-based Liberty Counsel Action, an extreme anti-LGBT group whose affiliate is famous for representing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in her stand against the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, announced in an email today that the Florida Renewal Project will be hosting an event called “Rediscovering God in America” in August. The event will be headlined by Rubio, who will speak alongside anti-LGBT activists David Barton, Bill Federer, Ken Graves and Mat Staver.

The Florida Renewal Project is an affiliate of conservative activist David Lane’s American Renewal Project, which hosts “Rediscovering God” conferences around the country.

The event will put Rubio in the company of some of the most extreme anti-gay activists in the country:

  • David Lane, whose organization is hosting the event, believes that gay rights will lead to the “utter destruction” of the U.S. and “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.” (Learn more about David Lane here).
  • Mat Staver, whose Liberty Counsel Action sent out the invitation to the event and who is scheduled to speak, has gained a national reputation by representing Davis and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore through the affiliated Liberty Counsel. Last month, Staver denounced memorial gatherings for the victims of the Orlando nightclub attack as “homosexual love fests.” Staver has claimed that gay people are “demonic,” seek to abuse children and are similar to terrorists, and has warned that gay rights victories could lead to “forced homosexuality” and “another civil war.” At the same time, he has praised countries that outlaw same-sex relationships. (Learn more about Mat Staver here).
  • David Barton, a Republican Party activist who styles himself as a historian, thinks that God is justly preventing a cure for HIV/AIDS because it is a divine “penalty” for homosexuality, and has lamented that public schools try to “force” students “to be homosexual” when homosexuality really should be regulated by the government. (Learn more about David Barton here).
  • Maine pastor Ken Graves preaches against “militant homofascism” that he says “seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and argues that gay people cannot build happy families because they are “depressed.”

View the invitation here:

RNC Preview: Dominionists To Hold Pre-Convention Christian Nation Prayer Rally

For the past couple of months, Christian-nation advocate David Lane and dominionst Doug Stringer have been organizing a day-long prayer rally that will take place in Cleveland this Saturday. Timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention, the event will be the latest in the series of “The Response” rallies organized around Republican politicians. They are modeled after a series of “The Call” events organized by dominionist “apostle” Lou Engle.

The first Response, which was promoted by some of the most extreme and divisive Religious Right figures, served as the unofficial launch of Rick Perry’s doomed presidential bid in 2011. The Perry event reflected Lane’s perennial goal of uniting conservative evangelicals behind a single candidate. Other Response rallies have been hosted by Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Pat McCrory of North Carolina.

Stringer has been on the ground in Cleveland meeting with local clergy to promote Saturday’s event as a nonpolitical opportunity for Christians to come together across racial and denominational lines to pray for America. That was also the message delivered on a pre-Response conference call last week, on which Stringer and other organizers described the event as a time of unity and prayer so that the Christian church can be a source of healing and hope at this “providential time” in our nation.

That’s the bait part of the bait-and-switch nature of these events. The switch comes at the rallies themselves, which, along with prayer and praise music, promote the Religious Right’s political agendas on abortion, LGBT rights and separation of church and state.

As we noted when the Cleveland Response was announced:

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 of 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.”

Event sponsor David Lane is an intensely political operative who believes America’s mission is to advance the Christian faith. He has been trying to organize “an army” of conservative pastors to run for office in hopes that each of them will mobilize hundreds of volunteers to help turn out the evangelical vote.

While Lane’s dream of getting Religious Right leaders to coalesce around a single candidate was, to a significant extent, achieved this year with nearly unanimous backing for Ted Cruz, many evangelical voters did not follow the script. Lane is now putting his faith in Trump, who he believes “can be one of the top 4 presidents in American history.”

Another hint of the “nonpolitical” nature of the Cleveland event comes from its promotional materials, which included a video from 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.”

Also gathering in Cleveland before the RNC is the Council for National Policy, a secretive network that brings together activist leaders from right-wing to far, far right. Politico reported this week that Ted Cruz is meeting with the group on Friday, which may act as a quiet launch for a 2020 White House run.

 

David Lane Keeps Pushing Gingrich As VP, But He’d Take Huckabee

David Lane, the Christian-nation activist who has been recruiting conservative evangelical pastors to run for political office, appeared on Jan Mickelson’s radio show last week to talk about his recent column touting Newt Gingrich as a “dream” vice presidential candidate for Donald Trump. Jaime Johnson was guest hosting. Lane, whose American Renewal Project is hosting the “nonpolitical” The Response prayer rally in Cleveland on Saturday, recently declared that “America is following Nazi tactics to eradicate Christians.”

When Johnson noted that many Christians don’t view Gingrich as someone who reflects “the embodiment of a lifetime of proper behavior,” Lane admitted that Gingrich isn’t perfect, but recounted that in 2007 Gingrich had said to James Dobson, “I’ve gotten on my knees and sought God’s forgiveness.” Lane quoted Tim LaHaye calling Gingrich the “best prepared to be president.”

Lane complained that Republican leaders had told voters that if they were given majorities in the House and Senate, they would “storm the gates of hell with a water pistol.” But, he said, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell didn’t do anything with the majorities they were given.

Lane said he has been working his way through the biblical book of Isaiah, and said that has convinced him that “a judgment of God on a nation is the removal of military, political, and religious leaders, on a nation that has left Him, and He leaves the nation with docile, weak leadership. I think that’s where America is at this point.” Lane ticked off a list of Democratic political figures, along with Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor, saying “we’re being ruled by children.”

By nominating Gingrich, Lane said, Trump could show that he’s bringing “adults” to the table. “Newt, when he walks into the room, and I don’t care which room, he’s the smartest guy in the room,” Lane said, urging listeners to contact Trump’s campaign or speak out publicly on Gingrich’s behalf. Asked by Johnson how he would feel about Mike Huckabee as a VP nominee, Lane said Huckabee would be “tremendous.”

Lane portrayed the choice facing voters this fall as “who’s going to do the least damage to America at this point?” 

“I don’t have a clue” what Donald Trump is going to do, he said, but Hillary Clinton would “stack the court with progressives,” leading to a loss of religious freedom and the right to bear arms. He warned that “homosexual marriage” and “transgender bathrooms” are just the beginning of what “secularist, liberal judges” would impose on the country under a Clinton administration. It’s important for “evangelical Christians and pro-life Catholic Christians” to engage politically, he said, because “somebody’s values are going to reign supreme.”

As he likes to do, Lane cited the Mayflower Compact to assert that “America was founded by Christians for the advancement of the Christian faith.”

Lane also talked about his project to recruit conservative pastors to run for political office, which had a goal of getting 1,000 pastors to run for office in 2016 in order to generate hundreds of thousands of evangelical volunteers doing voter turnout work. Lane’s efforts have fallen short of that goal; he told Johnson that 200 pastors are running this year and another 200 are committed to running in 2017 and 2018.

 

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.

 

David Lane: 'Donald Trump Can Be One Of The Top Four Presidents In American History'

David Lane, the extremist Religious Right leader with deep ties to the Republican Party, has been on a quest to find a true conservative candidate who will usher in Christian nationalism and defeat those trying “to impose a godless paganism on the nation.”

And who will do better to stop godlessness and champion the cause of conservative Christianity than Donald Trump, the man who brags about never seeking God’s forgiveness?

The Washington Post reports that Lane sent an email today to pastors involved in his American Renewal Project, telling them that “Donald Trump can be one of the top four presidents in American history.”

Lane also urged the thrice-married GOP nominee to pick the thrice-married Newt Gingrich as his running mate in order to “mobilize evangelical and Catholic pro-life conservatives who stayed home in the last election cycle.”

“Mr. Trump is going to have to return to the Ronald Reagan model: running and governing on ‘principle’ and ‘moral absolutes’,” Lane said of the candidate who has reversed himself on nearly every single issue and is a serial fabricator.

Trump will at least be far better than Hillary Clinton, Lane said, because she would nominate Supreme Court justices bent on “imposing a godless agenda, tearing America apart brick-by-brick.”

"The choice facing America is not the lesser of two evils, but who will inflict the least damage to freedom and liberty," Lane said in the message:

Between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, this is an easy choice. What and how will Mr. Trump do? I don't have a clue. But with Hillary we do know, the progressives that she will stack on the Supreme Court alone will set-back America for a century. ... Codifying transgender bathrooms rights will only be the beginning of nine unelected and unaccountable justices imposing a godless agenda, tearing America apart brick-by-brick.



Lane's letter takes a decidedly pro-Trump position. "I'm going to choose to believe that Donald Trump can be one of the top four presidents in American history," he wrote. "But the proof is in the eating of the pudding, and Mr. Trump is going to have to return to the Ronald Reagan model: running and governing on 'principle' and 'moral absolutes.' "

Lane's appeal to the pastors, part of an occasional communication from the American Renewal headquarters, cited Trump's backing of gun rights, the needs of U.S. workers and his willingness to "confront totalitarian political correctness."



"I think it would be tremendous, and others do too," he said. "It would be tremendous because Newt is respected and mature and has experience." More important, Lane said, Gingrich would "mobilize evangelical and Catholic pro-life conservatives who stayed home in the last election cycle."

Ted Cruz Gets Boost From Christian-Nation Activist David Lane And His Favorite Broadcaster

We’ve noted before that the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody often acts as a virtual press agent for Christian-nation political operative David Lane, promoting his matchmaking events for Republican politicians and conservative pastors in return for exclusive access.  It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Yesterday, Lane’s American Renewal Project promoted Brody’s recent interview with Ted Cruz, which was arranged while Cruz was in Spartanburg, South Carolina, “to meet privately with pastors at an event sponsored by the American Renewal Project.”

At that “Pastors and Pews” event, to which Brody had “exclusive access,” Cruz told “hundreds of pastors and their wives” that “the men and women in this room have the ability to change the outcome of the South Carolina primary, and in doing that to change the outcome of the presidential election, and in doing that to change the outcome, the direction of this country.”  He told the pastors they could bring the country back to “the free market principles, the constitutional liberties, to the Judeo-Christian values that built this nation.”

From Brody’s coverage of his interview with Cruz:

In an exclusive interview with The Brody File down in South Carolina, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz says believers in Jesus Christ must stand and vote biblical values rather than letting non-believers selected the leaders of our country.

"For far too long, Christians have been staying home, have been ceding the public square to non-believers and when we look at the state of the country, when our heart weeps at what's happening to the country and we wonder why is it that the federal government is waging war on life, is waging war on marriage, is waging war on religious liberty is it any wonder when 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home in 2012, did not vote?”

Cruz continues: "If we allow our leaders to be selected from non-believers we shouldn't be surprised when our leaders don't share our values. So what I'm working to do more than anything else is energize and empower the grassroots and do everything we can for Christians to stand up and vote biblical values."

As others have noted, Cruz’s assertion about 54 million evangelical voters sitting out the 2012 election is a dubious claim. And his assertion that “non-believers” are choosing America’s leaders is a dismissal of the faith of millions of Christians and other people of faith who voted for Barack Obama and who support other progressive candidates.

Brody has praised Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim comments in the past, but in this week’s coverage of the Cruz interview, Brody engages in barely veiled cheerleading for Cruz’s candidacy:

Look folks, evangelicals have an important decision to make. Ted Cruz is speaking their language and has a record that matches his rhetoric. You would think that would be a perfect match for evangelicals and so far, at least in Iowa, they have shown strong support.

Can evangelicals in South Carolina duplicate that effort? We’re going to find out. Cruz's team will need to work overtime because with Donald Trump being such a factor in this presidential race, he’ll need EVEN MORE evangelicals to show up.

It becomes a numbers game. You can easily make the argument that without significant turnout by evangelicals in Iowa, Cruz would have lost the Hawkeye state.

Brody seemingly ignores the fact that evangelical voters are quite divided and Trump has consistently drawn strong support from evangelicals in spite of his personal history and previous political positions. A poll released last Friday showed that Trump is actually outpolling Cruz among South Carolina evangelicals, 33 percent to 23 percent — with Rubio at 15 percent. That’s actually a slightly bigger lead than Trump showed in a late-January poll in which he led Cruz among South Carolina’s evangelicals by 33 percent to 25 percent.  Of course it is possible that Cruz’s investment in an actual ground game, with thousands of volunteers working on turnout, will give Trump an unpleasant surprise in South Carolina the way it did in Iowa.

Brody also interviewed Marco Rubio in South Carolina recently, but he posted that interview with none of the rah-rah commentary, perhaps because Rubio criticized Cruz’s “disturbing” willingness to “make things up out of whole cloth just to win an election.” 

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 1/12/16

  • James Dobson and Liberty University have teamed up to form the James C. Dobson Center for Child Development, Marriage, & Family Studies.
  • Ben Carson is calling for an investigation into two Muslim leaders who will be attending tonight's State of the Union address on the grounds that they have "done things that are clearly not pro-American."
  • "Mark my words": Glenn Beck predicts that tonight will not be President Obama's last State of the Union address because he will insist on delivering another one before leaving office next year.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention's Ronnie Floyd says that the "spiritual state of our union" is weak and "we need to repent, come back to God and put our trust in God alone. America needs a Great Spiritual Awakening."  
  • Finally, Newt Gingrich will be leading an upcoming conference call organized by David Lane's American Renewal Project to seek to rally 100,000 pastors to pressure Congress into defunding Planned Parenthood.

Political Operative David Lane: U.S. Must Choose Jesus or ‘Pagan Secularism’

Political operative David Lane, who has worked to get Religious Right leaders to rally around a single Republican presidential candidate (Ted Cruz is their man), and who is trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by getting 1,000 conservative evangelical pastors to run for office, is fixated on the idea that the United States of America has a national mission to advance the Christian faith. In his latest diatribe at Charisma magazine, Lane writes:

It looks as if America has come to her kairos, her moment in time—to be faithful to Jesus or to pagan secularism.

As we begin the New Year, pastors must begin to lay the prayer covering for the spiritual awakening and resurrection of America. We are asking the 100,000 American Renewal Project pastors to begin and lead one-hour, weekly prayer services asking God for mercy for what we, Christians, have allowed in our once Christian nation.

Of course, “secular humanists” are high on Lane’s enemy list, but so are Christian scholars who challenge Lane’s reading of American history. One of them, John Fea, teaches at Messiah College in Pennsylvania and is the author of “Was America Founded As a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction” — a highly regarded book on religion and American history. Fea has written critically about both Lane and David Barton, who also promotes a bogus “Christian nation” version of American history.

Lane goes after Fea in his Charisma article. In his response to Lane, Fea writes, “Lane implies that anyone who does not believe that America was founded as a specifically Christian nation is a pagan. He cannot fathom another, more responsible, Christian approach to this material.” Fea also takes on some of Lane’s specific historical claims.

 

We Read Rafael Cruz's Book So You Don't Have To

Rafael Cruz, father of senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, has become a folk hero in his own right among Religious Right activists as he has barnstormed the country railing against Barack Obama, gay rights activists, and other favored enemies of the far right — and promoting his son’s presidential candidacy. Rafael’s new book, “A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America,” will be officially released by WND Books in January, but we at RWW have saved you the time, money and aggravation by reading it for you. Happy New Year!

If you’ve watched Rafael Cruz or his son at all, there’s not much new or surprising in Rafael’s book. It is essentially a book-length pitch for his son’s candidacy, beginning with a gushing foreword from Glenn Beck — “Rafael Cruz is one of the greatest freedom fighters of his generation” and “Ted Cruz will do anything to protect and preserve freedom” — to an epilogue from Ted Cruz, which reads like a reprint of his presidential campaign’s stump speech. Rafael says in the book that he has known since Ted was a young boy that he had “a special calling on his life.”

Rafael is not shy in his political pronouncements. The Democratic Party “promotes an ungodly socialist agenda that is destroying America,” he declares. “And unfortunately, there are those in the Republican Party who aren’t much different.” That is why, he says, it is even more important to vote in primary elections than in the general election, because the primary “gives you the opportunity to select the candidates that best align with biblical and constitutional principles.” Rafael, and Ted in his campaign-speech epilogue, repeat their assertion that 54 million evangelical voters stayed home on Election Day 2012 and that getting more of them to vote is the key to putting the government back in the hands of a “righteous” president.

In between Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz, the book is part memoir of Rafael’s possibly embroidered past as a freedom-fighter against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and part evangelical religious tract. This is supplemented by plenty of recycled Christian-nation historical claims made by GOP activist David Barton, the often discredited “historian” who is currently running a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC. Barton and his Christian-nation history are repeatedly cited by Rafael, who writes:

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the reason the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States have lasted over two centuries is that they were divinely inspired and then written by men who had spent time on their knees. These were men of God seeking revelation from God, and that’s what He gave them. Of course, these two documents aren’t equivalent to the Word of God, but God certainly directed the men who crafted them.

Also cited in “A Time for Action” is Christian-nation advocate and political strategist David Lane, who is trying to mobilize an army of conservative pastors to run for office, which he hopes will in turn bring out conservative evangelical volunteers and voters. Lane has also been, with FRC’s Tony Perkins, a major promoter of the effort to get Religious Right leaders to unite around a single candidate — a step taken earlier this month when dozens of them voted in a secret endorsement meeting to back Ted Cruz.

Rafael talks about the dangers of secular humanism and makes a glancing reference to Seven Mountains dominionism, the belief that conservative Christians must gain control over the "seven mountains" of American culture.

In no way, shape, or form was Jefferson implying that the church should be restricted from exerting an influence upon society. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world…Doesn’t that suggest that our influence should touch every area of society – our families, the media, sports, arts and entertainment, education, business, and government?”

Like Barton and Lane, Rafael makes his case for the Christian nature of the U.S. government by conflating the Pilgrims and Puritans with the founding fathers who gave us the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution more than 150 years later. Rafael declares that “the concept of separation of church and state is found nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America,” which leads into this:

To understand this clearly, we need to go back four centuries to the time of the first settlers in America. If you lived in England in the early 1600s and were not a member of the Church of England, you would be considered a heretic and subject to persecution. So the early settlers immigrated to the New World in order to freely worship the Lord their God. What a remarkable heritage of religious freedom this exceptional country gives us! The only country on the face of the earth founded on the World of God!

As this new constitutional representative republic stretched its wings following the Revolutionary War, citizens of the thirteen colonies wondered if their new government would impose a state religion upon them like the one their forefathers suffered in England…

That is followed by a discussion of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, ending with the Bartonesque conclusion that Jefferson’s wall of separation image “was only referring to a one-way wall.

Rafael’s writing on Cuba is similarly incomplete. He describes the explosion that sank the U.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 as “an unprovoked attack” without any indication that many historians now believe the ship’s boiler exploded and that the “unprovoked attack” story was simply cover for the U.S. to declare war on Spain and bring Cuba under U.S. control. Rafael suggests without offering any evidence that President Obama’s unsuccessful efforts to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay suggest that Obama is “complicit” with Raúl Castro’s demands that the U.S. return the military base itself to Cuban control.

“A Time to Act” includes plenty of familiar Religious Right claims: that Supreme Court rulings on state-sponsored prayer and Bible readings in public schools have contributed to America’s downward slide, along with legal abortion and the “redefinition” of traditional marriage.

The book is also full of the hyperbolic rhetoric you’d expect from Rafael Cruz and World Net Daily, the far-right news outlet that serves as his publisher. Jimmy Carter’s policies were “reminiscent of the bearded dictator I had left behind in Cuba” and Obama taking executive action on immigration in the face of congressional inaction “doesn’t sound much different from the old, bearded dictator I left behind in Cuba almost sixty years ago — governing by decree, by fiat, just like Fidel Castro.”

There’s more: America today “is tragically following the same path that Cuba did a half century ago.” The Obama administration has “intensified our progression into an age of lawlessness.” The Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran will make it “quite literally, the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” The Supreme Court’s “lawless” and “preposterous” marriage equality decision is “one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.” The federal government “mandates that teachers affirm alternative, nonbiblical lifestyles, teach evolution as incontrovertible ‘fact,’ and mock the notion that God created the heavens and earth.” Common Core is a means for educational elites to “brainwash our students through federally mandated curriculum that extols socialism, globalism, and immorality from a secular humanist worldview.”

Like countless speeches at Religious Right political gatherings, Rafael Cruz places much of the blame for America’s sad state of affairs on pastors who aren’t being aggressive enough in preaching politics from the pulpit. “The time has come,” he writes, “for pastors to again fearlessly preach toward the political landscape, just like their predecessors centuries ago. If they don’t, Satan will rule without opposition in our halls of legislation.”

It is interesting to read the extent to which Ted Cruz is a product of careful grooming since childhood by his father and by far-right organizations. Rafael was active in the Religious Roundtable’s efforts to elect Ronald Reagan, and Ted, then nine years old, heard plenty of dinner conversations about the importance of getting rid of Jimmy Carter and replacing him with Ronald Reagan. Says Rafael, “My son received a dose of constitutionally conservative politics from a biblical worldview every day for a year when he was just nine!” As a kid, Rafael’s friends introduced Ted to the founder of the Free Enterprise Institute and began inculcating him in the teachings of people like Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Ted was part of a group of five high school students that the Institute sent around Texas giving speeches on free-market economics and the Constitution.

“A Time for Action” also includes a few appendices. One helpfully explains how U.S. government policies — such as progressive income taxes, net neutrality, Amtrak subsidies and the auto industry “bailout” — align with the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto. Also included, courtesy of David Barton’s Wallbuilders, the letter of the Danbury Baptists to Thomas Jefferson and his response; a sermon preached by colonial pastor Jonas Clark before the battle of Lexington and his account of the battles of Lexington and Concord; and recommended resources, which include Ted Cruz’s “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America” as well as books by conservative economists and a few Religious Right organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, David Lane’s American Renewal Project, Wallbuilders, and, of course, WND. Earlier in the book, Cruz promotes other Religious Right groups that produce voter guides or voting records, including Vision America, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Institute, Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America.

Religious Right: Bible Dictates Laws & Economic Policy But Islam Not a Religion Because It Is A Political & Economic System

Donald Trump’s call to bar all Muslims from entering the country was widely recognized as an appeal for explicit religious discrimination and generated significant pushback.  But many of Trump’s right-wing defenders have turned to an argument that has long bounced around Religious Right circles: that Muslims are not entitled to the religious liberty protections of the First Amendment because Islam is somehow not a religion. A few years ago, for example, retired Lt. Gen Jerry Boykin called Islam “a totalitarian way of life” that “should not be protected under the First Amendment.”

At this week’s Republican presidential debate, Rick Santorum explained why he believes Islam is not protected under the First Amendment, an argument made repeatedly by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Here’s Santorum:

The fact of the matter is, Islam is different. I know this is going to come as a shock to a lot of people, and I mean this sincerely. Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political governing structure. The fact of the matter is, Islam is a religion, but it is also Sharia law, it is also a civil government, it is also a form of government. And, so, the idea that that is protected under the First Amendment is wrong.

Conservative columnist and radio host Andrew McCarthy has similarly defended Trump’s comments, saying that Islam is not merely a religion because it “has ambitions to be more than a religion, that is to say that it is an ideological, sweeping system that does not recognize a division between spiritual life on the one hand and political and civic life on the other.”

Back in September, Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins defended similar comments by Ben Carson:

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution,” Perkins said. “And as Dr. Caron pointed out, and I know this is driving the left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a compressive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. That’s what Dr. Carson said and he happens to be correct.”

More recently, Perkins defended Trump with a dubiously specific statistic, saying that “only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic and political system.” Televangelist Pat Robertson also said this month that people should not view Islam as a religion but rather a “political system masquerading as a religion.”

Wait a minute. Aren’t these the same people who repeatedly insist that the Bible is the final authority on everything, from laws regulating personal relationships to economic and tax policy, and environmental protection? Anti-marriage-equality activists have insisted that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling was in violation of “God’s law” and therefore “illegitimate.” 

David Barton, an oft-discredited “historian” and Republican Party activist who is currently heading up a Ted Cruz super PAC, argues that the Bible opposes minimum wage laws, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, any progressive form of taxation and even net neutrality. He says the Constitution came right out of the Bible. If you applied Tony Perkins’ calculations to David Barton’s Bible, what percentage would come up as religion?

Many Religious Right leaders have embraced Seven Mountains dominionism, which is grounded in the belief that the right kind of Bible-believing Christians are meant to control all the important spheres of culture, including government, business, education, and entertainment. For example, the American Pastors Network’s Sam Rohrer says this:

Government leaders are charged with wielding the Word of God as an instrument of Justice, promoting God’s moral law as the foundation of right and wrong, encouraging those who do well biblically, and executing judgment on those who break the law.

Along those lines, three Republican presidential candidates, including current Iowa frontrunner Ted Cruz, recently joined a “religious freedom” rally organized by a pastor who argues that the Bible requires the government to execute gay people.

And don’t forget David Lane, whose American Renewal Project is mobilizing conservative pastors to get more involved in politics — and who argues that America was founded for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, and that the Bible should be a primary textbook in public schools.

So, a thought for Religious Right leaders: If you are going to argue for stripping Muslims of their First Amendment religious liberty protections based on your interpretation of Islam as an enterprise that is more political and ideological than religious, you may have to trim your own political sails quite a bit. Either that, or quit pretending you are proponents of religious freedom, and admit that you, like Bryan Fischer, believe the First Amendment applies only to Christians, or, like Tony Perkins, that gay-supporting Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections because a “true religious freedom” has to “come forth from religious orthodoxy.” Just don’t try to pretend your definition of “religious freedom” owes anything to Thomas Jefferson or the First Amendment. 

Religious Right Leaders Rally Around Ted Cruz At Secret Endorsement Meeting

Religious Right leaders are intent on being the ones to pick the Republican presidential nominee this time around and they’re throwing their collective weight behind Ted Cruz.

The movement’s leaders have been seething for eight years now that they were forced to rally behind Republican presidential candidates they weren’t excited about — John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.  After years of angling to prevent that from happening in 2016, “several dozen” Religious Right leaders met in secret in early December and voted to rally around Ted Cruz.

National Review’s Tim Alberta describes the event, which Cruz backers entered with the upper hand. It took five ballots for Cruz's supporters to browbeat backers of Marco Rubio into submission and give Cruz the three-quarters supermajority needed. Those who attended the meeting had vowed to either publicly support the eventual winner of the day’s balloting or to remain silent in the Republican primary. Reports Allen,

The impact was felt immediately on the 2016 campaign. Three prominent participants — direct-mail pioneer and longtime activist Richard Viguerie, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, and The Family Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats – announced their support of Cruz within 72 hours of the meeting at the Sheraton. 

Cruz, of course, had plenty of conservative evangelical support before this meeting. We noted back in the summer that he was consolidating support from the Christian Nation crowd, including discredited “historian” David Barton  —  who heads a Cruz super PAC  —  and billionaire fracking brothers Farris and Dan Wilks  —  who have pumped $15 million into the pro-Cruz super PAC effort. Since then, Cruz has been holding and attending “religious liberty” events  —  including one hosted by a pastor who calls for the execution of gays, and one at Bob Jones University, famous for claiming religious backing for its racial segregationist policies.

Cruz openly promotes the efforts of Christian-nation zealot David Lane to “take back” the country by using pastor-candidates to mobilize high evangelical turnout. Cruz told American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon this summer, “Nothing is more important in the next 18 months than that the body of Christ rise up and that Christians stand up, that pastors stand up and lead.”

Lane, who matches Cruz’s contempt for “establishment” Republicans, said back in 2013, “We’re going to try to eliminate the stuff that [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and the Romneys left.” Lane had cheered attacks on Romney’s faith and the “false god of Mormonism.”

Cruz has been courting Religious Right activists for years, even before the underdog, Tea Party-fueled victory in the GOP primary that propelled him into the U.S. Senate. Back before that election, he told the Freedom Federation’s Awakening conference, “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” That message hasn’t changed: Just last week his campaign’s “prayer team” was told that “we’re in a spiritual battle today as never before.”

For the Religious Right, what’s not to like about Cruz? His anti-gay, anti-choice, and anti-government bona fides are unquestionable. His father, Rafael Cruz, an unabashed Christian-nation extremist and anti-gay bigot who says that it is God’s plan for his son to be president, makes an effective ambassador for Cruz to the far right.

Is anyone not jumping on the Cruz bandwagon? A group of Latino Republicans held a press conference yesterday to denounce Cruz for his anti-immigrant positions  —  which they said were the same Romney “self-deportation” policies by another name  —  and for Cruz’s support of Donald Trump’s bigotry.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, a leader of the effort to get the Religious Right to rally around a single candidate, has tried this before, without much success. In 2012, Perkins and other conservative evangelicals had tried to create unity around a single alternative to Romney. Perkins declared after a January 2012 gathering that Rick Santorum had emerged with a “strong consensus.”

But the voting process and outcome were disputed by Newt Gingrich supporters, and the idea that evangelical leaders could deliver their followers to Santorum was undermined when Gingrich won the next event, South Carolina’s primary. Richard Viguerie, among others, urged Gingrich to drop out in order to boost Santorum’s chances. In the end, Santorum went on to win other southern primaries but couldn’t catch Romney.

In January 2012, after he won that supposed consensus endorsement for Santorum, Perkins dismissed suggestions that the meeting was too late to have an impact, even though it came after Romney had already won Iowa and New Hampshire and was building up a head of steam. Perkins clearly decided not to let that happen again.

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American Renewal Project Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Monday 08/22/2016, 11:40am
Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base. David Lane, the Christian-nationalist... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 08/17/2016, 9:45am
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.” One of the latter, Mike Thompson of Las Vegas, said in April that this is the first time in American history that the “Apostles and Prophets are the primary driving force behind the presidential election.” Thompson said that the Lord has... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 08/11/2016, 4:55pm
In his typically incoherent way, Donald Trump told a meeting of right-wing pastors today that church attendance has declined in America “and a lot of it has to do with the fact that you’ve been silenced.” “You’ve been silenced like a child has been silenced,” he told the pastors at an Orlando event organized by the American Renewal Project, making the bogus claim that pastors are barred from addressing political issues. “Your power has been totally taken away.” Trump said that “they took away your voice” but he can... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 08/11/2016, 4:15pm
A decidedly low energy Donald Trump addressed the far-right American Renewal Project’s Orlando gathering today, where he stayed clear of any mention of issues like abortion rights or marriage equality, even though the event’s chief organizer, David Lane, had hoped he’d discuss “homosexual totalitarianism.” Instead, Trump spoke about how he would increase the political power of Christians by repealing the Johnson Amendment, which he falsely claimed prohibited pastors from endorsing candidates and undermined the ability of Christians at large to speak freely about... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 08/10/2016, 3:30pm
Following the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he was so affected by the tragedy that he changed his mind and decided to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, while Donald Trump claimed that he would best represent the LGBT community by opposing Muslim immigration. “Ask the gays” who their true friend is, Trump said. Now, Trump and Rubio are both set to appear in Orlando two months after the Pulse nightclub shooting. But rather than stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, as they pledged to do, they will be... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 08/09/2016, 4:43pm
As his poll numbers plummet, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is doing everything he can to boost enthusiasm for his candidacy among Religious Right leaders and the conservative white evangelical voters who make up an important part of the GOP’s political base. Trump promised the hundreds of conservative evangelical leaders he met with in June that he would make the Christian Right more politically powerful by doing away with legal restrictions on overt politicking by churches. This week Trump will reportedly be pushing that plan as he heads down the well-trod path to the... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 08/09/2016, 10:45am
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a radical anti-LGBT event in being held in Orlando this week exactly two months after the Pulse nightclub shooting, according to news reports from Jenna Browder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News. As we reported last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and a host of anti-LGBT extremists are slated to address the “Rediscovering God in America” event, which is sponsored by the American Renewal Project. Self-described “political operative” David Lane founded the... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 08/08/2016, 11:40am
As first reported on Right Wing Watch, Sen. Marco Rubio is slated to speak at an event in Orlando next week that will feature some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists. Rubio has denied that the “Rediscovering God in America” event, which will take place exactly two months after the horrific shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, has anything to do with anti-LGBT activism. In response to criticism last week, the senator attacked “the media and liberal activists” for labeling “a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event” when it is... MORE >