Family Research Council

Organization Profile: Family Research Council

801 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
www.frc.org

President: Tony Perkins
Date of founding: 1983
Membership: 455,000 members.
Finances: $10 million (2000 revenue)
 

The Men Who Say God Says A Woman Shouldn’t Be President

Hillary Clinton has faced her share of sexist attacks in her presidential campaign, and plenty of Clinton supporters have been accused of voting for her “just because she’s a woman,” but attacking Clinton explicitly for being a woman has generally been considered to be beyond the pale. Except, that is, among a small segment of Religious Right activists who believe that God proscribes women from taking political leadership roles and are willing to talk about it.

Back in 2008, when John McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, some Religious Right leaders had muddled reactions to a female nominee who also happened to share many of their policy priorities.

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins explained that there was no contradiction in supporting a woman as vice president even though he is a member of a denomination that bars women from serving as pastors because the Bible only prohibits a woman from being a “spiritual leader.” Richard Land, then the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, said that it was perfectly fine for Palin to serve in the role as long as her husband was okay with it. Al Mohler said that while he was thrilled with Palin’s politics, if he were her pastor he “would be concerned about how she could balance these responsibilities and what this would mean for her family and her roles as wife and mother.”

Michele Bachmann met some similar reactions when she ran for president in 2012, complicated by the fact that Bachmann herself had declared adherence to submission theology, the belief, as Sarah Posner has explained, that the “husband is the spiritual head of the household, the wife his obedient ‘helpmeet,’ the vessel for their children, devoted mother, and warrior for the faith.” Bachmann deflected those criticisms using logic similar to Perkins’, saying that the presidency “is not a spiritual position, it is a position of authority in our government, it is very different from that of a wife to her husband.”

Not everyone was convinced. While Bryan Fischer, then an official with the American Family Association, wrote early on in Bachmann’s campaign that the congresswoman was “in fact submitting to her husband by running for president ” because her husband had urged her to run, he did not seem completely convinced of his own point. Fischer said on his radio program the very same week that a woman should be allowed to become president only as a last resort “if God can't find any men with the spine and with the testicular fortitude” to lead. In that case, he said, God would “send a woman to do a man’s job.” As the election approached, Fischer went back to stating his belief that political leadership should be “reserved for the hands of males.”

It’s not surprising, then, that the question of whether a woman should be president has bubbled up again this year among some of the same people. Fischer declared this week that he doesn’t “believe that women should be entrusted with high political office,” implying that it would be reasonable to “vote for Trump because he's a man.”

Sam Roher, a former Pennsylvania state legislator who heads the American Pastors Network, which works to organize politically engaged conservative pastors, cited the book of Isaiah this month to argue that having women in political leadership is a mark of judgment upon a nation. “God does raise up women,” he explained, “there is no question about it, but the real condemnation is not the women in office, the condemnation is the disregard and the absolute inability for male leadership to perform as God intended it and I believe that that's the application for us now.”

Gary Dull, a board member of the pastors’ network who also runs its Pennsylvania chapter, used the same passage from Isaiah to argue more firmly that women should not lead nations. “In God's line of authority,” he said last month, “it seems very clear in the scripture that a woman should not be in authority over men, which would limit a woman from being the president of the United States of America or even a queen of some other particular nation.”

Kevin Swanson, a fringe pastor who nonetheless hosted three GOP presidential candidates at a campaign event in Iowa last year, responded to Clinton’s candidacy this month by saying that electing a female president would be “the final chapter” in feminists’ war against America. The white nationalist radio host James Edwards — a big Donald Trump fan — has cited “God’s law” to question whether a woman should be president.

And this isn’t even to mention the fringe activists who have said that women shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, including Theodore Shoebat, who recently managed to feed a conspiracy theory about Khizr Khan to the Trump campaign. Jesse Lee Peterson, a frequent guest on conservative talk shows, has also argued that women should never have been given the right to vote.

Those who think a female candidate should be disqualified from the presidency are mercifully few. And submission theology, which deals with a woman’s role in the household and the world, varies greatly among those who preach it. But as the reactions to Clinton’s candidacy have shown, the question of whether a woman should be president hasn’t been entirely settled in the Christian Right. After all, as Phyllis Schlafly says, who needs a woman president when “all our greatest presidents have been men"?

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

As we have noted, most Religious Right leaders supported Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, while Trump’s “amen corner” consisted primarily of prosperity gospel preachers (like Paula White, who says Trump is “hungry in his heart” for God) and dominionist “prophets” and “apostles.”

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

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

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

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

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

And the Lord spoke very clearly to me, and he said to me, ‘This man is going to win the nomination and I want you to be ready to serve my cause when I call you.’…In this instance, it’s not because Donald Trump has heralded his faith or the name of God, but the Lord has put His favor upon him, and how amazing it is that the favor of God can overcome so many mistakes, so many bumbles, so many things that otherwise we would think would destroy somebody in business, destroy them in politics, destroy them in relationships. But yet it’s very evident it was the will of the Lord to do this and here we sit now.

 

2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fight for religious freedom

Pastor Michael Anthony, president of Godfactor and founder of the National Week of Repentance, attended Trump’s June meeting with evangelicals and said he is convinced God is using Trump to move Christians to act to defend their religious freedom. “I think God was speaking through him at that moment, to the church, to tell us why are you being silent about the most important thing about your lives?”

3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins was a big Ted Cruz backer and has publicly been a somewhat reluctant supporter of Donald Trump. He told radio host Sandy Rios that Trump has made plenty of mistakes, but that if he “walks in that grace that is available” and surrounds himself with good people, he could “cast a vision that moves America back to the country that honors God again and therefore would be a recipient of His blessing.”

4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel

Many conservative evangelicals have embraced a theological approach to Middle East policy, interpreting Bible verses to suggest that in order to enjoy God’s blessing, America must unconditionally support the Israeli government. Says Pastor John Hagee, head of Christians United For Israel, “we have a mandate from the Bible and that mandate is to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people.” Even though Trump said earlier this year that he would be “neutral” regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute (a position he later backed away from), right-wing leaders have long denounced Obama as an enemy of Israel. The Times of Israel notes that Hagee, “has all but endorsed Trump by name.” Indeed, Hagee told his viewing audience that God would hold them accountable for their vote, saying, “I’m not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years.”  Hagee has complained that “three million evangelicals did not vote in the past election,” saying “God forbid that happen again. We are going to storm the voting booths of America this time around.”

5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful

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

6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers

Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s strongest Religious Right allies and a member of the campaign’s evangelical advisory board, declared that it is “biblical” to support a “strongman” to lead the government. Jeffress said he would run “as far as possible” from a candidate who said he would govern according to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. “Nowhere is government told to forgive those who wrong it, nowhere is government told to turn the other cheek. Government is to be a strongman to protect its citizens against evildoers. When I’m looking for somebody who’s going to deal with ISIS and exterminate ISIS, I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find, and I believe that’s biblical.”

7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing

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

8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’

Wallnau: "Donald Trump's got this like Elijah mantle on him.” In the biblical book of 2 Kings, the prophet Elijah passed both his physical cloak and spiritual authority to his disciple Elisha when Elijah was taken to heaven in a flaming chariot. The reference to Elijah’s mantle is another way for Wallnau to express his belief that Trump is carrying out a divine mission. Elisha also seems to have had a Trumpish temperament when it comes to accepting criticism; the Bible reports that when some boys jeered at him and called him Baldy, he called down a curse on them and two bears came out of the nearby woods and mauled 42 of the boys.

9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing

“Donald Trump is more prophetic than people think,” Wallnau has said. “There is a Cyrus anointing on this man. He is like a Reformer in secular garb." In a video posted on his Facebook page following a meeting between Trump and religious leaders, Wallnau recounted telling Trump that he would become the 45th president of the United States because he has a "Cyrus anointing" upon him as proclaimed in Isaiah 45, referring to the Persian king who freed the Jews from captivity. “And I believe God had put His hand on you as a Cyrus to be a governor and that the Bible talks about this critical 45th chapter, as the 45th president, it is the decisive moment in American history for leadership,” Wallnau said. He has also explained his Cyrus theory in an interview with Steven Strang.

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

Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquility, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election...

Note: In February Johnson said his prophecy had been misunderstood and that it did not mean Trump would become president, simply that it provided “prophetic insight and direction for the body of Christ,” something Johnson also said about the prophetic dream he had in which the Holy Spirit told him, “Marco Rubio is carrying a Thomas Jefferson anointing for this generation. He will break the back of tyrants and restore the patriotic spirit in America.” It must be said, the Holy Spirit gives Johnson a lot of messages about Republican politicians, telling him in May that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is “my Esther of the hour.”

10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’

Trump “Christian policy” adviser Frank Amedia told Steven Strang that there is “a skirmish going on” in the “heavenlies” right now that “is the beginnings of the preparation of the way of the coming of the Lord.” As part of this preparation for the Second Coming, he said, a “breaker anointing” has taken place, giving Trump the power to break up “established norms” that have not served the “Kingdom of God.” Amedia said, “I perceive that Donald Trump has been raised up with that breaker anointing to just begin to crush all of the strangleholds that have been placed upon this country.”

11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’

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

12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’

Rick Wiles aired his “Trunews” radio show from a Trump rally in Kissimmee, Florida, in August. Wiles was excited about Trump accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton of having founded the terrorist group ISIS (this was before Trump described the comments as sarcasm). “Donald Trump is telling the truth: Obama and Clinton are behind ISIS. This is what ‘Trunews’ has said for years,” Wiles said, adding later in the show, “It’s like he’s a battering ram, it’s like God has picked him up and used him as a battering ram to beat down the walls of the New World Order.”

13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan

In April, “Trunews” host Rick Wiles invited self-proclaimed prophet Mark Taylor on to his End Times news program to discuss “his amazing 2011 prophecy that Donald Trump has been marked by God to lead America.” Taylor, a retired firefighter, explained that God told him that Donald Trump will be the next president and that anyone who criticizes him will be struck down, explaining that God has been preparing Trump for his entire life to become an extraordinarily successful president who will fight Satan. “The kingdom of darkness is attacking this man like never before,” Taylor said. “God is using this man—he’s not rattling the gates, because when you rattle the gates you don’t make entry—this man is literally splitting the kingdom of darkness right open.”

14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House

In January, Lou Comunale published a YouTube video (which now has more than 400,000 views) promoting a videotape he uncovered of late “prophet” John Paul Jackson interpreting a woman’s dream in 2012. A key element in the dream was a big bulldozer going “right through the White House just like it was a deck of cards.” “Only when you look at it now,” says Comunale “does it look like he’s actually talking about Donald J. Trump in the White House.”

15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’

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

16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is one of Trump’s strongest supporters on the Christian Right. When he introduced Trump on campus in January, Falwell compared Trump to his father, who was proud to be “politically incorrect,” and to Jesus and Martin Luther King, who said radical and unpopular things that upset the religious and political establishment.

17. Trump is like King David

During the primaries, Falwell responded to evangelicals who were critical of his endorsement by saying it’s wrong to be worried about electing the “most righteous” candidate. “God called King David a man after God’s own heart even though he was an adulterer and a murderer,” Falwell said. “You have to choose the leader that would make the best king or president and not necessarily someone who would be a good pastor. We’re not voting for pastor-in-chief. It means sometimes we have to choose a person who has the qualities to lead and who can protect our country and bring us back to economic vitality, and it might not be the person we call when we need somebody to give us spiritual counsel.”

18. Trump is like Saul/Paul

At Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” conference in March, televangelist James Robison literally screamed at participants that they must vote even if Trump was not their preferred candidate.  Robison said he hoped that people who are close to Trump, like Falwell and Jeffress, will lead him to a “road to Damascus experience” like that described in the biblical story of Saul, who persecuted Christians but who became Paul the evangelist after an encounter with the risen Jesus. For the world to see God transform someone “who so obviously needs changing,” said Robison, would demonstrate God’s power even more effectively than if the Religious Right had been able to play kingmaker and get their preferred candidate the nomination.

19. Trump is like Samson

Anti-Islam extremist Walid Shoebat has decried Trump critics as “scum” and mocked Fox News’s Megyn Kelly as a “Delilah” sent by Trump’s enemies to try to take him down. “I thought that while this Samson (Trump) sinned, he must have God’s blessings since he is destined for a purpose.” Shoebat said Trump’s rejection of the GOP’s “autopsy report” was a sign that perhaps “God finally intervened.” Samson and Delilah are another scriptural reference, this time from the book of Judges. Samson was a warrior granted super-human strength by God; his unshaven hair was a sign of his commitment to God. But the duplicitous Delilah badgered him into revealing his secret and shaved his head while he was sleeping, allowing him to be captured by the Philistines. God eventually granted him the strength to bring down the pillars supporting the Philistines’ temple, killing himself and thousands of them. 

20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln

Wallnau again: “When God wants to move in history, he doesn’t always pick the favorite evangelical.” He explained that God brought Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill to power at crucial moments in history, and that God is now raising up Trump for our time. He knows this, Wallnau said, because God told him so.

21. Trump is like George Washington

Wallnau again, citing the apocryphal story of George Washington supposedly surviving in battle despite his coat and hat being riddled with bullet holes thanks to the protection of God, told Trump that he too is being protected by God. "You've said things and done things that should have put the equivalent of a bullet in your coat," Wallnau said that he told Trump, "but they've passed through you because of the anointing. God is really watching over you.”

22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler

“The thing is, Trump’s supporters know that Trump is an Oscar Schindler, who did not mind bribing the Nazis to get to do what is good,” says Walid Shoebat. “No President can get elected without playing the game. They know that like Obama, who said he ‘loves Israel’ to only gain votes, Trump has to kiss dogs to get to the seat of power. Smattering of moderate-to-liberal policy positions he will gain the votes from democrats. Just as Obama did it, Trump will do the same trick.”

23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil

In June, Jeffress declared of the 2016 election, “This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a battle between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, and I think it is time for people who say they are conservative Christians to get off the fence and go to the polls and vote their convictions.” Jeffress said that unlike President Obama, who he said “hates” conservative Christians, Trump will be a “true friend in the White House” and “appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.” Said Jeffress, “This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about good and evil.”

24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist

American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer declared in August that Hillary Clinton must not be allowed to become president because she is driven by a “profound anti-Christ impulse.” Said Fischer, “Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist because she is against Christ, she is against Christianity, she is against the free exercise of the Christian faith, she doesn’t want the Christian faith to be a part of the public square, to influence public policy in any way, she is against everything that Christianity stands for…She is an opponent of all that is good and right and noble.”

25. God doesn’t want a woman president

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

Bonus: Oops-Not-Cruz-Anointing

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

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 8/11/16

  • David Lane declares that "America is being assaulted by two fascism's: militant Islamic fascism and militant homosexual fascism."
  • Donald Trump will be speaking at the Values Voter Summit again this year.
  • Ann Coulter's latest column is every bit as reasonable as expected: "Craven Republicans who blame Trump for the media's lies may as well blame a rape victim for wearing a short skirt. Except with Trump, it's the Muslim standard: They're blaming a woman's rape on being a woman." 
  • Michael Bresciani asserts that "Trump is no knight in shining armor, but he is without doubt a Good Samaritan willing to step out from all those within the beltway and help."
  • Finally, FRC prays for voter I.D. laws: "May future presidents take seriously their biblical, constitutional duty to exercise true justice! May they nominate judges at every level who will affirm common sense systems, programs, and protections to prevent voter fraud. May God deliver our nation from the lawless spirit that has pervaded our land from the White House to the city streets. May He intervene to prevent voter fraud this year and expose every criminal act. May criminals be exposed, and brought to justice!"

John Birch Society Continues Comeback With Values Voter Summit Sponsorship

The Values Voter Summit, the annual event that brings together social conservatives and GOP politicians, has welcomed the far-right John Birch Society to sponsor a booth at the event’s exhibit hall this year, according to a list on the event’s website.

JBS has long been at least nominally exiled from the conservative mainstream thanks to its history of paranoia and racism, but has recently begun to get a toehold in some conservative establishment events. The group was allowed to sponsor a table at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 2010 but was booted from the event in 2012 amidst criticism.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in 2013, “Once considered by the right and the left as the political equivalent of an addled uncle sent down to the basement rec room to drink, rant and hopefully pass out before saying anything too nutty in front of the guests, in recent years the John Birch Society has been invited back upstairs and has even hosted a dinner party or two.”

JBS is probably best known for its decades-long obsession with fighting the communist infiltration of America, at one point even accusing President Dwight Eisenhower of being a communist agent. The group is still fighting what it sees as stealth communist infiltration, but in a different form; JBS CEO Arthur Thompson told SPLC in 2013, “While we’re sitting here proclaiming communism is dead, it’s growing everywhere and rapidly. It’s flourishing under different names, like the Muslim Brotherhood.”

SPLC provides some highlights of JBS’s troubling history:

Charges of racism and anti-Semitism have dogged the John Birch Society since its earliest days. It opposed civil rights legislation in the 1960s, saying the African-American freedom movement was being manipulated from Moscow with the goal of creating a “Soviet Negro Republic” in the Southern United States. The society was a close ally of Alabama’s segregationist governor George Wallace and reportedly had 100 chapters in and around Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city, as well as chapters across the rest of the state. Thompson, the group’s CEO, said the society has never been either racist or anti-Semitic, going so far as to add that once a member is discovered to harbor such views he or she is immediately “booted out.’’

In 2009, Rachel Maddow went into depth on the group’s record, including its opposition to public water fluoridation. More recently, JBS’s magazine, The New American, published an article that blamed the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting on “the assault on white men” in America that includes offenses from “‘affirmative action’ to massive Third World immigration.”

The Values Voter Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council and sponsored by the American Family Association, American Values and others, is the premier social conservative event of the year and often attracts leading GOP politicians, including presidential candidates. Now, along with mingling with some of the most extreme anti-gay, anti-choice and Christian nationalist activists in the country, these politicians will now be standing side-by-side with the John Birch Society.

Revealed: The Right-Wing Movement’s Agenda For Trump’s First 180 Days

The Conservative Action Project is a network of more than 100 right-wing leaders created in 2008 as “an offshoot” of the secretive far-right Council for National Policy, making it part of an array of conservative coalitions that bloomed around and after the election of Barack Obama. Originally chaired by Edwin Meese, the Conservative Action Project is now headed by Becky Norton Dunlop, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. It includes leaders of all of what are often described as the three legs of the conservative movement: social, economic, and national security conservatives.

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that the Conservative Action Project was helping fuel closer coordination across the multifaceted conservative coalition with its weekly Wednesday morning meetings at the Family Research Council. The group also promotes shared messaging and strategy with its “Memos for the Movement.” Now this collection of right-wing leaders has identified its policy priorities for the first 180 days of a new administration.

At a forum organized by the American Conservative Union Foundation at the Republican National Convention, participants were given of a set of pocket cards containing policy proposals, quick facts and “market tested messages” on the one dozen highest priorities selected by Conservative Action Project leaders. The 12 priorities are divided into four categories: Constitutional Issues and the Judiciary; Preserving and Protecting Our Culture; Freeing Our Economy so Everyone Can Win; and Defending Our Freedoms.

The package provides a clear picture of the ideas that right-wing organizations are pushing Trump to embrace. Some are vague, like, “The President should revive Public Diplomacy,” but others are quite specific. Taken together, they’re a pretty good indication of what we’d have in store on the policy front with Trump in the White House. 

Among the proposals, which signal the intense desire of right-wing organizations to infuse their priorities throughout the federal government’s executive branch agencies:

  • Immediately rescind all Obama Executive Orders consistent with recommendations by Constitutional and trusted advisors such as The Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation, and other conservative advisors and transition committees.
  • Terminate all executive branch individuals still within their probationary period and freeze hiring for all regulatory positions.
  • The President should eliminate taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood using executive action and seek a permanent legislative solution.
  • The President should freeze and withdraw all regulatory activity on the Obama energy and climate agenda.
  • Submit legislation to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.
  • The President should support the rule of law and reject amnesty proposals and fully enforce and strengthen interior enforcement measures in the United States.

The policy proposals listed under “Restore Religious Freedom” include calls for the president to ensure passage of the First Amendment Defense Act, which carves out exceptions from nondiscrimination laws for people who claim anti-LGBT religious beliefs, and to “issue an Executive Order requiring that the Executive branch respect the 1st Amendment and provisions of the First Amendment Defense Act.”

The package proposes a new tax code that is “simpler, fairer, flatter and stimulates growth,” insisting that all tax reform “should lower individual and business tax rates, particularly the top marginal rates, to encourage saving and investing.”

It says senators “should vigorously question judicial nominees about their intent to remain faithful to the original meaning of the Constitution and laws.”

On education, the movement’s priority is to “Advance School Choice,” and it calls on the president to appoint “a movement conservative” as secretary of education. It wants the president to “champion the policy of dollars following the children,” language used by advocates for private school vouchers and other forms of public school privatization.

The Conservative Action Project’s “memos for the movement” provide a further sense of the group’s worldview.  For example, it responded to last year’s marriage equality decision by the Supreme Court in apocalyptic terms, saying, “The Court’s abuse of power is of such historic proportions that the conservative movement, and indeed every American who cherishes liberty must now address the serious damage done to the cause of freedom and the very foundation of our civil society.”

The group has intensely opposed efforts to expand disclosure requirements for political “dark money,” portraying conservatives as “a persecuted class” who are “bullied to either conform or suffer retribution.”

Among its 2016 releases was a March memo urging Senate Republicans to be resolute in refusing to consider a nominee from President Obama to fill the Supreme Court seat that became vacant with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Here’s an excerpt from the group’s thoughtful and rational rhetoric:

The president and his liberal allies know what is at stake and so do we.  It is nothing short of their intent to eradicate precious constitutional rights. These leftists have made clear their first target is our 1st Amendment right to political speech and the silencing of conservative voices. They mock the 2nd Amendment right of the people to protect themselves and their families and are determined to take away our constitutional right to bear arms. They welcome the prospect of unleashing unaccountable federal agencies like the IRS and EPA to impose a liberal policy agenda that will harm Americans and punish any who dare to disagree with their worldview. And not least of all, they vow to use the Court’s power to impose an “unconditional surrender” in their cultural war against our fundamental institutions of faith, family, marriage, home, and school — and will wipe out any pro-life protections, instead imposing abortion on-demand, up to the moment of birth, paid for by the taxpayers.

 

Religious Right Out-Muscles Pro-Equality Republicans

We have lost count of how many times the Religious Right has been declared spent as a political force. Those declarations have always been wrong, and this year’s Republican Party platform is the latest sign of the movement’s continued power.

Four years ago, we called the GOP platform “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Yet this year’s platform is even further to the right.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2012, Religious Right leaders spent the entire week in Tampa bragging about how they had essentially written the platform. But pro-LGBT Republicans were remarkably confident that it would never happen again. At the time, the Log Cabin Republicans vowed that never again would the party platform be hostile to LGBT equality. Former member of Congress Jim Kolbe said the anti-gay sentiment in that year’s platform was “the last gasp of the conservatives.” The upbeat attitude had us wondering about “the fine, fuzzy line dividing optimism from delusion.”

Well, there’s nothing left to wonder about. In spite of an organized and well-funded campaign by LGBT-friendly conservatives, Religious Right activists made sure that they dominated the platform committee. During the committee’s deliberations on proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday, every effort to moderate the language on LGBT rights was rejected, including tame language that would have acknowledged growing support within the party for marriage equality. The Log Cabin Republicans are calling this year’s document “the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history.”

Even an amendment that would have recognized the LGBT victims of ISIS terror was deemed too much. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is bragging that he and fellow Louisiana delegate Sandy McDade, Eagle Forum’s political chairman, watered that language down so that it refers generically to all people terrorized by ISIS.

The platform includes Religious Right-approved language opposing marriage equality and endorsing legislation to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious liberty. And it calls for eliminating the IRS provision that prevents churches, like other nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral advocacy — one of the promises Donald Trump has made to win Religious Right support.

A seemingly last-ditch effort by LGBT-friendly delegates to require a vote on a “minority report” to replace the long platform with a short statement of principles is now being denounced by Perkins and Religious Right activist David Barton as an attempt by gays to hijack the platform process. Its odds of success seem vanishingly small.

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory Angelo says he’s “mad as hell” about the new platform, but in the same email he tries to distance the document from Donald Trump, who Angelo praised last December as “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency.”

Not long after that, as journalist Michelangelo Signorile noted, Trump accepted the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr. and promised to put right-wing justices on the Supreme Court. In January he promised to make Christianity (read right-wing Christianity) more powerful. More recently, Trump reiterated his promises in a closed-door meeting with hundreds of conservative Christian leaders, where he told them, “I’m on your side.”

Trump may be willing to let Caitlin Jenner use the bathroom of her choice at his office building, but he was unwilling to lift a finger to keep the party from supporting states that pass laws preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that match their identity — or from declaring in many ways that the party remains officially opposed to legal equality for LGBT people.

The presumptive Republican nominee is all bluster and toughness when he is denouncing political correctness, but he turns meekly obliging when dealing with the Religious Right leaders he is counting on to turn out the vote.

 

 

GOP’s Super-Far-Right Platform Completed But Drama Continues

During Monday and Tuesday’s Republican platform committee deliberations, an already right-wing draft was pushed even further to the right by activists on the platform committee. But now Religious Right activist David Barton and other delegates are complaining that they were duped by pro-LGBT activists into signing a minority report that could force a floor vote on replacing the entire platform with a much shorter statement of principles.

Through endless hours of amendments — some substantive and some petty wordsmithing — attempts by libertarian-leaning delegates to introduce more moderate language on LGBT equality, the drug war and other issues were routinely voted down, even an amendment that would have acknowledged the LGBT victims of ISIS terror.

Throughout the grueling process, a few delegates repeatedly complained that the platform should be seen as a vehicle for marketing Republican Party principles, and should not be something so long and so deep in the weeds on policy disputes that nobody will bother reading it. One of those voices was Utah’s Boyd Matheson, who had proposed an alternative approach that would simply lay out a set of principles, based on the platform on which Abraham Lincoln ran for the presidency in 1860.

That could have saved everyone a lot of time, but the committee didn’t go for it. The committee wrapped up its deliberations on Tuesday evening, voting to approve the amended draft, which will get final up-or-down approval by the committee on Monday before going to the convention as a whole for approval.

But that’s not the end of the story, because 37 delegates signed a “minority report,” which The Dallas Morning News’ Lauren McGaughy describes as “a sort of petition by those who couldn't muster a majority for their proposals.”

“In this case,” McGaughy writes, “it supports doing away with the whole platform and replacing it with something shorter and simpler.” Among those who signed the petition were Matheson and Barton, the Religious Right activist who played an active role in shaping this year’s platform as well as the 2012 version.

Now, however, Matheson and Barton are among those claiming that they were “duped by a group of pro-gay rights delegates” into signing something that could be a source of division on the floor of the convention:

Boyd Matheson of Utah wrote the language in the minority report, but he said he did not support doing away with the whole platform and replacing it with his mission statement. In fact, he withdrew support of his own proposal Tuesday afternoon amid the fight.

"A minority report is a divisive issue that some people are trying to use to air their issues on the floor for the convention," Matheson said late Tuesday.

David Barton, a Texas delegate who helped him edit the language, went a step further, saying "someone hijacked the process."

He added: "It looks to us like they created a controversy." 

Matheson and Barton allege that a group of LGBT-friendly Republicans who had tried -- unsuccessfully -- to include some positive mention of the gay community in the party's platform was behind the scheme. 

The two said they would send an email to the other 35 delegates who also signed the report on Wednesday morning saying just this. Texas' other platform committee delegate, Diana Denman, also signed the minority report, and expressed her interest in removing her name.

Other delegates suggest that Barton and Matheson knew exactly what they were signing but “got cold feet afterward when they feared being associated with a gay rights push.”

Family Research Council Action, whose leader Tony Perkins was another active member of the platform committee, pushed out an alert yesterday warning that LGBT activists were attempting to “hijack” the platform.

Perkins and the Family Research Council are delighted with the far-right platform, saying the GOP’s support for “traditional family values” is “stronger than ever.”

In another message to FRC supporters yesterday, Perkins celebrated the Religious Right’s platform victories:

I am very happy to say that the final platform document overwhelmingly approved by the delegates may be the strongest statement of conservative principles by a GOP platform to date. As Gayle Rozika, a Utah delegate for whom this was the 6th platform, told me this is the most conservative platform in her experience. Her efforts, along with those of delegates like Carolyn McLarty (Okla.), Len Munsil (Ariz.), David Barton (Texas), Jim and Judy Carns (Ala.), Kris Kobach (Kan.), Sandy McDade (La.) and a host of other conservative leaders were effective in ensuring the GOP platform provides a clear and compelling understanding of the core conservative principles that those associated with the Republican party prioritize and pursue.

Our coalition of delegates -- including FRC Action and other groups like the March for Life Action, Eagle Forum, and Concerned Women for America -- proved invaluable. The platform is an important document, showing the Party of Lincoln continues to respect freedom, and the rule of law, the idea that all humans deserve respect, not because of some category, but because we have inherent dignity and are made in the image of our Creator. The platform is a useful document -- a standard for the party in local, state, and federal elections, use in town halls, and it provides standards to which we should hold our elected officials. Platform Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), led by co-chairs Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Va.) and Governor Mary Falin (R-Okla.) all did an excellent job allowing delegates to offer amendments and debate the issues with sincerity and respect. They deserve much respect for their efforts.

 

Is Trump Letting Religious Right Leaders Have Their Way With GOP Platform?

The Republican Party’s platform committee started meeting in Cleveland this morning to hash out final language that will be presented to delegates at the Republican National Convention next week. Religious Right activists have been gearing up for months to make sure that the platform keeps the anti-gay and anti-abortion language they say will be needed to secure social conservatives’ loyalty to the GOP in November. A draft shared with members of the platform committee on Sunday night reportedly keeps the party’s anti-abortion position intact and continues the party’s opposition to marriage equality, though the draft reportedly abandons a previous call for a constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples nationwide in favor of leaving the decision on marriage to the states.

In May, right-wing Iowa Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told Fox News that his goal was “to get as many solid, constitutional conservatives to Cleveland and onto the platform and rules committees.” That same month, The New York Times reported that Ted Cruz supporters, including former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, were out to “fill the Rules and Platform Committees with strong conservative voices.”

In 2012, platform committee deliberations were dominated by a handful of right-wing activists who stripped out or batted away any moderating language, including tepid language about treating all people equally under the law. A Religious Right stalwart, then-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, chaired the committee and made it clear that he wanted no distracting fights. The final result was the most conservative platform ever, calling for the criminalization of all abortions without exception and decrying marriage equality as “an assault on the foundations of our society.”

It looks like Trump may be following the same strategy of keeping the Religious Right happy by letting them have their way with the platform. On Sunday, the Times’ Jeremy Peters reported that Trump is keeping his distance from battles that have been brewing over the platform’s anti-gay language.

Overseeing all this is Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has been assuring social conservatives that Trump “is not wanting to rewrite” the platform. Trump adviser Paul Manafort has sent the same message.

Social conservatives praised the May announcement that the platform committee would be led by anti-choice Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming along with co-chairs Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. At the time of the announcement, Barrasso said “it’s going to be a conservative platform that reflects our values, freedom, liberty and limited government.”

All the co-chairs have solid right-wing records. Foxx, for example, has fought marriage equality and sought to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding; last month she told attendees at Ralph Reed’s Road to Majority conference, “If people of faith are not involved in political life, then you’re leaving it to the Philistines.” Fallin has been mentioned as a potential VP pick for Trump even though she angered some anti-abortion activists when she vetoed a patently unconstitutional bill that would have made it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion.

Some of the same activists who wrote 2012’s  far-right platform are back on this year’s committee, which consists of two delegates selected by each state party and leaders chosen by the RNC. Among the members of this year’s platform committee:

Among others identified by the New York Times:

There is Cynthia Dunbar of Virginia, who has compared the gay rights movement to Nazism. Hardy Billington, a committee member from Missouri, placed an ad in a local paper asserting that homosexuality kills people at two to three times the rate of smoking. And Mary Frances Forrester of North Carolina has claimed that the “homosexual agenda is trying to change the course of Western civilization.”

In the spring, after Perkins was elected to represent Louisiana on the platform committee, he bragged:

In 2012, my role as a delegate gave me the opportunity to play a key role in amending the marriage plank, which led to the committee approving a much stronger version than 2008’s. We also tightened language on obscenity and pornography, protected conscience rights, explained how abortion hurts women, and supported the Second Amendment in DC.

In a June fundraising letter, Perkins touted his return to the platform committee while warning that “homosexual activist groups, pro-abortion groups, and special interests are trying to transform the Republican platform” to make it more like the “anti-Christian, anti-religious, radical humanist-secularist viewpoint” he said was reflected in the Democratic platform:

Never before have we planned to exert so much influence on a political party's convention as we are regarding the Republican Convention less than 50 days from now in Cleveland…I will serve as an official member of the 112-member Platform Committee, with our entire Action team supporting me, in order to make the greatest impact possible--again, regardless of the nominee -- for faith, family, and freedom…What goes into the official Party platform could make a monumental difference in shaping public policy decisions for our nation in the next four years, and as a result it will impact our lives and the lives of our families and our churches.

Here’s how the battle has been shaping up on LGBT equality and reproductive choice:

LGBT Equality

After anti-gay Religious Right activists got what they wanted in the 2012 platform, LGBT Republicans and their allies launched an organized and well-funded campaign to get better language in the 2016 platform, an effort that conservative leaders have vocally resisted:

“Conservative forces need to understand there is a serious challenge, and they need to take it seriously,” warned Jim Bopp, a social conservative activist who was influential in designing the 2012 GOP platform.

Similarly, Eagle Forum president Ed Martin said, “We’re prepared for the fight. It’s hand-to-hand combat.”

Some pro-LGBT Republicans have seen Trump’s primary victory as an opportunity, since he does not seem to share the Religious Right’s anti-gay ideological convictions, though he has publicly supported their opposition to marriage equality and pledged to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court. But Trump seems uninterested in standing up for LGBT people if it means picking a fight with his new pals in the Religious Right. For example, Trump has retracted his earlier criticism of North Carolina’s recently passed anti-LGBT law, saying that he now supports it.

Some change in the platform language will be required to deal with the changed reality caused by the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land. CBS News reported over the weekend that “moderate Republicans are drafting an amendment that would soften the GOP’s official position on gays and lesbians.” According to CBS, some conservatives may be willing to accept general “equality for all people” language that they rejected in 2012 as a way to “keep the fighting at a minimum.” David Barton told CBS that there might be “rhetorical changes in how it’s communicated, but I don’t think support for natural marriage will diminish at all.”

The new draft platform that will be debated and amended this week does include an explicit rejection of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, calling for "reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment."

Given the high-profile fight over North Carolina’s HB 2, and social conservatives’ efforts to create panic over the idea of transgender people using bathrooms that match their gender identity, it seems likely that the platform will include some anti-transgender language, something Cuccinelli told The New York Times that he thought delegates should do.

Access to Abortion

Many Religious Right activists are skeptical of []Trump’s commitment to the anti-abortion cause, particularly given comments he made in April that he would like to change the platform to include exceptions to its call for a ban on all abortions for cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is at stake. The current platform adopted in 2012 supports a constitutional amendment and legislation applying the 14th Amendment’s protections to “unborn children.”

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman and other anti-choice activists are planning to have an active presence in Cleveland in order “to ensure that the GOP platform remains strongly pro-life.”

Newman, who has a record of anti-choice extremism, has sounded the alarm:

“Once again, there is a movement within the GOP to not only gut the pro-life planks from the party platform, but silence the voices of pro-lifers who are demanding an end to abortion,” said Newman. “Softening its position on abortion would spell disaster for the Republican Party and for the future of our nation. I cannot support a party that will not defend the innocent, and I know I am not alone.”

“The eyes of the world will be focused on Cleveland, OH this summer as the GOP nominates their candidate for the President of the United States. Decisions will be made at the convention that will influence our nation for a generation. A coalition of pro-life groups and activists is forming to take advantage of this historic opportunity to collectively raise our voice for the pre-born. We demand the Republican Party continue to defend the preborn, but we are also calling our nation to repent for 43 years of unabated child killing,” said Mark Harrington, National Director of Created Equal.

The National Pro-Life Alliance has also been sending out emails warning that abortion “supporters and apologists would like to eradicate the only pro-life language in either party’s platforms.” The group has been collecting signatures for a “Hands Off the Pro-Life Plank” petition.

But anti-choice activist Austin Ruse isn’t worried. Ruse, one of the conservative Catholic leaders who took part in Trump’s June meeting with Religious Right activists, said at the end of June that while he isn’t convinced of the sincerity of Trump’s opposition to abortion, he believes Trump will “let our side do exactly what we want to do” on the issue.

Similarly, right-wing strategist Richard Viguerie told LifeSiteNews this spring that Trump “has zero chance” of changing the abortion plank in the platform.

State Previews

Some state parties had their own versions of these platform battles. In May, for example, delegates to the Illinois GOP convention “overwhelmingly voted to retain” a plank defining marriage as “between one man and one woman,” rejecting proposed language that “non-traditional families are worthy of the same respect and legal protections as traditional families.”

Some states had bigger fish to fry. At the Texas convention in May, the state platform committee initially endorsed a call for a referendum on Texas declaring independence and seceding from the United States, but that language was not embraced by the party as a whole. Still, the Texas GOP platform did call for legislation requiring people to use facilities “that correspond with their biologically determined sex” and, in the words of the Texas Tribune, “included strong disapproval of gay lifestyles and no state restrictions on ‘access to sexual orientation change efforts for self-motivated youth and adults.’”

 

The Anti-Abortion 'Seneca Falls'

Last weekend, about 500 anti-abortion activists — nearly all of whom were women — gathered in Dallas for what was billed as the first-ever “Pro-Life Women’s Conference.”

The event’s organizer, Abby Johnson, said that she wanted to “reclaim the narrative” of the movement, putting women at its front and including “many different groups of people,” including nonbelievers and LGBT people. She repeatedly said that the movement needs to “embrace the f-word”: feminism.

“This is our Seneca Falls, baby!” she said.

Johnson recalled speaking at a recent March For Life alongside a long line of men. “We know that the pro-life movement is led and has been led by women,” she said. “But for many years, women have sort of been leading from behind. And we haven’t done a very good job with our optics, right? So there’s photos and in the photos, it’s dudes.”

The conference came immediately before the Supreme Court rejected Texas’ attempt to limit abortion rights by regulating clinics out of existence, an effort that had been dubiously promoted as an effort to protect women’s health. The mainstream anti-abortion movement in recent years has been trying to claim that their main focus is on “protecting” women and to portray abortion as an unsafe and damaging procedure promoted by nefarious, profit-hungry organizations.

But Johnson’s conference aimed for something more: crafting a narrative that presented opposition to abortion rights as an explicitly feminist movement, one that could attract more than what she called “the traditional Christian pro-lifer.”

While Johnson said she wanted to create a unified “pro-life” message, the conflicts within the movement — and the challenge of expanding its reach — were evident even that weekend in Dallas.

Finding Common Ground With Pro-Choicers?

Several speakers at the conference — all of the speakers were women — urged the anti-abortion movement to take on issues with which they might find common ground with pro-choice feminists , including family leave policies, poverty alleviation and access to child care.

Serrin Foster, the head of Feminists for Life, said, “There are three key reasons for the feminization of poverty: Lack of education, lack of workplace accommodation and paternal support. Do that, three-fourths of the reasons that women have an abortion are over.”

She accused the abortion rights movement of giving up on these issues, saying that “by accepting pregnancy discrimination in the school and in the workplace, by accepting … the lack of support for pregnant women and parents, especially the poor, [Sarah] Weddington [the attorney who argued Roe v. Wade] and the Supreme Court betrayed women and the greatest experiment on women and children began: abortion.”

Similarly, Leah Jacobson, the president of the Guiding Star network of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, talked about the need “to look at how women’s bodies function and make sure that our employers take this into account,” including by pushing for maternity and paternity leave laws, flexible work schedules for parents, and subsidized or on-site workplace child care.

Jacobson coupled this call with a heavy dose of maternalism, alluding to the transgender bathroom debate and saying that women must live out their “motherly calling”: “Men are wonderful but women are the heart of society. We love, we connect, we empathize, we are relational. Men are very good at seeing the large picture sometimes but they don’t see the littlest of all. We need to humanize the culture as women. And so it’s so important as women we live our motherly calling even if it’s not as a physical mother.”

While issues such as expanding family leave requirements and access to child care could be an area of consensus for self-identified pro-life and pro-choice feminists — whatever their reasons for supporting them — there seemed to be little enthusiasm at the conference for working with pro-choicers on these causes.

When Johnson asked who “the abortion movement” was united behind, an audience member yelled out, “the devil!” (The answer was Planned Parenthood.)

Similarly, when Johnson read a polite form letter that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had sent in response to a request to speak at the conference — Johnson had invited all three remaining presidential candidates, but Clinton was the only one to respond — it was met with howls of laughter and derision.

While Clinton has the clearly better record on policies supporting mothers — policies that speakers like Foster and Jacobson said help dissuade women from choosing abortion — the only positive references to presidential candidates at the event were allusions to Donald Trump’s promises to pick Supreme Court justices who would roll back Roe v. Wade. Anti-choice leaders as a whole have rallied behind Trump, who besides vowing to “cherish” women and appoint anti-choice judges, has not offered any serious plans for improving the lot of women in the workforce or helping women out of poverty.

The “pro-woman” talking points, ultimately, were largely meant to further one principal policy goal: recriminalizing abortion.

Many speakers hailed the slew of abortion restrictions that have been passed in the states in recent years, while noting that they don’t go far enough.

Karen Garnett, the director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of Dallas, moderated a panel on anti-abortion politics, telling the audience, “We cannot get pro-life laws passed unless we have pro-life legislators sitting in the state houses to pass those laws and in Washington, D.C. And it’s been good that we’ve been able to get that much done. But have we ended abortion yet? No. Have we fulfilled our call yet — no — to end this? It matters — look at this, where we are, where we sit together today with this Supreme Court decision coming down tomorrow — it matters who is sitting in the Oval Office in terms of the appointments of the Supreme Court justices.”

Star Parker, a frequent speaker at Religious Right events, kept her standard pitch to conservative audiences, blaming government “safety nets” for people getting “lost” and implying that churches rather than the government should be in charge of poverty alleviation: “Maybe God was right that you’re supposed to take care of the poor, not throw them off to some government bureaucrat.”

Ending Roe, Eliminating Planned Parenthood

While some speakers made nods to policies such as paid family leave and efforts to support pregnant women on college campuses, the real political enthusiasm at the event was behind shutting down abortion clinics, defunding Planned Parenthood and eventually eliminating Roe v. Wade.

“Roe v. Wade started here in Dallas, Texas,” Johnson said, “and I believe we can end it here.”

Marilyn Musgrave, a former Republican congresswoman who is now the vice president of governmental affairs at the Susan B. Anthony List, gave a speech in which she praised the House committee investigating Planned Parenthood for “kicking down the gates of hell.” She commended Texas’ restrictive legislation that was before the Supreme Court, saying that it was “going to save thousands of lives” and praying “that those abortion clinics will close down that do not meet those standards.”

During the politics panel, Texas activist Carolyn Cline held up a brick that she said was “the last brick in the lot” of an abortion clinic that had been closed by the Texas law, another acknowledgment that the law’s goal was to close clinics rather than improve safety. The law, said the Family Research Council’s Arina Grossu, was another sign that the anti-abortion movement “is winning.”

Throughout the event, Planned Parenthood was portrayed as a remorseless villain. Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who now runs a group that tries to get abortion clinic employees to quit their jobs, showed a video she had recently found from her time at the group guiding counsellors on how to speak to women who are considering abortion, which she said showed “coercion” on the part of the group.

Parker went so far as to pin America’s economic troubles on Planned Parenthood’s continued existence: “Is it any wonder things are so dark in our country? Is it any wonder our economy is still sputtering? I don’t think that God is ready to bless America right now.”

Erin Brownback, a communications consultant who has worked with a number of prominent anti-choice politicians, had a similar warning about legal abortion in the U.S., saying, “Societies throughout history that allow a culture of death are destroyed. That is historically true, you can look back at the gladiators and different groups that have not protected life and those cultures have all died.”

While the criticism of Planned Parenthood centered on its role as a legal abortion provider, there was an undercurrent at the conference about resistance to hormonal contraception, including a workshop on Natural Family Planning. American Life League, a Catholic anti-abortion group, distributed a pamphlet arguing that the birth control pill “may cause an abortion.”

One interesting trend among the women anti-abortion activists was a willingness to talk forthrightly about their opposition to rape exceptions in abortion laws, something that Musgrave’s group has trained male politicians to avoid addressing. (This was in part thanks to the prodding of Rebecca Kiessling, a “conceived in rape” activist who asked as many speakers as she could about exceptions.) Some speakers approached the subject by portraying abortion in such cases not as violence against the “unborn” but as additional violence against the woman.

Musgrave, in response to a question by Kiessling, boasted of her group’s efforts to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers, an anti-abortion Republican who derailed a vote on a 20-week abortion ban because she was worried that its rape exception was too restrictive. SBA List opposed Ellmers, she said, “because you know what, if we had let that action go unchallenged, we would have dumbed down ‘pro-life’ to where it didn’t mean anything.”

LGBT And Secular Outreach

Johnson made a deliberate effort to expand the reach of her conference beyond what she called “the traditional Christian pro-lifer.”

The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) set up a table. One piece of literature the group distributed explained that the line of Supreme Court cases establishing a “right to privacy” that encompasses both reproductive rights and the rights of gays and lesbians is irrelevant because LGBT rights would have succeeded anyway without the courts. “Abortion rights will fail because, unlike gay rights, they are not the result of a democratic process but rather a brand new ‘constitutional right’ created by a court impatient with democratic changes,” it said, seemingly dismissing the importance of major court victories that furthered LGBT equality. The group shared its table with the Pro-Life Humanists, who distribute anti-abortion literature at atheist events.

Kelsey Hazzard, the head of Secular Pro-Life, gave a workshop on “reaching non-Christian, LGBT, and other minority audiences with the pro-life message.” Aimee Murphy, the director of Life Matters Journal, gave a workshop faulting both political parties for what she said was an inconsistent ethic of human rights when it comes to abortion, capital punishment, torture and war, echoing the message of some early liberal Catholic anti-abortion activists. Kristen Day, the head of Democrats for Life, spoke and sponsored a booth.

A panel of mostly young women discussing activism strategies lamented that the anti-abortion movement had alienated LGBT people and others. Kristen Hatten, the vice president of the group New Wave Feminists, said that her gay friends “don’t really feel welcome in the movement. I would love to see that change, and not just for homosexual people, but transgender people and just everybody, everybody of all colors and creeds.”

Yet some of that alienation could be seen at the conference itself. Parker railed against the “war on marriage” and the “elimination of all gender binary.” She lamented that a “war on religion” had removed “any reference to God” from schools and that Americans were sending their kids “to these cesspools we call schools and they learn secular humanism.” She urged young, anti-abortion women to become lawyers “so they can make you a judge and you can get on these courts” and reject laws that are “unlawful in God’s eyes.”

The Family Research Council, one of the most stridently anti-LGBT advocacy groups in the country, sponsored a booth.

In some cases, the embrace of LGBT and secular allies didn’t seem all that sincere. Brownback, the conservative messaging consultant, said at a breakout session how delighted she had been to talk to the representatives of LGBT and secular groups at the conference. Just weeks before, Brownback had written on Twitter that while she loves her gay friends she thinks “they are hurting themselves and society” and opined that it’s “sad to see a feminized man.”

While the event seemed to be mostly comprised of Christians, and was heavily sprinkled with references to the Bible, Johnson seemed to catch on at the end as she noted before a closing prayer that not everyone in the room would choose to participate.

Despite the presence of Democrats for Life and other nontraditional allies, there was not much suggestion of moving beyond the movement’s current alliance with fiscally conservative Republicans who resist expanding the social safety net but are on board with punitive abortion restrictions. Many speakers steered away from explicitly political topics, speaking instead about building a “culture of life” in which women choose not to terminate pregnancies. But politically, there was little question that this self-proclaimed “feminist” movement would continue to ally itself with the party of Donald Trump.

Victims And Heroes

Brownback, a former Alliance Defending Freedom employee who said that she had worked with congressional Republicans on messaging around their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and with the Texas attorney general, who brought the recent Supreme Court case, gave a crowded workshop on “Successful Pro-Life Messaging.”

She gave tips for how to connect with people on all sides of the issue. She recommended warming to pro-choicers by telling them “I hear you,” “that must be really hard” and, creatively, “you’re so pretty.” With people in the middle concerned with cases like rape and saving a woman’s life, she recommended not engaging on those issues but instead telling them that if they’re anti-abortion in 99 percent of cases, they’re anti-abortion.

Critically, she urged anti-abortion advocates to tell stories that “create the perception of a victim, a villain and a hero.”

In those stories, she said, the woman obtaining an abortion is the victim and the provider is the villain (with supporting villain roles sometimes played by overbearing boyfriends pressuring women to get abortions). “Anyone coercing women into having an abortion is in the role of the villain,” she said. “And keep in mind that a lot of times the people coercing women into having abortions are the ones who stand to financially profit from it. So that’s why we’ve talked about Planned Parenthood and we’ve talked about abortion businesses, because they are trained to sell abortions.”

“And who is the hero?” she asked. “You are the hero, your supporters are the heroes. You’re saying, here’s a victim that you have saved from this or someone that you could have saved. You are the hero, you are in that position.”

She said that she tries to bolster this image of anti-abortion heroes by taking “pictures of very attractive, beautiful, youthful people” at events and posting “a ton of them” on social media.

Brownback’s template story of the woman as a victim and the abortion provider as a villain looms large in the messaging of the anti-abortion movement. Yet not everyone at the conference was on board with characterization. Murphy said she was sick of anti-abortion literature that portrayed women as “a damsel in distress,” saying, “Let’s give them information that’s going to empower them and not play into this whole victim mindset.” Destiny De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists said, “When you make someone the hero of their own story, I think that’s very important, and I think the pro-life movement has missed an opportunity because, unfortunately, we tend to put women in the victim role a lot.”

Five Right-Wing Predictions About Marriage Equality That Still Haven't Come True

Sunday marked the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision, which, if Religious Right activists were to be believed, was to usher in a horrible tyranny that would lead to mass deaths and war.

Of course, the Right’s doomsday predictions about what would happen if same-sex marriage became legal nationwide were totally unfounded, and only a tiny contingent of conservativescame to a protest the ruling in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

While the conservative movement certainly hasn’t given up on the fight against LGBT rights and is thrilled by Donald Trump’spromise to appoint anti-LGBT judges who would oppose the marriage ruling, many activists have once again shown that they are more interested in stirring up fears about the LGBT community than in the facts.

Here are just five of the craziest predictions that conservative politicians and pundits made about Obergefell v. Hodges, all of which are yet to come true.

1) War’s A-Brewin’

Many “mainstream” Religious Right leaders said that if the Supreme Court were to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage, Americans should prepare for a revolution.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, for example, said there would be an anti-gay “revolution” that would “just break this nation apart” if marriage bans were overturned, warning that such a ruling would “literally split this nation in two and create such political and cultural turmoil that I’m not sure we could recover from it.”

Mat Staver and Matt Barber of the Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel made similar statements, with Barber declaring that “revolution is at hand” and Staver claiming that there would be a “new American Revolution” resisting marriage equality. Former House GOP Leader Tom DeLay insisted that “all hell” was “going to break loose” if the court sided with LGBT activists on marriage.

“We’ve got to fight to our deaths to save this great country,” said Cliff Kincaid of the conservative group Accuracy In Media, while Vision America’s Rick Scarborough vowed that he was willing to “burn” in defiance of gay marriage, which he said would “unleash the spirit of hell on the nation.”

One year later, no anti-gay revolution has occurred and Rick Scarborough has not self-immolated.

2) Secession

Just before the ruling, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah called on governors “to secede” from the union in order “to offer a refuge” for the “millions of Americans” who he believed would flee the country as a result of marriage equality. “The rewards could be great. I would certainly consider relocating. How about you?” he asked. “If not a state, are there any nations in the world interested in a pilgrimage by millions of Americans?”

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson warned that the U.S. could witness a second civil war over a same-sex marriage decision and televangelist Rick Joyner predicted that the court would “start an unraveling where our country fractures like it hasn’t since the Civil War.”

Self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs, for her part, said that she and other “prophets” had heard from God about a great “conservative revolt” and a “War between the States” that would take place as states threatened to secede to preserve “biblical marriage”.

Conservative activist Alan Keyes said the ruling amounted to “a just cause for war” and was “likely to produce the separation and dissolution of the United States,” while one author, former Reagan aide Douglas MacKinnon, called on a group of Southern states to form a new country called Reagan that would not tolerate gay rights.

We are still waiting for such a brave governor to threaten secession.

3) God’s Punishment

Gay marriage would lead to a divine reckoning, many conservative pundits predicted, possibly in the form of a global financial crash, a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack or “a fireball from space.”

“It is just a question of how soon the wrath of God is going to come on this land,” televangelist Pat Robertson warned. Florida-based pastor Carl Gallups, now a staunch Donald Trump ally, maintained that “this ruling may prove to be the final death knell of divine judgment upon our once great nation.”

Radio host Rick Wiles predicted that “God will cut off America’s food supply and this nation will be hit with disease, pestilence, drought, natural calamities and a great shaking” and urged people to flee the country.

End Times author Jonathan Cahn even wondered if God would use Hurricane Joaquin to damage Washington, D.C., as a sign of his displeasure with the same-sex marriage decision.

The hurricane, in the end, did not hit D.C.

4) Pedophilia

Following the passage of the 2009 law that expanded hate crime protections to LGBT people, many right-wing politicians and analysts falsely claimed that the act legalized pedophilia. Of course, it did nothing of the sort and child abuse is still a crime.

Many of these same people claimed years later that the Obergefell ruling would also legalize pedophilia, which, obviously, it did not do.

Robertson said the ruling would turn pedophilia into a “constitutional right” and permit “relationships with children ” (along with “love affairs between men and animals”).

DeLay warned that the ruling would pave the way for a secret government plan to legalize “12 new perversions, things like bestiality, polygamy [and] having sex with little boys.” Ben Carson, then a GOP candidate for president, suggested that NAMBLA would benefit from the ruling.

5) Outlawing Religious Belief

Predictions about the government throwing pastors in jail, outlawing the Bible, and even murdering Christians came flooding in after the Obergefell decision.

Mike Huckabee said that America was witnessing “the criminalization of Christianity” and that any pastor who didn’t want to officiate a wedding for a same-sex couple would be liable to face criminal charges :

If the courts rule that people have a civil right not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage, then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor who believes in biblical marriage who says ‘I can’t perform that wedding’ will now be breaking the law. It’s not just saying, ‘I’m sorry you have a preference.’ No, you will be breaking the law subject to civil for sure and possible criminal penalties for violating the law…. If you do practice biblical convictions and you carry them out and you do what you’ve been led by the spirit of God to do, your behavior will be criminal.

No pastor has been arrested for refusing to officiate a same-sex couple’s wedding, reading from the Bible or preaching against homosexuality, all things that conservatives predicted would happen.

Some right-wing pundits even thought that the ruling would lead to forced gay relationships and parents losing custody of their children.

Many pundits, however, have wrongly used the case of Kim Davis to claim that their fears were realized.

Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was temporarily incarcerated by a federal judge when she refused to abide by court orders which found that she was unlawfully denying same-sex couples marriage licenses. Davis, who boasted that she was defying the Supreme Court decision and subsequent rulings because she was working under “ God’s authority ,” was released after deputy clerks in the county office agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Davis was not incarcerated because of her religious objections but because, in her role as a government employee, she clearly defied the rule of law. She was not attempting to exercise her religious freedom as a private citizen but was trying to impose her personal religious beliefs on the functions of government, and make all the people in her jurisdiction abide by her faith.

As Janet Porter warned in her anti-gay film, “Light Wins,” “our freedoms are on fire.”

Anti-Choice Groups React To Whole Woman’s Health Decision: Protect 'Vulnerable' Women, Elect Trump

The reactions from anti-abortion groups to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt have started pouring in. Most repeat the claim that the Texas law in question, which was meant to regulate the majority of the state’s abortion providers out of existence, was in fact an honest attempt to protect women’s health and stand up to unscrupulous providers. A few linked the decision to the upcoming presidential election, urging voters to elect a president who will nominate justices hostile to Roe v. Wade, as Donald Trump has promised he will do.

Americans United For Life, the legal architect of many TRAP laws, including the one in Texas, said that the law was meant to “protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry” and repeated the increasingly common anti-choice talking point that legal abortion providers are the true “back alley”:

“Women lost today as the Supreme Court sides with the abortion industry, putting profits over women’s health and safety by opposing life-saving regulations and medically endorsed standards of patient care. Sadly, the commonsense laws that protect women in real, full service healthcare centers won’t be in effect in Texas abortion clinics, but Americans United for Life will continue to fight – in legislatures and in the courts – to protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry,” said AUL Acting President and Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe. …

“In striking down these commonsense requirements, the Supreme Court has essentially accepted the abortion industry’s argument that it should be allowed to keep its profits high and patient care standards low,” said Forsythe. “It inexplicably turned a blind eye to what it has repeatedly held since Roe v. Wade: states may regulate the provision of abortion to protect maternal health. This ruling endangers women nationwide as health and safety standards are at risk.”

“Today’s abortion clinics are the true ‘back alleys’ of abortion mythology,” noted Denise Burke, Vice President of Legal Affairs at AUL. “They consistently operate in the ‘red light district’ of American medicine where the problem of substandard abortion providers is longstanding and pervasive. The fight against this public health crisis will continue, despite today’s ruling.”

Stephen Aden of the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom linked the law to Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider who was found guilty of a number of crimes related to a squalid clinic he ran, claiming that Texas’ law was “clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell Scandal”:

“Abortionists shouldn’t be given a free pass to elude medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled against a law so clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal. The law’s requirements were commonsense protections that ensured the maximum amount of protection for women, who deserve to have their well-being treated by government as a higher priority than the bottom line of abortionists. Any abortion facilities that don’t meet basic health and safety standards are not facilities that anyone should want to remain open.”

The Family Research Council similarly claimed that the Supreme Court decision “gives the abortion industry a free pass,” ridiculously claiming that abortion providers face less stringent regulation than hair salons and restaurants:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:

"The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down H.B. 2 undermines the health and safety of vulnerable women. This decision is a loss for women and gives the abortion industry a free pass. The need to regulate abortion facilities is necessary to protect women against cut-and-run abortionists at shoddy abortion facilities. Mandating basic and necessary health and safety standards such as trained staff, corridors that could accommodate a stretcher in case of emergency, admitting privileges to a hospital, and up-to-date fire, sanitation, and safety codes should be beyond the politics of abortion. When abortion facilities are not held to the same standards as other facilities, women’s lives are endangered. In 2011 alone, 26,500 women experienced abortion-related complications, and close to 3,200 women required post-abortion hospitalization. Hair and nail salons, public pools, restaurants, and tanning centers must meet basic health and safety standards—shouldn’t abortion facilities? Abortion facilities cannot be exempt from following basic health standards.

"While the need to protect the health and safety of women failed to remain at the forefront of the Supreme Court's decision, we will continue our work to protect women and children from the predatory abortion industry,” Perkins concluded.

FRC’s Arina Grossu, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, released the following statement:

“One cannot be pro-woman and stand for the substandard facilities that many abortion centers operate which risk women’s lives. Striking down abortion facility regulations leaves the door open for continued and rampant disregard for women’s health and safety. Status-quo is not good enough," concluded Grossu.

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver also claimed that the Supreme Court was siding with abortion clinics’ bottom lines over the health of women:

“How foolish a decision by the Supreme Court to strike down common sense regulations regarding health and safety,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “They expect us to believe their opinion is based on the Constitution? It certainly is not. This is a sad day and another dark chapter in the history of America. Women should not be relegated to substandard facilities in order to save abortion providers a few dollars.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, which acts as the political arm of the anti-choice movement, turned the conversation to the election, while never quite mentioning Trump by name:

“Today’s tragic decision by the Court means that Texas women will not be protected from the unsanitary conditions and even Gosnell-like horrors that permeate the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, referencing the 2013 trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, currently serving a life sentence for murdering babies after botched, late-term abortions, and for the negligent death of one mother, Karnamaya Mongar.

“The abortion industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself and they know it. That’s why they fought tooth and nail against common-sense health and safety standards and requirements for abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. We have documented page after page of incidents of abuse, negligence, and brutality since 2008. This decision means the filth and exploitation will continue unchecked.

“The stakes for the 2016 election could not be higher. The next president will be tasked with selecting Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement and up to three others. We must elect a pro-life president and safeguard today’s pro-life majorities in the House and Senate. Only with a pro-life Congress and White House can we begin to address the havoc wrought by the Supreme Court on America’s unborn children and their mothers.”

Frank Pavone of Priests for Life also linked the decision to the election:

The Supreme Court is now the Supreme Medical Board, setting its own standards for patient care in the United States. This decision is an outrageous usurpation of legislative power and it only underscores the critical importance of electing a President who will nominate -- and Senators who will confirm -- justices to the Supreme Court who will adjudicate, not write the law.

As did Tim Head, the executive director of Ralph Reed’s group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition:

“The U.S. Supreme Court once again failed to protect the rights, health and safety of women and unborn children today in its Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision. Texas and many other states have enacted common sense laws that protect the rights of the unborn and the health and safety of thousands of women subjected to the horrific conditions of abortion clinics across the country, and its shameful that the Supreme Court overturned these safeguards. The Court’s failure today is another example of the urgency to elect a pro-life President in November who will be responsible for filling the enormous vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s passing and possibly fill other seats on the Court. The pro-life community must also unite to elect legislators across the country who will work to protect women and unborn children.”

Fox commentator Todd Starnes referenced the need for the anti-choice movement to ensure ideological purity among judges, even those nominated by Republican presidents:

Russell Moore, the policy head of the Southern Baptist Convention, meanwhile, filmed a video outside the Supreme Court in which he claimed that the “sad and pathetic ruling that essentially leaves the abortion industry unregulated in a kind of wild west, laissez faire sort of situation in the state of Texas that we wouldn’t allow for any other industry.”

Christians, he said, “need to be standing up for our vulnerable unborn neighbors and their vulnerable mothers.”

 

 

Supreme Court Turns Back Texas Attempt To Undermine Roe

A 5-3 majority of the Supreme Court today struck down parts of a sweeping anti-choice law passed in Texas in 2013. The case dealt with the law’s targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) provisions that created burdensome and unnecessary regulations on clinics that would have forced the vast majority of the state’s providers to close. The law not only threatened Texas women’s access to safe and legal abortion, but was a calculated assault on Roe v. Wade and was the product of decades of anti-choice efforts to undermine the decision without overturning it.

From the beginning, the law’s proponents claimed that these regulations were simply meant to protect women’s health, though they often did a pretty bad job of staying on message. During oral arguments in the case, for instance, the state’s solicitor general argued that women burdened by Texas’ law could simply drive over the border to New Mexico, which does not have the same regulations, undermining the whole argument that the idea was to protect women’s health.

And already, the law is proving to be actually detrimental women’s health: One study found that since the law’s passage, hundreds of thousands of women in Texas “have tried to self-induce their abortions without medical assistance, making it more common in Texas than in other parts of the U.S.”

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her concurrence to the decision, “it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”

It’s hardly been a secret within the anti-abortion movement that the Texas law was meant to cut off access to abortion rather than to shut down unsafe clinics.

At a Pro-Life Women’s Conference in Dallas this weekend, many speakers alluded to the spate of TRAP laws across the country, including the one in Texas, as a sign that their movement was winning. In one revealing exchange during a panel about anti-abortion politics, Texas anti-abortion activist Carolyn Cline held up a brick that she said she had gotten from a pastor friend who told her it was “the last brick in the lot” of a facility that had been closed by HB2, prompting enthusiastic applause.

Moments later, Arina Grossu, who works on anti-abortion issues for the Family Research Council, argued that pro-choicers should support laws like HB2 because they are meant to protect “women’s health and safety” while at the same time portraying it as a sign that the movement to end legal abortion is winning.

Tony Perkins: Donald Trump Can Return God's Blessing To America

On Tuesday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins chatted with Sandy Rios, who was guest-hosting his radio program, about the recent meeting between Donald Trump and Religious Right leaders.

Perkins said that he is voting for Trump even though he isn’t very excited about it, arguing that “evangelicals have been under constant attack and marginalization by the policies of Barack Obama” and Trump will at least put an end to this anti-Christian persecution.

Rios, the American Family Association official who, like Perkins, was a vocal supporter of Ted Cruz, added that many conservatives feel like they are making a decision similar to “Sophie’s Choice” where “she had to choose between her two children, both were going to be killed or she chose that one will live, and I mean that’s pretty dramatic, but really for some Christians, voting for Donald Trump is something like that.”

“This is not something that I relish, that I am excited about,” Perkins said. “But from a pragmatic standpoint, I think there’s an opportunity.”

If Trump “walks in that grace that is available,” Perkins said, then he could surround himself with people who could “help him cast a vision that moves America back to the country that honors God and therefore would be a recipient of His blessing.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser: Trump's Abortion Flip-Flops Are A Sign Of Humility

Following the meeting that Donald Trump held with hundreds of Religious Right activists yesterday, a handful of leaders sat down for a press conference where they took questions from reporters. At this press conference, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and the Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser perfectly displayed just how flimsy their supposed standards are when it comes to backing political candidates.

When it comes to Trump, whose history of unapologetic narcissism, pathological dishonesty and willingness to say whatever benefits him at the moment are undeniable, both Perkins and Dannenfelser made it clear that they simply do not care about any of those things because, right now, Trump is willing to tell them what they want to hear.

Admitting that Trump has a long history of doing things, saying things and taking positions that are in direct contradiction to the supposed values of the Religious Right, Perkins rationalized backing Trump by declaring that forgiveness is the core of the Christian faith.

"One of the things about the evangelical community that people have a hard time understanding," Perkins said, 'is we forgive. We're all sinners, we all have messed up ... When we ask people to say, 'I was wrong, forgive me, I want to do the right thing today going forward,' more than anybody else evangelicals in this country can accept that."

When a reporter pointed out that Trump does not ever actually asks for forgiveness — in fact, Trump once infamously said that he has never asked God for forgiveness — Perkins responded by declaring that "when you look at the leaders that were used throughout scripture in the Bible, almost to a 'T' each and every one of them were flawed in some form or fashion and made bad choices at some point in their life. That's the good thing about the Christian faith is it's going forward, it's not looking back."

Dannenfelser, who earlier this year signed on to a letter urging voters in Iowa "to support anyone but Donald Trump" because "Mr. Trump cannot be trusted" on the issue of abortion, also came to Trump's defense, declaring that the presumptive GOP nominee is working hard "to become the person that he says that he is."

Brushing aside the debacle a few months back when Trump said that if abortion is outlawed, women who receive them should face some sort of punishment, only to then repeatedly flip-flop on the issue, even claiming at one point that he wanted to leave abortion laws the way they are, as he scrambled to do damage control, Dannenfelser spun the episode as something for which Trump deserves a lot of credit.

"To give him a lot of credit, only a person with some humility, which he doesn't get credit for, would go back and correct his comments, which he did," Dannenfelser said. "I've actually found on the abortion issue that he's done that more on that particular issue than almost any other, a willingness to correct himself and move ahead. And I think that shows an ability to become the person that he says that he is."

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Tony Perkins Agrees '100 Percent' That Donald Trump Would Be Better For The LGBT Community Than Hillary Clinton

In the wake of the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump made the absurd claim that he was a better ally of the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton. And nothing better demonstrates just how absurd this claim is than the fact that Tony Perkins, head of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council, completely agrees with Trump on this point.

Speaking with reporters following a meeting between Trump and hundreds of Religious Right activists yesterday, Perkins was asked about Trump's comments and declared that he agreed "100 percent."

"What he was saying is no American, regardless of your political ideology or your life choices, should be living under the threat of a terrorist attack on the streets of the United States of America," Perkins said. "I agree 100 percent with that. No American, no American, which they are under Barack Obama, living in fear because of Islamic terrorists coming to this country; so yes, LGBT, Catholic, Protestant atheist — as one who wore the uniform as a United States Marine and was a police officer, no American, no American should live in fear and that is exactly what Donald Trump was saying and evangelicals believe the same thing."

"That's why our military is filled with evangelicals who are willing to lay down their lives for the rights of people to live in ways they might not agree with, but not to live in fear," he continued. "So, yes, I agree with what Donald Trump said and I think most evangelicals would as well."

Family Research Council Tries To Stop Bill Helping Vets Access Fertility Services

The Family Research Council, which routinely maligns gay military service members, is now attacking a bill that would make it easier for veterans to access fertility services if they have been wounded in combat, claiming that it undermines “pro-life” principles.

The Military Times reports that the group believes the bill may open the door to “human cloning” and “3-parent embryos” and may aid treatments that lead to the destruction of embryos:

A prominent conservative group hopes to derail a congressional effort to give wounded veterans access to fertility services through the VA, saying it could lead to human cloning and three-parent embryos.

The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council sent an email last week to congressional staff working on the final Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, voicing opposition to a provision that would require the Veterans Affairs Department to cover fertility services for former troops with injuries that cause infertility.

In the email, an FRC representative called the language in the Senate bill, penned by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “terrible,” adding that it was "broad enough to cover reproductive technologies from IVF to human cloning to 3-parent embryos.”

“It does not have any restrictions on whether treatment would include the creation of human embryos, the storage of or freezing of human embryos or whether and how embryos that are left over would be destroyed,” according to the correspondence.

Roughly 1,800 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans received injuries to their groins, genitalia or spinal cords that make it difficult to have children without medical assistance, and while the Defense Department provides some advanced fertility treatments to these service members while they are on active duty, the VA is barred by law from doing so.

Since 2012, Murray has pressed her fellow lawmakers to cover fertility services for these veterans, most recently in a rider to the fiscal 2017 VA funding bill.

In the email, the FRC said the Murray provision “violates principles … which pro-lifers have fought to maintain for years.”

Perkins: Obama Fosters Environment For Terrorism In America

On his radio show Monday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that President Obama “fostered this environment” in which terrorist attacks like the recent mass shooting in Orlando can occur by “promoting Islam” and marking Ramadan.

Perkins criticized Obama’s reaction to acts of terrorism in the U.S., saying he “immediately goes to this call for gun control and it’s like he — I don’t know if he’s oblivious to it or he thinks everybody else is and that we won’t remember that he’s the one that celebrated Ramadan in the White House, been promoting Islam on his world apology tour for America, and so on and so forth. I mean, it’s hacking Christianity while promoting the Islamic faith. I mean, where does it stop?”

Perkins claimed Obama has been “promoting” Islam throughout his eight years in office. He said Islam is “more than a religion. It’s an ideology, it’s a political ideology. It’s a military ideology that — look what it’s done. It’s left people dead on our streets and the president needs to be called out for it. The president has fostered this environment.”

Tony Perkins: Obama Making 'Willful' Effort To Endanger Americans

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, responded on his radio program Tuesday to the terrorist attack at a gay club in Orlando, blaming President Obama for a “willful” effort to undermine American security.

Perkins repeated the right-wing attack on Obama for not saying the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” claiming that the administration sees Christians, Republicans and veterans as just as much of a threat as radical Islamists, a reference to a phony right-wing scandal involving a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report. “Notice how this administration … when you talk about extremism, they put members of the Republican Party in that category,” he said, “They would label Christians — and have — as extremists. They would [label] returning veterans from combat as those that need to be monitored.”

He said that he hoped that Americans “are waking up that this is a deadly game of political correctness.”

“The thing about this,” he continued, “the president has been promoting both of these groups, the Islamic communities that have given rise to these individuals and the gay community. I would think those in the gay community would be demanding that this president cease his political correctness and protect all Americans, every American … I don’t care their ideology, I don’t care their life choices, they deserve to be protected from terrorists in this country.”

“And the president has failed, the president has failed America, he’s failed to keep our country safe,” he said. “And I think it’s willful by the failed policies that he’s continued to pursue that will not call the threat what it is.”

House GOPer: Investigate Planned Parenthood Just Because They Provide Abortions

Rep. Dianne Black, R-Tenn., spoke today at the Family Research Council about her work on the House’s “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” that House Republicans convened in response to the Center for Medical Progress’ smear of Planned Parenthood but that has a broad mandate to investigate basically anything involving abortion providers.

In her opening remarks, Black acknowledged that she saw the panel as an extension of her efforts to “go after” Planned Parenthood that began even before the Center for Medical Progress released its videos that claimed, falsely, that the women’s health organization illegally profits from the small amount of fetal tissue it donates to medical research. In fact, she said, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion is evidence enough that “we must expose them.”

“Even before last summer’s videos were exposing Planned Parenthood and their role in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts,” she said, “their own annual report told us in black and white why we must expose them and go after what they stood for: They’re the largest abortion provider in this nation. They perform more than 320,000 abortions annually while they receive over $500 million of taxpayer dollars to perform these abortions.” (This last figure is incorrect: Planned Parenthood is barred by federal law from using taxpayer funding on abortions except in very limited cases.)

Black recalled how the very first law she introduced in Congress was a 2011 measure to cut funding from Planned Parenthood in a short-term spending bill but that her project met with “tepid” reception on Capitol Hill until David Daleiden’s videos provided an “opportunity” to further that goal.

Earlier this year, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have cut all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, which Black said means “if we had a willing partner in the White House, this is possible, so we cannot give up.”

She said that the select panel was designed as an alternative to this legislation: “We wanted to focus, since this didn’t become law, on the first steps that we can take to hold the abortion industry accountable that don’t require the signature of a president. And that was the genesis, really, of the [committee.]”

Remarkably, after explicitly saying that the panel grew out of her years-long fight against Planned Parenthood, Black said that the panel is not actually meant to target Planned Parenthood.

“They’ve called us a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, though Planned Parenthood is never named anywhere in the resolution that authorizes the panel’s formation and was not called to testify at either one of our two public hearings that we have head to this point,” she said.

Later in the speech, when asked by an audience member what medical providers can do to help prevent abortion, Black responded that doctors should “help to educate young women with prevention first, using healthy practices to prevent pregnancies before they’re ready for that family” — which is, incidentally, the exact kind of medical care that much of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding goes toward.

Black’s full presentation is here:

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801 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 www.frc.org 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 TrueLife.org 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 >