Rick Perry

Rick Perry, Fox News and Religious Right Activists Jump on Fabricated Case of Christian Persecution

Todd Starnes of Fox News has dedicated himself to finding cases of Christians facing persecution. Starnes recently reported that the military is deliberately blocking access to a Baptist website and may court-martial Christian soldiers, and alleged that a school in New York is forcing girls to kiss one another. However, these three incidents were all completely false.

On Sunday, Starnes filed another report on how a high school track team in Texas “was disqualified from competing in the state championships because one of the runners made a gesture thanking God after he crossed the finish line.”

“Derrick Hayes, the anchor of the Columbus High School 4×100 relay team had just crossed the finish line when he raised his finger to the sky,” Starnes writes, “thanking the Lord for winning the race that would send them to the state finals.

His article was based on the claims of the athlete’s father, and other outlets picked up the story as well.

Gov. Rick Perry wrote a letter to the University Interscholastic League demanding an investigation:

According to press reports, the student's father, K.C. Hayes, has been widely quoted as saying the student was pointing to the heavens to thank God.

In his letter, Perry said he would “not tolerate the suppression of religious freedom anywhere.”

“It is unconscionable that a student athlete could be punished for an expression of religious faith or that an act of faith could disqualify an athlete in a UIL competition,” Perry said.

He urged the UIL to “investigate this incident thoroughly and take whatever action is necessary to ensure protection of religious freedom and expression at UIL competitions.”

As the Texas Freedom Network has pointed out, Religious Right groups such as the Liberty Institute and Liberty Counsel both jumped on the story, as did Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott.

But much like the student who was supposedly given detention for praying in school when he was actually disciplined for fighting, the Texas athlete wasn’t waving his finger to thank God and he wasn’t even disqualified for the gesture he made at the finish line.

The student was actually disqualified for inappropriate behavior towards the referee, and he and his dad now admit that the incident had nothing to do with religious expression.

According to the UIL press release:

Over the course of the investigation, the UIL interviewed several eyewitnesses and reviewed video of the race. Additionally, the UIL spoke to the involved parties. The UIL has concluded the investigation and has found no evidence to suggest that the disqualification took place as a result of the student-athlete expressing religious beliefs. The basis for the disqualification was due to the student-athlete behaving disrespectfully, in the opinion of the local meet referee.

Based on the UIL’s investigation, the student athlete raised his hand and gestured forward at the conclusion of the 4x100-meter relay. The meet official approached the student-athlete in an effort to warn him of a possible disqualification should that behavior continue. In the opinion of the official, the student reacted disrespectfully. Based on his reaction, the student-athlete was subsequently disqualified. Any decision to disqualify a student-athlete at any track meet must be upheld by the head meet referee. The meet official and the meet referee conferred, and the disqualification was upheld on-site. At no point during the discussions surrounding the disqualification at the meet was the issue of religious expression raised by any parties.

The UIL’s investigation also revealed that all coaches involved were notified prior to the regional meet that any gestures in violation of the National Federation of State High School Associations track and field rule against unsporting behavior would be grounds for disqualification. Coaches were instructed to discuss this with their student-athletes prior to all races.

To assist the UIL in its investigation, the student-athlete’s parents submitted a letter stating that their son’s religious freedoms were not violated. “In looking back at the conclusion of the 4x100 race, we realize that Derrick could have handled the win in a different manner,” KC and Stacey Hayes said in the letter. “It was not our intention to force the issue that our son’s religious freedom was violated. Nor do we feel that way now. After discussing this with our son, we have come to the conclusion that his religious rights were not violated.”

The student-athlete who was disqualified also submitted a letter during the investigation stating: “Although I am very thankful for all God has given me and blessed me with, on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Regional Track Meet in Kingsville, TX, my actions upon winning the 4x100 relay were strictly the thrill of victory. With this being said, I do not feel my religious rights or freedoms were violated.”

Rick Perry Urges Boy Scouts to Oppose Gay 'Pop Culture' Like Sam Houston Resisted Slavery

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) appeared in the Family Research Council’s “Stand With Scouts Sunday” webcast last night where he told FRC president Tony Perkins that the Boy Scouts of America must resist those trying to “tear apart” the organization’s values and replace them with the “flavor of the month”—homosexuality.

He warned the BSA against becoming “more like pop culture” and urged scout leaders to channel the spirit of Sam Houston, whom Perry said lost his governorship because he was “against slavery” and opposed secession.

Watch:

Dominionist 'Apostle' Promotes David Barton's Distorted History

Among the many publications distributed at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference in April were two booklets examining Democratic and Republican party platforms. They were produced by Justice at the Gate, a group that describes its vision as “Building strategic partnerships to mobilize Christians to pray effectively and to vote righteously.”

The two publications are both titled “Democrats & Republicans In Their Own Words.”  One of them is subtitled, “National Party Platforms on Specific Biblical Issues.”  I’m not sure where in the Bible they find school prayer and “school choice and faith-based education,” but those are listed as biblical issues, along with abortion and homosexuality.  This booklet includes side-by-side excerpts from party platforms between 1976 and 2000. Other notable issues covered in the Bible, such as poverty, are nowhere to be found.

The other “In Their Own Words” booklet features an African American couple with a young child on the front cover. It is subtitled, “A 124-Year History of Major Civil Rights Efforts Based on a Side-by-Side Comparison of the Early Platforms of the Two Major Political Parties.” Apparently, racial justice and civil rights do not count as “biblical issues,” since they aren’t mentioned in the other publication. The side-by-side comparison in this booklet goes back to old anti-abolitionist planks in Democratic platforms from the 1840s, before the Republican Party was even formed.  The booklet takes 13 pages before it even gets to the 20th Century -- and that part of the booklet, which focuses on Southern Democrats’ support for segregation, stops in 1964.

In other words, this supposed history of racial justice and the political parties finds no room for a discussion of the Republican Party’s post-civil-rights-era southern strategy, which built power by fomenting racial resentment among southern whites, or for any of the political parties’  positions on racial justice and civil rights over the past 50 years.

Why does that sound so familiar? The answer lies inside the front cover: “Historical footnotes and annotations by David Barton, President of WallBuilders.” Barton has been peddling the notion that Republicans are civil rights heroes for more than a decade. He made the same kind of distorted and truncated history the centerpiece of his 2006 DVD, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White,” and in the outreach he has done to African Americans on behalf of the GOP.  (For those just joining us, Barton is a right-wing “historian” whose book on Jefferson was disavowed by its publisher last year after complaints about its inaccuracies.)

Who or what is Justice at the Gate?  It’s a vehicle for Alice Patterson, who is among the Religious Right leaders hoping that the right kind of outreach will get African American Christians to start voting more conservatively. Patterson is an “apostle” affiliated with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation who believes the Democratic Party is controlled by demons. Her mission has been described as bringing NAR’s views into government, which is why she organized The Response, the dominionist-heavy prayer rally that was supposed to launch Rick Perry into the White House.  

Right Wing Leftovers - 4/8/13

  • Anti-gay/anti-Mormon pastor Pastor Robert Jeffress opened a new $130 million campus at his church and Gov. Rick Perry was on hand to dedicate it.
  • Glenn Beck returned from a week off today and guess what he talked about?
  • This is actually an article from CNSNews: "Obama Responded Faster to Ebert's Death Than He Did to Thatcher's."
  • We predict that this story about the Army supposedly calling evangelicals a threat is one of those things that we initially dismiss as obvious nonsense, but then end up having to write about because the Religious Right goes nuts over it.
  • Ken Blackwell says there can be no comparison between the fight for gay rights and civil rights because "not all racists oppose same-sex marriage, and not all who oppose same-sex marriage are racists. To say otherwise is disrespectful and frankly ludicrous."
  • Finally Rick Scarborough warns that "the drive to legalize same-sex unions is the linchpin of an effort that will eventually result in the criminalization of Christianity and traditional Judaism ...  This is tyranny masquerading as enlightenment."

Right Wing Leftovers - 3/20/13

  • LiveAction bizarrely claims that Steven Crowder's Ashley Judd rape joke at CPAC "never happened." 
  • Matt Barber blasts Pastor Rob Bell's "apostasy" for supporting marriage equality.
  • Bryan Fischer says "same-sex 'marriage' fails to satisfy even the companionship purpose for this most sacred of relationships."
  • Keep in mind that no matter how crazy Glenn Beck gets, Sen. Rand Paul will continue to regularly appear on his program.
  • And so will Gov. Rick Perry.

Right Wing Leftovers - 2/27/13

  • More Religious Right groups have signed up [PDF] for NOM’s “Marriage March.”
  • It appears that Steve King is getting closer to locking up the GOP nomination for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat.
  • Rick Perry will attend Concerned Women for America’s “Texas Faith and Family Rally.”
  • Sarah Palin writes that “the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest” after we go into default…and then calls on politicians to “stop the hysterics.”
  • An Ohio public school teacher who was fired for preaching Creationism in the classroom has taken his case to the state Supreme Court.
  • Anti-choice activists claim Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards is a racist for commending Richard Nixon for signing the law which created the Title X Family Planning Program. 
  • Quote of the day comes from ex-gay therapist Christopher Doyle: “We have found that 99 percent of our clients who experience homosexual feelings have very sensitive temperaments... This is what I believe to be the foundation for the development of [same-sex attraction] – a sensitive nature.”

Texas Board of Education Chair Suggests Schools Teach 'Another Side to the Theory of Evolution'

Barbara Cargill, whom Rick Perry picked to chair the State Board of Education, is upset that a curriculum used by several Texas schools called CSCOPE, which has been at the center of right-wing conspiracy theories, doesn’t teach students about alternative theories to evolution. As first reported by the Texas Freedom Network, Cargill said that publishers and CSCOPE should teach “another side to the theory of evolution.”

Our intent, as far as theories with the [curriculum standards], was to teach all sides of scientific explanations…. But when I went on [to the CSCOPE website] last night, I couldn’t see anything that might be seen as another side to the theory of evolution. Every link, every lesson, everything, you know, was taught as ‘this is how the origin of life happened, this is what the fossil record proves,’ and all that’s fine, but that’s only one side.

As we’ve pointed out before, a biology textbook that includes creationism as a “balance” to evolution would be no different than a geology textbook that includes the views of the Flat Earth Society.

Rick Perry Hopes the Boy Scouts Won't Cave to the 'Aggressive, Almost Cruel Intolerance' of the Left

Texas Governor Rick Perry stopped by "WallBuilders Live" today to voice his opposition to the upcoming vote by the Boy Scouts of America on possibly ending the organization's ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. Perry, the author of the book "On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For," was predictably opposed to any such change, calling on the organization not to "break the hearts" of those who love it by caving to the "cruel intolerance" of the left:

What this gets down to Rick is that scouting is not about sex, it's about building character.  And the Boy Scouts is not the proper intersection for a debate over sexual preference.  It is with this very aggressive, almost cruel intolerance by the far left that is making it so.  So I really urge the Boy Scouts of America leadership not to succumb to this and I happen to believe that it is every scout's, and certainly my Eagle Scout duty to speak out before scouting breaks the hearts of so many who love it.

Those just very, very aggressive, intolerant individuals on the left are what is driving this agenda and the Boy Scout leadership, I hope, will really listen and think about what the long-term impact of this is going to be.

This is about popular culture shifting in America.  The values that the Boy Scouts are based upon are not values that shift ... and Americans will be ill-served when one of the great institutions that it has in this country starts following pop culture rather than the clear, strong values that have served this country for over a century in the Boy Scouts.

Right Wing Leftovers - 1/29/13

  • Bryan Fischer warns that “homosexual pedophiles already seek to infiltrate scouting because it provides a target rich environment for their twisted desires. Abolishing the sexual orientation standard will turn every Boy Scout in America into vulnerable prey for the sexually deviant.” 
  • Peter LaBarbera claims the BSA’s “proposal opens the door to the sexual and spiritual corruption of boys.”
  • Lindsey Graham continues to be the biggest troll in the Senate. 

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/17/13

  • PFAW: PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.
  • Anjali Sareen @ Mediaite: Rick Perry Says Obama’s Actions On Gun Control ‘Disgust’ Him, Claims Prayer Is The Answer.
  • Scott Keyes @ Think Progress: Republicans Brag They Won House Majority Because Of Gerrymandering.
  • Sergio Munoz @ Media Matters: Drudge And Limbaugh Misrepresent What Obama And The Affordable Care Act Say About Doctors And Guns.
  • Eric Lach @ TPM: NRA Warns Members That Confiscation Could Be Next.
  • Warren Throckmorton: Was the National Rifle Association started to drive out the KKK?

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/12/12

Rick Scarborough Says Religious Right Prayer Rally Ended Crippling Drought

During his conference call with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Vision America’s Rick Scarborough hailed Perry’s The Response prayer rally, which occurred in August of last year, for supposedly ending the state’s extreme drought that began in October, 2010. However, according to StateImpact Texas, "in 2011, Texas endured the worst single-year drought in its history" and while “the situation has improved recently, the drought is far from over — and the conditions that caused it aren’t going away anytime soon.” Scarborough, who made the claim before while speaking to pseudo-historian David Barton, credited The Response with leading to “record rainfalls” months later and a speedy recovery.

Let me just say this, a lot of folk were aware that Texas had the worst drought in our history two years ago into last year, Governor Rick Perry called a statewide season of prayer and fasting and more than 30,000 people showed up personally at Reliant Stadium in downtown Houston where our football team plays. He led that complete day in prayer and fasting for God to break the drought, a lot of people criticized him in the press. But what a few people failed to take note of is a drought everyone said would take Texans years to get over, we began getting rain, it actually rained a bit that very day, but a few months later it began to rain, we had seasons where we had record rainfalls for a period of time and even now we are having rain. I attribute the breaking of that drought and the renewal of our resources as a state to the godly leadership of a governor who was not ashamed to humble himself before the world and become a part of leading our state in prayer.



A lot of folk criticized the calling of that prayer event and they missed the understanding that God didn’t answer the breaking of the drought that day but within six months our lakes were back up to normal, our farmers were harvesting hey, cattle crops were saved, the fires across the state subsided. I am privileged to live in a state that is covered by a governor like Governor Rick Perry.



I had mentioned while you were waiting for you to get on the call about the impact of our Response at Reliant Stadium and how the press was willing to mock the calling of the prayer and fasting but had failed to document that what everyone thought would take years to replenish our lakes and streams almost happened in three months. It began raining, this year our farmers had a record year of harvesting their hey and I take all of that back to a courageous call of a governor of a state to the people to pray and fast, and the fact that you led in that day which I was certainly in the audience and participating in.

Rick Perry: 'Christian Warriors' must use 'Spiritual Warfare' against 'Satanic' Separation of Church and State

Texas governor Rick Perry spoke today on a conference call with extremist pastor Rick Scarborough as part of his “40 Days to Save America” campaign to motivate and organize Religious Right voters. Perry said that the separation of church and state, which he dismissed as a myth, is being used to drive “people of faith from the public arena.” Perry said that he believes Satan is using the “untruth” of the separation of church and state to remove Christians from public life: “The idea that we should be sent to the sidelines I would suggest to you is very driven by those who are not truthful, Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you and one of the untruths out there is driven—is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.”

This separation of church and state, which has been driven by the secularists to remove those people of faith from the public arena, there is nothing farther from the truth. When you think about our founding fathers, they created this country, our Constitution, the foundation of America upon Judeo-Christian values, biblical values and this narrative that has been going on, particularly since the ’60s, that somehow or another there’s this steel wall, this iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face. We have a biblical responsibility to be involved in the public arena proclaiming God’s truth. You know, are we going to get up and say ‘you are going to vote for X’? No, but we’re going to talk about Christian values. When you think about the issue of life and protecting life, it’s so important that we as Christians put legislation into place, that we elect women that defend life. The idea that we should be sent to the sidelines I would suggest to you is very driven by those who are not truthful, Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you and one of the untruths out there is driven—is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.

Perry said that America is undergoing “spiritual warfare” and Religious Right activists who “truly are Christian warriors, Christian soldiers” need to stand up to “activist courts” and “President Obama and his cronies” whom he said are making “efforts to remove any trace of religion from American life.” He called on listeners to use such spiritual warfare against the “growing tide of secularism and atheism” that “preach[es] tolerance and diversity while they engage in oppression and bullying tactics.”

You think about what has gone here in the last few days around the world and never has there been a time that I think we need more spiritual courage, that we need more moral fiber if you will. The American family is under seize, traditional values are somehow exclusionary, a simple prayer in our public schools is the basis for these secular attacks; you think about this spiritual warfare that’s going on and [inaudible] going strong as President Obama and his cronies in Washington continue their efforts to remove any trace of religion from American life. It falls on us, we truly are Christian warriors, Christian soldiers, and for us as Americans to stand our ground and to firmly send a message to Washington that our nation is about more than just some secular laws. Activist courts, we see them chipping away from our values and remove so much that is very special and unique about the United States. I don’t want to get too far off course here but when you think about what’s going on in the Middle East and the president stood up in Cairo in 09 and either incredible naïve or very unschooled in the ways of these radical Islamists, and four American lives were lost in Libya. It is our founding fathers knew and understood the importance of the role of our Creator in public discourse and they didn’t shy away from referencing Him, using the values he brought and the message of his son Jesus Christ to build the system that we as a society have e enjoyed for more than 200 years. Securing that system, rebuilding our nation is what these 40 Days to Save America is really all about. It’s about saving our nation, it’s about preserving the values that make us special, about rejecting the concept that freedom of religion means freedom from religion, about turning away from this growing tide of secularism and atheism, the way they preach tolerance and diversity while they engage in oppression and bullying tactics.

Perry: 'King' Obama Leading a 'Clear Attack on People of Faith'

During the presidential campaign, Rick Perry was one of the first candidates to embrace the theme that Obama is waging a “war on religion,” a message that was quickly embraced by Mitt Romney. As Perry ponders another run for the presidency, he told Family Research Council head Tony Perkins on today’s Washington Watch Weekly that he believes President Obama thinks he was elected “King” and is leading a “clear attack on people of faith”. How? Perry cited the contraception mandate, the Department of Justice’s stance in the Hosanna Tabor case, where the administration argued that religious groups are not categorically exempt from the Americans with Disability Act, and his own gut instinct.

Yes, Perry said he instinctually feels that the Obama administration is putting together a campaign of “intimidation to churches using IRS as a tool to keep anyone from making any statements about a political election,” even though the rule on church electioneering came about in 1954 and there is no evidence that the administration is actively investigating churches for breaking the rule.

Perkins: You were out on the campaign trail quite a bit early on in the Republican primary, your message obviously on jobs, the economy, which Texas has been leading in the nation in the creation of jobs, but you also touched on the issue of religious liberty and religious freedom. Do you see a growing hostility in America in the wake of this administration towards religious—

Perry: Led by this administration, when you think about the clear messages that they send, whether it’s by fiat—and that’s one of my great concerns about this president, we didn’t elect a King Mr. Obama, we elected a president, we expect the rule of law to be maintained in this country, go to Congress, pass legislation—he’s pushing these programs through whether it’s a clear attack on the Catholic Church and their opposition to contraception, those are purely wars against religion. When you think about the ministerial exception that he went to the Supreme Court to try to overturn, you know thank God he lost 9-0, even his liberal judges wouldn’t go that far, so clear attack on people of faith. My instinct is, I don’t have clear evidence, but my instinct is through other agencies there is this intimidation factor to our places of worship that you best not be in job of anything that we decide is political. For instance, clear intimidation to churches using IRS as a tool to keep anyone from making any statements about a political election.

David Barton says Gov. Perry is Raising Millions to Promote Anti-Obama Film

The guest on today's edition of "WallBuilders Live" was Gerald Molen, the producer of the new anti-Obama film "2016: Obama's America," which is based on the book "The Roots of Obama's Rage" by Dinesh D'Souza.

Molen was on the program to discuss a recent incident in which a scheduled speech he was to deliver to some high school students was supposedly canceled because of his conservative views, but after the interview, David Barton and Rick Green talked about how excited they were about his forthcoming film, with Barton revealing that Texas Governor Rick Perry was so enamored with it that he has "agreed to raise millions to put this thing in theaters":

Green: Well this new project he's doing - you know we had Dinesh on when he wrote the book "The Roots of Obama's Rage." I love Dinesh D'Souza, I think he's the C.S. Lewis of our day, just a great guy. But to make this a movie now that's going to reach far more people that's actually going to be in theaters even.

Barton: Well, I was just with Governor Perry and Governor Perry has agreed to raise millions to put this thing in theaters. He is committed to this thing in a big way ...

Green: To getting the truth out there for people to really know ...

Barton: He said it's phenomenal ... because they called him and asked him to help and he said "is it okay if I see the movie first before I agree to raise [money]?" And so he saw it and, man he is all over this thing.

'The Response' Returns to Hold One Last Prayer Rally Before the Election in Kansas City

Just before Rick Perry announced his ill-fated presidential campaign, he organized a prayer rally in Houston’s Reliant Stadium, The Response, to save America from spiritual collapse while building Perry’s conservative credentials, too. Everyone from top Religious Right leaders to radical, Oprah-fearing dominionists gathered for the prayer rally to laud Perry, convert Jews and other non-Christians to Christianity, and lament America’s supposed cultural decay.

Now, The Response is going to hold a prayer rally on October 27, right before the election, in Kansas City, Missouri:

Rick Perry, 'God's Choice' for President, Ends Campaign

With reports today that Rick Perry is exiting the presidential race, we thought it was fitting to look back on the efforts to draft Perry into the race and anoint his candidacy. Right Wing Watch closely followed Perry’s claim that he was working to return America to God, whom he claimed sent storms to keep him in Texas and was using the economic crisis to bring America to “bring us back to those biblical principles.”

Last July, Religious Right leaders gathered in Texas to push Perry into the presidential race, hoping the Texas Governor would be the more conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. One month later Perry hosted a prayer rally, The Response, which featured Religious Right leaders like James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Jim Garlow, Don Wildmon, Penny Nance, David Barton, and John Hagee, along with New Apostolic Reformation figures such as Mike Bickle, Alice Patterson, Doug Stringer, Cindy Jacobs, and John Benefiel.

Everything was falling into place for Perry, who announced his bid one week after The Response, and Religious Right activists were already talking up Perry’s supernatural gifts. Pat Robertson said that Perry successfully “founded his administration on the Bible,” Jerry Falwell Jr. thought he was the second coming of Ronald Reagan, Tom Schlueter called Perry an answer to his prayer that “one of our political leaders will rise up” to bring the nation back to God and Lou Engle even said that God so approved Perry’s presidential campaign that the day he announced his candidacy God sent rain to Texas to alleviate the state’s drought:

Even ‘prophet’ Cindy Jacobs got in the mix, saying that Perry’s The Response finally broke the curse of Native American cannibals:

Perry’s campaign also bolstered claims that God was telling him to run for president.

While campaigning in South Carolina, Anita Perry compared her husband to Gideon and said that like with Gideon’s fleece, God was telling Perry to run for president. “God was already speaking to me” but and “other people too,” but Perry only understood the message until he “threw that fleece out there twice to make sure it came back with what he needed to do.”

Perry himself even told Janet Mefferd that “God sends messages through a lot of ways and through a lot of messengers,” who were all telling him to run for president:

This entire, organic buildup of people who’ve basically said for whatever reason we’re not comfortable with the host of people who have come forward who say they want to be the next president of the United States and we look at your record, and we look at you and we want you to this. It’s been an incredible outpouring. I can tell you, that has given me the calmness in my soul that God sends messages through a lot of ways and through a lot of messengers, and I am very calm that the direction that I’m heading is good.

But alas, even though God was purportedly calling on Perry to run for president, Religious Right leaders have abandoned him for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and all Perry could manage were 5th and 6th place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively, and one hell of a bad debate performance.

GOP Presidentials Line Up to Kiss Ralph Reed's...Ring

Remember that “game-changing” endorsement of Rick Santorum by a group of evangelical leaders desperate to deny the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney?  As Brian reports, there wasn’t really that much of a consensus in Texas.  And it certainly didn’t make it to South Carolina, where Romney, Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry all paraded before a gathering convened by Ralph Reed’s “Faith and Freedom Coalition” just hours before the latest debate.  All had their fans in the crowd, and Gingrich seemed to have more, or at least more vocal, backers, than Santorum.

“We are here today because we say unapologetically and unequivocally that there cannot be true freedom without faith in almighty God,” announced the disgraced-and-rebounding Reed, who led the Christian Coalition to prominence in the 1990s and launched the Faith & Freedom coalition in 2009 as a voter turnout machine for conservative evangelicals.  He claims that he is going to register 2 million new voters on his way to compiling a database of 27 million voters who will be contacted over and over up and through Election Day.  “If you thought we turned out in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he warned Democratic leaders.  Reed said “in 2012 we’re going to stand up and be counted and we’re going to say that people with faith in God aren’t what’s wrong with America, they’re what’s right with America and we need more of them engaged and more of them involved.” 

The audience may not have been united on a candidate, but the candidates were unanimous in their avowed devotion to the Religious Right’s anti-abortion, anti-gay agenda, and their promises to fight “secularism” and the Obama administration’s alleged love affair with European-style “socialism” and its supposed “war on religion.” Also on the list: promises to repeal “Obamacare,” appoint right-wing justices to the Supreme Court, and shrink government.  Reed promised that a Republican Congress and president would “dramatically slash” the corporate tax rate and take the capital gains tax to zero.

Rick Perry, whose once-mighty support has virtually evaporated in recent months, promised to set the audience on fire.  His rambling remarks – punctuated with fist-pumping exclamations like “God and country!” – were well received, but South Carolina doesn’t seem likely to resurrect his candidacy.

The Supreme Court

Several candidates and their backers talked about the importance of the next president’s ability to appoint Supreme Court justices.  Jay Sekulow, head of the Religious Right legal group American Center for Law & Justice, is one of Romney’s most prominent Religious Right backers.  Sekulow talked about counting to five when he prepares Supreme Court cases, and said he was confident that with a President Romney making appointments in the mold of Justices Roberts and Alito, “I’m not going to have to worry about my math skills.” Reed, who introduced Gingrich, cited Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito as the kind of justices he was looking forward to – and not someone like Sotomayor.  The Obama administration’s Justice Department also came in for sharp criticism, with Reed saying that Attorney General Eric Holder needs to “go back to where he came from.”

Pursuit of Happiness: The Gay Exception

One candidate after another cited the Declaration of Independence’s reference to the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”  -- and then went on to call for a constitutional amendment that would prevent any state from allowing same-sex couples to get married.  Romney said he would defend the Defense of Marriage Act and called for a constitutional amendment on marriage.  Santorum said government based on the principles of strong faith and strong families was needed to constrain bad behavior and immoral activity.  Perry dropped his voice to a dramatic whisper to assure gay people that “I love you regardless of what you’ve done. I hate your sin, but I love you.”

Threats to “Religious Liberty”

Many speakers argued that Christians in America are besieged by rampaging secularists.  Romney said President Obama had put America on a path to being “more and more of a secular nation.” Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) asserted, “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians – no doubt about it.” Rick Perry decried liberals in Congress and on the courts who he said wanted to “whitewash the public square of all spiritual references” and “sanitize from our history books our Judeo-Christian roots.”  “If I am president of the United States, I will not allow them to do it! I will welcome people of faith to the public arena!” said Perry.  “This is our country, ladies and gentlemen. This is our time. And it is time for people of faith to take this country back!”  Romney and Reed promised that 2012 would bring more than political victory; it will bring spiritual awakening and renewal to America.

Ron Paul’s Biblical Economics

Journalist Adele Stan has reported on Ron Paul’s ties to Christian Reconstructionists and their religious view of limited government. Paul cited the Bible to support his monetary policies, saying “The Bible says we’re supposed to have honest currency and we’re not supposed to print the money.”  He also cited Biblical stories from Isaiah and Elijah about the importance of the “remnant” – the small number of people who could be counted on to hear the word of God.  The portrayal of conservative Christians as the righteous remnant is a popular theme at Religious Right gatherings.

Romney v (Gingrich v Santorum)

The current story of the GOP primary seems to be whether Santorum or Gingrich can rally enough conservatives who distrust Romney to wrest the nomination away from him.  On one South Carolina radio station, Gingrich and Santorum ads ran back to back on Monday, each making the “electability” case.  Santorum and Gingrich both attacked Romney’s ability to challenge “Obamacare,” and each used their remarks to argue that they could best carry the banner of unapologetic conservatism.   Santorum bragged that he opposed the Wall Street bailouts while Romney, Gingrich, and Perry supported them.  He claimed that he was the only one whose economic plan was grounded in building strong families.  Gingrich pledged that he would challenge Obama to seven 3-hour Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, even offering to let Obama use a teleprompter (those jokes never go out of style at GOP gatherings), saying, “I think I can tell the truth without notes better than he can lie with a teleprompter.”  Gingrich’s brashness was mirrored in the comments of Rep. Trent Franks, who once called President Obama an “enemy of humanity,” told the Faith & Freedom crowd that in a debate with President Obama, Gingrich “will eat Mr. Obama’s cookies and all accoutrements thereto.”

Appropriating a Sanitized MLK

Several speakers noted that the Faith & Freedom rally and GOP debate were taking place on Martin Luther King Day.  Romney expressed admiration for King, who he referred to as “a great man.”  But King’s Poor People’s Campaign and demand for government help in finding people jobs would not have won any praise from Romney or others at this event.  Neither would Jesus’ teaching that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.  Building on the backlash against Gingrich and Perry’s criticism of Romney’s record as a “vulture capitalist,” Romney denounced “class warfare” and charged that Obama wants to create an “entitlement society.”  Obama, he said, wants to replace ambition with envy, and “poison the American spirit by replacing a sense of unity with a sense of class warfare.”  According to Romney, believing “one nation under God” means not noticing economic inequality. Others took the same line. Santorum, who says it’s un-American to even talk about a “middle class,” said Obama “wants to rule us” and thinks he can win by “dividing America up.”  He said that Obama is destroying the incentive to create wealth.

In his eagerness to rally the Founding Fathers to his side, Romney mangled history in a way that called attention to the importance of MLK Day being more about learning and less about empty platitudes.  According to Romney, the Founders’ choice of words about the unalienable right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence indicated that they meant to create an opportunity society.  “This would be a nation where people would pursue happiness according to their dreams,” said Romney. “We would not be limited by the circumstances of our birth, we would not be limited by our race or gender…”   Well, Mr. Romney, we’re closer to that ideal, thanks to the work of Martin Luther King and countless others, but the founders were quite willing to limit people’s opportunities based on race and gender.  And they weren’t the last.

While Santorum wins Religious Right Support, No Signs of 'Strong Consensus'

Did social conservative leaders come together and jointly endorse Rick Santorum at the Texas retreat over the weekend? That is the way Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and many in the media interpreted the meeting of leading Religious Right luminaries, where on the second ballot Santorum led Gingrich 70 to 49, and on the third ballot 85 to 29. Perkins claimed there was a “strong consensus” behind Santorum, who has won the backing of Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Young Nance, former National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher, American Values president Gary Bauer and the expected endorsement of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

But have Religious Right leaders really coalesced around Santorum?

Gingrich has locked in the support of prominent social conservative leaders: Concerned Women for America founder and chairman Beverly LaHaye; Council for National Policy founder and author Tim LaHaye; American Family Association founder and chairman Don Wildmon; Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver; California pastor and Proposition 8 organizer Jim Garlow; evangelical pollster George Barna; Restoration Project organizer David Lane and pastor and former congressman J.C. Watts.

Gingrich supporters have even claimed that the third ballot, which showed Santorum winning handling, occurred after many leaders left the meeting and that some Santorum boosters were involved with “ballot-box stuffing.” Bob Vander Plaats, an early Santorum endorser, told Bryan Fischer on Focal Point that the Texas gathering only showed “divided support” between Santorum and Gingrich, and Red State’s Erick Erickson, who attended the meeting, said that “it was divided with many thinking Gingrich is the only one who can win.”

The real loser of the meeting was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who won just three votes in the first ballot. Major Religious Right leaders gathered in Texas last summer where they urged Perry to run for president. Dobson, Perkins, Garlow, Nance and other Religious Right figures all appeared with Perry at his The Response prayer rally and after Perry announced his candidacy, he courted a group of social conservative activists including Perkins, Dobson, Garlow at the Texas ranch of mega-donor James Leininger. John Stemberger, the head of the Florida Family Policy Council who was a Perry campaign chairman, has now even switched his support from Perry to Santorum.

While it remains to be seen if social conservatives will really “coalesce” behind Santorum, it is clear that the Religious Right leadership that begged Perry to enter the race has now utterly abandoned him.

Rick Perry Drops By WallBuilders to Rail Against 'Socialist' Obama

Rick Perry today appeared on WallBuilders Live with right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton and his cohost Rick Green, where he spent most of the time railing against President Obama’s spending policies while also criticizing his proposed cuts to the Defense Department budget. According to Perry, “America is paying a huge price” for electing someone who “is a socialist or was trained by socialists”:

Perry: Here’s what I tell people, I said, listen, if you’re looking for the best debater, we got a great debater in the White House right now, America is paying a huge price because they were enamored with hope and change and this president, who I truly believe is a socialist or was trained by socialists, put America in peril. Put America in peril from an economic standpoint, put America in peril from a military-preparedness standpoint, put America in peril from the standpoint of foreign policy.

Barton and Green went on to say that not only have they worked with Governor Perry but also with Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who recently appeared on WallBuilders Live, surely to inform them that Jesus opposed the minimum wage and the capital gains tax while pastors are under the threat of arrest because of hate crimes laws:

Green: Look, I know we’re talking about all the positives on Perry, I know a lot of our listeners, we got folks who support Newt and support Bachmann, and we support those guys too, they’re good folks.

Barton: I’ve already helped a whole bunch of these guys in the campaign, I have worked directly with several of them at their request and I’m happy to do that.

Green: Yeah sure, and they stand for all the right things. But we just got to be honest about Governor Perry’s record and what he did. When we went up there to Iowa and we both went and spoke at some caucuses there, it forced me to really sit down and think, why, if I got to pick somebody to vote for, how do I measure these guys? I started thinking for me it’s got to be that they both believe what I do, they got my values, but they can also be effective. So I think some people do discount him a little be when they shouldn’t and they’re going to be surprised, if he gets the momentum back—there’s some good candidates in the race, we’ll see what South Carolinians think.

Barton: We’ve always taken the position we’ll help people who have the right values, so even when I went to Iowa and spoke for Governor Perry at one of the caucuses, I was right beside Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus and we had a great time because I had just done some media interviews on behalf of Michele.

Green: That’s right, and I went out to Iowa in August for Michele for the straw poll, and we’ve both helped Newt and Santorum, so yeah there are good people running.

Barton: There are good people running and this is fine and we’re not taking positions, but we are pointing out positive things.

While Religious Right leaders themselves might be fractured on who to support in the race, Republican candidates for president all seem to agree on who to pander to: David Barton.

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Rick Perry Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Thursday 06/12/2014, 10:45am
Surprise! Yesterday, the same Republican politician who tried to save his foundering presidential campaign with a gay-baiting TV ad defended ex-gay therapy and compared homosexuality to alcohol abuse. Speaking at a summit in California, Texas Gov. Rick Perry responded to questions about the Texas Republican Party’s endorsement of ex-gay therapy in its new far-right platform by arguing that homosexuality is like alcoholism: “Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that. I may have the genetic coding that I... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 10/02/2013, 5:34pm
Josh Feldman @ Mediaite: #DefundTheGOP: Glenn Beck Goes Off on ‘Lying Thief’ Boehner, ‘Worthless’ Republicans. Richard Bartholomew: Ted Cruz’s Father and “The End-Time Transfer of Wealth.” Scott Conroy @ Real Clear Politics: Rick Perry: Implementing Obamacare "a Criminal Act." Carlos Maza @ Equality Matters: Meet The Anti-Gay Pastor Fueling Fox News’ Christian Persecution Complex. Hayes Brown @ Think Progress: Ted Cruz Warns That Shutdown Could Lead To A Terrorist Attack Against U.S. David Edwards @ Raw Story:... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 10/01/2013, 5:36pm
Michael Keegan @ Huffington Post: Shutdown Isn't Symptom of Tea Party Ideology, It IS Tea Party Ideology. Towleroad: Chris Christie Appeals Gay Marriage Ruling to High Court. David Nir @ Daily Kos: Would-be Bachmann successor brings his own bizarro to the race. Joe.My.God: Delgaudio: The Gays Are Trying To Kill Me. Adam Peck @ Think Progress: Rick Perry Dismisses His Wife’s Abortion Comments, Tries To Explain What She Really Believes. MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 09/30/2013, 5:38pm
Looks like House Republicans’ latest stand against Obamacare will include an amendment “fixing” a manufactured problem.  It’s always nice to see Rick Santorum, of all people, lecture Republicans on how to win elections.  Even Texas First Lady Anita Perry considers abortion to be “a woman’s right”; we wonder if her husband Rick Perry will now give another condescending lecture on the issue.  Rick Scarborough hails Tom DeLay as a “modern day Job.”  Linda Harvey claims same-sex couples are... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 08/06/2013, 5:31pm
Steve Deace is none too impressed with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus' latest stunt. Similarly, Glenn Beck was none too impressed with Nancy Mace, who intends to challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham in next year’s South Carolina Republican primary. Speaking of South Carolina, it looks like Rep. Steve King will be heading there as he contemplates a possible presidential run. Rick Perry is also contemplating a possible presidential run ... and it looks like his memory has not improved very much since his last debacle. Finally, Bryan Fischer is positively giddy over the... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 07/17/2013, 11:02am
Senators and presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will head to Iowa this week as featured speakers at a closed-door event for conservative pastors that has been organized by David Lane, an anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Mormon, Christian-nation absolutist who has declared war, not only on secularism and separation of church and state, but also on establishment Republicans who don’t embrace his vision of an America in which the Bible serves as “the principle textbook” for public education and a “Christian culture” has been “re-established.” He... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 07/08/2013, 5:32pm
Glenn Beck, David Barton, and others are organizing some sort of "rapid response" effort through which to mobilize activists to turn out in protest of right-wing outrages. Anti-Mormon activist Bill Keller wants to know "why Christians would provide much of the funding for Mormon cult member Glenn Beck's "Man in the Moon" event this past weekend at the home of his cult in Salt Lake City, Utah, which really was Beck's coming out party and a showcase for his Mormon cult." For some reason, the RNC decided not to show this awesome Donald Trump video... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 06/27/2013, 5:55pm
Michael Keegan @ Huffington Post: In 2016, Remember This Week at the Supreme Court. Steve Benen @ Maddow Blog: Texas’ Perry mansplaining abortion to Wendy Davis.  David Swanson @ Sojourners: Drones for Christ.  Don Byrd @ Baptist Joint Committee: Huh? Federal Court: Jesus Statue is Secular Symbol. David Gushee @ Religion Dispatches: Christians v. Gays: The Damage Done.  Jim Hightower @ National Memo: Serve Banksters Or Serve The Poor? Congress Reinterprets Jesus. Zack Ford @ Think Progress: Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy: DOMA... MORE >