Iowa

Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality Unconstitutional Because It's 'Against The Law of Nature'

Last year, Religious Right activist and possible 2014 Iowa Republican Senate candidate Bob Vander Plaats claimed that the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling had provoked a “constitutional crisis” because it defied “the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.”

In an interview on the Steve Deace show last week, Vander Plaats elaborated on this constitutional analysis, claiming that a Utah federal judge’s ruling legalizing marriage equality was wrong because same-sex marriage “goes against the law of nature” and therefore is “against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats also encouraged Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to simply ignore the court’s ruling and issue an executive order staying the decision until it’s put to a popular vote. 

He warned guest host Jen Green that the Utah ruling was the first step on a slippery slope to tyranny, showing the need to put judges “in their place” as he did in Iowa in 2010.

Vander Plaats: First of all, Justice Shelby, there’s a lot of issues with his ruling. Number one is, you had the people of Utah already amend the Constitution to what marriage is. And you’re supposed to uphold the Constitution, not redefine the Constitution. So, that’s number one.

Two is, there is no research on it, there is no data on it. Why? Because it never existed before. So all there is is speculation. But what we know is it goes against the law of nature, and the law of nature’s God, which means, again, it’s against the Constitution.

My suggestion to Gov. Herbert: Don’t overcomplicate this. Don’t over-study this or analyze this. Lead on this. Issue an executive order from the governor’s office that places a stay on this judge’s decision until the people of Utah resolve this, either through the legislature – the people’s representatives – or through another vote, if you need to go through another vote. But you don’t allow an activist judge to have his way to inflict same-sex marriage on the entire state of Utah.

It is We the People who are the final arbitrators of this deal. They gave us the power of the king. The governor is the executor. He’s got the executive branch, he’s the one who gets to enforce or not enforce. By him staying silent, he’s really enforcing this judge’s opinion. That’s why he needs to step up and lead, and what I’d say, issue that executive order.

And for the Lead or Get Out of the Way members and audience, and especially those in Utah, what really has to concern you here is that if they will do this to the institution of marriage, they won’t even blink an eye when they take your private property, tell you how to educate your kids. If you really want to have tyranny, keep allowing activist judges to keep activism alive. You need to put them in their place. That’s what I’d encourage Gov. Herbert to do.

Green: You will be made to care.

Vander Plaats: You will be made to care. But Gov. Herbert could make that judge made to care. Just like in Iowa, we made the judges, that they should care about what they’re doing.

Vander Plaats: Gay Marriage, Utah Polygamy Ruling Will Lead To Parent-Child Marriage

Count Bob Vander Plaats among the Religious Right activists responding to a court decision decriminalizing polygamy in Utah by crowing that they “correctly” predicted that marriage equality victories would lead to legalized polygamous marriage.

Steve King: Immigrants Will 'Erode The Law Further' By Voting Democratic

At a panel discussion on immigration policy today, Rep. Steve King of Iowa claimed that Democrats support bipartisan immigration reform because undocumented immigrants would “vote for a more liberal agenda” which in turn, “erodes the law further.”

King suggested to the panel, convened by the right-wing Judicial Watch, that if given a roadmap to citizenship, undocumented immigrants would go on a crime spree: “When people break the law to come here and we reward them with breaking the law, then they think that’s all right to break another law. It breeds disrespect for the law. We cannot be a great nation if we are going to willfully destroy the rule of law, especially for political purposes.”

King touted Robert Rector’s discredited Heritage Foundation study, which purported to show a devastating economic impact from immigration reform, but which was both deeply methodologically flawed and co-written by someone who believes that Latinos are genetically inferior.

Later in the discussion, King claimed that President Obama’s executive order implementing parts of the DREAM Act had provoked a “constitutional crisis.” He also lamented that immigration proponents have been pushing the “sympathy factor” with the help of “a lot of Christian groups who misread the scripture.”

Iowa Group Threatens Recall Campaign Against Judge In Abortion Rights Case

The Iowa Religious Right group that successfully campaigned to unseat three state supreme court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality has set its sights on a new target: a judge who granted a stay in an influential abortion rights case.

The Family Leader, run by prominent conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, gained national attention in 2010 when it ran a successful campaign, with plenty of funding from national Religious Right groups, to oust three state supreme court justices in retention elections after the court ruled unanimously to legalize marriage equality in the state. The group tried its luck against another justice last year, but the tide had turned enough that the judge held on to his seat.

Now, the group is taking aim at a District Judge Karen Romano, who ruled this week that Planned Parenthood could continue to use video conferencing to guide women through early-term abortions using abortion-inducing drugs – drugs that are widely considered safe to take at home during the early weeks of a pregnancy – while a ban on the practice is appealed. Planned Parenthood had challenged a ruling by the Iowa Board of Medicine banning telemedicine for chemical abortion,  but for no other medical practice. Judge Romano did not rule on the merits of the case.

Vander Plaats’ group issued a statement yesterday claiming that Judge Romano had “not learned a lesson” from the 2010 election and urged voters to remember the judge’s “activism” in her 2016 retention election.

The Family Leader’s Chuck Hurley told the Des Moines Register that his group is “open” to a recall campaign against Romano but hasn’t decided yet whether to go beyond the barely-veiled threats in its press release. Hurley did take the opportunity, however, to allege that Romano was biased because she was appointed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack who “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

Romano said Wednesday afternoon that she was not shocked by the Family Leader’s statement.

“I think in the current climate, it doesn’t really surprise me,” she said in a brief interview.

She added, “I understand that the issue the case deals with is a volatile issue.” She said she couldn’t comment any further.

Chuck Hurley, the Family Leader’s vice president, said Wednesday that the group hasn’t decided whether to mount a recall campaign against Romano. “We are definitely discussing it and are open to it,” he said.

He added that he didn’t know much about Romano’s personal views, but he knows she was appointed in 2001 by former Gov. Tom Vilsack. Hurley said Vilsack, a Democrat, was “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

UPDATE: The president of the Iowa State Bar Association has denounced Vander Plaats' move, calling it "political bullying," and the Des Moines Register spoke out against his "not-so-subtle" threat to Romano in an editorial

UPDATE 2: After telling the Register that his group would be "open" to launching a recall campaing against Romano, Hurley followed up with the paper and "clarified" that he in fact meant "we are not launching a campaign against Judge Romano nor do we have any plans to do so at this time. We were simply pointing out that it was this kind of judicial activism by Iowa judges that led to Iowans voting out three Iowa Supreme Court judges in 2010.” 

Rep. Steve King Just Wants to 'Unleash Human Nature'

Last night, as Congress finally ended the government shutdown and the Tea Party’s dreams of ending Obamacare through sheer force of will faded once again, Iowa’s KCRG asked local lawmakers to reflect on the 16-day shutdown and near default. Republican Rep. Steve King, a Tea Party stalwart and cheerleader of the shutdown, waxed philosophical, telling the station that he merely wants “to continue to unleash human nature” in the United States.

“I want what’s best for the long-term best interests of this country, I want it to be on constitutional underpinnings, and I want to continue to unleash human nature,” he said. “And I’m afraid we’re going in the other direction here, and that is troubling to me.”

Steve King Insists 9/11-Muslim Brotherhood Link Confirmed By 'Well-Placed Sources Within the Middle East'

Iowa congressman Steve King, who joined fellow Republicans Rep. Michelle Bachman and Rep. Louis Gohmert in Egypt last week, where they delivered a televised message praising the Egyptian military’s crackdown on dissenters, claims that the group’s insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood was linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks comes from a “very reliable” source “within the Middle East.” But he won’t say who his source is because “then it would be a political incident.”

The Bush administration’s 9/11 commission found no such link, except to note a handful of instances where Al Qaeda members had peripheral contact with the sprawling group.

While Bachmann has attempted to backtrack from the comments, King has characteristically doubled down.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:

Tuesday, during a call with reporters, King defended Bachmann's statements.

King said he had received evidence tying the Muslim Brotherhood to both the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and last year's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He said his information comes from “very well-placed sources within the Middle East.”

Pressed for more details, King declined to specify even the country from which the information originated.

“That source is a very reliable source and it is very sensitive,” King said. “If I were to clarify the source of it, then it would be a political incident. And I'd just as soon not initiate that.”

Radio Iowa adds:

“I have received evidence that there was a foundation there among the Muslim Brotherhood in each of those cases and it’s not something that I think that they can just simply say is wrong. They would have to be the ones to prove the negative,” King said. “It takes a fair amount of self-confidence, sometimes misplaced self-confidence, to be so critical with a basis to do so.”

King was asked twice during his telephone news conference to reveal the source of his information.

“I think I’ll just stick with my answer of very well-placed sources within the Middle East,” King said, “and I think that it will be verified over time.”

Bob Vander Plaats Praises Russia's Ban On Pro-Gay Rights Speech

One of the chief players in Republican politics in Iowa yesterday praised Russian president Vladimir Putin for his role in criminalizing speech supportive of gay rights as part of a larger crackdown on the country’s LGBT community. Bob Vander Plaats, head of the group The Family Leader and recent host of a summit with likely presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, defended the ban in an interview with conservative talk show host Steve Deace.

While speaking about the crisis in Syria, Vander Plaats commended Putin for appropriating American “strengths” like “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs,” which have now “defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama.”

Vander Plaats praised Putin for taking a stand and saying “don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics; we believe in one man, one woman marriage; there is no homosexual marriage in Russia.”

Deace interjected that Putin shouldn’t be deemed a hero of thepro-familymovement since he recently divorced his wife, Vander Plaats but said “it doesn’t matter.”

Vander Plaats: He has taken what used to be our strengths — military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs — and he’s saying, those are being turned into your guys’ weakness and guess what I’m doing? I’m taking those. I’m taking decisive leadership, you’re following my lead. As a matter of fact, Obama’s now agreeing with Putin, ‘oh you know maybe we’ve got some other options here now.’ So he’s taking Putin’s lead. Putin’s saying, ‘you know what don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics; we believe in one man, one woman marriage; there is no homosexual marriage in Russia.’

Deace: Says the guy that just kicked his wife of four decades to the curb.

Vander Plaats: It doesn’t matter. He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader. Ladies and gentlemen this is why you need to rise up, this is why we rise up, to demonstrate, we do have a voice in this process.

Of course for gay people and gay rights advocates in Russia, they will no longer have a voice in the already-undemocratic state.

David Lane Digs In

In July, we reported on Christian-nation extremist David Lane’s closed-door pastors briefing in Iowa, and the presidential hopefuls and other politicians who have flocked to Lane’s gatherings over the years.

This week the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs reported that Lane’s American Renewal Project is holding church-based voter registration drives on three Sundays this month: Sept. 15, Sept. 22 and Sept. 29.  Steve Michael, a spokesperson for the project, told the Register that after the American Renewal Project’s $1.2 million voter registration campaign in Missouri during the last election cycle, the state saw a 3 percent increase in evangelical voters.  He said it will organize in Iowa “steadily until the 2014 election.”

The "Stand-up Sundays" model goes like this: Pastors ask their congregation members to stand up if they're already registered. Volunteers will then hand out voter registration paperwork to the adults still seated. But each Iowa pastor will decide how to do it, Lane told the Register.

Iowa is among 11 states the American Renewal Project is targeting in the 2014 cycle, Michael said. The others are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Organizers will do “Pastors and Pews” events followed by voter registration drives in each state. Next up is Louisiana on Sept. 26-27….

Lane said Iowa may be one of the most registered states in the nation, thanks to the attention from the presidential campaigns, so he expects Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina to be more "target rich areas."

It’s worth noting that Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina are also among the top Senate races for 2014, as are other states on Lane’s target list. 

Ted Cruz 'Honored' To Go Hunting With Steve King

Texas senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made a notable friend in Iowa: Rep. Steve King. The Des Moines Register reports that Cruz has accepted King’s invitation to go pheasant hunting on the opening day of the hunting season next month, and was “honored to have received the invite.”

“Yes, we are confirmed for a hunt with King,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in an email Friday to the Des Moines Register. “The senator has enjoyed getting to know him and work with him on important issues before Congress. He’s honored to have received the invite.”

Prior to the 2012 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, King hosted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum twice for bird hunting at Iowa game preserves and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on one occasion. The Iowa congressman said in an interview on Thursday he hopes to shape the debate for the 2016 GOP presidential contest by serving as a “guardrail of constitutional conservatism.”

Cruz’s proud association with King is another sign that the Texan has no plans to moderate his positions in advance of a presidential run. King earned rebukes from his party leadership last month when he insisted that most young undocumented immigrants are drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” He has also compared immigrants to dogs.

Cruz has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal.
 

Steve King Compares Unemployed to Children Who Don't Do Chores: 'You Get to Eat After You Do the Work'

UPDATED

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King appeared at an event in North Carolina Monday where, according to a Red Alert Politics blogger who attended, he chastised unemployed Americans, saying “I want to see more Americans step up.”

King reportedly compared the unemployed to children who refuse to do chores, implying that those who are out of work should not receive a helping hand:  “Now what kind of a family — if you had six kids and a third of those kids would say ‘I’m not doing the chores, Mom,’… pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work.’”

Speaking to a group of conservatives in Charleston, S.C., on Monday evening, the Iowa Congressman said that it wasn’t the economy that was sluggish, but the 100 million non-working Americans giving up jobs to “unskilled” illegal immigrants.

“One hundred million Americans aren’t contributing and yet we’re looking out across the board and saying let’s bring in some more people that are uneducated, unskilled and we’re going to put them into the unskilled workforce and somehow we’re going to increase our economy,” King said during the Charleston Meeting. “…I want to see more Americans step up.”

This “middle class standard of living” is the direct result of President Obama propelling the country into a “dependency state,” according to King.

“We borrow money from China to pay people not to work and we say we’re going to grow our GDP because we have sympathy for people that are in this country illegally,” he said.

King equated America to a family, comparing the amount of non-working Americans to children refusing to do their chores.

“Now what kind of a family — if you had six kids and a third of those kids would say ‘I’m not doing the chores, Mom,’” King said. “…pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work.’”

UPDATE: Raw Story found the video of King’s remarks.

Here, King compares the unemployed to delinquent children:

And here, King claims that President Obama is using unemployment benefits to encourage women “not to have a man in the house” and “pushing the dependency class”  in order to “increase [his] power base.” Later on, King recalls a controversial incident in which he declined to contradict a constituent who called President Obama a Muslim and a Marxist. “I don’t know his religion, I don’t question that at all,” King said. “But my answer was, ‘Well, he’s at least a Marxist.’”

Santorum: Term 'Middle Class' Is 'Marxism Talk'

Rick Santorum says the term “middle class” is “Marxism talk” since America doesn’t have any classes. “Since when in America do we have classes?” Santorum asked a Republican gathering in Lyon County, Iowa, “There’s no class in America.” He added that the GOP, unlike Democrats,“values the dignity of every human life,” and therefore shouldn’t use the term—which he has actually used repeatedly.

New GOP Same As the Old GOP: Iowa Summit to Feature Republican Leaders and Religious Right Stalwarts

Year after year we keep hearing about the supposed decline of the Religious Right and the GOP’s shift away from the fringes. Despite all of that talk and speculation, this weekend will see this year’s second Religious Right gathering for potential presidential candidates, almost three years before the Iowa caucus. For anyone who anticipates that Republican presidential candidates will move towards the center in 2016, this weekend’s festivities are a very loud wakeup call.

The upcoming Family Leadership Summit comes on the heels of last month’s Iowa Pastors and Pews meeting, which hosted Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

This weekend’s conference, hosted by the Religious Right group The Family Leader, will feature Cruz, former Sen. Rick Santorum and perennial presidential candidate-vacillator Donald Trump.

Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate who spearheaded the 2010 campaign to boot pro-marriage equality justices off the Iowa Supreme Court, is hosting the event. The Family Leader continues its push to become a conservative power player: Last year, the organization hosted a debate attended by every Republican presidential candidate save Mitt Romney and tried to get candidates to pledge to fight legal pornography and to agree that African-American families were better off under slavery. In 2016, the group might take over the reins of the Iowa Straw Poll.

Along with Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley, several far-right figures are slated to speak at the summit:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who recently claimed that most young undocumented immigrants are drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, the far-right 2010 GOP Senate nominee who has tiestomilitia groups.

Talk show host Steve Deace, who has fantasized about assaulting openly gay NBA player Jason Collins and suggested that the public school system was responsible for the Newtown massacre.

Talk show host Kevin McCullough, who believes that gay people are out to kill him and hate God (but also don’t exist).

Talk show host Jan Mickelson, who has said that AIDS is divine punishment for homosexuality and hailed former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s opposition to gay rights.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who has likened his campaign against marriage equality to fights against slavery and Jim Crow.

David Bossie of Citizens United, the Clinton-era witch hunter who predicted that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would cripple the military and bring back the draft.

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, who argued that the Violence Against Women Act represented a “war on women” and accused Planned Parenthood of supporting domestic abuse.

Actor/Reality Show contestant Stephen Baldwin, who called President Obama a “cultural terrorist.”

Dr. Del Tackett of Truth In Action Ministries, who blamed homosexuality on lazy parenting.

Doug Napier of Alliance Defending Freedom, who pledged to represent county officials in Iowa who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Dr. David Noebel of Summit Ministries, who has warned that “Obama and his radical homosexual mafia plan to sodomize the world and make such perversion seem as wholesome as apple pie and vanilla ice cream.”

Trump: I'm A Great Christian Who's Angry the Unemployed 'Get Better Benefits' than People with Jobs

Donald Trump is totally serious this time about maybe running for president, and to prove it he is appearing at The Family Leader’s upcoming conference in Iowa alongside Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Steve King and Brian Brown. He chatted with conservative talk show host Steve Deace on Tuesday about why Religious Right voters should love the thrice-married casino magnate.

Trump said he is a “pro-life,” “very, very, pro-family” Christian. “I’m a Presbyterian and a good one,” Trump elaborated. “A lot of people ask me about my children, how did you get them so they’re not drinkers and they’re not on drugs and you know lots of good things.”

Plus, he has a “great relationship with the church” and people love him: “Tickets are going at a rate like they’ve never gone before, maybe it’s one of the other candidates but you know what, I doubt it.” “I know some of the people that are candidates and the Republicans are not going to be winning with these people,” Trump continued.

Trump showed off his conservative credentials by making the absurd claim that “people don’t work, they don’t have to work, they get better benefits if they take it easy, which is unfair because the people that are working are paying for that.”

At Iowa Summit, Religious Right Activists Hope to 'Change the Direction of the Wind' Against the 'Gay Agenda'

We have been posting videos and reports from the recent Religious Right gathering in Iowa as they become available – so far we’ve seen Rand Paul warning of the country’s collapse and Ted Cruz repeatedly attacking gay rights.

Today, the 700 Club finally featured a segment with additional footage from the summit. CBN’s David Brody interviewed chief organizer David Lane, who has predicted divine punishment on America in the form of car bombings, along with billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, the latter of whom told Brody that he is upset about the rise of the “gay agenda.”

Brody also showed footage of right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton praying over Cruz and conservative pastor Laurence White telling activists that they can sway politicians if they “change the direction of the wind.”

Watch highlights here:

Steve King Attacks Critics' 'Unrestrained, Undisciplined, Divisive Remarks,' Says They're Dooming Nation to Failure

Rep. Steve King has taken plenty of heat from both the left and the right over the past few days for his assertion that for every valedictorian DREAMer there are “another hundred” who “weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

Faced with criticism from House Speaker John Boehner and other fellow Republicans, King has refused to back down, saying “it’s not something that I’m making up,” and that his comments were “objective” and “might be the best informed in the entire U.S. Congress.” He wrapped up his case on the House floor yesterday, declaring that his critics would cause the downfall of the United States and of Western Civilization.

In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway on Wednesday, King offered a similar tirade, accusing his critics of making “unrestrained, undisciplined, divisive remarks” and warning that if his opponents are allowed to have their way “this nation will eventually fail because we’ll completely lose our objectivity and we’ll be driven by our emotions instead of our reason.”

If we can’t discuss objective truth among people that are elected representatives in the United States Congress, if it has to turn personal, if they have to make these kind of remarks, these unrestrained, undisciplined, divisive remarks, at first I’d say, how  could they have listened to the tape that you’ve run and come to such a conclusion? But second is, if there’s no objective discussion, if we can’t bring up the other side of the coin, then this nation will eventually fail because we’ll completely lose our objectivity and we’ll be driven by our emotions instead of our reason.

Steve King: Undocumented Immigrants Mostly '130-Pound' Drug Runners With 'Calves the Size of Cantaloupes'

Rep. Steve King of Iowa is getting some publicity this week for an interview on Univision in which he refused to apologize for comparing immigrants to dogs. Our friends at the Center for New Community point out that just a few days earlier, King gave an interview to Newsmax in which he claimed that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants are “130-pound” drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes.”

“For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there who they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” King said.

He challenged proponents of the bipartisan immigration law to “define the difference between the innocent ones who have deep ties with America and those who have, I’ll say, been undermining our culture and civilization and profiting from criminal acts.”

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul Rally Right-Wing Pastors in Iowa

As we noted earlier this week, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul were the main draws at “Rediscovering God in America,” an event for conservative pastors in Iowa that was organized by Christian-nation advocate David Lane under the auspices of the Iowa Renewal Project.  According to a report in the Des Moines Register, Cruz knew his audience:

In a fiery, Bible-quoting first speech during his first time in Iowa, Republican Ted Cruz called on evangelical conservatives to demand their GOP elected officials actually stand for the conservative principles they pretend to believe in.

“Belief, saying I believe in something, is not sitting there quietly doing the golf clap,” Cruz told hundreds of Iowa Christian conservative ministers this morning at a private conclave in Des Moines….

Cruz lectured for 30 minutes, his voice at times rising to a shout. He answered questions for another 20 minutes, then stood at the center of a circle as pastors laid their hands on him and the whole audience – a predominantly white group with about 20 black pastors – bowed heads to pray for him.

As we have reported, event organizer David Lane has declared war on Republicans who are insufficiently conservative or aggressive. That’s something he has in common with Cruz, who complained during his presentation that Republicans in Congress would not have the guts to defund Obamacare in upcoming appropriations battles. And he portrayed himself as courageous warrior for right-wing causes: "The biggest applause and loudest whistles came when Cruz talked about abolishing the IRS. He said that’s “viewed as scary radical talk” in Washington, and that career politicians don’t want it to happen."

Cruz also touched on another of David Lane’s favorite themes: the responsibility of pastors to move America by being more aggressively political.

He told the pastors they have a special charge to urge their flocks to become more active in politics.

“It is so easy to hide from the public square. It is so easy to say the challenges of the country are someone else’s problem. But the pastors, and your husbands and wives who are here, ya’ll are not content to do that and I’m so grateful for that.”

The Register says that Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, who is making the Religious Right circuit on his own these days, was also in attendance.

The Register also reports on Rand Paul's speech:

Republican Rand Paul thinks the country needs to find its way back to Christian values and the traditions of the founders, he said in Iowa today.

“What America needs is not just another politician or more promises,” he said. “What America needs is a revival.”

According to the Register, Paul couched his less-interventionist foreign policy in terms of denying U.S. support for "haters of Christianity."

To an audience of about 650, Paul said some Republicans have the mistaken belief that the way for the nation to project strength is through war.

“Jesus reminds us what our goal should be when he proclaims: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,’” Paul said. “This does not mean we never go to war. But it means we should do so reluctantly, and seek an end expeditiously.”

Paul said the U.S. Senate is now attempting to arm Islamic rebels in Syria, many of whom are Al Quaeda.

“There is an irony that is impossible to escape: Our taxpayer dollars will fund Islamic rebels who may well be killing Christians,” he said. “In country after country, mobs burn the American flag and chant ‘death to America.’ Congress responds by sending more of your money to these haters of Christianity.”

And, in the line that drew a standing ovation and the most passionate applause of his speech, he said: “I say not one penny more to any nation that is burning our flag.”

 

Iowa Religious Right Leader Defends Trump, Praises His Birther Crusade

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader, spoke with conservative Des Moines radio host Jan Mickelson last week to defend his invitation of twice-divorced casino magnate Donald Trump to speak at the group’s upcoming Family Leadership Summit. (The event is also sponsored by the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm and the National Organization for Marriage.) After all, Vander Plaats is the same man who tried to get Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge swearing personal fidelity to their spouses and vowing to make it tougher to get a divorce.

But Vander Plaats insisted that “we’re not lowering our standards by bringing in Donald Trump. Donald Trump is coming up to our standards.” Vander Plaats went on to praise Trump for “being bold and saying some stuff that others just don’t want to say” including his insistence that President Obama “prove to us that you were born here.”

Vander Plaats was previously caught on video during the Republican presidential primary praising Trump’s birther efforts.

Vander Plaats: Trump has made no, I mean, he’s basically said he’s very interested in running for president. Part of our job is to vet. And we’re not lowering our standards by bringing in Donald Trump. Donald Trump is coming up to our standards. And so what we’re saying is, hey, if he wants to have a microphone and to speak to our audience, let’s see what he’s got to say. And I guarantee you….

Mickelson: You are going to have a dump button, aren’t you?

Vander Plaats: I will definitely. If Donald Trump says things that we just definitely don’t agree with, I will speak after him, and I will basically…

Mickelson: You will fire him.

Vander Plaats: You are fired! But he’s an intriguing fellow, and he’s been on the money with regards to international trade and our relationship with China, how that impacts the family. You remember just over the year ago, people were basically applauding Trump because at least he was being bold and saying some stuff that others just didn’t want to say. And even the deal of Obama’s birth certificate, whether people think that was ridiculous or not, at least he said, ‘Prove to us that you were born here.’

Vander Plaats Explains Opposition to Marriage Equality: 'It's Awful'

KSFY in Sioux Falls took on the debate about legalizing same-sex marriage in South Dakota yesterday by airing a report on how Iowans are faring under that state’s four-year-old marriage equality law. The station, in an attempt to hear both sides of the issue, interviewed an Iowa married couple, John Sellers and Tom Helten, and the state’s leading anti-gay activist, Bob Vander Plaats, who is trying to get the law overturned.

Which led to this segment, in which Sellers and Helten explain how they go to church, argue about bills and care for each other’s parents, followed by Vander Plaats explaining that he opposes marriage equality because, “If you do things God’s way when it comes to marriage, things work out really good. When you go against His plan, it’s awful.”

Bob Vander Plaats Really Should Stop Talking About Slavery

Two years ago, the Iowa Religious Right group The Family Leader caused a bit of a stir when it convinced Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann to sign a “marriage pledge” that, among other questionable provisions, stated that African-American families were better off under slavery than they are today.

Just a few months later, all the major Republican presidential candidates save Mitt Romney participated in a “Thanksgiving Family Forum” hosted by the group.

And apparently the Family Leader’s president Bob Vander Plaats hasn’t learned much from the “marriage pledge” episode. In an interview today with Business Week about Sen. Rand Paul’s chances with social conservatives, Vander Plaats says Paul’s “leave it to the states” position on marriage equality is unacceptable because gay marriage, like slavery, is something “you don’t leave up to the states.”

Vander Plaats said Iowans may tolerate Paul’s comments on abortion exceptions because he’s also authored a bill that would define life as beginning at conception. His views on same-sex marriage are another matter.

“We are definitely going to have visits with Rand on some of those things,” said Vander Plaats, who disagrees with Paul’s view that the legal status of same-sex marriage, like drug crimes, should be left up to the states.

“You don’t leave slavery up to the states, nor should you,” said Vander Plaats. “It’s either right or it’s wrong.”

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