Tim Scott

Cruz To Join Christian Nation Activists In South Carolina

Update, 10/30: The Dallas Morning News is now reporting that Mike Lee will not be attending the summit.

Ted Cruz and Tim Scott will be joining Religious Right leaders in South Carolina, an early primary state, in the beginning of November for a Renewal Project conference organized by David Lane.

Lane believes that the US may soon face car bombings as a form of divine retribution over gay rights and legal abortion, and believes that his Renewal Projects can activate enough pastors and conservative voters to save America.

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News reports that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will be attending as well. It is a tad ironic that Lee, a Mormon, would be addressing a summit hosted by Lane, who promoted attacks against “the false god of Mormonism” during the last primary campaign against Mitt Romney.

But Lane’s push to move the GOP towards embracing the Religious Right’s agenda has made him a weighty figure, as over the summer Republican leaders including Cruz, Rand Paul and Reince Priebus attended his Iowa summit.

American Family Association founder Don Wildmon, Religious Right historian William Federer and pastors Laurence White and Ken Graves are also listed as featured speakers.

Wildmon for decades has preached the virtues of censorship and supposed evils of homosexuality, while Federer believes that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are advancing Sharia law and has predicted that the military will be used to oppress gay rights opponents (along with several Obama “October surprises” which never materialized).

Not to be outdone, White has regularly predicted America’s imminent doom and Graves made a name for himself by offering his special insights on gay family dynamics.

Civil Rights Groups Urge GOP Leaders to Skip Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Religious Right leaders and GOP politicians will gather in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, an annual event that highlights the cozy relationship between Republican elected officials and extreme right-wing groups.

The event is hosted by the Family Research Council, a group with a long record of pushing false anti-gay propaganda. And one of the event’s major sponsors is the American Family Association, whose extreme right-wing views are expressed on a daily basis by its spokesman Bryan Fischer.

On Friday, People For the American Way joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Faithful America, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza to send a letter to every public official scheduled to speak at this year’s Values Voter Summit, urging them to withdraw from the event.

Among the scheduled speakers are Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Tim Scott and Reps. Paul Ryan, Randy Forbes, Michele Bachmann, Jim Bridenstine, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Steve King, Steve Scalise and Scott Turner.

The letter [pdf] reads in part:

We understand that you’ve been invited to speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit being held in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 11-13. Given the demonizing lies about the LGBT community spread by the host, the Family Research Council (FRC), and another major sponsor of the event, the American Family Association (AFA), we urge you to not lend the prestige of your office to the summit.

The FRC has amassed an extensive record of vilifying gays and lesbians with falsehoods – portraying them as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.  Perhaps its most insidious claim is that gay men molest children at a far higher rate than heterosexual men – a claim refuted by all credible scientific authorities, including the American Psychological Association. Yet the FRC has continued to smear gays and lesbians by claiming  that pedophilia, in the words of FRC President Tony Perkins, “is a homosexual problem.”

Perkins also says the “It Gets Better” campaign, an initiative designed to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow, is “disgusting” and part of a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.” One senior FRC official has even argued that homosexuality should be illegal.

The AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who serves as the group’s spokesman and director of issue analysis, frequently blames homosexuality for the Holocaust and Nazi Party: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.” He also promotes the views of the American architect of the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

Demonizing the LGBT community has consequences. As FBI data demonstrate, it is one of the groups most likely to be victimized by violent hate crimes. Defaming them publicly day after day – as the FRC and the AFA do – only throws fuel on the fire.

The bigotry of the FRC and the AFA is not limited to gays and lesbians. Fischer, for example, has said that African Americans “rut like rabbits” and argued that women should be kicked out of politics and the military. He’s also stated that Hispanics are “socialists by nature”  and come here to “plunder” our country. The FRC’s executive vice president, Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, has said Jews must be converted to Christianity and has argued that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections” – a statement that is antithetical to American ideals.

In 2011, we urged Mitt Romney not to share a stage with the extremists, and particularly Fischer, at that year’s Values Voter Summit. Although Romney still attended, he also made a point of calling out Fischer’s “poisonous language." This year, Fischer was noticeably not listed as a speaker at the summit, although his employer remains a sponsor.
 

Right Wing Round-Up - 8/29/13

Tim Scott: Christians Are a Minority under Assault (VIDEO)

Tim Scott, who is set to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, got his start in politics when he was elected in 1996 to the Charleston County Council. One year later, according to his 2010 campaign website, “he placed a plaque of the Ten Commandments outside council offices to show his support for the Ten Commandments as a guide for conduct, especially within the county chambers.”

The city was promptly sued for this blatant violation of the First Amendment. By 1998, Scott’s colleagues had decided to remove his display and settle the lawsuit. When challenged on why he was wasting taxpayer dollars, Scott replied that “whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal is worth it.”

Scott’s unconstitutional grandstanding as a county councilmember made him a favorite of the Christian right in South Carolina and put him on the track that he’s followed ever since. Scott returned to his roots while addressing a Tea Party rally in January, hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, ahead of a GOP primary debate.

Scott claimed that the “greatest minority under assault today are Christians.” “No doubt about it,” he emphasized. (Note that Scott says 1995 in the video, but he misspoke – he was elected in 1996 and posted the display in 1997.)

Watch:

Over the last 17 years of public service, I have seen the concept of faith tested time and time again. The greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it.

When I was on county council in 1995, I posted the Ten Commandments. And the ACLU and the folks for separation of church and state all came and attacked us at Charleston County and said we were wasting taxpayer dollars.

Think about where we are today, 17 years later. We are in desperate need of a compass, a moral compass that tells us the difference between right and wrong. And I believe that you can look no further than the word of God to find that compass.

Tim Scott actually believes what he said about Christians being a minority under assault. Never mind that Christians aren’t a minority. Never mind that Christians control every branch of government at every level. Never mind that Christians aren’t under assault in any conceivable way.

Still, Scott feels that Christians are a minority under assault because Christians like him are being prevented by the Constitution and other Americans – Christian and non-Christian alike – from forcing everyone to live in accordance with their extreme views and beliefs. It’s a bit like the Taliban claiming that the Afghan government is attacking Islam.

Scott clearly has not changed with time and will display the same utter disregard for the First Amendment as senator that he did as a county councilmember. It’s just another way that Scott will fill the shoes of his right-wing predecessor.

Tim Scott Co-Sponsored a Monument to Aborted Fetuses

When soon-to-be Senator Tim Scott was running for Congress in 2010, he touted his record as a social conservative in the state house. On the “Social Conservative” page, he featured his support for three outrageous anti-choice bills.

The first was the so-called Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, a disgusting and misleading piece of legislation. According to Scott’s site, the bill would “protect babies who survive abortions.” The second bill, the Right to Life Act, was described as a “step in the right direction to recognize ‘pre-borned’ (sic) babies as ‘human persons’ with the same equal protection under the law as borned citizens (sic).”

And then there was the Unborn Children’s Monument Commission. The bill, explained Scott’s site, would lead to the erection of a “monument on the statehouse grounds to remember all the aborted babies in South Carolina.”

Scott, it turns out, was a co-sponsor of the bill in 2009:

H 3527 Joint Resolution, By Barfield, Vick, Pinson, J.R. Smith, Stringer, G.R. Smith, Bedingfield, Hamilton, Erickson, Moss, Nanney, Duncan, Alexander, Allison, Bingham, Bowen, G.A. Brown, Gilliard, Hayes, Littlejohn, Loftis, Long, Merrill, Mitchell, Owens, Parker, Scott, D.C. Smith, Sottile, Spires, Toole, Viers, T.R. Young, Simrill, White, G.M. Smith, Millwood and Willis

A JOINT RESOLUTION TO CREATE THE SOUTH CAROLINA UNBORN CHILDREN'S MONUMENT COMMISSION TO ERECT A MONUMENT ON THE STATE HOUSE GROUNDS AS A MEMORIAL TO  SOUTH CAROLINA CHILDREN WHOSE LIVES ENDED BEFORE THEIR BIRTH AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION AND TO REQUIRE PRIVATE FUNDING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THIS MONUMENT.

By 2011 Scott was serving in Congress, but the effort to erect the monument moved ahead without him. The version of the bill introduced last year includes this stipulation:

The monument must be a wall six feet high and five feet wide depicting a pregnant woman pushing a baby stroller.

If the monument is ever erected on the grounds of the South Carolina state house, it will have excellent company. There is already a monument to J. Marion Sims:

Throughout the 1840s, J. Marion Sims, who is often referred to as "the father of gynecology", performed surgical experiments on enslaved African women, without anaesthesia. The women regularly died from infections resulting from the experiments. One of the women was experimented on 30 times. In order to test one of his theories about the causes of trismus in infants, Sims performed experiments where he used a shoemaker's awl to move around the skull bones of the babies of enslaved women.

There is also, among others, a monument to legendary racist and erstwhile segregationist Strom Thurmond, whose re-election campaign was once co-chaired by Tim Scott. The monument was later updated to include the name of Thurmond’s biracial daughter by his then-teenage African-American housekeeper. I suppose it’s a testament of sorts to South Carolina that a fetus monument would barely stand out.

Tim Scott’s Tea Party Poetry

Congressman Tim Scott, who will soon replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, is not a common man. He's quite uncommon, as is his right, and he doesn't cower or take handouts. He declares to the entire world, even if no one is listening, that he's a "free American."

Scott acknowledged as much in a bit of Tea Party poetry on his 2010 campaign website, entitled: "Republican Creed":

I do not choose to be a common man.
It is my right to be uncommon.

If I can seek opportunity, not security,
I want to take the calculated risk to dream and
build, to fail and to succeed.
I refused to barter incentive for dole.

I prefer the challenges of life to
guaranteed security, the thrill of fulfillment
to the state of calm utopia.

I will not trade freedom for beneficence,
nor my dignity for a handout.

I will never cower before any master,
save my God.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and
unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the
benefits of my creation; to face the whole world
boldly and say, "I am a free American."

God Told Tim Scott to Vote against Boehner’s Debt Deal

In late July of 2011, House Speaker John Boehner was closing in on a deal to end the debt ceiling crisis, but something happened during the final hours of debate. “The math appeared to turn against the speaker,” and “key lawmakers, like Representative Tim Scott of South Carolina, a member of the freshman leadership team, said he would join the other freshmen from his state and vote no.”

Scott, who will soon replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, holed up in the House chapel with a group of freshman conservatives. There Scott received instructions from God to vote against an increase in the debt ceiling:

With the bill in limbo, a few first-term conservatives slipped into a small chapel a few paces down the hall from the Capitol Rotunda, as they contemplated one of the most consequential votes of their careers.

Asked if he was seeking divine inspiration, Republican Rep. Tim Scott said that had already happened. "I was leaning no and now I am a no," he said.

While it is typical for Tea Party and Religious Right politicians to claim to know what God wants, they normally rely on Biblical references. Tim Scott, it would appear, is in a different league with luminaries like Pat Robertson, who famously hears from God at the end of each year.

I suggested earlier that Republican leaders could come to regret the elevation of Scott to the Senate. Scott provides sorely needed diversity and will keep Tea Partiers engaged, to be sure, but Boehner surely didn’t appreciate hearing from a freshman member that God opposes his debt deal. I can’t imagine that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will appreciate going up against God’s proxy either. This could get interesting….

South Carolina's Next Senator Tim Scott Is Bachmann, Palin and Sanford-Approved

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will announce shortly that she has picked Rep. Tim Scott to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving to head up the right-wing Heritage Foundation. DeMint’s imminent retirement is seen by many as a setback for the Tea Party, which had a genuine champion in DeMint, and a sign that the movement’s best days are behind it. But the Tea Party is still raging in South Carolina, and Scott is poised to become its new Senate standard-bearer.

Tim Scott was elected to Congress in 2010, becoming the first African-American Republican to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction (when the party of the Lincoln was still the party of Lincoln). Scott served for over a decade on the Charleston County Council before serving briefly in the state house. While he gained statewide – and now national – attention as a darling of the Tea Party movement, he has a far more extensive background as a cultural warrior for the Religious Right.

With Scott poised to replace DeMint in the Senate, we’re going to explore his extreme, and frequently bizarre, record. Be sure to read Peter’s primer on Scott from earlier today.

Scott made the leap from the county council to state house in 2008 with major backing from then-Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford was a family values conservative and rising star in the national GOP until he was caught eloping with his Argentine mistress. Sanford famously claimed that he had been hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Before he did all that, Sanford vouched for Scott’s sterling conservative credentials in an open letter posted to Scott’s campaign website:

I wanted to write to you today to let you know about a friend of mine who is running for the State House of Representatives who needs our help.

Tim Scott is a consistent conservative who will carry our values to the State House. […]

Tim is also a proven social conservative who will stand up for the family values that help to make our state a great place to live and work.

Because of his strong stands on conservative issues, I have endorsed Tim’s candidacy for the House.  Today, I am asking for you to join us in supporting Tim, both with your vote and with your financial contributions. 

And when Scott ran for Congress in 2010, he enjoyed strong backing and an endorsement from Sarah Palin:

Tim is a pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-development, Commonsense Conservative who’s been endorsed by the Club for Growth because of his solid commitment to the principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility. […]

“I am excited to receive the support of Sarah Palin. She has been a trailblazer for the conservative cause and tea party movement going on across the nation. We share the same values of limited government, less spending and being a champion for our Constitution.”

Michele Bachmann also gushed over Scott last year during the GOP presidential primary: “All of us in Washington, D.C., are extremely proud of you for choosing the right man to send from Charleston up to Washington. We love Tim Scott!”

Bachmann and Palin clearly have good reason to be excited about a Senator Tim Scott. Republican leaders, on the other hand, may soon find that they have a new liability on their hands. Keep an eye on Right Wing Watch for more coverage of Scott’s record.

DeMint's Double: Rep. Tim Scott, for All the Right-Wing Reasons

Sen. Jim DeMint’s announcement that he will resign from the U.S. Senate to become president of the right-wing Heritage Foundation left the decision of DeMint’s successor in the hands of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.  DeMint has made it clear that his top choice would be Rep. Tim Scott, who was among the five people on Haley’s short list. This morning some are reporting that Haley has indeed chosen Scott.

Scott was elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave after defeating Strom Thurmond’s son in the GOP primary with backing from Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.  He’s considered a rising star in the party -- after the 2012 election he was elected to serve as the liaison to leadership for the rising sophomore class.  Like DeMint, he embraces both the Religious Right’s anti-gay, anti-choice social agenda and the Tea Party’s anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.  No wonder he’s a Fox News favorite – and no wonder Fred Barnes, writing in the Weekly Standard, calls Scott an “ideal replacement” for DeMint.

Scott holds particular appeal for conservatives after this year’s elections in which people of color overwhelmingly supported President Obama.  If appointed, Scott would become the only African American member of the U.S. Senate.  In 2010, he was one of 15 black conservative candidates backed by “Operation Black Storm,” a project of Alan Keyes’ Patriot PAC.  Only Scott and Allen West were elected. Scott shares West’s politics but not his tendency to spout ridiculous rhetoric about President Obama being a Marxist tyrant. That may be one reason West will soon be a former member of Congress and Scott may soon be a U.S. Senator.

Anti-Obama Cred

Scott has the fervent anti-Obama record demanded by the far right.   On Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Scott said, “This president has consistently found himself on the wrong side of the concept of the rule of law.” He claimed, “It’s a liberal media bias that insulates this president from having to explain the truth to any American citizen about the things that go wrong in this government.”

He embodies the Tea Party’s opposition to the federal health care reform bill and has joined House Republican efforts to defund it and repeal sections of it.  He joined an anti-health care reform rally at the U.S. Supreme Court, where he said “the last thing anybody wants to see happen is the United States government take over health care and ruin the best health care system in the world today.” 

Scott was an energetic participant in House Republicans’ desperate but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to politicize the botched “Fast and Furious” operation and turn it into an election-year scandal for the Obama administration.  Those efforts included a House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.   At the same time Scott was frantically working to politicize the death of a border control agent, he was accusing  the left of politicizing the issue. 

At this year’s Republican National Convention, Scott said “The past four years of hope and change have led me to one conclusion: our only hope is to change the current resident of the White House. Amen.” And his “heartfelt” and not exactly respectful message to the president: “Hit the road, Jack, and dontcha come back no more no more no more.”

Scott told CBN’s David Brody that he understood why some black people would vote for Obama as a matter of history, but not him.  “I think the question is, ‘who am I?’ Well, if I am first a Christian conservative then that dictates my response to all questions so my response first as a Christian conservative is to vote consistent with my value system. I’m not saying whether President Obama is a Christian or not. I’m talking about one thing and one thing only. What he represents as a politician, is it consistent with what I think our country needs, and if the answer is no then I have to vote consistent with my values.”

In response to speculation during congressional obstruction on the debt limit that President Obama could invoke the 14th Amendment’s requirement that the government pay its debts to get around congressional inaction, Scott said that would be “an impeachable act.”

Religious Right Cred

Scott espouses far-right positions on abortion and gay rights – he has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign – and he promotes the Religious Right’s absurd claim that Christians are somehow a persecuted minority in this country.  During this year’s South Carolina primary, Scott was among the speakers at a pre-debate rally hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. “The greatest minority under assault today are Christians,” Scott said. “No doubt about it.” He also said, “We need a revolution in this country.”  “And we need a revival in this land.” 

Scott opposes the requirement in the Affordable Care Act  for contraception coverage and argues that the administration’s compromise does not protect religious liberty.  In an op-ed he published in The Hill, he wrote, “Our nation was founded by those who believed in faith and freedom. Too often, Americans who are proud of their faith and the values it instills find themselves under attack. Government should be protecting our right to religious freedom, not assaulting it.”

In the “traditional values” section of his campaign website Scott lists legislation he has supported promoting abstinence education, defunding United Nations family planning programs, imposing abortion restrictions on women in the District of Columbia, and “protecting” Christmas.  It includes this summary:

I am unapologetically pro-life.  Each and every human life is valuable and my legislative agenda and record reflect my resolute commitment to protect the sanctity of life.

I support traditional marriage.  The institution of marriage is the unity of one man and one woman.   Allowing the government to weaken the definition of marriage takes away from our children and we must not allow that to happen.

I will fight for religious freedoms. The Constitution expressly safeguards our freedom to practice and embrace religion.  The federal government’s role is not to protect government from religion, but to protect religion from government intrusion.  Government is already interfering in our homes and businesses; we must not allow it to do the same with our faith.

The website also includes dispatches from the leader of Scott’s prayer warrior team.  The January 2012 dispatch includes this:

We can rest assured that regardless of what is happening, we are a nation born on a foundation of the Gospel of our Savior, Jesus and He lives and reigns this very day and forevermore and His perfect peace is ours in the midst of the storm!  Tim wanted you to know that in the knowledge of God’s assurance, this year should be about pursuing Isaiah 61 especially because of our times.  There are so many who are lost and in need of answers and, Praise God, you have them!

With the leading of the Holy Spirit, we should seek heavenly strategies to take on the challenges of 2012.  

At the Ralph Reed rally during the South Carolina primary, he told a story about a public fight over the Ten Commandments when he was on the county council.  “We are in desperate need of a compass, a moral compass that tells us the difference between right and wrong,” he said. “And I believe that you can look no further than the word of God to find that compass.”

Tea Party Cred

Scott came to Congress on the 2010 Tea Party wave and talks like it.  He takes a Tea Partier’s rhetorical approach to the Constitution, telling attendees at a town hall meeting, “I think states’ rights, state sovereignty, the 9th and 10th amendment, has to be protected against our federal government.” He says the immigration issue is “easy” -- “We want to make sure the local law enforcement is empowered to enforce the laws of the country.” Congress is a “freak show.”  The country needs to “drill baby, drill.”  The Environmental Protection Agency is a “job-killing agency” that needs to be chopped off at the knees.

He has been part of the no-compromise wing of the 2010 class.  He refused to support House Speaker John Boehner’s plan for getting past the crisis over lifting the debt ceiling after he and two of his fellow freshman prayed about the issue.  Here’s how the Washington Post recounted the events:

Not even gentle persuasion could overcome higher powers Thursday. As Boehner was in his meetings, three freshman Republicans from South Carolina were in the House chapel nearby, in quiet discussion and in prayer. Reps. Mick MulvaneyTim Scott and Jeff Duncanwanted a stronger provision to guarantee a balanced-budget amendment and knew they would be lobbied furiously in the hours to come.

At one point, Duncan said, Mulvaney picked up a Bible and read a verse from Proverbs 22: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

“It’s telling me to really be bold, to really fight for structural changes,” Duncan said.

“Mulvaney snapped the Bible closed. And I said, ‘Guys, that’s all I need to see,’ ” Duncan said. “Tim said, ‘Yep.’ And we stood up and walked out.”

Discussing the episode with Fox News, Scott said “I try to lean on the highest level of wisdom I can find and that is divine wisdom.”

Scott also enlists Martin Luther King to support the Tea Party’s anti-spending agenda (pay no attention to King’s actual call for government action on jobs).  He said at a 2012 MLK commemoration that his deficit-cutting efforts were akin to King’s movement:  "We can't be free when we have a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, there is no freedom in America for a black man, a white man, a Jew, a gentile, a Protestant or a Catholic. We can't be free.”  He has told constituents, “The more we spend, the less freedom we have.” 

He has also, as noted by Brian Beutler at TPM, helped voodoo economics  make “a triumphant return to Capitol Hill.” Scott claimed that tax increases would lead to lower revenue.  Scott made the same argument to constituents during a town hall meeting:  “If you increase taxes you get fewer dollars to the treasury…This is not a partisan issue. This is what we call truth.”

Big Business Cred

Scott’s anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union positions make him a favorite of the big business lobby: during his short tenure he has already been honored by the Club for Growth, which gave him its “Defender of Economic Freedom Award,” and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which gave him its “Spirit of Enterprise” award. Receiving that award, he said, “We must free our job creators from the burden placed on their backs by the federal government, and provide them with the right opportunities to move our economy forward.”  Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donahue gushed, “While many in Congress were busy playing politics, Representative Scott was working to protect and advance the interests of America’s job creators.”  Scott, who supports a flat tax, introduced “the Rising Tides Act,” which would cut corporate taxes. 

The Party of the Tea Party

Jim DeMint helped create the uncompromising, ideologically extreme Republican Party that has engaged in unprecedented obstructionism during the Obama administration – and is wreaking havoc in states like Michigan.  Tim Scott seems eager to further that destructive legacy. 

 

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.

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Tim Scott Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 10/29/2013, 4:25pm
Update, 10/30: The Dallas Morning News is now reporting that Mike Lee will not be attending the summit. Ted Cruz and Tim Scott will be joining Religious Right leaders in South Carolina, an early primary state, in the beginning of November for a Renewal Project conference organized by David Lane. Lane believes that the US may soon face car bombings as a form of divine retribution over gay rights and legal abortion, and believes that his Renewal Projects can activate enough pastors and conservative voters to save America. Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News reports that Sen. Mike Lee... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Monday 10/07/2013, 4:58pm
This weekend, Religious Right leaders and GOP politicians will gather in Washington for the Values Voter Summit, an annual event that highlights the cozy relationship between Republican elected officials and extreme right-wing groups. The event is hosted by the Family Research Council, a group with a long record of pushing false anti-gay propaganda. And one of the event’s major sponsors is the American Family Association, whose extreme right-wing views are expressed on a daily basis by its spokesman Bryan Fischer. On Friday, People For the American Way joined with the Southern Poverty... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 08/29/2013, 5:34pm
Chris Geidner @ BuzzFeed: Appeals Court Upholds California Ban On Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors. Tommy Christopher @ Mediaite: Senator Tim Scott Turned Down Invitation to 50th Anniversary of MLK Speech. Luke Brinker @ Equality Matters: The Daily Caller Just Can't Stop Defending Russia's Anti-Gay Crackdown. Zack Ford @ Think Progress: Pennsylvania: Gay Couples Don’t Deserve To Marry Because They’re Just Like 12-Year-Old Children. Eric W. Dolan @ Raw Story: Tea party speaker: ‘Well, they want to call me a racist? Go ahead.’ Towleroad:... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 12/17/2012, 6:00pm
Tim Scott, who is set to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, got his start in politics when he was elected in 1996 to the Charleston County Council. One year later, according to his 2010 campaign website, “he placed a plaque of the Ten Commandments outside council offices to show his support for the Ten Commandments as a guide for conduct, especially within the county chambers.” The city was promptly sued for this blatant violation of the First Amendment. By 1998, Scott’s colleagues had decided to remove his display and settle the lawsuit. When challenged on why he was wasting... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 12/17/2012, 3:54pm
When soon-to-be Senator Tim Scott was running for Congress in 2010, he touted his record as a social conservative in the state house. On the “Social Conservative” page, he featured his support for three outrageous anti-choice bills. The first was the so-called Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, a disgusting and misleading piece of legislation. According to Scott’s site, the bill would “protect babies who survive abortions.” The second bill, the Right to Life Act, was described as a “step in the right direction to recognize ‘pre-borned’ (sic)... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 12/17/2012, 2:46pm
Congressman Tim Scott, who will soon replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, is not a common man. He's quite uncommon, as is his right, and he doesn't cower or take handouts. He declares to the entire world, even if no one is listening, that he's a "free American." Scott acknowledged as much in a bit of Tea Party poetry on his 2010 campaign website, entitled: "Republican Creed": I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. If I can seek opportunity, not security, I want to take the calculated risk to dream and build, to fail and to... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 12/17/2012, 2:29pm
In late July of 2011, House Speaker John Boehner was closing in on a deal to end the debt ceiling crisis, but something happened during the final hours of debate. “The math appeared to turn against the speaker,” and “key lawmakers, like Representative Tim Scott of South Carolina, a member of the freshman leadership team, said he would join the other freshmen from his state and vote no.” Scott, who will soon replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, holed up in the House chapel with a group of freshman conservatives. There Scott received instructions from God to vote against an... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Monday 12/17/2012, 1:01pm
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will announce shortly that she has picked Rep. Tim Scott to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving to head up the right-wing Heritage Foundation. DeMint’s imminent retirement is seen by many as a setback for the Tea Party, which had a genuine champion in DeMint, and a sign that the movement’s best days are behind it. But the Tea Party is still raging in South Carolina, and Scott is poised to become its new Senate standard-bearer. Tim Scott was elected to Congress in 2010, becoming the first African-American Republican to represent South... MORE >