Faith and Freedom Coalition

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.

[continue reading]
 

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.

Watch:

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.”

Watch:

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.

Tom DeLay, Out on Bail, Reunites with Abramoff buddy Ralph Reed at Faith and Freedom Rally

Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) is out on bail after he was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay was also subject to an investigation over his links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In fact, DeLay played a central role in the Abramoff scandal on the illegal use of Indian gambling money.

Another member of the Abramoff’s crooked scheme was Religious Right activist Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. Abramoff stealthily financed Reed’s anti-gambling organization in Alabama with money from casinos in Mississippi that were afraid of increased competition. Reed claimed he didn’t know it was gambling money, claims Abramoff laughed off as “ridiculous.” In a humiliating defeat, Reed lost his 2006 race to be the Republican nominee of Lt. Governor of Georgia, and in 2009 founded the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Does it come as a surprise to anyone that DeLay, while out on bail, will be speaking at a Faith Freedom Coalition rally in Texas?

Surely, DeLay and Reed are the best people to talk about the importance of America’s “time-honored values” and “sound public policy at every level of government.”

The only thing that could make DeLay and Reed’s Texas rally more perfect would be if Jack Abramoff himself made an appearance. Too bad he now works for the ethics watchdog United Republic.

Reed: There is Nothing Obama Won't do to Win Re-Election

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.

So it is a little ironic to see him speaking to the Palms West Republican Club in Florida recently, in a video recorded and posted by Conservative New Media, as he warns that there is no candidate who is as tough, mean, and cynical as President Obama and that his campaign will be "coming with a knife in an alley" to launch an all-out scorched earth campaign against the Republican nominee:

Romney Blasts Obama's 'Assaults' on 'Life', 'Religion' and 'Marriage'

On a conference call last night with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Mitt Romney laced into President Obama, arguing that he is leading an “assault on life,” an “assault on religion” and an “assault on marriage” as part of a larger “assault on American values.” With Gingrich quickly moving up the polls in Florida with the support of more conservative, evangelical voters, Romney used the conference call to pick up the same rhetoric used by unsuccessful candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann and dish out red meat to Religious Right voters.

Romney, once a stalwart defender of Roe v. Wade, said President Obama shows a “disregard for the sanctity of human life [that] is absolutely appalling” and is leading an “assault on life” by rescinding the Mexico City Gag Rule, which bars the government from funding NGOs that use their own finances for family planning which include abortion services or referrals. Romney also distorted Obama’s statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, claiming that the President thinks pregnant women “can get rid of the child and therefore have an equal opportunity,” when actually Obama concluded his statement by saying that “we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

He went on to say that Obama is conducting an “assault on religion” through the administration’s opposition to employment discrimination on religious grounds and attempts to ensure that women cannot be refused birth control coverage in their insurance plans or medical procedures because of loopholes, calling it “an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.”

Romney concluded his diatribe by attacking a push for equal rights for gays and lesbians as an “assault on marriage,” and pledged to promote the Federal Marriage Amendment and stop Obama from paving “the path to same-sex marriage.”

Listen:

Romney: I think he is detached from reality when he says that he wants to ‘reclaim American values.’ There has been in my view an assault on American values since the beginning of his administration. Clearly from the beginning the assault on life with his abandonment of the Mexico City Policy and with the Vice President being sent to China and saying we understand the one-child policy there and of course the abuses associated with that policy are alarming and disturbing, and then on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade just a couple of days ago he said that the wonderful thing about Roe v. Wade is that it provides an equal opportunity for girls to equal boys, meaning that they don’t have to have a child anymore, if they become pregnant they can get rid of the child and therefore have an equal opportunity. The disregard for the sanctity of human life is absolutely appalling.

Then of course there’s the assault on religion. I think a lot of people were surprised that he felt that the government should be able to determine who is and who is not a minister and fortunately the Supreme Court disagreed with him on that, but now he’s gone forward and said that religious institutions, universities, hospitals and so forth, religious institutions have to provide free contraceptives to all their employees, even if that religious institution is opposed to the use of contraception, as in the case of the Catholic Church. Even in that regard, fighting to eliminate the conscience clause for health care workers who wish not to provide abortion services or contraceptives in their workplace, in their hospital for instance. It’s an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.

There’s been an assault on marriage. I think he is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage. I would unlike this president defend the Defense of Marriage Act. I would also propose and promote once again an amendment to the constitution to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

GOP Presidentials Line Up to Kiss Ralph Reed's...Ring

Remember that “game-changing” endorsement of Rick Santorum by a group of evangelical leaders desperate to deny the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney?  As Brian reports, there wasn’t really that much of a consensus in Texas.  And it certainly didn’t make it to South Carolina, where Romney, Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry all paraded before a gathering convened by Ralph Reed’s “Faith and Freedom Coalition” just hours before the latest debate.  All had their fans in the crowd, and Gingrich seemed to have more, or at least more vocal, backers, than Santorum.

“We are here today because we say unapologetically and unequivocally that there cannot be true freedom without faith in almighty God,” announced the disgraced-and-rebounding Reed, who led the Christian Coalition to prominence in the 1990s and launched the Faith & Freedom coalition in 2009 as a voter turnout machine for conservative evangelicals.  He claims that he is going to register 2 million new voters on his way to compiling a database of 27 million voters who will be contacted over and over up and through Election Day.  “If you thought we turned out in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he warned Democratic leaders.  Reed said “in 2012 we’re going to stand up and be counted and we’re going to say that people with faith in God aren’t what’s wrong with America, they’re what’s right with America and we need more of them engaged and more of them involved.” 

The audience may not have been united on a candidate, but the candidates were unanimous in their avowed devotion to the Religious Right’s anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda, and their promises to fight “secularism” and the Obama administration’s alleged love affair with European-style “socialism” and its supposed “war on religion.” Also on the list: promises to repeal “Obamacare,” appoint right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, and shrink government.  Reed promised that a Republican Congress and president would “dramatically slash” the corporate tax rate and take the capital gains tax to zero.

Rick Perry, whose once-mighty support has virtually evaporated in recent months, promised to set the audience on fire.  His rambling remarks – punctuated with fist-pumping exclamations like “God and country!” – were well received, but South Carolina doesn’t seem likely to resurrect his candidacy.

The Supreme Court

Several candidates and their backers talked about the importance of the next president’s ability to appoint Supreme Court justices.  Jay Sekulow, head of the Religious Right legal group American Center for Law & Justice, is one of Romney’s most prominent Religious Right backers.  Sekulow talked about counting to five when he prepares Supreme Court cases, and said he was confident that with a President Romney making appointments in the mold of Justices Roberts and Alito, “I’m not going to have to worry about my math skills.” Reed, who introduced Gingrich, cited Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito as the kind of justices he was looking forward to – and not someone like Sotomayor.  The Obama administration’s Justice Department also came in for sharp criticism, with Reed saying that Attorney General Eric Holder needs to “go back to where he came from.”

Pursuit of Happiness: The Gay Exception

One candidate after another cited the Declaration of Independence’s reference to the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”  -- and then went on to call for a constitutional amendment that would prevent any state from allowing same-sex couples to get married.  Romney said he would defend the Defense of Marriage Act and called for a constitutional amendment on marriage.  Santorum said government based on the principles of strong faith and strong families was needed to constrain bad behavior and immoral activity.  Perry dropped his voice to a dramatic whisper to assure gay people that “I love you regardless of what you’ve done. I hate your sin, but I love you.”

Threats to “Religious Liberty”

Many speakers argued that Christians in America are besieged by rampaging secularists.  Romney said President Obama had put America on a path to being “more and more of a secular nation.” Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) asserted, “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians – no doubt about it.” Rick Perry decried liberals in Congress and on the courts who he said wanted to “whitewash the public square of all spiritual references” and “sanitize from our history books our Judeo-Christian roots.”  “If I am president of the United States, I will not allow them to do it! I will welcome people of faith to the public arena!” said Perry.  “This is our country, ladies and gentlemen. This is our time. And it is time for people of faith to take this country back!”  Romney and Reed promised that 2012 would bring more than political victory; it will bring spiritual awakening and renewal to America.

Ron Paul’s Biblical Economics

Journalist Adele Stan has reported on Ron Paul’s ties to Christian Reconstructionists and their religious view of limited government. Paul cited the Bible to support his monetary policies, saying “The Bible says we’re supposed to have honest currency and we’re not supposed to print the money.”  He also cited Biblical stories from Isaiah and Elijah about the importance of the “remnant” – the small number of people who could be counted on to hear the word of God.  The portrayal of conservative Christians as the righteous remnant is a popular theme at Religious Right gatherings.

Romney v (Gingrich v Santorum)

The current story of the GOP primary seems to be whether Santorum or Gingrich can rally enough conservatives who distrust Romney to wrest the nomination away from him.  On one South Carolina radio station, Gingrich and Santorum ads ran back to back on Monday, each making the “electability” case.  Santorum and Gingrich both attacked Romney’s ability to challenge “Obamacare,” and each used their remarks to argue that they could best carry the banner of unapologetic conservatism.   Santorum bragged that he opposed the Wall Street bailouts while Romney, Gingrich, and Perry supported them.  He claimed that he was the only one whose economic plan was grounded in building strong families.  Gingrich pledged that he would challenge Obama to seven 3-hour Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, even offering to let Obama use a teleprompter (those jokes never go out of style at GOP gatherings), saying, “I think I can tell the truth without notes better than he can lie with a teleprompter.”  Gingrich’s brashness was mirrored in the comments of Rep. Trent Franks, who once called President Obama an “enemy of humanity,” told the Faith & Freedom crowd that in a debate with President Obama, Gingrich “will eat Mr. Obama’s cookies and all accoutrements thereto.”

Appropriating a Sanitized MLK

Several speakers noted that the Faith & Freedom rally and GOP debate were taking place on Martin Luther King Day.  Romney expressed admiration for King, who he referred to as “a great man.”  But King’s Poor People’s Campaign and demand for government help in finding people jobs would not have won any praise from Romney or others at this event.  Neither would Jesus’ teaching that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  Building on the backlash against Gingrich and Perry’s criticism of Romney’s record as a “vulture capitalist,” Romney denounced “class warfare” and charged that Obama wants to create an “entitlement society.”  Obama, he said, wants to replace ambition with envy, and “poison the American spirit by replacing a sense of unity with a sense of class warfare.”  According to Romney, believing “one nation under God” means not noticing economic inequality. Others took the same line. Santorum, who says it’s un-American to even talk about a “middle class,” said Obama “wants to rule us” and thinks he can win by “dividing America up.”  He said that Obama is destroying the incentive to create wealth.

In his eagerness to rally the Founding Fathers to his side, Romney mangled history in a way that called attention to the importance of MLK Day being more about learning and less about empty platitudes.  According to Romney, the Founders’ choice of words about the unalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence indicated that they meant to create an opportunity society.  “This would be a nation where people would pursue happiness according to their dreams,” said Romney. “We would not be limited by the circumstances of our birth, we would not be limited by our race or gender…”   Well, Mr. Romney, we’re closer to that ideal, thanks to the work of Martin Luther King and countless others, but the founders were quite willing to limit people’s opportunities based on race and gender.  And they weren’t the last.

Gingrich Floats Choosing Sarah Palin as Vice President, Energy Secretary

Last night during a tele-town hall hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, a caller asked Newt Gingrich if he would consider choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate if he wins the Republican nomination. Gingrich responded that Palin “is certainly one of the people you would look at” and told the caller that he is “a great admirer of hers,” saying “she was a remarkable reform governor of Alaska.” He also floated appointing Palin to a Cabinet position such as Energy Secretary because he “can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin.” Earlier this week, Gingrich pledged to fill the judiciary with graduates of the far-right Liberty and Regent University.

Caller: If you’re fortunate enough to be nominated, would you consider having Sarah Palin as your running mate?

Gingrich: She is certainly one of the people you would look at. I am a great admirer of hers and she was a remarkable reform governor of Alaska, she’s somebody who I think brings a great deal to the possibility of helping in government and that would be one of the possibilities. There are also some very important Cabinet positions that she could fill very, very well. I can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin, for example. Tell her that she would certainly be on the list of one of the people we would consider.

Rick Perry, Quoting Isaiah, Answers God: "Here Am I; Send Me!"

Rick Perry, Quoting Isaiah, Asks God: “Here I am! Send Me!” Last night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has been working vigorously to court Religious Right activists, appeared on a conference call with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition where he spent most of the time discussing his accomplishments in Texas and his committed opposition to abortion rights and gay rights. He quoted Ezekiel 22:30 to call on Americans to “stand in the gap” by fighting “for the unborn and for the traditional values” and against “the secular left.” Perry also claimed that God is commissioning leaders to “get our country back,” and cited Isaiah 6:8: ““Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’”

Perry: I just want to challenge you tonight that the values that are going to be decided in Washington DC and in our state capitals, somebody’s values are going to be what are used to put legislation in place. I think the question is: whose values? And are people of faith going to stand in the gap for the unborn and for the traditional values that America was founded upon? Or are we going to continue to cede more ground to the secular left because of their threatening to sue us or the ACLU or the various, sundry groups. I think we don’t have a choice. If we’re going to get our country back, we have to stand in the gap; we have to be the ones that will stand up. As it says in Isaiah, in chapter 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’”

Tom Emmer Joins Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition

Tom Emmer, the former Republican state legislator who lost his bid for Minnesota governor last year to Democrat Mark Dayton, today was named chairman of the state chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Ralph Reed launched the FFC to be a new and improved Christian Coalition with a special emphasis on linking tea party activists to the Religious Right. Emmer’s gubernatorial bid gained national attention after he indirectly received support from corporations like Target, BestBuy and 3M, who financed a pro-Emmer group, and for his zealous anti-gay beliefs. Emmer donated to the extremist group You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, led by right-wing extremist Bradlee Dean, and even opposed bullying-prevention legislation because it would address anti-gay bullying. He also showed his “support” for “family values” when he proposed legislation that would reduce the penalties for drunk driving, and Emmer himself was ticketed twice for driving under the influence:

The Faith & Freedom Coalition is pleased to announce that it has named Tom Emmer as the organization’s Minnesota Chairman.

Emmer joins the Minnesota Faith & Freedom Coalition amidst a distinguished law career of over 20 years, during which time he grew his firm to over 20 employees. That business combined with his legislative time in the Minnesota state house will serve the Minnesota Faith & Freedom Coalition well. “I’m excited about this opportunity to work with the Minnesota Faith & Freedom Coalition toward building a stronger conservative grassroots movement in Minnesota as we seek to restore America’s greatness and founding principles.” said Emmer.

The Minnesota Faith & Freedom Coalition is committed to educating voters on how new tax increases would impact family budgets as well as the bottom-line of small businesses. Minnesota FFC seeks to empower voters to express their views about what is best for Minnesota families at every level of government. The Minnesota Faith & Freedom Coalition believes strongly that Minnesota state legislators should hear from their constituents who are closest to the grassroots; not from the bullhorns of special interest groups and public employee unions.
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Faith and Freedom Coalition Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 05/06/2014, 12:38pm
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 >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 05/05/2014, 3:08pm
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today overturned a ruling by the Second Circuit appeals court and upheld the practice of an upstate New York town that begins its council meetings with prayers that are almost always given by Christian clergy. Religious Right groups are celebrating the ruling; Ralph Reed announced that his Faith and Freedom coalition would use the ruling to “redouble its efforts” to encourage more prayers at city and county government meetings. Both the decision and the Religious Right's responses are likely to invite more religiously divisive... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Monday 03/31/2014, 10:01am
Last month, we wrote that the Iowa Republican Party had picked a new co-chair , Danny Carroll, a social conservative culture warrior who serves as a lobbyist for The Family Leader. Shortly after Carroll became co-chair, the state party chairman, libertarian-leaning A.J. Spiker, announced that he was resigning from his position. And this weekend, Carroll was elected to replace him as the chairman of the Iowa GOP. It’s unclear how long Carroll’s reign over the state party will last and if he will still be at its helm in 2016, when he would be in charge of running the Iowa... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 03/19/2014, 11:00am
Pat Robertson’s protégé Ralph Reed, who formerly ran Robertson’s Christian Coalition and now leads the Faith & Freedom Coalition, appeared on the 700 Club today to discuss his new book, “Awakening.” Reed said that after the GOP’s defeat in the 2012 election, he realized that the United States can only “turn around” and return to greatness if the Religious Right rises into a powerful political force as it did in the 1980s. Robertson added that Reed’s book seems to take “a page out of my playbook” from his 1988... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 03/12/2014, 1:51pm
After delivering his remarks at CPAC, Ralph Reed sat down with the PolitiChicks to discuss the lack of attention given to social issues like gay marriage or abortion at the conference. Reed said it was unfortunate that these issues did not receive more attention not only at CPAC but from Republican candidates in general "because I think they're winning issues." These sorts of social issues "never go away," Reed said, so any Republican running for office needs to just "plant your feet, stand and fight, and make it clear where you stand." What is particularly... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 03/07/2014, 12:50pm
Speaking at CPAC, today, Ralph Reed defended Louisiana’s constitutionally dubious voucher program -- which the Department of Justice warned was resegregating schools -- by comparing President Obama to notorious segregationist George Wallace. The Faith and Freedom Coalition head told CPAC today that Obama was harming black children and lifted from the spiritual “Go Down, Moses,” to tell Obama: “Let those children go!” Reed also chastised “left-wing bullies” for defeating Arizona’s right-to-discriminate bill and completely misrepresented the... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/11/2014, 3:24pm
It looks as if right-wing grifter Ralph Reed has a new book coming out soon entitled "Awakening: How America Can Turn from Moral and Economic Destruction Back to Greatness." In an effort to promote the book, Reed has filmed a series of short videos highlighting different aspects of the topics covered in his book, including one that purports to reveal with "real" Barack Obama, whom Reed met back in 1997 when they both served on a Harvard working group tasked with studying "civil engagement and social capital." Reed says his participation in that working group was... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 12/10/2013, 6:10pm
Even after a Texas school district refuted an erroneous report from Fox News reporter Todd Starnes alleging that the district is banning Christmas trees and the colors red and green, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition yesterday decided to run with the story anyway in order to scare its members about the “War on Christmas.” In August, TX Gov. Rick Perry signed into law the “Merry Christmas Bill,” which legally permits students and teacher to use traditional holiday greetings such as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” and also... MORE >