Republican Party

Never Trumper Erickson: Church ‘Poisoned From Within’ By Trump & His Supporters

Radio host Steve Deace and right-wing pundit-activist Erick Erickson, two of the dwindling group of conservative Christian never-Trumpers, spoke on Deace’s radio show today about a recent Erickson column called “Reconsidering My Opposition to Trump.”

In spite of the column’s title, Erickson uses the colum to reaffirm his unwillingness to vote for Trump, whose campaign he calls un-American. He writes that he sees Trump “corrupting the virtuous and fostering  hatred, racism, and dangerous strains of nationalism.” (He also says, for the benefit of those who accuse him of being pro-Clinton, that he believes her campaign is anti-American.)

Erickson concludes:

That I see so many Christians justifying Donald Trump’s immorality, defining deviancy down, and turning to anger and despondency about the future tells me I cannot in good faith support Donald Trump because his victory would have lasting, damaging consequences for Christianity in America. We harm our witness and the testimony of the strength of our Lord by embracing the immoral, unrepentant strong man. We harm our American virtue by buying into the idea that one man can make America great again. Further, we risk losing Donald Trump’s soul for the sake of our selfishness.

In the column, Erickson criticizes Trump supporter Janet Parshall, referring to their recent debate as an example of the church being “poisoned from within.”

Erickson also slams Wayne Grudem for trying to justify support for Trump after having written in 2012 that if evangelicals didn’t support Romney, they would end up with Rudy Giuliani, “a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights candidate who is on his third marriage and had a messy affair prior to his divorce from his second wife. Then we will lose any high moral ground and the enthusiasm of the evangelical vote.” Asks Erickson, “How now can Grudem advance his witness to questioning unbelievers? He now praises an unrepentant man both guilty of and proud of the very sins he attacked Giuliani for.”

In response to a question from Deace about conservative fear-mongering about the consequences of the election—that the country could not survive a Clinton presidency—Erickson noted the same was said about Obama. Erickson says he tries not to demonize his opponents, saying that while he believes Hillary Clinton should be in jail, “she’s no Vladimir Putin.”

“This election is not the end of the world,” said Erickson, adding that the question that people will be asking the day after the election will be “who sold their soul and who didn’t?”

When Deace asked what his vocal opposition to Trump has cost him, Erickson said his radio show has lost advertisers, his kids have been yelled at in the grocery store, and he has had to hire armed guards to protect his house. 

Formerly Anti-Trump Catholic Adviser Says Trump's Court Promises Won Him Over

As we noted yesterday, conservative Catholic activist Joseph Cella, a member of Donald Trump’s new Catholic advisory committee and reportedly the new “chief liaison to the campaign for Catholic affairs,” joined other Catholic conservatives earlier this year in denouncing Trump as “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.”

Cella appeared on Ave Maria radio yesterday afternoon and told host Al Kresta that he is now “happily” supporting Trump. When Kresta asked what had changed since the “manifestly unfit” statement, Cella said he has had a “sincere change of heart and mind.” Trump, he said, had convened some Catholic leaders in June to “listen and learn.” He said Catholic voters are coalescing around Trump and predicted that trend will continue.

Cella praised Trump’s public commitment to nominating conservative Supreme Court justices in the mold of the “great Catholic jurist and thinker” Antonin Scalia. Clinton, he said, would do the opposite, and with the next president likely having the opportunity to fill three to five vacancies, “that alone will have far-reaching and long-lasting implications for the Catholic Church” on issues like religious liberty and health care.

Cella also mentioned Trump’s naming of Religious Right favorite Mike Pence to be his running mate and his “excellent” senior staff—he said the Trump campaign’s top three leaders are Catholic.  

Matt Bevin's Bogus 'Bloodshed' Defense

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin started taking some heat after Right Wing Watch called attention to his Values Voter Summit speech, in which he suggested that the election of Hillary Clinton might require conservatives to shed some blood in order to preserve American freedom, referencing the well-known Thomas Jefferson statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Bevin responded to the criticism by suggesting that his remarks were being misrepresented: “Any intelligent person can understand the message I delivered,” he said in a statement. Bevin told a reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader that his comments were about "military sacrifice" and the need for Americans to back the “thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas.” But, as journalist Matthew Yglesias wrote, Bevin’s actual speech “is completely at odds” with that claim, which The Atlantic’s David Graham called “pure spin.” Bevin, noted Yglesias, was “clearly talking about patriots winning back liberty from the tyranny of Democratic Party governance.”

Bevin has urged his Twitter followers to listen to his entire 15-minute speech. Fair enough. We took another listen, and it doesn’t support Bevin’s after-the-fact explanation. Bevin’s focus was on pushing on culture wars in the U.S., about which he promoted the Religious Right’s narrative that liberals are enemies of freedom who are out to silence Christians:

You wonder, how does this happen? You look at the opportunities for us to be silent. You look at the degradation of things that are happening in our society. You look at the atrocity of abortion. So many have remained silent. It’s a slippery slope. First we’re killing children, then it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Now it’s this gender-bending kind of don’t ask, don’t be a, don’t be a, you know, a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid. Just keep your mouth shut. I encourage you young people, step up and be bold, don’t keep your mouth shut.

Bevin emphasized the urgent need for social conservatives to be passionate and active in this year’s election:

I asked you at the beginning, why are you here? I’m guessing in some measure because you’re worried. You are concerned for the direction of this nation. Perhaps you want a better America, I’m guessing you do. How badly do you want it? Do you want it as badly as the people who came over here on rickety boats, risking their lives for the very freedoms we so apathetically disregard and take for granted? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as the men who, if they were lucky enough in the winter of 1776 to even own shoes, ate their shoes to keep from starving to death? Do you want it that badly? Do you want it as badly as… young men who stepped off transport carriers on Omaha Beach, knowing that they wouldn’t be likely to get more than ten yards up that beach, seeing their buddies…Do we want it that badly? I tell you if we don’t want it that badly, we don’t deserve it.

Who are we to think that somehow our generation is going to be the first generation to benefit from all the sacrifices that others have made without giving some modern-day equivalent of our own lives, fortunes and sacred honor? Step up! Be bold. This is not a time to have a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of what? Discipline. Discipline requires an intentional amount of proactivity on our part, to take in but to give back, to make calls like you’ve never made calls, to knock doors like you’ve never knocked doors, to alert people, to sound the alarm, to be the watchmen on the wall because it doesn’t do us any good if we see and we do, because we sit on the wall, what is happening in America and we keep our mouths shut. Sound the alarm! Sound the trumpet! Wake up! Wake others up!

Now, there’s no problem with Bevin exhorting people to take an active role in the political process. The problem, as we reported previously, is that Bevin said that if conservatives aren’t successful fighting for America ideologically, and Hillary Clinton gets elected, conservative activists and their children and grandchildren might have to make it a physical fight:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ.

But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

Bevin made comments similar to those in his Values Voter speech in an interview with LifeZette this week in which he warned Never Trump conservatives, “Falling on one’s sword in principle and dying in a remote corner of the battlefield as the war rages on serves no purpose whatsoever.” In the interview it is also clear that Bevin is talking about the potential for violence if conservative culture warriors aren’t successful politically:

"We’re at a crossroads in America, is what we hear, Bevin said. "But I truly believe that it’s a fork in the road, that it’s not really a crossroad — we don’t have multiple choices — we’re going to go one way or we’re going to go the other way," he said.

 "The values, the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was built upon which Kentucky itself and its constitution was founded are under assault intentionally and unintentionally," he continued.

…"We’re at a fork in the road and we going to go towards a more godless, more corrupt bureaucratic, more authoritarian approach or we have the opportunity to do something different," he said.

"Our founding fathers knew and said that the roots of liberty are watered by the blood of tyrants and the blood of patriots," Bevin said. "If we don’t step up when we have a chance to engage ideologically, philosophically, politically — then we will ultimately find ourselves forced to the point that as a people we will be forced to shed the blood of both tyrant and patriots."

"Could we recover, conceivably so, but it will come at a price that none of us would want to bear nor would we want our children or grandchildren to bear that and that is why this election matters so so much," said Bevin.

Bevin’s comments, of course, are not made in a vacuum. They come after years in which Tea Party activists portrayed President Obama as an America-hater who wants to bring down the U.S. And they come in the context of Religious Right leaders arguing that equality for LGBT people is an attack on faith and freedom.

Anti-government activists have used Jefferson’s “tree of liberty” phrase as warning to the federal government on issues ranging from health care reform to gun control to public land use. In fact, Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with that quote on it when he was arrested 90 minutes after bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman said Bevin’s comments contained “layers of dangerous nonsense.” Wrote Bookman:

In the past few weeks we’ve seen people go all but apoplectic because a black football player simply declined to stand for the national anthem. We’ve seen demands that Colin Kaepernick be fired from his job; Donald Trump even suggested that Kaepernick leave the country.

Yet here we have an elected leader, raised to one of the highest positions of authority in the land, publicly advocating armed insurrection as a valid and even necessary response to political defeat. This isn’t some powerless, frustrated 20-year-old spouting off, this is a 49-year-old governor who has raised his right hand and solemnly sworn to “support the Constitution of the United States” suggesting that violence may be the only recourse of patriots should someone other than his choice be elected president under the terms and processes laid out in that same Constitution…

This is dangerous, volatile and profoundly irresponsible. It is the paranoiac gutter talk of the worst recesses of the Internet given voice by a person in power to an apparently receptive audience in our nation’s capital, and down that path lies disaster.

KY Gov. Matt Bevin: Election Of Hillary Clinton May Call For Shedding Blood Of 'Tyrants' And 'Patriots'

Numerous speakers at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit suggested that the American republic might not survive a Hillary Clinton presidency. During the Obama administration it has become almost routine to hear far-right leaders talk about the possibility of armed revolution against the federal government. But it was still jarring to hear a sitting governor suggest that America might only survive the election of Hillary Clinton through bloodshed.

Matt Bevin, who was elected governor of Kentucky last year after expressing “absolute” support for marriage-refusing county clerk Kim Davis, received the Distinguished Christian Statesman award from the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship on Friday night. Speaking on Saturday, he told VVS attendees that the country is facing a fork in the road: “We don’t have multiple options; we’re going one way or we’re going the other way, politically, spiritually, morally, economically, from a liberty standpoint. We’re going one way or we’re going the other way.”

Bevin recounted a story from his college days about how he confronted a professor who he said mocked Christianity, the way liberals always do: “They try to silence us. They try to get us to shut our mouths. They try to embarrass us. Don’t be embarrassed. We were not redeemed to have a spirit of timidity.” He urged young people, “Be bold. There’s enough Neville Chamberlains in the world. Be a Winston Churchill…There are quite enough sheep already. Be a shepherd.”

American freedom, Bevin said, was “purchased at an extraordinary price,” saying that one and a half million Americans have given their lives in uniform. “America is worth fighting for. America is worth fighting for, ideologically.”

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” said Bevin. “But that may in fact be the case.” He explained that it might take the shedding of the blood of tyrants and patriots for America to survive a Hillary Clinton presidency:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

 

Rolling Stone Covers Voter Suppression Rock Star Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a right-wing activist who has championed anti-immigrant and voter suppression efforts around the country and has helped to insert right-wing rhetoric into recent Republican platforms.  As Miranda reported this month, Kobach is pushing his fellow Republicans to adopt legislation modeled after the disastrously restrictive voting law he helped push through in Kansas. The September 8 issue of Rolling Stone looks at one of Kobach’s ventures in “The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters.”

The Rolling Stone story by journalist and author Greg Palast examines Crosscheck, a Kobach project that Palast calls “the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud.” The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is ostensibly designed to target a virtually nonexistent form of voter fraud. In reality, it helps promote the Right Wing's bogus voter fraud narrative, which in turn provides justification for otherwise unjustifiable laws that restrict voting. In the worst case scenario, Crosscheck could lead to thousands of people, predominantly people of color and young voters, being wrongly purged from voting rolls in advance of November’s election.

Crosscheck compares voter registration lists in different states to identify individuals who are registered in more than one place. Theoretically, it requires matches on a voter's first, middle and last name, along with birth date and the final four digits of a social security number, but in reality, it doesn’t always work as advertised. As we noted a couple years ago, Crosscheck’s data was so unreliable that Florida and Oregon dropped out of the program

Palast says he was able to get his hands on Crosscheck lists from Virginia, Georgia and Washington state, and found that the lists often lacked a middle-name match and misidentified fathers and sons as the same voter.  He cites database expert Mark Swedlund, who criticizes Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He also notes that U.S. Census data indicates that people of color are statistically more likely to have last names in common, leading to an “astonishing” inherent bias in the results, with “one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans, and one in nine African Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list.” And Donald Trump complains the election is rigged against him!

“God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name if Joseph or Jose,” says Swedlund. “You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”

It is up to each state to decide how it uses the data from Crosscheck; some send the lists to county officials who don’t have the resources to verify their accuracy. Rolling Stone reports that Crosscheck “has flagged close to half a million voters” in Ohio, and that 41,000 people were knocked off voting rolls in Virginia when it was under Republican control.

Even if state and local officials don’t end up using the data to initiate major purges, Crosscheck’s inflated numbers can be used to buttress false right-wing claims that voter fraud is a big problem. That mythology has been particularly damaging in the aftermath of rulings from conservative justices on the Supreme Court dismantling key Voting Rights Act protections, which allowed Republican officials in many states to pass laws aimed at making it harder for some people, particularly people of color and young people, to register and vote. And, says Palast, gutting the Voting Rights Act also meant dropping the requirement for covered states to keep racial data on voters, making it harder to document discriminatory practices.

Christian Nationalist David Lane Plans Massive Pro-Trump Turnout Drive

Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base.

David Lane, the Christian-nationalist political operative who sponsored the event Trump and Marco Rubio attended recently in Florida, has reportedly raised nearly $10 million to conduct a church-based voter registration and GOTV drive in six target states. Lane’s organization, the American Renewal Project, will target Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. Lane has always been secretive about his donors, but as we have reported, the foundations of Texas fracking billionaires Dan and Ferris Wilks have been major donors to his operations. 

Strategists, including GOP operatives Wayne Hamilton and Dave Carney, will meet in Dallas this week to map out the strategy. Like most news about Lane’s operations, the story was first reported by Lane’s mouthpiece, David Brody at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody reports that in the weeks ahead, Trump and Mike Pence will be invited to speak to at least half a dozen similar "Pastors and Pews" events, which are designed to energize politically active conservative evangelical pastors.

We have reported extensively on Lane’s political operations, his ties to the Republican Party and his extreme worldview, including his intensely anti-gay positions and his belief that politics is a form of spiritual warfare designed to bring the United States back to what he thinks is its mission and covenant with God to advance the Christian faith. He’s not shy about expressing that view, as Brody reports:

The central theme behind this effort is a need for spiritual revival in America. Lane recognizes that a president, whether they are republican or democrat isn’t going to save America. This is spiritual warfare playing out in an arena where somebody’s values are going to rule the day. Lane says it’s time for pastors to step up and lead from the pulpit. “Christians founded America, not secularists, agnostics, atheists or multicultural proponents like the current president,” Lane tells The Brody File. “Evangelical and Pro-Life Catholic Christians have to engage in 2016 if America is to be saved.”

Lane, of course, is not running the only pro-Trump Religious Right GOTV effort. In a Monday morning email, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition said it has started its 2016 ground campaign and is recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, distribute voter guides and make GOTV phone calls to generate “the largest conservative vote in American history.” The email starts with a recent quote from Jerry Falwell Jr. saying Donald Trump is a leader like Winston Churchill who can save America.

Flashback: New Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway at the RNC

As part of the Trump campaign’s latest shake-up, which brought in Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as chief executive, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway was named campaign manager. During the Republican National Convention, Conway spoke on a panel at an event organized by the American Conservative Union; her remarks there give some indication of how she views Trump and this year’s campaign. Of course, her comments were made before Trump’s recent drop in the polls.

Conway was introduced as a “pollstress” who serves on ACU’s board and as a senior adviser to Mike Pence, and she reminded people that she had also run a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC.

Conway said Obama’s rising approval rating is “not relevant” to the campaign, because his ratings on specific issues like national security and the economy were under 50 percent. “Cool is not transferable,” she said. Obama does not, she said, have a mandate from the American people for his “decidedly left-of-center agenda.” Neither, she said, does Clinton. She said most Americans are opposed to Obamacare and that as more problems emerge in the state exchanges, Republicans should be going after it hard.

Conway said there is little ideological diversity within the Democratic party and that has made its leaders disconnected from average Americans:

Where are the boll weevil Democrats? Where are the blue dog Democrats? Where are the pro-life Democrats? Where are the pro-Second-Amendment Democrats? They are gone, particularly at the federal level…When you don’t have that in your membership, in your elected officials, particularly at the federal level, you forget that the country doesn’t agree with you. And I think that’s what’s happened to the modern Democratic Party. As it has shifted leftward, completely unrecognizable from Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party ... they believe they’ve shifted in response to the country, but that’s not true.

Conway said that while Clinton has built a traditional campaign, Trump built a movement and has done a good job at making people feel like they are part of it. People believe, she said, that he’s making a sacrifice to make this run. She believed that Trump family operations like The Apprentice reality TV show and Ivanka’s clothing line have helped him tap in the cultural zeitgeist. And she praised his use of direct language, like complaining during the primary of a “rigged, corrupt system” that was robbing people of their votes.

Conway said that Trump is the first national politician in a long time to talk to people who are hurting economically. The Republican Party she said, had become “dangerously close to becoming the party of the elites,” but Trump has moved it to becoming “the party of the worker.”

“We need to be the party of the job holders,” she said, not just the wealthy job creators.

Conway said that a year or a year and a half earlier, she had said in response to a question that her major criterion for the GOP candidate was that he be “unapologetically, unflinchingly unafraid” of the Clintons and their networks—“all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, all their money, all their stock, all their lies, all their corruption, all their distortions, all their name-calling.” Trump is not afraid of them, she said, and voters find him refreshing. And they like that he “occupies rented space in Hillary Clinton’s head.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel

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

5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful

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

6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers

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

7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing

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

8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’

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

9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing

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

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

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

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

10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’

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

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

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

17. Trump is like King David

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

18. Trump is like Saul/Paul

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

19. Trump is like Samson

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

20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln

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

21. Trump is like George Washington

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

22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler

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

23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil

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

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

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

25. God doesn’t want a woman president

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

Bonus: Oops-Not-Cruz-Anointing

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

Happy Birthday, Phyllis Schlafly!

Today is the 92nd birthday of Phyllis Schlafly, the godmother of the right-wing movement in America. Schlafly broke onto the national scene with “A Choice Not an Echo,” her 1964 book making the case for Barry Goldwater, and she solidified her leadership with her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment. Decades later, she helped rally right-wing opposition to President Obama, hosting a “How To Take Back America” conference during his first year in office. She’s still hard at work, leading Eagle Forum and publishing her Phyllis Schlafly Report newsletter, whose June issue argued for putting Trump’s wall—“and yes, Mexico will pay”—in this year’s Republican platform. Mission accomplished.

It hasn’t been the happiest year for Schlafly, who has been embroiled in a power struggle with a group of Eagle Forum board members, including her own daughter. She also lost a trademark lawsuit against her nephew, who makes Schlafly beer.

On the other hand, Schlafly was an early and ardent backer of Donald Trump, standing up for him in the primaries against many of her Religious Right allies and Eagle Forum colleagues. At this year’s Republican National Convention, Schlafly hosted a “Life of the Party” event celebrating that the GOP has been officially anti-abortion since 1976; she told attendees that she endorsed Trump after he pledged loyalty to a pro-life platform. Party attendees were given copies of the most recent of her more than two dozen books, “How the Republican Party Became Pro-Life.” It’s a short paperback that feels as if it was thrown together after having Schlafly tell war stories about her GOP platform battles over the years.

Schlafly spends most of the book recounting stories of pro-life activists’ efforts to strengthen and protect anti-abortion language at every Republican convention since 1976. It includes the successful resistance led by Schlafly, Ralph Reed, Bay Buchanan and Gary Bauer to Bob Dole’s efforts to soften the anti-abortion language in 1996. (I was in San Diego with a People For the American Way team covering that convention; Reed was gleeful about demonstrating his power to humiliate Dole, which may well have contributed to his November defeat.)

After the quick march through convention history, Schlafly moves into a denunciation of “judicial supremacy,” calling on Republicans to repudiate the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. She also calls for nullification of 2015’s marriage equality ruling:

When supremacist judges presume to rewrite portions of our law, most especially if it is a law that we have had for millennia such as our law defining marriage, it’s time for the American people to speak up and say “No” just as Abe Lincoln did when supremacist judges ruled that blacks could be considered another man’s “property.” … All Americans must use every tool in the political process to reject judicial supremacy and return to government by “we the people.”

The book includes a short afterword by Kristan Hawkins, presidents of Students for Life, who calls Schlafly “a great American hero” and celebrates that, thanks to Schlafly and “her army,” there is today “no national Republican candidate who dares be anything other than pro-life!” The final 70 pages of the book, more than half its total length, is devoted to an appendix of anti-abortion and anti-marriage-equality references in Republican platforms and resolutions and excerpts from the 2012 platform.

Earlier this year, Schlafly urged Republican senators to hold firm in refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee “until we have a Republican who will appoint somebody of the nature of Scalia,” telling her interviewer that the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency made her “scared to death.” Republican senators have done as she asked, and Schlafly got her wish in Cleveland with a solidly right-wing platform and the nomination of Donald Trump. But given what current polls suggest that November will bring, she may want to do her celebrating now.

 

Trump Campaign's Latest (?) Easily Refutable Lie

Donald Trump and his campaign lie so frequently that a headline reporting “the latest” is likely to be out of date by the time it's posted. But it is still somewhat remarkable that the campaign tells unnecessary lies that are so easily refuted by publicly available factsa phenomenon we have noted about other right-wing leaders we monitor like “historian” David Barton.

In a Friday morning email from the Trump campaign, which begins, “I’m amazed at the lies the liberal media spews day after day,” Trump lists a number of accomplishments that he says show that “we continue to prove them wrong.” One of the bullet points is this:

  • Pulling off an incredible Republican National Convention, with much higher viewership than the Democrats’ disastrous convention

Some aspects of this might be debatable. Many would agree that the Republican convention was “incredible,” though I suspect not for the same reasons as Trump.

The post-convention polls, which have moved solidly toward Hillary Clinton, seem to undermine the idea that the Democrats’ convention was “disastrous.” In fact, as the Washington Post reported, “A majority of respondents, 51 percent, said they were less likely to vote for Trump after seeing his convention”—the only time that’s ever happened according to data going back to 1984.

What is indisputably false is the claim that the Republican convention had “much higher viewership” than the Democrats. In fact, as it has been widely reported, Democrats drew millions more viewers than Republicans on three out of the four nights, and overall. It’s true that more people watched Trump’s final-night speech than Clinton’s, but that wasn’t good news for Trump, because more people disliked the speech than liked it

Right Wing Promoting Clinton Conspiracy Theory On Murdered DNC Staffer

Kyle reported on Wednesday that Glenn Beck appeared to be promoting a new conspiracy theory that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was killed to keep him from exposing Hillary Clinton emails, or possibly in retaliation for his already having done so. The conspiracy theory, being fanned by Wikileaks’ Clinton-hating Julian Assange over the objections of the victim’s family, is getting wider circulation among right-wing activists.

Today, William Murray’s Government is Not God PAC sent an email with the headline, “Who Had DNC Staffer Killed?” His email linked to a WND story that suggested the staffer was just another victim of the “Clinton machine.”

“Three people with tangential connections to Bill and Hillary Clinton have died in unusual circumstances over the last few weeks,” the article says, “sparking a renewed interested in the so-called 'body count' of people who allegedly got in the way of the ‘Clinton machine.’"

There’s more:

Is there something to the talk of a growing body count, or is it all just in the minds of "conspiracy nuts" who intersect with reality only on rare occasion?

The question was raised in a commentary Tuesday by Rachel Alexander at Townhall.

She cited the recent deaths of Democratic National Committee worker Seth Rich on July 10; Shawn Lucas, who helped serve the DNC with a summons in a fraud allegation, on Aug. 2; and John Ashe, the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, on June 22, just before he was scheduled to begin pretrial meetings "involving shady financial dealings regarding a former Clinton crony."

"Since the Democratic National Committee emails were leaked a few weeks ago, three people associated with the DNC have all been found dead under what could be questionable circumstances," Alexander wrote. "Some – including Bernie Sanders supporters – suspect the Clintons were behind the deaths, just more episodes in the alleged ‘Clinton body count' dating back to the 1990s. 

The WND story cites an earlier story by The Political Insider that claims “46 people who were close to the Clintons have died during their 3 decades of political power,” adding, “That number should give us all pause.”

The idea that the Clintons have routinely had people killed has circulated on the right since at least the earliest days of the Bill Clinton administration, when Jerry Falwell used his Old Time Gospel Hour to hawk videotapes suggesting Clinton was involved in drug smuggling and murder.

Donald Trump has joined in, calling the death of former White House aide Vince Foster “very fishy” and saying “there are people” who bring it up because they think Foster was murdered. As we have reported, Donald Trump is an avid promoter of conspiracy theories, and his followers tend to believe them.  

Desperate Donald Trump Seeks Stronger Support From Christian Nationalists

As his poll numbers plummet, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is doing everything he can to boost enthusiasm for his candidacy among Religious Right leaders and the conservative white evangelical voters who make up an important part of the GOP’s political base.

Trump promised the hundreds of conservative evangelical leaders he met with in June that he would make the Christian Right more politically powerful by doing away with legal restrictions on overt politicking by churches. This week Trump will reportedly be pushing that plan as he heads down the well-trod path to the far corners of Christian nationalism

Trump’s outreach has already gone well beyond Bible-waving and not-very-convincing scripture-quoting. He let Religious Right leaders write an anti-LGBT party platform and he's promised them the Supreme Court of their dreams. He picked as his running mate Mike Pence, an anti-abortion extremist who was the Religious Right’s favored 2012 presidential candidate before he decided to run for governor instead. Trump has even suggested that somehow he’d make people say “Merry Christmas.”

Now, according to news reports, Trump will be joining former foe Marco Rubio and a bevy of anti-gay speakers at a Rediscovering God in America event in Florida this week sponsored by David Lane’s American Renewal Project. Lane has been organizing these political matchmaking sessions for two decades, bringing Republican politicians together with evangelical pastors who Lane hopes will transform their churches into conservative voter turnout machines. Jerry Falwell Jr., Trump’s biggest evangelical booster, reportedly “played a key role in initiating” the appearance in Orlando. 

What is the vision of America that David Lane is pursuing, with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio’s help?

Lane believes that the United States has a covenant with God to advance the Christian faith.  He denounces pluralism, secular government and court rulings upholding the separation of church and state. He wants the Bible to be used as the primary textbook in public schools. He is wildly anti-gay and has demanded the impeachment of judges who rule in favor of marriage equality.

Lane could be drawn to Trump’s for-him-or-against him approach to politics, which fits nicely with Lane’s no-compromise worldview. He wrote last year that “there can be no reconciliation of opposites, particularly the spiritual and the secular. Therefore we need to establish if America is a pagan or Christian nation and get on with it – the sooner the better.”

Trump’s complaint that politicians are “selling Christianity down the tubes” speaks to Lane’s belief that Christians are facing persecution in the United States. On a 2014 trip to Europe he organized for a group of pastors from swing states and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, Lane drew a comparison between 1930s Nazi Germany and modern-day America.

Lane says America’s descent into secularism and other evils is not only the fault of judges and politicians, but also pastors who don’t preach aggressively enough. He has complained, for example, that there was “not a peep from the Christian church” in response to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, when he says the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”

As a political operative devoted to getting conservative pastors more engaged in politics, Lane must be thrilled by Trump’s pledge to help churches become more powerful by allowing them to use their tax-exempt contributions as political weapons. Perhaps Lane sees Donald Trump as the answer to this question he once posed: “Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”

Polls suggest that Trump is already doing well among white evangelical voters. But Lane told Bloomberg News that Trump cannot count on endorsements from Christian leaders, and that he needs the kind of direct outreach to pastors that he will be doing in Orlando to “produce a ground game.” Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, continuing his pattern of acting as Lane’s virtual press agent, gushed that Trump’s plan to show up for Orlando’s Pastors and Pews event shows that he is “well on his way to striking evangelical gold.”

Political Correctness And Political Awkwardness At The RNC

The Republican National Convention and the constellation of right-wing events scheduled during and around the official gathering included plenty of downright disturbing examples of racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, and Mussolini-wannabe-ism. It also included some intensely awkward moments, not all of them caught on television cameras.

Picture Sen. Jeff Sessions sitting on stage with four other speakers on a panel organized by the American Conservative Union Foundation to address the question, “Will conservatives support Trump?”

OK, now picture Sen. Sessions’ face as he tries to remain calm and composed while fellow panelist Heather Higgins, head of Independent Women’s Voice and a Wall Street Journal contributor, tells this joke:

There was a man who was lying in his hospital bed, quite sick, oxygen mask on his nose and mouth. And a young nurse comes in … to give him a sponge bath. And she hears him mumble through his mask, “Nurse, can you check, are my testicles black?”

She is embarrassed at this and kind of horrified, and she says, “Sir, all I’m supposed to do is wash your upper body and your feet.” And he tries again, and says, “Please, please can you check, are my testicles black?”

And so she decides that she doesn’t want his blood pressure to go up and him to be agitated by worrying about this, so she just steels herself for the embarrassment, pulls back the bed clothes, lifts up his hospital gown, takes him in one hand and checks, and she says, ‘Sir, you’re fine. You’re magnificent…

And he takes off his oxygen mask and he says, “Thank you, that was wonderful, nurse. But let me say this again slowly: are my test results back?”

Higgins was trying to make a humorous point about messaging, and people not hearing what you’re trying to say. But she also seemed to be demonstrating the gleeful contempt for “political correctness” that was on display all last week in Cleveland. The attitude seems to be that people should just “have a sense of humor” rather than take offense when something inappropriate or offensive has been said.

As others have noted, conservatives who complain about “political correctness” often seem to be longing for a time when it was acceptable to openly traffic in stereotypes or worse – or in the words of comedian Samantha Bee, to be free of the “cruel shackles of empathy and mutual respect.”

Back to Higgins. In response to a question about Trump’s promise to build a wall on the border with Mexico, Higgins reminded people that Trump has said his wall would have a big door. “Who else would run the golf courses?” she snarked. That comment drew some groans and a loud “whoa” from fellow panelist KT McFarland, and someone else chimed in, “I think it’s Eric Trump, actually.” Rather than letting it go, Higgins added, “No, I meant manage the day-to-day maintenance.”

Higgins said that some conservatives oppose Trump because they don’t genuinely believe him to be conservative; others she described as “ever snob” – people who have a “social discomfort” with the way Trump talks and presents himself and “can’t see themselves or their friends every finding it socially acceptable to say that they’re for Trump.”

She said that those snobby people might never tell a pollster they are a Trump “supporter,” but that if a pollster asks whether they are thinking about voting for Trump they will get a much higher number, because in the end it comes down to a binary choice between him and Hillary Clinton. While many conservatives who backed other candidates are still working their way through the stages of grief, Higgins said, by October and November they’ll get to “acceptance” and vote for Trump.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mike Pence's Practice RNC Speech: Trump's 'A Good Man'

The American Conservative Union Foundation hosted an event at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, featuring panel discussions on whether conservatives will support Trump and whether the “imperial Obama presidency” can be reversed. It also included a surprise keynote speech from Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence was introduced by NRA’s Chris Cox, who said that it is important for conservatives to win the culture war, because right now “everything that we’ve grown up knowing to be good, right and true has been twisted and perverted and repackaged to our kids as wrong.” Cox said the Second Amendment suffered a “devastating loss” with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “This is a critical time in American history,” he said. “It’s a critical time for constitutional freedoms.”

Pence’s appearance may have been a practice run of sorts for Wednesday night’s speech. He worked hard to convince attendees that they should feel good about supporting Trump, who Pence repeatedly called “this good man.”

Pence got applause with his first three words, “my fellow conservatives.” He described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He gave a short political bio, taking about being inspired to run for office by Ronald Reagan, serving in Congress, and then returning to Indiana, where he has helped usher in the largest school voucher program in the country.

Pence bragged that his “strong Republican leadership” has achieved results in Indiana, “and that’s exactly the kind of strong Republican leadership Donald Trump will bring to the White House.”

Pence described Trump as a builder, a fighter, a father, and a patriot. He said after spending time with Trump, “I know that Donald Trump will be a great president of the United States of America because his heart beats with the heart of the American people.”

Pence compared Trump to Ronald Reagan, who he said “never lost the common touch.” He recalled a story about when, as a young congressional candidate, he met Reagan and said he was grateful for everything Reagan had done for the country. Reagan demurred, saying, “The American people decided to right the ship, and I was just the captain they decided to put on the bridge, and they did.”

Pence said he sees and hears in Donald Trump the same humility and unshakeable faith in the American people that he saw in Reagan.

Pence also had some direct words for those conservatives who have been resistant to Trump’s charms:

So the time has come for us to come together. The primaries are over. It was a big stage up there, with a lot of extraordinarily talented men and women. I say to my fellow conservatives today, it’s time for us to come together, time for us to come together around this good man and reelecting Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, because this is no ordinary time in the life of our nation…

We must decide here and now that Hillary Clinton will never become president of the United States of America…for the sake of a Supreme Court that will uphold the sanctity of life, our Second Amendment and our God-given liberties, we must elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America.

 

Ralph Reed Makes The Case For Donald Trump

One theme of this year’s Republican National Convention is the Religious Right getting fully on board the Trump Train. Even before he vanquished Ted Cruz, his final primary opponent, Trump has been aggressively courting the Religious Right, and he has recently sought to shore up support from the movement leaders who backed Cruz and other candidates.

Yes, Trump is a habitual liar whose Bible-waving and political use of religious is transparently cynical, but that isn’t stopping Religious Right leaders from rallying around him. And why not? He allowed the Religious Right to write anti-gay discrimination into the GOP's platform. His promise to fill the Supreme Court with right-wing justices gives them hope that marriage equality in the U.S. will be short-lived. And he is even promising to overturn the federal law that forbids churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral politics, and to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood.

In Cleveland this week for the RNC, Religious Right political operative Ralph Reed spoke with Doug Wright, “Utah’s most listened to talk show host.” Polls show that many of Utah’s Mormon voters are resisting the call to unite behind Trump.

When asked why so many evangelicals are supporting Trump in spite of his “interesting” background, his use of “vulgarities,” and other things that might concern a conservative Christian, Reed said, “You’re not electing a pastor-in-chief, you’re electing a commander-in-chief.”

Reed reminded Wright that evangelicals backed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election even though they had a different approach to faith, and even though Romney had previously held pro-choice and pro-gay views, something for which some conservatives have criticized Trump. “I thought we were members of a faith where we were supposed to welcome converts,” said Reed.

In fact, said Reed, he thinks Trump “has the potential to be the greatest advocate for our values, and do the most to advance that agenda, precisely because he doesn’t necessarily come from where we come from.” In other words, because people don’t view Trump as a Religious Right activist, they might be more receptive to his call for ending the ban on church politicking.

Here’s Reed’s basic case for Trump, starting with the fact that “he is a professing Christian.”

More importantly…he shares our values. He’s pro-life. He’s pro-traditional marriage, which is very important to us…He’s pro-religious freedom. He supported the Hobby Lobby Decision, supports Little Sisters of the Poor, has placed in the platform, at his insistence, at this convention, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, a call for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment to the internal revenue code, which threatens churches that speak out politically with the loss of their tax-exempt status. That has been used to harass and persecute the Christian community for over half a century. Donald Trump will end it.

'Gays for Trump' Join Conspiracy Theorists In Bringing Anti-Islam, Anti-PC Message To RNC

Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay British cultural provocateur, self-described “dangerous faggot” and senior editor at Breitbart, brought his anti-political-correctness, anti-Islam message to Cleveland this week, teaming up with conspiracy-spouting radio host Alex Jones, political dirty trickster Roger Stone, anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller and Gays for Trump.

At Monday’s America First Unity Rally, Yiannopoulos (simply “Milo” to his fans), took the stage wearing a bulletproof vest — a small group of protesters had gathered nearby but were being kept out of the park by a phalanx of police — but he theatrically peeled it off as he began his remarks. He performed the same routine at Tuesday night’s sold-out, Breitbart-supported Wake Up! party, organized by Gays for Trump, which Gateway Pundit called “the hottest ticket at the RNC.” Among the Trump supporters at the party were white nationalists Peter Brimelow and Richard Spencer, who chatted with guests and reporters.

The party venue was adorned with soft-core posters of skinny young men in Make America Great Again caps, some posing with guns, courtesy of Twinks4Trump. It gave a surreal feel to the event, which was appropriate given the surreal claims about Trump made by some of the speakers.

Chris Barron, a co-founder of GOProud, was among those welcoming people to the party, where he was also said to be acting as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. Barron said Trump is making the GOP and conservative movement more accepting of LGBT people, adding, “Donald Trump is a better friend to the LGBT community than Hillary Clinton could ever be.” Geller made a similar claim, saying, “If anyone is for gay rights, clearly it’s Trump.” Milo went even further, declaring, “Donald Trump is the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history.”

Really? The guy who couldn’t be bothered to lift a finger to keep the Religious Right from writing discrimination into the party platform? And who has promised Religious Right leaders the Supreme Court of their dreams? Such skeptical thinking is wrong-headed, according to the speakers at Wake Up!, because it is not focusing on the real threats to gay people: Islam and those who “mollycoddle” it.

Geller, resplendent in rainbow sequins, started her remarks with a characteristically tasteful joke: “A jihadi walks into a gay bar. And the bartender says, ‘What’ll you have?’ And the jihadi says, ‘Shots for everyone.’”

She decried gay rights activists for talking about access to bathrooms for transgender people, saying, “Gay rights in the 21st century is the persecution, oppression, execution of gays living in Muslim countries under the Sharia.”

Geller said she was making her first public appearance since two ISIS-linked gunmen attacked a contest for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed she had organized in Garland, Texas, last year, saying 25 events had been cancelled out of fear. “So you gotta love Trump!” she said, “Yes! Because he gives them all the middle finger!” As she acknowledged, Trump harshly criticized Geller for holding the Garland event, but, she said, “he’s come a long way.” She said Trump’s proposed “ban on Muslims from jihad nations is logical, sensible and reasonable.”

Like speakers at the Alex Jones rally on Monday, Geller tore into Republicans who have not fallen in line with Trump:

I’m one hundred percent behind Trump. Because if you’re not behind Trump, you’re for Hillary. Bill Kristol is for that criminal. George Will is for that criminal. We have got to overthrow the GOP elite. We have got to unite behind Donald Trump.

Joining Milo and Geller at the Wake Up! party was Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who said Islam has “no place in a free society” and said Western countries should “de-Islamize” their societies; he has called for banning the Quran and said, “I don’t want no more mosques in the Netherlands and I am proud to say so,” leading someone behind me to shout “throw them out!”

Wilders described Europe – or “Eurabia” – as having been turned into an imploding hellhole of violence and fear because of Muslim immigrants, and warned that France is on the brink of civil war. The reason, he said, is that “we have no real leaders in the Western world anymore. We have appeasers. We have Chamberlains instead of Churchills, ruling all our countries.” He called for democratic political change, saying that people feel that their leaders have abandoned them and that political parties like his are winning support all over Europe. The crowd responded to Wilders with chants of “Geert” and “Trump,” and went wild at the statement that Wilders could become the next prime minister of the Netherlands. He ended his speech with this promise: “We shall win. We must win. And we will win this war.”

Milo reprised many of the comments he made at the Alex Jones rally, talking about a culture war in which liberals have become “traitors to the gays” by accommodating Islam. He joked about having been banned from Twitter that very day, a day before he would have access to all the national media at the RNC’s radio row, and he said, “I am going to make their lives hell.”

But he struck a defiantly hopeful tone, saying “I am not the only person who is dedicated to the destruction of liberal media in this country. I am not the only person who recognizes that after a few decades of good work, these people have now thrown us under the bus.”

At both events, Milo denounced political correctness, Islam and the left, in his intentionally button-pushing way. “I might be a dick-sucking faggot, but I fucking hate the left,” he told the crowd at the Jones rally, generating surprised laughter, and then cheers:

They do not represent me. They do not represent you. They do not represent tolerance. They do not represent understanding. They do not represent diversity, any of the things they claim to care about. The left in this country is a cancer that you need to eradicate because it is undermining the fundamental principles on which this country was founded, and for which everybody looks up to you guys.

Political correctness is not just a problem, he said at the Jones rally, it is deadly:

Political correctness killed at Sandy Hook. People knew about this guy, they knew what he was about, they knew what he was up to, and they were worried about saying anything for fear of being branded racist.

At that statement, I exchanged a puzzled look with the man standing beside me. I was puzzled because the killer of the children at Sandy Hook was white. If my neighbor was a loyal Alex Jones listener, he might have been puzzled because Jones promotes the theory that Sandy Hook was a hoax, staged as a “false flag” operation to give the government an excuse to try to seize people’s guns. Yiannopoulos may have been thinking about San Bernardino; he also said “political correctness killed” in Orlando, suggesting that the shooter hadn’t been apprehended sooner because people were afraid of being seen as racist or Islamophobic.

Yiannopoulos said he knew not everyone in the crowd was with him when it comes to homosexuality, but urged them to “stick up for your women and your gays.”

“Die on your feet or live on your knees,” he said, pausing with comic timing. “Well, I do live on my knees, but that’s alright. That’s alright. As long as I’m not facing Mecca I guess I’m alright with you guys. I mean, I might have been by accident…”

Yiannopoulos said he was appalled to find out that on American college campuses, which he thought would be the freest places in the world, people’s thoughts and language are being policed and restricted. “It seems to me as though the political left in this country is trying to destroy all of the things that made America great.”

Looking ahead, Milo said he’d be mocking criticism of concerns over “cultural appropriation” by lecturing to “the insane students at Yale” on famous cultural appropriators while dressed “in full Native American costume.” And next week, he said, he will be in Stockholm to “lead a gay pride march through the Muslim ghetto.”

The left is always telling us how homosexuals are stunning and brave. Well, the left-wing ones aren’t but ours are. And we’re going to take the fight to them. I’m taking the fight to American campuses. I’m fighting political correctness wherever I find it. I’m fighting hateful third-wave misandrist feminism wherever I find it. I am fighting Black Lives Matter, a hateful, destructive movement, wherever I find it. Donald Trump is going to fight the same things wherever he finds them, too.

Milo told the party crowd that the only thing that Breitbart ever cut from one of his columns was his response to people complaining that it was racist to put “whites only” in profiles on hook-up apps like Grindr. He asked whether his would be deemed racist for saying “blacks only.” But, he said, he wouldn’t actually put it that way. Instead he’d write, “Don’t contact me if you’re under seven inches or you know who your dad is.”

Which brings us to the end of the party and to the protesters outside with signs and flyers declaring, “There’s nothing fabulous about racism.”

 

How Would Religious Right Respond To Pence As VP?

According to some news reports, Donald Trump has settled on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, though other reporters say their sources tell them the decision has not been finalized. Trump has said he will announce his decision on Friday morning.

Pence has a long record before becoming governor that includes time in nearly every branch of the country’s huge right-wing political infrastructure: He headed a state-level “free-market” think tank; had a career in talk radio; and served in Congress, where he led the right-wing Republican Study Committee.

That’s a lot of right-wingery that we and others will be exploring in depth if he is indeed Trump’s running mate. But here are a few initial points about Pence’s relationship with the Religious Right, whose leaders seem to be largely coming around to Trump’s candidacy despite initial skepticism.

Pence has been much beloved on the Religious Right. Early in the 2012 election cycle, he won the Values Voter Summit straw poll and won gushing praise from CBN’s David Brody. Even the American Family Association’s far-right radio host Bryan Fischer predicted that Pence would be the 2012 nominee. 

Pence has participated in Christian-nation advocate David Lane’s political events and he has been an aggressive proponent of defunding Planned Parenthood. He has connections with other Religious Right leaders through the National Day of Prayer task force.

Pence was unhappily in the national media last year when Indiana became embroiled in a high-profile controversy over a state “religious liberty” law pushed by anti-gay groups and signed by the governor. Pence seemed to have been caught completely off-guard when business and community leaders joined equality activists in a backlash to the law.

Pence tried to defend the law on national television, with disastrous results. Pence’s main problem is that he was essentially caught in a lie. He pretended the bill had nothing to do with legalizing anti-gay discrimination, when that was the clear purpose of the religious groups that pushed the law and gathered around him when he signed it.

But having said that protecting discrimination wasn’t the law’s intent, he was not well positioned to resist demands by business leaders and media that he sign an amendment saying so. When he ultimately signed off on such an amendment, some Religious Right leaders were furious. Some compared his reversal to an act of betrayal like Judas selling out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

It is not clear how warmly Religious Right leaders will embrace Pence as Trump’s running mate. Earlier this week, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera responded to rumors about Pence as VP by tweeting, “HOW ironic it wld be if Mike Pence ever became VP. Pence declined to run for president in part b/c he FAILED conservatives on relig liberty.”

Others may be more forgiving given Pence’s long track record, and may rationalize that his heart was in the right place but he was forced to back down when business leaders and the LGBT lobby — twin enemies of the Religious Right these days — ganged up on him.

Meet the RNC Speakers: Jerry Falwell Jr.

In the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we’ll be profiling some of the activists and politicians invited to speak at the event. Find more of our Meet the Speakers series here.

It was hardly surprising to see Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. on the speakers’ list for the Republican convention. After all, Falwell has compared Trump to Jesus Christ, the biblical King David, Martin Luther King Jr., and his own father, Jerry Falwell Sr. That’s the kind of adoration Trump appreciates.

Falwell was one of the speakers at last month’s meeting between Trump and hundreds of Religious Right leaders and activists. At that meeting, Falwell called Trump a “bold and fearless leader” and said that the day after Trump becomes president, “every terrorist in the world will crawl under a rock.” Falwell declared, “I personally feel strongly that Donald Trump is God’s man to lead our nation at this crucial crossroads in our country’s history.”

Falwell’s man-crush on Trump began long before the current campaign. In 2012, he told Newsmax that Trump’s speech at the university’s weekly convocation was “probably the best” in the history of the school. Trump’s message — he told students to be sure to “get even” with anyone who slights them — was seen by some as not particularly Christian, but Falwell defended Trump’s remarks as not at all contrary to the turn-the-other-cheek message of Jesus.

Like Trump, Falwell is not one to worry about ideological consistency. In February, when Trump was embroiled in a war of words with Pope Francis, Falwell rushed to his defense, saying “Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run the country.” This was a hilariously un-self-aware comment from someone presiding over the empire that his father built on the premise that the Bible has clear instructions for people who run the country.

Falwell has had his own political ambitions for Liberty. In 2008 the school hosted campaign events for John McCain, and Falwell organized a student voter registration drive in hopes that Liberty could “go down in history as the college that elected a president.” In 2010, he tried and failed to engineer a takeover of the city council in Liberty’s home of Lynchburg, Virginia.

And this year, Falwell is holding nothing back. He invited Trump to speak at Liberty on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, something he said was a purposeful decision, one that generated some student protest. Falwell’s endorsement of Trump came just before the Iowa caucuses, and his effusive introductory remarks were turned into a radio ad by the campaign. And that was in spite of the transparent, cynical charlatanism of Trump’s Bible-waving. The candidate’s actual familiarity with the Bible was revealed by his laughter-provoking reference to “two Corinthians” when his written speech referred to the book of Second Corinthians.

Remarkably, Falwell has made “character” one justification for his endorsement. In March, Falwell recorded a robocall for Trump in which he attacked the candidate favored by most Religious Right leaders, calling Ted Cruz a “master politician” and practitioner of “dirty tricks.” Said Falwell, “Ambition must never be a substitute for character. Please vote for Donald Trump.”

Falwell has had little patience with other conservative Christians who have been critical of his embrace of Trump; when some expressed dismay about a picture of Falwell standing with Trump with a framed Playboy magazine cover visible on the wall behind them, he compared them to Pharisees.

Falwell may see parallels between Trump’s business doings and his own empire-building style. Thanks to a decision to push into distance learning — online education that doesn’t require much infrastructure — and thanks to a massive flow of federal student aid, Falwell has built Liberty into the biggest nonprofit private university in the U.S. and the largest Christian college in the world.

While providing a platform for right-wing candidates who trash federal involvement in education, Liberty has taken advantage of Democratic-supported increases in student aid that were part of the much-maligned-by-the-Right 2009 stimulus bill. At the same time, Falwell preaches the small-government gospel that portrays care for the poor as the responsibility of the church, not the government.

Falwell also seems to envision himself as something of a Trumpish flouter of political correctness. In December, after the mass shooting in Bernardino, Falwell told Liberty students:

If some of those people in that community center had had what I've got in my back pocket right now [applause] ... is it illegal to pull it out? I don't know. I've always thought that if more people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill. So, I just want to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course. Let's teach 'em a lesson if they ever show up here.

Earlier this year Falwell’s comments about Muslims led several Virginia high school debate teams to boycott the state finals because they were being held at Liberty.

Under Falwell’s leadership, Liberty reflects an institutional commitment to much of the Religious Right’s political agenda. For example:

  • In 2010 it hosted some of the country’s most well-known anti-gay activists for a conference and symposium on the “homosexual agenda” and its threat to religious freedom.
  • A few years ago, journalist Sarah Posner reported that Liberty Law School Dean Mat Staver taught students that when faced with conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.”
  • In 2010, AFP profiled a Liberty science class field trip to the Natural History Museum to help them learn to debunk the theory of evolution in favor of the Creationist belief that God created the world in a week about 6,000 years ago.
  • Falwell has invited climate change denialists as a way to challenge environmentalists who use “pseudo-science to promote political agendas” and help students “who come from public schools where the truth of global warming and the science of global warming is now always known.”

 

 

Religious Right Out-Muscles Pro-Equality Republicans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Republican Party Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Friday 09/23/2016, 5:14pm
Radio host Steve Deace and right-wing pundit-activist Erick Erickson, two of the dwindling group of conservative Christian never-Trumpers, spoke on Deace’s radio show today about a recent Erickson column called “Reconsidering My Opposition to Trump.” In spite of the column’s title, Erickson uses the colum to reaffirm his unwillingness to vote for Trump, whose campaign he calls un-American. He writes that he sees Trump “corrupting the virtuous and fostering  hatred, racism, and dangerous strains of nationalism.” (He also says, for the benefit of... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Friday 09/23/2016, 4:58pm
As we noted yesterday, conservative Catholic activist Joseph Cella, a member of Donald Trump’s new Catholic advisory committee and reportedly the new “chief liaison to the campaign for Catholic affairs,” joined other Catholic conservatives earlier this year in denouncing Trump as “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.” Cella appeared on Ave Maria radio yesterday afternoon and told host Al Kresta that he is now “happily” supporting Trump. When Kresta asked what had changed since the “manifestly unfit” statement, Cella said... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 09/14/2016, 1:34pm
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin started taking some heat after Right Wing Watch called attention to his Values Voter Summit speech, in which he suggested that the election of Hillary Clinton might require conservatives to shed some blood in order to preserve American freedom, referencing the well-known Thomas Jefferson statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Bevin responded to the criticism by suggesting that his remarks were being misrepresented: “Any intelligent person can understand the message I delivered,... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 09/12/2016, 10:21am
Numerous speakers at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit suggested that the American republic might not survive a Hillary Clinton presidency. During the Obama administration it has become almost routine to hear far-right leaders talk about the possibility of armed revolution against the federal government. But it was still jarring to hear a sitting governor suggest that America might only survive the election of Hillary Clinton through bloodshed. Matt Bevin, who was elected governor of Kentucky last year after expressing “absolute” support for marriage-refusing county clerk... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 08/25/2016, 2:57pm
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a right-wing activist who has championed anti-immigrant and voter suppression efforts around the country and has helped to insert right-wing rhetoric into recent Republican platforms.  As Miranda reported this month, Kobach is pushing his fellow Republicans to adopt legislation modeled after the disastrously restrictive voting law he helped push through in Kansas. The September 8 issue of Rolling Stone looks at one of Kobach’s ventures in “The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters.” The Rolling Stone story by journalist and... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 08/22/2016, 11:40am
Here’s why Donald Trump is going out of his way to build bridges to Religious Right leaders: voter turnout. While Trump has done little to build a field operation to help get out the vote, he has courted conservative activists who, like Ted Cruz, believe that there are millions of conservative evangelicals who have not voted in the past, and that the candidate who can energize them will become president. Many strategists consider this to be a dubious claim, but Trump clearly feels a need to maximize turnout from this crucial part of the GOP base. David Lane, the Christian-nationalist... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 08/17/2016, 10:08am
As part of the Trump campaign’s latest shake-up, which brought in Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as chief executive, Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway was named campaign manager. During the Republican National Convention, Conway spoke on a panel at an event organized by the American Conservative Union; her remarks there give some indication of how she views Trump and this year’s campaign. Of course, her comments were made before Trump’s recent drop in the polls. Conway was introduced as a “pollstress” who serves on ACU’s board and as a senior adviser to... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 08/17/2016, 9:45am
As we have noted, most Religious Right leaders supported Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, while Trump’s “amen corner” consisted primarily of prosperity gospel preachers (like Paula White, who says Trump is “hungry in his heart” for God) and dominionist “prophets” and “apostles.” One of the latter, Mike Thompson of Las Vegas, said in April that this is the first time in American history that the “Apostles and Prophets are the primary driving force behind the presidential election.” Thompson said that the Lord has... MORE >