Liberty Counsel

Revolution! Anti-Gay Activists Threaten Uprising If Supreme Court Approves Marriage Equality

Speaking from the pulpit of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May 2004, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Dobson’s words were simulcast into churches across the country as part of a “Battle for Marriage” rally that just happened to coincide with President George W. Bush’s hard-fought reelection campaign. Three months earlier, the president himself hadannounced to the nation that “to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America.”

Opposition to same-sex marriage emerged as a key component of the president’s reelection strategy that year, as the Bush campaign worked with Religious Right leaders, including Dobson, to marshal conservative voters to the polls to back state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and other unions. Ballot measures in 11 states, all successful, aided the president’s reelection bid and helped to swing the momentum, for a time, to the side of the anti-gay Right.

While a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage for gay and lesbian couples had failed to clinch the required votes from either house of Congress, after the 2004 election, Dobson stressed that “mainstream Americans” supported such an amendment, knowing that they “could not stand idly by while the radical gay agenda was forced down their throats.”

A decade later, Dobson left Focus on the Family, reportedly in part because the organization he had founded refused to give a leadership position to his divorced son. Dobson and his son Ryan now host a radio program called “Family Talk” and Focus has moved on under the less fiery leadership of Jim Daly. Ted Haggard, the pastor of the church where Dobson spoke at the 2004 “Battle for Marriage,” eventually left his post after acknowledging that he had relationships with men. An architect of Bush’s 2004 re-election strategy, Ken Mehlman, announced six years later that he is gay. Another Bush campaign strategist, Karl Rove, said in 2013 that he could see a future GOP presidential nominee endorsing gay marriage.

Public opinion has also changed dramatically in the decade since Bush’s reelection. Polling now consistently shows majority support for marriage equality, which is legal in 37 states.

This dramatic shift toward marriage equality may culminate this year when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, a collection of cases challenging the constitutionality of the remaining state-level bans on same-sex marriage.

But the Religious Right is not ready to give up what was, until recently, a winning culture-war issue.

Now, as even many conservative pundits are predicting that the Supreme Court will strike down the remaining state bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders are preparing their response.

In a conference call with other movement figures, Dobson was steadfast in his opposition. If the Supreme Court strikes down the state bans and states across the country fail to convene “a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution” on marriage, Dobson warned, “we’re going to see a general collapse in the next decade or two.”

Worse, Dobson said, there could be a war: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.”

This style of apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision is not uncommon in a movement whose leaders are preparing to commit civil disobedience and calling on states to defy the court if it issues a broad ruling in favor of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Manhattan Declaration

The Religious Right’s current strategy in the fight against marriage equality — claiming to be the real victims while making wild warnings about imminent anti-Christian persecution — was previewed in the 2009 signing of the Manhattan Declaration and the campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act the same year.

Warning that America is on the brink of turning into a Nazi-like state where religious freedom is a thing of the past, a group of Roman Catholic and evangelical leaders, including prominent Religious Right figures, signed The Manhattan Declaration, pledging their commitment to civil disobedience in the face of what they described as the tyranny of gay rights laws and legal abortion.

Signers asserted that supporters of gay marriage and abortion rights are bent on trampling their religious freedoms. They compared themselves to Christian martyrs, civil rights leaders like Martin Luther, resisters to Nazi tyranny, heavenly angels and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. One of the declaration’s architects, the late Religious Right leader Chuck Colson, worried that Christians in America would soon end up in jail, while Dobson wondered if Americans will be forced to “leave this beloved country and spend the rest of our lives in exile.”

That same year, Religious Right activists launched a relentless, but unsuccessful, campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Right alleged that the bill would criminalize Christian teachings and the Bible, throw pastors in jail, quash free speech and legalize pedophilia and other illegal sex acts. In the five years following the law’s enactment, none of the wild predictions about its effects have come close to materializing. But that hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from recycling the very same discredited claims to warn against nationwide marriage equality.

For example, Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas pastor and activist with close ties to politicians including Sen. Ted Cruz, has repeated his unfounded claims about the 2009 hate crimes act almost verbatim when discussing the potential dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage. As did Mike Huckabee, who told pastors on a conference call that preaching against homosexuality will be criminalized. Just this month, Scarborough warned that if gay couples are no longer barred from marriage, preaching from the Bible will become a crime and anti-gay conservatives will be thrown in jail. Five years ago, he made almost exactly the same dire warning about the hate crimes act.

Influential Religious Right groups including the American Renewal Project, led by GOP organizer David Lane, and the Family Research Council are asking pastors to tell their congregations that marriage equality could bring about the end of freedom and, according to Lane, “a complete moral breakdown .” Lane has previously warned that legal equality for LGBT people will eventually lead to America’s “utter destruction” and even terrorist attacks.

Others have taken to likening themselves to Jews living in Nazi Germany and African Americans during the Jim Crow era.

The Religious Right’s apocalyptic rhetoric about marriage equality has only become more incendiary as many of the ban’s defenders begin to expect that they will lose at the Supreme Court.

Nazi Germany, Jim Crow comparisons

Increasingly, Religious Right leaders have been portraying the push for equal rights for the LGBT community as a fascist, Nazi-style movement that will usher in a wave of oppression. And much like how Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement resisted Jim Crow, these activists argue, conservatives must also defy gay rights laws that they view as equally if not more oppressive.

Bryan Fischer, the conservative radio host and former American Family Association spokesman, regularly claims that gay people are modern-day Nazis and to blame for the rise of Nazism in Germany, asserting that Adolf Hitler was “an active homosexual” who recruited gays into his cause because “homosexual soldiers basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has also wondered when gay rights supporters will “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.”

Mat Staver, chairman of the conservative legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel, has likened a potential pro-equality Supreme Court ruling to the infamous Dred Scott decision and urged people to defy such a ruling just as they would “if the government forced you turn over a Jew in Nazi Germany.” Staver, who has warned about the prospect of “forced homosexuality” and repeatedly compared gays to terrorists, insists that the Supreme Court could spark a new Civil Rights Movement, this time to oppose gay rights.

An alarming number of anti-gay activists have compared themselves to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran theologian who was executed for defying Nazi rule. “This is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer moment for every preacher in America,” Scarborough told participants in the recent activist conference call hosted by Dobson. Staver offered a similar message to conservatives in a recent radio interview: “This is a Bonhoeffer moment.”

David Lane has said that Christians in America “must risk martyrdom” over the issue of marriage equality. Likewise, American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios has repeatedly urged opponents of gay rights to “prepare for martyrdom.”

Conservative pundit Glenn Beck told his show’s viewers this year that gay rights advocacy is leading to concentration camps and “a Christian holocaust.” Other conservative commentators have similarly suggested that gay people are pushing for anti-Christian persecution and genocide.

The persecution theme seems to have struck a chord. Leading GOP figures including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, along with several Republican congressmen, all appear in a film to be released this year that alleges that the gay rights movement plans to outlaw Christianity. Huckabee has repeatedly invoked Nazi tyranny while discussing gay rights, and even said that the gay community seeks to ultimately destroy churches and the Gospel. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz accused gay rights supporters of waging a “jihad” against freedom.

Even more frequently, anti-gay activists maintain that gay rights will usher in a new form of slavery and Jim Crow.

“Apparently someone forgot to tell the Stormtroopers in the homosexual movement about the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and freedom of both will and conscience,” Fischer said last year. “The leaders of the Gay Gestapo have become our new slave masters. They can now send us to the hole if we refuse the massa’s demands.”

Fischer has also charged that gay rights measures violate the constitutional ban on slavery, and even declared that as a result of gay rights, “Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.”

Some activists are calling for an anti-gay version of Rosa Parks. One even suggested that gay marriage opponents should follow in the footsteps of the “sidewalk counselors” who stand outside of abortion clinics in order to dissuade women from entering.

Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, has similarly claimed that gay rights advocates are practicing an “anti-religious” version of Jim Crow, while Fox News pundit and RedState editor Erick Erickson has said that “gay rights activists use the tactics of Bull Connor to push for what they declare civil rights.”

Revolution

Perkins, the Family Research Council leader, is one of the most visible and vocal figures in the Religious Right, frequently appearing on national television and hosting his own daily radio show. Perkins also organizes an annual conference, the Values Voter Summit, which brings top Republican politicians together with Religious Right activists. But despite his veneer of respectability, Perkins is just as extreme as activists considered to be on the far-right fringe: He has spoken out in defense of Uganda’s “kill the gays” measure and called gay rights supporters Satanic, among other things.

Perkins has also taken to warning that if the Supreme Court sides with marriage equality advocates, the U.S. will see a full-blown revolution.

Perkins warned in 2012 that if the Supreme Court were to strike down same-sex marriage bans throughout the country, “I’m telling you what, I think you will create a firestorm of opposition. I think that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, when you look at a nation that is so divided along these moral and cultural issues that you could have — I hate to use the word — a revolt, a revolution. I think you could see Americans saying, ‘you know what, enough of this,’ and I think it could explode and just break this nation apart.”

“They’re sowing the seeds of the disillusion of our republic,” Perkins said of gay marriage supporters in 2014. “I think there’s coming a point that they’re going to push Christians to a point where they’re not going to be pushed anymore, and I think we’re very quickly coming to that point.”

As the Supreme Court considered a pair of marriage cases in 2013, Perkins said that the threat of a revolution may keep the justices from striking down same-sex marriage bans:

I believe the court will push as far as they think they can without creating a social upheaval or a political upheaval in this country. They’re smart people, I think, they understand how organizations and how societies work and if you get your substructure out of kilter with the superstructure, if you get government out of whack with where the people are and it goes too far, you create revolution. I think you could see a social and cultural revolution if the court goes too far on this.

Just last month, Perkins again predicted that the Supreme Court could trigger an uprising with a ruling in favor of marriage equality: “If the court imposes upon the nation a redefinition of marriage, I don’t think the nation is going to accept it, I absolutely don’t, and the conflict that is going to come as a result of it.”

Perkins may not find much support for his anti-gay revolution from the public at large, but he may find his some willing participants in his fellow Religious Right leaders.

Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver has claimed that a Supreme Court ruling favorable to marriage equality would take the country “back to the days of the American Revolution” and create the “groundswell of a potential new American Revolution.”

“Martin Luther [King] was always speaking of non-violent protest and I would hope that’s what we would do here but you never know what happens,” he cautioned.

Staver warns that an adverse Supreme Court ruling, along with President Obama’s pro-gay-rights policies and the possible passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would have “catastrophic consequence[s] for our religious freedom, for the very function of the family, for marriage, for our human existence, for civil society and for any area of our liberty.”

“The church and people of faith and values need to rise up” against such a ruling, he said in 2013. “We just simply cannot allow this to become the law of the land.”

The previous year, Staver warned that marriage equality “could be the unraveling of the United States” and trigger a civil war:

This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country.

After the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of DOMA, Staver declared that the country was “crossing into the realm of rebellion, we’re crossing into the realm of revolution.”

The Alabama Example

After the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision led to a string of federal court decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage, Religious Right leaders pleaded for governors and other state officials to openly flout the rulings.

Perkins said that states should not “listen to these courts” that make decisions “inconsistent with scripture.” Staver agreed, claiming that the states must defy any court which has “literally lost their mind.”

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, said state and local officials should simply refuse to enforce such rulings, explaining: “Well, the courts have spoken and it’s an important voice, but it’s not the voice of God and the Supreme Court isn’t God.”

Finally, they found their answer in Roy Moore, the elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Moore emerged as a conservative hero over a decade ago, when he defied orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument that he installed in the courthouse rotunda during his previous term as chief justice. When the standoff eventually led to Moore losing his post, he parlayed his newfound fame into two unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns and even a presidential “exploratory committee.” Moore also launched his own far-right legal advocacy group, the Foundation for Moral Law.

Moore returned to the court after winning a statewide election in 2012 and two years later, he once again made national headlines when he ordered state probate judges, who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, to disregard a Bush-appointed federal judge’s decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Moore demanded that the state flout the ruling, saying that it had no need to implement the decision.

Moore has contended that gay marriage will “destroy the very foundation on which this country was built” and “destroy this country,” warning that the country will “suffer” divine judgment for embracing Satanic gay rights. “No society is prepared to deal with the problems arising out of same-sex marriages: child abuse, adoption, divorce, foster care, alimony, and the list could go on and on,” Moore told one anti-marriage-equality rally. In his prior stint as chief justice, he wrote that homosexuality is an “inherent evil” and “criminal lifestyle” that “should never be tolerated.”

Insisting that his personal reading of the Bible trumps the federal court’s ruling, Moore believes that any decision which contravenes his understanding of God’s law is inherently unconstitutional since the Constitution, he claims, is based on divine precepts.

His case against marriage equality is simple: “Homosexuality is wrong and we all know it. Marriage of the same sex is wrong and we all know it.” Moore’s legal advocacy organization, now led by his wife, defended his order to probate judges by explaining that “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

Conservative politicians hailed Moore. The head of the Alabama GOP thanked Moore for saving the state from God’s wrath; Religious Right preacher Cindy Jacobs said God had told her that He is using Moore “to reverse what Satan has done”; NOM’s Brian Brown praised Moore’s “principled stand” against “tyranny”; and Bryan Fischer said that Moore acted in the finest tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. by "waging the civil rights battle of this decade.”

Moore took his show to the road, telling a rally in Texas held in his honor that he hopes he will not have to “give his life” in the fight against gay marriage. He warned at a Family Research Council event that the government will soon legalize “parent-and-child” marriages and justify “taking your children simply by the same logic they’re following.”

“Christians need to stand up and do their duty to God as their duty to their country,” he said.

Some Republicans and their allies in the Religious Right hope that Moore’s defiant stance will serve as a model for the rest of the country.

A bill introduced in Texas not only declares that the state does not have to follow any U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, but it goes one step further by blocking funding for the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill would go so far as to punish state employees who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, barring such employees from “a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.”

In North Carolina, a group of Republican lawmakers want to create a religious exemption for officials in charge of issuing marriage licenses who don’t want to follow a recent court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Staver’s group, Liberty Counsel, filed a lawsuit “requesting emergency protection from the state courts for any magistrate who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.”

GOP lawmakers in Oklahoma reacted to a court ruling striking down their state’s marriage ban by proposing a bill which would remove any judge who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple and deny salaries, benefits and pensions to any state employees involved in marrying gay couples. Another bill in Oklahoma would remove judges from the marriage licenses process altogether and instead restrict marriage duties to “an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination who has been duly ordained or authorized by the church to which he or she belongs to preach the Gospel, or a rabbi.”

End of the Line

While social conservative leaders have mostly focused on the purported repercussions of a decision that they see as unfavorable, they also have a plan in case the court sides with their arguments: demand that states roll back same-sex marriage rights and re-impose bans previously removed by the voters, lawmakers or courts.

For now, though, right-wing leaders will be focused on doing what they always do: misleading their supporters about the so-called dangers of gay rights, making reckless charges of religious persecution, and supporting unconstitutional means to promote their discriminatory goals.

However, Dobson and his allies do see the silver lining of legal gay marriage. In a conversation with Dobson the week before the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the marriage cases, pastor Jim Garlow and former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher predicted that Americans will ultimately reject gay marriage once the country experiences its horrible consequences; that is, if America is able to survive that long.

Mat Staver: 'No Choice' But To Disobey Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

Speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver repeated his frequent comparison of a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Dred Scott decision, declaring that he would have “no choice” but to disobey such a “lawless” decision.

Staver, who has recruited hundreds of anti-gay activists to sign onto a pledge to disobey a high court ruling in favor or marriage equality, told the crowd, “As someone who’s argued before the United States Supreme Court, I have great respect for this court, but have no respect and cannot respect a lawless decision.”

Saying that like Dred Scott, a decision in favor of marriage equality would be “contrary to the natural law of God,” Staver said, “As much as I’m an attorney and I respect the rule of law, I also respect the higher law. And when an earthly law collides with the higher law, we have no choice to obey the higher law.”

“Marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” he added. “As a policy matter, any other union says that God’s design is flawed. As a policy matter, any other union says that boys don’t need fathers and girls don’t need mothers.”

Santorum & Huckabee Join Anti-Gay Extremists In Vowing To Resist Marriage Equality Ruling

Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The pledge, which was co-written by Mat Staver of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and Deacon Keith Fournier, a Catholic activist who recently argued that marriage equality is quite literally an attack of the Devil, recycles the language of a similar document circulated by right-wing groups when the Supreme Court took up a previous set of marriage cases in 2013. Staver and a number of other activists introduced the current pledge at a press conference this morning.

Along with Huckabee and Santorum, signers include former House GOP leader Tom Delay; big players in the Religious Right including John Hagee, Samuel Rodriguez and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson; and fringe anti-gay activists including Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Cindy JacobsLinda Harvey and Bradlee Dean.

Comparing any sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality to the Dred Scott case, the activists vow that they will not recognize such a decision and indicate that they would try to convince national and state executive branches not to enforce it.

The full text of the pledge:

We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.

On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.

Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.

We pledge to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.

The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.

As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.

Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.

Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.

Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.

The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.

In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.

We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

h/t RWW reader Erik

Mat Staver: Homosexuality Costs The Government Tens Of Billions Of Dollars

On his “Freedom’s Call” radio bulletin today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver discussed “the damage of homosexuality,” which he said affects everybody because “studies repeatedly show that homosexual conduct can result in significant cost to the community that encourages it.”

“Same-sex marriage leads to the devaluation of both a mother and a father, who each provide a unique contribution to the family,” Staver said. “Studies estimate that over the course of 26 years, our government spent more than $225 billion that could be directly attributed to the breakdown of the family culture and its resulting social consequences.”

After blaming gays for these societal ills, Staver said that gay people need to understand “that their actions have costly consequences to the community that surrounds them and to themselves.”

The anti-gay website BarbWire posted Staver’s audio bulletin accompanied by a photo of a woman crying on the floor.

Anti-Gay Activists Vow To Repeal Marriage Equality Laws Across The Country If They Win At SCOTUS

James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program today once again featured a discussion between Mat Staver, Rick Scarborough, and Tim Wildmon about what anti-gay Christians should expect from an upcoming Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of state bans on gay marriage.

During today's discussion, Staver repeatedly declared that marriage "is not a state's rights issue" and so, if the arguments against anti-gay marriage win at the Supreme Court, then Religious Right activists will go to work outlawing gay marriage in states where it is currently legal.

Staver argued that, like slavery, the issue of marriage equality is something that cannot be left up to the individual states to decide and Dobson agreed, warning that allowing gay marriage in some states but not in others would lead to chaos.

When Wildmon noted that allowing the individual states to decide the issue for themselves was the best outcome that anti-gay activists could hope for from this Supreme Court case, Staver agreed, but said that if that happens, then they must get to work repealing marriage equality in the states where it already exists.

"The best thing we can hope for at that level is the Supreme Court says there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage," Staver said. "But now that work has to go down, after June, if we get that decision which I pray that we do, our work's not done because we have to go back and undo the mess that the previous Supreme Court confusion has caused."

Not only would they seek to reinstate bans in states where local or federal judges had struck them down, Staver said, but they would also work to repeal marriage equality laws passed by voters or legislatures in places like New York.

"This is such a fundamental issue, it is not a state's rights issues any more than life is a state's rights issue or slavery is a state's rights issue," Staver said. "Those issues are so fundamental they transcend geography."

Barber: Christians Are Being Persecuted By An 'Islamo-Progressive Axis Of Evil'

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber likened the supposed "persecution" of Christians in America to the attack in Kenya earlier this month in which Islamic terrorists killed 147 people, saying that Christians all over the world are under attack from the "Islamo-progressive axis of evil."

Barber said that while those murdered in Kenya were victims of "hard persecution," at the same time "right here in the United States, Christians at an escalating rate are experiencing a softer persecution, but it's still anti-Christian persecution."

Just as John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking out against "sexual immorality," so too are Christians being persecuted in America today, Barber said.

"You have those who are pushing for sexual immorality and acceptance of sexual immorality and Islamists kind of both targeting Christians for persecution," he said, "some with hard persecution, others with more of a soft persecution. We're not being beheaded here in the United States yet but certainly advocates of sexual relativism are what I call the Islamo-progressive axis of evil."

"So-called progressives, they have a common enemy," Barber continued. "The common enemy is truth, is Christ, is Christians, is Christ followers":

Right Wing Round-Up - 4/13/15

Barber & Staver: Cal State Is Persecuting Christians Like Nazis Did The Jews

Last month, California State University announced that it would no longer recognize a campus Christian organization because the group would not abide by the university's non-discrimination policy, and naturally Matt Barber and Mat Staver responded by likening the university's decision it to Nazi persecution of the Jews.

On Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program today, Barber declared that this is just another example of "soft persecution" of Christians in America that, it left unchecked, will lead to Christians being imprisoned as they are in China or tortured and beheaded, as they are by ISIS.

"Soft persecution," Barber said, "can ultimately lead to hard persecution and if things don't change here in the U.S., that's the path we're heading down."

Not to be outdone, Staver readily agreed as he proceeded to liken the situation to Nazi Germany.

"Even though this kind of persecution or discrimination is not on the same level as what we see in some of these places around the world," he said, "it is a precursor to that same kind of thing. Once they say that you're a Christian and because of that, you're not going to have the same rights, we're going to stigmatize you; this is what happened with the Jews. It didn't start off with the gas chambers. It started off with taking away their right to work. It started off with putting the Star of David on these individuals and stigmatizing them and precluding them from other rights and liberties that every other person would have who is not a Jew. So this is something that we need to stand up against":

Barber & Staver: Baptist College President Must Be Fired For Allowing Lesbian Pastor To Speak On Campus

It seems that whenever a Christian receives any sort of criticism for speaking out against marriage equality, the entire Religious Right immediately begins to complain that said person's right to free speech is being violated and screaming about how they are facing persecution at the hands of modern-day fascists.

So it is interesting to watch anti-gay activists freak out over the fact that a lesbian pastor has been invited to speak at American Baptist College in Tennessee, as demonstrated by the fact that Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber are demanding that the college president be fired for allowing it to happen.

Recently, ABC president Forrest Harris responded to the controversy by defending the speech and saying that "it's sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people" and that "we can't be guided and dictated by a first-century world view." In return, Barber and Staver responded by using their radio program today to call for Harris to be fired.

"Hasn't [Harris] disqualified himself for this particular leadership position," Barber asked, "when he's calling God a liar and completely attempting to discredit the truths of Scripture, saying that Scripture isn't even true? How can he even be in this position of authority and be trusted to carry out the duties of a Christian president of a university."

"I don't think he can," Staver responded. "I think he ought to be removed. I think the alumni and supporters of the association ought to remove him ... For a president of a college like that that has a Christian tradition, that person has no right leading that college. They ought to remove him":

Matt Barber: Gay Marriage Is Satanic

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, as Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed Liberty Counsel's effort to defend Puerto Rico's ban on gay marriage, Barber once again shared his view that the push for marriage equality is literally satanic.

"From the spiritual level," Barber asked, "who is the Lawless One? Who is the Great Deceiver referred to in Scripture? The Lawless One is the Father of Lies himself and so this kind lawlessness, we know who is behind it. We know who is behind this push to redefine marriage, from a spiritual standpoint. If God designed human sexuality and designed them male and female, we know who is attacking God's design for human sexuality, God's design for the differences between the sexes and coming together in the institution of marriage as one as one flesh. And it also is a representation of the church, of Christ's relationship with the church, the bride of Christ. And so that is something that Satan hates, it is something that he wants to attack and undermine, so from a spiritual standpoint, isn't it what this all kind of derives from?"

Mat Staver: Gays Just Like Hamas Terrorists

In an interview with WorldNetDaily yesterday, anti-gay legal activist Mat Staver once again compared gay rights advocates to terrorists, telling WND radio host Greg Corombos that the LGBT community won’t stop until it wins a “special, protected, preferred status for homosexuality” and “then if they get that, boy are they going to come and hammer you hard with it.”

“Their agenda doesn’t stop until they are completely dominating anybody who ultimately does not not only agree but promote and affirm their lifestyle,” Staver said. “Their agenda will not stop, it will ultimately result in fines and prosecution. This is an intolerant agenda.”

He went on to liken gay rights supporters to the Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip: "This is like dealing with terrorists, negotiating with people who have a zero-sum game and they don’t want you to exist. It is like the Palestinians and the Israelis: the Palestinians in Gaza don’t like the Jews to exist in the land, so no matter how much land you give them for so-called peace, it doesn’t really satisfy them. There is no satisfying this radical agenda, they don’t want you to exist. If you do exist, they want you to promote and applaud their sinful lifestyle.”

Mat Staver: 'Demonic' Gay Rights Advocates Are Acting Like Terrorists

In an interview yesterday, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver said that a potential fix to Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law ensuring that it would not effectively legalize discrimination would be “devastating,” comparing such a move to negotiating with terrorists.

“There is nothing to clarify and there is nothing to fix,” Staver told Jim Schneider on VCY America’s “Crosstalk.”

“This is what the homosexual lobby wants to do: they want to intimidate [Indiana Gov. Mike Pence] so much, they want to try to embarrass him into doing something that is absolutely foolish, that will promote their agenda,” Staver added.

“It’s kind of like with these terrorists, it’s hard to negotiate with terrorists because they have a zero-sum game. It’s hard to negotiate with these people who simply are irrational and are inventing things that just simply don’t exist. You’re not going to placate them by trying to come back and pass a clarification to a law that doesn’t need any clarification at all.”

Staver told host Jim Schneider that gay rights advocates are promoting “anti-Christian hatred,” warning that the gay rights movement has “given a tolerance message, and what is behind that is, frankly, demonic. It wants to literally overpower, it has no interest in protecting religious freedom, it wants to crush it.”

“This is the wakeup call for the church,” he said.

Staver said that conservative Christians in America are in the same place as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor in Germany who died as a result of his opposition to Nazi rule.

The gay rights movement, Staver said, is all about “absolute intolerant bigotry, hatred towards Christians and people of faith,” and even the “criminalization of Christianity.”

“They want to literally crush religion, the free exercise of religion, and freedom,” Staver said. “That’s what this agenda is about. So I say stand your ground. This is a Bonhoeffer moment and Gov. Mike Pence better not back up on this issue.”

Right-Wing Pundit: 'Gov. Pence Is The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Of 2015'

Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Liberty Counsel communications director Charla Bansley proposed that pastors and “those victimized by religious intolerance” from all around the country hold a massive rally in Indianapolis to defend Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law.

“Gov. Pence is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015,” the Religious Right activist wrote.

She also made the erroneous claim that the Indiana law is just like other versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Can conservatives responding to the recent controversy in Indiana over religious freedom learn anything from liberals about messaging? After the Michael Brown shooting, liberal leaders from the left, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and secular progressive communities from across America seized the opportunity and flocked to Ferguson, Missouri, to take over the narrative, blaming Brown’s death on “institutional racism.” Universities as far away as George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, held diversity discussions. College students from all over the country joined the crowds walking the streets chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Today, the church must contend for the faith and the faithful in like manner. What churches and religious universities will take a page out of the liberal playbook to rally, to march, to hold candle vigils and to speak out? What pastors will go to Indianapolis to stand by Gov. Mike Pence and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Which organizations will help pay the way for those victimized by religious intolerance – bakers, photographers, venue owners – to make their way to Indianapolis? When will we as a church begin matching our words with action? If not now, then when?



Pence said Sunday that the new state law “is not about discrimination. This is about empowering people to confront government overreach.” Unfortunately, those words went over the heads of most people watching the interview. Homosexual activists went to the streets claiming the law would legalize discrimination, and Americans believed the false narrative. The truth is a federal RFRA was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and 19 other states have passed similar laws, but not one case of discrimination exists. The real cases of discrimination are the religious businesses who have been sued for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding: the Catholic B&B owners who didn’t want to host a same-sex wedding in Vermont, the baker in Oregon, the photographer in New Mexico, the florist in Washington and a host of others.

Gov. Pence is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015, courageously defending the bakers, photographers, florists, ministers, county clerks, and owners of wedding venues who, after a lifetime of acquiring skills and building businesses, have seen their livelihoods destroyed, forced to pay exorbitant fines and even threatened with jail.

Barber: 'Treasonous' Obama Hates America And Israel

On yesterday's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber accused President Obama of engaging in a "sinister" and "treasonous" plot to destroy Israel and America by trying to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

After hailing the recent victory by Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party in Israel's election, Staver declared that Israeli citizens who support "land for peace" are simply "stupid," whereas Obama is "sinister" for opposing Netnayahu and dealing with Iran.

"I think he has, ultimately, an objective," Staver said. "He doesn't like America. He doesn't like Israel. He doesn't stand with our allies in the Middle East. He has sympathies that ultimately undermine the Judeo-Christian values that we support and that connect us with the land of Israel."

Barber was in complete agreement, declaring that Obama is "dealing with Iran right now to enable them and help them obtain the means to destroy Israel."

"That's not a matter of opinion, that's a matter of fact," Barber said. "It's treasonous! ... It exposes the fact that this president hates Israel [and] I believe, as you just stated, that he hates America as well":

Ted Cruz Announces Presidential Campaign At Religious Right School Stacked With Anti-Gay Activists

Earlier today, Sen. Ted Cruz announced his campaign for president at Liberty University (LU), the ultraconservative school established by Jerry Falwell. His decision to choose Liberty is rather telling, considering that LU is a radically right-wing university with a law school staffed by some of the most viciously anti-gay Religious Right activists operating today.

Of course, given that LU itself was founded by Falwell, who blamed gay people for 9/11, this should not come as much of a surprise.

From the founding of Liberty's law school in 2004 until last year, Mat Staver served as dean while also serving as chairman of Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay hate group, which has deep ties to the university. Staver is among the leading anti-gay Religious Right activists today and has a long anti-gay record, having blamed the 2008 financial crisis on banks that "actively promoted the homosexual agenda" and has said that lawmakers who support marriage equality "are not competent for public office." He has repeatedly called for a "revolution" to protest gay equality and warned that gay rights laws will increase violent crimekill people, lead to "forced homosexuality," and eventually destroy America and western civilization.

Staver continues to call for a revolution to fight gay marriage and is currently leading an effort to get anti-gay Christians to ignore any Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage bans, saying that refusing to obey such a ruling is like refusing to turn a Jew over to the Nazis:

When Staver announced his resignation from Liberty's law school last year, LU President Jerry Falwell, Jr. announced that Rena Lindevaldsen would take over as interim dean. Lindevaldsen previously served as senior litigation counsel at Liberty Counsel, where she was the lead attorney in a custody case involving Lisa Miller, an "ex-gay" woman who kidnapped her daughter and fled the country rather than abide by court-ordered custody arrangements with her former partner. Lindevaldsen even wrote a book about the saga while she and Liberty Counsel continue to insist that they have no knowledge of Miller's whereabouts, despite the fact that she was reportedly living at a home in Nicaragua owned by the father of an administrative assistant working at the Liberty University Law School.

Furthermore, Staver and Lindevaldsen even reportedly taught a class at Liberty based on the Miller case in which students were instructed that the "right" thing for a Christian lawyer to do in a case such as this would be to counsel their client that they have an obligation to ignore the law and court orders and instead engage in "civil disobedience" to uphold God's law. In 2012, the school was hit with a lawsuit over its alleged involvement in Miller's kidnapping.

When Lindevaldsen spoke at a right-wing conference earlier this month, she told the audience at a breakout panel on "sexual rebellion" that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the "big deal" is about LGBT rights, she responds that "it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God." Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is "the heart of where Satan’s attacking":

Matt Barber is another Liberty University/Liberty Counsel crossover. He formerly served as vice president of Liberty Counsel Action and still co-hosts Liberty Counsel's daily radio program with Staver, while also holding positions as associate dean and adjunct professor at Liberty.

Baber happens to be one of the most viciously anti-gay bigots operating today, as demonstrated by his view that homosexuality is nothing more than "one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it "love.'"

He has said that marriage equality mocks God and desecrates the Church, declared that the Defense of Marriage Act was necessary to prevent children from becoming gay and getting AIDS, said that gay teens end their own lives because they "know that what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] immoral," proclaimed gay adoption to be "tragic," "unconscionable," and "reprehensible," and warned that gay activists are seeking to poison the minds of children and are "running interference for the pedophile movement."

Barber has called marriage equality the "bidding of the Devil" and warned that by legalizing same-sex marriage, America is " tempting the wrath of God." He claims that HIV/AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality. He has described homosexuality as a "cancer" that prompted Noah’s flood and will ultimately lead to Communism. Barber has said that Satan is behind gay rights efforts, asserting that demonic "spiritual pressure" was driving the campaign to end the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay members.

He has supported repressive anti-LGBT regimes around the world, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay crackdown and saying he'd like to see a ban on "gay propaganda" in the U.S., as well as defending Uganda's harsh criminal penalties for LGBT people.

Last year, Barber launched BarbWire.com, a right-wing website that quickly became an online repository for pieces written by some of the most viciously anti-gay pundits active today.

Several other anti-gay activists also hold teaching positions at Liberty University, including Shawn Akers, who has said that measures to prevent the bullying of LGBT youth are "a form of indoctrination and reeducation that smacks of socialist and Communist countries" and accused gay rights advocates of bullying Christians and persecuting them in the same way as Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews.

Judith Reisman is also a professor at Liberty - that is, when she is not busy fighting to criminalize pornography or claiming that schools are brainwashing children into becoming gay and that gay rights advocates are emulating the Nazis. Reisman has claimed that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Gay-Straight Alliances are modeled after the Hitler Youth and promote pedophilia.

Ken Blackwell, who earlier this month blamed gay activists for racist chants and blamed shooting sprees on gay marriage, likewise holds a teaching position at the university. Blackwell has previously compared gay people with arsonists and kleptomaniacs and same-sex couples with farm animals.

Any way you cut it, it is clear that Liberty University is home of a slew of anti-gay bigots. The fact that Ted Cruz chose this as the venue at which to announce his presidential campaign speaks volumes.

Religious Right Leader Calls For Mass Civil Disobedience To Fight Gay Marriage

Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver has made anti-gay civil disobedience a recurring theme in his speeches and activism, and the pending marriage cases at the Supreme Court seem to have him on edge.

In a BarbWire column today, “Why A Bad Supreme Court Decision May Require Civil Disobedience,” Staver outlined his goal of bringing together “many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools” to “peacefully refuse to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

Staver claimed that such anti-gay activists would be following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. and Europeans who shielded Jews from the Nazi regime, adding that “perhaps we would see our culture step back from the brink of insanity, or perhaps we would suffer in the face of injustice.”

Civil disobedience has a long and noble history in Western culture, and we will need a primer on it if, as seems likely, the Supreme Court rules against natural marriage in June.

Of course, civil disobedience is not justified just because we disagree with a human law, but only when that law conflicts with a higher revealed or Natural Law. When he was jailed for violating a law used to stop him from protesting injustice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,” he argued. “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

He went on to say: “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”



Merely because a legislature or a judge passes a law or issues an opinion does not make a law just. “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a dangerous doctrine indeed,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” To cite an extreme example, if you lived under the Nazi regime and the law required you to not hide or aid a Jew in any way, would you comply with Hitler or obey God? To obey Hitler, you would have to disobey God.



The U.S. Supreme Court could still come off the rails in their June decision and invent a newfound right to “same-sex marriage,” striking down state laws that recognize the reality of marriage. If the Court takes that disastrous step, we should view it the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Such a decision would fly in the face, not just of the Constitution itself, but of the natural created order.

The temptation for many will be to cave or compromise. The temptation even for the faithful will be to retreat into our churches and cloisters. In 2004, same-sex “marriage” came to Massachusetts. Contrary to the claim that such laws would usher in an age of “tolerance,” the law immediately became a legal club to beat unwilling participants. Catholic charities bravely refused to place orphans in same-sex homes, because it was contrary to their mission.

Unfortunately, they stopped doing adoptions in the state. This cannot be our precedent. What they should have done is to say, “We are called to place orphans in homes with moms and dads. We will not voluntarily surrender our calling.” Massachusetts might have used force to stop Catholic charities anyway, just as lone florists and bakers are being driven to bankruptcy in other states. But what would happen if, instead of quiet retreat, many thousands of individuals, agencies, charities, churches and schools all came together, prepared, prayed and peacefully refused to countenance a Supreme Court decision that violates not only our highest legal document, but the laws of Nature and Nature’s God?

Perhaps we would see our culture step back from the brink of insanity, or perhaps we would suffer in the face of injustice. Whatever the outcome, the hour is late. It’s past time for us to get ready.

Barber: 'Ben Carson Is Dead In My Eyes' After Apology For Anti-Gay Comments

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio show, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber declared that Ben Carson has effectively destroyed his presidential chances by apologizing for his statement that prison sex proves that homosexuality is a choice and vowing not to talk about the issue of gay rights anymore.

Barber blasted Carson for backtracking after he had "rightly" stated that being gay is a choice, saying "it took, I think, a day for him to come out with hat-in-hand and give this blathering mea culpa, just apologizing and saying how he'll never do this again and then promising never to talk about this issue again. So they have intimidated him into silence. From a political standpoint, now Ben Carson is dead in my eyes."

Staver agreed, saying that there is no way that Carson can refuse to talk about this issue "because it is a real threat against our faith and freedom and we can't ignore it."

"We need politicians and we need leaders who can speak boldly on this issue and who will not shrink," Staver said. "Saying that you're never going to speak on it and apologizing is not the kind of leadership you need":

A Spiritual Battle For America's Future: Five Takeaways From The Religious Right's Awakening Conference

On Saturday, roughly 2,000 activists gathered at Faith Assembly, a megachurch in Orlando, for the Awakening, an annual “Prayer and Patriotism event” organized by the Christian Right legal group Liberty Counsel. The Awakening, which Liberty Counsel organizes under the auspices of an amalgam of Religious Right groups called the Freedom Federation, brings together activists from the evangelical Right with the GOP politicians who want their votes.

At this year's event, GOP politicians including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal (via video) and RNC faith director Chad Connelly shared a stage with far-right activists including "ex-gays," a phony ex-terrorist and at least two Religious Right leaders who insist that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality. 

Here are five takeaways from a day with the core of the Religious Right.

1. Gay Marriage Will Send Christians To Jail

While some on the Right may be trying to shy away from the issue of marriage equality now that it could be on its way to a Supreme Court victory, the activists at the Awakening were not among them. Throughout the conference, marriage between gay and lesbian couples was portrayed as a demonic and existential threat to liberty, one that if allowed to proceed would end in Christianity being outlawed and Christians thrown in jail.

The Republican National Committee’s faith outreach director, Chad Connelly, who was moderating a panel on abortion rights, echoed the Religious Right’s rhetoric when he warned that LGBT rights activists are “coming for the church.”

Far-right pastor Rick Scarborough, who was sitting beside him, agreed that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, pastors will be forced to “participate in same-sex marriage ” or be thrown in jail. Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, moderating a separate panel, issued a similar warning.

Scarborough repeated his warning when he told activists that a pro-equality Supreme Court ruling would outlaw anti-gay speech, thus undermining “the whole nature of America.”

Multiple speakers compared a potential Supreme Court decision on marriage equality to Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War decision that barred African Americans from citizenship, declaring that it should be met with similar resistance.

2. Losing The Church on Gay Rights Issues

Although the Awakening took place in what appeared to be a generationally diverse, multiethnic church, the crowd at the conference was overwhelmingly older and white. Throughout the conference, speakers bemoaned the fact that the Religious Right was losing support among younger Christians for its political agenda, especially its opposition to LGBT rights.

Liberty University’s Rena Lindevaldsen told the audience at a breakout panel on “sexual rebellion” that when fellow conservative Christians ask her what the “big deal” is about LGBT rights, she responds “it’s a big deal because it’s a big deal to God.” Marriage equality, she told the enthusiastic audience, matters to God because it is “the heart of where Satan’s attacking”:

Evangelist Franklin Graham also lamented that “a lot of pastors have quit preaching against homosexuality” out of fear of offending people in their churches who might have gay relatives. He told the audience that “God will bless you and he’ll honor you” if you “don’t shut up” about gay rights and abortion:

This was a crowd that had not given up on discredited “ex-gay” therapy. An “ex-lesbian” activist, Janet Boynes, was given a main stage speaking slot and “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan earned a roaring round of applause from the audience at the “sexual rebellion” panel when he announced that he had been “out of homosexuality for 27 years.”

3. A Spiritual Battle Against Islam And Progressivism

Just as the crowd at the Awakening was upset that the conservative movement and the church have supposedly become less invested in fighting LGBT rights, they were also wary of any overtures between Christians and Muslims.

Graham declared that “Islam is a wicked system” and blasted Christians who say that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Kamal Saleem, the self-proclaimed “ex-terrorist” whose personal story has never quite held up to scrutiny , also warned that churches are being “invaded by ‘Chrislam,’” lamenting that Americans are oblivious to the dangers of radical Islam: “We’re watching American Idol and they are doing jihad.” He also warned of what he called “jihad of the womb,” or Muslim immigrants giving birth in order to outnumber Christians.

What activists at the Awakening saw as a war against Islam was merely part of a larger “spiritual battle” between good and evil, God and Satan. In the panel discussion he led on LGBT rights, Matt Barber declared that there is an “Islamo-progressive axis of evil” with a “common enemy”: Christians.

Maine pastor Ken Graves repeated that theme when he declared that American Christians are fighting “militant Islam” and “militant homofascism” and secularists who want to establish a “secular humanist caliphate”:

4. Time Is Running Out On America, And It’s Up To The Church To Save It

Throughout the day, speakers warned that America is running out of time before it is lost forever, and that it is up to conservative Christians to get involved in politics to save the country.

Graham told the crowd that he is more politically outspoken than his father, Billy Graham, because America is in a more dire state of secularism. “When my father was born, the Ten Commandments were on the wall of every school in America. When my father was born, the teachers still led the class in the Lord’s Prayer. Our country is not that anymore,” he said, declaring that the 2016 election is the last chance for the Religious Right to save the country.

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, delivered a similar message, warning that “we are heading down in a direction that, let’s be honest, no civilization has ever been able to recover from.” Conservative Christians, he declared, must reinvest themselves in politics in order, to among other things, put the Bible in public schools:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another likely GOP presidential hopeful, told the crowd that prayer was needed to bring about “spiritual revival” and change the political direction of the country: “If God’s people truly pray down a spiritual awakening, then the political landscape will change.”

“This country did not start because some people had some brilliant ideas, although they did. This country happened because God’s providence was the foundation of their brilliant ideas,” Huckabee said. “Because of his inspiration, this country has been sustained throughout all of its history because of God’s specific intervention in helping us to win battles we should never have one and in keeping us from losing battles we should have lost.”

The RNC’s Connelly also made a plug for conservative churches to engage in partisan politics , urging pastors to buck IRS rules preventing politicking from the pulpit and declaring that “voting is not political, it’s spiritual.”

5. The Religious Right And The GOP Still Need Each Other

One of the strangest moments of the day came when a George W. Bush impersonator walked onto the stage with Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver as he introduced Huckabee. Staver jokingly reassured the audience that it was not the former president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has clashed with the Religious Right over gay rights issues. It seemed to be a spontaneous addition to the program, it was hard not to see it also as a reminder to the audience of the potential power of the evangelical vote.

Unlike the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which has become the flagship gathering of the GOP and the Religious Right, the Awakening tends to attract only true believers in the cause. This year, Santorum and Huckabee spoke, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal submitted a video message. Connelly, who heads the GOP’s outreach to evangelical voters, moderated a panel on abortion rights, but largely deflected difficult questions from the far-right crowd.

Connelly did not, however, shy away from right-wing conspiracy theories, responding to a question about the “culture of death” in end-of-life care by claiming that the Affordable Care Act’s mythical “death panels” are “a reality":

It was clear throughout the day that however wary the Religious Right and the GOP establishment may be of each other, they still need each other. Speakers like Graham urged conservative Christians to revive the powerful Religious Right pressure machine to win GOP politicians to their side, whether or not they agreed with their issues. Meanwhile, the presence of the GOP candidates and Connelly indicated that this is a voting bloc that is still important to the party, however extreme its priorities may be.

Anti-Gay Activist: Marriage Equality Is 'The Heart Of Where Satan's Attacking'

As we mentioned earlier, the mood at Saturday’s Awakening conference in Florida around the issue of gay marriage was utter panic, and nowhere was that expressed more clearly than in a panel titled “Same-Sex Marriage and Sexual Rebellion: Freedom Under Fire,” moderated by off-the-rails anti-gay pundit Matt Barber and featuring a pastor, two “ex-gay” activists, and Rena Lindevaldsen, the Liberty University dean who has murky ties with the case of an “ex-lesbian” who fled the country with her daughter to defy a court order giving the child's other mother custody.

Lindevaldsen set the tone for the discussion when she lamented that too many conservative Christians aren’t committed to fighting gay rights and instead ask her “why is this such a big deal and why does it matter?”

"It's a big deal because it's a big deal to God," she declared.

Quoting the late Chuck Colson , she told the audience, “In every action we take, we are either helping to create a hell on Earth, or bringing down a foretaste of heaven…We are either advancing the rule of Satan or establishing the reign of God.”

“There’s no middle ground, there’s no neutrality, there is no compromise,” she added, telling Christians who are on the fence about gay rights that “it’s not loving” to let gay people “go on not knowing that God has a better plan for their lives, this is not the way that God designed them to be.”

“This is the heart of where Satan’s attacking,” she said. “He is seeking to destroy human sexuality and marriage. Why? Because we are the reflection, marriage is the reflection of the relationship between Christ and his church. And so if you’re going to destroy the only human reflection we have of that, we’re going to destroy marriage.”

Our friends at American Bridge captured the audio:

Later in the panel, “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan similarly warned Christians not to be taken in by LGBT rights, saying that the Human Rights Campaign’s famous equals sign bumper stickers are “not about equality” but “about dominance” and hide an effort to destroy the Constitution.

(Audio again via American Bridge):

When you see that blue bumper sticker with that bright yellow sign, it’s not about equality, it’s about dominance. It’s about silencing any voice that’s against what they want to do. And the real issue is this — I want you to understand this. The Constitution of the United States is a Calvinist document — I’m not a Calvinist — it’s a Christian document, it was written by reformers, based on the word of God. The problem that the secular left has, secular progressives, whatever label you want to put on them, the anti-God folks, our Constitution. And their goal is to undo it, if that means by reinterpreting it rewriting it, but it is to undo it.

So know this, especially the homosexual agenda, if I go down the list, I got a thing called “the big pink plan for a lavender culture,” another talk I do, which goes to what the agenda is. I was there when they were talking about what they want to do. It’s not about equality, it’s about dominance.

Religious Right Activists Warn 'Lawless' Marriage Equality 'Undermines The Whole Nature Of America'

At Saturday’s Awakening conference, an annual Religious Right confab organized by Liberty Counsel, the mood surrounding LGBT rights had reached full-blown panic.

Nearly two years after the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision let loose a cascade of federal court decisions legalizing marriage between same-sex couples in dozens of states, the Religious Right activists gathered in a megachurch in Orlando were bracing for a Supreme Court decision that could establish marriage equality nationwide.

At a panel titled “Activism in the Age of Lawlessness,” four Religious Right leaders — John Eidsmoe, Rick Scarborough, William Murray and Harry Mihet —  gathered to suss out what the movement’s response should be to pro-LGBT court rulings that they find to be “lawless.”

John Eidsmoe, the influential Christian nationalist thinker who served as a mentor to Michele Bachmann, outlined the issue, explaining to the audience that “‘rule of law’ ultimately means ‘rule of the highest law,’” or God’s law.

Eidsmoe, who now works for the Religious Right group founded by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is urging judges in his state to defy a federal court ruling on marriage equality, argued that you are only disobeying the law if you disobey “the law of God.”

“You disobey a law only when those who have that law are breaking a higher law, the law of God,” he said. “And in fact, if you follow the decree of a tyrant when he is defying the law, you are complicit in his defiance. Disobedience then becomes not only a right, it becomes a duty.”

Eidsmoe explained that the idea of civil disobedience had been perverted since biblical times, since the idea of not violating your conscience should only apply if “your conscience is in accord with the word of God.”

Rick Scarborough, the head of Vision America, warned that a Supreme Court decision for marriage equality would be worse for the Religious Right than Roe v. Wade because “with abortion, you can opt out, you don’t have to participate in that.”

He claimed that, in contrast, a marriage equality decision would outlaw anti-gay speech, the exact same erroneous prediction he made following the passage of the 2009 Hate Crimes Law.

“We’ll get up the day after that ruling, and in fact a few hours after that ruling when it’s widely disseminated, and you’ll find yourself, those of us who believe that homosexuality is a sexual sin — perversion if you will — those of us who believe that homosexual marriage is unnatural and forbidden by God and who have taught that our entire lives…when that law is passed you are then going to breaking the law when you preach or teach what you’ve always taught or what you’ve always preached,” he claimed.

“Fundamentally, it undermines the whole nature of America,” Scarborough concluded.

Liberty Counsel attorney Harry Mihet, who was moderating the panel, echoed Scarborough’s dire warnings when he declared that there would be “no way to escape this issue” and that it might “in the near future” land anti-LGBT pastors in jail… just like Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We have to draw the line in the sand and stand firm on the truth of the Word, and not to shy away from a fight, not to quit, not to be silent, but to actually speak truth and love to a society that has a desperate need to hear it,” he said. “And there may come a time when you will have to lose your job because that’s what you’ve done. There may come a time in the near future when you have to lose your liberty and go to jail like Martin Luther King did.”

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Liberty Counsel Top Posts

Speaking from the pulpit of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in May 2004, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Dobson’s words were simulcast into churches across the country as part of a “Battle for Marriage” rally that just happened to coincide with President George W. Bush’s hard-fought reelection campaign. Three months earlier, the president himself hadannounced to the nation that “to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation... MORE >

Liberty Counsel Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Saturday 04/25/2015, 2:41pm
Speaking at the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver repeated his frequent comparison of a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Dred Scott decision, declaring that he would have “no choice” but to disobey such a “lawless” decision. Staver, who has recruited hundreds of anti-gay activists to sign onto a pledge to disobey a high court ruling in favor or marriage equality, told the crowd, “As someone who’s argued before the United States Supreme Court, I... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 04/24/2015, 2:05pm
Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The pledge, which was co-written by Mat Staver of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and Deacon Keith Fournier, a Catholic activist who recently argued that marriage equality is quite literally an attack of the Devil, recycles the language of a similar document circulated by right-wing groups when the Supreme Court took up a previous set of marriage cases in 2013. Staver and a number... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 04/16/2015, 12:40pm
On his “Freedom’s Call” radio bulletin today, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver discussed “the damage of homosexuality,” which he said affects everybody because “studies repeatedly show that homosexual conduct can result in significant cost to the community that encourages it.” “Same-sex marriage leads to the devaluation of both a mother and a father, who each provide a unique contribution to the family,” Staver said. “Studies estimate that over the course of 26 years, our government spent more than $225 billion that could be... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/16/2015, 11:42am
James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program today once again featured a discussion between Mat Staver, Rick Scarborough, and Tim Wildmon about what anti-gay Christians should expect from an upcoming Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of state bans on gay marriage. During today's discussion, Staver repeatedly declared that marriage "is not a state's rights issue" and so, if the arguments against anti-gay marriage win at the Supreme Court, then Religious Right activists will go to work outlawing gay marriage in states where it is currently legal. Staver... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/15/2015, 10:47am
On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber likened the supposed "persecution" of Christians in America to the attack in Kenya earlier this month in which Islamic terrorists killed 147 people, saying that Christians all over the world are under attack from the "Islamo-progressive axis of evil." Barber said that while those murdered in Kenya were victims of "hard persecution," at the same time "right here in the United States, Christians at an escalating rate are experiencing a softer... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 04/13/2015, 5:32pm
Timothy Johnson @ Media Matters: Grover Norquist Reelected To National Rifle Association Board In Spite Of Glenn Beck's Islamophobic Smear Campaign. Amanda Terkel @ Huffington Post: Indiana Hires PR Firm To Rebuild Image After 'Religious Freedom' Fiasco. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: Meet Ted Cruz’s billionaire. Caitlin MacNeal @ TPM: CNN Host Asks Rand To Reconcile Libertarianism, View On Gay Marriage. Joe Jervis:  Liberty Counsel Loses Yet Another "Ex-Gay" Torture Ban Challenge. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/09/2015, 10:40am
Last month, California State University announced that it would no longer recognize a campus Christian organization because the group would not abide by the university's non-discrimination policy, and naturally Matt Barber and Mat Staver responded by likening the university's decision it to Nazi persecution of the Jews. On Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program today, Barber declared that this is just another example of "soft persecution" of Christians in America that, it left unchecked, will lead to Christians being imprisoned as they are in China... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 04/08/2015, 10:46am
It seems that whenever a Christian receives any sort of criticism for speaking out against marriage equality, the entire Religious Right immediately begins to complain that said person's right to free speech is being violated and screaming about how they are facing persecution at the hands of modern-day fascists. So it is interesting to watch anti-gay activists freak out over the fact that a lesbian pastor has been invited to speak at American Baptist College in Tennessee, as demonstrated by the fact that Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Matt Barber are demanding that the college... MORE >