Church-State

Donald Trump The 'Moral, Principled' Leader for Christian Nation Extremist David Lane?

In the conservative Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard wrote on Tuesday, “Amen corner: Trump makes inroads with social conservatives, evangelicals.”

Donald Trump's surge into the lead of the Republican presidential primary can be credited partly to two groups he has rarely engaged: social conservatives and evangelical Christians.

"Trump is tapping into deep-seated anger in America, a nation founded by Christians 'for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith,'" said David Lane, a prominent national evangelical political organizer. "He's tapping into something at the grassroots, precinct level of America. America is starving for moral, principled leadership. I hope that Donald Trump brings that."

Seriously? David Lane, as regular RWW readers know, is an anti-gay “Christian-nation” political operative who organizes meet-and-greet events and international trips that bring conservative evangelical pastors together with Republican politicians. The oft-married, self-worshipping Trump seems an odd fit for the man who wants to make the Bible the primary textbook in public schools and thinks the purpose of the U.S. government is to advance the Christian faith.

Evangelicals have flirted with Trump before. Recall Trump’s 2012 appearance at Liberty University, where he delivered a speech that Kyle described on RWW as “a typically self-aggrandizing and buffoonish message that was superficially about the importance of God and his Christian but was really about self-promotion and the importance of always getting even with your enemies.”

An unnamed “leader in the social conservative movement” reportedly told Bedard that Trump’s bluster about restoring “order” on the Mexican border has “wowed” voters who are disgusted with Washington.

But other evangelicals were not too happy about Trump’s weekend appearance in Iowa. Trump’s comments denigrating John McCain’s war service got the most mainstream media attention, but Ed Kilgore noted in Washington Monthly that Trump’s response to questions about his faith from pollster Frank Luntz were hardly the kind that would inspire evangelicals: “Luntz asked The Donald if he had ever asked God for forgiveness, and it was really as though the idea had never occurred to him.”

“If I do something wrong, I try to do something right,” he said. “I don’t bring God into that picture.”

Spoken like an ethical agnostic, right? But perhaps sensing his answer wasn’t adequate, he tried to recover:

“When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said.

Byron York also wrote that Trump’s McCain remarks were not the biggest problem coming out of Iowa, saying that a “senior Iowa Republican” was “dumbfounded” by Trump’s comments on religion.

“While there were audible groans in the crowd when Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero,” the senior Republican said via email, “it was Trump’s inability to articulate any coherent relationship with God or demonstrate the role faith plays in his life that really sucked the oxygen out of the room.”

Steve Benen notes that Jeb Bush jumped to take advantage of Trump’s remarks, telling a conservative radio host that he, Bush, “regularly” asks God for forgiveness. Rick Perry is also trying to use Trump’s dismissal of the need for God’s forgiveness as a way to get some attention, saying that a man too self-absorbed to seek God’s forgiveness does not belong in the White House. It’s worth noting that Perry informally launched his failed 2012 bid with a political prayer rally organized by David Lane and his dominionist allies, making it hard to take Perry seriously when he warns against “false prophets” and messengers “who appeal to anger, division and resentment.”

Lane’s comments are also out of synch with some of his political allies. Sarah Posner pointed out this week that Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference said last week that they didn’t know a single evangelical who supports Trump, saying Christians are turned off by Trump’s immigrant-bashing. But it seems that Moore and Rodriguez need to get out among their constituents a bit more — Posner notes that a Washington Post poll showed Trump as the preferred candidate of 20 percent of white evangelicals, with 45 percent of white evangelicals saying Trump is “just about right” on the issues. A recent Public Policy Polling survey [PDF] found that Trump had higher favorability ratings among evangelical Republicans than non-evangelicals in the party.

David Lane’s positive comments about Trump, who is currently sitting at the top of the polls, are probably just another example of Religious Right leaders’ habit of publicly demanding religious and political purity, but then throwing their support to whatever politicians the GOP nominates. (James Dobson perfected this move.)

Lane has said his effort to recruit 1,000 like-minded evangelical pastors to run for office — and in the process get hundreds of thousands of conservative Christian volunteer workers to influence the 2016 elections — was inspired by his own pastor’s failed run for the state assembly. Last month that pastor, Rob McCoy, made it to public office, winning a seat on the city council of Thousand Oaks, California.

Scott Walker Says His Presidential Bid Is 'God's Plan'

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who announced his presidential bid on Twitter this morning and will have a launch event later today in Waukesha, has sent an email to activists declaring that his presidential run “is God’s plan for me.”

“My relationship with God drives every major decision in my life,” starts the note, which is clearly designed to appeal to Religious Right voters who make up a major part of the GOP base vote, particularly in the early primary states Iowa and South Carolina.

The letter goes on to talk about Walker’s faith as “the guiding force of my life in both politics and in private” and promotes opposition to reproductive choice and marriage equality. “A lifelong supporter of the pro-life movement, my work defending the unborn goes back to my college days where I was a leader of Marquette Students for Life,” he writes, bragging about signing into law new restrictions on access to abortion and pledging to do the same as president. He calls the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision a “grave mistake” and calls for a constitutional amendment to overturn it. And he pledges to nominate Supreme Court justices who share his approach to the Constitution.

“Our country is at a crossroads and we need a proven conservative leader who is not afraid to fight for what is right -- even when it’s not politically expedient,” Walker says. “My decisions are guided by my relationship with God -- not by what might win me a few votes.”

Among those decisions are Walker’s moves to savage public education in his new budget.

The full letter follows:

 

Peter,

My relationship with God drives every major decision in my life. Each day I pray and then take time to read from the Bible and from a devotional named Jesus Calling.

As you can imagine, the months leading up to my announcement that I would run for President of the United States were filled with a lot of prayer and soul searching.

Here’s why: I needed to be certain that running was God’s calling -- not just man’s calling. I am certain: This is God’s plan for me and I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.

Now, it is up to the voters to decide who will win the election. If you support my conservative campaign, please join my team right now with $10, $35, $50, $100, or even $250 today.

As the son of a Baptist preacher, my faith comes first. It is the guiding force of my life both in politics and in private. For example, I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe in the covenant of marriage. I believe in strong families. I believe in protecting religious liberties. And I believe these things are worth fighting for -- and I have.

A lifelong supporter of the pro-life movement, my work defending the unborn goes back to my college days where I was a leader of Marquette Students for Life. As a state lawmaker, I helped write and pass legislation banning the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. As Governor of Wisconsin, I prohibited abortion from being covered by Wisconsin health plans in a health insurance exchange, signed an ultrasound bill into law, and defunded Planned Parenthood while maintaining health services for women throughout Wisconsin.

Earlier this year, I called for legislation to protect unborn children once they can feel pain at five months. The members of the State Legislature just passed the bill and I will sign it into law next week. Yet another pro-life victory here in Wisconsin!

If elected President, I would be honored to sign similar legislation at the federal level. I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life and I will always fight to protect it.

Please stand with me today to help elect a pro-life President.

Our conservative values were handed a big blow with the recent Supreme Court ruling. Let me be very clear: this decision was a grave mistake. Five unelected judges took it upon themselves to take that responsibility away from the states and redefine the institution of marriage.

In 2006, I voted to amend my state constitution to protect the institution of marriage because I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.

I believe that the states have the right to define marriage.

To protect this right, I support an amendment to the United States Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.

Going forward, we need to focus our attention on protecting the religious rights of Americans. Our U.S. Constitution calls for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. The founders of this exceptional country took religious freedom very seriously and we must redouble our efforts to protect these freedoms today.

Peter, I have been a tireless advocate for religious liberty. And my state’s families and children are better off because of our pro-life, pro-family agenda that promotes life, freedom, and opportunity.

As President, I will stand up for these same values. And I will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully uphold the Constitution -- without injecting their own political agendas into legal matters.

Our country is at a crossroads and we need a proven conservative leader who is not afraid to fight for what is right -- even when it’s not politically expedient. My decisions are guided by my relationship with God -- not by what might win me a few votes.

I am proud to have earned the early support of conservative and religious activists across the country and hope to earn your support today. Visit here to become a leader of our conservative team with a contribution of $10, $35, $50, $100, $250, or whatever amount is right for you.

Every day I pray that our best days of peace, prosperity, and freedom are ahead of us. As President, I will uphold the traditional values that have made our country great, but I need your help to win.

Your enthusiastic support will help us build much-needed momentum in these early weeks as we take our conservative message to voters across the country.

God bless you and God bless America,

Scott Walker

 

Matt Barber's New Book Publishing Venture

Great news, everybody! BarbWire, far-right online outlet created by anti-gay activist Matt Barber, is going to start publishing books and e-books! “Many of the initial releases will be short, low-cost e-Books consisting of three to five chapters on subject matter ranging from America’s moral abyss, to Islamic terrorism, the economy, history and what it means to be a man in today’s emasculated America,” says the release announcing the launch of the publishing company.

Barber and his buddy Tristan Alexander Emmanuel, CFO of the new venture, have seemingly decided that there is insatiable demand for the kind of bigotry, frothing-at-the-mouth Obama hatred, conspiracy-theorizing, and end-times fearmongering featured on the site. It’s hard to blame them – after all, somebody keeps buying Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza’s dreck.

The announcement declares, “BarbWire Books is committed to publishing hard-hitting, culturally relevant e-Books and Books from its family of BarbWire contributors and columnists and other top-notch Christian thinkers and leaders.”

The first of these “top-notch Christian thinkers and leaders” to be published by BarbWire Books will be Jeff Allen and his Shattering Liberal Lies About the Bible: Vol 1: Is God A Slave Master? Here’s how we summarized Allen’s contributions to BarbWire last year:

Jeff Allen, a BarbWire editor, compares the gay rights movement to “a malignant cancer” and says, “Each victory for the homosexual activists represents another nail in America’s coffin.”  Allen has supported brutal anti-gay laws in Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, which include imprisonment not only for sexual conduct but also for joining social clubs or advocating for equality. Allen was upset when criticized for his “innocent mistake” of calling a fake photo of “NAMBLA for Obama” an example of “the undeniable link between homosexuality and pedophilia.” More Allen: “Satanism, sodomy, and slaughter are each part of the Devil’s sinister agenda to destroy America.”

That is apparently what passes for the “penetrating cultural analysis” that Emmanuel says is needed by “likeminded social conservatives and Bible-believing Christians” in these “days that are evil.” As Emmanuel says, “you can never have too much of a good thing.”

If you don’t have the patience to wait for Jeff Allen’s e-book, you can visit BarbWire’s bookstore and pick up some titles from Canadian conservatives warning of the “shock and cultural rot of antinomian, anti-Christian cultural Marxism” that plagues America’s neighbor to the North and offering “a sobering forecast of what is coming – that is, unless by God’s grace, American Christians wake up and take back their country.” 

Phyllis Schlafly's Guest List

Phyllis Schlafly’s latest newsletter is promoting the Eagle Forum’s 44th annual leadership council gathering. The ever-direct Schlafly gets right to the point:

Why is this Eagle Council so important? It is absolutely urgent that we elect a conservative President. Eagle Council is both a strategic forum featuring top-notch experts helpful to activists like you AND a celebration of our values and achievements to encourage all Eagles.

What exactly are the values Schlafly’s gathering will be celebrating? If her main speakers are any indication, those values would be anti-immigrant and anti-gay bigotry, along with lawless resistance to court rulings on LGBT equality and church-state separation.

Can you guess? Friday night’s keynote will be given by Ann Coulter, who has been complaining that the media has gotten so tired of her predictable liberal-bashing shtick that they aren’t giving enough attention to her latest bottom-feeding screed, “Adios America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole.”

On Saturday evening, Schalfly’s Eagles will hear from Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from the bench once for refusing to obey federal court orders to remove a Ten Commandments monument he installed in the courthouse. More recently, a group that he founded and that his wife leads, the Foundation for Moral Law, vowed to defy the “illegitimate” marriage equality ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Earlier this year Moore had ordered probate judges in Alabama not to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because he said a federal court ruling overturning the state’s marriage ban did not require them to.

On Sunday, Moore told a congregation, “Welcome to the new world. It’s just changed for you Christians. You are going to be persecuted, according to the U.S. Supreme Court dissents.” Moore has previously claimed same-sex marriage would destroy America and invite God’s wrath on the country.

Schlafly’s event will be in St. Louis September 11-13. Mark your calendars! 

Washington Times Recruits For David Lane's Christian-Nation 'Army'

Last week the Washington Times published a glowing profile of David Lane, a GOP political operative and Christian-nation extremist. The article reported on Lane’s efforts to mobilize “an army” to lead the charge for his battle with “secularists.” Just days later, the Washington Times officially became part of David Lane’s recruitment effort, launching a petition campaign co-sponsored and co-branded with Lane’s American Renewal Project.

According to the campaign’s website, “The Washington Times has agreed to deliver the petition to the Supreme Court.” It’s ridiculous to imagine that the decision in the marriage case has not already been made, even if it has not yet been made public, or to think that petitions to the Supreme Court would have any impact at this late date, which is, as the website recognizes, “just days away from deciding whether homosexual couples are entitled to marry.” So the only real purpose for the petition seems to be for the Washington Times and Lane’s American Renewal Project to build their email lists and recruit participants for a campaign of massive resistance to a pro-equality ruling.

They didn’t even bother to put much effort into the writing. Here’s the utterly non-compelling petition:

Tell the Supreme Court to Leave Traditional Marriage Alone

To: The Supreme Court

I want the Supreme Court to know I believe that marriage should remain the sanctified union of a man and women.

I want the Supreme Court to know that I believe, as Thomas Jefferson did, that judges should stick to the Constitution and not create new law when it comes to the issue of marriage in America.

I want the Supreme Court to know that I believe opening marriage to same-sex couples invalidates the institution of marriage that hundreds of millions of American men and women agreed to over the last two centuries when they said their vows.

I'm signing this petition because I want the nine Supreme Court justices to leave traditional marriage alone.

As we reported just last week, the Washington Times “has long been a right-wing propaganda vehicle in the guise of a newspaper,” and has partnered with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Christian Nation Activist David Lane Asks Pastors To Pray For Anti-Marriage-Equality 'Miracle'

Christian-nation activist and would-be presidential kingmaker David Lane is urging pastors affiliated with his American Renewal Project to preach about “Biblical Marriage” on Sunday, April 26, and hold a two-hour prayer service on Tuesday, April 28, the day the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex couples getting married.

Lane’s email letter asserts that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan should recuse themselves since they “have performed homosexual marriage ceremonies,” but that they have refused to because “secularists lack virtue.” Lane, who advocates for making the Bible a primary textbook in public schools, blames Supreme Court decisions upholding church-state separation for a “complete moral breakdown in America.”

America has become drugged by the cup of Secularism -- a false and wicked religion -- articulated in the Humanist Manifesto, a creed that denied supernatural relevation, and so the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The "religion" -- as it was called in the Humanist Manifesto (1933) -- was imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963, an 8-1 decision, in Abington School District v. Schempp. Lone dissenting Justice Potter Stewart prophesied, "...[the decision to remove the Bible from public schools] led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism."

That proud and tragic decision has given birth to a complete moral breakdown in America, those doing this to our country must be held accountable. The wise Solomon says, "Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction."(Proverbs 29:10) America's Founders laid the foundation on biblical virtue, His Word. Udo W. Middleman, president of the Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation says, "He has told us in his Word how we should live and order our lives, set our priorities, and what sense to make of being human." A Christian nation once, America is now ruled by an oligarchy, a majority of nine, representing, "Vice stalking in virtue's garb."

God defines sin, not the U.S. Supreme Court. Having removed the fixed point in order to judge in 1963, the esteemed Justices, in hubris, decided to challenge God's rule, God's throne, and God's rightful Honor. America is on the verge of learning something that can be learned in no other way, rebellion against God brings consequences. There is no safety in distance from God.

Like many Religious Right leaders, Lane blames the state of America on the fact that pastors have not been preaching or praying aggressively enough:

Why are not the churches of America filled with prayer services, led by senior pastors, asking God for mercy of what we have allowed to a once Christian nation? Who will, by faith, help America's pastors track down the weapons of warfare? Prayer and tears are the Christians weapons of war, very little cannonading and bombardment appears to be occurring in America's sanctuaries today.

Lane seems to think that, without divine intervention, the Supreme Court is likely to rule that marriage bans for same-sex couples violate the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

For those of the flock who cannot attend the prayer service led by the shepherd, please ask that they stop where they are and pray; we need a miracle.

Pastors Network's Sam Rohrer: Gov't Officials' Job Is To 'Promote God’s Moral Law'

The American Pastors Network organized a Pennsylvania pastor summit last week featuring right-wing activists David Barton and Sandy Rios, along with video greetings from Mike Huckabee overlooking the valley of Armageddon. Sam Rohrer, president of both the Pennsylvania and American Pastors Networks, is a graduate of Bob Jones University and a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he authored legislation to direct millions of tax dollars into Christian schools. At last year’s March for Marriage, Rohrer warned that marriage equality will doom America to tyranny and “invite God’s judgment.”

Following “God’s promptings,” Rohrer ran for governor in 2010 and for the U.S. Senate in 2012. He did not win either of those races, but says “God used the statewide travels to deepen his relationship with many pastors across the state.”

Rohrer wants to build networks of conservative pastors in all 50 states. His “Stand in the Gap” radio shows have a growing Pennsylvania-based radio presence. Rohrer’s philosophy about church-state relations and his vision for the state networks he has set out to build are summarized in a pamphlet distributed at the conference:

The Biblical Relationship: Pastors and Government Leaders

The phrase “Ministers of God” is often used to describe pastors in the pulpits. Yet God also uses the title of “Ministers of God” to describe those in positions of civil government as referred to in Romans 13. This is a title God gives to those He raises up and both of these positions of authority are equally established by God to accomplish His purposes.

Pastors are charged with wielding the Word of God as an instrument of Truth, preaching the whole counsel of God into all of His institutions – the Home, Civil Government, and the Church to equip people to advance God’s design for society (II Tim. 4:2)

Government leaders are charged with wielding the Word of God as an instrument of Justice, promoting God’s moral law as the foundation of right and wrong, encouraging those who do well biblically, and executing judgment on those who break the law (Romans 13:3,4)

Rohrer writes that the relationship between pastors and government leaders is “biblical, not political.”  The APN’s Ministers Together Initiative “seeks to restore the biblical relationship and commitment between the Pastor and the Government Leader to help each other, pray for each other, encourage each other and together commit to acting in obedience to the commands of scripture.”

 

Pastors Network: America Going Down the Tubes, Needs Pastors To Call Down Fire

The American Pastors Network, a Religious Right group hoping to organize networks of politically active evangelical pastors in all 50 states, met with Pennsylvania pastors at Lancaster Bible College on Thursday. The day-long event featured several national speakers like “historian” David Barton, activist Paul Blair of Reclaiming America for Christ, and right-wing broadcaster Sandy Rios, who as Kyle reported yesterday, urged participants to prepare for martyrdom

The threat of anti-Christian persecution was a frequent theme at the U-Turn conference, which took its name and themes from a recent book co-authored by Barton and evangelical pollster George Barna. For example, Steve Scheibner, an American Airlines pilot who narrowly avoided being on a flight that was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, declared, “Persecution is coming.” But, he added, “It may be the best thing that’s ever happened to the church.” Another speaker, Dale Anderson, thanked “that rascal” Barack Obama for having woken up the church.

Paul Blair gave David Barton-esque remarks about the nation’s history and cited English jurist William Blackstone in arguing that there can be no valid law that is contrary to scripture. He declared that “Judge Roy Moore,” Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, is “a hero” for defying a federal judge’s decision on marriage equality. Blair said America is in its current state because too many pastors and people have been “sheep.” He insisted that marriage equality is a line that Christians must not allow to be crossed.

Barna was the Debbie Downer of the conference, reeling off pages of statistics designed to show the moral decline of America and the diminishing influence of the church in American culture.  Among the statistics that seemed to land like a punch to the gut: only nine percent of born-again Americans have what Barna calls a “biblical worldview” – just over 51 percent of Protestant senior pastors make the grade. Barna decried the fact that so many pastors do not preach about current political topics.

Barton’s speech contained no surprises for anyone familiar with his shtick about the influence of colonial-era pastors on the country’s founding, the number of Bible verses supposedly contained in the U.S. Constitution, and his insistence that the Bible is filled with specific policy prescriptions, such as opposition to minimum wages and capital gains taxes. In fact, he said, the Bible includes 613 civil laws for running the country.

Barton cited principles of warfare taught at the Army War College to argue that the church is supposed to be on offense, not defense, in current culture war battles. Making that happen is the goal of those who are working to build the American Pastors Network, including Sam Rohrer, a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who serves as president of both the national and Pennsylvania networks.

Among the video presentations at the conference was a message recorded by Mike Huckabee in Israel, standing on a ridge overlooking the valley that he said would be the site of the battle of Armageddon. He stood on Mt. Carmel, the site of an Old Testament showdown in which Elijah showed up the prophets of Baal by having God rain down fire on an altar he had drenched with water. America, said Huckabee, needs pulpits willing to call down God’s fire.

Among the vendors doing a brisk business at the conference was the Institute of the Constitution, which promotes a Christian Reconstructionist ideology, and which has used its materials to train Tea Party activists in their vision of a radically, and biblically, limited role for the government.

The Real Problems With Bobby Jindal And His Prayer Rally

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal skipped an Iowa stage crowded with Republican presidential wannabes on Saturday so he could host a prayer rally on the campus of Louisiana State University. Jindal and others have mischaracterized objections to the rally, suggesting that its critics were somehow out to silence people of faith. So let’s be clear about the real issue: Bobby Jindal used the power and prestige of his office to promote an event backed by some of the nation’s most religiously divisive and stridently anti-gay activists. And in a bid to boost his own political future, he sent a clear message of support for the Christian-nation views of the event’s extremist organizers.

Christians Only, Please

Let’s start with the invitation, sent on Jindal’s official state letterhead. “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival,” he wrote, “if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Leadership to solve the country’s problems “will not come from a politician or a movement for social change,” he wrote in this time of civil rights movement anniversaries. So how will we solve our problems? “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” In a separate letter he wrote to the other 49 governors inviting them to his rally to pray for “spiritual revival” and “heaven’s intervention” over the country. “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”

What does all this suggest to non-Christian Americans (including non-Christian governors) about how Jindal views their contributions? Jindal’s letters reflect the attitudes of rally organizer David Lane, a political strategist who believes America was founded by and for Christians. The event was paid for by the American Family Association, whose chief spokesman, radio host Bryan Fischer, believes the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections apply only to Christians.

The rally was also a showcase for the dominionist views of self-proclaimed “apostles” who promoted and spearheaded the event. One of those “apostles” was the event’s emcee. Doug Stringer has called the 9/11 attacks “a wake-up call” that happened because God was not around to defend America due to abortion, homosexuality, and kicking God out of public schools. While introducing Jindal, Stringer made a brief mention to “Seven Mountains” theology, which states that all the “mountains” in society – arenas like business, entertainment, and government – must be led by the right kind of Christian. A later speaker, Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, spent more time on the “Seven Mountains.” Mills said these spheres of influence belong to God, but are currently occupied by the “enemy.” They therefore need to be evangelized and “occupied by the body of Christ.”

Not Political? Not Credible

Jindal and organizer David Lane declared, unbelievably, that the rally was not political. Lane is a self-described political strategist who works to turn conservative evangelical churches into voter turnout machines for right-wing candidates and causes. Lane is trying to get 1,000 conservative evangelical pastors to run for public office, and he held a recruiting session the day before the prayer rally. Jindal and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma were among the speakers. Another example of the disconnect between rhetoric and reality: Stringer made the claim that the rally was not meant to lift up any politicians while he was standing in front of a huge screen featuring a quote from Bobby Jindal.

The “not political” claim was hard to take seriously given the amount of time devoted to making abortion illegal and declarations that what will tip the scales will be the “the voice of the church in the voting booth.” Jim Garlow, who led church organizing for California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, and who believes the marriage equality movement is demonic, dropped all “nonpolitical” pretense, railing against marriage equality and IRS regulations that restrict the involvement of churches in electoral politics.

Opponents = Enemies

One of the biggest problems with treating politics as spiritual warfare is that you turn your political opponents into spiritual enemies. People who disagree with you on public policy issues are not just wrong, but evil, or even satanic. That makes it pretty hard to work together or find compromise.

In daily prayer calls leading up to the rally, organizers prayed for God to forgive students who were organizing protests, as if disagreeing with Bobby Jindal were a sin – or a form of anti-Christian persecution. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” prayed call leaders, comparing their pleas to Jesus asking God to forgive those who crucified him, and Saint Stephen asking for mercy for those who were stoning him to death. On one call, a prayer leader decreed a “no-go zone for demons” over the sports arena where the event was to be held. At the rally, one speaker talked of storming the gates of Hell. Bishop Harry Jackson finished his remarks by leading the crowd in a chant he has used at anti-gay rallies: “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered!”

Jindal Unplugged, Unhinged, and Unapologetic

Jindal seems to have decided that his best chance in a crowded Republican field is to plant himself at the far right of an already far-right group. In the days leading up to the rally, he drew criticism for comments denigrating Muslims and for repeating bogus charges about Muslim “no-go zones” that Fox News had already apologized for spreading. During a radio interview a few days before the rally, Jindal said liberals pretend that jihadist terrorism isn’t happening and pretend “it’s a good thing to kill journalists, to kill teenagers for watching soccer, to kill over 150 schoolchildren, to treat women as second-class citizens…” He decried political incorrectness and multiculturalism and said of immigrants who do not embrace American exceptionalism, “that’s not immigration, that’s invasion.”

On “This Week” on Sunday, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos noted that Jindal had declared at his prayer rally that “on the last page, our God wins,” and asked him if that was appropriate in a religiously diverse country. Jindal praised religious liberty but ducked the question.

On the same show, Jindal said he would back a push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow states to discriminate against same-sex couples, all while saying “I am not for discrimination against anybody.” (Jindal describes himself as an “evangelical Catholic,” and his contradictory rhetoric parallels the language of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which says it opposes “unjust discrimination” against gay people, but defines the term “unjust discrimination” in a way that applies only to those people with “same-sex attraction” who remain celibate.)

Jindal has also promoted far-right policies as governor. As Brian has noted:

Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.

Whose Agenda?

Jindal’s rally was not an original idea. In fact Jindal’s “Response” recycled materials and themes from a similar event that Texas Gov. Rick Perry held in 2011 to launch his presidential bid. Here’s what I wrote about Perry’s event, which applies equally well to Jindal’s – not surprising since both were organized by the same groups of extremists:

Organizers argued (unconvincingly) that "The Response" was about prayer, not politics. But groups like the American Family Association (AFA), which paid for the rally and its webcast…are not designed to win souls but to change American law and culture through grassroots organizing and political power-building. They have a corrosive effect on our political culture by promoting religious bigotry and anti-gay extremism, by claiming that the United States was meant to be a Christian nation, and by fostering resentment among conservative evangelicals with repeated false assertions that liberal elites are out to destroy religious liberty and silence conservative religious voices.

Jindal, of course, has the right to talk about his faith. But it is wrong for him to use his public office to proselytize and denigrate the faith of others. Teaming up with anti-gay extremists and Christian-nation advocates gives them credibility they do not deserve. His actions speak volumes about his judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and equality under the law.

Jindal For Christian Nation President?

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s upcoming prayer rally has been organized by David Lane, a Christian-nation absolutist who believes America was founded by and for Christians and demands that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. The American Family Association, whose chief spokesperson believes the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections do not apply to non-Christians, is paying for the rally.

It’s clear that Jindal, a convert to Christianity, is positioning himself to win the support of conservative evangelicals for a potential presidential bid. (Lane for one has cheered Jindal’s recent remarks about Muslims.) But does Jindal see himself as a potential president for all Americans, or only American Christians?

Jindal’s initial letter inviting “friends and fellow patriots” to the eventon his official letterhead —declared, “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival, if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Jindal’s letter declared, “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” What does that say to non-Christian Americans about how Jindal views them and their contributions to America’s future?

Jindal also recorded a video promoting the event as the spark that would help bring the “spiritual revival” America needs.

This week the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody reported that Jindal sent a letter to the other 49 governors inviting them to attend. “We need an appeal to heaven for heaven’s intervention over us,” he wrote. “We need to pray to the Lord that He will send spiritual revival to our nation.”

“This gathering will be apolitical in nature,” Jindal writes unconvincingly to his fellow governors, adding, “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”

Is Jindal unaware that not all his fellow governors are Christians, or does he just not care?

Jindal, of course, has the right as an American to participate in a rally like this. But it is wrong for him to use the power of his office to proselytize for his own faith and denigrate the faith of others. The critics of his prayer rally have the right, and good reason, to question what his promotion of this event says about Jindal’s judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and other constitutional principles.

Bobby Jindal's Prayer Warriors Fret About Protests, Declare 'No-Go Zone For Demons'

Is protesting Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally a sin? Organizers seem to think so.

For the past few weeks, organizers of this weekend’s prayer rally with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have been sending out calls to prayer and fasting in support of the event. This week they’ve added daily prayer calls at which they have led participants in prayer for Jindal, for the event’s organizers, for those in charge of logistics like sound and security, and even for those who will be protesting the event. While there is a big rhetorical emphasis on rally leaders having a “posture of humility,” this week’s prayer calls have demonstrated what you might call spiritual arrogance regarding those who have been planning a protest. Protesters being organized by Louisiana State University students and progressive allies have been portrayed as spiritual enemies. During open prayer time, one call participant asked forgiveness for the protesters, saying “they hate us because they hated You first.” One participant prayed that God would “silence the mouths of those who would speak against You.”

On Tuesday, prayers for “those who would stand against us” asked that protesters would experience God’s love from rally participants. On Wednesday’s call, prayer leaders asked God to forgive the protesters,  saying “they know not what they do” — language used by Jesus asking God to forgive those who were crucifying him, according to the account in the Gospel of Luke.  Martyrdom and crucifixion returned on Thursday’s call, with a call leader praying that God “release” the protesters to God, the way Stephen asked forgiveness for those who were stoning him and Jesus did for those who were crucifying him.

Clearly, Response organizers have embraced the tendency of Religious Right leaders to portray disagreeing with them as a form of persecution. One prayer leader cited the biblical story of God appearing to Saul, who had been persecuting Christians but saw the light and become the evangelist Paul. A woman asked to lead prayer for the protesters prayed that God would similarly release “the angels of the harvest” over them.

Organizers are worried that the protesters, who are planning a rally and activist training, might be a threat. They prayed that God would help police and security officers see any “flanking” or “positioning” maneuvers. One prayed that God would “bind any demonic assignment” and one thanked God that He would send angels to guard the arena where the rally is being held, and declare it a “no-go zone for demons in the name of Jesus.” (That’s a clever reference to Jindal’s recent comments about Muslims, which according to call organizers have stirred up more “anger” and “angst” against Jindal.) “There is a confrontation in the heavenlies going on,” declared one prayer leader.

It seems that Response organizers are making a lot of awfully big assumptions about people who simply think it’s a bad idea for a governor and potential presidential candidate to lend the power of his office to an event promoting anti-gay bigotry and religious exclusion: namely, that all such protesters must not be Christians, must not be right with God and may in fact be demonic agents, and are in need of forgiveness for their audacity to “stand against” Jindal and his prayer warriors.

Response organizers might want to pray a little harder for a spirit of humility.

What Matt Barber Does And Doesn't Find Appalling

Yesterday, we reported that Matt Barber’s conservative website BarbWire published an anti-gay column by Philip Stallings, a self-described “theonomist” who recently advocated for the “lawful execution” of gay people – or “sodomites.”

Stallings’ column has disappeared, and today Barber tweeted at us, “Wow! Thanks for the tip. We obviously weren’t aware of that & find the position appalling. The answer is life in Christ.”

Well. It’s good to have Matt Barber say he finds the idea of executing gay people appalling. We agree.

But if that’s the case he ought to consider vetting the material he promotes a little more carefully. Just over a week ago we noted that BarbWire had run a column praising Pastor Steven Anderson, who has called for the execution of gays, and has said, “You want to know who the biggest hypocrite in the world is? The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers and not for homosexuals.”

And given how much anti-gay extremism is promoted by Barber and his Religious Right allies, that got us wondering if anything else short of calling for the killing of gay people would cross the line for Barber.

We collected some other statements that Barber apparently doesn’t find appalling, because they’ve all been in columns promoted on his site:

Here are some other things we find appalling that Matt Barber seemingly does not:

Jeff Allen, a BarbWire editor, compares the gay rights movement to “a malignant cancer” and says, “Each victory for the homosexual activists represents another nail in America’s coffin.”  Allen has supported brutal anti-gay laws in Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, which include imprisonment not only for sexual conduct but also for joining social clubs or advocating for equality. Allen was upset when criticized for his “innocent mistake” of calling a fake photo of “NAMBLA for Obama” an example of “the undeniable link between homosexuality and pedophilia.” More Allen: “Satanism, sodomy, and slaughter are each part of the Devil’s sinister agenda to destroy America.”

BarbWire content editor Gina Miller has written that the “demonic” gay rights advocates are advancing “Satan’s tyrannical desire to crush Christianity” and warned last year that if gays get their way “Christians here in America will be in danger of state-sanctioned murder for their beliefs.” In June, Miller responded to the announcement that some Boy Scout troops would march in New York’s LGBT pride parade by calling it “a perverse attack on young boys who are being used as little tools by an evil movement of sexual degenerates who cannot reproduce, so they must recruit.”

This spring, BarbWire published a column by former Indiana lawmaker Don Boys recounting his attempt to recriminalize homosexuality. In a similar column a few years earlier, Boys had explained that he wanted to make homosexuality a crime punishable by up to twelve years in prison.

Robert Oscar Lopez wrote for BarbWire that almost every situation “involving a same-sex couple with exclusive custody of small children is adult misconduct at best or a crime against humanity at worst.”

BarbWire publishes notorious anti-gay activist Scott Lively, who wrote this summer that the US and its State Department had become “The Great Satan” of the world for opposing anti-gay legislation overseas. Lively has promoted anti-gay policies in Uganda and around the world.

And that’s just a sampling of the anti-gay extremists who have found a home on BarbWire. Not to mention Barber himself, who says he has been “called by God” to “sound the alarm” about the fact that gay sex is always sinful, and “The wages of sin is death.”

We’re just scratching the service. BarbWire’s extremism is not limited to anti-gay activities. It publishes just about anything you could imagine about President Barack Obama. BarbWire has published calls for God to “cut short” Obama’s presidency and claims Obama worships “Lucifer/Moloch” and intends “to turn the USA into the Marxist-Islamic North American Caliphate.” Among the conspiracy theories it promotes:

We don’t know about Barber, but we find that appalling. 

BarbWire Runs Column By 'Theonomist' Who Backs Execution Of Gays

As we’ve noted before, Matt Barber’s website BarbWire has become quite the outlet for extremists. Today, BarbWire promotes as one of its “Top Stories” a column called “Repent! For the Kingdom of Sodom is At Hand.”  Columnist Philip Stallings bemoans growing support for LGBT equality among millennials, blaming it on “the public school system’s indoctrination of wickedness.” Stallings praises civil magistrates in North Carolina who have refused to issue marriage certificates to “sodomites.” And, of course, he cites the over-hyped controversy over subpoenas in Houston, and the Alliance Defense Fund’s concocted controversy about the “Hitching Post” wedding chapel business in Idaho to portray equality advocates as enemies of religious liberty:

When are we going to realize that this is war? There can be no doubt that the trend now is not only to bully and wreak havoc among Christians, but to lock up Pastors and anyone else that stands for the truth until God’s Law is eradicated from their mist.

This is nothing less than a war and Christians need to be standing up everywhere in this nation contending earnestly for the faith! We should be getting just as passionate in our message of “change” and call upon this nation to repent and to follow God’s Law on this matter.

Stallings is identified on BarbWire as a “Political Theonomist.” That’s a term used by Christian Reconstructionists who believe government should be enforcing their interpretation of Old Testament law, like Gary North and Michelle Bachman mentor John Eidsmoe.

Turns out that’s exactly what Stallings believes. His Twitter feed links to a Christian radio show on which he spent nearly half an hour on August 25 arguing that the government should execute homosexuals – or “sodomites.”

It’s my position that the role of the state is morally obligated to obey God’s law…I am for lawful execution of the homosexual.

When the show’s surprised hosts pushed back and asked whether he would support other things called for in the Old Testament, like the stoning of rebellious children, Stallings said God commanded whole nations to be destroyed “all the way down to their children” and that the rebellious son in the Bible was “refusing their parents’ commandments and was openly rebellious in the community.”

And, yeah, I’m for what the Bible teaches in that regard, along with the murderer, and the rapist, and the kidnapper, and in this case the sodomite.

Stallings described his understanding of Theonomy as meaning that “God’s law is implemented. The civil magistrate must be moral, and the only way we could say someone is moral is if they’re obeying God’s law. In other words, the state is not an autonomous being. It is not executing the law morally if it’s being disobedient to God’s law.”

Excerpts below from Stallings on “Reformation Nation”

Ted Cruz And Mike Huckabee Follow David Lane's Christian-Nation Road Show To Michigan

Christian-nation activist David Lane is engaged in a multi-year, multi-state project to get conservative evangelical pastors more involved in electing right-wing candidates, and he is intent on making sure that the GOP nominates a 2016 presidential candidate to the Religious Right’s liking.

In spite of his extremism, Lane regularly gets Republican presidential candidates to attend his American Renewal Project events. On Monday night, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee spoke at a Michigan Renewal Project “Pastors Policy Briefing.”

Lane generally tries to stay out of the media spotlight, unless it’s for a friendly face like the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody. Even the media-hungry Cruz and Huckabee slipped quietly into Lansing for the event, which the Detroit News picked up on a few days later.

Also speaking at the event was Chad Connelly, the former head of the South Carolina GOP who was hired by the Republican National Committee last year to strengthen the party’s relationship with conservative evangelicals. According to news reports at the time, the Southern Baptist Connelly was brought on to energize evangelicals, some of whom were feeling disillusioned by recent national GOP candidates and by what they saw as the party’s “softening” on marriage equality.

Among the other speakers listed in a promotion for Monday’s event in the August newsletter of the American Decency Association:  right-wing radio host Dennis Prager, “historians” David Barton and Bill Federer, the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, former Congressman Bob McEwen, and Pastor Laurence White of the Texas Restoration Project.

It seems as if Cruz is equally at home in front of the camera and behind closed doors. The Detroit News reports that he “made a quiet visit to Michigan Sunday and Monday, meeting with Republican Party activists in events that were kept hush-hush until photos of the tea party stalwart and potential 2016 presidential candidate surfaced on social media.”

In addition to Lane’s event, the paper reports, “Cruz appeared at four events over the two-day period organized by Ron Weiser, the Ann Arbor developer and national Republican fundraiser with connections throughout the country.” The paper says Weisner is seeking the GOP nomination for a seat on the University of Michigan board of regents.  Among other attendees at Cruz events were Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Tea Party activist Wendy Day, who recently lost a GOP primary bid for seat in the state House.

Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee Answer The Call Of Christian Nation Extremist David Lane

Republican presidential hopefuls keep lining up to take part in events organized by David Lane, in spite of the activist’s extreme Christian-nation politics. On Friday, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee were in Iowa to meet with conservative pastors organized by Lane's Iowa Renewal Project.

Jindal and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both of whom are considering seeking the GOP nomination for the presidency in 2016, were the stars of a private Iowa Renewal Project event in Cedar Rapids organized by David Lane, a political activist from California who has been quietly mobilizing Christian conservatives in Iowa for seven years. He organized a similar pastors' gathering in Des Moines and booked Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, two other possible presidential candidates, as the featured speakers.

Lane’s events are normally closed to the press, but Jennifer Jacobs, a Register reporter, was allowed to attend. According to the Jacobs, Jindal spoke about his conversion to Christianity and the importance of his faith:

Jindal recalled how on live statewide TV at a campaign debate he was asked to identify the single most important moment in his life. "I smiled and thought to myself, 'That is the easiest question I've ever been asked," he said. "I just blurted out the truth: it was the moment that I found Jesus Christ,'" he told an audience of about 250 Christian conservative pastors and community leaders.

It's not always easy to be a Christian, Jindal said.

"It's like (God) has given us the book of life. He doesn't just look at the pages for today and tomorrow. He doesn't promise that our team is going to win happen today or tomorrow. He doesn't promise you that everything's going to happen exactly the way you want it. But he does something much much more important. ... He lets us look on the last page and on the last page our God wins."

According to the Register, while Jindal was warmly received, attendees agreed that Huckabee stole the show.

"Oh, nobody compares to Mike Huckabee," said audience member Jamie Johnson, a Christian conservative who is a member of the Iowa GOP's governing board. "Huckabee's likability is through the roof."

As Jacobs notes, “Huckabee leads polling as the Republican front-runner in Iowa, riding on popularity he built in 2008, when he won the GOP caucuses here.” In his remarks, Huckabee took on conservatives who want to talk only about liberty and low taxes but not moral issues.

"They say, "I don't want to hear about social issues. All I want to hear is about liberty and low taxes. Well, that's just delicious. Let me tell you something," said Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor. "... Liberty cannot function unless there are people who are willing to live with integrity." …

"Freedom can never function apart from a moral society," he told an audience of about 300 Iowans at a private event at the Hilton Doubletree hotel in Cedar Rapids. "And where is that going to come from? It had better come from the churches, and it had better come from pulpits and the people who are grounded in the word of God."

Rand Paul made a three-day swing through the state last week, but Huckabee denied that his remarks were a direct poke at Paul.

Asked if his "liberty" remarks were directed at the liberty movement that sprang from 2012 presidential candidate Ron Paul's campaign, and the activists who are now rallying around his son, Rand Paul, Huckabee told The Des Moines Register: "No, not at all. It's just the bigger picture. ... It's a word I would use regularly anyway."

Other excerpts from Huckabee’s speech, courtesy of the Des Moines Register:

ON THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: "We have a very weak Supreme Court right now. We've got to quit believing the Supreme Court is the supreme being. It's only one of three branches of government. It's not above the other two. ... And all three branches are under the tutelage of the people of this country in whom the ultimate power and authority power resides."

HOW TO SAVE THE COUNTRY: "It is important to elect the right people all the way from the city council to the White House. But if we want to change America, the real prescription is not to go out and just get certain people elected and hoping that they will bring spiritual revival. It's to pray for spiritual revival. And if God awakens this country spiritually, this country will elect the right people and they will do the right things."

ON PASTORS WHO SHY AWAY FROM POLITICS: "I hear pastors say, 'I'm just a shepherd of God, and I don't want to get involved in politics. It's a dirty business.' My brother, my sister, it is a dirty business. But It's dirty because the clean people have decided to leave it to the people who don't care whether it's dirty or not. ... I've never ever ever ever encouraged a pastor to endorse a candidate. Unless it's me. No, I've even said, 'Don't use your pulpit to endorse me.' As much as I would enjoy that, don't do it. Endorse the principles of God's words. Endorse the value of human life. Endorse the institution of marriage. Endorse those which are eternal and holy things."

 

GOP Candidate Michael Peroutka Fails To Shake Extremist Label With ‘Not a Racist’ Press Conference

For Republicans who would like to “rebrand” the party to reach more voters, Michael Peroutka is a nightmare.  Peroutka won the Republican primary for a county council seat in Anne Arundel County, which includes Maryland’s state capital. As we have been reporting, Peroutka is a Christian Reconstructionist who believes “It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!” He is an ardent supporter of the white nationalist League of the South, which promotes the secession of southern states, and whose leader recently wrote about “Fourth Generation Warfare” in which citizen hit squads would target “political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don't run."

Last week, Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for governor, disavowed Peroutka over his extremist positions. Yesterday, Peroutka held a press conference in which he repeatedly claimed he is not a racist, vowed that he would not play the “race card game,” and produced two African American Republicans, Eric Knowles and Robert Broadus, to vouch for his not-racism.

But if the press conference was meant to dispel the notion that Peroutka is an extremist, it failed miserably. Peroutka repeatedly refused to disavow the League of the South, on whose board he has sat. He would not say it was a mistake to have called Dixie the national anthem at a League of the South convention. And he refused, in spite of repeated questions, to disavow the idea that the southern states should secede. In response to the suggestion that the Civil War settled the question of secession, he said “No moral issue is really ever settled by the point of a sword.” He repeatedly stated that secession is “a historical fact” and “a political reality.” The American Revolution was an act of secession, he said.  And it is a kind of secession when people move out of Maryland to escape its high taxes.

Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Hutson has video of the entire press conference. Unfortunately, nobody asked Peroutka about his belief that Maryland’s General Assembly is “no longer a valid legislative body” because it has passed laws he thinks are in violation of God’s law. Or about his participation in Larry Klayman’s “revolutionary” rally last year, whose goal was to force President Obama out of office. Or why state Republicans should support Peroutka, a former Constitution Party presidential candidate, given that it was less than a year ago that he wrote this:

“Anyone, including those who identify with the ‘Tea Party’, who loves America and desires real reform, would do well to disengage themselves from the Republican Party and their brand of worthless, Godless, unprincipled conservatism.”

Christian Reconstructionism And The GOP: 'Biblical Justice' vs Social Justice

There’s a reason so many Republican politicians seem to bring a religious fervor to their efforts to gut public institutions and social welfare spending. The modern day Religious Right draws much of its ideology from Christian Reconstructionists who teach that God gave specific duties to the government, the church, and the family.

According to this theological worldview, education and taking care of the poor are the responsibility of families and churches, and it is unbiblical for the government to take on these roles. That meshes well with the view of “constitutional conservatives” who believe, for example, the Constitution does not authorize any federal government role in education.

A stark example of the increasingly indistinct line between conservative Republicans and hard-core Christian Reconstructionists and dominionists (who believe the right kind of Christians are meant to have dominion over every aspect of society) can be found in the recent Republican primary victory of Michael Petrouka in a race for a county council seat in an Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Peroutka believes that any law that runs counter to God’s law is invalid, and that the Maryland General Assembly is itself no longer a valid legislative body. Here’s a concise summation of his approach to government:

Since civil government is ordained by God in order to protect God-given rights, then the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law – PERIOD.

It is not the role of civil government to house, feed, clothe, educate or give heath care to…ANYBODY!

This religion-inflected ideological view of government is not relegated to inhabitants of the far-right fringe like Peroutka. David Barton, an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012, claims that the Constitution was drawn directly from the Bible and the sermons of colonial preachers, and that its focus on individual freedom reflects the founders’ theology of individual salvation. In this view, the Tea Party’s belief in a radically limited federal government is not only a question of constitutional interpretation, it is a mandate of Holy Scripture.

Just this month, Barton promoted these views on “Praise the Lord,” the flagship program of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world’s largest religious network and America’s most-watched faith channel. “In the Bible, Jesus has a teaching about minimum wage,” Barton said. “In the Bible, Jesus has two teachings on capital gains tax.” The Bible, according to Barton, opposes those taxes as well as estate taxes and progressive income taxes. A flat tax is “what the Bible supports.”

On the same show Barton denounced government spending on welfare. “It’s not the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor and needy,” he said, “it’s the church’s responsibility.”

According to Barton, there are 205 verses in the Bible that instruct the family or church to take care of the poor, but not the government. “The government is told to do only one thing with taking care of the poor and that one thing is to make sure that when the poor come into court they get justice. That’s the only thing government is told….What we’re doing right now is for the first time in America we have ignored what the Bible says, the Bible says you don’t work, you don’t eat.” He went on to say that people “not having to work and getting free money…violates everything the Bible tells us” about dealing with the poor.

These themes are repeated in Social Justice: How Good Intentions Undermine Justice and Gospel, a booklet published last year by the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance. The booklet, written by Cornwall’s Calvin Beisner (according to him, at the request of the Family Research Council), was distributed at last month’s “Road to Majority” conference, which was organized by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition.

The premise of the booklet is that “social justice” is contrary to “Biblical justice.” If that sounds familiar, you may be recalling Glenn Beck’s diatribes against “social justice” a few years ago, when he urged people to leave their church if its website included the phrases “social justice” or “economic justice.”

It is wrong, Beisner writes, to try to mitigate inequality “through force of government.” Why? “Because God ordained the state to dispense justice, and the church to dispense grace.” According to Beisner, giving someone “unearned” benefits is grace, not justice. People should graciously serve the poor, he writes. “But if care for the needy is made a matter of justice to the needy rather than to God, then grace becomes law. Then, the needy—and those who merely profess to be needy—may claim the benefits of grace as their due by justice.”

In other words, government has no right to tax someone in order to help feed someone else.

That is a widely shared belief on the Religious Right. Speakers at Religious Right conferences like Reed’s June event, and Republican Members of Congress, can be heard justifying cuts in food stamps with an appeal to the Bible passage that David Barton quoted on TBN. That verse, depending on your translation, says something like “he who will not work shall not eat.”

Reps. Kevin Cramer and Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee cited that verse last year. Fincher said, “The role of citizens, of Christianity, of humanity, is to take care of each other, not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” In equating taxation for social services with theft, Fincher echoes Barton, Beisner, and others. (In context, by the way, the work-to-eat verse referred to early Christians who were so confident of the imminent return of Christ that they quit doing anything.)

Poor people turning to the government, Beisner writes in his anti-social-justice booklet, results in “the stultifying effects of wealth redistribution by the coercive power of the state.” Even worse, he says, “it blinds [poor people] to their deepest need: the grace of God offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This is another theme of the Republican Party’s right wing. Sharron Angle, the GOP’s 2010 Senate nominee in Nevada, said during her campaign that entitlement programs are “idolatry” because they “make government our God.” Farris Wilks, the Texas fracking billionaire who gives huge amounts to the Heritage Foundaiton and other right-wing groups, declares that “the Torah is set up on the free enterprise system” and that “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.” Former Sen. Jim DeMint, who now heads the Heritage Foundation, says “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.

Heritage is just one of the institutions working to make right-wing economics an article of faith just like opposition to gay rights and abortion. The Freedom Federation, one of the many right-wing entities created in the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 election, brings both "mainstream" and fringe Religious Right groups together with the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. The Freedom Federation’s “Declaration of American Values” includes not only the expected rhetoric about traditional values, but also opposition to progressive taxation.

John Lofton, a right-wing pundit, is the spokesperson for Republican county council candidate Peroutka, and for Peroutka’s Christian Reconstructionist Institute on the Constitution, which has trained Tea Party activists on the biblical basis of the Constitution. Lofton has spoken on “God and Government” at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government. In 2012, in reference to an article about evangelicals disagreeing on budget priorities, Lofton wrote that “there should be no disagreement among those who believe the Bible is true. Because it is crystal clear that in God’s Word He gives NO AUTHORITY to civil government (Caesar) to give health, education or welfare to ANYBODY. If people need help, it is the role of the Church – God’s people – to provide this help and NOT government.”

Tea Party? Religious Right? GOP? Or all of the above?

Michael Peroutka Campaign Spox John Lofton: Public Officials' Job To 'Administer' God's Law

We’ve been reporting on the candidacy of Michael Peroutka, the 2004 presidential nominee for the U.S. Constitution Party and now the apparent GOP nominee for a county council seat in Anne Arundel, Maryland.  It is frankly hard to imagine a more extremist candidate for public office.  

He is a radical Christian Reconstructionist and southern secessionist who argues that the Maryland General Assembly is “no longer a valid legislative body” because it has passed laws he thinks are violations of “God’s law.” He took part in Larry Klayman’s “revolutionary” rally last November, which did not achieve its stated goal of forcing President Obama out of office. He asked the white nationalist League of the South for help in his campaign. His family foundation gave a dinosaur fossil to the Creationist Museum to keep it out of the hands of evolution-promoting scientists. And notably, for a GOP candidate, he disparages “the Republican Party and their brand of worthless, Godless, unprincipled conservatism.”

Peroutka’s partner at the Institute on the Constitution, David Whitney, ran for the same seat in the Democratic primary, and lost. But another ideological compatriot, Joseph Delimater, won the uncontested GOP primary for county sheriffFrederick Clarkson points out that Delimater’s campaign website argues that it’s the responsibility of a county councilman and sheriff to resist implementation of any law that violates God’s law.

Peroutka’s campaign spokesman John Lofton told the Capital Gazette newspaper that the candidate “would evaluate each piece of legislation to be sure it was authorized by God in the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and the Anne Arundel County Charter.” Lofton was communications director for Peroutka’s 2004 presidential campaign and has also served as communications director for Peroutka's Institute on the Constitution

Like Peroutka, Lofton has expressed contempt for the Republican Party, calling himself a “Recovering Republican,” and explaining on his website, “Being a Republican is not a disease; it is a choice – a very bad choice, but a choice nonetheless.”

Lofton was a movement conservative until he became enamored of Christian Reconstructionist R.J. Rushdoony and disillusioned that the conservative movement was not sufficiently focused on God. A few years ago he denounced the conservative movement, saying that “Dunghill Rejects” was the “perfect name” for “for the Godless, anti-Christian, modern ‘conservative movement.’”

Lofton has been invited to speak about God and Government at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government. He said the purpose of the Institute on the Constitution’s God and Government project – which encourages individuals to use public comment periods at local government meetings to deliver packaged two-minute statements – is “to tell our elected officials that government is from God and therefore their first duty is to obey God and to administer and apply his law.”

On his Christian Post blog, Lofton has asked whether President Obama is wearing a “What Would Satan Do?” bracelet and decreed that sending children to public schools is “spiritual child abuse” and a sin.

And in reference to an article about evangelicals disagreeing on budget priorities, he wrote that “there should be no disagreement among those who believe the Bible is true. Because it is crystal clear that in God's Word He gives NO AUTHORITY to civil government (Caesar) to give health, education or welfare to ANYBODY. If people need help, it is the role of the Church --- God's people --- to provide this help and NOT government.” He insists, “Man-made ‘laws’ that contradict God's Law are not law.”

Lofton’s Facebook page indicates that he shares Peroutka’s contempt for many contemporary political figures. He writes that President Obama “heads up the most powerful terrorist organization in the world, the American government.”

This week Lofton dismissed as “IDOLATROUS LINCOLN-WORSHIPPING CRAP” an article in which the Religious Right’s intellectual godfather, Robert George, wrote that Lincoln had, by saving the union, “completed, in a sense, America’s founding.”

On the 4th of July Lofton bragged that his local paper had printed his letter to the editor, which denounced the Laurel, Maryland, City Council for allowing a Hindu to open a meeting “by invoking false Gods,” which he called “an act of appalling idolatrous idiocy which invites God – the God of the Bible, the only true God there is – to curse us.”

Back in 2002, Lofton was interviewed by Stephen Colbert for The Daily Show. He denounced Lynn Cheney’s children’s book as “child abuse” for including Martin Luther King and a reference to the Day of the Dead holiday, which he said is “from the pit of hell.”

NC Lt. Gov. Dan Forest: America 'Must Decide For Or Against God'

North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest followed Texas Lt. Gov. candidate Dan Patrick to the microphone at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s 2014 Road to Majority conference. Forest joked about following another “Lieutenant Dan” and said he’d been backstage crossing things out because Patrick was already saying them. Indeed, Forest’s comments about the Constitution being grounded in “biblical truth” echoed Patrick’s Christian-nation address. “My friends,” Forest said, “America is at a great crossroads where it must decide for or against God.”

Excerpts from Dan Forest's remarks:

Forest quoted George Washington and Abraham Lincoln writing about the nation relying on God’s aid, and he said that the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was “one small declaration from tyranny, one giant declaration of dependence upon Almighty God.”

American leaders, he said, continued to rely on God until Supreme Court rulings on church-state separation:

In America, as time moved on, our leaders sought the help of the Lord through the great and terrible Civil War, through a Great Depression, through two great world wars and numerous other conflicts. Then, in 1947 our Supreme Court separated church and state and placed a high wall between the two. In 1962 our Supreme Court removed prayer from our public schools. In 1973, our Supreme Court ruled that it was OK to kill children still in the womb. In the span of a mere 25 years, we, the people allowed our nation to turn its back on God in the name of independence and freedom.

And he began a litany of ways he said America had turned its back on God:

We have forgotten God and we call it freedom.

We kill our children for convenience, and we call it freedom.

We enslave our poor in welfare and call it freedom.

We take from the hard working and give to the sluggard in the name of income equality and call it freedom.

We allow our children to become addicted to pornography in the name of free speech and we call it freedom.

We rack up mountains of debt on the backs of our grandchildren and we call it freedom.

We reward the criminal at the expense of the victim and we call it freedom.

We take God out of our schoolhouse, out of our statehouse, out of our courthouse and we call it freedom.

We allow a few individuals in the courts to determine the moral standard for all and we call it freedom.

Forest said the country must choose between “policy band-aids” and getting at the root of problems, which is that we as a nation have taken our eyes of God, “who is the giver of truth, virtue, and a moral compass.”

The heart of the matter is we have forgotten God. We have kicked him out of our house, out of our schoolhouse, out of our courthouse, and out of our statehouse, and now, out of our nation. We call it everything but what it is, we call it everything but sin, the turning away from God.

He said that the national focus on rebuilding after the 9/11 attacks was done in the name of freedom and security, but that we did it by our own strength rather than relying on God.

We don’t just need, my friends, to rebuild the walls of America. We need to rebuild the biblical foundation upon which the walls sit. We need to trust God. Fear only comes when we don’t believe that God is who he says he is. If God is the creator of the universe, if he allows our hearts to beat and our lungs to breathe, why do we not trust him? If we trust God, my friends, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. With him we can do anything. Apart from him we can do nothing. Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be given.

We continue to declare ‘God Bless America’ without doing our part, without prayer, without fasting, and repentance as a nation, without recognizing the sins we commit and humbling ourselves before the sovereign ruler of nations, and asking for forgiveness.

It is time for America to recognize that freedom does not come from being a nation of wealth, power, influence, abundance, and ease – but rather it comes from being a humble nation on its knees. It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

 

Texas Lt. Gov Nominee Dan Patrick's Christian-Nation Politics

Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, the GOP nominee for Lt. Governor, addressed Friday night’s session of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference. Patrick said that America is a Christian nation, that politics is about building God’s kingdom, and that America’s policies must be grounded in the Bible.

Excerpts from Dan Patrick's remarks:

Patrick portrayed his resounding come-from-behind victory over incumbent David Dewhurst as God’s will. He said he started every campaign appearance by saying,

“’I’m a Christian first, I’m a conservative second, and a Republican third. And if our party ever turns our back on the word of God or the principles of Ronald Reagan, I will become an independent.’ And this is the key to the future of our party the future of our country and the future of this nation.”

He explains his victory this way:

“We were solid on the issues. We never backed up from being bold for Jesus Christ. And, most importantly, we worked hard, and we left the victory to God…if you really believe God, then you take him at his word that he’ll handle the victory. And if you’re in the middle of God’s will, then that’s where you’re supposed to be.”

It was a dirty campaign, he said, but he told himself, “If the Lord wants me to win, I’ll win, and if not, that means he has something else he wants me to do.”

“We have too many candidates, and too many elected officials, that think politics and serving is about them. It’s about Him, it’s about building the kingdom for Him. That’s why this nation has been blessed.”

Patrick said the world needs America to return to its roots as a Christian nation:

 “We are a Christian nation. And the only way the world will survive is with a strong America. And a strong America will only be strong again if we stand on the word of God. Again, there’s a difference from believing in God and believing God. Even the Democrats believe in God. But when you believe God you must take him at his word and you can’t back up from that word. And that has to be the policy mindset of our elected officials. It should be biblically based, because every problem we have in America has a solution in the Bible. And that doesn’t mean we want a theocracy. But it does mean we can’t walk away from what we believe.”

Patrick said too many Republican candidates worry about offending voters. But, he said, “the left doesn’t even worry about offending God.” He added, “In fact, I would argue, that if you are a believer, and if you are a Christian conservative Republican and you won’t stand for your faith, that’s just as offensive to God. Because they may not know better, but we do.”

Patrick used the Texas governor’s race as an example of how “standing for God will keep us in power and win us the election in 2016.” He said “abortion queen” Wendy David lost Hispanic areas of Texas in her primary because Hispanic Catholics and evangelicals who “put God before party” will not vote for a Democrat who is “radical on the life issue.”  To get Hispanic voters, he said, Republicans must stand for life, marriage, school choice, and economic opportunity.

He warned that “the left” will attack messengers who stand on the foundation of the Bible. But, he asked, “If we won’t stand for Christ, if we won’t stand for the word of God in the Bible, then who will?

America, he said, is thirsty for a leader who will not only talk about public policy but about strengthening families and values. He asked for money and prayers, saying that conservatives shouldn’t take Texas for granted, given that Democrats are putting resources into making it a battleground state.

 “The job ahead is not easy. But Jesus said, ‘my yoke is easy.’ And if we all pull together, and we get up out of our church pews, and we get our pastors engaged, and we get our fellow Christians to register to vote and then get them out to vote. And we find leaders who are bold, then America has hope again.

And if we don’t, in our generation, in our time, then we will have failed our children, we will have failed our grandchildren, and we will have failed the world. And we will have failed, I believe, God’s belief and hope and wish that America is the country that He blessed to share the Word with the entire world.

So it’s on us. And I don’t want to put too much pressure on you. But it is on us. And I’m ready to do my duty, and I know you’re ready to do yours.”

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Church-State Posts Archive

Peter Montgomery, Thursday 07/23/2015, 11:25am
In the conservative Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard wrote on Tuesday, “Amen corner: Trump makes inroads with social conservatives, evangelicals.” Donald Trump's surge into the lead of the Republican presidential primary can be credited partly to two groups he has rarely engaged: social conservatives and evangelical Christians. "Trump is tapping into deep-seated anger in America, a nation founded by Christians 'for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith,'" said David Lane, a prominent national evangelical political organizer. "He... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Monday 07/13/2015, 2:28pm
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who announced his presidential bid on Twitter this morning and will have a launch event later today in Waukesha, has sent an email to activists declaring that his presidential run “is God’s plan for me.” “My relationship with God drives every major decision in my life,” starts the note, which is clearly designed to appeal to Religious Right voters who make up a major part of the GOP base vote, particularly in the early primary states Iowa and South Carolina. The letter goes on to talk about Walker’s faith as “the guiding... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 07/08/2015, 10:28am
Great news, everybody! BarbWire, far-right online outlet created by anti-gay activist Matt Barber, is going to start publishing books and e-books! “Many of the initial releases will be short, low-cost e-Books consisting of three to five chapters on subject matter ranging from America’s moral abyss, to Islamic terrorism, the economy, history and what it means to be a man in today’s emasculated America,” says the release announcing the launch of the publishing company. Barber and his buddy Tristan Alexander Emmanuel, CFO of the new venture, have seemingly decided that... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 07/02/2015, 4:30pm
Phyllis Schlafly’s latest newsletter is promoting the Eagle Forum’s 44th annual leadership council gathering. The ever-direct Schlafly gets right to the point: Why is this Eagle Council so important? It is absolutely urgent that we elect a conservative President. Eagle Council is both a strategic forum featuring top-notch experts helpful to activists like you AND a celebration of our values and achievements to encourage all Eagles. What exactly are the values Schlafly’s gathering will be celebrating? If her main speakers are any indication, those values would be anti-... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 06/23/2015, 3:56pm
Last week the Washington Times published a glowing profile of David Lane, a GOP political operative and Christian-nation extremist. The article reported on Lane’s efforts to mobilize “an army” to lead the charge for his battle with “secularists.” Just days later, the Washington Times officially became part of David Lane’s recruitment effort, launching a petition campaign co-sponsored and co-branded with Lane’s American Renewal Project. According to the campaign’s website, “The Washington Times has agreed to deliver the petition to the... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 04/14/2015, 10:55am
Christian-nation activist and would-be presidential kingmaker David Lane is urging pastors affiliated with his American Renewal Project to preach about “Biblical Marriage” on Sunday, April 26, and hold a two-hour prayer service on Tuesday, April 28, the day the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex couples getting married. Lane’s email letter asserts that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan should recuse themselves since they “have performed homosexual marriage ceremonies,” but that they have refused to... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Monday 03/23/2015, 10:43am
The American Pastors Network organized a Pennsylvania pastor summit last week featuring right-wing activists David Barton and Sandy Rios, along with video greetings from Mike Huckabee overlooking the valley of Armageddon. Sam Rohrer, president of both the Pennsylvania and American Pastors Networks, is a graduate of Bob Jones University and a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where he authored legislation to direct millions of tax dollars into Christian schools. At last year’s March for Marriage, Rohrer warned that marriage equality will doom America to tyranny... MORE