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The Right to Vote Under Attack

Last night, People For the American Way Foundation’s Andrew Gillum went on PoliticsNation with Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss our new Right Wing Watch: In Focus report on attacks on voting rights.

Watch here:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And read the report.
 

Cross-posted from PFAW Blog

Rep. Ted Poe: Obama Administration Is "Anti-Religious"

Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch last week, Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe accused President Obama and his administration of promoting policies that are “anti-religious.” Poe and Perkins were discussing with the manufactured controversy over a Texas veteran’s cemetery that prohibits a volunteer group from holding religious services at a funeral if the family does not request it. The New York Times points out that this rule was created in 2007 by the Bush administration, but according to Poe, the policy is actually all Obama’s fault.

As Kyle noted, “To the Religious Right, preventing outside groups from attending funerals and offering prayers at services where they are not wanted or requested is a violation of the religious freedom of the volunteers.” Last month, Poe attacked the cemetery director as “anti-Christian, anti-religion and anti-veteran” and introduced legislation that he said would end the supposed “religious censorship.”

In his conversation with Poe last week, Perkins claimed that “this is symptomatic of a much larger problem that we’re seeing in this administration where this type of hostility, I would describe it as, toward traditional, orthodox religious views is being unleashed.” Poe said that he agreed with Perkins’ assessment and went on to blame the Obama administration for having an “anti-religious” bias.

Perkins: This is symptomatic of a much larger problem that we’re seeing in this administration where this type of hostility, I would describe it as, toward traditional, orthodox religious views is being unleashed. We won this battle but the war is far from over, so you’ve got legislation that will say, ‘hey, nowhere in this country will veterans be denied their rights nor their families to the right to these religious services in federal cemeteries,’ so where does that legislation stand?

Poe: The legislation has been filed and it is before the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. As soon as they get a hearing we’ll get it to the floor as soon as we can and get a vote on it, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t pass. What you say Tony is exactly correct. It is my opinion that the administration—this problem is systematic throughout the administration in areas that it’s just almost anti-religious, non-religious and anti-religious in areas such as this. We’re calling them out on this to stop this nonsense.

Perkins Agrees With Jeffress That Voters Should Prefer Christian Leaders

Coverage of the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit this year was dominated by stories of Robert Jeffress’ criticism of the Mormon faith; Bryan Fischer’s unabashed bigotry; and the infighting that rose to the surface when Bill Bennett rebuked Jeffress and Mitt Romney, tepidly and not by name, denounced Fischer. The press coverage of the Religious Right conference was so completely focused on Jeffress and Fischer that the FRC even asked members to pray that the media will stop reporting on the story.

Today FRC president Tony Perkins used his radio alert today to defend Jeffress, who made it clear that Romney’s Mormon faith was a reason he endorsed his chief rival, Rick Perry. “His rational; all else being equal a Christian leader is to be preferred over a non-Christian,” Perkins said, “I whole heartedly agree.”

Listen:

Do you have the freedom to choose between Christian and a non-Christian candidate? Hello, this is Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council in Washington. Texas pastor Robert Jeffress created a firestorm when he declared at the Values Voter Summit he was voting for Rick Perry because he was a Christian. His rational; all else being equal a Christian leader is to be preferred over a non-Christian. I whole heartedly agree. So did the first justice of the Supreme Court John Jay who said it was in the "interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Many so-called journalists have gone apoplectic claiming such a bigoted position violates article 6 of the Constitution, how absurd. The article reads, “Congress may not require religious tests for an office." The Constitution restricts what the government can require, not what individuals can consider. If voters can consider a candidate's party and that party's platform, they can consider a candidate’s religion and the tenets of that faith. We should prefer mature, qualified Christians for public office over those who reject the orthodox teachings of scripture.

This prompts the question: how would Tony Perkins feel about the competence of a Jewish leader over a Christian one? Perkins and the Religious Right always talk about their Judeo-Christian coalition and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is Jewish, addressed the Values Voter Summit and is seen as a rising star in GOP circles. So much for that.

And would it impact Perkins’ decision in the Republican primary? During the Jeffress spat, Perkins told CNN’s John King that he does not consider Mormons to be Christians: “Well, let me say this, John. I do not see Mormonism as the same as Christianity. Now, whether it’s defined as a cult, I don’t know. I would say it’s not Christianity the way evangelicals view Christianity. There’s a distinction. There’s no question there’s a theological distinction between Mormonism and Christianity.”

If Perkins thinks that Christians should be given preference over non-Christians, and that Mormons are not Christians, is there any difference between his view and Jeffress’ view on Romney’s candidacy?

Cain Spent $1 Million to Run Racist "Snuff My Own Seed" Ads

For weeks now, we have been urging someone - anyone - in the press to ask presidential candidate Herman Cain about his role in the offensive 2006 ad campaign for an organization called America's PAC.

The purpose of the ad campaign was to get Black and Hispanic voters to support Republican candidates via radio ads that asked why Democrats were "on the same side of the Iraq war" as a "Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke" and another that suggested one of the characters in the ad would never vote Republican since he supported abortion because if "you make a little mistake with one of your ‘hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked":

Cain served as a spokesperson for the ad campaign and even reportedly voiced some of the ads himself ... but, for some reason, nobody in the press has bothered to ask Cain anything about it. 

But maybe someone will actually get around to asking Cain about his role, now that we know that he spent $1 million of his own money funding them:

With the balance of power in Congress hanging in the air, a leading African American businessman says black voters in the United States should put their historical pro-life values above political party. That means voting for pro-life candidates rather than supporting Democratic candidates across the board.

Herman Cain is best known as the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. He is a political commentator and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

“More and more African Americans are pro-life," Cain said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained. “Our message to African Americans is simple — it’s time you vote for candidates who support our values."

Cain will underscore that message with a $1 million advertising campaign in key states and congressional districts targeting black radio programs and urban radio stations young African Americans enjoy ... The ads are funded by Americas PAC, a Cain-backed organization.

The Bush administration called the ads "inappropriate" and the RNC called them "racist," and the man who paid for them is now the leading frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination ... so this seems like the sort of thing that maybe someone might want to ask Cain about.

Media Banned From Secretive Religious Right Event

Shortly after Rick Perry's prayer rally earlier this year, organizers of that event started promoting a Religious Right voter mobilization effort called "Champion The Vote," which seeks to "mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012."

It turned out that the Champion The Vote effort was a project of organization called United In Purpose, which is being funded by conservative millionaires for the purpose of mobilizing "40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United States to vote" over the next decade.

As part of this effort, United In Purpose/Champion The Vote are producing an event called "One Nation Under God" where churches and Religious Right activists will gather to watch a three-hour DVD being provided United In Purpose and featuring David Barton, Newt Gingrich, James Dobson, and others talking about the importance of keeping America "one nation under God":

Over the weekend, all of the speakers gathered in Florida for a Florida Renewal Project event for pastors at which the filming for the DVD was presumably done ... and it seems that organizers did not want any attention because when a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel showed up at the event, he was tossed out of the hotel by security:

The media was advised that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s speech to a gathering of Florida pastors Friday would be closed to the public, but apparently the group behind the meeting didn’t even want media in the same hotel.

A couple weeks ago, Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were announced as possible speakers at a two-day event in Orlando Thursday and Friday called the Florida Renewal Project. But this week no one wanted to talk about it, except to say it would be closed to the media and public.

Perry’s staff even denied he would attend. Gingrich’s staff confirmed his appearance but would not return phone calls to discuss it.

I went anyway this morning, to the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, to see if Gingrich would be willing to talk to me before or after his speech. When he arrived shortly before noon, I was the lone journalist on the scene, waiting in the hallway outside the meeting room. Gingrich and his staff agreed to talk to me later, at another hotel. After seeing that exchange, hotel officials approached me and, saying they were acting on behalf of event organizers, ordered me to leave the Rosen Centre property immediately, and escorted me to my car.

...

Then it turned out Perry had attended after all, sort of, Thursday night - by satellite link-up, according to tweets posted Thursday night by John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which was a participant in the Florida Renewal Project.

That appearance, which included a speech and taking questions from the pastors, came just hours after the Texas governor’s campaign staff assured the Sentinel he would not attend.

Who organized the event though? No one would say for sure, though Stemberger acknowledged that the California-based organization United in Purpose, which had organized similar “Renewal Project” events in California and Iowa earlier this year, “was involved.”

The last time United In Purpose hosted one of these conferences, we caught Mike Huckabee telling the audience that Americans ought to be forced to listen to David Barton at gunpoint.  But when United In Purpose later broadcast the event, that exchange was entirely edited out

So while organizers are going to be releasing a DVD of this Florida event in the coming weeks, it seems that they want to be able to control what people actually see and don't want reporters around revealing what was really taking place.

Stemberger Warns Of America's Imminent Collapse If The Church Doesn't "Rise Up"

John Stemberger earlier this week appeared on a conference call for Champion the Vote and warned that the future of the country relies on the Religious Right. Stemberger, the head of the Florida Family Policy Council and the past chairman of the campaign to have a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality in Florida, was promoting the One Nation Under God event with Newt Gingrich, David Barton, James Dobson, Sam Rodriguez and Lila Rose which focuses on boosting right-wing activism and learning about “God’s fingerprint all over the founding of our country”:

While Champion the Vote is technically nonpartisan, Stemberger warned that America is being “fundamentally transformed into a different type of culture, a different country” and that “we will lose this beautiful thing we call America.” According to Stemberger, only Christians are capable of creating a free society. “As only the Christian presuppositions of theology created this country,” Stemberger said, “only Christians can save it and unless the church rises up, we’re done.” He went on to say that without the resurgence of the church, “our country’s going to slip away into something we don’t even recognize”:

Stemberger went on to say that Christian conservatives are facing extreme “hostility” in American society and warned that their opponents want their anti-gay views “expunged from the marketplace”:

Richard Land's Bizarre Anti-Mormon Media Conspiracy Theory

While Robert Jeffress is running around telling anyone who will listen that "the Southern Baptist Convention has labeled Mormonism as a cult" and that Mitt Romney is a member of the cult, the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land is trying to do some damage control and suggesting that all Jeffress was really saying is that Mormonism is "a new religion, separate and distinct from the historic Christian faith."

And, according to Land, since conservative Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals have already been inoculated against Mormonism by their own pastors and therefore would have no problem voting for a Mormon for President, the media will have to try to turn off Independents by highlighting the tenets of the Mormon faith in an effort to make voters uncomfortable with Romney so as to help President Obama win re-election:

[T]he vast majority of the 40 percent or so of the American public who identify themselves as “Independents” (and who decide every American presidential election) have only the most cursory understanding of the truth claims or belief system of the Mormon faith. If, and when, Gov. Romney becomes the Republican nominee, the major broadcast networks, all of whom but Fox have abandoned any semblance of objectivity on political matters will be airing specials going into great detail on the beliefs of Mormons. While they will say they are doing this in the public interest, informing voters about Mormonism in light of the nation’s first Mormon nominee for president, their real reason will be much different. Since they are so invested philosophically and emotionally in the re-election of President Obama, they will be hoping that Mormonism’s beliefs will be exotically new and different enough to Independent voters that many of them will conclude that they sufficiently question the judgment of someone who believes such things that they will not entrust that candidate with the presidency.

Fischer: "If Anybody Is Out There Saying Something Is A Cult, It's The LDS Church!"

It is becoming abundantly clear that we could never parody Bryan Fischer if we tried because he is constantly dreaming up absurd claims that we couldn't even begin to match in our wildest imagination.

On his radio program yesterday, Fischer was discussing his view that every voter must have a religious test for candidates running for office, which was prompted by the dust-up over Mitt Romney's Mormon faith at last week's Values Voter Summit.

During the discussion, Fischer defended Robert Jeffress' right to his "sincerely held religious belief" that Mormonism is a cult ... which then somehow morphed into an assertion by Fischer that Christians are really the victim here because it is the Mormon church which believes that Christians are a cult: 

If somebody is true to their Mormon faith - I mean, if they're devout - Mormonism, they believe, restored the church of Jesus Christ. It was gone, it disappeared, all the church was corrupt, there was no representation of the Gospel of Christ. This was Joseph Smith, he said "I talked to God about it. He said 'don't join any churches; they're all corrupt, they're all gone; my church is not here on planet Earth; you and you alone can restore my original church.'"

So, as far as devout Mormons are concerned, the entire history of Christianity, the entire church is one big ginormous cult, if they're going to be honest about their own faith and about their own religion. So if anybody's out there saying something is a cult, it's the LDS Church!

Jeffress Denies Provocative Statements About Catholicism, Mormonism

Robert Jeffress appeared on The Alan Colmes Show last night to explain his inflammatory statements about Catholicism, Mormonism and other non-Protestant religions. During the interview, Colmes asked Jeffress, who has said that Christian voters should vote for Rick Perry over his Mormon opponent Mitt Romney, about his view that the Roman Catholic faith represents “the genius of Satan” and that the Mormon religion is a “cult” that is “from the pit of Hell.”

Jeffress appeared to deny his past statements about Catholicism and Mormonism, but defended the content of the statements he claims he didn’t make:

Colmes cited Right Wing Watch, which first reported Jeffress’ claims. We are happy to remind Jeffress that he did in fact contend in a sermon last year that Catholicism originated from a “Babylonian mystery religion” and is tied to Satan:

Moreover, Jeffress said in a Trinity Broadcasting Network interview last year that Mormonism, along with Islam, is a “heresy from the pit of hell”:

Listen to Colmes’ entire interview with Jeffress here.

Herman Cain, KKK Crackers, and Snuffing The Seed of One Of Your Hoes

Given that some polls are now showing Herman Cain leading the Republican presidential field, do you think that maybe someone in the media might be able to get around to asking him about his role in the 2006 radio ad campaign that the Bush administration called "inappropriate" and the RNC called "racist"? 

Here is a refresher:  Back in 2006, an organization called America's PAC was formed for the purpose of spending $1 million to get Black and Hispanic voters to support Republican candidates with absurdly over-the-top and offensive radio ads:

The group, America's Pac, began running ads last month in more than two dozen congressional districts.The campaign discusses issues ranging from warrantless wiretapping to school choice, but the most inflammatory spots pertain to abortion.

"Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies," a female announcer in one of the ads says, as rain, thunder, and a crying infant are heard in the background. "The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote.Why don't they want our lives?"

...

Another spot attempts to link Democrats to a white supremacist who served as a Republican in the Louisiana Legislature, David Duke.The ad makes reference to Duke's trip to Syria last year, where he spoke at an anti-war rally.

"I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists,"a male voice in the ad says. "What I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke."

According to the New York Sun, Herman Cain was the spokesperson for the group and personally voiced some of the radio ads:

The group referred calls from The New York Sun to a conservative, African-American talk show host who voiced some of the ads, Herman Cain.

"The main thing that America's Pac is up to is it basically is challenging the thesis or the belief on the part of the Republican Party that they cannot attract the black vote," Mr. Cain said. He said similar advertisements run in 2004 helped boost President Bush's share of the black vote in Ohio to 16%, from 9% in 2000.

"We don't believe that was an accident," Mr. Cain said. The IRS filing indicates that the ads are running this year in 10 battleground states, including Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Mr. Cain, who once managed the Godfather's Pizza chain and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate from Georgia in 2004, said he was not troubled that Mr. Rooney, who is white, is funding ads using black voices who claim to speak on behalf of the black community."You don't have a lot of black billionaires who would want to fund something like this," he said.

We managed to track down the audio of one of America's PAC's most infamous ads a while back and uploaded it to YouTube:

Is that Cain featured in the ad?  We don't know for sure - it kind of sounds like him, but it is entirely possible that it is not him ... but since nobody seems willing to ask Cain about the ads and his role with the organization, it is impossible to know.

It is known that Cain was a voice and spokesman for the America's PAC ad series, so even if he didn't voice this particular ad, it seems worth asking him which ads he did voice and whether he feels ads about a "Ku Klux Klan cracker" or snuffing the seed of "one of your hoes" are appropriate, especially since even the RNC denounced the ad's "racist or race-baiting in intent."

Values Voter Summit 2011 & America in 2013

As RWW readers know, the Values Voter Summit, the year’s biggest political gathering for the Religious Right, took place in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.  Every Republican presidential candidate with the exception of Jon Huntsman addressed the summit, evidence of the continuing importance of Religious Right activists and political groups to the GOP. Polls suggest that the Religious Right is about twice as big as the Tea Party, with significant overlap between the two movements. Ron Paul’s campaign packed in enough voters to win the straw poll, but it would be wrong to say he was the favorite of the Values Voter crowd. It was up-and-coming candidate Herman Cain who won the loudest cheers (and took second place).

The two days of speeches from presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and Religious Right activists painted a clear picture of where they’ll try to take the country if they are successful in their 2012 electoral goals.  In their America, banks and corporations would be free from pesky consumer and worker protections; there would be no Environmental Protection Agency and no federal support for education; women would have no access to abortion; gays would be second-class citizens; and for at least some of them, religious minorities would have to know their place and be grateful that they are tolerated in this Christian nation. 
 
Here’s a recap of some major themes from the conference.
 
Religious Bigotry on Parade
 
In one of the most extreme expressions of the “Christian nation” approach to government, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has stated repeatedly that the religious liberty of non-Christians is not protected by the First Amendment.  More specifically, he says Mormons are not protected by the First Amendment.  For whatever reason, VVS organizers scheduled Romney and Fischer back-to-back on Saturday morning. 
 
Before the conference, People For the American Way called on Romney to take on Fischer’s bigotry, which he did, albeit in a vague and tepid manner, criticizing “poisonous” rhetoric without naming Fischer or explaining why his views are poison.  Getting greater media attention were comments by Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress, who in his introduction of Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted on the importance of electing a “genuine” follower of Christ. Reporters who accurately saw this as a swipe at Romney’s faith asked Jeffress about it, and he labeled Mormonism a cult.  (Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians, including Southern Baptists, believe Mormon theology is anything but.)  Following Romney at the microphone, Fischer doubled down, insisting that the next president has to be a Christian “in the mold of” the founding fathers.  Fischer’s inaccurate sense of history is eclipsed only by his lack of respect for church-state separation and for the Constitution itself – even though he insisted that his religious test for the presidency was really a “political test.” Romney took only four percent in the VVS straw poll, even though he has been leading in recent polls of GOP voters.
 
Beating up on Obama
 
Religious Right leaders routinely denounce President Barack Obama, so it is no surprise that a major theme of the VVS was attacking the president and his policies.  Perhaps the nicest thing anyone said about the president was Mitt Romney’s snide remark that Obama is “the conservative movement’s top recruiter.”    Among the nastiest came from virtue-monger Bill Bennett, who said, “if you voted for him last time to prove you are not a racist, you must vote against him this time to prove you are not an idiot.” Rep. Anne Buerkle, one of the Tea Party freshmen, said flat out that the president is not concerned about what is best for the country. 
 
Health care and foreign policy were top policy targets.  Many speakers denounced “Obamacare,” and most of the presidential candidates promised to make dismantling health care reform a top priority. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Religious Right favorite who is leading a legal challenge to the health care reform law, said that if the Supreme Court did not overturn it, Americans would go from being citizens to subjects.  Just about every speaker attacked President Obama for not being strong enough in support of Israel, and repeated a favorite right-wing talking point by pledging to “never apologize” for U.S. actions abroad.
 
Gays as Enemies of Liberty
 
It is clear that a Republican takeover of the Senate and White House would put advances toward equality for LGBT Americans in peril.  Speaker after speaker denounced the recent repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers in the armed forces; many also attacked marriage equality for same-sex couples.  And many portrayed liberty as a zero-sum game, insisting that advances toward equality posed a dire threat to religious liberty. Rep. Mike Pompeo said “You cannot use our military to promote social ideals that do not reflect the values of our nation,” concluding his remarks with a call for the election of more Republicans, saying “ride to the sounds of the guns and send us more troops.”
Another member of the 2010 freshman class – Rep. Vicky Hartzler – attacked the Obama administration for “trying to use the military to advance their social agenda,” saying, “It’s wrong and it must be stopped.” Predictably, the AFA’s Fischer was the most vitriolic and insisted that the country needs a president “who will treat homosexual behavior not as a political cause at all but as a threat to public health.”
 
Loving Wall Street, Hating Wall Street Protesters
 
On the same day that moving pictures of Kol Nidre services at the site of Occupy Wall Street protests made the rounds on the Internet, Values Voter Summit speakers portrayed the protests as dangerous and violent.  Others simply mocked the protesters without taking seriously the objections being raised to growing inequality and economic hardship in America.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor denounced the “growing mobs” associated with the protests and decried “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” (Too bad he didn’t stick around to hear the rest of the speakers).  Glenn Beck denounced “Jon Stewart Marxism” and warned that the protests were the sign of an approaching “storm of biblical proportions” in which “the violent left” would smash, tear down, kill, bankrupt, and destroy.  Pundit Laura Ingraham simply made fun of the protesters and held up her own “hug the rich” sign.  Rising star Herman Cain defended Wall Street, blaming the nation’s economic crisis on policymakers, not reckless and irresponsible financiers.  Nobody wanted to regulate the financiers; speakers called for a repeal of the Dodd-Frank law. 
 
A number of speakers promoted Christian Reconstructionist notions of “Biblical economics,” with Star Parker declaring that “this whole notion of redistribution of wealth is inconsistent with scripture” and calling for the selection of a candidate with commitment to the free market according to the Bible.  Ron Paul also insisted “debt is not a political principle.”  The AFA’s Bryan Fischer said that liberalism is based on violating two of the Ten Commandments, namely thou shall not steal, and thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.  Liberalism, he said, is “driven by angry, bitter, acquisitive greed for the wealth of productive Americans.” 
 
No Love for Libertarians
 
A major theme at last year’s Values Voter Summit, as at other recent Religious Right political events, was an effort to make social-issue libertarians unwelcome in the conservative movement by insisting that you cannot legitimately claim to be a fiscal conservative if you are not also pushing “traditional family values.”  The same theme was sounded this year by the very first speaker, Tony Perkins.  Another, Joe Carter, took a shot at gay conservatives, saying it was not possible to be conservative and for gay marriage – it simply made you a “liberal who likes tax cuts.”  Carter said “social conservative” should be redundant. Ingraham echoed the theme, calling for an end to conservative modifiers (social, fiscal, national security) and, echoing popular Christian writer C.S. Lewis, called for a commitment to “mere conservatism.”  There were far fewer mentions of the Tea Party movement itself at this year’s VVS, perhaps owing to the movement’s unpopularity – or to the fact that the GOP itself has essentially become one big Tea Party party.
 
Crying Wolf on Religious Persecution
 
Religious Right leaders routinely energize movement activists with dire warnings about threats to religious liberty and the alleged religious persecution of Christians in America.  William Bennett said liberals are bigoted against “people who publicly love their God, who publicly love their country.”  Retired Gen. William Boykin said Christians are facing the greatest persecution ever in America.   The American Center for Law & Justice’s Jay Sekulow warned that the next president will probably select two Supreme Court justices, and that if it isn’t a conservative president, our Judeo-Christian values could be “eliminated.”  Crying wolf about persecution of Christians in America is offensive given the very real suffering of people in countries that do not enjoy religious freedom.  Several speakers addressed the case of a Christian pastor facing death in Iran.  That is persecution; having your political tactics challenged or losing a court case is not.
 
America is Exceptional; Europe Sucks
 
Republican strategists decided a couple of years ago that “American exceptionalism” would be a campaign theme in 2010 and 2012, and we heard plenty of talk about it at the Values Voter Summit.  Among the many who spoke about American exceptionalism was Rep. Steve King, who said “this country was ordained and built by His hand,” that the Declaration of Independence was written with divine guidance, and that God moved the founding fathers around the globe like chess pieces .  Liberals, said the Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding, don’t share a belief in American exceptionalism or the American dream. Many speakers contrasted a freedom-loving, God-fearing America to socialist, post-Christian Europe.  Rick Perry said “those in the White House” don’t believe in American exceptionalism; they’d rather emulate the failed policies of Europe.  Gen. Boykin declared Europe “hopelessly lost.”
 
Smashing the Regulatory State
 
The anti-government, anti-regulatory fervor of billionaire right-wing funders like the Koch brothers was on vibrant display at the VVS.  Without the slightest nod to the fact that regulating the behavior of corporations’ treatment of workers, consumers, and the environment is in any way beneficial, a member of a Heritage Foundation panel said conservatives’ goal should be to “break the back” of the “regulatory state.”  Some presidential candidates vowed to halt every regulation issued during the Obama administration.  Michele Bachmann said her goal was to “dismantle” the bureaucracy.
 
Judging Judges
 
Many speakers criticized judges for upholding abortion rights, church-state separation, and gay rights. Newt Gingrich took these attacks to a whole new level, calling for right-wing politicians to provoke a  constitutional crisis in which the legislative and executive branch would ignore court rulings they didn’t like.  He called the notion of “judicial supremacy” an “affront to the American system of self-government.” Aside from Gingrich’s very dubious constitutional theory, the speech seemed out of place at a conference in which speakers had been calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the health care law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
 
Deconstructing the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’
 
VVS speakers love quoting the Declaration of Independence, but some are clearly a little troubled with the notion that the “pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right, one that might apply, for example, to happy, loving gay couples.  Rick Santorum said that the founders’ understanding of “happiness” meant “the morally right thing” and doing what God wants.  Steve King said the  pursuit of happiness was not like a tailgate party, but the pursuit of excellence in moral and spiritual development.  Michele Bachman has equated the pursuit of happiness with private property.
 
Notably weird speeches
 
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel gave a meandering address that moved from U.S. policy on Israel to the war on Islamic radicalism to an attack on the United Nations to denunciations of sexologist Alfred Kinsey and humanist/educator John Dewey for undermining western civilization. He warned against conservatives using rhetoric that might push the growing Latino population into the maw of the “leftist machine,” making an aside about Latinos whose names end in “z” having a special connection to Israel.
 
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who ended up taking third place in the straw poll, seemed personally hurt that conservative evangelicals weren’t rallying around him given all that he had done for them and the price he had paid for it.  He whined, “Don’t you want a president who’s comfortable in his shoes talking about these issues?”
 
Rep. Steve King of Iowa said that people who support marriage equality or legal abortion don’t do so because they have a value system supporting those things, but because they want to spite the Religious Right – “because they know it’s precious to us.”
 
Former Fox TV personality Glenn Beck gave a trademark lurching speech contrasting visceral anger with his recitation of Abraham Lincoln’s “with malice toward none.” The speech was long on mockery of Wall Street protestors and on the messianic narcissism that was on display at his Lincoln Memorial rally last year.  “We need to give America the same choice” that Moses gave Israel, he said: good or evil, light or dark, life or death, freedom or slavery.  He said America is in a religious war, a race war, a class war, and other wars.  In one breath he insisted that the nation “must return to God” and talked about the “country’s salvation” – and in the next he denounced the notion of “collective salvation,” which he has elsewhere attributed to President Obama and denounced as evil and satanic.
 

Bill Donohue Condemns Jeffress As A "Poster Boy For Hatred"

Last week we posted audio of Robert Jeffress, the prominent Rick Perry endorser who introduced the candidate at the Values Voter Summit, condemning the Roman Catholic faith as a “counterfeit religion” that represents “the genius of Satan” in a sermon last year. Jeffress linked the Catholic Church to a Satanic “Babylonian mystery religion” that worshiped a fish god and warned that Catholics will “miss eternal life” because of their religion’s supposed paganism:

Catholicism isn’t the only religion that has encountered hostility from Jeffress: he is best known for calling Mormonism a cult that is “from the pit of Hell.” He has argued that Hindus, Muslims and Jews are also destined for Hell.

Today, right-wing Catholic activist Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights released a statement slamming Jeffress for having “demonized” the Catholic faith. In 2008, Donohue called on John McCain to renounce one of his endorsers, John Hagee, who has a history of anti-Catholic rhetoric and once said that God sent Hitler to be a “hunter” of Jews. While McCain ultimately rejected Hagee’s endorsement, Perry has so far refused to disavow Jeffress:

Last Friday, Rev. Robert Jeffress, the Dallas pastor who introduced Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, spoke derisively about the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, making the case that “Mormonism is a cult.” Two days later, he chided Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as “false religions.”

Last year, Rev. Jeffress said the Roman Catholic Church was the outgrowth of a “corruption” called the “Babylonian mystery.” He continued, “Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s word. It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. Isn’t that the genius of Satan?”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue offered these remarks today:

Where did they find this guy? When theological differences are demonized by the faithful of any religion—never mind by a clergyman—it makes a mockery of their own religion. Rev. Jeffress is a poster boy for hatred, not Christianity.

Jeffress: God Will Judge America For Electing A Mormon President

During a 2008 debate with Jay Sekulow of the American Center of Law and Justice, who endorsed Mitt Romney’s last presidential bid, Robert Jeffress said that not only are Mormons like Romney not Christians but that America would suffer God’s judgment if a Mormon were elected President.

Jeffress, an influential pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention, stepped into the political spotlight when he introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in a speech that appeared to contrast the fight between Perry and Romney as a choice between a Christian conservative and a conservative who is simply a “moral person.” Jeffress believes that Romney is not “indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God” but actually is a member of a “cult” that is “from the pit of Hell.” He also contends that “counterfeit religions,” including Roman Catholicism, represent “the genius of Satan.”

At the 2008 debate, arguing that Christians are “indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God” and “uniquely favored by God,” and therefore favored in public office, Jeffress said that Mormons, along with Hindus and Muslims, “are following after false gods.” Jeffress warned that “God always judges a nation that has a ruler who introduces false gods into that national life.”

Watch:

The value of electing a Christian goes beyond the public policies that he or she may enact. We believe that a genuine Christian has a relationship with God, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, is led by the spirit of God, and is uniquely favored by God. Even if that genuine believer does not embrace every position we hold important we still believe that we make a grave mistake in underestimating the value of having a Christian in office.



Followers of Mormonism, Hinduism, Islam, they’re not worshiping the same God in a different way. We believe they are following after false gods. And as Christians, we can look at the Bible and see very clearly that God always judges a nation that has a ruler who introduces false gods into that national life.

Jeffress Says Satan Is Behind Roman Catholicism

Yesterday, Robert Jeffress introduced Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit with a fiery endorsement, giving us an opportunity to reflect on Jeffress' history of anti-Mormon rhetoric. But the Mormon faith isn't the only one that faces Jeffress' ire. Last year on his show Pathway To Victory, Jeffress said that Satan is behind the Roman Catholic Church.

At The Response prayer rally, we called out Perry for partnering with John Hagee, who has called the Roman Catholic Church the "The Great Whore" of Babylon from the Book of Revelation. Similarly, Jeffress calls the Catholic church a result of "the Babylonian mystery religion" found in the Book of Revelation, and says the Catholic Church represents "the genius of Satan."

Listen:

Jeffress: This is the Babylonian mystery religion that spread like a cult throughout the entire world. The high priests of that fake religion, that false religion, the high priests of that religion would wear crowns that resemble the heads of fish, that was in order to worship the fish god Dagon, and on those crowns were written the words, 'Keeper of the Bridge,' the bridge between Satan and man. That phrase 'Keeper of the Bridge,' the Roman equivalent of it is Pontifex Maximus. It was a title that was first carried by the Caesars and then the Emperors and finally by the Bishop of the Rome, Pontifex Maximus, the Keeper of the Bridge.

You can see where we're going with this. It is that Babylonian mystery religion that infected the early church, one of the churches it infected was the church of Pergamos, which is one of the recipients of the Book of Revelation. And the early church was corrupted by this Babylonian mystery religion, and today the Roman Catholic Church is the result of that corruption.

Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn't come from God's Word, it comes from that cult-like, pagan religion. Now you say, 'pastor how can you say such a thing? That is such an indictment of the Catholic Church. After all the Catholic Church talks about God and the Bible and Jesus and the Blood of Christ and Salvation.'

Isn't that the genius of Satan? If you want to counterfeit a dollar bill, you don't do it with purple paper and red ink, you're not going to fool anybody with that. But if you want to counterfeit money, what you do is make it look closely related to the real thing as possible.

And that's what Satan does with counterfeit religion. He uses, he steals, he appropriates all of the symbols of true biblical Christianity, and he changes it just enough in order to cause people to miss eternal life.

Robert Jeffress Endorses Perry, Thinks America’s Doomed Anyway

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Robert Jeffress, a leading figure on the Religious Right, has announced that he will endorse Rick Perry for president later today at the Values Voter Summit.

Jeffress’s choice of Perry is not hugely surprising – in the past, he has attacked Mitt Romney for his Mormonism, saying, “Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult” and saying that Mormons “worship a false god.”

In 2010, Jeffress urged Christians to vote solely based on religion, saying “I believe we should always support a Christian over a non-Christian."

Mormonism isn’t the only religion Jeffress condemns – he has called Islam an “evil, evil religion” and said, “What we label today as ‘pluralism,’ God called ‘idolatry.’” This “idolatry,” Jeffress warned, has opened up the nation to “God’s wrath.”

Jeffress may have found a presidential candidate he likes, but he’s not too optimistic about the future of the United States. In September, he launched a series of sermons called “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” in which he posits that America is doomed and Christians need to see the nation’s collapse as an opportunity to spread the Gospel.

 

Who’s Who at the Values Voter Summit 2011

This weekend, nearly every major GOP presidential candidate, along with the top two Republicans in the House of Representatives, will speak at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of the leaders of the movement to integrate fundamentalist Christianity and American politics.

The candidates – Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich – and the congressmen – House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor – will join a who’s who of the far Right at the event. The organizers of the Values Voter Summit and many of its prominent attendees are on the frontlines of removing hard-won rights for gay and lesbian Americans, restricting women’s access to reproductive healthcare, undermining the free exercise rights of non-Christian religions and breaking down the wall of separation between church and state.

In perhaps the starkest illustration of how far even mainstream Republican candidates are willing to go to appease the Religious Right, Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak immediately before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, a man whose record of hate speech should be shocking by any standard. Along with regularly denigrating gays and lesbians, Muslims, and other minority groups, Fischer has no love for Romney’s Mormon faith. In a radio program last week, Fischer insisted that Mormons have no right to religious freedom under the First Amendment and falsely claimed that the LDS Church still sanctions polygamy.

People For the American Way has called on GOP presidential candidates appearing at the conference to denounce Fischer’s bigotry. Last year, PFAW issued a similar call to attendees, which was met with silence.

The following is a guide to some of the individuals with whom the leaders of the GOP will be rubbing shoulders at the Values Voter Summit this year.

Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis at the American Family Association, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Fischer acts as the chief spokesman for the group and also hosts its flagship radio program, Focal Point, on which he has interviewed a number of prominent figures including Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

On his radio program and in blog posts, Fischer frequently expresses unmitigated bigotry toward a number of minority groups, including gays and lesbians, Muslim Americans, Native Americans, low-income African Americans and Mormons.

Fischer has:

At a speech at last year’s Values Voter Summit, Fischer said that if Christians don’t get involved in politics, they “make a deliberate decision to turn over the running of the United States government to atheists and pagans.” Of the gay rights movement, he warned, “We are going to have to choose, as a nation, between the homosexual agenda and freedom, because the two cannot coexist.”

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the main organizer of this weekend’s summit. Perkins leads the group’s efforts against gay rights, abortion rights and church/state separation.

The FRC famously expressed its hostility to religious pluralism in a 2000 statement blasting a Hindu priest who was invited to give an opening prayer in Congress: "[W]hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage…. Our Founders … would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference."

The FRC has one of the most anti-gay platforms of any major political organization, including expressions of support for the criminalization of homosexuality. Earlier this year, the group called on members to pray for the continuation of Malawi’s law prohibiting homosexuality , under which a gay couple was sentenced to fourteen years in jail. Senior fellow Peter Sprigg said he would “much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.”

Perkins himself frequently reflects the extreme views of his organization. He:

At last year’s Values Voter Summit, Perkins managed to simultaneously insult U.S. servicemembers and several important U.S. allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that armies that allow gays and lesbians to serve openly “ participate in parades, they don’t fight wars to keep the world free .”

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the head of the Liberty University School of Law and its legal affiliate, Liberty Counsel, both sponsors of the Values Voter Summit. Liberty Counsel vehemently opposes rights for gays and lesbians, and in July filed the lawsuit to overturn New York’s Marriage Equality Act . The group’s Director of Cultural Affairs Matt Barber has called marriage equality “ rebellion against God” and said LGBT youth are more likely to commit suicide because they know “ what they are doing is unnatural, is wrong, [and] is immoral .” Barber has also described liberalism as “hatred for God” and said the president and Democrats “are anti-God.” In fact, Liberty Counsel claimed that Obama is “ pushing America to move under the curse ” of God and “ jeopardizing our nation” for purportedly not supporting Israel.

Through his role at Liberty Counsel and on his radio program Faith & Freedom, Staver has:

Staver aggressively promotes “ex-gay” reparative therapy and warns that gays and lesbians are “ intent on trampling upon the fundamental freedoms ” of others. He is also closely linked to the saga of Lisa Miller, a woman represented by Liberty Counsel who kidnapped her daughter and fled to Central America after a court granted custody to her former partner, a lesbian woman. Although Liberty Counsel denies involvement in the kidnapping, earlier this year Miller was reportedly staying at the house of Staver’s administrative assistant’s father in Nicaragua . Staver has also taught the Miller case in his law classes as an example of an instance where “God’s law” preempts “man’s law.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin sparked a controversy when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the War on Terror as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative. In a speech at the group’s conference in April, he declared that George Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations conspired to collapse the U.S. economy in order to help President Obama get elected. Last year, he told the group that President Obama was using his health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him .

Star Parker

Parker is a long-time Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-abortion rights work. As Washington, DC was poised to legalize marriage equality, Parker warned that it would lead to more HIV infections in the city, which would “ transform officially into Sodom.” In a recent radio interview with Tony Perkins, Parker mused that black family life was “ more healthy” under slavery than it is today and has accused liberals of treating Justice Clarence Thomas and Gov. Sarah Palin like runaway slaves. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust.

Ed Vitagliano

As the AFA’s research director, Ed Vitagliano helped co-produce the 2000 anti-gay documentary “It’s Not Gay,” which is riddled with misleading statistics about gays and lesbians and promotes “ex-gay” reparative therapy. The “documentary” starred ex-gay leader Michael Johnston, a self-described “former homosexual,” who was later revealed to have been secretly having sex with other men. Vitagliano’s anti-gay work has continued apace — on the AFA’s radio program this year, Vitagliano argued that gay men are “ abusing the nature of the design of the human body” and said homosexuality is not a “ natural and normal and healthy activity.” Vitagliano also scolded congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis for supporting marriage equality , saying that Lewis “thumbed [his] nose” at God and “needs to go back and read his Bible.”

Bishop Harry Jackson

Jackson, who built his career as an avowed opponent of rights for gays and lesbians, is a regular speaker at Religious Right conferences. He has called for a “SWAT Team” of “Holy Ghost terrorists” to work against hate crimes legislation that protects gays and lesbians, and said that black organizations that support gay rights have “ sold out the black community” and have been “ co-opted by the radical gay movement .” Jackson claims that gay marriage is part of “ a Satanic plot to destroy our seed” and that the larger gay rights movement is “ an insidious intrusion of the Devil.”

Along with his fierce opposition to LGBT rights, Jackson has compared legal abortion to “lynching” and urged the Senate to defeat Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court because she is not a Protestant (Kagan is Jewish). Jackson has even described his political efforts in apocalyptic terms, telling a Religious Right group before the 2010 elections, “God is saying to us ‘I want to pick a fight in which I can wipe out my enemies and cause them to be silenced once and for all.’ This is where America is; if we do not recognize and repent, we are going to see our way of life destroyed as we now know it.”

Lila Rose

Rose is the anti-choice activist responsible for carrying out a deceptive hit job against Planned Parenthood this year. Members of Rose’s group, Live Action, went to Planned Parenthood clinics around the country posing as clients seeking help with a child sex trafficking ring. Planned Parenthood alerted the FBI about the activity, and the one staffer who handled the supposed traffickers inappropriately was promptly fired. Nevertheless, Rose claimed that her hoax proved “beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of young girls it claims to serve.”

Rose is no newcomer to the Values Voter Summit: in a speech at 2009’s summit, she called for abortions to be performed “in the public square.”

Glenn Beck

Until Beck’s Fox News program was canceled earlier this year, he was one of the Right’s most visible fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists. When his violent rhetoric inspired some real threats against progressive leaders, he laughed off the critics who urged him to choose his words more responsibly. Beck’s elaborate conspiracy theories include the idea that socialists and Islamists were planning a global caliphate, with the help of American progressives; an obsession with the progressive funder George Soros, at whom he leveled a number of anti-Semitic smears including a personal attack that the Anti-Defamation league called “horrific”; and a distrust of President Obama, who he once said was “racist” with a “ deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture .”

On air, Beck joked about killing prominent progressives (for instance, poisoning Nancy Pelosi’s wine), but frequently insisted that it is progressives who were urging violence, even predicting his own martyrdom. In one 2010 broadcast, he warned that "anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists" have to "eliminate 10 percent of the U.S. population" in order to "gain control."

After a terrorist in Oslo killed dozens of young members of Norway’s Labor Party at an island summer camp, Beck attacked the victims , comparing the camp to “Hitler Youth” and calling it “disturbing.”

Engle Likens Obama To Pontius Pilate

Lou Engle called on members of the Boston Justice House of Prayer last week during their Antioch Again summit to pray that President Obama and his family will have a revelation that convinces them to end abortion. Engle advised them not to “listen to Rush Limbaugh very much” because “you will get a bitter, angry spirit,” noting that God’s wisdom “was above our Democrat and Republican wisdom.” He went on to compare President Obama to Pontius Pilate, asking for Michelle to have dreams like “Pilate’s wife” had before the crucifixion of Jesus, and that Obama “wouldn’t wash his hands in water thinking ‘I’m innocent of the blood,’” regarding the issue of abortion:

Engle: I want to encourage people, don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh very much, you will get a bitter, angry spirit. I felt like the Lord is saying, ‘listen there is a wisdom above the right-wing political wisdom.’ I believe the future of our nation might rest on whether or not we pray for President Obama like we prayed for President Bush. What if God would use a black man to bring the races together if the whites would begin to pray for him as much as they prayed for President Bush, what if God had a wisdom that was above our Democrat and Republican wisdom? I’m not saying I could vote for him because I could never participate by my declaration on the shedding of innocent blood but I tell you what God’s box is bigger than ours. He doesn’t say point the finger, He says pray for those in authority. I have been feeling like I need to pray as if the future of our nation depended on President Obama having a revelation from heaven. Father I pray right now, just lift your hands, your heart, lift your voices, we pray for President Obama, we thank you, he is our president, I pray for President Obama, I pray that You would visit him with revelation, visit his children, visit Michelle, protect them from the Evil One, we pray that he would be a Lincoln-type president, we pray that he would be haunted by it, think about it, night and day, in the dreams Lord, Pilate’s wife, Lord that he wouldn’t wash his hands in water thinking ‘I’m innocent of the blood,’ oh come to him.

David Barton Likens Himself To Jesus

The ever so humble David Barton told listeners on a conference call for United In Purpose’s “ One Nation Under God” event today that the criticisms he faces for his erroneous, reliably wrong and consistently debunked portrayal of history are just like what Jesus endured. Bill Dallas of United In Purpose and Champion the Vote asked why the “secular press” always questions Barton’s faulty interpretations of history. In fact, Barton’s critics include historians from both Christian and secular institutions. Barton answered that his critics, like the persecutors of Jesus, don’t attack the content of his message but only lie about who he is.

Barton, who is currently suing three of his critics for libel and defamation, recommends that since “Jesus ignored those comments,” you “don’t worry about when they attack you, you don’t worry about what they say.”

Dallas: Well when the secular press tries to pigeonhole you as a historical revisionist, how does that make you feel? How do you combat that? How do we combat that? Because we use a lot of your materials, David, what do you say to that?

Barton: One of the things that I’ve found is that they like to go after me but they won’t go after the content because it’s documented so well, in our case we have 100,000 documents from before 1812. I have four law schools out there, secular law schools, who have entire websites smashing me, trashing me, but they’ve never been able to go after the content, they just don’t like what’s there. So what they’ll do is, and I don’t want to compare myself in anyway, but it’s the same tactic they used with Jesus. When Jesus had content that would change people’s lives they’d say ‘oh he’s a wine-drinker, he’s a glutton,’ and they would make things up about him and that’s designed to sever people from listening to him, ‘who wants to listen to a drunkard, who wants to listen to a glutton?’ So what you have to do is, you get by there, Jesus ignored those comment, you keep putting out the information so you don’t worry about when they attack you, you don’t worry about what they say, you get a whole bunch of people who will listen and you just overwhelm them with numbers.

Dallas also told listeners that Barton will give a two hour lecture during the “One Nation Under God” event, which will also feature Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, but which Dallas stressed is completely “nonpartisan.” Of course, having Gingrich, Perry, and Barton, the former vice-chair of the Texas Republican Party and a paid consultant of the Republican National Committee, shows that event organizers aren’t trying very hard to hide their pro-GOP message.

Understanding The Methods And Agenda of Champion The Vote

Shortly after Gov. Rick Perry's giant prayer rally in August, organizers started emailing those who had registered for the event, urging them to get active in a new Religious Right voter mobilization effort called Champion The Vote.

It turns out that this registration and mobilization effort is being backed by millions of dollars from Rick Perry supporters who are dedicated to doing what they can to register tens of millions of Christian voters in the coming years in an effort to take back America.

Yesterday, Champion The Vote's Bill Dallas was a guest on The Janet Mefferd Show where he provided the first concrete details regarding just how the organization intends to go about accomplishing this "nonpartisan" goal:

Mefferd: So what is the strategy? I know you have this website, ChampionTheVote.com. How are you compiling the database, how are you identifying these Christians, and how are you utilizing regular Christians who are registered to vote to help you out?

Dallas: So currently we have a database that has over 120 million names in it and through a lot of crashing lists against other lists - another term is called data-mining - we've been able to determine through characteristics people that are very pro-life, traditional marriage, the magazines they subscribe to - these are all things you go out and rent,. We spent a lot of money determining the characteristics of that 120 million and we've been able to find a sub-set of that that are very committed Christians based on lifestyle habits and other things that we can track and trend. We compare it to a registered voter database and if your name is not on there, we know that you're a committed Christian and you're not registered.

Then what we do is we match champions. People that are listening to your program right now, people who say "boy, that's a shame, what can I do?" Well, we ask you to go to ChampionTheVote.com and what we will do is we will sign you up and you will become one of our local activists - we call them champions, a local ambassador. And we give you the technology tools that you will then engage in your local neighborhood to get those 50-60 people that are currently not registered, over a 10-12 month period of time, to get them registered and then you will help message to them to make sure that they show up and have a biblical worldview on the candidates they choose.

We are nonpartisan and, as I say all the time - I'm quoting a friend of mine, Sam Rodriguez - we're not blue, we're not red, we're not about the donkey, we're not about the elephant, we're simply about the agenda of the lamb. And so we help you, as a Champion, help train people in your communities what a biblical worldview is, make sure they're registered, and then they go to the ballot voting with that biblical worldview.

"Biblical worldview," of course, means the standard Religious Right agenda of prompting religion while opposing abortion and gay marriage:

Dallas: Ultimately the heroes of this is not United in Purpose, the umbrella organization, its all of these champions changing our country back to where people raise their hands and vote with a biblical worldview. The fragrance of our nation could smell so differently two, four, six, eight, ten years from now if we got engaged, and that’s what we’re about.

Mefferd: What would you say are the top issues right now that Christians really ought to be concerned about, I know there are plenty of them but how would you rank them right now?

Dallas: Well for me my hot button is religious liberty. We got to make sure that we do not keep trying to strip God out of everything and trying to keep everybody quiet. It seems like there’s a segment over society that’s trying to keep God out of things and keeping God quiet. So I think religious liberty for me personally is number one. And the other two issues is obviously life and marriage. Those to us are the three core issues that everything rests upon.

Porter: Because Of My Heartbeat Bill, God Will Again Bless America

Janet Porter saved the big guns for last when she organized her Heartbeat Bill rally last week.  After speakers were done comparing supporters of the effort to Moses and likening women's health centers to concentration camps, Dutch Sheets and Lou Engle took to the podium to beseech God to pass this legislation.  While Sheets asked God to give no rest and no peace to Ohio senators until they agree to pass the bill and "end this curse in America," Engle screamed out, calling upon God to break the demonic spiritual powers over the Senate so that Senators will receive dreams and visions that will cause them to vote for this bill:

The event was closed out by Porter herself, who wept knowing that because of the passage of her legislation, God would finally be able to bless America once again:

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vote Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Friday 10/28/2011, 10:16am
Last night, People For the American Way Foundation’s Andrew Gillum went on PoliticsNation with Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss our new Right Wing Watch: In Focus report on attacks on voting rights. Watch here: Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy And read the report.   Cross-posted from PFAW Blog MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 10/25/2011, 3:00pm
Speaking with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on Washington Watch last week, Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe accused President Obama and his administration of promoting policies that are “anti-religious.” Poe and Perkins were discussing with the manufactured controversy over a Texas veteran’s cemetery that prohibits a volunteer group from holding religious services at a funeral if the family does not request it. The New York Times points out that this rule was created in 2007 by the Bush administration, but according to Poe, the policy is actually all Obama... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 10/24/2011, 4:55pm
Coverage of the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit this year was dominated by stories of Robert Jeffress’ criticism of the Mormon faith; Bryan Fischer’s unabashed bigotry; and the infighting that rose to the surface when Bill Bennett rebuked Jeffress and Mitt Romney, tepidly and not by name, denounced Fischer. The press coverage of the Religious Right conference was so completely focused on Jeffress and Fischer that the FRC even asked members to pray that the media will stop reporting on the story. Today FRC president Tony Perkins used his radio alert today to... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/24/2011, 1:12pm
For weeks now, we have been urging someone - anyone - in the press to ask presidential candidate Herman Cain about his role in the offensive 2006 ad campaign for an organization called America's PAC. The purpose of the ad campaign was to get Black and Hispanic voters to support Republican candidates via radio ads that asked why Democrats were "on the same side of the Iraq war" as a "Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke" and another that suggested one of the characters in the ad would never vote Republican since he supported abortion because if "you make a little... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/24/2011, 11:04am
Shortly after Rick Perry's prayer rally earlier this year, organizers of that event started promoting a Religious Right voter mobilization effort called "Champion The Vote," which seeks to "mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012." It turned out that the Champion The Vote effort was a project of organization called United In Purpose, which is being funded by conservative millionaires for the purpose of mobilizing "40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 10/20/2011, 2:45pm
John Stemberger earlier this week appeared on a conference call for Champion the Vote and warned that the future of the country relies on the Religious Right. Stemberger, the head of the Florida Family Policy Council and the past chairman of the campaign to have a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality in Florida, was promoting the One Nation Under God event with Newt Gingrich, David Barton, James Dobson, Sam Rodriguez and Lila Rose which focuses on boosting right-wing activism and learning about “God’s fingerprint all over the founding of our country”: While... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 10/18/2011, 12:08pm
While Robert Jeffress is running around telling anyone who will listen that "the Southern Baptist Convention has labeled Mormonism as a cult" and that Mitt Romney is a member of the cult, the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land is trying to do some damage control and suggesting that all Jeffress was really saying is that Mormonism is "a new religion, separate and distinct from the historic Christian faith." And, according to Land, since conservative Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals have already been inoculated against Mormonism by their own pastors and... MORE