Faith and Freedom Coalition

CPAC Reject McDonnell Welcomed at Religious Right Prayer Breakfast

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was not officially welcomed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, but he was invited to speak at Friday morning’s prayer breakfast hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, along with a couple Members of Congress.

Not everybody was happy that McDonnell was on the premises: activists from the National Taxpayers Union and the insanely anti-gay Public Advocate USA gave out anti-McDonnell flyers and stickers to people entering the breakfast.  McDonnell’s sin against CPAC orthodoxy was his support for a transportation plan in Virginia that activists say violates a campaign pledge against raising taxes.  Public Advocate also complained that by praising the General Assembly’s approval of a gay district court nominee, McDonnell “BROKE HIS PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.”

Inside the prayer breakfast, McDonnell (like the Coalition’s Executive Director Gary Marx an alum of Pat Robertson’s Regent University) was introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes and warmly received.  McDonnell gave a talk that was light on conservative red meat and focused on themes of faith and service, urging activists to pray for humility and wisdom.  He did say it is the job of public officials to get things done according to “Judeo-Christian principles.”  And he cited George Washington saying that the nation could not expect “the smiles of heaven” if it abandoned “eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself have ordained.”

Forbes, a leader of the congressional prayer caucus, said our nation’s problem is that God belongs on the throne, we’ve taken Him off, and we need to put Him back up there.  Forbes resorted to a caricature common among Religious Right leaders, complaining about people he said were trying to change the concept of church-state separation to mean that no one in government can speak about their faith and no one in church can talk about the government.

Also speaking was Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who invoked a mural of the radical abolitionist John Brown that portrays him with a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other, and the tornado of the civil war approaching. He called the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception a “tremendous threat” and an attack of religious liberty. “What would John Brown be doing now?” he asked, suggesting that Brown would be on his knees in prayer but also on his feet demanding action from Congress.  Huelskamp complained that his colleagues in Congress are not acting to protect religious liberty, and denounced their “deafening silence” on threats to marriage. Huelskamp has previously complained to Tony Perkins about “the folks on the left that would like to delete, exclude and repeal any religious liberties or any religious values throughout our entire government and our entire society.”

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a conservative activist, author, and Real World: San Francisco alum who is married to Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, talked about the dangers of churches and families having ceded territory to “an ever-expanding and insatiable government.” For example, Campos said, school breakfast programs for poor students give parents an excuse not to make breakfast for their own kids and just push them out the door rather than talking to them.

Ralph Reed didn’t make the breakfast, but Gary Marx delivered a version of Reed’s post-2012 “it’s not my fault” analysis. Marx ran through statistics on the millions of contacts the Faith & Freedom Coalition made with the 23.3 million evangelical and Catholic voters in its proprietary database, and he said five million more evangelicals voted in 2012 than in 2008, with 78 percent of them voting for Romney. He said the group is actively engaged in this year’s Virginia elections and pledged that 2014 will see the largest mid-term conservative turnout ever.

The breakfast opened with a prayer by Father John De Celles of St. Raymond Penafort Roman Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia, and closed with a benediction from Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America, who called for a reaffirmation of our “national identity” as a “Judeo-Christian nation” and denounced those who threaten the country from within by trying to "dismantle" that heritage and usurp God’s will.

Footnote: Among the VIP attendees acknowledged from the podium was conservative mega-donor Foster Friess, who backed Rick Santorum’s presidential bid but who has more recently encouraged a more moderate approach to LGBT issues, which he has said is due to his familiarity with gay people, including his brother-in-law and his partner.  There was no mention at the breakfast of news that broke last night about Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s about-face on marriage after his son came out to him. 

Remembering Jennifer Carroll: America Needs 'Christians to Step Up and Lead This Country'

The news broke this morning that Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has resigned from office over her ties to an organization that ran a series of "internet cafes" in the state that is now at the center of a racketeering investigation. According to reports, Carroll had close ties this organization and even appeared in a commercial for it in 2010.

These "cafes" are often borderline casinos that exist in a legal gray area by claiming that they are merely offering "sweepstakes" to customers.

So it is just a little too perfect that back in 2011, Carroll was a featured speaker at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event ahead of a Republican presidential debate in Florida, organized by none other than Ralph Reed, where she declared that America needs "good, solid Christians to step up and lead this country on a proper moral path":

You know the Bible says faith is believing in what is not seen, today unfortunately many in the media would like nothing better to ridicule Christians: they promote 'The Da Vinci Code,' they place doubt in the public’s mind that Christ was not risen and they condemn the 'Passion of Christ,' yet they sensationalize stories that call for the end of prayer in school and removing the name of God from our country’s pledge. Ladies and gentlemen, these are very sad times when we allow the minority to poison the minds of the majority. This is exactly what dictators and socialist rulers did.

Man does not have all the answers, some of our political leaders bow down to scientists and let them have the stage to push their evolution, but there’s nothing, nothing a scientist can make, that is exactly like what God creates.

Trust Him to give you the strength to fight back against those who want to take God out of our country. Trust Him to give you the wisdom to speak out against injustice and blasphemy of His name. Trust God to guide your path to bring about a righteous government. …

Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity is in a fight and it is one of the greatest trials we have seen in modern times. Without a doubt, America and her people are in grave need of prayer, divine guidance, protection, to have good, solid Christians to step up and lead this country on a proper moral path. I firmly believe that if we magnify God, our problems will be minimized.

Right Wing Leftovers - 3/12/13

  • Ralph Reed wants you to get your tickets now for the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s 2013 "Road to Majority" Conference.
  • Sarah Palin is writing a book about Christmas which, ironically, nobody will ask for next Christmas.
  • Christian apologist Alex McFarland says "the survival of America depends on a revival of Christianity."
  • Right-wing blogger John Hawkins helpfully offers up a list of "10 Hollywood Celebrities Who Should Be Blacklisted By Conservatives."
  • Finally, in trying to encourage people to attend the upcoming "March for Marriage," NOM is comparing the upcoming Prop 8 and DOMA cases to Roe v Wade: "If you could go back to 1973, would you participate in a march to save society from the scourge of abortion? Would you go to Washington to show the Supreme Court that you are one of a multitude of people who are demanding that they not use our constitution to create a great moral and civic wrong?"

Ralph Reed's Group Wants to Cut Grants to the National Cathedral over Gay Marriage

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition wants the federal government to end its “Save America’s Treasures Grants” to the National Cathedral because the church decided to perform same-sex marriages. While same-sex marriage is legal in Washington D.C., where the historic Episcopal church is located, the FFC claims that the cathedral is undermining the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and therefore should not receive federal money “until such time that it ceases the practice of homosexual ‘marriage’ certification.”

“Taxpayers are being asked to subsidize gay marriage ceremonies,” the FFC writes, “Pro-family and Pro-freedom Americans will not sit idly by as the government attempts to change the Biblical definition of marriage.”

That’s right, the same FFC which believes Obama is waging a “war on religion” and trampling on “religious liberty” wants the government to cut off its grants to a church due to its opposition to marriage equality.

On January 9, 2013, the National Cathedral announced that it would start performing same-sex marriages and will be one of the first Episcopal congregations to implement the rite.

In recent years, the National Cathedral has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants. The Episcopal Church is one of the richest denominations in the United States and the oldest. According to Richard Ostling of the Associated Press, “the 7,364 congregations of the Episcopal Church receive $2.14 billion in offerings a year: Their buildings and liquid assets are worth untold billions." Why is a church with untold billions in assets and asking American taxpayers to fund their church? With this policy change, taxpayers are being asked to subsidize gay marriage ceremonies for a church that can readily access millions of their own funds.

Pro-family and Pro-freedom Americans cannot sit idly by.

We believe the definition of “marriage” to be the union of one man to one woman. If the National Cathedral wants to continue to receive taxpayer funding from Congress, they should respect Congressional action like the Defense of Marriage Act.

Pro-family and Pro-freedom Americans will not sit idly by as the government attempts to change the Biblical definition of marriage.

As concerned American citizens, we believe the definition of “marriage” to be the union of one man to one woman. Accordingly, we are outraged that the Federal Government would provide funding to the Washington National Cathedral, which has publicly announced its intention to perform homosexual marriage ceremonies.

We therefore demand an immediate suspension of any current or future federal funds to this institution, until such time that it ceases the practice of homosexual “marriage” certification.

DeMint's Double: Rep. Tim Scott, for All the Right-Wing Reasons

Sen. Jim DeMint’s announcement that he will resign from the U.S. Senate to become president of the right-wing Heritage Foundation left the decision of DeMint’s successor in the hands of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.  DeMint has made it clear that his top choice would be Rep. Tim Scott, who was among the five people on Haley’s short list. This morning some are reporting that Haley has indeed chosen Scott.

Scott was elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave after defeating Strom Thurmond’s son in the GOP primary with backing from Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.  He’s considered a rising star in the party -- after the 2012 election he was elected to serve as the liaison to leadership for the rising sophomore class.  Like DeMint, he embraces both the Religious Right’s anti-gay, anti-choice social agenda and the Tea Party’s anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.  No wonder he’s a Fox News favorite – and no wonder Fred Barnes, writing in the Weekly Standard, calls Scott an “ideal replacement” for DeMint.

Scott holds particular appeal for conservatives after this year’s elections in which people of color overwhelmingly supported President Obama.  If appointed, Scott would become the only African American member of the U.S. Senate.  In 2010, he was one of 15 black conservative candidates backed by “Operation Black Storm,” a project of Alan Keyes’ Patriot PAC.  Only Scott and Allen West were elected. Scott shares West’s politics but not his tendency to spout ridiculous rhetoric about President Obama being a Marxist tyrant. That may be one reason West will soon be a former member of Congress and Scott may soon be a U.S. Senator.

Anti-Obama Cred

Scott has the fervent anti-Obama record demanded by the far right.   On Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Scott said, “This president has consistently found himself on the wrong side of the concept of the rule of law.” He claimed, “It’s a liberal media bias that insulates this president from having to explain the truth to any American citizen about the things that go wrong in this government.”

He embodies the Tea Party’s opposition to the federal health care reform bill and has joined House Republican efforts to defund it and repeal sections of it.  He joined an anti-health care reform rally at the U.S. Supreme Court, where he said “the last thing anybody wants to see happen is the United States government take over health care and ruin the best health care system in the world today.” 

Scott was an energetic participant in House Republicans’ desperate but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to politicize the botched “Fast and Furious” operation and turn it into an election-year scandal for the Obama administration.  Those efforts included a House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.   At the same time Scott was frantically working to politicize the death of a border control agent, he was accusing  the left of politicizing the issue. 

At this year’s Republican National Convention, Scott said “The past four years of hope and change have led me to one conclusion: our only hope is to change the current resident of the White House. Amen.” And his “heartfelt” and not exactly respectful message to the president: “Hit the road, Jack, and dontcha come back no more no more no more.”

Scott told CBN’s David Brody that he understood why some black people would vote for Obama as a matter of history, but not him.  “I think the question is, ‘who am I?’ Well, if I am first a Christian conservative then that dictates my response to all questions so my response first as a Christian conservative is to vote consistent with my value system. I’m not saying whether President Obama is a Christian or not. I’m talking about one thing and one thing only. What he represents as a politician, is it consistent with what I think our country needs, and if the answer is no then I have to vote consistent with my values.”

In response to speculation during congressional obstruction on the debt limit that President Obama could invoke the 14th Amendment’s requirement that the government pay its debts to get around congressional inaction, Scott said that would be “an impeachable act.”

Religious Right Cred

Scott espouses far-right positions on abortion and gay rights – he has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign – and he promotes the Religious Right’s absurd claim that Christians are somehow a persecuted minority in this country.  During this year’s South Carolina primary, Scott was among the speakers at a pre-debate rally hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians,” Scott said. “No doubt about it.” He also said, “We need a revolution in this country.”  “And we need a revival in this land.” 

Scott opposes the requirement in the Affordable Care Act  for contraception coverage and argues that the administration’s compromise does not protect religious liberty.  In an op-ed he published in The Hill, he wrote, “Our nation was founded by those who believed in faith and freedom. Too often, Americans who are proud of their faith and the values it instills find themselves under attack. Government should be protecting our right to religious freedom, not assaulting it.”

In the “traditional values” section of his campaign website Scott lists legislation he has supported promoting abstinence education, defunding United Nations family planning programs, imposing abortion restrictions on women in the District of Columbia, and “protecting” Christmas.  It includes this summary:

I am unapologetically pro-life.  Each and every human life is valuable and my legislative agenda and record reflect my resolute commitment to protect the sanctity of life.

I support traditional marriage.  The institution of marriage is the unity of one man and one woman.   Allowing the government to weaken the definition of marriage takes away from our children and we must not allow that to happen.

I will fight for religious freedoms. The Constitution expressly safeguards our freedom to practice and embrace religion.  The federal government’s role is not to protect government from religion, but to protect religion from government intrusion.  Government is already interfering in our homes and businesses; we must not allow it to do the same with our faith.

The website also includes dispatches from the leader of Scott’s prayer warrior team.  The January 2012 dispatch includes this:

We can rest assured that regardless of what is happening, we are a nation born on a foundation of the Gospel of our Savior, Jesus and He lives and reigns this very day and forevermore and His perfect peace is ours in the midst of the storm!  Tim wanted you to know that in the knowledge of God’s assurance, this year should be about pursuing Isaiah 61 especially because of our times.  There are so many who are lost and in need of answers and, Praise God, you have them!

With the leading of the Holy Spirit, we should seek heavenly strategies to take on the challenges of 2012.  

At the Ralph Reed rally during the South Carolina primary, he told a story about a public fight over the Ten Commandments when he was on the county council.  “We are in desperate need of a compass, a moral compass that tells us the difference between right and wrong,” he said. “And I believe that you can look no further than the word of God to find that compass.”

Tea Party Cred

Scott came to Congress on the 2010 Tea Party wave and talks like it.  He takes a Tea Partier’s rhetorical approach to the Constitution, telling attendees at a town hall meeting, “I think states’ rights, state sovereignty, the 9th and 10th amendment, has to be protected against our federal government.” He says the immigration issue is “easy” -- “We want to make sure the local law enforcement is empowered to enforce the laws of the country.” Congress is a “freak show.”  The country needs to “drill baby, drill.”  The Environmental Protection Agency is a “job-killing agency” that needs to be chopped off at the knees.

He has been part of the no-compromise wing of the 2010 class.  He refused to support House Speaker John Boehner’s plan for getting past the crisis over lifting the debt ceiling after he and two of his fellow freshman prayed about the issue.  Here’s how the Washington Post recounted the events:

Not even gentle persuasion could overcome higher powers Thursday. As Boehner was in his meetings, three freshman Republicans from South Carolina were in the House chapel nearby, in quiet discussion and in prayer. Reps. Mick MulvaneyTim Scott and Jeff Duncanwanted a stronger provision to guarantee a balanced-budget amendment and knew they would be lobbied furiously in the hours to come.

At one point, Duncan said, Mulvaney picked up a Bible and read a verse from Proverbs 22: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

“It’s telling me to really be bold, to really fight for structural changes,” Duncan said.

“Mulvaney snapped the Bible closed. And I said, ‘Guys, that’s all I need to see,’ ” Duncan said. “Tim said, ‘Yep.’ And we stood up and walked out.”

Discussing the episode with Fox News, Scott said “I try to lean on the highest level of wisdom I can find and that is divine wisdom.”

Scott also enlists Martin Luther King to support the Tea Party’s anti-spending agenda (pay no attention to King’s actual call for government action on jobs).  He said at a 2012 MLK commemoration that his deficit-cutting efforts were akin to King’s movement:  "We can't be free when we have a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, there is no freedom in America for a black man, a white man, a Jew, a gentile, a Protestant or a Catholic. We can't be free.”  He has told constituents, “The more we spend, the less freedom we have.” 

He has also, as noted by Brian Beutler at TPM, helped voodoo economics  make “a triumphant return to Capitol Hill.” Scott claimed that tax increases would lead to lower revenue.  Scott made the same argument to constituents during a town hall meeting:  “If you increase taxes you get fewer dollars to the treasury…This is not a partisan issue. This is what we call truth.”

Big Business Cred

Scott’s anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union positions make him a favorite of the big business lobby: during his short tenure he has already been honored by the Club for Growth, which gave him its “Defender of Economic Freedom Award,” and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which gave him its “Spirit of Enterprise” award. Receiving that award, he said, “We must free our job creators from the burden placed on their backs by the federal government, and provide them with the right opportunities to move our economy forward.”  Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donahue gushed, “While many in Congress were busy playing politics, Representative Scott was working to protect and advance the interests of America’s job creators.”  Scott, who supports a flat tax, introduced “the Rising Tides Act,” which would cut corporate taxes. 

The Party of the Tea Party

Jim DeMint helped create the uncompromising, ideologically extreme Republican Party that has engaged in unprecedented obstructionism during the Obama administration – and is wreaking havoc in states like Michigan.  Tim Scott seems eager to further that destructive legacy. 


Ralph Reed: It's Not My Fault

Election Day was a lousy day for the Religious Right. But movement leaders have been quick to assert that they are not to blame, pointing fingers variously at Hurricane Sandy, Mitt Romney, the unknown waiter who recorded Romney’s dismissive “47 percent” remarks, and the strong turnout of young voters and people of color.

Religious Right leaders had spent four years attacking Obama an enemy of faith, freedom, God, and America, only to see him re-elected in an Electoral College landslide. They had warned that defeating him might be a last chance to forestall God’s judgment on America. They fasted and prayed and believed that they would be delivered on Election Day. But that’s not what happened. 
Not only did Obama win big, but voters in Maine and Maryland embraced marriage equality, and Washington seems likely to join them.  Minnesota voters rejected a Religious Right-backed attempt to put anti-gay discrimination into the state’s constitution.  Tammy Baldwin was elected to the Senate, where she will be the first openly gay member.
Well before all those results were in, it was clear that the night was not going according to what Religious Right leaders had thought was God’s plan.  At 10 pm, Tony Perkins and Jim Garlow held a phone call briefing for pastors. It was a very subdued affair, with representatives of the state marriage campaigns trying to sound hopeful about the then-uncalled outcomes in their states.  Perkins and Garlow also held a Wednesday webcast on the "aftermath and aftershocks" as the scope of their Election Day drubbing sank in (see video highlights).  “The problem in America is sin,” said Garlow. But, he said, “we have no problem that the next Great Awakening cannot solve.”
The tendency after an election defeat to avoid blame by casting it elsewhere was in full flower the day after the election.  Rep. Jim Jordan, a Religious Right favorite, described Mitt Romney as “the most liberal Republican nominee in history” who had “waffled” on abortion, had passed a health care bill as governor, and had a hard time convincing conservatives on his commitments on taxing and spending.  Perkins criticized Romney for not campaigning on issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty, even though Obama used them to appeal to his base. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway agreed, saying Republicans had not done enough to draw the contrast on social and “moral” issues. Regarding the marriage wins, Perkins blamed Obama in part, saying the president’s policies have had “a shaping influence on the culture.” He and others also blamed marriage equality proponents’ financial advantage.
In a Wednesday morning press conference at the National Press Club, Ralph Reed’s message was clear: don’t look at me. Reed had made sweeping promises that the Faith and Freedom  Coalition, his conservative voter ID and turnout operation, would stun pollsters and lead to a big conservative victory.  “We did our job,” he insisted, recounting the tens of millions of phone calls, mailings, and other voter contacts his group made.  He said his group had run the most efficient, most technologically superior voter contact and GOVT operation the faith community has ever seen.  He claimed credit for increasing both white evangelicals’ share of the electorate and the share of the vote they gave to the Republican nominee.  But it wasn’t enough.
“We can’t do the Republican Party’s job for them.  We can’t do the candidates’ job for them.” In part, Reed blamed “candidate performance issues,” his euphemism for the Akin-Mourdoch rape comments that led to their undoing.
Reed said his successful efforts were not in the end sufficient because people of color and young voters turned out in numbers that he had not anticipated -- and voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the president.  The fact that young voters, African Americans, and Latinos turned out so strongly seems to have stunned conservative figures across the board. And it confirmed for many of them the need for the Republican Party and the conservative movement to stop alienating Latinos and figure out how to attract younger voters.  “We need to do a better job of not looking like your daddy’s Religious Right,” said Reed.
Some Religious Right leaders sought solace in faith that God is ultimately in control.  “America as we know it may have signed its death warrant tonight,” said Garlow during the pastors' briefing.  But not to worry, he said, nations come and go, but God’s kingdom is forever. Perkins said FRC and its allies would continue to stand strong in the face of “an increasingly hostile culture.”
Others looked forward to the next political fight.  Pollster Conway predicted that 2014 would bring, like 2010’s Tea Party wave, a conservative resurgence and called for candidate recruitment to begin now.  Perkins agreed that conservatives have never had a stronger “farm team” and touted potential conservative candidates for 2016, including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Mike Pence.

Five Religious Right Myths Exposed in Election Defeat

The Religious Right took a drubbing at the polls yesterday as voters rejected not only Mitt Romney but also some of the most extreme Republican candidates, even those in races that should have been easy Republican victories. Like other conservatives, many Religious Right activists predicted a big victory for Romney and Republicans in the U.S. Senate based on five myths they hold about the electorate:

Myth #1: Americans want a ‘True Conservative’

The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody called the results a “nightmare for the GOP” and a “colossal disaster.” Of course, right-wing activists will be quick to declare that Mitt Romney, like John McCain, wasn’t conservative enough for voters, and that the self-described “severely conservative” Romney couldn’t effectively articulate or sell conservative principles. Their solution is that the next nominee must be a pure right-wing ideologue who emphasizes social issues, like Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum. Of course, if voters were seeking to support ultraconservative politicians, then Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock wouldn’t have lost their Senate races in the red states of Missouri and Indiana, Tea Party hero Allen West wouldn’t have lost re-election and Michele Bachmann wouldn’t have merely eked out a tiny win in her heavily Republican district.

Myth #2: Blacks will Defect from Obama over Gay Rights

Black conservative activists such as Harry Jackson, E.W. Jackson, William Owens, Patrick Wooden and Star Parker continue to tell the largely white Religious Right leadership that African Americans are defecting en masse from the purportedly demonic, Baal worshiping, anti-Christian and anti-God Democratic Party and will turn against Obama over the issue of marriage equality. Pat Robertson even said that Democratic support for marriage equality is a “death wish” and Mike Huckabee said the move “may end up sinking the ship.” According to exit polls, however, Obama won African Americans 93-6 percent. African Americans also turned out in strong numbers and didn’t stay home, with the same high turnout rate (13 percent of all voters) as 2008. In addition, marriage equality had victories in the four states it was on the ballot.

Myth #3: Hispanics are ‘Natural Allies’ of the Religious Right

Conservatives claimed that Hispanic voters, especially those who identify as evangelical and Pentecostal, are ripe for supporting Republicans. Samuel Rodriguez of the conservative National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and others continue to argue that Hispanics are strongly opposed to abortion rights (not true) and gay rights (also not true), and therefore “natural allies” of the Religious Right. Romney actually fared worse (27%) than McCain (31%) among Hispanics.

Myth #4: Catholics Abandoning Obama for ‘Declaring War’ on the Church

Heavy politicking from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and growing outreach to Catholics by traditionally evangelical Religious Right groups didn’t stop Obama from once again carrying the Catholic vote. Republicans consistently claimed that Obama declared “war on religion” and specifically “attacking the Catholic Church,” and hoped Paul Ryan’s use of Catholicism to justify his draconian budget plan would bring Catholics into the GOP fold. Obama led 50-48 percent in exit polls, down slightly from his 54 percent total in 2008.

Myth #5: Evangelical Wave Waiting in the Wings

New groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition and United in Purpose/Champion the Vote boasted of grand plans to turn out a wave of evangelical Christians upset about health care reform and marriage equality. But according to exits, Protestant (not all of whom identify as evangelical) turnout remained about the same this year (53 percent) as the last president election (54 percent). Christianity Today notes that in swing states, self-described evangelical turnout was approximately identical or merely slightly larger as it was in 2008, and Romney’s support among evangelicals compared to McCain’s decreased in states like Ohio and Nevada.

Right Wing Round-Up - 11/5/12

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/26/12

Ryan's Real Values? Reed and Rand

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold a town hall teleconference with Ralph Reed, the disgraced former head of the Christian Coalition who is making a political comeback with a conservative voter turnout project called the Faith and Freedom Coalition. That group is sending voters flyers warning that reelecting Obama would allow the president to “complete America’s destruction.” They also compare Obama’s policies to the threat posed to America by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

For all Paul Ryan’s talk about values, it’s worth remembering who his pal Ralph Reed is: a self-enriching win-at-any-cost political operative whose own campaign for office was tanked by revelations of Reed’s involvement in a scandal with Jack Abramoff, the convicted corrupt lobbyist who helped Reed get business “humping in corporate accounts” after he left the Christian Coalition and started his own consulting firm.

As Kyle has noted:

There are few political operatives active today that are as ruthless and cynical as Ralph Reed.

Reed is, after all, the man who infamously declared that he specializes in "guerrilla warfare," and bragged "I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag." 

Reed also knowingly took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to manipulate and mobilize his Religious Right allies to fight gambling expansions in order to protect Abramoff's client's gambling interests.  Reed even had some of the money laundered through third-parties in order to try and conceal its origins, yet continues to insist to this day that he is "proud" of the "outstanding" work he did on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

Ryan cites his Catholic faith to distract attention from his devotion to Ayn Rand and her infamous hostility to charity toward the poor.  Reed himself preaches the Tea Party’s notion that federal government programs that serve the poor and elderly are unconstitutional. (And of course, for a big chunk of the Religious Right, the social safety net is not only unconstitutional, but unbiblical.)

The FFC held several events at the Republican National Convention featuring other notable “values” stalwarts such as Newt Gingrich, union-busting Scott Walker, anti-gay activist Jim Garlow and down-the-government-in-the-bathtub anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist.

Reed said earlier this year that American Christians must get down on their knees and beg God for forgiveness for “what we have allowed to happen” to the country – then God might have mercy on America (the implication being that God would help Romney defeat Obama).

 Back in 2008, John McCain was embarrassed by watchdog groups over his participation in a fundraiser organized by Reed; in the end Reed did not attend. Four years later, the values-promoting Paul Ryan seems to have no hesitation embracing Reed, who exemplifies the self-promoting values of Ryan inspiration Ayn Rand.

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/2/12

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/27/12

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/25/12

Right Wing Finally Unites Behind Romney With Anti-Obama Hate-Fest in Tampa

[Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery is covering the RNC for Alternet with Adele M. Stan]

It was to have been the day before the commencement of the Republican National Convention, but the hand of divine providence swept in, batting a storm called Isaac toward the site where the G.O.P. is to gather, delaying the convening for at least a day. But that didn't stop leaders of the Republican right wing from hosting no fewer than four events meant to rally the faithful to turn out the vote for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose name was barely mentioned from any of the four podiums.
In fact, there was one name that was mentioned far more than all others: that of President Barack Obama.
Two of the events were called by Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an organization dedicated to turning out the vote among both religious and secular members of the Republican right -- a melding of the religious right with the broader Tea Party movement. 
Reed kicked off the day with a $50-a-plate V.I.P. luncheon that brought together such secular players as the renowned and powerful anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist with religious luminaries like Pastor Jim Garlow, one of the activists who helped quash same-sex marriage in California via the Proposition 8 ballot measure.
The other two events -- a prayer rally and a "Unity Rally" -- featured former G.O.P. presidential candidate Michele Bachmann as a headliner, and took place in a non-denominational evangelical megachurch on the outskirts of town. The prayer rally at River Church enjoyed sponsorship from the Florida Family Policy Council and Citizenlink (both affiliates of the Family Research Council) and Salem Communications , a religious right radio network.
Bachmann made a return engagement in the evening for a "Unity Rally" at which she and her former presidential primary opponent, Herman Cain, were the big draws. Tea Party Nation, together with the Western Representation PAC and Cain's new venture, Job Creators Solutions , co-sponsored the event.

While each event had its own distinct character, there was unity aplenty in the overarching theme: Defeat Barack Obama, not simply because his policies stand in opposition to right-wing ideology, but because, speakers said, he is a very dangerous man.

At an exhibit table inside River Church, a painting in an elaborate frame featured an image of an angry-looking Obama with a copy of the Constitution in flames in the foreground. The signs held by attendees inside the church for the evening rally were largely home-made, and several people waved large flags, both the U.S. flag, and the yellow Gadsden flag that has become the trademark of the Tea Party movement.

But downtown, inside the ornate, Art Nouveau-style Tampa Theater in which Reed held his rally, activists had a more uniform look, with preprinted signs that read: Pro-Family, Pro-Faith, Pro-Freedom, while in the grottos that flanked the stage, statues of scantily-clad goddesses looked on.

Here are some highlights from a Sunday spent among the foot soldiers of the right, and those who seek to lead them to the polls on November 6th.

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Religious Right Groups Laud Paul Ryan, Highlight Anti-Choice and Anti-Gay Voting Record

Conservative leaders hailed Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, the far-right congressman, to be his running mate, emphasizing his opposition to LGBT and reproductive rights.

Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance said that besides his one-time vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, she is excited “to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’”

Paul Ryan is a great choice. He has one little blip in that he voted for ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) a long time ago but voted right on the marriage amendment and supports the unborn. Plus, I get to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’ Bonus.

Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition commended Ryan’s “100 percent pro-life and pro-family voting record.”

Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee is an inspired, outstanding selection. Paul Ryan is a rare and exceptional public servant who combines the courage of his convictions with a sharp intellect and a winsome personality. I have known him since he worked for Jack Kemp at Empower America in the early 1990s, worked with him in passing sound budgets in the House, and am proud to count him as a friend. He is a person of devout Christian faith who has a 100 percent pro-life and pro-family voting record in his 14 years in Congress. He will excite and energize social conservatives, who will play a critical role in the outcome of the elections.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is proud that Ryan “believes that social, fiscal and national security conservatism is indivisible.”

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan shows that he is serious about getting America's fiscal house in order. Paul Ryan's voting record also suggests that he believes that social, fiscal and national security conservatism is indivisible. Paul Ryan's philosophy clearly includes the understanding that America's financial greatness is tied directly to its moral and cultural wholeness.

As a member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, he has been a defender of religious expression in the public square. Paul Ryan has spoken out strongly against President Obama's abortion drug and contraception mandates as an affront to religious liberty. He has articulately described how the President's government takeover of health care has pushed aside our First Amendment right of religious freedom.

We look forward to hearing Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit so that the conservative grassroots will have an opportunity to hear more about their agenda on the critical issues facing our country including religious liberty, marriage, the sanctity of human life as well as fiscal responsibility and national security.

The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjore Dannenfelser hailed Ryan’s rejection of a “culture war truce.”

“By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. “A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no ‘truce’ when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney’s campaign.

“Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections,” continued Dannenfelser. “The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base – we are thrilled with this pick.”

The Catholic Association called Ryan an “excellent choice” since “he has been thoughtful and articulate in applying Catholic principles to the other challenges facing America.”

We believe Governor Romney has made an excellent choice. As a smart, serious Catholic, Congressman Ryan has been steadfast on issues of fundamental principle – defending religious liberty, life, and traditional marriage.

In addition, he has been thoughtful and articulate in applying Catholic principles to the other challenges facing America.

The American Center for Law and Justice’s David French noted Ryan’s opposition to reproductive rights.

In the next days and weeks, there will be a lot of attention on Paul Ryan’s economic expertise and experience with fiscal reform. He became famous in political circles for the “Ryan budget” and for his fearlessness and effectiveness in challenging President Obama in the midst of the Obamacare debate. But what many may not know is that Paul Ryan is a man completely committed to the cause of life.

Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families is glad this “youthful, forward-looking ticket [is] reminding us that with the right choices America's best days are still ahead of us.”

Just moments ago, Governor Mitt Romney formally announced his selection of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate. He made the announcement at a naval museum in Norfolk, Virginia, with the USS Wisconsin as his backdrop. This is a bold choice, and I am very excited about this pick!

The selection of Paul Ryan shows Governor Romney is serious about confronting the fiscal challenges facing our country. It shows the kind of talented and experienced team Governor Romney will put together that will work for American exceptionalism.

Ryan is a strong conservative. He is pro-life and believes in traditional marriage. Of course, what he is most known for is entitlement reform and stopping the growth of government. He's 42 with a young family.

So this will be a youthful, forward-looking ticket, reminding us that with the right choices America's best days are still ahead of us. It will be a stark contrast to Obama's failed tax and spend policies that are taking us down the dead-end road of European-style socialism. It's clear which presidential ticket is serious about making real change!

Glenn Beck Goes to War against 'Horrifying' but 'Brilliant' Glee

Earlier this year, Glenn Beck interviewed televangelist James Robison about the dangers of Glee, which Robison said was being used by “the Enemy” to “bring us down.” Today at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s summit in Washington D.C., Beck said that not only is Glee sending a “horrifying” message to children but that he will create his own “Oedipus project” to “push back” against Glee’s supposedly harmful cultural impact.


It was a year ago I was watching the show Glee with my wife and we watched it like this—[gasp]—I mean, it’s horrifying some of the things that they are teaching high schoolers, but it’s brilliantly done, it’s brilliantly done. It’s produced brilliantly. It’s music, brilliant; it’s acting, brilliant; it’s cinematography, brilliant. I said this to her at the end, this was a year or a year and a half ago, ‘We lose, there is no way to beat that.’ Well, yes there is. We spent about a year now trying to put together a push back with artists, with music. Not the stereotypical conservative Lee Greenwood music, I call it my Oedipus project because the left will be making out with me and they will never see it coming. Somebody will say, ‘don’t you know who produced that music?’ ‘No, I really like it, it’s great.’ Oh yes, yes it is.

Beck: 'I Have Seen the Finger of God'

Most of the speakers and panels at today's Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing were disappointingly dull, but Ralph Reed wisely scheduled Glenn Beck to close out the afternoon program by delivering just the sort of tear-filled, impassioned speech that only Glenn Beck can provide. 

During his speech, Beck declared repeatedly that "I have seen the finger of God" and assured the audience that miracles are coming ... but only if we turn back to God , warning that if we don't God "is going to withdraw his protection" over this nation: 

Jim Martin Says if Lying was a Crime, Obama would be 'Behind Bars'

Jim Martin of the pro-corporate, Koch Brothers-funded 60 Plus Association, which claims to be the conservative alternative to the AARP, told attendees at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Washington D.C. summit today that if lying was a crime, President Obama would be in jail. “Candidate Obama said we won’t deal with lobbyists, we’ll be open, we’ll be out front, we’ll be transparent,” Martin said in reference to the negotiations over the health care reform law. “Look, if lying were a federal or criminal offense, then the President of the United States and half of his senior staff would right now be behind bars, it is that simple.”


Ralph Reed’s Tea Party Luncheon

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition kicked off its 2012 conference with a splashy show of the Reed’s political muscle in the form of three U.S. Senators.  Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida all delivered speeches that reflect Reed’s goal for 2012 and beyond: merging the messages and organizing energies of the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right movements to elect conservative Republicans.

“American exceptionalism” was a major theme of the day – defined generally as America being uniquely blessed by God for its commitment to limited government and free-market economics grounded in a belief that individual rights come from God.  And – no surprise -- President Obama was portrayed as an enemy of faith and freedom.

Portman declared that the Obama administration had treated freedom of religion as a “second-class right.”  He argued that life should be held sacred “from conception til death.”

 DeMint charged the President with wanting a country and economy run from the top down, and called for a stop to government “purging faith” from the American way of life. “We need to realize we’re blessed,” said DeMint. “We need to know that we’re in trouble. And we need to know that 2012 may be our last chance to turn this thing around.”

Reed introduced Rubio as one of the greatest talents and most transformational figures that any of us have ever seen.  Rubio, who is hawking a new book, argued that social and fiscal conservatism are indistinguishable, and that the notion of God as the source of freedom is essential to freedom itself.  “You cannot have your freedom without your faith, because the source of your freedom is your faith.”  He argued that calling for the wealthy to pay more taxes is “divisive” and pits Americans against each other for the purposes of winning an election, claiming, “that is never who we have been.” (Surely even Rubio does not actually believe that the Republican Party and Tea Party have never run divisive campaigns in order to win elections.)

Listening to Rubio, you can understand why GOP strategists have such high hopes for him. He calls on people to help their neighbors. He says the conservative movement is not about imposing its values on others or leaving people behind.  He says conservatives want drinking water to be clean and the air to be breathable. (In reality, of course, policies backed by today’s far-right GOP would indeed impose their values on others, leave millions of Americans behind, and eviscerate regulations that protect our families’ food, air, and water.)

Before the conference started, an FFC press release claimed that its activists will be “phoning, mailing, and knocking on the doors of 27 million conservative and pro-family voters, distributing 35 million voter guides, and making a total of 120 million voter contacts” in 2012. At today’s luncheon, Reed encouraged members of the audience to imagine what could happen with another 10 or 20 senators like Rubio.  Yes, just imagine.

Romney and Santorum Rally with Corrupt Lobbyist Ralph Reed in Wisconsin

Tomorrow morning in Waukesha, WI, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, among others (Gov. Scott Walker is listed as an invited speaker), will rally with corrupt former lobbyist Ralph Reed and the state chapter of his Faith & Freedom Coalition, which Reed created to rehabilitate his image in the wake of his deep involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Here are the event details:
It is our distinct pleasure to invite you to the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Presidential Kick-Off, sponsored by the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Coalition, to be held at the Country Springs Hotel on Saturday, March 31st in Waukesha, WI.  Come hear from CONFIRMED speakers Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Rick Santorum, and Speaker Newt Gingrich.
When Romney and Santorum – the standard–bearers of the GOP – appear on stage tomorrow with Reed, they’ll be embracing a corrupt hustler who has survived scandal after scandal by delivering cash and foot soldiers to Republican leaders (and not for the first time).
It wasn’t long ago that Ralph Reed was damaged goods in Republican circles, and for good reason. Reed came to national prominence as the first executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, beginning in 1989. However, by 1997 the groups finances were collapsing, the FEC had found that the group violated federal campaign finance laws in 1990, 1992, and 1994, and federal prosecutors were investigating allegations of financial misconduct made by the organization’s CFO. So Reed resigned and moved to Georgia to become a lobbyist.
In 1999, Abramoff hired Reed and ultimately paid him $1.3 million to generate opposition to legalizing video poker and a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama. The money came from the Choctaw Tribe, which runs a casino in nearby Mississippi. Reed used his extensive Religious Right contacts and engaged James Dobson and the Alabama Christian Coalition, which had a policy against being the “recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” He funneled $850,000 to the group, but made sure to launder it through his longtime friend Grover Norquist’s organization, Americans for Tax Reform.
Before the wheels came off Jack Abramoff’s criminal lobbying enterprise, he described Reed to his business partner as “a bad version of us.” Abramoff, explaining the comment after being released from prison, said that Reed was “a tap dancer and constantly just asking for money.” And Abramoff knows more than a thing or two about Reed. He gave Reed his first job after college and, along with Norquist, formed what some called the “triumvirate” at the College Republican National Committee.
After the Abramoff scandal broke, Reed claimed that he had “no direct knowledge of [Abramoff’s lobbying firm’s] clients or their interests,” but the Senate Indian Affairs Committee determined that Abramoff told Reed as early as 1999 that he was taking casino money. In an interview last year with Alan Colmes, Abramoff called Reed’s denial ridiculous:
Abramoff: It's ridiculous. I mean, even the tribes that had other business, 99% of their revenue came from gaming. But a lot of those tribes had nothing but gaming.
Colmes: So, in other words, Ralph Reed was saying "hey, I'll work with you but I don't want to be paid with gambling money, I'm too clean for that." But are you saying that conversation never happened?
Abramoff: No. Never happened. Ralph didn't want it out that he was getting gambling money and, frankly, that was his choice and I think it was a big mistake.
Reed went on to become the chair of the Georgia Republican Party in 2001 and ran for lieutenant governor in 2006. However, the Abramoff scandal had broken by then, and Reed “suffered an embarrassing defeat” in the primary. The New York Times described Reed as a “close associate of Jack Abramoff” whose “candidacy was viewed as a test of the effects of the Washington lobbying scandal on core Republican voters.”
In 2009, Reed founded the Faith & Freedom Coalition to help resurrect his image and stature in the movement. Faith & Freedom, which Reed described as a “21st Century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids,” is really just a Tea Party-stained version of the original, and much smaller despite the steroids.
However, Reed is an operator in the truest sense, and knows how to “tap dance” and “constantly ask for money” with the best of them. He has apparently earned, and I do mean earned, his way back into the good graces of Republican leaders. It’s unclear, however, how long Reed can go without another scandal.
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Faith and Freedom Coalition Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Monday 06/23/2014, 10:55am
One of Ralph Reed’s most infamous statements — “I want to be invisible. I do guerilla warfare…You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag” — came in an era of school board takeovers by stealth Religious Right candidates. But stealth is so 1990s. At the Road to Majority conference sponsored by Reed’s Faith and Freedom coalition last weekend, a member of the Ohio state board of education openly called on conservative Christians to take over the educational system and return it to a foundation of “biblical truth.” Mark... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 06/20/2014, 10:55am
Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and a regular campaign surrogate, delivered his usual stump speech at today’s Road to Majority summit, filled with David Barton-inspired pseudo-history and Christian Nationalism. Echoing Barton, Cruz preached Seven Mountains Dominionism, which as we have noted in the past seeks to give right-wing Christians authority “over the seven forces that shape and control our culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.” While preaching against the separation of... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 06/20/2014, 10:25am
Gary Bauer told the audience at today’s Road to Majority summit that President Obama is “obsessed” with gay issues, an ironic statement for a conference full of activists who have dedicated their political careers to opposing gay rights. Bauer later said that Obama “repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for homosexuals and replaced it with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for Christians.” He added that if the president’s “secular” agenda is successful, “the Republic will be destroyed.” MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/20/2014, 9:42am
Speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road To Majority" conference today, Ralph Reed declared that after Republicans gain total control over Congress in the midterm elections, conservatives "are not going to stop" until they completely abolish the IRS and raze its headquarters to the ground "and build a monument on the rubble so that future generations will know that we stood up and stopped tyranny": Later, Reed once again promised big results in the midterm elections, saying "the cavalry is on its way" but also warning that there is only... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 06/19/2014, 3:29pm
Monica Crowley of Fox News served as the emcee for a “legislative luncheon” that kicked off the “Road to Majority” conference sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. The speakers’ lineup – Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Allen West, and John Bolton – promised a butcher shop’s worth of red meat for right-wing activists, and Crowley must have decided she didn’t want to be overshadowed. She complained that she has both a Marxist president and mayor (New York’s Bill de Blasio) and asserted that “we are in a... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 06/19/2014, 9:35am
According to the schedule [PDF] for tomorrow’s Road to Majority summit, the annual event organized by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Family Research Council vice president Jerry Boykin’s address will be followed by a speech by Grover Norquist, the Americans for Tax Reform leader. This might be a bit awkward since Boykin has frequently smeared Norquist as a secret Islamist, claiming that the conservative lobbyist is a “is a Muslim Brotherhood facilitator” who “has been involved with some very questionable insurgent elements from the Muslim... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 06/04/2014, 1:25pm
Today, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition announced that Gov. Chris Christie will speak at its “Road to Majority” conference this month, where perhaps Reed can offer the embattled governor advice on how to downplay scandals. But the director of the New Jersey Faith and Freedom Coalition, Larry Cirignano, doesn’t seem to be much of a fan of his state’s governor. On his Facebook page, Cirignano has posted columns attacking Christie from the right, including articles titled “Chris Christie dooms NJ to judicial activism and himself to obscurity” and... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 05/06/2014, 11:38am
Religious Right groups are celebrating yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding sectarian prayer at official public meetings – like city council sessions – and narrowly defining what would amount to unconstitutional religious coercion of people attending. The case is Town of Greece v. Galloway. Though divided on their reasoning, the Court’s five conservative Justices upheld a practice in which, month after month, year after year, town leaders reached out to Christians and Christians only to offer opening prayers at town meetings, prayers that were often quite... MORE >