Samuel Rodriguez

Koch Brothers’ LIBRE Initiative Pushes Free-Market Gospel To Latinos

The LIBRE Initiative is the Latino outreach program of the Koch brothers’ political network. With millions of dollars from the Kochs and their allies since its founding in 2011, LIBRE has established a presence in 10 states and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on deceptive political ads. Its ultimate goal, shared with the broader network of Koch organizations, is to build political power by electing anti-government conservatives to office at all levels. LIBRE’s job is to help right-wingers into office by a) convincing more Latinos to support anti-government candidates, and/or b) discouraging other Latinos from bothering to vote by running attack ads on progressive candidates.

LIBRE is also part of another right-wing tactic – convincing religious voters that opposition to progressive taxes, unions, and government regulation are actually biblical positions. LIBRE's executive director Daniel Garza himself does this, asking in an interview with a newspaper at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, “Why should the principles espoused by Gloria Steinem or Ralph Nader have more supremacy over those espoused by Jesus Christ in the Bible?”

LIBRE has a director of faith outreach, John Mendez, who preaches this free-market gospelto religious and Tea Party groups. Mendez explained in an interview with the Pacific Justice Institute that “we come in and inform them and teach them on those principles of economic freedom and free enterprise from not only a constitutional perspective, but also a biblical perspective.” He told ThinkProgressthat Scripture says “you should not be dependent on government.”

Another LIBRE spokesperson, Rachel Campos-Duffy, spoke at a conservative evangelical gathering in 2013, where she criticized school breakfast programs for low income students, saying they infringed on family bonding. She has since backed Republican cuts in food stamp funding.

Garza has enlisted others as well, including Latino evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez, who says in a 2011 LIBRE video that Hispanic people are being enslaved by big government and that it is both anti-Christian and anti-American to “punish success” – code for progressive taxation.

Garza and Rodriguez commiserate over the fact that the Hispanic community no longer embraces the values of family and entrepreneurship brought to this country by immigrant parents and grandparents, and they blame dependency on government. Says Rodriguez, “We become assimilated and acculturated, not to the good values but to the bad values of government dependency. We become acculturated and assimilated and integrated to the ideas of the New Deal, and big uber-government.”

Rodriguez refers to the Christian Reconstructionist notion that the government must not do things that the Bible says are the role of the family. He decries “the current reality of uber-subsidization, the role of government taking over the role of God and family.” When government replaces man’s role as bread-winner, and people depend on government, he says, “We are basically being enslaved by big government, and by uber-subsidization.”

Rodriguez says the family is in peril because “government is growing in our lives. We need to go back to the formula that made us great, which is the idea of our faith in the Lord and economic liberty, economic freedom.” He says government dependency is leading to the continued destruction of the Hispanic community as a community that “embodies the idea of la familia” into one that embodies “failure, misery, poverty, both economic poverty, but spiritual, mental, emotional and collective corporate poverty.”

In a 2014 LIBRE video telling the story of Garza’s family, much is made of his father’s “noble” refusal to accept assistance from the government. In his interview with Garza, Rodriguez also implies that there is something shameful about accepting welfare: “We need to rebuke the welfare presence, and embrace the presence of scripture, and of family, and of education…we really need to free ourselves from that slave mentality of Egypt….”

Garza asks when Latinos began to see rich people as the enemy, and Rodriguez blames liberals and a liberal media. He says wealth is a sign of God’s blessing. “It’s anti-Christian to think that people that have been blessed…that they are wrong….Blessed people are a manifestation of scripture….In scripture there is an incredible amount of support for the idea that, yes, provision and abundance comes from God…”

Rodriguez said that many have taken Jesus’s saying that it is more difficult for a rich man to make it to heaven “completely out of context.” Says Rodriguez, “We’re beyond that. We understand that one verse does not establish doctrine.” Jesus’s ministry, he says, had some “financial resourcing” from “resourceful fisherman,” tax collectors, and others who invested in his ministry. Adds Rodriguez, “We cannot punish success…For us to want to actually want to punish success is anti-Christian and anti-American.”

The Two Faces Of Samuel Rodriguez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rodriguez and his organization have both signed on to a pledge vowing never to accept such a ruling because "redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross" while, at the same time, he is telling Time that fighting against the legalization of gay marriage will not really be an important issue for conservatives.

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

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

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

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

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

Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

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

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

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

Santorum & Huckabee Join Anti-Gay Extremists In Vowing To Resist Marriage Equality Ruling

Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The pledge, which was co-written by Mat Staver of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and Deacon Keith Fournier, a Catholic activist who recently argued that marriage equality is quite literally an attack of the Devil, recycles the language of a similar document circulated by right-wing groups when the Supreme Court took up a previous set of marriage cases in 2013. Staver and a number of other activists introduced the current pledge at a press conference this morning.

Along with Huckabee and Santorum, signers include former House GOP leader Tom Delay; big players in the Religious Right including John Hagee, Samuel Rodriguez and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson; and fringe anti-gay activists including Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Cindy JacobsLinda Harvey and Bradlee Dean.

Comparing any sweeping decision in favor of marriage equality to the Dred Scott case, the activists vow that they will not recognize such a decision and indicate that they would try to convince national and state executive branches not to enforce it.

The full text of the pledge:

We stand together in defense of marriage and the family and society founded upon them. While we come from a variety of communities and hold differing faith perspectives, we are united in our common affirmation of marriage.

On the matter of marriage, we stand in solidarity. We affirm that marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of Creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first government, and the first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family.

Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman precedes civil government. Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by faith, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason. It is part of the natural created order. The Natural Law is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as a higher law or a just law in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. Society begins with marriage and the family.

We pledge to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.

The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not seek to undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State. No civil institution, including the United States Supreme Court or any court, has authority to redefine marriage.

As citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the essential foundation of the family.

Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. The precedent established will leave no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage or human sexuality. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.

Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to any relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman, by legislative or judicial fiat, sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. As a policy matter, such unions convey the message that moms and dads are completely irrelevant to the well-being of children. Such a policy statement is unconscionable and destructive. Authorizing the legal equivalency of marriage to same-sex couples undermines the fundamental rights of children and threatens their security, stability, and future.

Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any court has authority to redefine marriage and thereby weaken both the family and society. Unlike the Legislative Branch that has the power of the purse and the Executive Branch which has the figurative power of the sword, the Judicial Branch has neither. It must depend upon the Executive Branch for the enforcement of its decisions.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged in the 1992 decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, its power rests solely upon the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people. If the decisions of the Court are not based on the Constitution and reason, and especially if they are contrary to the natural created order, then the people will lose confidence in the Court as an objective arbiter of the law. If the people lose respect for the Court, the Court’s authority will be diminished.

The Supreme Court was wrong when it denied Dred Scott his rights and said, “blacks are inferior human beings.” And the Court was wrong when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in Buck v. Bell, “three generations of imbeciles are enough,” thus upholding Virginia’s eugenics law that permitted forced sterilization. Shamefully, that decision was cited during the Nuremburg trials to support the Nazi eugenic holocaust.

In these earlier cases, the definition of “human” was at issue. Now the definition of “marriage” is at issue. The Constitution does not grant a right to redefine marriage — which is nonsensical since marriage intrinsically involves a man and a woman. Nor does the Constitution prohibit states from affirming the natural created order of male and female joined together in marriage.

We will view any decision by the Supreme Court or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law. A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the State directly conflicts with higher law. We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line.

We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

h/t RWW reader Erik

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 11/5/14

  • Ben Carson has officially changed his party affiliation to Republican, because one needs to get all one's ducks in a row before launching a pointless vanity campaign for president.
  • Right-wing activists who screamed about Democrats in the Senate implementing the "nuclear option" are predictably asking Sen. Mitch McConnell to retain it now that it might benefit Republicans.
  • There is something quite amusing about Glenn Beck thinking that people being spectacularly wrong ought to be cause for embarrassment.
  • Samuel Rodriguez seems to think that placing Republicans in control of Congress will now help the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Finally, despite the best efforts of right-wing groups, Lawrence VanDyke lost his Montana Supreme Court campaign.

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

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

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

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

TBN Leaders Broadcast From Bahamas Shortly After Anti-Gay Backlash Halts Pride Event

Yesterday, Trinity Broadcasting Network recorded its flagship Praise the Lord program from a waterfront resort in the Bahamas. Among those who joined the broadcast were Religious Right activist Samuel Rodriguez and anti-gay “ex-gay” singer Donnie McClurkin. TBN’s visit to the Bahamas came shortly after a gay pride event scheduled for this past weekend at a private resort in the Bahamas was cut short in response to a backlash that reportedly included death threats and vitriol on local talk shows.

Among those who slammed the pride event and the LGBT movement in general was Dr. Myles Munroe, who heads Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Munroe has hosted shows on TBN in the past and been a guest on some of the network’s major shows. Over the weekend he put out a six-page statement attacking the LGBT rights movement and saying it has “hijacked” and “raped” the civil rights movement. He called the gay pride event a “celebration of insanity.”

“I think the attempt to equate the historical civil rights movement with the demands for the right to dignify, glorify and accept as normal the practice of a lifestyle that could render the human race, for which they sacrificed, extinct is illogical, dishonest, and is the abuse of the blood and imprisonment of many.

“It’s a hijacking of the gains paid for by the blood of honorable men and women for an unnatural, human-destroying behavior.”

story this morning quotes a spokesperson for the resort advertised as the site of the pride event denying that any event had been booked.

The Ministry of Tourism and Manager for Religious Tourism celebrated the TBN visit.  A Ministry of Tourism update in the Bahamas Weekly said that Grand Bahamas “remains the choice destination for repeat International religious events such as Dr. Myles Munroe’s Global Leadership Summit and Angela Pipersburgh’s International Womens Summit.”

Mat Staver & Samuel Rodriguez Film Ads Promoting GOPFaith.com

Last week we noted that David Barton had begun promoting GOPFaith.com, a new effort from the Republican National Committee to mobilize a hundred thousand Religious Right activists on behalf of GOP candidates that is being headed by South Carolina GOP chairman Chad Connelly.

South Carolina GOP chairman Chad Connelly

Now it looks like Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference's Samuel Rodriguez have also climbed on board, as both have now filmed videos promoting the effort as well.

In his video, Staver says that he is "excited about this outreach from the RNC to wake up this sleeping giant because our Judeo-Christian values of liberty and life, they're all at stake" if conservative Christians do not get involved in politics:

For his part, Rodriguez, who inexplicably still manages to maintain a reputation as a moderate, nonpartisan Christian activist, declares that he is "so excited that the Republican National Committee has launched a very powerful and vibrant outreach component. I commend and applaud the leadership of Chad Connelly and really believe that the best days are yet to come":

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/8/14

  • Matt Barber's very credible website BarbWire has learned from an equally credible "inside" source that "Allen B. West is seriously considering a 2016 presidential run." We very much hope that this is true.
  • Speaking of Barber, he says that we are an "anti-Christian segregationist organization that exist for the sole purpose of segregating Christians and Christianity from any public forum." We are pretty sure that is not true.
  • Samuel Rodriguez says that Oklahoma's recent botched execution ought to be generating an outcry of evangelical Christians.
  • Representatives of The American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, and Morality in Media all recently met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to voice their concerns about plans to "relax broadcast decency rules."
  • FRC prays: "May religious liberty flourish; may we use that liberty to pray and proclaim the Gospel as never before; and May awakening result that will turn the tide in our nation. May the local jurisdictions that have caved-in to the anti-prayer forces rethink and re-establish regular public prayer for their cities, counties and states."
  • Finally, Rep. Louie Gohmert grilled Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen today during a hearing about why his network refuses to carry Glenn Beck's The Blaze network.  Can you imagine the fit that Beck would throw if a member of Congress lobbied a cable executive on behalf of some other network like this? His head would explode.

Evangelicals Gather In Texas For Get Out The Vote Effort, With Eternity In Mind

Today, Religious Right leaders including Rick Scarborough, David Barton, Jim Garlow and Glenn Beck are meeting with Religious Right and Tea Party activists in Dallas at a summit “bringing together leaders of conservative organizations from around the country to brainstorm and strategize on how to get out the vote for the 2014 midterm elections.”

The summit is being jointly organized by Rick Scarborough’s Tea Party Unity and United In Purpose, a voter-mobilization group funded largely by Silicon Valley venture capitalists that partnered with several dozen Religious Right and Tea Party groups in the lead-up to the 2012 elections with the goal of getting five million new evangelical Christian voters to the polls .

United In Purpose, which received national news coverage for its data-driven efforts in 2011 and 2012, has what you might call a long-term goal: it is closely tied to advocates of “Seven Mountains Dominionism,” who aim to have conservative Christians take control of every aspect of government, business and the culture in order to pave the way for the return of Christ.

United in Purpose is led by Bill Dallas, a former broadcast executive who is also on thesteering committee of Tea Party Unity. The board of its political armconsists of Barton, a pseudo-historian and “Seven Mountains” advocate, and former congressman Bob McEwan. Its education arm’s board consists of Ken Eldred – a major funder of the Seven Mountains movement -- and pollster George Barna.

United in Purpose was involved with Rick Perry’s 2011 “The Response” prayer rally, the event that meant to launch the Texas governor’s presidential campaign but ended up just highlighting his extremism because of its ties with Seven Mountains theology.

After the Response rally, the American Family Association sent an email to everyone who had registered for The Response urging them to join United In Purpose’s new project: a voter mobilization effort called “Champion The Vote.”

“The Response was just the beginning of a nationwide initiative to return America to the principles on which she was founded, with God at the center of our nation,” wrote AFA president Tim Wildmon. The goal of the new project, he announced, was to “mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.”

The project’s website says its mission is “to get unregistered Christians registered to vote, educated in the Biblical worldview, and voting accordingly on Election Day.” As part of this “worldview” education, the group distributes a guide called “Developing a Biblical Worldview,” which explains that “there are basically two worldviews: Biblical and atheistic.” The guide includes a helpful “worldview comparison chart” contrasting the two mindsets. For instance, the guide reports, the biblical worldview on marriage is “one man united with one woman” while the atheistic worldview is “lives by no real moral code – do whatever feels good, no accountability, self serving, me focused.”

As well as its get out the vote efforts, the group organized a series of conferences in the lead-up to the 2012 election, including one organized by Christian Nation and Dominionist advocate David Lane, who famously predicted that God would arrange car bombings in cities across the country in reaction to an openly gay poet’s reading at the inauguration. The group produced DVDs of Lane’s event to distribute to voter mobilization house parties.

United In Purpose has also provided steady funding to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the group run by evangelical immigration reform proponent Sam Rodriguez. In 2012, UIP granted $30,000 to Rodriguez’s group. In 2011, it provided Rodriguez’s group with $300,000, nearly one-third of its entire budget. Rodriguez’s support for immigration reform has caused him to be painted as something of a moderate in the media, but he is in fact a conservative culture warrior and a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement closely tied to Seven Mountains dominionism. Until 2011, Rodriguez was a vice president of the dominionist Oak Initiative.

The speakers at this week’s summit in Dallas include prominent advocates of Seven Mountains theology, including Garlow and Barton. Beck has also featured Seven Mountains dominionists on his program.

During the 2012 presidential primary, Scarborough urged GOP voters to reject Mitt Romney because of his Mormonism, saying, “Because of the state of the spiritual life of our country right now, I just think that’s a place I don’t want to go.” (Although in the same interview, he went out of his way to praise Beck, also a Mormon, as “most prominent spokesperson for our values in the radio field.”) Garlow also fought against Romney’s nomination, saying he was not “visceral on the issues that are cardinal to me.”

We can imagine that the leaders gathered in Dallas today are disappointed in how their efforts turned out in 2012 and are looking for a change in strategy for launching candidates with their own “biblical worldview” into office.

Right Wing Leftovers - 2/5/14

  • David Barton and Rick Green officially announce their support for a Convention of States.
  • Bryan Fischer offers a simple guide to "Defeating Darwin in four easy steps."
  • Samuel Rodriguez and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference have endorsed Common Core.
  • It's almost as if Glenn Beck doesn't want people who don't share his right-wing views living in Texas. But that can't be the case because that would kind of make him a hypocrite.
  • Apparently, Satan doesn’t want men to have close male friendships by stoking fears it would lead to homosexual intimacy ... or something?
  • Finally, "Coach" Dave Daubenmire calls for reinstatement of the draft, by which he means a "6 weeks of mandatory boot camp" for all high school graduates.

Rodriguez Civility Campaign Partners With World's Most Uncivil People

Rev. Sam Rodriguez, who heads the evangelical National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has an extraordinary talent for self-promotion – and for positioning himself as a moderate evangelical while being a fully engaged culture warrior with close ties to both mainstream Religious Right groups and fringier dominionist ones.  His reputation is based on the fact that he parts ways with the right on a few issues, like comprehensive immigration reform, for which he has been an energetic advocate.

Rodriguez has repeatedly portrayed himself as a voice of reason calling for more civility in public discourse.  His latest gambit is the Imago Dei campaign, whose goal, according to TIME’s Elizabeth Dias, is “to change the narrative of evangelical engagement in the public square, especially when it comes to traditional culture war issues.”

Rodriguez says that too often evangelicals in the United States have become known for what they oppose, and not for what they propose, and younger generations have had enough. “The church of Jesus Christ and the word hatred should not even appear in the same sentence,” Rodriguez says. “What if every single person can recognize the image of God in the other? Wouldn’t that bring down the noise of the hateful rhetoric? Wouldn’t that build a firewall between intolerance and bullying? Wouldn’t that build a firewall against extremism?”

This might sound like a big deal to people who either aren’t familiar with Rodriguez or with the Religious Right leaders who have signed on to his campaign. But it’s hard to see anything new here. Back in 2010, Rodriguez was a signer of the “Covenant of Civility,” which said in part,

“We believe that each of us, and our fellow human beings, are created in the image of God… We pledge that when we disagree, we will do so respectfully, without impugning the other’s motives, attacking the other’s character, or questioning the other’s faith, and recognizing in humility that in our limited, human opinions, “we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

In 2011 he was part of a Christianity Today ad campaign talking about disagreeing with love and civility. That same year, in the wake of the public shooting in Tucson, he was among religious leaders who signed a letter to members of Congress that said “This tragedy has spurred a sorely needed time of soul searching and national public dialogue about violent and vitriolic political rhetoric. We strongly support this reflection, as we are deeply troubled that rancor, threats and incivility have become commonplace in our public debates.”  In 2012, he told Patheos blogger Timothy Dalrymple, We want to look at a new narrative of evangelicalism, one that’s less hostile, less confrontational and more full of civility.”

The language used to launch the Imago Dei campaign comes from Rodriguez’s 2013 book, The Lamb’s Agenda. In the book he says, it is wrong to “marginalize or malign those with whom we disagree….The day of angry evangelicalism is officially over. The day of a loving, Bible-believing community espousing truth with love officially commences right now.”

Well, at least he keeps trying, right?

There are two major problems here: one is Rodriguez’s own rhetoric, which doesn’t always meet his civility standard. Sometimes he comes across as conciliatory, as when he described a meeting with President Obama as “a conversation amongst believers.” But there’s also the Rodriguez who suggests that his political opponents represent “the forces of darkness.” In a Religious Right “prayercast” that unsuccessfully asked God to defeat health care reform legislation, he declared, "the same spirit of Herod who 2000 years ago attempted to exterminate the life of the Messiah today lives even America. The legislation that incorporates death and infanticide all under the canopy of reform.”

In 2012 after Obama came out in support of marriage equality, Rodriguez said the promotion of marriage equality is “an attempt to silence the church of Jesus Christ.”

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

But much worse than Rodriguez’s own  rhetoric is the fact that his group has formally partnered with Liberty Counsel, an organization whose spokespeople regularly spew some of the most hostile, bullying, confrontational, uncivil rhetoric in the public arena. 

To put it bluntly, it is hard to treat with any seriousness a “civility campaign” that features the face of Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. As Kyle wrote in 2012 when it was announced that Liberty Counsel had become NHCLC’s official legislative and policy arm, “Few groups operating today can match Liberty Counsel in terms of unmitigated hostility toward gays and Muslims and those with whom they disagree or in terms of overall general craziness ...”

In a press release announcing the Imago Dei campaign, Mat Staver is quoted:

"We should continually remind ourselves that every human being is created in the image of God," said Staver. "This has profound consequences. In the blogosphere and social media culture where people are dehumanized, bullied, and slandered, and where political rhetoric has polarized the populace, the Imago Dei in every person compels us to love and respect all people, including those who disagree with us."

It’s hard not to laugh out loud while reading this. Staver regularly denigrates his opponents, and his Liberty Counsel colleague Matt Barber is even worse.

Just a few examples from an ocean of possibilities: Staver says Planned Parenthood "is not interested in the health and well-being of women" but is really only interested in "their death agenda" and in "damaging the very core and foundation of who we are as Americans and a people of faith and values." Of the movement toward marriage equality, Staver says, “This whole assault on marriage is really an attempt to obliterate not only morality but Judeo-Christian morality, to obliterate marriage and to even obliterate the idea that there even is a God.” And he compares Republicans who are soft on the issue to cockroaches.

Here’s the mini-profile of Staver we prepared for our preview of the 2013 Values Voter Summit:

Mat Staver is the head of the Liberty University School of Law and its legal affiliate, Liberty Counsel, a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Liberty Counsel has been implicated in the Lisa Miller kidnapping case, where a client kidnapped her daughter and fled to Central America after a court granted custody to her former partner. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and western civilization. Through his role at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Staver says Obama and his “bloodthirsty administration” are worse than King George. He denounces “homofascists” and praised Putin’s anti-gay laws and the Indian Supreme Court decision criminalizing homosexuality.

We could go on. And on.

Meanwhile, Staver’s Liberty Counsel Matt Barber is a bully who rivals Bryan Fischer in the realm of “rhetorical pornography.” He calls Islam “satanic” and people who don’t get it “useful idiots.” He says marriage equality isn’t about marriage or equality but is a political weapon designed to destroy religious liberty. Barber praises Putin and supports laws criminalizing homosexuality. He says Americans are living under “a tyranny of a secularist minority that wants to engage in religious cleansing." There’s much more.

And to repeat, for emphasis: Staver is a leader of Rodriguez’s new Imago Dei campaign, and Liberty Counsel was chosen by Rodriguez to function as the official legislative and policy arm of his National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

Just today, Barber tweeted:  "Gay marriage" is a disordered, sin-based & oxymoronic novelty that mocks God & defiles any church in which the silly stunt is performed...”

Paging Rev. Rodriguez.

Right Wing Leftovers - 12/3/13

  • Every election cycle, right-wing pundits start tossing around the phrase "Reaganesque" about their favorite candidates.  This time, it is Gov. Scott Walker.
  • It is amazing how Religious Right activists seem to be experts on everything, because why else would anyone care what Samuel Rodriguez thinks about the deal with Iran?
  • Glenn Beck's The Blaze debunks another right-wing myth, which means that Beck will probably repeat it on some future show.
  • God will help you lose weight.
  • Finally, "Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt says that the lesbian legislator in Hawaii who voted against marriage equality was moved by the Holy Spirit even though she is also possessed by a demon of homosexuality.

Who's Who at Heritage Foundation's Rebuke to Pro-Immigration Reform Evangelicals

In recent years, a growing number of conservative evangelicals have joined more progressive Christians to embrace comprehensive immigration reform.  Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table have been making the case for reform at Religious Right events in recent years; one prominent conservative evangelical, Sam Rodriguez, recently announced a 40-day fast to advance reform legislation.

As RWW has reported, getting conservatives on board has been a hard sell, particularly for the “Teavangelical” wing of the Religious Right, whose members tend to stand with hard-right anti-immigration politicians. In particular, some conservatives aren’t happy about having the Bible quoted by those lobbying for passage of the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year.  In response, conservative activist Kelly Monroe Kullberg started a competing group, Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration.  

This Friday, her group is getting a boost from the Heritage Foundation, which is hosting “Doing Good to the Stranger and the Citizen: Evangelicals Discuss Immigration Reform.”

Here’s a quick look at the speaker line-up:

Kelly Monroe Kullberg

Kullberg is a founder of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration. She accuses leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table of being “deceptive and manipulative.” She complains that reform backers are supported by “atheist globalist and open border advocate George Soros.” She says the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill “does not reflect balanced biblical teaching” and would “make asylum easier for people like the Boston Marathon bombers.”

Kullberg decries “easy sloganeering” by reform advocates and says the U.S. cannot afford more immigrants. She says Jesus and biblical passages encourage the welcoming of some, but not all, strangers – those willing to assimilate culturally and religiously – and “also remind us to love not only the foreigner who comes to us in need, but our neighbors, such as those in Arizona, whose needs are being ignored.”

In a June letter Kullberg wrote:

The ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill will increase debt and danger in America for both citizens and guests, thus further precipitating the decline of the America we love and steward. In Scripture we are taught to make wise distinctions between the well-meaning sojourner (the 'ger' in Hebrew) and the foreigner who does not advance a nation’s faith, values and story (the 'goyim').

Kullberg recently spoke to American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios where she warned of the dangers that an immigration reform bill would case people of “other faiths” and “incompatible worldviews” to flood into the United States, diminishing respect for the value of human life and leading to an increase in human trafficking.

Carol M. Swain

Swain is a professor at Vanderbilt Law School who has edited books on immigration and white nationalism.  She has created a non-profit group to help her promote her conservative views. When she showered praise on a “documentary” film called “A Conversation About Race,” the Southern Poverty Law Center called her “an apologist for white supremacists.” She and her supporters at the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies lambasted SPLC – she calls it a hate group that “harasses conservatives” – but even her fans at the Wall Street Journal, which came to her defense, found parts of the film “inflammatory and invidious.”  And they noted that on immigration, Swain’s views “are closer to Lou Dobbs’s than to ours.”

Swain’s most recent book, 2011’s Be the People, places her firmly in the right-wing activist camp. She says the book is “a call to action for We the People to reclaim our nation’s faith and promise.”  The blurbs at the front of Be the People let you know what you’re in for. Among the right-wing stars praising the book are Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tony Perkins, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Robert George, Harry Jackson, and Jesse Lee Peterson. 

No wonder they love Swain: she writes respectfully of those who question President Obama’s faith and about birthers – she calls the term itself “pejorative” and an “epithet. Part of the book is a Christian-nation screed that would make David Barton proud. “We are engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation,” she writes. She slams the Supreme Court’s rulings on separation of church and state, saying, “The expulsion of God from public schools was a blow to civil religion and a clear repudiation of what Jesus proclaimed to be the greatest commandment.”

She cites Stephen Keillor, who says the 9/11 attacks might have been God’s judgment against the United States, which we well deserve. “We are being confronted with numerous national disasters and freak weather patterns. Could some of these occurrences be related to our decision to reject biblical injunctions against abortion, greed, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery?” While Swain calls her book a “rallying cry” for people to get involved, she also says it may be too late for America to escape God’s wrath for having violated the covenant its founders made with God.  “Accept the fact that no matter what Christians and other believers do, it may be too late to save the United States of America….As it stands, we do not know if judgment has been determined for our nation.”

In the chapter on immigration reform, SWain mentions testifying on immigration before a congressional committee. She was outnumbered on the panel, she says, but was encouraged by friendly faces like those of Reps. Steve King and Lamar Smith. She writes, “In light of the high unemployment in the US, no sensible argument can be made for legalizing millions of undocumented persons currently holding jobs to which they are not entitled.”

Swain also takes on the interpretation of scripture by pro-reform evangelicals, saying that the “stranger” in Old Testament injunctions does not apply to people in the U.S. illegally. She even impugns Catholic leaders for supporting immigration reform efforts, suggesting they are motivated by a desire to boost church membership. Among the specific proposals in her definition of reform are that Congress should “flex its muscles” and legislatively close the “loophole” of birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment.

Mark Tooley

Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a rght-wing group dedicated to attacking progressive elements within mainstream and evangelical Christianity and resisting the advance of LGBT equality at home and abroad. IRD calls the Evangelical Immigration Table a front group for George Soros and derides the Evangelical Immigration Table's “I was a stranger” campaign as “a masterful piece of emotional blackmail.” IRD has suggested that EIT is trying to manipulate evangelicals, which would be “a sad betrayal of a flock by its shepherds.”

IRD has also  insinuated that religious backers of the Senate immigration reform bill are just eager to get their hands on a “slush fund” of taxpayer dollars the bill includes for organizations that assist immigrants.

Tooley has criticized pro-reform leaders’ “superficial ‘God-talk’” and suggested that religious leaders should not be spending their time on immigration reform, which he says is not of the same “moral order” as “marriage, human life, and religious liberty.” In speaking about immigration, Tooley says it is “very problematic when people of faith start to claim that the Bible gives them very direct guidance on a particular contemporary political issue.” Well, that will certainly be news to the folks at the Heritage Foundation and the conservative evangelicals who are presumably the target for Friday’s event.

James Hoffmeier

Hoffmeier is Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible, a book that seems to be the basis for other speakers’ claims about the Old Testament. Hoffmeier summarizes his book in “The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate,” which is published on the website of the Center for Immigration Studies, which along with FAIR and NumbersUSA form a trio of anti-immigrant groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the core of the nativist lobby in America.” He says the Old Testament makes a distinction between strangers – equivalent to a resident alien who agreed to abide by the law – and foreigners, who did not have the same legal protections. Hoffmeier criticizes the “sanctuary” movement in America, saying, “So when American cities offer their cities as sanctuary from federal law, or when churches offer their facilities as a refuge for illegal immigrants who have been tried and order deported, they are neither following the letter or spirit of the OT law.” Or in other words, “American cities that use their communities to circumvent the law to help the illegal alien in the name of justice are doing a gross injustice to the letter and spirit of the biblical law.”

From a Publisher’s Weekly review of his book:  

“The book offers little in the way of sociological, political or economic insight into the circumstances surrounding modern-day illegal immigration, beyond advocating for a law-and-order approach. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of the Bible as a prophetic document more concerned with larger issues of justice. Still, Christians looking for a biblical justification for strict federal enforcement of immigration laws may find much to like.”

Right Wing Leftovers - 9/4/13

  • Sam Rodriguez defends Common Core.
  • Why are cast members from "Duck Dynasty" appearing on radio programs hosted by the anti-gay bigots at the American Family Association?
  • Rep. Joe Wilson thinks that President Obama is pushing for military action in Syria in order to distract from Benghazi and Obamacare.
  • The owners of a bakery who refused to provide a wedding cake to a lesbian couple are complaining that they are the victims of "mafia tactics" being used against their business.
  • Finally, Bryan Fischer says White Christians are the real victims of persecution and discrimination in America:

Immigration Reform a Tough Sell to Ralph Reed's 'Teavangelicals'

A group of conservative evangelical leaders has been pushing their fellow conservatives to embrace immigration reform, in part as a way to make the Religious Right and the Republican Party more appealing to the nation’s growing Latino population. Ralph Reed has been among those supporting the idea of a comprehensive reform bill, but at his Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Washington DC, many of the “Teavangelical” activists – people who are part of both the Tea Party and Religious Right movement – aren’t buying.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who has been telling white evangelicals that they should embrace an influx of Jesus-loving Latinos as the salvation of Christianity in America, spoke in Friday morning’s session. He urged attendees not to drink the anti-immigrant “Kool-aid.” He told them not to believe the charge that 11 million immigrants would become Democratic voters if given citizenship. The conservative movement does not exist to conserve pigmentation or a white majority, he said, and it needs some “salsa sauce” on top.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez and his fellow proponents of immigration reform, two previous speakers, Gary Bauer and Allen West, had already spoken in disparaging terms about the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill moving through the Senate.  Bauer said Republicans in Washington spend too much time listening to consultants rather than standing firm on their principles. “You don’t have to go off and pass amnesty,” he said.  Former Congressman Allen West said that the “illegal immigration and amnesty bill” would make life harder for African Americans. And immediately following Rodriguez to the microphone was Phyllis Schlafly, who ramped up the rhetoric, telling attendees that they should threaten to run primary challengers against Senate Republicans who voted for the immigration bill.

Driving home that message was Colleen Holcomb, executive director of Schlafly’s Eagle Forum.  Holcomb was part of a panel on immigration reform that was moderated by Carlos Campo, president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Campo, who backs immigration reform, introduced Holcomb as a Regent alum, but that didn’t deter her from making slashing attacks on the Senate immigration bill. In fact, she at least indirectly criticized Campo and Ralph Reed himself when she said she was “profoundly offended” when faith leaders suggested that there was a biblical mandate for this kind of bill. She urged people to take advantage of resources available at www.stopgangof8.com. Holcomb later agreed with a questioner that it was an “outrageous lie” to suggest that the Senate bill reflects conservative principles.

Panelist Carlos Curbelo of the Miami-Dade County School Board tried to convince audience members that the current bill is not “amnesty” the way the 1986 immigration bill had been. Another panelist, state rep Steve Montenegro of Arizona, said the bill needed to include stronger border security provisions. When he asked for a show of hands – not a single person said they trusted that the Senate bill would secure the border.  And when he followed up, asking in effect, but how many of you would be willing to work with provisions of the bill if it did secure the border, very few hands went up.

It seems clear that Reed’s audience is more in sync with Schlafly than Rodriguez. That may be why Reed, who says reform should reflect Judeo-Christian principles – which he says include strengthening the family, respecting the rule of law, meeting the needs of the U.S. economy, and including “enforcement triggers” on border security – is also careful to include vehement denunciations of “amnesty” and “guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.”

Right Wing Leftovers - 5/8/13

  • It is nice to know that someone like Mark Sanford can abandon his government post and his family to fly out of the country to visit his mistress and then get re-elected to Congress by conservative family values Republican voters in South Carolina.
  • Rev. Steve Kern, the husband of Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, has announced that he is seeking a state Senate seat.
  • Samuel Rodriguez says that right-wing Christian activists will abandon immigration reform efforts if gay couples are included in the legislation.
  • Is anyone shocked?: "A co-author of a new Heritage Foundation study highly critical of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal also wrote a doctoral dissertation in which he argued that immigrants generally had an I.Q. that was 'substantially lower than that of the white native population.'”
  • No, Tamerlan Tsarnaev will not be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Finally, Gary Bauer says that political correctness "has promoted institutional intolerance of traditional ideas and views. As a result, many people of faith are being pushed into the same proverbial closet that everyone else has been invited to leave."
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Samuel Rodriguez Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 06/04/2015, 1:21pm
The LIBRE Initiative is the Latino outreach program of the Koch brothers’ political network. With millions of dollars from the Kochs and their allies since its founding in 2011, LIBRE has established a presence in 10 states and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on deceptive political ads. Its ultimate goal, shared with the broader network of Koch organizations, is to build political power by electing anti-government conservatives to office at all levels. LIBRE’s job is to help right-wingers into office by a) convincing more Latinos to support anti-government candidates, and/... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/28/2015, 3:39pm
For years we have been noting how Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has somehow managed to craft a reputation as a moderate and nonpartisan religious leader while simultaneously serving as a leading anti-gay Religious Right activist. Nothing better illustrates this duality than the fact that Rodriguez was among those who have signed the right-wing pledge never to accept any Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage and today announced that the board of his organization, the National Hispanic Leadership Council, has unanimously signed it as well: Today, the board of the National Hispanic Christian... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 04/28/2015, 10:17am
Presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush are scheduled to appear at this week’s convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in Houston. The NHCLC is headed by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: While Rodriguez cultivates a public posture that he is nonpartisan and committed to justice as well as righteousness – he fancies himself  a combination of Billy Graham and Martin Luther King – he cemented his position as a member of the Religious Right when he made the wildly anti-gay Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official “legislative and... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 04/24/2015, 2:05pm
Likely GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have joined more than 200 anti-gay activists in signing a pledge vowing to resist any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The pledge, which was co-written by Mat Staver of the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and Deacon Keith Fournier, a Catholic activist who recently argued that marriage equality is quite literally an attack of the Devil, recycles the language of a similar document circulated by right-wing groups when the Supreme Court took up a previous set of marriage cases in 2013. Staver and a number... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 11/05/2014, 6:33pm
Ben Carson has officially changed his party affiliation to Republican, because one needs to get all one's ducks in a row before launching a pointless vanity campaign for president. Right-wing activists who screamed about Democrats in the Senate implementing the "nuclear option" are predictably asking Sen. Mitch McConnell to retain it now that it might benefit Republicans. There is something quite amusing about Glenn Beck thinking that people being spectacularly wrong ought to be cause for embarrassment. Samuel Rodriguez seems to think that placing Republicans in... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/20/2014, 11:30am
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, was a guest on James Robison's "Life Today" program this morning, where he called upon Christians to vote according to "what the Word of God says" because there is a movement at work that seeks "to silence Christians in America." Rodriguez warned that Christians cannot afford to sit out this election because "today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity" and just as Christians in other countries are being killed by terrorists, so too are Christians in... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 09/03/2014, 3:43pm
Yesterday, Trinity Broadcasting Network recorded its flagship Praise the Lord program from a waterfront resort in the Bahamas. Among those who joined the broadcast were Religious Right activist Samuel Rodriguez and anti-gay “ex-gay” singer Donnie McClurkin. TBN’s visit to the Bahamas came shortly after a gay pride event scheduled for this past weekend at a private resort in the Bahamas was cut short in response to a backlash that reportedly included death threats and vitriol on local talk shows. Among those who slammed the pride event and the LGBT movement in general was Dr... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 08/20/2014, 12:28pm
Last week we noted that David Barton had begun promoting GOPFaith.com, a new effort from the Republican National Committee to mobilize a hundred thousand Religious Right activists on behalf of GOP candidates that is being headed by South Carolina GOP chairman Chad Connelly. South Carolina GOP chairman Chad Connelly Now it looks like Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference's Samuel Rodriguez have also climbed on board, as both have now filmed videos promoting the effort as well. In his video, Staver says that he is "excited... MORE >