The Family Leader

Conservative Group Tells Iowans Gov't Will Become 'Corrupted' If It’s Not Led By Christians

Sen. Ted Cruz scored a big coup in Iowa last month when he won the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the Iowa Religious Right group The Family Leader and an influential Republican power-broker in the state. Vander Plaats has since been crossing the state to campaign for and with Cruz, even engaging in a Twitter spat with Cruz’s main rival, Donald Trump.

Cruz has been attempting to recruit conservative evangelicals to his side by running explicitly on his personal faith and his Christian-nation views, a strategy exactly designed to appeal to a person like Vander Plaats, who earlier this week urged members of his group to convince their fellow churchgoers to caucus in Iowa because the government’s “God-given purposes easily become corrupted without Christians engaged and guiding it.”

In an email to members of The Family Leader on Monday, Vander Plaats lamented that “hundreds of thousands of Iowa Christians stayed home” during the last presidential caucus. To reverse that trend, he asked members to encourage their pastors to distribute a Family Leader-produced bulletin insert on Sunday urging their flocks to participate in Monday’s caucus.

The bulletin insert offers instructions on how to caucus as well as a list of reasons “why it's important that Christians caucus,” including that it’s necessary to choose “godly candidates” with a “Christian worldview” in order to bring revival to America.

The TFL caucus guide also reminds churchgoers that elected officials are “ministers of God,” and as such, government’s “God-given purposes easily become corrupted without Christians engaged and guiding it.”

Santorum: Iowa Christian Right Leader 'Settling' With Cruz Endorsement

Influential Iowa social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats has, depending on who you ask, either the ability to propel his chosen Republican presidential candidate to a caucus victory or the ability to latch onto the winning campaign. So it was a big deal, if not surprising, when Vander Plaats endorsed Ted Cruz earlier this month, snubbing his 2008 and 2012 picks Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively.

In an interview with conservative Iowa radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Santorum said that Vander Plaats, who heads the group The Family Leader, was “settling” with his pick of Cruz, citing Cruz’s efforts to allow states to ban same-sex marriage rather than controlling marriage on the federal level.

“Look, I understand it,” Santorum said. “Ted’s a fine guy and has really been a scrapper in Washington. I think what Mike and I both feel is that when it comes to the issues that are near and dear to The Family Leader, the family issues, marriage in particular, I think we need a stronger voice, a more principled voice that understands there’s a higher law there that we have to abide by and just because a state wants to do something doesn’t mean a state should be able to.”

This prompted Conway and Santorum to launch into an extended debate about the role of government in marriage, which Conway argued the government should have nothing to do with at all.

Santorum disagreed, saying that the government has a responsibility to ensure the “continuity” of culture, citing low birth rates among native Europeans — the unspoken subtext of which is that low birth rates necessitate greater immigration. “If you look at Europe … they’re decrying the fact that Europe is barren,” he said, "they’re not having children, and the people who are having children are not Europeans, or native Europeans, so you’ve got some really big problems and it’s beginning to occur in this country.”

He added that laws governing marriage also serve to “encourage people to behave the right way” when “fidelity, monogamy are not a natural thing” but “are learned behaviors.”

The 2015 Right Wing Watch War On Christmas Gift Guide

When it gets to the holiday season here at Right Wing Watch, our inboxes are flooded with warnings about the “War on Christmas,” often accompanied by year-end fundraising pitches or, better yet, Christmas gift ideas.

As a public service, we’ve compiled some of the best of these into our annual Right Wing Watch War on Christmas gift guide, where you can find something for everyone on your list.

For The Party-Loving Prepper

Televangelist Jim Bakker may have served time in prison for fraud charges related to a previous television ministry, but that hasn’t deterred him from his mission to make sure that his followers are prepared for the End Times with expensive buckets of survival food.

Bakker recommends waiting out the nuclear winter with his 55-gallon milk buckets or sipping on $160 buckets of creamy potato soup, but the really generous gift would be Bakker’s $3,500 seven-year supply of food, including festive desserts that will allow you to “have parties when the world is coming apart.”

Don’t be deterred by the elitist critics who describe the “odd, lingering aftertastes” of Bakker’s food buckets or pan them as “one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten in my life.”

For The Public Official Who Just Really Doesn’t Want To Do Her Job

The War on Christmas began early this year, when Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis became a Religious Right hero after her ill-fated attempts to exempt her county from the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling landed her briefly in jail.

What better way to show your support for Davis’ nonsensical legal arguments than by ordering this nonsensical t-shirt?

For The Ted Cruz Fan With A Strong Stomach

Sen. Ted Cruz liked conservative street artist Sabo’s depiction of him as a tattooed tough guy so much that his presidential campaign is selling it in poster form. Or, it was until the $55 prints sold out.

(Apparently the campaign has opted not to sell Sabo’s other most famous work, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis as “ Abortion Barbie.”)

For The Ted Cruz Fan With A Festive Spirit

For the Cruz supporter with a more wholesome sensibility, consider this sweater, which Cruz’s campaign instructs supporters to wear while setting “an example for the ‘tolerant left’” by saying “Merry Christmas every chance you get!”

For The Downcast Jeb Bush Supporter

Why should Ted Cruz supporters get all the cool merch? For just $20, you can get a deserving friend or relative this stylish Jeb Bush Christmas ornament, guaranteed to cheer up anyone who’s been looking at his poll numbers.

For The Relative With ‘A Case Of The Bah-Humbugs’

Kirk Cameron’s movie “Saving Christmas” came out last year, but the DVD was released last month, just in time to stuff the stockings of loved ones who need a reminder of the true spirit of the season.

In the movie, Cameron plays a pro-Christmas warrior who must cure his brother-in-law of “a bad case of the bah-humbugs.” Film critic Peter Sobczynski writes that the movie is “little more than a screed delivered by Kirk Cameron scorning everyone who doesn't celebrate the season as ostentatiously as he does, justifying his attitude with bits and pieces gleaned from the Bible, delivered in the most self-righteous manner imaginable. The result is perhaps the only Christmas movie I can think of, especially of the religious-themed variety, that seems to flat-out endorse materialism, greed and outright gluttony.”

The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde, however, was pleasantly surprised: “I had assumed it would be a 90-minute jeremiad aimed at atheists, Jews, Muslims, and other people who don’t celebrate Christmas exactly the way Kirk Cameron does. Instead, it’s an 80-minute jeremiad aimed at other Christians who don’t celebrate Christmas exactly the way Kirk Cameron does.”

For The State Legislator Who Knows Too Much

Back in January, the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader (whose president, Bob Vander Plaats, just recently endorsed Cruz) raised money to distribute $100 leather-bound copies of David Barton’s “The Founders Bible” to every Iowa state legislator.

In Barton’s commentary, we wrote at the time, legislators would find “a retelling of Exodus that portrays Moses as the inventor of republican government; a made-up story about the early American government printing Bibles; an endorsement of the 'Christian nation' concept from a notorious defender of slavery; information on the 'many areas in which the Constitution specifically incorporated Biblical principles'; and an argument for the biblical origin of DNA evidence.”

Why settle for a Bible when you could have a Bible supplemented by misleading American history?

For The Birther Who Will Never Give Up

President Obama may be entering his last year in office, but the conservative news source WorldNetDaily will never give up on its quest to prove that Obama was ineligible for the presidency all along. What better gift for a similarly persistent loved one than these bumper stickers from the WND store, which a recent email from WND points out would make great stocking stuffers.

Happy holidays!

Ted Cruz Nabs Another Anti-LGBT Endorsement

Ted Cruz won a major victory in his effort to consolidate support from the Religious Right today when he was endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats, who leads the Iowa-based conservative group, The Family Leader.

Vander Plaats, a two-time gubernatorial candidate who in the two previous election cycles backed Iowa caucus winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively, offers one of the most highly sought after endorsements in the state: Donald Trump reportedly joked that he would turn his plane around to join The Family Leader’s presidential forum if Vander Plaats would guarantee him his backing.

Vander Plaats is one of several right-wing figures to coalesce behind Cruz, who has attracted the support of ultraconservative activists like Troy Newman, who wishes the government would execute abortion providers; Ron Baity, a pastor who links gay rights to Ebola; Flip Benham, a convicted abortion doctor stalker who holds protests at gay couples’ weddings; Sandy Rios, a virulently anti-LGBT radio host and hate group official; Dick Black, a Virginia lawmaker with noxious views on marital rape and “baby pesticide”; and Cynthia Dunbar, who thinks gay rights advocacy is “the same type of thing that was done in pre-Holocaust Germany.”

While Vander Plaats and Trump would have made a strong team, as they are both birthers who admire Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Iowa activist said that Trump disqualified himself when he failed to show up at last month’s family forum. Instead, Vander Plaats hailed Cruz as “the most consistent and principled conservative who has the ability to not only win Iowa but I believe to win the nomination.”

The importance of Vander Plaats’ endorsement reveals how the GOP has moved ever so steadily to the right, as Vander Plaats is one of the party’s most extreme figures. Vander Plaats, as we’ve reported, may be sought after by GOP candidates but he should not at all be considered part of the political mainstream:

5) Slavery Rhetoric

Warning Republicans not to “abandon their base” by softening their opposition to gay rights, Vander Plaats insists that fighting same-sex marriage is not a losing issue for the GOP. He believes that Republicans should stand up and be proud of their refusal to support marriage equality, just as the party fought to curb slavery during its founding era.

“We actually stand for what God has designed because, just like with slavery, the truth is on our side,” Vander Plaats said last year in an interview with right-wing talk show host Steve Deace. “We can win this battle.”

He told another outlet that Republicans shouldn’t even take the position that the states should decide their own marriage laws since same-sex marriage, like slavery, is unequivocally immoral: “You don’t leave slavery up to the states, nor should you. It’s either right or it’s wrong.” In a speech in 2012, Vander Plaats said that a court ruling in favor of marriage equality should be viewed as judicial overreach on the level of Dred Scott.

During the last presidential primary season, Vander Plaats tried to get Republican candidates to sign a pledge that, among other questionable provisions, suggested that African-American families were more stable under slavery than they are today.

4) Conspiracy Theories

In Vander Plaats’ world, the right to speak freely about “faithful heterosexual monogamy” is under attack, “Sharia Islam” is a menace in American politics and President Obama’s birth certificate is missing. (Vander Plaats has praised Donald Trump’s quixotic birther crusade as “bold.”)

Perhaps no issue has Vander Plaats more concerned than gay marriage, which he has called a grave threat to liberty and a Satanic plot. One video his group produced showed images of terrorist attacks and shootings alongside stories about same-sex couples’ weddings and gay members of the Boy Scouts to make a point about the “darkness” sweeping America

3) Gay Marriage Predictions

In his campaigns against marriage equality, Vander Plaats has done whatever it takes to scare voters about the dire consequences of gay rights. He warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to “tyranny” and sanction “a parent marrying their child.”

He defended his group’s comparison of homosexuality to second-hand smoke by explaining that both represent “a public health risk,” adding: “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle.”

Vander Plaats also took the time to criticize an Iowa anti-bullying conference that focused on the targeting of LGBT youth, saying that the state should instead be promoting abstinence-only summits.

2) Crush on Putin

Vander Plaats may still be weighing which Republican candidate to endorse this year, but he has already thrown his support behind one foreign leader: Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin signed a law that effectively bans speech in support of gay rights, Vander Plaats praised the Russian president for saying “you know what, don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country.”

He said that Putin now encapsulates the traditionally American values of “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs.”

“He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader,” Vander Plaats said back in 2013.

1) No Separation of Church and State

While Vander Plaats’ prediction about gay marriage ushering in adult-child marriage has come true in exactly zero of the dozens of states with marriage equality, he was prophetic in one respect: Vander Plaats advocated for governors to ignore court rulings on the marriage question well before it became a widespread sentiment among conservatives.

Vander Plaats insists that a governor can simply set aside any ruling that violates his or her reading of the Bible, insisting that if a judge legalizes marriage equality in a state, the state’s governor should simply issue an executive order “that places a stay on the judge’s decision” since it “goes against the law of nature and the law of nature’s God, which means, it’s against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats believes that the U.S. government must fall under God’s jurisdiction and follow “God’s principles and precepts,” not just on social issues like marriage but also in economic and foreign policies.

“If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what He says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on,” he said last year.

Vander Plaats specifically pointed to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it a travesty that created a “constitutional crisis” by “defying the law of nature and the law of nature’s God” and “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

Mike Huckabee Makes Up False Claim As Proof 'There Is A War On The Christian Faith In This Country'

During Friday night's "Presidential Family Forum" in Iowa, Mike Huckabee attempted to gin up outrage among the conservative Christian audience by falsely claiming that the federal government is working to deport a family from Germany who have sought asylum in America in order to homeschool their children.

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and in 2010, the Romeike family sought political asylum in America, arguing that they would face fines, imprisonment and loss of custody of their children if they were deported back to Germany. The case worked its way through the legal system for years until the Supreme Court finally refused to grant their appeal, only for the Department of Homeland Security to announce in 2014 that the Romeikes would be granted "indefinite deferred action status" and be allowed to remain in America.

But that is not the story Huckabee told during a discussion of education at the forum on Friday night. Instead, the former Arkansas governor declared that "every Christian believer in this country [should be] absolutely livid" over the fact that "this week, the Justice Department of the United States started deportation process against the Romeike family to send them back to Germany, which will take their kids from them."

"The very week the president wants to bring Syrian refugees to America and import them," Huckabee stated, "he wants to deport a Christian family."

Such an action, Huckabee insisted, is proof that "there is a war on the Christian faith in this country that is being carried out by this administration."

Given that the case of the Romeike family has been an important issue for the Religious Right for years, one would think that if the government had reneged on its pledge to allow them to remain in the country and begun the process of deporting them, that might have made some news. 

But we have been utterly unable to find a single news article reporting this or a single piece of evidence to back up Huckabee's claim. We even called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been representing the Romeike family from the beginning, to ask if their organization had any knowledge of this and were informed that HSLDA is unaware of any steps taken by the DOJ to deport its clients.  

Mike Huckabee: 'There Will Be No Abortion' When I'm President

At Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” hosted by the Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Mike Huckabee doubled down on his pledge to “ignore the court” and “defy the court” as president by recriminalizing abortion and gay marriage through executive fiats.

“I’m convinced the next president should ignore the unconstitutional and illegal rulings of the courts, including that of same-sex marriage, because it is not the law of the land,” Huckabee said.

He also reiterated his plan to outlaw abortion with a sweeping presidential decree: “We [should] simply say, there will be no abortion because that unborn child is a person.”

Only then, Huckabee argued, would God be able to bless America.

Carly Fiorina: 'People Of Faith Make Better Leaders'

On Friday night, seven Republican presidential hopefuls gathered around a fake Thanksgiving table in Des Moines, Iowa, for a "Presidential Family Forum" hosted by The Family Leader, an influential Religious Right organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats.

Moderator Frank Luntz promised the event would be an "adult conversation" about the issues important to the conservative Christian activists in the audience and the candidates bent over backwards to appeal to these voters, with Carly Fiorina declaring at one point that all the people on stage, as well as all the people in the audience, "are people of faith who love our God" and that is important because "people of faith make better leaders."

"I do think it's worth saying," Fiorina declared, "that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it's important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives."

Luntz then followed up on Fiorina's statement by declaring that "I can back that up statistically," asserting that "every single positive factor that you can describe is directly correlated to someone's relationship with faith, with God, and all the pathologies that you would criticize are directly related to a rejection of God."

GOP Candidates Seek Endorsement Of Iowa Anti-Gay Leader Bob Vander Plaats

Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus.

Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at the forum, at which the candidates are arranged family-style around a Thanksgiving table. (At the 2011 forum, Michele Bachmann memorably took it upon herself to serve water to all of the male candidates.)

The endorsement of Vander Plaats, whose backing helped catapult Huckabee and Santorum to Iowa caucus victories in 2008 and 2012, is one of the most coveted in the state. While most observers think that Cruz will nab Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the activist is keeping his options open. Vander Plaats told a reporter that although Donald Trump was unable to make tonight’s forum, he told him, “If you can guarantee me your endorsement, I will turn the plane around and get there.”

As Vander Plaats’ previous endorsements of Huckabee and Santorum show, he has a powerful machine ready to push an ideologically pure social conservative. Back in 2010, Vander Plaats also led a successful effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the court’s landmark unanimous marriage equality decision.

But to get that endorsement, candidates must cater to an activist far the right of mainstream voters. Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that “goes against the law of nature” is by definition unconstitutional . He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefor its purpose is “to promote righteousness” and to apply “God’s principles and precepts.” He once warned that God might withdraw his blessing from America because of a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa state capitol.

Vander Plaats has suggested that marriage equality could lead to legal protections for pedophilia and “ a parent marrying their child” and compared the “public health risk” of homosexuality to second-hand smoke. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “decisive leadership” in preventing “homosexual propaganda” in his country.

Taking its anti-gay sentiment to a new level, The Family Leader was a sponsor of a conference earlier this month — at which Cruz, Huckabee and then-candidate Bobby Jindal spoke — whose organizer, Kevin Swanson, called for the death penalty for gay people and warned that God would judge America for liking the Harry Potter series too much. (The group later clarified that it does not support violence against gay people but declined to denounce Swanson.)

Speaking at an event last year, Vander Plaats played a video showing a gay pride event alongside the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings as illustrations of the “darkness” that has fallen over America:

Vander Plaats had also dabbled in birther conspiracy theories, implying in 2011 that the president’s birth certificate was missing and praising Trump for his “bold” crusade to uncover the truth about the president’s past.

GOP Candidates Really Don't Want To Talk About 'Kill The Gays' Conference

A couple of weeks ago, we reported extensively on a conference in Iowa organized by extremist pastor Kevin Swanson, at which three Republican presidential candidates joined Swanson on stage shortly before he went off on a series of rants about how the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death, Harry Potter is bringing God’s judgment on America, and how if your gay child gets married you should show up to the wedding covered in cow manure.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ran a segment on the conference, but other than that, as a number of commentators have noted, the media has been strangely silent on the Republican candidates’ participation in this event.

Today, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu reports that she reached out to the campaigns of the three candidates, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal (who has since dropped out of the presidential race), and found them rather reluctant to talk about it.

A spokesperson for Huckabee, who at the event deflected a question about Swanson’s extremism, told Basu after viewing video of some of Swanson’s remarks that Huckabee “appreciated the opportunity” to speak at the conference. The Cruz and Jindal campaigns didn’t bother to reply at all. (Before the conference, Cruz had been asked about his participation by CNN’s Jake Tapper, but brushed off the question.)

Calls and emails seeking a reaction to Swanson's remarks by spokespeople for Cruz and Jindal (who suspended his campaign Tuesday) went unanswered. Huckabee’s spokeswoman Alice Stewart asked for documentation and was sent a video link. She responded the next day saying, "Gov. Huckabee appreciated the opportunity to speak with an audience in Iowa about the importance of standing up for our religious liberties."

Basu also reached out to The Family Leader, an influential Iowa conservative group that sponsored Swanson’s conference and will be hosting candidates for a “presidential family forum” later this week. A Family Leader spokesman at least went as far to say that the group doesn’t condone executing gay people, but didn’t comment on the wisdom of sponsoring Swanson’s conference:

Asked if Vander Plaats or the Family Leader condemn Swanson’s remarks, Drew Zahn, its director of communications wrote in an email: “The Family Leader absolutely condemns any call for violence against homosexuals. Our involvement with the conference was intended to advocate and preserve our First Amendment religious liberties and the rights of conscience for all Americans. The Family Leader consistently advocated the Bible's principle of treating others as you would be treated, a principle come to life in the friendship between TFL President Bob Vander Plaats and One Iowa's Donna Red Wing.”

But Zahn wouldn’t say whether the organization would express those views to Swanson, or would have withdrawn sponsorship from the program if they had known what he would say.

We really wonder how long Cruz and Huckabee will be able to continue to plead ignorance about Swanson’s extremism after being asked about it repeatedly.

RNC Member: Disease Outbreaks Caused By Socialism In Schools, Not Anti-Vaxxers

Tamara Scott, an Iowa conservative activist who serves as a Republican National Committee member for the state, invited two anti-vaccine activists on to her “Truth for Our Time” radio program last week, where she said that the real problem causing disease outbreaks in schools isn’t people refusing to be vaccinated but instead the new “socialistic” model of schooling where children are forced to share pencils.

Scott spoke with Elaine Dannemann, the proprietor of the “Vaccine Liberation Army” website who has said that she is in a primordial, cosmic war” against vaccines, about a new California law that requires daycare workers to be vaccinated against measles and whooping cough.

Scott was outraged, saying that the real health problem in schools is socialism and that the best thing you can do for your children’s health is to take them out of public schools.

“The schools are some of the germiest places you’ll ever be around,” she said. "They’ve gone to this socialistic teaching where you no longer have your own pencils you’re responsible for so you can learn how to take care of things and be a good steward; it’s all socialistic in the middle of the table, you’re all facing each other, handling each other’s things. And the schools, yet, when my kids were in school, kept wondering why they kept having all the issues with strep throat and all the issues with all these childhood illnesses continually happening. Because it’s the new way they’re doing school in the classroom. So, if you want to keep your kid healthy, take them out of public school. It will help them mentally, emotionally, academically and now, physically, it would help them as well.”

“There, I’ve just said it,” she concluded. “I may never be able to run for office, that quote will follow me with some of the liberal news organizations, but it is true, that’s probably the best thing you can do for your child right now.”

Scott has previously interviewed vaccine critic Gary Kohls on her program.

Steve Deace's Only Comfort Is That Kim Davis' Conservative Critics Will Go To Hell

Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace invited influential state conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats on his program last week to discuss Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who had just been released from jail after refusing to allow her office to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Vander Plaats was very proud of himself that all of his warnings about gay marriage destroying religious liberty had come true, telling Deace, “Our team said to me today, they said, ‘Bob, you ought to feel like you’re prophetic in some of this stuff.’”

Deace, meanwhile, had nothing but contempt for Republican politicians and conservative activists who failed to defend Davis’ lawbreaking.

“Beware of those in a culture war who write, you know, really principled and highly intellectual thought pieces for conservative or Christian outlets, and then in a time of crisis and confrontation like this, they say, oh this is not the right hill to die on,” he fumed. “What they really mean, Bob, is there’s never a right time to stand for anything nor is there ever any hill to die on. And these are the people, they’re going to hold the jail cell open for us when the Marxists throw us inside too.”

He added that his only comfort was that those conservatives are on their way to Hell: “It reminds me of the famous quote from Dante, that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for these kind of cowardly quislings. And I’ll just flat-out say it on the radio, the mere thought of that comforts me. The mere thought of that statement being true comforts me, because it confirms that God is just and they have received their award in full.”

“And judgment is mine, declares the Lord,” Vander Plaats added. “And so therefore we’re glad we serve a just God.”

Paranoia-Rama: Trump Fights 'War On Christmas,' Beck Stocks Up On Guns, Anti-Gay Clerk Fears Imminent Death

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

While it may be too late for Donald Trump to save us from stock market turmoil (he warned us!), he just might be the one who saves us from the even greater threat of refugees from war-torn nations, gay marriage and the “War on Christmas.”

5) Who Will End The War On Christmas?

Donald Trump, of course, and he’ll do it in a big way, very classy, and you’re going to love it. While speaking with an Alabama radio host, Trump declared that he is sick and tired of the “assault on anything having to do with Christianity” and promised that he “will assault that.”

“They don’t want to use the word Christmas anymore at department stores,” he said. “There’s always lawsuits and unfortunately a lot of those lawsuits are won by the other side. I will assault that. I will go so strongly against so many of the things, when they take away the word ‘Christmas.’ I go out of my way to use the word ‘Christmas.’ Some people say to me, some people do this very professionally, ‘Oh don’t mention the word Christmas.’ I said, ‘Like Hell I’m not going to mention it.’ I mention Christmas before I even start speaking. There’s a great assault on Christianity in so many ways.”

Then Trump moved on to the actual persecution of Christians under ISIS, before then falsely claiming that the U.S. refuses to accept Christian refugees.

Incidentally, it seems that this is yet another issue that Trump has evolved on, since he and his business empire were once enemy combatants in the War on Christmas.

4) Stock Market Is Down, So Buy Guns!

Glenn Beck knows the real reason behind the global stock market sell-off: “Progressive principles and Common Core math.”

The coming economic meltdown of course will lead to “fascism, communism, war, and hunger,” Beck explained, telling viewers that it is “not a matter of if” but when: “Are you prepared? Do you have food on hand? Do you have cash on hand? Do you have ammunition and guns and God, most importantly?”

3) Refugees Destroying America

The extremist Oath Keepers have discovered the latest attempt to “destroy the Republic”: refugees.

The group recently warned that refugees who may “harbor terrorist intentions” are coming to the U.S., egged on by Democratic politicians who want their votes and don’t care about committing “national suicide.”

Apparently, these refugees are assisted by churches, liberal organizations, George Soros and the United Nations, all in order to surreptitiously push their left-wing policies on America.

“I can say, without hyperbole,” writes Oath Keepers’ David Codrea, “this is a vital report addressing nothing less than the survival of the Founder’s Republic in the 21st Century, one that you ignore at your peril, and at the peril of everyone you love.”

2) Gays Coming To Recruit Your Kids

Conservative talk show host Tamara Scott, who also happens to be a member of the Republican National Committee and the Iowa leader of Concerned Women for America, said she is befuddled by people who think that gay people don’t choose to be gay.

She had this question for the “haters”: “If homosexuality is truly just something that happens, then why, one, do we have to recruit it in our kindergarten through college-level educational system and, if it’s just an everyday thing, why does it need all these special protections in the civil rights?”

1) Gay Marriage May Cost Lives

The small group of Kentucky county clerks who are refusing to let their offices issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling are attempting to become the latest “Christian persecution” victims. While they haven’t found much luck in court, at least one of the defiant clerks, Casey Davis, said that he is prepared to die in the battle over gay marriage.

While speaking on a conservative radio show, Davis portrayed himself as a victim of the “war on Christianity” and lamented that “Christians just don’t have rights anymore” as a result of the Supreme Court’s “unconstitutional” gay marriage decision.

“Our law says ‘one man and one woman’ and that is what I held my hand up and took an oath to and that is what I expected,” he said. “If it takes it, I will go to jail over — if it takes my life, I will die for because I believe I owe that to the people that fought so I can have the freedom that I have, I owe that to them today, and you do, we all do. They fought and died so we could have this freedom and I’m going to fight and die for my kids and your kids can keep it.”

RNC Rep: If Gays Are Born That Way, Why Do They 'Recruit' Kindergartners?

Iowa Religious Right activist and state RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott invited Summit Ministries founder David Noebel onto her “Truth for Our Time” radio program last week, where the two discussed how, in Noebel’s words, teaching tolerance for LGBT people in schools amounts to “child molestation" and the LGBT rights movement wants to "destroy Christianity."

Scott shared a number of thoughts of her own on the issue, telling Noebel she would “confront hypocrisy” on the left even though she risked a “social jihad” in response to her comments.

Making clear for “all those haters out there” that she was just “asking the question,” Scott asked listeners to ponder this during a commercial break: “If homosexuality is something to be celebrated by the left, by Hollywood, then why does it need all of these protections? And if it needs these protections, then why do we promote it as an everyday lifestyle and a regular choice for our youth?”

After the break, she rephrased the question: “If homosexuality is truly just something that happens, then why, one, do we have to recruit it in our kindergarten through college-level educational system and, if it’s just an everyday thing, why does it need all these special protections in the civil rights?”

Scott also complained to Noebel that “it’s the left and the progressives who are always throwing the cards, whether it’s the black card, the sex card, the female card, the war on women,” saying that liberals are hypocritical to want gender equality when they are also fighting for transgender rights.

“They want 50 percent male and female [in the House and Senate] by the year 2020,” she said. “Well, my thought is, how can you do that? You don’t even want to call somebody a sex, that's a changeable thing every day.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/15/15

RNC Member: Confederate Flag Was 'A Symbol Of Dukes of Hazzard And Fun' Until Liberals Used It To Divide People

Iowa Republican national committeewoman Tamara Scott, also the state director of Concerned Women for America and a lobbyist for The Family Leader, said on her radio program last week that the shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white supremacist gunman was not a “racial issue” but instead part of a “targeted assault” on Christianity exemplified by the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage. She also criticized efforts to remove the Confederate flag from state property, saying that the flag is a Benghazi-like “diversion” from the real things dividing America: the media, public schools and rappers.

The Charleston shooting, Scott said, is “being hijacked to a racial issue.” Her interviewee, South Carolina pastor Brad Atkins — the state head of the American Family Association’s American Renewal Project who led the planning of Gov. Nikki Haley’s “The Response” prayer rally last month — agreed, saying the victims “lost their lives primarily not because they were black and the killer was white, but because they were gathered together at the church.”

“There really was no debate” about the flag, Atkins said, up until the “secular media” used it as a distraction from the fact that the shooting actually “happened because of a lack of Christian influence in society”

Scott agreed, saying that the real cultural problems that led to the shooting are “a media that relentlessly pit groups against each other, voters in the elections where they pit voters into blocs against each other, or the education system that consistently creates a class warfare and an envy system in their children at an early age, or rappers with their racist rants about rape and everything else. There are several things that are feeding into this, but it’s not a gun and it’s not a flag.”

She added that until the recent debate, younger generations primarily associated the Confederate flag with the TV show “Dukes of Hazzard”: “For them the flag was a symbol of affection for a fun show and some culture known in the South. The unfortunate thing is this discussion is now creating a divide and a dialogue that would have died out decades ago had we not brought it up again over this. We’re continuing a problem that was actually, literally dying out.”

The Confederate flag, she concluded, is “the same distraction that the supposed video tape was for Benghazi.”

Scott discussed the issue with Atkins again on Tuesday, when she guest hosted conservative talk radio host Jan Mickelson’s program:

Atkins told Scott about another incident at a mostly white church in South Carolina, where a man had entered with a gun while a number of his family members were worshipping, which Scott said “we don’t hear about” in the media “because it can’t be made into a racial issue.”

She repeated her point that the shooting in a black church by a gunman with white supremacist views who specifically stated his desire to start a race war wasn’t as much a “racial issue” as an attack on religion. The Charleston shooting, she said, is “being made into more of a racial issue than it was,” when the shooter “could have gone anywhere – mall, sporting event, anywhere — and shot a race of people, but this was in a house of worship.”

Atkins agreed, lamenting that the shooting has led to an effort to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds: “It’s gotten the issue off what the real issue was and put the focus on what the side issue was in this situation.”

“It’s not the presence of a confederate flag at a capitol,” Scott agreed, “it’s the absence of a Christian faith in a community.”

Scott then accused the Confederate flag’s critics of turning a symbol of “fun” into something divisive.

“Creating this stir about the flag now forces dialogue that I think had died out decades ago,” she said. “It starts the divide all over again in younger generations that otherwise would have had absolutely no ill feelings on this flag. For this generation that I know, it was a symbol of Dukes of Hazzard and fun and a culture of the South. So I hate this dialogue that has started that has created a new generation of divisiveness.”

Agreeing that the Confederate flag is “an issue that really was not an issue” until the current debate, Atkins warned that removing the flag from government property could set a precedent that threatens Christianity.

“It was a symbol that this individual used to promote his hatred toward a group of people,” he explained. “And if we’re not careful, what we’re going to see happen, you’ll take fringe groups like Westboro Baptist Church, who supposedly use the word of God to justify their hatred and animosity toward different groups, and if we’re not careful, groups like that will then in turn cause even the word of God to be used as a symbol of hate.”

Bob Vander Plaats: Gay Marriage Leading To Legalization Of Pedophilia, Criminalization Of Bible

Bob Vander Plaats, the influential Iowa Religious Right activist who spearheaded the effort in 2010 to unseat three state supreme court justices who voted for marriage equality, warned last week that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down state gay marriage bans will help to pave the way for the legalization of pedophilia and the criminalization of certain Bible verses.

Saying that the Supreme Court “undefined the institution of marriage,” Vander Plaats told the “View From a Pew” radio program that as a result “now polygamy can come back” and pedophilia will gain legal protections.

Claiming that “the University of Colorado now is saying they want to reclassify that as a sexual orientation and decriminalize it,” Vander Plaats said, “All of the sudden, when you get outside of God’s design for human sexuality inside of the bonds of one man, one woman marriage, it will be an absolute trainwreck.”

When the program’s cohost, Frank Thomas, asked Vander Plaats about the right-wing myth that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wants to lower the age of consent to 12, Vander Plaats repeated that pedophiles are now “going to follow the same route that homosexulatiy did about it’s a sexual orientation.”

He also brought up the specter of transgender people assaulting young girls in restrooms: “Here’s the thing about the identity of restrooms, male-female restrooms, you get to use whichever one you want. That’s a trainwreck waiting to happen, because there’s going to be a 21-year-old guy who says ‘I feel like a girl,’ he goes into a girls’ restroom, there’s going to be a 12-year-old girl who says ‘I feel like a boy,’ and something bad’s going to happen.”

Later in the program, Vander Plaats told American Christians that it’s “time to gird your loins” for persecution.

“We see Christians overseas getting beheaded, but it’s now coming right here to roost in our own country,” he said.

In response to a question about a for-profit business in Iowa that is being sued for refusing to host a gay couple’s wedding, Vander Plaats claimed that churches will soon also be forced to perform same-sex weddings and implied that certain Bible verses will soon be criminalized as “hate speech.”

“For the people to believe that the churches are off ground, there’s no way they’ll get touched, that’s absolute nonsense,” he said, “and Romans 1, Matthew 19, Mark 9, all that is going to be hate speech.”

Bob Vander Plaats: How Will Lindsey Graham Fight Radical Islam If He Won't Fight LGBT Rights?

Last week, after Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself on the cover of Vanity Fair, prominent Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace told Republican candidates that if they wouldn’t speak out against Jenner’s transition, “you might as well just forfeit the 2016 election now.” When CNN’s Dana Bash asked Sen. Lindsey Graham about Deace’s comments in an interview over the weekend, he responded that while he’s “a pro-life, traditional marriage kind of guy,” Jenner is “welcome in my party.”

He then addressed Deace directly: “Here's what I would say to the talk show host: In the eyes of radical Islam, they hate you as much as they hate Caitlyn Jenner. They hate us all because we won’t agree to their view of religion. So, America, we’re all in this together.”

All of this, unsurprisingly, did not go over very well with Deace, who addressed Graham’s comments yesterday during his weekly discussion of presidential candidates with Iowa social conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, saying, “If you’re not going to defend the idea of male and female, you’re not going to defend any of those other things that you just claimed to be for, Sen. Graham.”

Vander Plaats, an influential force in Iowa Republican politics, agreed, saying that if Graham wouldn’t speak out against people like Caitlyn Jenner, he could never fight radical Islam.

“The thing of it is, you can go out and you can have empathy and compassion for Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner,” he said. “However, you have to be able to stand up and say, but God still created us male and female. That’s the basic point here.”

“That’s our issue with Lindsey Graham,” he added, “is that you can say you’re pro-life, you can say you’re for God’s design for the family in marriage, you can say that he created them male and female, but when you never take a stand on those issues, it’s awfully hard for us to trust, then, that you’re going to take a stand against radical Islam or any other domestic matter or foreign matter that may come up during a presidency. That’s why I think in Iowa not many people take Lindsay Graham seriously.”

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 5/27/15

  • The Iowa Religious Right group the Family Leader will not be asking GOP presidential candidates to sign its "Marriage Vow" pledge this time around, as it did in 2012.
  • Apparently, the American Family Association needs money so that it can begin broadcasting its right-wing radio programs in Washington, D.C.
  • Keith Fournier, Alveda King and Ken Blackwell will be participating next month in a Family Research Council event entitled "Marriage and Civil Rights: How to Respond Rightly If the Court Gets It Wrong."
  • Get ready, because June 6 is "The Pill Kills Truth National Day of Action."
  • Steve Deace is furious with "the GOP establishment [which] fought harder and dirtier last year to keep an aging and largely disorientated liberal adulterer in the U.S. Senate, than they fought to get Obama out of the White House in 2012."
  • Finally, Larry Tomczak warns that array of catastrophes could be right around the corner, including "devastating economic collapse; horrific drought, gas and food shortages; Middle East war; a series of coordinated Islamic terrorist attacks; outbreak of new AIDS-like virus; racial riots erupting nationwide; multiple massive earthquakes, EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) Internet-crippling attack; assassinations and political chaos."

GOP Committeewoman: Muslim, Wiccan Statehouse Prayers Show Need For Christianity In Public Schools

Last year, the Religious Right largely celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the court ruled that municipalities can open meetings with sectarian prayers as long as minority faiths aren’t excluded and attendance isn’t mandatory.

But the protections for minority religions don’t seem to have completely sunk in for everybody in the movement, as was made clear last week at a Republican presidential forum hosted by the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader. As we noted earlier, the message at the forum centered on claims that conservative Christians are losing religious liberty in America, but that didn’t stop The Family Leader President Bob Vander Plaats from warning that a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa statehouse that morning might cause God to withdraw His blessing from America.

Tamara Scott, an Iowa member of the Republican National Committee who is also a lobbyist for The Family Leader, struck a similar note in her remarks to the forum, saying that the Wiccan prayer and the invocation delivered by a Muslim imam the previous day showed the need to teach Christian-nation history in public schools.

Scott joked that she had prayed for a storm to greet the Wiccan woman that morning, before telling the audience that the non-Christian prayers at the statehouse showed that “when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him.”

“What you don’t know is that yesterday, the imam prayed,” she said. “That one didn’t make the press. You see, when we’re not willing to defend our God in the public square, we shouldn’t be surprised when others try to replace Him. When we fail to teach it in the public school, the history of this nation, the God mentioned in our Declaration, the Supreme Being mentioned in the preamble of this constitution of the state. And we not only don’t teach it, but we surpress it and refuse to allow it to be taught.”

“We shouldn’t be surprised when others do differently and expect differently and think that religion is just about equality, because it’s not,” she continued. “There’s only one true God. And the Bible’s quite clear about what happens when we refuse to tell the truth and we allow others to tell a wrong truth. That’s where we’re at. We’ve been neglectful, we’ve been very neglectful. So no one even spoke about the imam being there yesterday or the Muslims that were all around the center of the capitol, talking and evangelizing about their way of life.

“Do they have that freedom? Absolutely. But the shame is that so little people know the truth about the heritage, the Christian heritage — I’m sorry, Mr. President, but we are, we were a Christian nation and we were founded on Christian values.”

Bob Vander Plaats Warns Of Divine Retribution For Wiccan Prayer In Iowa State Capitol

The decision of an Iowa state representative to invite a Wiccan priestess to give an opening invocation at the state capitol last week put the Religious Right group The Family Leader in a bit of a bind, since although the group was unhappy with the decision, it was that very day set to host four potential GOP presidential candidates at a forum centering on supposed threats to religious liberty in America.

In the end, the group responded by holding a voluntary alternative prayer service in the capitol for legislators who wanted to skip what ended up being a fairly mundane invocation from the priestess. Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats warned that it was a “stunning development” with a potential “spiritual ramification” and quoted a verse from Ephesians about spiritual warfare against the “forces of evil,” but didn’t go so far as to say that the Wiccan priestess didn’t have the right to pray at the capitol.

But in a speech that evening to a forum that included likely GOP presidential contenders Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, Vander Plaats — after declaring the supposed threats to the religious liberty of conservative Christians would be "the key issue of the 2016 campaign"  made it clear that while it was “totally within the religious right” to invite a Wiccan to deliver a prayer at the capitol, it might in fact give God reason to withdraw his blessing from America.

Vander Plaats led into the story by recalling that after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there was “red, white and blue everywhere,” churches “were filled to overflowing,” and lawmakers of both parties were joining together to sing “God bless America.”

“Almost 14 years later, where are we at?” he demanded. “Just this morning, in the Iowa capitol, which is totally within the religious right, but you had a state representative invite someone to deliver a Wiccan prayer. Now, you may say that’s religious liberty, but I’d say you’d better be careful if you want to start mocking the God that you’re asking to bless this country. That’s a huge concern.”

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The Family Leader Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Friday 01/29/2016, 3:39pm
Sen. Ted Cruz scored a big coup in Iowa last month when he won the endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the Iowa Religious Right group The Family Leader and an influential Republican power-broker in the state. Vander Plaats has since been crossing the state to campaign for and with Cruz, even engaging in a Twitter spat with Cruz’s main rival, Donald Trump. Cruz has been attempting to recruit conservative evangelicals to his side by running explicitly on his personal faith and his Christian-nation views, a strategy exactly designed to appeal to a person like Vander... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 12/30/2015, 12:09pm
Influential Iowa social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats has, depending on who you ask, either the ability to propel his chosen Republican presidential candidate to a caucus victory or the ability to latch onto the winning campaign. So it was a big deal, if not surprising, when Vander Plaats endorsed Ted Cruz earlier this month, snubbing his 2008 and 2012 picks Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively. In an interview with conservative Iowa radio host Simon Conway yesterday, Santorum said that Vander Plaats, who heads the group The Family Leader, was “settling” with his... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 12/18/2015, 2:53pm
When it gets to the holiday season here at Right Wing Watch, our inboxes are flooded with warnings about the “War on Christmas,” often accompanied by year-end fundraising pitches or, better yet, Christmas gift ideas. As a public service, we’ve compiled some of the best of these into our annual Right Wing Watch War on Christmas gift guide, where you can find something for everyone on your list. For The Party-Loving Prepper Televangelist Jim Bakker may have served time in prison for fraud charges related to a previous television ministry, but that hasn’t deterred him... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 12/10/2015, 2:25pm
Ted Cruz won a major victory in his effort to consolidate support from the Religious Right today when he was endorsed by Bob Vander Plaats, who leads the Iowa-based conservative group, The Family Leader. Vander Plaats, a two-time gubernatorial candidate who in the two previous election cycles backed Iowa caucus winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, respectively, offers one of the most highly sought after endorsements in the state: Donald Trump reportedly joked that he would turn his plane around to join The Family Leader’s presidential forum if Vander Plaats would guarantee... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/23/2015, 1:20pm
During Friday night's "Presidential Family Forum" in Iowa, Mike Huckabee attempted to gin up outrage among the conservative Christian audience by falsely claiming that the federal government is working to deport a family from Germany who have sought asylum in America in order to homeschool their children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and in 2010, the Romeike family sought political asylum in America, arguing that they would face fines, imprisonment and loss of custody of their children if they were deported back to Germany. The case worked its way through the legal system... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 11/23/2015, 12:00pm
At Friday’s “Presidential Family Forum” hosted by the Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, Mike Huckabee doubled down on his pledge to “ignore the court” and “defy the court” as president by recriminalizing abortion and gay marriage through executive fiats. “I’m convinced the next president should ignore the unconstitutional and illegal rulings of the courts, including that of same-sex marriage, because it is not the law of the land,” Huckabee said. He also reiterated his plan to outlaw abortion with a sweeping ... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/23/2015, 11:13am
On Friday night, seven Republican presidential hopefuls gathered around a fake Thanksgiving table in Des Moines, Iowa, for a "Presidential Family Forum" hosted by The Family Leader, an influential Religious Right organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats. Moderator Frank Luntz promised the event would be an "adult conversation" about the issues important to the conservative Christian activists in the audience and the candidates bent over backwards to appeal to these voters, with Carly Fiorina declaring at one point that all the people on stage, as well as all the people in... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/20/2015, 2:15pm
Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at the forum, at which the candidates are arranged family-style around a Thanksgiving table. (At the 2011 forum, Michele Bachmann memorably took it upon herself to serve water to all of the male candidates.) The... MORE >