Family Research Council

When Two Become One: Rifqa Bary And The Religious Right's Battle Against Islam

For the last few days, I've been covering the right-wing effort to mobilize it own Christian forces to counter the "dark spiritual content" of the upcoming Muslim prayer rally.  Tonight, activists gathered for a conference call/prayer rally hosted by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, headed by Shirely Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Lou Engle of The Call, and featuring other activists like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Cindy Jacobs.

Tonight, this effort revealed itself to be part of the much larger Religious Right battle against Islam in America when the Religious Right's latest cause célèbre, Rifqa Bary, joined the conference call.

At the beginning of the clip, Lou Engle is told by one of the other participants that "their little sister" is on the line, at which point Engle introduces Rifqa Bary to the conference call participants and asks her to share her story.  Bary, sounding like a somewhat nervous but otherwise perfectly average teenager, recounts her conversion to Christianity and her decision to flee from the home of her Muslim parents in Ohio.  Following that, Engle declared Bary to be "an Esther for such a time as this" and asks her to lead the call in prayer, which she agrees to do, at which point she becomes seemingly hysterical and rather incoherent while sobbing and praying, making it nearly impossible to understand what she is saying outside of her repeated cries to Jesus.

And then, just like that, she stops, seemingly catching the other participants off guard until Engle then chimes in with his own fervent prayers to God to "use Rifqa to be an Esther." Soon Engle is joined by various others, all of whom pray for this modern day Esther who will lead Muslims out of Islam and into Christianity while asking God to spread Rifqa's "so that the testimony of Jesus will go out to CNN, will go out to talk shows and use this little story so that all across America the Gospel will be preached" and to "expose the hidden darkness that is rolling into the nation through these ideologies."

Eventually, Engle unmutes the conference call's participants and asks them all to pray for Rifqa, at which point the call the descends into little more than chaos and static:

Muslim Prayer Rally Sets Off a Full-Blown Right Wing Crusade

In my last post, I noted that the upcoming Muslim prayer rally has, over the last few days, suddenly become a full-fledged Religious Right crusade to save America from the Islam's "dark spiritual intent" and that activists are vowing to "storm the gates of hell to defeat the false god of Islam."

It seems that with every hour that passes, more and more Religious Right leaders are getting involved, to the point that this is now pretty much a full-blown holy war between the right-wing Christian activists and the organizers of this Muslim prayer rally.

The latest development is this press release highlighting a letter signed by a variety of Religious Right leaders under a newly formed group called The Ad Hoc Committee of Americans for Transparency and Honesty in Religion demanding that organizers of rally to denounce acts of terrorism:

Muslim Americans assure us that Islam categorically rejects terrorism and that the concept of "jihad" refers to a "spiritual struggle," and has nothing whatsoever to do with "holy war."

However, the Letter notes that, "Around the world, the overwhelming number of terrorist acts are carried out by Muslims, that many Muslim-American groups have terrorist ties and that justification for acts of violence against 'infidels' is found in the Koran."

Signers of the letter ask rally organizers to disavow the following acts of terrorism, "committed by Muslims, in the name of Islam":

• The 9/11 attacks (more than 3,000 dead)

• The 2002 bombing of a hotel in Netanya, Israel (30 killed)

• The 2002 Bali bombings (202 dead)

• The 2007 plot to murder soldiers at Ft. Dix

• The 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India (173 dead)

• The 2009 conspiracy to bomb a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx

The letter asks recipients if they are "willing to join millions of other people of faith in America and denounce these and similar acts of terrorism?"

The letter can be found here [PDF] and appears to have been organized by Rick Scarborough of Vision America, as his is the only name listed on the above press release while the letter itself is hosted on his organization's website. Below is the list of signers:

Ted Baehr – Christian Film and Television Commission
Brian Camenker – President, Mass Resistance
Christopher Carmouche – Chairman, GrassTopsUSA
Joseph Farah – Editor and CEO, WorldNetDaily
Don Feder -- former syndicated columnist, Don Feder Associates
William J. Federer -- American Minute
Linda Harvey – President, Mission America
Bishop E.W. Jackson -- Exodus Faith Ministries
Phillip Jauregui – President, Judicial Action Group
Rabbi Daniel Lapin – President, American Alliance of Jews and Christians
William J. Murray – Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition
C. Preston Noell – President, Tradition, Family and Property
Tony Perkins – President, Family Research Council
Dr. Kevin Roberts – Executive Director, Catholic Families of America
Rick Scarborough -- Vision America Action
Mat Staver – founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Mike Valerio – Mike and Helen Valerio Foundation
Richard Viguerie – Conservative
Herb Zweibon – Chairman, Americans for A Safe Israel

In fairness, I feel I ought to point out that not all Religious Right leaders are joining in this effort to wage a holy war against Islam, as earlier this week Rob Schenck and Patrick Mahoney issued a statement welcoming the prayer vigil:

Rev. Rob Schenck, President of the National Clergy Council, comments,

"With over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, it is important that Christians have an open dialogue with the Islamic community. The church must never be timid in reaching out to peoples and groups with differing beliefs and traditions. Too much is at stake for future generations not to begin this historic conversation. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss."

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, adds,

"The heart of Christ is to reach out and build bridges to all peoples regardless of what their faith traditions or beliefs might be. Several years ago the Christian Defense Coalition began reaching out to the Muslim world which resulted in a prayer delegation going to Baghdad to pray for the nation of Iraq and Prime Minister Maliki (see photo).

"Since then we have had many conversations and discussions with Islamic leaders in Washington, D.C. and around the world. This news conference gives us another chance to dialogue and share with our Islamic neighbors.

"It also gives us the platform to celebrate the greatness of America where everyone is allowed to practice their faith tradition in the public square free from government interference of harassment. The prayer vigil on the lawn of the Capitol this Friday highlights that timeless truth.

"Since 9/11, the church should not run from Muslims in America but begin reaching out with God's love."

Religious Right Mobilizes to Counter Muslim Prayer Rally's "Dark Spiritual Intent"

Earlier today I wrote about the fact that Lou Engle, David Barton, and the Family Research Council were raising warning flags about the Muslim prayer rally in Washington, DC on Friday and urging their own activists to hold their own prayer rallies in an effort to convent Muslims to Christianity and fight the elevation of Islam in America.

Now, these forces are teaming up with the National Day of Prayer Task Force to mobilize their own Christian forces for a rival prayer rally/conference call:

It is critical that the church in America understands the times and what needs to be done now. The natural things speak of the invisible. Natural happenings on the earth are revealing something that is going on in the spiritual realm. There is a great spiritual conflict with a rising tide of Islamic boldness being manifested.

Our President has recently honored the Muslim holy days of prayer and fasting called Ramadan. Interestingly at the same time a major Christian leader of the Emergent Church called for forty days of fasting and prayer in the same Ramadan period with the goal that the church will better understand our Muslim friends. We advocate for understanding, but we must have spiritual discernment as to the spiritual dark powers that are being invoked into our nation.

At the same time, on the 25th of September, Muslims are calling for a Muslim Day of Prayer in Washington DC ( They are calling for 50,000 Muslims to gather and pray on the DC Mall. This is the exact word of one of the Sheikhs who is leading this historic gathering, "Muslims should march on the White House. We are going to the White House so that Islam will be victorious, Allah willing, and the White House will become into a Muslim house." These are not empty words. They speak of a dark spiritual intent and a coming day of great trouble to America.

Therefore we are calling Christians all over America to join Lou Engle, Shirley Dobson, Tony Perkins, David Barton, and many other major leaders in America to a national conference call to pray for America. Please join us on Thursday, September 24th from 7:30PM to 9:00PM Eastern Time for possibly one of the greatest moments in American history.

Call: 712-338-8100
Alternate Dial in Numbers: 218-486-1400, 507-726-3200
Participant Passcode: 637# (NDP#)

Time Zones:
7:30 - 9 pm EASTERN
6:30 - 8 pm CENTRAL
5:30 - 7 pm MOUNTAIN
4:30 - 6 pm PACIFIC

Rifqa Bary and "The Strange Case Of The Philandering, Muslim-Threat-Hyping FBI Agent"

Talking Points Memo has a good profile of former FBI agent John Guandolo:

An FBI agent who worked on the corruption case of former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson resigned after superiors found a list he wrote of his sexual conquests with agents and a confidential source, according to court documents.

The same agent, John Guandolo, who is married and who unsuccessfully solicited a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group from a wealthy witness in the Jefferson case with whom he was having an affair, resigned from the FBI and appears to have landed on his feet on the speaking circuit playing up the threat of Islamic terrorism.

What does that have to do with what we write about here at RightWingWatch, you ask?  Well, it turns out that one of the ways in which he's been "playing up the threat of Islamic terrorism" is by injecting himself into the Rifqa Bary saga.

For instance, last week he penned a piece entitled "Florida Department of Law Enforcement earns an F" for the Center for Security Policy website, claiming that, in his "professional opinion," the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation stating that there was no evidence to support the right-wing allegations against Bary's parents was false, due to "negligence-- and willful blindness" on the part of Florida authorities:

The significant errors and omissions that Mr. Guandolo and other experts have found in this FDLE investigation show a failure in FDLE’s professional responsibility in handling the Rifqa Bary case. Governor Crist and FDLE management need to get new investigators on the job, start over, and this time do it right.

He recently reiterated those claims in a piece in Human Events, and his "expert opinion" is now being cited by groups like the Family Research Council and activists like Robert Knight who are supporting Rifqa in their battle against Islam.

Will Perkins Back Huckabee 2012?

During his presidential campaign, one of Mike Huckabee's biggest and most frequent complaints was that Religious Right insiders were refusing to back his presidential campaign while they were frequently saying nice things about Mitt Romney.

The most notable glaring examples came from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who, though he had nice things to say about Huckabee, not-so-subtly made it clear that he supported Romney.

Following the election, Huckabee continued to complain about this, but there were signs that he and Perkins were beginning to overcome the rift.

And now that Huckabee has won the Values Voter Summitt straw poll, it looks like Perkins might be willing to give serious consideration to the possibility of backing Huckabee if he decides to run again in 2012:

Mike Huckabee was the summit's choice to get the Republican nomination in 2012. Perkins said "When Huckabee spoke this weekend, it's as if he never walked away from his Presidential campaign. He is in touch with people through his many speaking engagements and his talk show." There is no official endorsement of Huckabee by the Family Research Council, but Perkins said, "He looks forward to talking with Huckabee in the upcoming months." Perkins also appeared last Sunday night on Huckabee's show on the Fox News Channel.

The Right Wing Campaign Against Kevin Jennings Hits Fox News

Here we go again.

The right-wing campaign against Kevin Jennings is now getting picked up by the "mainstream media" ... if one can consider Fox News to be a part of the MSM.  Either way, Fox has now posted this long article on Jennings that is basically a collection of the greatest hits of right-wing attacks against him and features quotes from the likes of Peter LaBarbera and Peter Sprigg:

Social conservatives are up in arms about yet another White House czar. This time it's Kevin Jennings, President Obama's director of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (OSDFS).

Jennings was appointed to the position largely because of his longtime record of working to end bullying and discrimination in schools. In 1990, as a teacher in Massachusetts, he founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which now has over 40 chapters at schools nationwide. He has also published six books on gay rights and education, including one that describes his own experiences as a closeted gay student.

But critics say Jennings is too radical for the job, citing what they say is his promotion of homosexuality in schools, his writings about his past drug abuse, his onetime contempt for religion and an incident in 1998 in which he did not report an underage student who told him he was having sex with older men.


"Jennings was obviously chosen for this job because of the safe schools aspect... defining 'safe schools' narrowly in terms of 'safe for homosexuality'," Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, told

"But at least half of the job involves creating drug-free schools, and we've not been offered any evidence about what qualifications Jennings has for promoting drug-free schools."


Sprigg countered that nobody has adequately answered the questions that are being raised about Jennings.

Speaking of Jennings' job, he said: "I think it's unfortunate that [it] is a position that did not require any sort of confirmation process, because there are a lot of serious questions about Jennings and there has not been any forum in which Jennings has been required to answer the questions."

Religious Right Mobilizes To Fight Muslim Prayer Rally

A few weeks back, we noted that there is a national prayer rally scheduled for Washington, D.C. this weekend that organizers expect to attract tens of thousands to pray for the soul of America.  The only difference this time is that the organizers and participants are Muslims, and so of course the Religious Right is upset and voicing concerns.

And so Lou Engle is now rallying his own forces to counter the rally:

[O]n the 25th of September, Muslims are calling for a Muslim Day of Prayer in Washington D.C. They are calling for 50,000 Muslims to gather and pray on the D.C. Mall. This is the exact word of one of the Sheikhs who is leading this historic gathering, “Muslims should march on the White House. We are going to the White House so that Islam will be victorious, Allah willing, and the White House will become into a Muslim house.” These are not empty words. They speak of a dark spiritual intent and a coming day of great trouble to America.

Now one of these events is enough to awaken us to this significant throbbing moment, but when they all converge it becomes a massive spiritual alarm that must be responded to by the praying Church.


This convergence, I believe, is urgently summoning us in the midst of the rising tide of Islamic influence in America to recognize that our God is above every god and that if we return to Him with all of our hearts and call upon Him with fasting and prayer then God could use what the enemy meant for evil to bring about a great day of salvation for Muslims in America.

First of all, we cannot be passive as a Church to let these kinds of developments go on without being challenged in the spirit. Our fight is not against Muslims, it is against principalities, powers, and forces of darkness. We are calling the Church of America at the end of Ramadan, from September 21st through 25th, to five days of concerted prayer ... On Friday, Sept. 25, the Muslim Day of Prayer, we are calling the Church of America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted by the testimony of Christ, and even be visited by Jesus in dreams. We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America.

And the Family Research Council is getting in on the act as well, urging its activists to use the gathering as an opportunity to pray for the conversion of Muslims:

Muslims are preparing for a Friday gathering on Capitol Hill. Group organizers are touting a possible 50,000 attendees for what they say will be a peaceful assembly for purposes of prayer only. We shall see ... Will any of the expected 50,000 attendees affirm loyalty to the U.S. and our constitutional liberties? Or will they pray for shari'ah law to come to America? Join us in praying that the conversion of Muslims to Christianity would not only continue, but accelerate.

As is David Barton, who is warning that Christianity's place at the top of the heap in America is coming under attack:

Historically, on this continent Christian America adopted an open free-market approach to all religions from the beginning. American Christians then (and now) were not fearful of other religions. They were confident that Christianity would prevail on its own merits and they therefore followed the Biblical precedent set forth in both the Old and New Testaments of simply presenting God's word in a straightforward manner, expecting that the Holy Spirit will confirm His word in the hearts of hearers. Christians believe that on a level playing field, Christianity will always prevail through the voluntary choice of the people.

As a result, Christian America welcomed all religions, with Muslims arriving here by 1619, Jews establishing their first synagogue in 1654, and Buddhists, Hindus, and others also being present from the early days. Significantly, only America extended (and continues to extend) a free-market religious tolerance to others while still preserving the core societal values of our Christian heritage. But the culture has begun to shift. The level playing field is being eroded. As in Europe, Christianity is being knocked down and Islam elevated.


As Bible-believing people, let's also make this Friday a day of prayer – and please encourage others to participate with you. We know that our contest is with spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12), and we firmly believe that He Who is within us is greater than any other god or force (1 John 4:4), so I encourage you to fill America with prayer to the True God this coming Friday.

Interestingly, Barton attempts to defend his effort by claiming that he is not calling on Christians to compete with Muslims:

This call for Christians to pray this Friday is not a prayer "competition" between Christianity and Islam, nor is it a spiritual Christian "jihad" or "holy war" (what an oxymoronic term – a holy war!). After all, in I Kings 18, Elijah encouraged the prophets of the god Baal to take more time in their praying; he didn't object to their prayers, he just wanted to make sure that he was able to make his own prayers to the True God. This Friday offers a similar opportunity for those who fear God and believe His Scriptures to offer up their own prayers to Him.

You know, if Barton is going to claim that he is not calling for Christians to compete or wage holy war on Muslims, he should probably not be citing I Kings 18 ... or at least ought to cite it properly to note that Elijah did not merely "want to make sure that he was able to make his own prayers" but actually pitted his god against Baal in competition and then "taunted" Baal's prophets for their god's failure to win - and then killed them all:

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!"

40 Then Elijah commanded them, "Seize the prophets of Baal. Don't let anyone get away!" They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

Rifqa Bary Wins More Right Wing Support

Rifqa Bary was back in court yesterday as her parents tried to get the case moved from Florida, where she fled, back to Ohio and filed a complaint against the couple who harbored her after she ran-away:

Rifqa's father stepped up a strategy to bring his daughter back to Ohio. Mohamed Bary filed a criminal complaint against the Orlando pastors who helped shelter Rifqa for more than two weeks before the state intervened.

Lawyer Shayan Elahi told the Orange County court that Rifqa's parents, Mohamed and Aysha Bary, filed a complaint about Blake and Beverly Lorenz with law-enforcement officials.

A letter sent to Orlando police by Mohamed Bary claimed Rifqa was "indoctrinated and coerced" by representatives of Global Revolution Church and "was hidden" by the Lorenzes. Orlando police said they are not investigating.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman confirmed the agency received a complaint against the Lorenzes, but she could not comment further.


Mat Staver, the Lorenzes' lawyer and longtime friend, said there is "no solid basis for the complaint" filed against them.

He said the Lorenzes did what any person would do given the circumstances. Staver said the Lorenzes took multiple steps to notify authorities.

Given the deepening involvement of Staver in this case, it is not surprising to see that Bary's case is rapidly becoming a cause for moer and more Religious Right groups and activists, like Lou Engle, who see it as a call to battle against Islam:

Four years ago, while living in a very devout and radical Muslim home, Rifqa met Jesus in a powerful way as her savior. She hid her conversion, began praying secretly, and began hiding her bible from her parents. Then, on Facebook, her love for Jesus was exposed to the radical Muslim community in Ohio. Rifqa’s father demanded that she renounce Jesus or he would kill her as is commanded by the Koran. As a radiant believer in Jesus she refused to renounce her Lord and fled to Orlando where she was taken in and cared for by a Christian Church and family. Now, the father is appealing to the courts to bring her back under his custody. Major television networks have already covered her story. How must the Church of America respond in this moment for our sister who is a part of the Body of Christ?

This convergence, I believe, is urgently summoning us in the midst of the rising tide of Islamic influence in America to recognize that our God is above every god and that if we return to Him with all of our hearts and call upon Him with fasting and prayer then God could use what the enemy meant for evil to bring about a great day of salvation for Muslims in America, of which Rifqa is but a major sign.

First of all, we cannot be passive as a Church to let these kinds of developments go on without being challenged in the spirit. Our fight is not against Muslims, it is against principalities, powers, and forces of darkness. We are calling the Church of America at the end of Ramadan, from September 21st through 25th, to five days of concerted prayer. On Monday, we must pray that God would grant supernatural wisdom to the courts so that the testimony of Jesus would be proclaimed and that the best situation for Rifqa and her family would take place. We must pray for Rifqa to be bold in proclaiming Jesus that even thousands of Muslims would hear and be awakened to the love of Christ. She has already said that this is not about her but about many Muslims coming to Jesus. We must pray for her lawyers who are being bullied, threatened, and challenged on every side. On Friday, Sept. 25, the Muslim Day of Prayer, we are calling the Church of America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted by the testimony of Christ, and even be visited by Jesus in dreams. We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America.

Even the Family Research Council is getting involved, picking up on Engle's call to prayer and sending out its own urgent prayer request:

This prayer request is extremely urgent! Please pray and forward it to praying people within your sphere of influence!

The fate of Rifqa Bary may be decided today. In July, in fear for her life, the radiant 17 year-old fled her parent's Ohio home to seek refuge with the family of an Orlando, Florida pastor. Florida attorney and pro-family leader John Stemberger took up Rifqa's case and is fighting to save her life.


Pastor Lou Engle, a longtime leader in the national prayer movement, is asking Christians everywhere to pray September 21-25, and to fast on Friday, September 25th when fifty thousand Muslims will meet on the Washington Mall to "pray for America."

* Please Pray for Rifqa and her attorney, that God will give them wisdom and victory in their legal effort. May God protect Rifqa, keeping her safe, even as He uses her to minister Christ to the Christian and Muslim worlds (Ps 91: all; 121: all; Eph 6:10-20).

* May America's pastors and churches awaken to the challenge that the Muslim faith and activist political agenda poses to our nation and Christian heritage. May believers arise to pray and may Biblical truth and the power of the Holy Spirit mightily prevail as those with competing religious views vie for our nation's soul. May the advance of Islam be used of God to stir believers to ever greater faithfulness to Christ and may the Church learn how to love and effectively minister to those in the Muslim and other religious communities! (Ex 20:2-5; Ps 96:5; Acts 4:12; Gal 2:4-5; Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15).

Thank you for your prayers over these critically important matters!

Right Wing Leftovers

  • More ridiculous videos from Randall Terry and crew.
  • OneNewsNow: A plea to the president to attend church.
  • If you want to watch Richard Weikart's lecture "From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany," be sure to keep your calendar open on Oct. 2nd.
  • Slate: Why Stephen Baldwin has given up Hollywood for religion.
  • Finally, considering that the Family Research Council was the host of the Values Voter Summit, you'd think be able to provide better videos of the event than this.

Huckabee Wins Values Voter Straw Poll and He Couldn't Care Less

No surprise here:

Mike Huckabee won the Values Voter Summit Presidential Straw Poll. This is the second straw poll that was ever conducted at the Values Voter Summit and was only open to registered participants, who were in attendance. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, “We were surprised that the event’s turnout was more than double our expectations, clearly showing intensity among social conservatives. This was the first time potential conservative candidates could present their vision for change. We have over 1,800 registrants and over 175,000 unique online viewers.”

Below are the results of the poll:

1. Mike Huckabee (170 votes, 28.48%)
2. Mitt Romney (74 votes, 12.40%)
3. Tim Pawlenty (73 votes, 12.23%)
4. Sarah Palin (72 votes, 12.06%)
5. Mike Pence (71 votes, 11.89%)
6. Newt Gingrich (40 votes, 6.70%)
7. Bobby Jindal (28 votes, 4.69%)
8. Rick Santorum (15 votes, 2.51%)
9. Ron Paul (13 votes, 2.18%)
10. Undecided (31 votes, 5.19%)
11. Other (10 votes, 1.68%)

Huckabee actually won the last Values Voter Straw Poll as well among votes cast by those in attendance, but lost the overall straw poll because Romney supporters dominated the on-line voting.  This year, FRC did away with the on-line voting and, not surprisingly, the change worked to Huckabee's advantage.

Though I have to say that Huckabee doesn't seem particularly impressed with his own victory, given this rather muted statement he released:

Its always flattering to win one of these but its a long way from deciding to run and from the election. My heartfelt thanks for the affirmation of the people at the values voter summit.

Values Voter Summit Gets Underway

The year's Values Voter Summit is just getting underway and, thanks to the American Family Association, you can watch it on-line, while CSPAN is also webcasting it, as is FRC itself.

On a related note, the Washington Times reports that Gov. Rick Perry, whose name originally appeared on the Summit's Presidential Straw Poll, has asked that his name be removed and that, in an effort to prevent the accusations of ballot stuffing that plagued the 2007 straw poll, organizers have decided that only in-person voting will be allowed this year:

Mr. Perry, who will address the summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in person, asked that his name be removed from the ballot, Family Research Council spokesman J.P. Duffy confirmed.


Summiteers will get to witness an in-person rematch of the 2007 grudge match between fellow former Republican Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.

At the 2007 summit, Mr. Romney beat Mr. Huckabee by 1,595 to 1,565 in combined Internet and in-person votes, with some Huckabee partisans grumbling Mr. Romney used his immense personal wealth to generate Internet support. This year, only in-person voting will be permitted.

Forgetting the "Judeo" Part of their "Juedo-Christian" Values

The Family Research Council says that it "promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."

Gary Bauer of American Values says "a belief in God and a commitment to the principles of our Judeo-Christian tradition ... are what the country was founded on and they're the secret to our prosperity."

Focus on the Family says its "primary reason for existence is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ [based upon "pillars"] drawn from the wisdom of the Bible and the Judeo-Christian ethic.".

The American Family Association says its "goal is to inform, motivate, and equip God's people to take action on issues that threaten to undermine and destroy the traditional family and the Judeo-Christian values upon which our nation was founded."

All four groups are sponsoring the Values Voter Summit beginning tomorrow, but it seems that none of them paid much attention to the "Judeo" aspect of their mission statements when planning this event:

The Family Research Council is holding its annual "Values Voter Summit" in Washington this weekend. The summit gives Republicans, including some would-be presidential candidates, a chance to play to activists -- unless, that is, those activists happen to be Jewish.

The summit this year coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and one of the religion's most important holidays; it begins Friday night at sundown. There aren't very many Jewish Republicans to begin with, but chances are very few of them will make it to the summit, to hear from the likes of Mitt Romney and others. There are more speakers on Friday -- Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty (and also Stephen Baldwin) -- but it's hard to imagine many Jewish conservatives heading to Washington for the event just for one day.

Does the FRC think Jews don't have values? Or was this just the only fall weekend they could get into the Omni Shoreham hotel?

Dobson, Malkin, and the Merging of the Right Wing Movement

At lunch yesterday, I was having a conversation with a colleague about the apparent merging of various factions of the right-wing movement under President Obama, noting how right-wing supergroups like the Freedom Federation were bringing together organizations like Concerned Women for American and the Family Research Council with outlets that they had never really aligned themselves with before, like Americans for Prosperity and Morning Star Ministries.

We also commented on the fact that the Heritage Foundation is sponsoring this year's Values Voter Summit, which is a first, as far as we can recall, and that James Dobson has started having people like Rick Scarborough on his radio show, which was also a rather new development.

But I didn't realize how fully integrated the right-wing movement was becoming until I saw this:

This is actually just the first part of a scheduled two part interview. You can listen to part one here or here.

Boehner to Right Wing Activists: "Keep It Up"

The day after President Obama delivered his healthcare address to a joint session of Congress, the Family Research Council hosted its own healthcare webcast featuring Congressional Republicans like Senator Jim DeMint and Rep. Chris Smith along with right-wing activists like Ken Blackwell, Harry Jackson, and Mat Staver.

FRC has now released a short video featuring the highlights of that event during which participants worked to spread the right-wing lies about healthcare reform leading to rationing (aka "death panels"), with Rep. Smith saying it would be devastating to those who are "fragile, frail, elderly, or chronically ill."

The video is capped off by House Republican Leader John Boehner telling FRC's right-wing activists to "keep it up," saying that "we've got to keep the American people engaged in this. I will guarantee that if the American people stay engaged in this fight, they will win":

Bush: "I Redefined the Republican Party"

I recall being at the 2008 CPAC Conference on the day before President Bush was set to address the gathering for the only time during his presidency and seeing people lining up outside the main conference room preparing to camp out all night in order to get a seat to see him speak the following morning. 

While attendees were thrilled to have Bush in attendance at CPAC, it looks like Bush did not necessarily share their excitement, at least according to this piece by Byron York on a new book written by former White House speechwriter Matt Latimer:

Bush was preparing to give a speech to the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. The conference is the event of the year for conservative activists; Republican politicians are required to appear and offer their praise of the conservative movement.

Latimer got the assignment to write Bush's speech. Draft in hand, he and a few other writers met with the president in the Oval Office. Bush was decidedly unenthusiastic.

"What is this movement you keep talking about in the speech?" the president asked Latimer.

Latimer explained that he meant the conservative movement -- the movement that gave rise to groups like CPAC.

Bush seemed perplexed. Latimer elaborated a bit more. Then Bush leaned forward, with a point to make.

"Let me tell you something," the president said. "I whupped Gary Bauer's ass in 2000. So take out all this movement stuff. There is no movement."

Bush seemed to equate the conservative movement -- the astonishing growth of conservative political strength that took place in the decades after Barry Goldwater's disastrous defeat in 1964 -- with the fortunes of Bauer, the evangelical Christian activist and former head of the Family Research Council whose 2000 presidential campaign went nowhere.

Now it was Latimer who looked perplexed. Bush tried to explain.

"Look, I know this probably sounds arrogant to say," the president said, "but I redefined the Republican Party."

The Oval Office is no place for a low-ranking White House staffer to get into an argument with the president of the United States about the state of the Republican Party -- or about any other subject, for that matter. Latimer made the changes the president wanted. When Bush appeared at CPAC, he made no mention of the conservative movement. In fact, he said the word "conservative" only once, in the last paragraph.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Carrie Prejean has been confirmed as a speaker at the Values Voter Summit.
  • CNN: Former professional football player Jay Riemersma announced Monday that he is running for Congress in Michigan in 2010 ... Since retiring from professional sports, Riemersma has been working for the conservative Family Research Council.
  • The AFA gets a small victory in its boycott of Pepsi.
  • Orly Taitz continues her effort to keep Gary Kreep out of her Birther lawsuit.
  • Finally, Mike Huckabee announces that journalism is dead:

    Survivors include the American people, who long ago stopped buying the ink-stained drivel that smeared the pages of paper and the people who attempted to read it. No memorial is planned as the practitioners of propaganda seem to be unaware that they have passed away and continue to publish anyway.

Robert Stacy McCain Should Touch Base With Some People

In a conversation flowing out of Norman Podhoretz’s new book, gadfly blogger Robert Stacy McCain makes a typically ridiculous point:

The demonization of the “Religious Right” was a project developed by Norman Lear and others during the Reagan era, after Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority played such a key role in the 1980 election, and this theme has defined the politics of the Democratic Party ever since.

As a political tactic, it is both amazingly effective and fundamentally false. The Republican Party is chiefly devoted to political policies having nothing specifically to do with evangelical Christianity. Yet there is an entire industry of liberal propagandists who specialize in seeking out various outre pronouncements of “Religious Right” leaders and presenting these views as if they would become firm policy in the next Republican administration. . . .

While we’re always thrilled to hear our founder and board member given credit for “[defining] the politics of the Democratic Party” from 1980 onwards, he might want to check before he claims that the pronouncements of the Religious Right won’t become the firm policy of the next Republican administration. After all, the candidates running for the Republican nomination keep promising exactly that.

Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney--all likely candidates for the presidency--are confirmed guests at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC next week, as are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner. (Sarah Palin is invited but not confirmed, which is surprising as she doesn’t have a full time job at the moment.) If past behavior is any guide, all of these party leaders will take the opportunity to pledge undying fealty to the far right platform espoused by the Family Research Council. And while we were founded on the principle that one could disagree with that right-wing platform without being a “bad Christian,” I’d be surprised any of the attendees of the summit attendees to say it out loud.

If any of those candidates decide to use the opportunity to distance themselves from the “outré pronouncements” of the Religious Right, we’ll be sure to let you know. 

Don’t hold your breath.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Richard Viguerie proclaims that President Obama's effort at reforming our health care system is "is re-launching the conservative movement" and helping Republicans remember their conservative principles.
  • The Freedom Federation says it "supports heathcare reform but opposes government-run healthcare that funds abortion, violates conscience, rations care, or limits freedom."
  • The Susan B. Anthony list launches a "Void the Abortion Mandate" campaign.
  • Personhood Florida will be hosting a press conference announcing its submission of a "Personhood Amendment" to the Florida State Constitution on Friday.
  • Finally, the Christian Defense Coalition, Pro-Life Unity, The Family Research Council, and others are "gathering on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol for 27 hours of intercession and worship. Believers will be crying out for God to intervene in the national health care debate and ensure that taxpayer funds and not used to pay for abortions."

Rifqa Bary: A Schaivo-Like Controversy in the Making?

Newsweek has a good article on the Rifqa Bary saga that we've been covering here for the last few weeks and it contains a few new nuggets of interesting information, such as the fact that Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel is more than just a "longtime friend," as the Orlando Sentinel reported, of Blake and Beverly Lorenz, the couple to whom Bary fled in Florida. He is also serving as their lawyer:

Bary's parents ... became frantic when they discovered their daughter was gone. They filed a missing-persons report with Columbus police and reached out to everyone they could think of. Police say the Barys cooperated fully with their investigation and seemed like loving parents who were worried sick. Searching among Rifqa's personal items, the Barys found a flash drive filled with spiritual writings by [Brian] Williams. He'd already spoken to the family and told them he didn't know where Rifqa was. But on Aug. 5—more than two weeks after the girl went missing—Columbus police interviewed him by phone (he was now living in Kansas City, Mo.). He says they threatened to arrest him if Bary didn't appear in the next 24 hours. Immediately after that call, he says, Kansas City police went to his home looking for the girl. Alarmed, Williams says he called and e-mailed all the people he knew Bary had been in touch with, including Blake Lorenz, who's a Facebook friend of his.

The Lorenzes had been housing Bary the whole time, even though it's a misdemeanor in Florida to shelter an unmarried minor for more than 24 hours (the Florida Department of Law Enforcement won't say whether it's investigating the couple). Their attorney, Mat Staver, says they consulted various agencies and nonprofits regarding how to handle Bary's situation. They also called the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) several times, though they didn't provide the specifics of her case until Aug. 6.

The article also contains this other interesting bit of information 

Mohamed and Aysha Bary left Sri Lanka in 2000 with their two kids, Rifqa and an older brother, and moved to New York (their third child, a boy, was born in the United States). The reason: concern about Rifqa's well-being. As a child, she'd fallen on a toy airplane that pierced her right eye. Doctors in Sri Lanka wanted to remove the eye, prompting Mohamed to relocate the whole family so Rifqa could obtain better medical treatment. In the end, her eye was spared, though she can't see out of it.

Now, that piece of information is interesting primarily because groups like the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission have been spreading this story:

Rifqa Bary, a petite 17 year old cheerleader, fled from Ohio to Florida to escape her abusive Muslim family. She fled out of fear that she would be killed because she has become a Christian and she has good reasons.

Her father screamed at her that if she had Jesus in her heart, she was dead to him and he would kill her. Prior to that Rifqa had been repeatedly beaten by her family even to the point of losing vision in one eye.

I keep writing about this issue because a) I find it fascinating and b) it has the potential to eventually blow up into an Elian Gonzalez or Terri Schiavo-like story. 

I'm not predicting that it will, mind you, but John Stemberger, who is serving as Bary's attorney, was intimately involved in the Schiavo battle back in 2005, when he authored  "The Terri Schiavo Controversy - Facts, Myths and Christian Perspectives," which was disseminated by the Family Research Council (see #17, though the document has since been removed from FRC's website.)

With someone like Stemberger leading the fight and right-wing news outlets and Religious Right groups getting more involved by the day, this story has all of the hallmarks of a full-blown right-wing crusade in the making.

If You Thought PFOX Was A Group For "Ex-Gays," Think Again

Via AMERICAblog we get this excellent article in the Washington City Paper about Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX):

PFOX has always had a hard time getting ex-gays to join the club. PFOX’s board of directors includes a surplus of everstraights but few former homosexuals. Parents of openly ex-gay children are also in short supply. The closest the group comes to fulfilling its name is Griggs, who speaks publicly about her loving—and disapproving—relationship with her openly gay son.

Beyond the one hopeful parent of a future ex-gay, PFOX’s directors are more fit to provide political influence than ex-gay support. Paul Rondeau, the group’s president, is not ex-gay. Estella Salvatierra, vice president, is a civil rights attorney and is not ex-gay. If Scott Strachan, the group’s secretary, is ex-gay, he’s not talking about it. Michelle Hoffman, the treasurer, once told the Montgomery County School Board that “I know many former homosexuals and am proud to call them my friends.” Peter Sprigg, a director, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and has publicly identified as everstraight. Retta Brown, a director, is not ex-gay. Robert Knight, a former director of Concerned Women for America, is not a woman and is not ex-gay. Barber, a director, works at Liberty University Law School and is not ex-gay. Quinlan, a director, is ex-gay.

Thanks to Quinlan, the closest ex-gay connection that most PFOX members claim is that they are the “friends” of an ex-gay. They better be. The organization’s ex-gays are stuck with the dirty work: fighting off homosexual urges, inserting themselves into possibly discriminatory scenarios, and never, ever accomplishing the full heterosexuality of the everstraights. Ex-gays aren’t even welcome in PFOX meetings. In an e-mail posted on one ex-gay message board, a PFOX rep made the group’s target audience clear: “PFOX meetings are for families and friends of strugglers only, and not for ex-gays.”

How has PFOX managed to build the local ex-gay movement with the participation of so few actual ex-gays? Through the clever use of a smokescreen. The group claims to represent relatives and friends of ex-gays, which is code for the true constituency—Christian conservatives. Accordingly, PFOX does not deal in ex-gay counseling, therapy, or support groups; PFOX sues people.

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Family Research Council Top Posts

801 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 President: Tony Perkins Date of founding: 1983 Membership: 455,000 members. Finances: $10 million (2000 revenue)   MORE >

Family Research Council Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 05/25/2012, 2:43pm
The Family Research Council's Watchmen on the Wall conference is truly a unique event, as it brings together a cornucopia of conservative pastors and religious leaders to hear from all sorts of political activists, evangelists, Creationists, and anti-Muslim crusaders, all of whom are free to promote their own specific agendas. Which is why Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, was given a half an hour to lay our her views about how the End Times will arrive "within my lifetime." Working from Matthew 24, Lotz systemically checked off a long list of recent wars, environmental... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 05/25/2012, 2:30pm
In his address to the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, retired General turned anti-Muslim activist Jerry Boykin claimed that Satan is behind growing secularism of the West and seeks to replace Christianity with Islam. He warned America not to follow in the footsteps of Europe, which he said will indisputably soon have a Muslim majority: We were unquestionably founded on Judeo-Christian principles but there is an effort in America today to rob us of that identity, to take that away from us. If you want to see what can happen when you lose your identity all you... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 05/25/2012, 1:30pm
Criticizing the theory of evolution is not just one of a variety of Religious Right priorities, but is central to their cause as many social conservatives believe that evolutionary thought is the culprit behind much-despised notions like secular government, feminism and moral relativism. As leading young earth creationist Ken Ham explained at the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, belief in a non-literal interpretation of Genesis is even responsible for President Obama’s support for marriage equality: MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/24/2012, 5:35pm
Corruption has been an enduring problem in Washington, D.C. politics, but Bishop Harry Jackson believes that the scandals currently plaguing D.C. officials may be a result of the city’s legalization of same-sex marriage, a move Jackson ferociously opposed. Jackson told Family Research Council president Tony Perkins today that God is removing from office those who are “against the Lord’s agenda,” including by means of corruption scandals: The men that stood against us, Tony Perkins, in the D.C. battle for marriage and the African American leaders especially among that... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/24/2012, 1:35pm
Following a very, very passionate appeal to those “struggling with homosexuality,” Family Research Council vice president Tom McClusky told the audience at the Watchmen on the Wall conference today that people should not in good conscience support the right of same-sex couples to wed just as they should not help a depressed neighbor commit suicide. McCluskly was upset that President Obama cited the Golden Rule in his interview where he endorsed marriage equality, a remark that touched a nerve in the Religious Right with activists like Patrick Wooden railed against Obama for... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 05/24/2012, 11:50am
The Family Research Council is currently hosting its annual Watchmen on the Wall Pastors Briefing in Washington DC, featuring a variety of Religious Right leaders and members of Congress working to mobilize pastors from across the nation.  Today, in between speakers, FRC handed the floor over to Jesse Connors so that he could promote his web-based evangelism tool called which claims to offer "reliable answers from a biblical worldview via the Web that are non-threatening and easy to understand and directs people to church." Connors' service seems to revolve around... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 05/23/2012, 2:30pm
In advance of a court case on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and amid calls to repeal the discriminatory law, the Family Research Council today sent an appeal to members urging them to tell Congress that a repeal of DOMA would present a “grave threat” to the family and religious liberty. In an email to members, FRC president Tony Perkins lamented that the Obama administration has already “forced open homosexuality upon the military” and provided “taxpayer-funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples.” Few were shocked by the... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 05/23/2012, 11:10am
While Target created a firestorm in 2010 for donating to a conservative group backing an anti-gay, and unsuccessful, Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, the retailer now is selling t-shirts to benefit the Family Equality Council, a group representing LGBT families. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said “if they're looking to resonate with Americans, they ought to try defending marriage”: Target's slogan is "expect more." And when it comes to their politics, Americans do. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.... MORE >