National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

Hispanic Evangelical Group Throwing Immigrants Under The Trump Train?

One legacy of the 2016 presidential campaign may well be a divide between religious and political conservatives who took a principled stance against the racist campaign of the apparently amoral Donald Trump, and those who jumped on board the Trump train in spite of his long record of lies, abusive and divisive rhetoric, and his shameless, transparently cynical use of religion to promote his candidacy.

Those divides may be clarifying in the wake of Trump’s meeting with hundreds of religious conservative leaders on Tuesday in what organizers had laughably described as a nonpolitical conversation.  At least it seems to becoming clearer where Samuel Rodriguez and his National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) are going to stand. And it’s not with the immigrants who Trump bashes as a core of his campaign strategy.

As we’ve noted before, Rodriguez loves positioning himself as someone who is above partisan politics even while acting as a Religious Right culture warrior whose main political goal is to get more Hispanics to vote for conservative candidates. Rodriguez has spent years telling conservative white evangelicals that they’re wrong to want to deport millions of Hispanic Christian immigrants, telling them that Jesus-loving Hispanic immigrants can help save Christian culture in America. Conservatives are hurting themselves, he has argued, by pushing Hispanics away with harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Along those lines, Rodriguez has publicly criticized Trump’s bigoted language about Mexicans, Latino immigrants, and Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump has accused of being biased because of his Mexican-American heritage. Last November, NHCLC’s Executive Vice President Tony Suarez said, “The only thing more embarrassing than his campaign is watching preachers support Trump and even manipulate scripture to invent false prophecies regarding Trump.” 

In April, Suarez met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders to discuss “the political and spiritual direction of the Republican Party.” According to an NHCLC press conference at the time, Suarez “addressed the importance of the Hispanic electorate in the upcoming election and the spiritual implications surrounding the immigration issue.”

"The members of Congress, specifically those that profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, must prayerfully consider the spiritual implications of mass deportation, as well as the current strategies espoused by both Republican candidates," said Suarez. "If a mass deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country were to take place, it would virtually close most Hispanic churches in our country." 

After Trump’s perfunctory video message to an NHCLC conference in May included no mea culpa for his anti-immigrant demagoguery, Rodriguez said, “I have no plans on endorsing Donald Trump whatsoever.”

Since then there have been no signs that Donald Trump is willing to reconsider, prayerfully or otherwise, his plans for a “deportation force” or his insistence that he will build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it – a centerpiece of his campaign. And he has not apologized for his despicable smear of Judge Curiel, and by extension all Americans of Mexican heritage.

But politics is politics, and now Suarez, despite his past criticism of Trump, is on Trump’s new “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” while officially remaining uncommitted to him. And even Rodriguez is telling the Christian Broadcasting Network that yesterday’s meeting could be “a tipping point” for evangelicals and Trump, praising the candidate’s “very well-defined, articulated commitment to religious liberty and life, the Supreme Court especially….”

If you were paying attention, you could see this coming. Rodriguez has given Trump political cover before, saying that Trump is not a racist and blaming liberal media for promoting the idea that he is. And last month Rodriguez declared that it is every Christian’s duty to vote and that getting conservative justices on the Supreme Court is more important than immigration reform.

Another NHCLC leader, Mario Bramnick, was among evangelicals who met privately with Trump last month; Bramnick emerged gushing about Trump’s “genuineness” and “tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.” Two months earlier, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference, where he declared in prayer that “the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening.”

Reports from and about the most recent meeting seem to show Trump in typical form, calling himself a “tremendous believer,” questioning the faith of Hillary Clinton, and telling people not to pray for political leaders who “are selling Christianity down the tubes.”  Trump pandered to the conservative Christian activists by saying “You really don’t have religious freedom” and pledging to “get rid of” IRS restrictions on electoral politicking by churches. He said he’d make Macy’s put “Merry Christmas” signs in its store windows. And he promised them Supreme Court justices hand-picked by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.

In putting together this event and building an advisory board without requiring its members to endorse him, Trump’s campaign seemed to be trying to recreate a critical moment in the marriage between the Religious Right and the Republican Party – a day in 1980 in which Ronald Reagan said to thousands of evangelical leaders, “I know you can’t endorse me … but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you’re doing.” In a press release about Trump’s new advisory committee, the campaign said:

The leaders on the executive board were not asked to endorse Mr. Trump as a prerequisite for participating on the board.

Rather, the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from Evangelical leaders, communities and voters, winning the majority of the Evangelical vote throughout the primaries.

The meeting appears to have had its intended effect, and not only with Rodriguez. The conservative Townhall reported that Pastor Michael Anthony felt that God was speaking through Trump to encourage pastors to get more involved in politics to defend religious freedom. “I think that no matter what political party you’re a part of, if you were in this room today, you would have to admit there was a unity and a gentleness in this meeting that were remarkable,” said Anthony. “If we can do this in a room of 1,000, I think there’s hope for the nation.”

Trump Offers No Apologies For Rhetoric, But Some Conservative Latinos Warming To Him

As we reported last week, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez gave Donald Trump a chance to “redeem the narrative” with Latino voters by showing a videotaped message from the candidate to attendees at an NHCLC gathering last Friday; a video from Hillary Clinton was also played. Rodriguez has criticized Trump’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and mass deportation plan, but has also given him political cover, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last month that Trump is not a racist and blaming such a characterization on “liberal media.”

Rodriguez has said he hopes Trump will apologize for his “hurtful, erroneous, and dangerous statements” about Latino immigrants. And he said earlier last week that he would only show Trump’s video if he deemed it sufficiently conciliatory and respectful.

Conciliatory and respectful are clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Trump’s two-and-a-half minute video, apparently shot on a cell phone while he sat in his private jet reading from a piece of paper, included no apologies for any of the harsh rhetoric that Rodriguez has complained about.

Instead, Trump made the kind of broad promises that have characterized his campaign — creating good schools, safe communities and providing “massive tax cuts” for the middle class — without many details about how he would do so, other than controlling immigration and making “great trade deals.” Hillary Clinton’s video did address Trump’s rhetoric without mentioning him by name, saying, “That is not who we are as a people.”

Trump told Hispanics that poor people would pay nothing under his tax plan: “You’re going to start paying taxes after you’re making a lot of money, and hopefully that is going to be soon.” Other tidbits from his video:

  • “The world is taking our jobs and we’ve got to stop it. We’re going to take care of minority unemployment. It’s a huge problem, it’s really unfair to minorities, and we are going to solve that problem.”
  • “National. Hispanic. Christian. Three great words. We’re gonna to take care of you, we’re gonna work with you, you’re gonna be very happy, you’re gonna like president Trump.”
  • “I’m going to win and we’re going to take care of everybody. Our country is going to be unified for the first time in a long time”

Before the NHCLC conference last week, Trump met privately with some evangelical leaders, in a meeting arranged by Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Representing NHCLC at the meeting was Mario Bramnick, who praised Trump’s “genuineness.”

“Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants,” he said. “We all came out really sensing his genuineness.”

He added: “We didn’t get into specifics other than that he wants to work with us, work with the Hispanic community, Hispanic leadership on substantive policy regarding immigration.”

Bramnick also said Trump embraced the Religious Right’s “Christian persecution” narrative, telling Charisma:

"He told us in the meeting that he's very, very concerned that Christians are losing their rights in America, that we no longer can even speak or express what we believe," Bramnick said. "And he did say that if he becomes president, he's going to change things to make sure that we as Christians have our religious liberties restored. He said he's concerned about Christians, he's concerned about Jews, and he wants to help."

In March, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s “Awakening” conference, quoting Cindy Jacobs’ prophecy that Florida had determined that George W. Bush would be president and that God would use Florida to shift the nation again. “God by his Holy Spirit can appoint the president that God has ordained,” said Bramnick.

At the Awakening conference, Bramnick prayed:

Father, awaken the sleeping the church. Unite us. We come against the diabolic spirit of division in the body of Christ, that spirit that would put us to sleep, spirits of anti-Christ and witchcraft, and we declare out of Orlando, the church of Jesus Christ is arising, not by power, not by might, but by your spirit. And father we declare out of Orlando, shift for Florida, shift for the United States, and the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States, and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening…

It’s not just the NHCLC giving Trump another look. Some other Latino conservatives are showing some willingness to rally around him. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar noted over the weekend that last October, Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush White House official who now heads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said Trump was “done” in the eyes of the Latino community. Aguilar declared, “If Donald Trump is the GOP candidate, we won’t work to support him and we are sure he will lose the general election because there’s no way a GOP candidate can win the White House if they don’t get more support from Latino voters.” But now that Trump is the nominee, Aguilar is singing a different tune, saying that if Trump were to “seek my support and show he’s willing to change his tone and be open to some form of legalization, I would be willing to reconsider my position.”

BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo recently noted that there are a lot of major conferences coming up. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have both sent formal invitations but “have had difficulties getting responses from the Trump campaign.” The National Council of La Raza has not yet decided whether to invite Trump to its July conference.

 

 

Samuel Rodriguez Gives Trump Chance To 'Redeem The Narrative' With Latinos

Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians.

You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to encourage Hispanic evangelicals to support the Republican candidate. He has said Trump blew it with his early campaign rhetoric and that the candidate must “redeem the narrative” with Latinos.

This week Bloomberg reported that Trump would be delivering a videotaped message to be shown at this weekend’s meeting of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which Rodriguez heads, and whose board includes Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. The pro-immigrant group America’s Voice called on Rodriguez not to let Trump deliver a message to the group given Trump’s “hateful, incendiary rhetoric directed at our communities.”

(Just days ago, Trump attacked NHCLC board member Russell Moore, a leading Southern Baptist official, as a “nasty guy with no heart.” Rodriguez, who co-authored with Moore a Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Trump’s immigration rhetoric and policies last July, said at the time that “an attack on Russell Moore is an attack on the entire evangelical community.”)

Rodriguez told the Washington Post earlier this week that he would wait to see if the message was “respectful” before deciding whether to show it. Today it is clear that Trump has satisfied Rodriguez, because the NHCLC put out a press release saying the group would show video messages from Trump and from Hillary Clinton on Friday evening.

While Rodriguez says he will not endorse a candidate, it’s hard to take him seriously as some kind of honest broker between the staunchly pro-choice Clinton and the muddled punish-the-woman Trump, who has said he would nominate Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.  As we recently noted, Rodriguez has said, “I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists, that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.” And he has made it clear that he believes Hispanic Christians must make opposition to abortion, not support for immigrant families, the basis of their vote.

In an interview being promoted by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze today, Rodriguez doubles down on that message, saying it would be “morally reprehensible” for Christians to vote for a candidate who supports Planned Parenthood, saying they would need to “repent.”

“I want to speak to every single African American, Latino, and Anglo Christ follower who believes in biblical orthodoxy — how can we justify supporting anything — be it Republican or Democrat — that in any way, form or shape defends Planned Parenthood?”

Trump has repeatedly praised Planned Parenthood but says he wants to defund the women’s health organization unless they agree to stop providing abortion services.

Rodriguez told The Blaze that it would take “a miracle” for Trump to win over the Latino community, but suggested it could be possible if he apologizes and chooses a Hispanic running mate, mentioning Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Ted Cruz.

The supposedly nonpartisan Rodriguez has filmed a video promoting the Republican Party’s faith-outreach project. Only 16 percent of American Latinos identify themselves as evangelical, according to the Pew Research Center, but they are more likely than other Hispanics to vote Republican.

Samuel Rodriguez: Getting Conservative SCOTUS Trumps Immigration Reform

As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform.

But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations.

While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’s all-but-certain nomination, Rodriguez makes it clear that he is first and foremost a Religious Right culture warrior.

Rodriguez pushes the Religious Right line that religious freedom is threatened in America. There is an attempt to “silence Christians” in America, he says, and Christians cannot sit out elections because “today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.” He also believes there is a spiritual battle under way to “annihilate” the family.

In the end, his advocacy for immigrant families takes a back seat to his opposition to legal abortion and marriage equality. He said as much at an Evangelicals for Life event in January, telling Latinos that it’s fine to march for immigration reform —“as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” — but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

Although Rodriguez manages to cultivate a public image as a nonpartisan bridge-builder, he regularly partners with some of the most extreme voices within the Religious Right. The stridently anti-gay Liberty Counsel serves as NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver serves as an NHCLC board member and its chief legal counsel. Last fall Rodriguez called Cindy Jacobs, who has predicted a new civil war between God-loving and gay-loving states,  “one of the most anointed voices, prophetic voices in the Kingdom of God.”

In a story last week by right-wing pundit Todd Starnes of Fox News, Rodriguez dismissed talk by some evangelical leaders that Christians should, in the words of pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Of evils choose none.” Rodriguez says not voting is “sacrificing your Christian worldview on the altar of political expediency. It is silly to talk about not voting for either candidate. Every single Christian should vote.”

And while Rodriguez doesn’t mention Trump by name, it is clear that he will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders:

“I will vote my Christian values,” Rodriguez said. “It’s life, the family ethos, it’s religious liberty, it’s limited government. That’s the person I’m going to vote for.”

Rodriquez conceded that the 2016 candidates are not his “dream team” – but he’s only concerned about one issue – the Supreme Court.

“I’m going to vote for protecting the Supreme Court from judges that are activists – that run counter to our Judeo-Christian value system.”

This is a very different message than Rodriguez conveyed in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in July, which he co-wrote with Southern Baptist official Russell Moore, where he described Trump as an unchristian, unethical and unelectable politician.

Trump tweeted earlier this week that Moore is “a terrible representative of Evangelicals” and a “nasty guy with no heart!”

Unlike Rodriguez, Moore is standing by his opposition to Trump.

 

'Prophets' Declare God Will Use Orlando To Put His Man In The White House

Self-proclaimed ‘prophet’ Cindy Jacobs was not physically present at last Saturday’s Awakening conference in Orlando, but her prophetic words about the state of Florida and the 2016 elections were read by Mario Bramnick, a south Florida pastor and board member for Samuel Rodriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

“We have been called here strategically, as a strategic assembly, at a very critical juncture in time,” Bramnick told attendees as they ate their lunches and waited to hear from conservative activists David and Jason Benham.  Bramnick said that while we are standing at the precipice, “God is not through with America” and the country is about to be hit by a third Great Awakening.

“We’re not to give up on America,” he said. “We’re not to give up on Florida, and we have an authority in this room to declare God’s will for America, and God’s will for the White House.”

Bramnick cited Cindy Jacobs:

It’s time to awaken! Some trust in chariots, some trust in horsemen, but if there’s ever a day to trust in the Lord our God it is today, and God’s eyes are upon this conference, God’s eyes are upon Florida, God’s eyes are upon Orlando.

In the beginning of this year, Cindy Jacobs had a word for Florida. And the word was, from the state of Florida, in 2016, Florida is going to be in the eyes of the nation in a unique way. We were in the eyes of the nation in West Palm Beach, and it was Florida that determined George W. Bush’s election as we prayed and sought the face of the Lord. It’s going to be Florida, a tipping point state, and the Lord says, you are to take the points these days. I’m going to bring a new unity on the body of Christ. The enemy has unleashed division over the body of Christ, but if we arise today as one man and decree and declare the will of the Lord, God can shift Florida, and from Florida can shift our nation. It’s time to arise and shine, for our light has come.

Really, if we realize the authority that we have, the power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells within us. A Daniel with three Hebrew slaves, Shadrach and Meshach and Abednego, in the midst of the worst Babylonian captivity, had an authority, how much more 1500 people out of Orlando declare, God is not through with America, America’s greatest days are not over, and God by his Holy Spirit can appoint the president that God has ordained.”

Bramnick returned to Jacobs’ prediction about Florida’s impact in 2016:

Orlando is going to be a city where God is about to visit. Look around, we are here in Orlando, a few days away from the Florida primary, but I am here to tell you, God is on his throne, and he is looking throughout all the earth for those whose eyes are stayed upon him, that we might arise and declare, America shall be restored back to Jesus.

In his closing prayer Bramnick declared the God’s hand-picked candidate will be elected president and usher in a third Great Awakening:

Father, awaken the sleeping the church. Unite us. We come against the diabolic spirit of division in the body of Christ, that spirit that would put us to sleep, spirits of anti-Christ and witchcraft, and we declare out of Orlando, the church of Jesus Christ is arising, not by power, not by might, but by your spirit. And father we declare out of Orlando, shift for Florida, shift for the United States, and the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States, and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening…

Cindy Jacobs’ mid-year “prophetic update” last summer predicted that marriage equality and persecution of Christians would bring about a second Civil War. 

Evangelicals Gather Before March For Life To Plan Less Angry, Less White Anti-Abortion Movement

The annual March for Life brought thousands of people to Washington, D.C. on Friday, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This year, Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission teamed up to create more of an evangelical presence at the heavily Catholic march.  “Our burden was to see the reborn stand up for the unborn," said the Southern Baptists’ Russell Moore on Thursday. At Friday’s march, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly acknowledged that evangelicals took “a while to come to the party” on abortion.

A few hundred people attended the first Evangelicals for Life conference, which began on Thursday and continued on Friday morning until the rally and march were set to begin. Among the conference speakers, in addition to Moore and Daly, were Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. 

The day started with Moore and Daly interviewing and praying for David Daleiden, whose videos have been at the center of the latest right-wing effort to destroy Planned Parenthood. Moore gave Daleiden a chance to respond to criticism that his deceptive tactics had required lying, asking if he was engaging in moral relativizing. Daleiden explained that his “undercover” work is different from lying because its ultimate purpose is truth-telling, an extremely dubious claim in this case.

Charmaine Yoest celebrated the anti-choice movement’s success at generating a “tidal wave” of restrictions on abortion, explaining as she did in her remarks at the World Congress of Families summit in October, that those victories were based on a strategic decision to focus on state legislatures, pass restrictions, and create opportunities for the Supreme Court to chip away at Roe. She called it a “stealth strategy” and an “under-the-radar” way to go on the offensive.

Yoest and other speakers argued that the movement’s continued success will depend on putting a more loving, compassionate, woman-focused face on the movement, directly challenging pro-choice advocates who ground their legal arguments in women’s dignity. Yoest described abortion as “fundamentally anti-woman” and abortion advocates as “the true misogynists in our society.”

Rodriguez, as he often does in conservative settings, tried to convince the audience not to “drink the Kool-Aid” about changing demographics being bad news for the anti-abortion movement. Rodriguez said pro-life Hispanics can provide a “spiritual firewall” for the movement.

In reality, progressive-voting Latinos created a firewall for President Obama, which may be why Rodriguez complained that “our voting pattern runs counter to what we preach about on Sunday” and declared, “If we are pro-life on Sunday, if we preach pro-life on Sunday, we cannot support a candidate that advocates abortion on Tuesday.” Rodriguez spoke directly to Latinos, saying it’s fine to march for immigration reform -- “as long as it’s not amnesty or illegal immigration; we need to stop that” -- but “we must be above all things pro-life.”

The most surprising and interesting remarks of the day came from Christian author Ron Sider, a pacifist and anti-hunger advocate who challenged a movement that calls itself pro-life to be more engaged in fighting global poverty, challenging subsidies to the tobacco industry, protecting the environment, fighting racism, and opposing capital punishment. He said white evangelicals would have more success at getting Black Christians into the anti-abortion movement if white Christians became supportive for Black Lives Matter.

Rodriguez also said the future of the movement had to be multiethnic, declaring that “the day of white, angry, pro-life advocates as a collective movement, that day is officially over.” He said that abortion providers target African American and Latino women, which he called “unbridled and unfettered racism.” Rodriguez said he is working with Bernice King, daughter of MLK, to launch later this year the National Christian Leadership Conference, “an organization for the purpose of advancing a culture of life, and we will be specifically targeting the Latino and African American communities.”

A few notes from afternoon breakout sessions:

  • Casey Mattox, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, talked about the anti-abortion movement’s legal and legislative successes at chipping away at the protection that Roe provided for women, and at current cases involving Texas’s restrictive law and states that have moved to bar Planned Parenthood from participating in Medicaid.
  • Roland Warren, president and CEO of CareNet, a network of pregnancy centers, talked about how they reach “abortion-minded people” online through keyword advertising and try to dissuade them by phone calls and email. He said pregnancy centers cannot provide enough support to women who choose to give birth, and called on churches to create specific ministries to provide long-term support.
  • A panel on global issues featured Rodriguez, the Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall, and Travis Wussow, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Director of International Justice and Religious Liberty. Marshall said the character of our culture affects the ability of the U.S. to lead on the world stage, either casting a shadow or shedding light. She insisted that anti-abortion advocates cannot overlook the entanglement of federal dollars in programs that promote abortion abroad. It makes a huge difference at the United Nations, she said, whether there’s a pro-life or pro-choice administration in the U.S. Asked whether she sees a link between abortion issues and the Obama administration’s promotion of gay rights as part of U.S. foreign policy, Marshall said that the State Department advances both, adding that “the idea of created reality, we are created in the image of God male and female, those Genesis 1 and 2 truths, all of them are being challenged right now. So there is an ontology, biblical anthropology, that is going to be very, very critical for churches to teach and to form young people." 

Meet Marco Rubio's 'Religious Liberty Advisory Board'

Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign has announced its creation of a Religious Liberty Advisory Board that includes Religious Right legal and political activists, including academics and some big names, like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.

The list could be seen as a response by Rubio’s campaign to last month’s closed-door meeting at which “dozens” of Religious Right leaders voted to rally behind his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. But Rubio’s director of Faith Outreach, former Manhattan Declaration Executive Director Eric Teetsel, told World Magazine that “membership on the board doesn’t equal an endorsement of the GOP candidate, and the members could advise other campaigns if they wanted.”

Among the members of Rubio’s advisory board are two Latinos who have urged conservatives to adopt a more welcoming approach to immigration: Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and  Carlos Campo, president of Ashland University and former president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

Rodriguez has been pushing the Republican Party to take a more constructive tone on immigration in order to open the door for more effective outreach to Latino voters, a tough sell on the right, even before the era of Donald Trump. Rodriguez has participated in recent Religious Right gatherings with Cruz, but has been quoted as saying he’s not in Cruz’s camp.

Rubio shaped and advocated for the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013, but he later disavowed his own bill in the face of strong right-wing opposition. He is viewed with suspicion by some right-wingers but has said on the stump that he knows how to fix the immigration system better than anyone else in the race.

Also on Rubio’s advisory board are people affiliated with legal groups promoting Religious Right efforts to portray LGBT equality and religious liberty as incompatible, including Doug Napier and Kellie Fiedorek of Alliance Defending Freedom and Kyle Duncan, lead counsel for the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, and former general counsel of the Becket Fund, which was once described in Politico as “God’s Rottweilers.”

Formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund, ADF is a heavyweight among Religious Right legal groups, and is spreading its anti-gay, anti-choice advocacy worldwide. Fiedorek argues that the “agenda to expand sexual liberty and redefine marriage” puts religious liberty in “great peril.” She has compared business owners who refuse to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples to Rosa Parks.

The Greens’ challenge to the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act was used by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to reinterpret the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and give owners of for-profit corporations the right to seek exemptions from laws that offend their religious beliefs. 

Another member of the Rubio board, law professor Michael McConnell, runs a religious liberty law clinic at Stanford University that was funded by $1.6 million steered to Stanford by the Becket Fund in 2013. Becket Fund attorneys appear in Rick Santorum’s 2014 movie, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty.”

Advisory board member Wayne Grudem, an anti-gay seminary professor and author, argues that God will hold people accountable for shaping laws to meet biblical standards. Grudem has promoted a chart on how to “defeat the enemy’s plan” in politics. He has said that religious freedom makes it legal in the U.S. to have a Muslim mosque or a Buddhist temple, “but that doesn’t mean it’s morally right for people to seek to come to God that way….”

Sam Rodriguez: Gay Marriage Leads To Anti-Christian Discrimination, Hate Speech Laws

During last week’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, where Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee made their pitches for the Latino vote, NHCLC head Sam Rodriguez told a TIME reporter that Republicans will not “fight arduously” to overturn a Supreme Court decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

Of course, on the very same day Rodriguez announced that he and other NHCLC leaders signed a pledge to commit civil disobedience in defiance of any Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. Rodriguez also told a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network that such a ruling would usher in a wave of anti-Christian persecution and possibly hate speech laws banning pastors from quoting the Bible.

He warned that the Supreme Court ruling will decide the fate not only of gay rights but whether parts of the Bible “will be deemed as hate speech” and whether “I will be deemed as a bigot, as an intolerant human being and then we will have laws that will begin to discriminate against me because I am a Christian.”

“This Supreme Court decision carries the potential of initiating a chapter of intolerance towards Christians and bigotry towards Christians in the 21st century,” Rodriguez said.

The Two Faces Of Samuel Rodriguez

For years we have been noting how Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has somehow managed to craft a reputation as a moderate and nonpartisan religious leader while simultaneously serving as a leading anti-gay Religious Right activist.

Nothing better illustrates this duality than the fact that Rodriguez was among those who have signed the right-wing pledge never to accept any Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage and today announced that the board of his organization, the National Hispanic Leadership Council, has unanimously signed it as well:

Today, the board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Counsel-CONEL [sic] unanimously voted to sign the Marriage Pledge. NHCLC-CONEL represents 40,118 Evangelical Hispanic churches in America and about 500,000 in Latin America and Spain. The unanimous vote occurred at the board meeting in Houston while the Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on the marriage case. NHCLC-CONEL’s board is comprised of 140 members.

NHCLC-CONEL is headed by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. CNN, Fox News, NBC/Telemundo, Time magazine, and The Wall Street Journal have identified Rodriguez as one of the most influential Hispanic evangelical leaders in America.

Elsewhere today, Rodriguez was quoted in a Time magazine piece saying that he does not think that conservatives will react to such a Supreme Court ruling by demanding that it be overturned:

A longtime opponent of same-sex marriage, Pastor Samuel Rodriguez gave a benediction at the last Republican National Convention, sits on the executive board of the National Association of Evangelicals and will host two likely presidential candidates, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee, at a gathering of 1,000 Hispanic leaders in Texas on Wednesday.

But if you ask the founder of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference how Republicans should react if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to legalize gay marriage nationwide this year, he doesn’t toe a very hard line. “The Republican position will not be, ‘We will fight arduously to turn back what the Supreme Court has ruled,’ ” he said. “I don’t think you will hear that at all, as a matter of fact.”

Rodriguez and his organization have both signed on to a pledge vowing never to accept such a ruling because "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" while, at the same time, he is telling Time that fighting against the legalization of gay marriage will not really be an important issue for conservatives.

Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee to Attend Samuel Rodriguez Confab This Week

Presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush are scheduled to appear at this week’s convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston. The NHCLC is headed by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez:

While Rodriguez cultivates a public posture that he is nonpartisan and committed to justice as well as righteousness – he fancies himself  a combination of Billy Graham and Martin Luther King – he cemented his position as a member of the Religious Right when he made the wildly anti-gay Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official “legislative and policy arm” and welcomed Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver onto the group’s board.

Rodriguez does break with right-wing orthodoxy on a couple of big issues, including his support for immigration reform and support for the embattled Common Core educational standards. But not on abortion, marriage, and the Religious Right's religious liberty rhetoric.

Rodriguez has called the push for marriage equality “the war on the biblical doctrine of marriage” and warned that in America “there is an attempt to silence Christendom.” Just last week he joined more than 200 anti-gay extremists in signing a pledge to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The pledge says, in part:

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.

The conference at which Bush and Huckabee are scheduled to appear will celebrate NHCLC going global through last year’s merger with a Latin American evangelical organization CONELA; a new name for the merged NHCLC/CONELA will be announced. Staver had encouraged Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver traveled to Peru to oppose moves toward LGBT equality there. Staver colleague Matt Barber praised NHCLC for “putting up a firewall” to protect Latin America from a “cancerous invasion of immorality” being exported by the Obama administration and “radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism.”

For the record, Rodriguez’s claims that the NHCLC/Conela merger makes it the biggest evangelical network in the world and the representative of evangelicals in Latin America has been publicly challenged by the World Evangelical Alliance, which recognizes the Latin Evangelical Alliance as the regional representative of evangelicals; the group was formed in 2013 by the presidents of 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America.

This week, Rodriguez announced that the NHCLC is partnering with Trinity Broadcasting Network to launch TBN Salsa, which will feature music and ministry programs aimed at English-speaking second- and third-generation Hispanics. 

Rodriguez: Christians Must Vote Because 'Today's Complacency Is Tomorrow's Captivity'

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was a guest on James Robison's "Life Today" program this morning, where he called upon Christians to vote according to "what the Word of God says" because there is a movement at work that seeks "to silence Christians in America."

Rodriguez warned that Christians cannot afford to sit out this election because "today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity" and just as Christians in other countries are being killed by terrorists, so too are Christians in America being silenced by those who promote "moral relativism and cultural decadence."

"There is an attempt, believe it or not, to silence Christians in America," he said. "There is a war against our Judeo-Christian value system. And we speak against terrorist groups that are doing so many horrific things to our brothers and sisters in Christ and other religious minorities around the world but in our own nation, from a political standpoint, from a legislative standpoint or a public policy standpoint there is an attempt to silence Christendom. There is an attempt!"

Samuel Rodriguez: New General In Global Anti-Gay Culture War

Last month the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference announced that it was merging with Conela, a Latin America-based organization, to become “the world’s largest Hispanic Evangelical association” claiming to represent more than 500,000 churches. As Kyle reported, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver had encouraged the NHCLC’s Samuel Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver’s visit to Peru, where he encouraged legislators to resist legal equality for gay people and same-sex couples.

The wildly anti-gay Matt Barber, also with Liberty Counselpraised the merger as a way for the NHCLC to join the Religious Right’s global war against LGBT equality:

"And so NHCLC," Barber said, "is really putting up a firewall to protect Latin America from, unfortunately, this cancerous invasion of immorality and [this] exporting [of] radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism, ultimately a culture of death.”

In a new interview with the Christian Post, Rodriguez uses similar language about creating a “firewall against moral relativism” and discloses some details about the merger and the combined group’s plans. Rodriguez is the CEO of the new merged NHCLC/Conela, while Conela’s former President Ricardo Luna is the executive director.

Rodriguez says Conela had already adopted NHCLC’s agenda and so the new group can go to work immediately building out an infrastructure in Latin America.

Conela already has been functioning with the Lamb's agenda and our 7 Directives, so it's a matter of creating infrastructure and amplifying the media and messaging platforms in Latin America.

If the question is whether or not we are going to be as active on the social political front in Latin America as we are in America, the answer is yes, again, not in the spirit of political advocacy, but in the spirit of prophetic activism.

Let me give you an example. Two weeks ago, in Baja California, the Mexico chapter director met with the governor of Baja California with hundreds of pastors united to discuss the issues of religious liberty, to discuss the issues of the 7 Directives as it pertains to Mexico.

He says they’re still working out the structural details.

We are in the board restructuring phase right now and a number of events taking place. One in October in Panama and there's one in December with 1,000 pastors in Mexico, there's one taking place in Europe at the beginning of the year.

My objective is to travel around Latin America with Ricardo, get to know the key influential pastors and leaders as we structure this global network and provide the resources that national pastors and regional leaders need to advance the Lamb's agenda.

Rodriguez, in spite of his media treatment as an evangelical moderate, made crystal clear that his organization is part of the Religious Right political movement when it reached a formal agreement to make the far-right Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official legislative and policy arm, and when Staver became a board member and chief legal counsel to the group.

Rodriguez’s rhetoric doesn’t seem to be changing.

Theologically speaking, we are on the same track. We are committed to biblical orthodoxy. We are committed to biblical truth. We are committed to making sure that truth is never sacrificed on the altar of expediency. We are committed to Billy Graham's message of salvation through Christ alone and through Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March for Justice. So, we are committed to both righteousness and justice. We are evangelical. We do embrace the Manhattan Declaration. We would sign on to that.

Merging Billy Graham with Martin Luther King is the standard rhetoric of Rodriguez’s stump speech. Rodriguez has built allies among more progressive Christians by advocating for immigration reform and signing on to the Circle of Protection, a call from religious leaders not to sacrifice programs for the poor in order to reduce the deficit. But Rodriguez has also signed onto right-wing declarations that oppose progressive taxation, and embraced right-wing rhetoric about people being “enslaved” by government and “uber-entitlements.” And, of course, he is utterly opposed to marriage equality and legal access to abortion.

 

Rodriguez is connected to the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation and was a founding board member of the Oak Initiative, though he resigned after being confronted about the group’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and activities. He clearly has big ambitions for the new group.

"We are not drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid that Christianity is in decline, that this is the last hour of the Christian global narrative in a significant matter," Rodriguez told The Christian Post recently in an exclusive interview about the merger that took place on May 1. "We are not drinking the Kool-Aid. As a matter of fact, we have a very strong sense of optimism … we do believe the best is yet to come….

"It may very well be the largest Protestant network in the world, meaning that after the Catholic Church, this may very well be the largest Christian network organization in the world," he said. "I believe it speaks accolades to the growth of the Latino Christian demographic. I think it speaks accolades to Latino born-again Christians around the world because if this is the largest network in the world and now we are leading the charge of global evangelicalism."

Evangelical Leaders Warn Of 'Secular Totalitarianism' And 'Jail' For U.S. Christians

Religious Right leaders love to claim that Christians are threatened in the U.S., the subject of a forthcoming PFAW report on the Religious Right’s persecution complex. The latest example comes from the just-completed annual conference of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Russell Moore, who heads the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, hosted Rick Warren, David Platt, and Samuel Rodriguez for a June 9 panel on religious freedom in America through the lens of the Hobby Lobby case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

According to an account by Tom Strode in the Baptist Press, Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, warned, “Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity. The firewall against secular totalitarianism is religious liberty and religious pluralism.”

“Secular totalitarianism” in this context is the requirement, being challenged in the Hobby Lobby case, that for-profit businesses provide insurance coverage that includes contraception methods to which the company’s owners have religious objections.

“The justices will decide whether “there is the freedom to dissent and the freedom to accommodate these conscientious objections in the governing of people’s lives and the running of their businesses,” Moore said. “This will have everything to do with everything that your church does for the next 100 years.”

Moore of course is ignoring, or rather obfuscating, the clear constitutional, legal, and policy distinction between churches, who are exempt from the requirement, and for-profit corporations, whose claim to a religious conscience is at the core of the Hobby Lobby case.

Rodriguez and Warren agreed that religious liberty is the civil rights issue of the future.  And panelists spoke as if Christians are on the verge of being jailed for their beliefs:

“I’m spending all of my time right now making sure that we stay out of jail,” [Moore] told the audience. “But there is one thing worse than going to jail, and that’s staying out of jail and sacrificing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Warren responded, “This issue may take – just as it did with Martin Luther King – it may take some pastors going to jail. I’m in.”

The idea that pastors are going to be thrown into jail is a ridiculous argument that Religious Right leaders have used to oppose hate crimes legislation and laws against anti-gay discrimination in the workplace. This kind of rhetoric is not only ridiculous, it is also irresponsible and damaging. As People For the American Way Foundation’s Twelve Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics says in explaining that religious and political leaders should not “cry ‘wolf’” about religious persecution:

Inflammatory charges about religious persecution can lead to an angrier and more divisive political arena. If you believe your political opponents are actually out to take away your religious freedom, shut down your church, and literally criminalize Christianity—goals that some Religious Right figures attribute to political liberals—you have little reason to treat your opponents civilly or engage in a search for constructive common ground or compromise. Creating that kind of environment is not good for our country.

 It is possible to have a vigorous debate about political issues and about the separation of church and state without resorting to falsehoods about religious persecution.

The panel wasn’t a total bust, apparently. Unlike some Religious Right leaders, who claim that religious liberty protections apply only to Christians – or to a particular subset of Christians – news reports indicate that Rodriguez, Warren, and Moore said Christians should promote religious liberty for everyone in the context of religious pluralism. We don’t say this often about these guys, but we agree.

Barber: NHCLC Setting Up A 'Firewall' To Fight Back America's 'Cancerous Invasion Of Immorality'

Back in 2012, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver joined the board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and also took on the responsibility of serving as the organization's chief legal counsel. When Staver traveled to Peru last year to be honored for his anti-gay and anti-choice activism, he was so impressed by the commitment of local churches to resist the American government's efforts "to undermine the Judeo-Christian values of life and marriage" that, upon returning to the United States, he called NHCLC president Samuel Rodriquez and encouraged him to expand into Latin America in order to assist with this effort.

Earlier this month, the NHCLC announced that it would be doing just that by merging with a Latin America-based organization called Conela:

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the largest Hispanic Christian organization in the U.S. representing millions of Evangelicals and over 40,000 churches, announced today that it will merge with Conela, a Latin America-based organization that serves over 487,000 Latin churches across the world.

“This merger is a win-win for both NHCLC and Conela, and we are thrilled to join together to better serve Hispanic Evangelicals worldwide,” said Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC. “Under the new NHCLC, we will continue to unify, serve and represent the Hispanic Evangelical community with the divine and human elements of the Christian message all while advancing the Lamb’s agenda.”

This merger, which came at the request of Conela President Ricardo Luna, will result in a worldwide organization that represents over half a million churches and millions of individuals, making it the largest Evangelical association in the world.

Staver recounted these developments on today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, where Matt Barber said the efforts was needed now more than ever because "under this current administration, there is no question that the United States of America is exporting immorality."

"And so NHCLC," Barber said, "is really putting up a firewall to protect Latin America from, unfortunately, this cancerous invasion of immorality and [this] exporting [of] radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism, ultimately a culture of death":

Staver: 'The Hispanic Community Believes in the Same Values as does Liberty Counsel'

Liberty Counsel today unveiled a 60-second Spanish-language radio program, Llamado de Libertad, “with the goal to encourage, educate and reach out to the Hispanic community.” Staver, who is also a board member of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, in a statement described Latinos as a monolith who concurs with his organization’s right-wing ideology:

“We are very excited to announce the launch of our Spanish version of Freedom’s Call, Llamado de Libertad,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The Hispanic Community believes in the same values as does Liberty Counsel—sanctity of life, family, and religious freedom.”

“Llamado de Libertad fulfills a need in Hispanic broadcasting,” said Yuri Mantilla. “The Spanish community needs to know more about what is going on in our nation—the laws and issues that Liberty Counsel is advocating.”

Liberty Counsel is partnering with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference on a new Hispanic Initiative. “As the legislative and policy arm of the NHCLC, it is important that Liberty Counsel is communicating with the Hispanic community,” said Staver. “Building our presence on Spanish-language radio stations is a step in that direction.”

 

But like other groups, Latinos don’t speak with one voice, especially on the social issues that Liberty Counsel concentrates on.

One clue that Latinos aren’t aligned with the rabidly anti-Obama Liberty Counsel is that a whopping 71% of Latinos voted for Obama in the last election.

Liberty Counsel also might have little luck attracting Latino supporters over the group’s two central goals: criminalizing abortion and fighting gay rights.

ABC found that among Latino voters, 66% supported keeping abortion legal, compared to 59% of Americans at large. A 2012 Lake Research poll found that 68% of Latinos believe that abortion “should remain legal,” and NBC/WSJ poll reports that Latinos “increasingly oppose [Roe v. Wade] being overturned.”

Latino voters also outpace non-Hispanic whites and African Americans in their support for marriage equality, with 59% backing same-sex marriage. Quinnipiac similarly observed that with 63% favoring marriage equality, Latinos “support same-sex marriage than any other demographic.”

But just as Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber erroneously predicted that Jewish voters would turn en masse against Obama, the ultraconservative group’s latest stunt to appeal to Latinos may come up dry.

Liberty Counsel is Now the NHCLC's Official 'Legislative and Policy Arm'

We have been asking for years now how Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has been able to maintain his reputation as a moderate evangelical leader - someone who is regularly invited to the White House and presidential events - despite being a full-blown Religious Right activist

So we are hopeful that this latest announcement revealing the deepening partnership between the NHCLC and the radical anti-gay bigots over at Liberty Counsel will finally put an end to this myth, especially since Liberty Counsel has now become "the legislative and policy arm for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:"

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) has named Liberty Counsel as the senior sponsor of its Life Directive. Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action will also become the legislative and policy arm of the NHCLC. The largest Hispanic evangelical association with 40,118 evangelical Hispanic churches, the NHCLC is committed to support life from conception to natural death.

“Liberty Counsel is honored to be the legislative and policy arm for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Our liberty is based on the unalienable right to life that comes from our Creator. The right to life is the right of all rights. No other right has meaning without life,” Staver said.

The mission of the NHCLC is guided by seven directives, among them promoting a culture of life, encouraging the biblical design for marriage as one man and one woman, working with youth, education, and more.

Few groups operating today can match Liberty Counsel in terms of unmitigated hostility toward gays and Muslims and those with whom they disagree or in terms of overall general craziness ... and it has now officially become the NHCLC's "legislative and policy arm."

Rodriguez: Blacks and Latinos Not Voting with a 'Christian Worldview'; Gay Marriage will Force us to 'Surrender Christianity'

Samuel Rodriguez has appointed himself to be the spokesman for all Hispanic-Americans, telling Republican leaders that Latinos are just itching to vote for Republicans if only they put a greater emphasis on their anti-choice and anti-gay positions while moderating their rhetoric around immigration.

During an interview on BreakPoint, Rodriguez described a meeting with Karl Rove where they predicted that the majority of Latino voters will back Republicans, a political prognostication that has been proven very wrong, and found it completely inconceivable that any Christian would support Democratic candidates over Republicans. He reasoned that the GOP “provoked the Hispanic community to go and vote for a party that does not affirm the values of life and the strengthening of marriage that Hispanics hold as sacred values” by not supporting immigration reform during Bush’s second term. “The Democratic platform does not resonate or reflect the core values of the Hispanic-American community; that’s not anecdotal that is a matter of quantitative fact,” he said.

But as we’ve noted before, a majority of Latinos support a woman’s right to choose and marriage equality.

He went on to say that Latinos (and African Americans) are backing Democrats by wide margins because “we vote our ethnicity” and “vote our cultural heritage rather than our Christian worldview,” contradicting his claim that Latino culture makes them Republicans.

The Democratic platform does not resonate or reflect the core values of the Hispanic-American community, that’s not anecdotal that is a matter of quantitative fact. Every single survey, even the recent Barna survey, reaffirms that finding. The fact of the matter is, the disconnect exists because of the rhetoric. Forty-four percent of Hispanics supported George W. Bush in 2004, forty-four percent. Karl Rove and I sat down and we predicted in 2006 that in 2008 fifty-two percent of Hispanics would go GOP, and for at least a generation that number would continue to go up. Then came immigration reform, and at the end of the day that sort of ‘we don’t know whether this party really wants us’ provoked the Hispanic community to go and vote for a party that does not affirm the values of life and the strengthening of marriage that Hispanics hold as sacred values.



I have to say this to ethnic communities: putting President Obama aside, the African American and the Latino community, we suffer from what I call vertical myopia. That is to say that many of us go to the voting booth and we vote our ethnicity, rather than our Christian worldview. I find that to be a problem, as a believer, as a follower of Christ, as a born again Christian, I find it to be a significant problem biblically and theologically, when we vote our cultural heritage rather than our Christian worldview.

Rodriguez also claimed that Obama’s second term will bring about a “greater erosion of our religious liberties” and even charged that under the Obama administration, “Christians that stand up for biblical marriage will be continued to be labeled with a de facto sort of federal endorsement as bigoted and homophobic” if they do not “surrender Christianity on the altar of political expediency.”

 

I think we’re going to see greater erosion of our religious liberties. I think we’re going to see those Christians that stand up for biblical marriage will be continued to be labeled with a de facto sort of federal endorsement as bigoted and homophobic. I think the war on the biblical doctrine of marriage will continue to increase. At the end of the day, it’s going to prompt the Christian community to say: is this the generation that will surrender Christianity on the altar of political expediency or will we activate or engage in a prophetic posture?

Samuel Rodriguez to Join 'Xenophobic' Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Republican National Convention

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Samuel Rodriguez has been trying to push Latino voters to join the Republican Party while also begging the GOP to soften its hardline stance on immigration reform. But acting as a self-styled champion of immigrant rights while also boosting a party that is vociferously opposed to them ultimately creations tensions. It appears that for Rodriguez, helping the GOP is more important than opposing anti-immigrant policies and activists. Rodriguez is scheduled to share the spotlight at the Republican National Convention with none other than Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Rodriguez has previously described Arpaio as a “xenophobic person” and in February tweeted that “any candidate that seeks the endorsement of Sheriff Arpaio also seeks the rejection of the Hispanic community.”

Rodriguez also blasted SB 1070, Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law backed by Arpaio, as “xenophobic and nativist,” calling for a fast to protest the law and the creation of “a multi-ethnic firewall against the extremists in our nation.” “The Arizona Law stands as evidence that in 21st Century America, we may no longer be in the Desert of Segregation or the Egypt of Slavery but we just discovered there are Giants to be slain in the land of Promise,” his group proclaimed in a statement. “The Arizona Law is without a doubt, anti-Latino, anti-family, anti-immigrant, anti-Christian and unconstitutional.”

He later said that the Supreme Court didn’t go far enough in striking down the law’s “draconian measures” that “polarize and segregate our communities.”

Arpaio, who is being sued by the Justice Department for violating the civil rights of Hispanics (just one of his many scandals), will address an invitation-only audience at the Republican National Convention days after Rodriguez delivers a benediction.

Of course, Arpaio’s involvement in the convention should come as no surprise, as Arpaio was the co-chair of Mitt Romney’s 2008 Arizona campaign and served as a Romney surrogate. At the time, Romney said Arpaio was one of his “strong surrogates for our optimistic message of a stronger and safer Amreica” and was “gratified” to have his support.

Religious Right Divided on Obama's Immigration Announcement

A number of top Religious Right figures over the last few years have been trying to rally support among conservatives for comprehensive immigration reform, arguing that Hispanics are potential allies in their anti-choice and anti-gay advocacy work while warning that if the Right continues to alienate and demonize Latino voters then they will be writing their own political death sentence. As a result, it wasn’t a surprise to see Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Sam Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference enthusiastically applaud the Obama administration decision to stop deporting undocumented immigrations who are under the age of 30 and arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years old, and Republican activist Adryana Boyne endorsed the move at the stage of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s national summit on Saturday.

However, not all social conservatives are on board.

Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, who earlier this month signed onto the pro-reform Evangelical Immigration Table, called the announcement partisan and divisive. Minnery even suggested that the decision to stop deporting some young migrants is bad for families because they won’t be deported with their parents:

Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family’s senior vice president for government and public policy, said he was disappointed with the president’s actions.

“A quick fix in a contentious issue seems designed only for partisan advantage and will divide the country even further,” he said.

Minnery noted that the action will serve to break up families by targeting parents for deportation, while leaving young people behind to fend for themselves.

“Teenagers just out of high school, without intact families, are more likely to wind up dependent on the government,” he said. “This is no solution at all.”

American Family Association’s Buster Wilson attacked the decision by revisiting a debunked conspiracy theory that the Department of Homeland Security thinks that people “who believe in pro-life issues and the second coming of Jesus should be watched as potential terrorists vote,” and then went on to wonder whether Obama is going to allow the young people impacted by the decision to vote, even though they won’t be granted citizenship:

It’s so interesting to me that these people who are, whether they were brought here as children by fault of their known or not, they are still in the process of violating US immigration law. Janet Napolitano will work with her president to do whatever she can to honor those folks while first thing she did in this position, right out of the shoot back in 2009, was issue a white paper to all law enforcement saying that people like you and me who believe in pro-life issues and the second coming of Jesus should be watched as potential terrorists. Incredible; I continue to ask every day now what country am I living in? It is not the America I grew up in.



Another thing that was suggested by some, and I have tried to be fair about this and to try to ascertain how this could happen. I don’t know what the process would be to make this happen, but some have suggested that 800,000 young but old enough to get work permit illegals that the president is throwing out the welcome mat to, giving them basically a soft, backdoor amnesty, could this be his way in an election year, in just months before the election, of adding 800,000 plus votes to his side of the ledger in November? Good question to ask.

Samuel Rodriguez: Marriage Equality an Assault on Religious Freedom

Samuel Rodriguez, the Hispanic Evangelical leader who is treated as a bridge-builder by some centrist Christians and the Obama White House in spite of his close alliances with the fringes of the Religious Right, has launched a fasting campaign against marriage equality.  Rodriguez, who serves on the White House Task Force on Fatherhood, has expressed “deep disappointment” regarding Obama’s recent embrace of marriage equality.

Rodriguez joined the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land on Land’s May 19 radio show to denounce marriage equality as a threat to religious liberty and to call on churches to be more aggressive in opposing it.  Rodriguez, who tells evangelicals that they should welcome Hispanic immigrants because God has sent them to redeem Christianity in America, insists that a multi-ethnic religious awakening is necessary to defend “Biblical marriage” in America.

Land and Rodriguez both portrayed the advance of gay rights as a threat to religious liberty, with Land claiming, “There is an attempt in our society to basically make it illegal to condemn homosexuality in our churches – it’s called hate speech.”  Rodriguez said the promotion of marriage equality is “an attempt to silence the church of Jesus Christ.”

Excerpts from the interview:

This egregious attempt to redefine an institution that God formed is not only a violation of everything that we understand to be appropriate but it is an incredible incursion into religious liberty and religious expression. So I believe that we need a multi-ethnic kingdom-culture firewall to push back. White evangelicals alone will not be able to defend marriage in America.

...

This is not an issue of equality.  There is an attempt to silence the voice of Christianity, there is an attempt to silence the voice of truth, of righteousness and Biblical justice. So really the church needs to wake up and say, 'Not on our watch.’  We must stand up for Biblical truth. We must vote vertical.  We must look at our legislators and those that represent us on Capitol Hill and say, ‘religious liberty, the family, biblical marriage and life, must stand protected.’

...

I do believe that the power of the pulpit in addressing truth and righteousness is critical.  We can’t sacrifice Biblical truth because at times it becomes confrontational. Listen, Jesus Christ had very strong confrontational moments. This idea that this is a patsy sort of Christianity. That’s not the Christianity that we follow and adhere to. Sometimes, truth hurts.

Syndicate content

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 06/22/2016, 1:17pm
One legacy of the 2016 presidential campaign may well be a divide between religious and political conservatives who took a principled stance against the racist campaign of the apparently amoral Donald Trump, and those who jumped on board the Trump train in spite of his long record of lies, abusive and divisive rhetoric, and his shameless, transparently cynical use of religion to promote his candidacy. Those divides may be clarifying in the wake of Trump’s meeting with hundreds of religious conservative leaders on Tuesday in what organizers had laughably described as a nonpolitical... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 05/23/2016, 2:16pm
As we reported last week, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez gave Donald Trump a chance to “redeem the narrative” with Latino voters by showing a videotaped message from the candidate to attendees at an NHCLC gathering last Friday; a video from Hillary Clinton was also played. Rodriguez has criticized Trump’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and mass deportation plan, but has also given him political cover, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last month that Trump is not a racist and blaming such a characterization on... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 05/19/2016, 1:22pm
Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez has a consistent political strategy: position himself as a nonpartisan advocate committed “not to the agenda of the elephant or the donkey but the lamb,” all while trying to convince Hispanic Christians to support socially conservative causes and politicians. You might think that the immigration-reform-promoting Rodriguez would be in a bind with immigrant-demeaning Trump as the Republican nominee. But even though Rodriguez has been publicly critical of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, he seems to be positioning himself to... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 05/16/2016, 3:37pm
As head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez has worked to get more Latino voters, especially evangelicals, to back conservative candidates, while at the same time trying to get Republicans to stop trash-talking Latino immigrants and back immigration reform. But it appears that Rodriguez has thrown his lot in with Donald Trump, the very candidate who kicked off his campaign by trash-talking Latino immigrants and calling for mass deportations. While he may be an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, when push comes to shove, as it has with Trump’... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 03/09/2016, 4:37pm
Self-proclaimed ‘prophet’ Cindy Jacobs was not physically present at last Saturday’s Awakening conference in Orlando, but her prophetic words about the state of Florida and the 2016 elections were read by Mario Bramnick, a south Florida pastor and board member for Samuel Rodriguez’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “We have been called here strategically, as a strategic assembly, at a very critical juncture in time,” Bramnick told attendees as they ate their lunches and waited to hear from conservative activists David and Jason Benham.... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Friday 01/22/2016, 4:25pm
The annual March for Life brought thousands of people to Washington, D.C. on Friday, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This year, Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission teamed up to create more of an evangelical presence at the heavily Catholic march.  “Our burden was to see the reborn stand up for the unborn," said the Southern Baptists’ Russell Moore on Thursday. At Friday’s march, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly acknowledged that evangelicals took “a while to come to the... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 01/06/2016, 1:46pm
Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign has announced its creation of a Religious Liberty Advisory Board that includes Religious Right legal and political activists, including academics and some big names, like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. The list could be seen as a response by Rubio’s campaign to last month’s closed-door meeting at which “dozens” of Religious Right leaders voted to rally behind his rival, Sen. Ted Cruz. But Rubio’s director of Faith Outreach, former Manhattan Declaration Executive Director Eric Teetsel, told World Magazine that... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 05/05/2015, 3:20pm
During last week’s National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, where Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee made their pitches for the Latino vote, NHCLC head Sam Rodriguez told a TIME reporter that Republicans will not “fight arduously” to overturn a Supreme Court decision striking down bans on same-sex marriage. Of course, on the very same day Rodriguez announced that he and other NHCLC leaders signed a pledge to commit civil disobedience in defiance of any Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. Rodriguez also told a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network that such a... MORE >