Ralph Reed

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/26/12

  • Ralph Reed tells the GOP not to throw social conservatives overboard after the recent election losses.
  • Rick Santorum remains open to making another run for president in 2016.
  • One Million Moms declares victory as the show "666 Park Avenue" is cancelled.
  • So, how long will it be before we see "Two And A Half Men" co-star Angus T. Jones speaking at Religious Right conferences about the dangers of television?
  • An insightful new book questions "whether Obama truly understands authentic Christianity."
  • Finally, Phyllis Schlafly's niece offers exactly the sort of advice to feminists that one would expect from Phyllis Schlafly's niece.

Ralph Reed: It's Not My Fault

Election Day was a lousy day for the Religious Right. But movement leaders have been quick to assert that they are not to blame, pointing fingers variously at Hurricane Sandy, Mitt Romney, the unknown waiter who recorded Romney’s dismissive “47 percent” remarks, and the strong turnout of young voters and people of color.

Religious Right leaders had spent four years attacking Obama an enemy of faith, freedom, God, and America, only to see him re-elected in an Electoral College landslide. They had warned that defeating him might be a last chance to forestall God’s judgment on America. They fasted and prayed and believed that they would be delivered on Election Day. But that’s not what happened. 
 
Not only did Obama win big, but voters in Maine and Maryland embraced marriage equality, and Washington seems likely to join them.  Minnesota voters rejected a Religious Right-backed attempt to put anti-gay discrimination into the state’s constitution.  Tammy Baldwin was elected to the Senate, where she will be the first openly gay member.
 
Well before all those results were in, it was clear that the night was not going according to what Religious Right leaders had thought was God’s plan.  At 10 pm, Tony Perkins and Jim Garlow held a phone call briefing for pastors. It was a very subdued affair, with representatives of the state marriage campaigns trying to sound hopeful about the then-uncalled outcomes in their states.  Perkins and Garlow also held a Wednesday webcast on the "aftermath and aftershocks" as the scope of their Election Day drubbing sank in (see video highlights).  “The problem in America is sin,” said Garlow. But, he said, “we have no problem that the next Great Awakening cannot solve.”
 
The tendency after an election defeat to avoid blame by casting it elsewhere was in full flower the day after the election.  Rep. Jim Jordan, a Religious Right favorite, described Mitt Romney as “the most liberal Republican nominee in history” who had “waffled” on abortion, had passed a health care bill as governor, and had a hard time convincing conservatives on his commitments on taxing and spending.  Perkins criticized Romney for not campaigning on issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty, even though Obama used them to appeal to his base. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway agreed, saying Republicans had not done enough to draw the contrast on social and “moral” issues. Regarding the marriage wins, Perkins blamed Obama in part, saying the president’s policies have had “a shaping influence on the culture.” He and others also blamed marriage equality proponents’ financial advantage.
 
In a Wednesday morning press conference at the National Press Club, Ralph Reed’s message was clear: don’t look at me. Reed had made sweeping promises that the Faith and Freedom  Coalition, his conservative voter ID and turnout operation, would stun pollsters and lead to a big conservative victory.  “We did our job,” he insisted, recounting the tens of millions of phone calls, mailings, and other voter contacts his group made.  He said his group had run the most efficient, most technologically superior voter contact and GOVT operation the faith community has ever seen.  He claimed credit for increasing both white evangelicals’ share of the electorate and the share of the vote they gave to the Republican nominee.  But it wasn’t enough.
 
“We can’t do the Republican Party’s job for them.  We can’t do the candidates’ job for them.” In part, Reed blamed “candidate performance issues,” his euphemism for the Akin-Mourdoch rape comments that led to their undoing.
 
Reed said his successful efforts were not in the end sufficient because people of color and young voters turned out in numbers that he had not anticipated -- and voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the president.  The fact that young voters, African Americans, and Latinos turned out so strongly seems to have stunned conservative figures across the board. And it confirmed for many of them the need for the Republican Party and the conservative movement to stop alienating Latinos and figure out how to attract younger voters.  “We need to do a better job of not looking like your daddy’s Religious Right,” said Reed.
 
Some Religious Right leaders sought solace in faith that God is ultimately in control.  “America as we know it may have signed its death warrant tonight,” said Garlow during the pastors' briefing.  But not to worry, he said, nations come and go, but God’s kingdom is forever. Perkins said FRC and its allies would continue to stand strong in the face of “an increasingly hostile culture.”
 
Others looked forward to the next political fight.  Pollster Conway predicted that 2014 would bring, like 2010’s Tea Party wave, a conservative resurgence and called for candidate recruitment to begin now.  Perkins agreed that conservatives have never had a stronger “farm team” and touted potential conservative candidates for 2016, including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Mike Pence.

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/6/12

  • Ralph Reed will hold "a news briefing to discuss the results of a post-election survey showing the impact of the evangelical vote and other faith-based voters on the outcome of the 2012 elections." We can't wait.
  • Matt Barber is now apparently an expert on energy independence.
  • The Family Research Council is predicting "massive turnout among Values Voters" and is taking credit for that turnout.
  • Phyllis Schlafly says "increasingly atheistic public schools ... are probably the biggest reason for this decline in religion among youth."
  • Gary Bauer makes the final case for Mitt Romney.
  • Finally, after saying that he wouldn't vote for [Mitt Romney] if Satan were running against him," WND's Joseph Farah bravely announces that he will, in fact, vote for Mitt Romney.

Right Wing Leftovers - 11/2/12

  • Ralph Reed declares that that the entire presidential race "can now be boiled down to two key counties" in Ohio.
  • William Owens is outraged by an ad urging African Americans to vote in favor of marriage equality in Maryland.
  • The Family Research Council is out with a new ad urging people to vote against President Obama ... because of Dan Savage?
  • Glenn Beck says media outlets are sitting on incriminating emails regarding the Libya attack in order to protect President Obama and that if they aren't released, he will "expose them."
  • Finally, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America says that a woman who become pregnant via rape should not be allowed to get an abortion because "aborting her baby, which was the result of a crime, actually adds to the emotional and physical harm to the mother."

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/26/12

Ryan's Real Values? Reed and Rand

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold a town hall teleconference with Ralph Reed, the disgraced former head of the Christian Coalition who is making a political comeback with a conservative voter turnout project called the Faith and Freedom Coalition. That group is sending voters flyers warning that reelecting Obama would allow the president to “complete America’s destruction.” They also compare Obama’s policies to the threat posed to America by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

For all Paul Ryan’s talk about values, it’s worth remembering who his pal Ralph Reed is: a self-enriching win-at-any-cost political operative whose own campaign for office was tanked by revelations of Reed’s involvement in a scandal with Jack Abramoff, the convicted corrupt lobbyist who helped Reed get business “humping in corporate accounts” after he left the Christian Coalition and started his own consulting firm.

As Kyle has noted:

There are few political operatives active today that are as ruthless and cynical as Ralph Reed.

Reed is, after all, the man who infamously declared that he specializes in "guerrilla warfare," and bragged "I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag." 

Reed also knowingly took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to manipulate and mobilize his Religious Right allies to fight gambling expansions in order to protect Abramoff's client's gambling interests.  Reed even had some of the money laundered through third-parties in order to try and conceal its origins, yet continues to insist to this day that he is "proud" of the "outstanding" work he did on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.

Ryan cites his Catholic faith to distract attention from his devotion to Ayn Rand and her infamous hostility to charity toward the poor.  Reed himself preaches the Tea Party’s notion that federal government programs that serve the poor and elderly are unconstitutional. (And of course, for a big chunk of the Religious Right, the social safety net is not only unconstitutional, but unbiblical.)

The FFC held several events at the Republican National Convention featuring other notable “values” stalwarts such as Newt Gingrich, union-busting Scott Walker, anti-gay activist Jim Garlow and down-the-government-in-the-bathtub anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist.

Reed said earlier this year that American Christians must get down on their knees and beg God for forgiveness for “what we have allowed to happen” to the country – then God might have mercy on America (the implication being that God would help Romney defeat Obama).

 Back in 2008, John McCain was embarrassed by watchdog groups over his participation in a fundraiser organized by Reed; in the end Reed did not attend. Four years later, the values-promoting Paul Ryan seems to have no hesitation embracing Reed, who exemplifies the self-promoting values of Ryan inspiration Ayn Rand.

Larry Kudlow: 'A Faith-Based Life Has Got to be a More Rewarding, Fulfilling, and Better Life'

Yesterday, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released the results of a survey finding that "the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today."

Those findings were quite alarming to CNBC's Larry Kudlow, who brought Ralph Reed on to his program yesterday to reassure him that the numbers were not really as bad as they looked.  After Reed speculated that the rise in young people claiming no religious affiliation would begin to reverse itself once those young people got married and had children, Kudlow warned that they should not be downplaying the rise in secularism because secularism "is not good for this country, there's too much of it, [and] it's proclaimed too loudly in the mainstream media" before declaring that "a faith-based life has got to be a more rewarding, fulfilling, and better life":

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/2/12

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/27/12

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/24/12

Ralph Reed's Distinction Without a Difference

Joe Hagan of New York Magazine caught up with Ralph Reed at the RNC and the two had a rather spirited discussion over religion and politics that eventually took on the issue of the contraception mandate and the Religious Right's vehement opposition to it.

Hagan asked Reed why conservatives are so outraged about this issue but don't seem to care that people are required to pay taxes that fund all sorts of things they find objectionable and immoral - like war - for which there are no exemptions. 

And the best explanation that Reed could come up with was "I don’t think it’s the same":

The Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to include contraception as part of health insurance provisions, which upset the Catholics —

Not just Catholics. Liberty University, Ohio Christian University — [they are] going to be required to subsidize health services that in their classrooms, they teach is a sin.

The students don’t have to partake of these services.

I’m not talking about the students; I’m talking about the university and the denominations of the church behind it.

So you’re saying they’re paying for a service they don’t intend to use.

Yeah. Well, and that they believe is a moral evil.

But the government wages wars that we all pay for but many of us find to be fundamentally wrong on a spiritual and every other level. Isn’t that the same?

I don’t think it’s the same.

One is a personal choice that may end the life of an unborn child, the other is going to end the lives of thousands of already-born people.

No, not true.

How is that not true?

Because, well … because we allow for an exception, in the draft laws, for conscientious and religious objectors. No respected denomination in the history of this country, not the Quakers — when they were really committed pacifists, less so today — but I’m talking about during the 18th and 19th centuries. Look at the Revolution — where it was a big issue for Quakers. Nobody forced them to serve. It is true they were required to pay taxes, but no evangelical or Catholic is saying they should be required to pay taxes. You see? I think any fair-minded analysis in mainstream theology would say we’re all required to do that.

Reed says the two things are different because nobody is saying people of faith shouldn't be required to pay taxes ... yet one of the Religious Right's most fundamental positions is that tax dollars should never be used to pay for things like abortion because that would result in forcing conservative Christians pay for things they morally oppose. In fact, one of the Religious Right's primary complaints about health care reform is that it "will force taxpayers to fund abortions."

Reed's position seems to be that everyone ought to be required to pay taxes, but those taxes should not be used to force some conservative Christians to fund things they oppose but can be used to force other people fund things that they oppose because ... well, just because.

Right Wing Finally Unites Behind Romney With Anti-Obama Hate-Fest in Tampa

[Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery is covering the RNC for Alternet with Adele M. Stan]

It was to have been the day before the commencement of the Republican National Convention, but the hand of divine providence swept in, batting a storm called Isaac toward the site where the G.O.P. is to gather, delaying the convening for at least a day. But that didn't stop leaders of the Republican right wing from hosting no fewer than four events meant to rally the faithful to turn out the vote for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose name was barely mentioned from any of the four podiums.
 
In fact, there was one name that was mentioned far more than all others: that of President Barack Obama.
 
Two of the events were called by Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an organization dedicated to turning out the vote among both religious and secular members of the Republican right -- a melding of the religious right with the broader Tea Party movement. 
 
Reed kicked off the day with a $50-a-plate V.I.P. luncheon that brought together such secular players as the renowned and powerful anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist with religious luminaries like Pastor Jim Garlow, one of the activists who helped quash same-sex marriage in California via the Proposition 8 ballot measure.
 
The other two events -- a prayer rally and a "Unity Rally" -- featured former G.O.P. presidential candidate Michele Bachmann as a headliner, and took place in a non-denominational evangelical megachurch on the outskirts of town. The prayer rally at River Church enjoyed sponsorship from the Florida Family Policy Council and Citizenlink (both affiliates of the Family Research Council) and Salem Communications , a religious right radio network.
 
Bachmann made a return engagement in the evening for a "Unity Rally" at which she and her former presidential primary opponent, Herman Cain, were the big draws. Tea Party Nation, together with the Western Representation PAC and Cain's new venture, Job Creators Solutions , co-sponsored the event.

While each event had its own distinct character, there was unity aplenty in the overarching theme: Defeat Barack Obama, not simply because his policies stand in opposition to right-wing ideology, but because, speakers said, he is a very dangerous man.

At an exhibit table inside River Church, a painting in an elaborate frame featured an image of an angry-looking Obama with a copy of the Constitution in flames in the foreground. The signs held by attendees inside the church for the evening rally were largely home-made, and several people waved large flags, both the U.S. flag, and the yellow Gadsden flag that has become the trademark of the Tea Party movement.

But downtown, inside the ornate, Art Nouveau-style Tampa Theater in which Reed held his rally, activists had a more uniform look, with preprinted signs that read: Pro-Family, Pro-Faith, Pro-Freedom, while in the grottos that flanked the stage, statues of scantily-clad goddesses looked on.

Here are some highlights from a Sunday spent among the foot soldiers of the right, and those who seek to lead them to the polls on November 6th.

[continue reading]
 

Paul Ryan: Roe v. Wade is 'Virtually Identical' to Dred Scott

In the 2004 presidential election, President Bush used “dog whistle” politics during a debate with John Kerry by subtly linking the Dred Scott case to Roe v. Wade. This year, Republican vice presidential pick Paul Ryan is more explicit about his views. He supported a bill to outlaw all abortions and some contraceptives, and in 2010 he said that the “the Supreme Court made virtually the identical mistake” in Roe v. Wade that it made in the 1857 Dred Scott case:

Yet, identifying who “qualifies” as a human being has historically proved to be more difficult than the above examples suggest. Twice in the past the U.S. Supreme Court—charged with being the guardian of rights—has failed so drastically in making this crucial determination that it “disqualified” a whole category of human beings, with profoundly tragic results.

The first time was in the 1857 case, Dred Scott v. Sandford. The Court held, absurdly, that Africans and their American descendants, whether slave or free, could not be citizens with a right to go to court to enforce contracts or rights or for any other reason. Why? Because “among the whole human race,” the Court declared, “the enslaved African race were not intended to be included…[T]hey had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” In other words, persons of African origin did not “qualify” as human beings for purposes of protecting their natural rights. It was held that, since the white man did not recognize them as having such rights, they didn’t have them. The implication was that Africans were property—things that white persons could choose to buy and sell. In contrast, whites did “qualify,” so government protected their natural rights.

Every person in this country was wounded the day this dreadful opinion was handed down by this nation’s highest tribunal. It made a mockery of the American idea that human equality and rights were given by God and recognized by government, not constructed by governments or ethnic groups by consensus vote. The abhorrent decision directly led to terrible bloodshed and opened up a racial gap that has never been completely overcome. The second time the Court failed in a case regarding the definition of “human” was in Roe v. Wade in 1973, when the Supreme Court made virtually the identical mistake. At what point in time does a human being exist, the state of Texas asked. The Court refused to answer: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” In other words, the Court would not “qualify” unborn children as living persons whose human rights must be guaranteed.



At the core, today’s “pro-choice” liberals are deeply pessimistic. They denigrate life and offer fear of the present and the future—fear of too many choices and too many children. Rather than seeing children and human beings as a benefit, the “pro-choice” position implies that they are a burden. Despite the “pro-choice” label, liberals’ stance on this subject actually diminishes choices, lowers goals, and leads us to live with less. That includes reducing the number of human beings who can make choices.

In contrast, pro-life conservatives are natural optimists. On balance, we see human beings as assets, not liabilities. All conservatives should find it easy to agree that government must uphold every person’s right to make choices regarding their lives and that every person’s right to live must be secured before he or she can exercise that right of choice. In the state of nature—the “law of the jungle”—the determination of who “qualifies” as a human being is left to private individuals or chosen groups. In a justly organized community, however, government exists to secure the right to life and the other human rights that follow from that primary right.

Religious Right Groups Laud Paul Ryan, Highlight Anti-Choice and Anti-Gay Voting Record

Conservative leaders hailed Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, the far-right congressman, to be his running mate, emphasizing his opposition to LGBT and reproductive rights.

Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance said that besides his one-time vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, she is excited “to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’”

Paul Ryan is a great choice. He has one little blip in that he voted for ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) a long time ago but voted right on the marriage amendment and supports the unborn. Plus, I get to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’ Bonus.

Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition commended Ryan’s “100 percent pro-life and pro-family voting record.”

Mitt Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee is an inspired, outstanding selection. Paul Ryan is a rare and exceptional public servant who combines the courage of his convictions with a sharp intellect and a winsome personality. I have known him since he worked for Jack Kemp at Empower America in the early 1990s, worked with him in passing sound budgets in the House, and am proud to count him as a friend. He is a person of devout Christian faith who has a 100 percent pro-life and pro-family voting record in his 14 years in Congress. He will excite and energize social conservatives, who will play a critical role in the outcome of the elections.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is proud that Ryan “believes that social, fiscal and national security conservatism is indivisible.”

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan shows that he is serious about getting America's fiscal house in order. Paul Ryan's voting record also suggests that he believes that social, fiscal and national security conservatism is indivisible. Paul Ryan's philosophy clearly includes the understanding that America's financial greatness is tied directly to its moral and cultural wholeness.

As a member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, he has been a defender of religious expression in the public square. Paul Ryan has spoken out strongly against President Obama's abortion drug and contraception mandates as an affront to religious liberty. He has articulately described how the President's government takeover of health care has pushed aside our First Amendment right of religious freedom.

We look forward to hearing Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit so that the conservative grassroots will have an opportunity to hear more about their agenda on the critical issues facing our country including religious liberty, marriage, the sanctity of human life as well as fiscal responsibility and national security.

The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjore Dannenfelser hailed Ryan’s rejection of a “culture war truce.”

“By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. “A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no ‘truce’ when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney’s campaign.

“Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections,” continued Dannenfelser. “The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base – we are thrilled with this pick.”

The Catholic Association called Ryan an “excellent choice” since “he has been thoughtful and articulate in applying Catholic principles to the other challenges facing America.”

We believe Governor Romney has made an excellent choice. As a smart, serious Catholic, Congressman Ryan has been steadfast on issues of fundamental principle – defending religious liberty, life, and traditional marriage.

In addition, he has been thoughtful and articulate in applying Catholic principles to the other challenges facing America.

The American Center for Law and Justice’s David French noted Ryan’s opposition to reproductive rights.

In the next days and weeks, there will be a lot of attention on Paul Ryan’s economic expertise and experience with fiscal reform. He became famous in political circles for the “Ryan budget” and for his fearlessness and effectiveness in challenging President Obama in the midst of the Obamacare debate. But what many may not know is that Paul Ryan is a man completely committed to the cause of life.

Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families is glad this “youthful, forward-looking ticket [is] reminding us that with the right choices America's best days are still ahead of us.”

Just moments ago, Governor Mitt Romney formally announced his selection of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate. He made the announcement at a naval museum in Norfolk, Virginia, with the USS Wisconsin as his backdrop. This is a bold choice, and I am very excited about this pick!

The selection of Paul Ryan shows Governor Romney is serious about confronting the fiscal challenges facing our country. It shows the kind of talented and experienced team Governor Romney will put together that will work for American exceptionalism.

Ryan is a strong conservative. He is pro-life and believes in traditional marriage. Of course, what he is most known for is entitlement reform and stopping the growth of government. He's 42 with a young family.

So this will be a youthful, forward-looking ticket, reminding us that with the right choices America's best days are still ahead of us. It will be a stark contrast to Obama's failed tax and spend policies that are taking us down the dead-end road of European-style socialism. It's clear which presidential ticket is serious about making real change!

Reed: If Christians Beg God's Forgiveness, then He'll 'Have Mercy on our Land' this November

Speaking at the "Under God: Indivisible" rally organized by James Robison to coincide with Glenn Beck's "Restoring Love" event, Ralph Reed declared that the upcoming election to be the most important one since right before the Civil War.  

Reed called upon Christians to "get down on our faces and on our knees before Almighty God" and beg Him to forgive them "for what we have allowed to happen to this country."  If they do, Reed said, then "in November, God is going to have mercy on our land":

Glenn Beck Calls in the Religious Right Calvary for Pre-Restoring Love Meeting

One of the most telling features of Glenn Beck’s 2010 Restoring Honor rally were the overtly religious themes of the rally, along with the launching of a Black Robe Regiment filled with right-wing leaders. The day before Beck’s latest really, Restoring Love, Beck and David Barton are hosting a who’s who of Religious Right activists for a “Christian Leadership Conference” called Under God: Indivisible, including some of the most prominent anti-gay preachers, activists and televangelists in the country:

David Barton

Tony Perkins

Ralph Reed

  • Led the Christian Coalition alongside Pat Robertson but left following reports of financial misconduct, now heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
  • Alleges that America “lost its way” by helping the poor, putting liberty in “danger.”

John Hagee

James Robison

Rick Scarborough

Harry Jackson

  • Alleges that gay rights supporters are recreating the “times of Hitler” and are leading a “Satanic plot” against the black family.
  • Asserts that gay rights will “bring us under” just like the iceberg that hit the Titanic.

Jim Garlow

Richard Land

Ken Hutcherson

  • Hoped to lead an anti-gay marriage rally that would be a “spiritual bomb” comparable to the 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid, Spain.
  • Wants the “promotion” of homosexuality banned just like “sugar and fatty foods in schools” since it is “dangerous and unnatural.”

Kenneth Copeland

  • Contends God didn’t create gay people just like “He didn’t create anybody to be a murderer, He condemned murder; he didn’t create anybody a homosexual, ’cause He condemned homosexuality.”

Aryeh Spero

Ralph Reed’s Tea Party Luncheon

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition kicked off its 2012 conference with a splashy show of the Reed’s political muscle in the form of three U.S. Senators.  Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida all delivered speeches that reflect Reed’s goal for 2012 and beyond: merging the messages and organizing energies of the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right movements to elect conservative Republicans.

“American exceptionalism” was a major theme of the day – defined generally as America being uniquely blessed by God for its commitment to limited government and free-market economics grounded in a belief that individual rights come from God.  And – no surprise -- President Obama was portrayed as an enemy of faith and freedom.

Portman declared that the Obama administration had treated freedom of religion as a “second-class right.”  He argued that life should be held sacred “from conception til death.”

 DeMint charged the President with wanting a country and economy run from the top down, and called for a stop to government “purging faith” from the American way of life. “We need to realize we’re blessed,” said DeMint. “We need to know that we’re in trouble. And we need to know that 2012 may be our last chance to turn this thing around.”

Reed introduced Rubio as one of the greatest talents and most transformational figures that any of us have ever seen.  Rubio, who is hawking a new book, argued that social and fiscal conservatism are indistinguishable, and that the notion of God as the source of freedom is essential to freedom itself.  “You cannot have your freedom without your faith, because the source of your freedom is your faith.”  He argued that calling for the wealthy to pay more taxes is “divisive” and pits Americans against each other for the purposes of winning an election, claiming, “that is never who we have been.” (Surely even Rubio does not actually believe that the Republican Party and Tea Party have never run divisive campaigns in order to win elections.)

Listening to Rubio, you can understand why GOP strategists have such high hopes for him. He calls on people to help their neighbors. He says the conservative movement is not about imposing its values on others or leaving people behind.  He says conservatives want drinking water to be clean and the air to be breathable. (In reality, of course, policies backed by today’s far-right GOP would indeed impose their values on others, leave millions of Americans behind, and eviscerate regulations that protect our families’ food, air, and water.)

Before the conference started, an FFC press release claimed that its activists will be “phoning, mailing, and knocking on the doors of 27 million conservative and pro-family voters, distributing 35 million voter guides, and making a total of 120 million voter contacts” in 2012. At today’s luncheon, Reed encouraged members of the audience to imagine what could happen with another 10 or 20 senators like Rubio.  Yes, just imagine.

Religious Right Slams Obama for Backing Marriage Equality

While gay conservative groups have come out attacking President Obama for endorsing marriage equality today, Religious Right groups have also started to berate Obama on the issue.

Tony Perkins of Family Research Council said Obama’s position has handed Mitt Romney “the key to social conservative support”:

The President's announcement today that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage finally brings his words in sync with his actions. From opposing state marriage amendments to refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) to giving taxpayer funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the President has undermined the spirit if not the letter of the law.

As demonstrated by yesterday's overwhelming vote in North Carolina, redefining marriage remains outside the mainstream of American politics, especially in the critical battleground states and among minority voters. In North Carolina, the amendment received more than 60 percent of the vote in majority-black counties.

Considering that ten of the sixteen battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the President's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election.

The President has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama.

American Values head and former FRC president Gary Bauer claimed to be perplexed that Obama “is spending even one second of his time thinking about how and to radically transform the institution of marriage”:

The charade is finally up. We've always known that Barack Obama supports same-sex marriage. With every action he's taken, from court appointments to his rhetoric, he's been preparing the way to undermine traditional marriage. Obama's finally made that support explicit.

Every American who can't find work, whose home is under water or who can't afford to fill up his gas tank should be wondering why the president is spending even one second of his time thinking about how and to radically transform the institution of marriage. It's a political move meant to energize his left-wing base and distract Americans from his disastrous economic policies."

Bauer later commented in an email to supporters that Obama “may have just lost the presidency”:

President Obama just told ABC News that he now supports same-sex marriage. Surprised? Didn’t think so. Obama is no doubt hoping to energize his leftwing base. And he is betting this will help him to re-energize the youth vote this November. But in fact he may have just lost the presidency.

Attention Republican Party: Obama’s announcement is a chance for boldness. There are many Republicans who would rather not talk about this issue. But if the GOP confronts Obama over marriage, it could make him a one-term president. If Republicans allow Obama to exploit this issue, then it could prove decisive for him. Republicans need to remember that if their candidates can manage to win as much of the vote as the state marriage amendments have received in 31 states, they will win in a landslide in November.
...
Now look at North Carolina. It is considered a swing state. Obama won it by only 14,000 votes in 2008 – and it is a high priority for the Dems this year, which is why they are holding their national convention in Charlotte and why he has visited the state repeatedly. This morning Obama might be second guessing that Charlotte venue.

Voters in North Carolina passed a marriage amendment yesterday, making clear that marriage is one man and one woman. Obama, Biden and the entire media establishment opposed the amendment. Bill Clinton did robo calls opposing the measure. The voters felt otherwise by a 61% to 39% vote – a huge landslide and a record turnout. Current polls have Romney beating Obama in North Carolina by only two points! Governor Romney should look at the results of the marriage issue. He can win North Carolina by a landslide if he takes on Obama on this issue.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage pledged to defeat Obama and warned, "God is the author of marriage, and we will not let an activist politician like Barack Obama who is beholden to gay marriage activists for campaign financing to turn marriage into something political that can be redefined according to presidential whim”:

President Obama has now made the definition of marriage a defining issue in the presidential contest, especially in swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada. Voters in all these states, and over two dozen more, have adopted state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. President Obama says that although he personally supports gay marriage, he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. However, that is completely disingenuous. His administration is already trying to dismantle the nation's marriage laws by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. All the state marriage amendments and laws are at risk under a president who actively wants to change the definition of marriage. NOM will work ceaselessly in these swing states and across the nation to preserve traditional marriage because it is profoundly in the public good to do so. God is the author of marriage, and we will not let an activist politician like Barack Obama who is beholden to gay marriage activists for campaign financing to turn marriage into something political that can be redefined according to presidential whim. The definition of marriage was already headed for the ballot in four states this fall; now it will be one of the defining issues of the presidential election. No state in this country has ever voted for gay marriage. Just yesterday North Carolina voters sent a clear message that America wants to preserve marriage. We intend to win the marriage debate this November.

The Traditional Values Coalition president Andrea Lafferty maintained Obama’s view on marriage equality displays his “radical ideology”:

This isn’t exactly a bold move by the president. Forced by Joe Biden’s big mouth, Obama had no choice left but to publicly embrace an agenda he has privately promoted for years.

I’ve been saying this for the last four years. Obama has always been in favor of homosexual marriage, but was forced to keep his enthusiasm at a distance for fear of offending the American public.

Obama needs new friends. His leadership has completely alienated Wall Street, financial investors, small businesses, soccer moms, and virtually every other constituency by pushing his radical ideology at a time when America needed principled leadership. Who better to appease than the LGBT community with tons of disposable income to fund his re-election campaign?

North Carolina just became the 31st state to affirm the sanctity of marriage. As if mainstream Americans needed any further reasons to reject Obama’s radical social agenda, we were most certainly reminded today.

Matt Smith of the Catholic Advocate said Obama’s support for marriage equality is part of “an anti-Catholic agenda”:

Once again, the President is spending time advancing an anti-Catholic agenda. Marriage was created long before any government came into existence. It is a settled issue in the eyes of the Catholic Church and should not be redefined.

First, the Obama administration takes away grant money helping victims of sex-trafficking over the Church refusing to refer the victims for abortions. Then the Obama administration violates our religious liberties by forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization as the President's health care law is being implemented. And now, should his advocacy for same-sex marriage succeed, Catholic institutions could be forced once again to violate our beliefs.

Many faithful Catholics were fooled by clever political rhetoric in 2008. This year, the anti-Catholic record of the Obama administration should inform their vote."

Rob Schenck of the Faith and Action commented: “Frankly, I question whether he really does in his heart-of-hearts. Maybe I'm naive, but, if I'm right, it's even worse, because it means he has surrendered a moral conviction for political expediency. Very wrong and very sad.”

Update: Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed said the announcement shows the President is “tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the time-honored values of millions of Americans”:

Four years ago 2008 Barack Obama promised if elected not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000, pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term — and made clear his support for traditional marriage. All those promises are now broken.

At a time of high unemployment and severe economic distress, President Obama chose the week he launched his re-election campaign to flip-flop on same-sex marriage.

Combined with his administration’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, it reveals a president who is tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the time-honored values of millions of Americans. This is an unanticipated gift to the Romney campaign. It is certain to fuel a record turnout of voters of faith to the polls this November.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League claimed Obama “has fully broken with his Christian moorings” and suggested he also favors polygamy:

In 1996, when Barack Obama was up for a state senate post in Illinois, he said he supported gay marriage. Eight years later, when he set his sights on the U.S. Senate, he discovered his Christian roots and said he was against it. In 2008, he said he was opposed to homosexuals marrying, but he also opposed a ballot initiative in California, Proposition 8, that affirmed marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. In other words, his Christian roots were losing their grip. Since then he’s been “evolving.” Now the evolution is over and he has fully broken with his Christian moorings.

The president of the United States likes the idea of Tom and Dick marrying. He did not say whether he supports Tom, Dick and Harry marrying, or whether he is “evolving” in that direction. Perhaps he has to consult with his mentor on this issue, Mr. Joseph Biden of Delaware.

Yesterday, North Carolina voters affirmed marriage as being between a man and a woman. In the 32 times voters have been asked to decide this issue, they have voted 32 times to support traditional marriage. Gay rights advocates have never won.

President Obama will be hurt by this decision in the swing states. More than that, he has now made this cultural matter a major issue in the presidential campaign.

The time has finally come to pass a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as an institution reserved to the only two people who can naturally produce a family, namely a man and a woman.

NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher, now with the Culture War Victory Fund, writes:

On the one hand, morally this is good because lying to the American people is always wrong. President Obama has come clean that he is for gay marriage. Politically, we welcome this. We think it's a huge mistake. President Obama is choosing the money over the voters the day after 61 percent of North Carolinians in a key swing state demonstrated they oppose gay marriage. We now have clear choice between Romney and Obama, and we look forward to demonstrating in November that it's a bad idea for a national candidate to support gay marriage. Marriage is a winning issue for the GOP.

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon tells OneNewsNow:

[He] has finally come out of the closet, if you will, on the homosexual marriage issue. He's in favor of it. He always has been. The only reason he didn't say anything about it before the election last time is because he didn't want to hurt himself [politically].

President Obama, [in] his first year in office, had the homosexual activists to the White House for a dinner and he promised them he would be their 'champion' -- and so he is coming through for them on many different fronts, including the military, changing the military to allow open homosexuality there.

Jim Campbell of the Alliance Defense Fund said his endorsement “promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes”:

This shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage. Marriage–the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman–is the building block of a thriving society. It’s not something that politicians should attempt to redefine for political purposes. The president has spoken eloquently about how fatherless homes often hurt children and society. Today’s statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.

Liberty Counsel Action released a statement [pdf] from chairman Mathew Staver, who said the country under Obama’s leadership is “headed to disaster”:

“The President has made the issues in this election very clear,” said Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action. “Today, Governor Mitt Romney said he unequivocally supports natural marriage and opposes ‘marriage between people of the same gender,’ drawing a stark contrast in the upcoming election. For most voters, this election will now be an easy choice,” said Staver.

The decision by the President is not a surprise. He needs to appeal to his far-left base that helped propel him to the White House in 2008 but whose support has weakened in 2012.

“We are six months away from arguably the most critical national election in our lifetime,” said Mat Staver. “America is headed in the wrong direction: we are on the edge of a moral, financial, spiritual, and national security abyss. President Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan is ‘Forward.’ The Titanic was moving forward but headed to disaster. We need to change course.”

The Religious Right's Message to Romney: Be More Like Santorum

When Rick Santorum ended his presidential campaign last week, his Religious Right supporters were heartbroken ... and now they seem to have moved on to a new strategy of pressuring Mitt Romney to adopt Santorum's campaign message is he wants to win their support:

Of course, if Santorum's message had been so energizing and effective, he probably would not have been forced to end his bid because his campaign "basically raised almost no money" toward the end.

Romney and Santorum Rally with Corrupt Lobbyist Ralph Reed in Wisconsin

Tomorrow morning in Waukesha, WI, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, among others (Gov. Scott Walker is listed as an invited speaker), will rally with corrupt former lobbyist Ralph Reed and the state chapter of his Faith & Freedom Coalition, which Reed created to rehabilitate his image in the wake of his deep involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Here are the event details:
It is our distinct pleasure to invite you to the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Presidential Kick-Off, sponsored by the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Coalition, to be held at the Country Springs Hotel on Saturday, March 31st in Waukesha, WI.  Come hear from CONFIRMED speakers Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Rick Santorum, and Speaker Newt Gingrich.
 
When Romney and Santorum – the standard–bearers of the GOP – appear on stage tomorrow with Reed, they’ll be embracing a corrupt hustler who has survived scandal after scandal by delivering cash and foot soldiers to Republican leaders (and not for the first time).
 
It wasn’t long ago that Ralph Reed was damaged goods in Republican circles, and for good reason. Reed came to national prominence as the first executive director of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, beginning in 1989. However, by 1997 the groups finances were collapsing, the FEC had found that the group violated federal campaign finance laws in 1990, 1992, and 1994, and federal prosecutors were investigating allegations of financial misconduct made by the organization’s CFO. So Reed resigned and moved to Georgia to become a lobbyist.
 
In 1999, Abramoff hired Reed and ultimately paid him $1.3 million to generate opposition to legalizing video poker and a state-sponsored lottery in Alabama. The money came from the Choctaw Tribe, which runs a casino in nearby Mississippi. Reed used his extensive Religious Right contacts and engaged James Dobson and the Alabama Christian Coalition, which had a policy against being the “recipient of any funds direct or in-direct or any in-kind direct or indirect from gambling interests.” He funneled $850,000 to the group, but made sure to launder it through his longtime friend Grover Norquist’s organization, Americans for Tax Reform.
 
Before the wheels came off Jack Abramoff’s criminal lobbying enterprise, he described Reed to his business partner as “a bad version of us.” Abramoff, explaining the comment after being released from prison, said that Reed was “a tap dancer and constantly just asking for money.” And Abramoff knows more than a thing or two about Reed. He gave Reed his first job after college and, along with Norquist, formed what some called the “triumvirate” at the College Republican National Committee.
 
After the Abramoff scandal broke, Reed claimed that he had “no direct knowledge of [Abramoff’s lobbying firm’s] clients or their interests,” but the Senate Indian Affairs Committee determined that Abramoff told Reed as early as 1999 that he was taking casino money. In an interview last year with Alan Colmes, Abramoff called Reed’s denial ridiculous:
Abramoff: It's ridiculous. I mean, even the tribes that had other business, 99% of their revenue came from gaming. But a lot of those tribes had nothing but gaming.
Colmes: So, in other words, Ralph Reed was saying "hey, I'll work with you but I don't want to be paid with gambling money, I'm too clean for that." But are you saying that conversation never happened?
Abramoff: No. Never happened. Ralph didn't want it out that he was getting gambling money and, frankly, that was his choice and I think it was a big mistake.
Reed went on to become the chair of the Georgia Republican Party in 2001 and ran for lieutenant governor in 2006. However, the Abramoff scandal had broken by then, and Reed “suffered an embarrassing defeat” in the primary. The New York Times described Reed as a “close associate of Jack Abramoff” whose “candidacy was viewed as a test of the effects of the Washington lobbying scandal on core Republican voters.”
 
In 2009, Reed founded the Faith & Freedom Coalition to help resurrect his image and stature in the movement. Faith & Freedom, which Reed described as a “21st Century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids,” is really just a Tea Party-stained version of the original, and much smaller despite the steroids.
 
However, Reed is an operator in the truest sense, and knows how to “tap dance” and “constantly ask for money” with the best of them. He has apparently earned, and I do mean earned, his way back into the good graces of Republican leaders. It’s unclear, however, how long Reed can go without another scandal.
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Ralph Reed Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 06/19/2014, 4:29pm
Monica Crowley of Fox News served as the emcee for a “legislative luncheon” that kicked off the “Road to Majority” conference sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. The speakers’ lineup – Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Allen West, and John Bolton – promised a butcher shop’s worth of red meat for right-wing activists, and Crowley must have decided she didn’t want to be overshadowed. She complained that she has both a Marxist president and mayor (New York’s Bill de Blasio) and asserted that “we are in a... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 06/16/2014, 3:40pm
Liberty Counsel is organizing a “powerful, five-screen multimedia extravaganza” for conservative pastors who want to stop America from “spiraling out of control as our foundation of traditional values is threatened and eroded every day” and “to dramatically affect the 2014 elections this coming November.” The “Who Will Stand?” rallies will feature former Gov. Mike Huckabee, pseudo-historian David Barton and Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, along with uplifting songs and “thousands of images portraying the beauty and grandeur of all 50... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 06/04/2014, 2:25pm
Today, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition announced that Gov. Chris Christie will speak at its “Road to Majority” conference this month, where perhaps Reed can offer the embattled governor advice on how to downplay scandals. But the director of the New Jersey Faith and Freedom Coalition, Larry Cirignano, doesn’t seem to be much of a fan of his state’s governor. On his Facebook page, Cirignano has posted columns attacking Christie from the right, including articles titled “Chris Christie dooms NJ to judicial activism and himself to obscurity” and... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 05/06/2014, 12:38pm
Religious Right groups are celebrating yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding sectarian prayer at official public meetings – like city council sessions – and narrowly defining what would amount to unconstitutional religious coercion of people attending. The case is Town of Greece v. Galloway. Though divided on their reasoning, the Court’s five conservative Justices upheld a practice in which, month after month, year after year, town leaders reached out to Christians and Christians only to offer opening prayers at town meetings, prayers that were often quite... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 05/05/2014, 3:08pm
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today overturned a ruling by the Second Circuit appeals court and upheld the practice of an upstate New York town that begins its council meetings with prayers that are almost always given by Christian clergy. Religious Right groups are celebrating the ruling; Ralph Reed announced that his Faith and Freedom coalition would use the ruling to “redouble its efforts” to encourage more prayers at city and county government meetings. Both the decision and the Religious Right's responses are likely to invite more religiously divisive... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/24/2014, 5:33pm
Oliver Willis @ Media Matters: VIDEO: Cliven Bundy's Racist Comments. Josh Feldman @ Mediaite: Bundy Explains ‘Negro’ Remarks: ‘I’m Wondering’ If They’re ‘Better Off Being Slaves.’ Joe Jervis: PolitiFact Rates Ralph Reed's Claims About Gay Parenting As Totally False. Sarah Jones @ Wall of Separation: Moore Extremism: Alabama’s Infamous ‘Ten Commandments Judge’ Is As Big A Zealot As Ever. Chris Rodda: Pentagon to Join in “One Voice United in Prayer” (On Separate Days in Separate Locations,... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 04/17/2014, 4:45pm
After warning that marriage equality for gays and lesbians will destroy America, conservative columnist Cal Thomas told Daystar on Monday that public schools are instruments of “the enemy” and warned that Obamacare and the belief in evolution will lead to the deaths of senior citizens. “Don’t put your children in the enemy’s re-education camps where they’re taught they evolved from slime and their nearest relative is down at the zoo and that’s why they like bananas on their cereal, and where they don’t learn the real history of America,”... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/01/2014, 5:30pm
Judith Reisman says that AIDS victims should file a class action lawsuit against condom manufacturers on the grounds that condoms "are not effectively designed to protect from disease those people who engage in sodomy." "Kids Are Humans, Not Machines" reports a helpful new anti-Common Core documentary produced by Mike Farris and his Home School Legal Defense Association. Matt Barber says that President Obama "has committed multiple offenses that taken by themselves are impeachable." Ralph Reed and Russell Moore have written a joint op-ed... MORE >