Seven GOP Candidates Seek To Out-Pander One Another In Courting The Religious Right

Last week, we noted that several Republican presidential candidates were scheduled to participate in a "Free to Believe" broadcast hosted by notorious anti-gay activists Rick Scarborough, who claims that HIV/AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality and that gay parents are sending their kids to hell, and Tony Perkins, who says gay people are pawns of the Devil who want to "recruit" children.

On her program last Friday, Rachel Maddow also took note of the fact that the leading 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls had no problem participating in an event organized and co-hosted by an extremist like Scarborough:

The event itself was broadcast on Saturday morning from the headquarters of the Family Research Council, the group led by Perkins, and wound up being four hours of sanctimonious self-pity and mind-numbing dullness interspersed by short videos submitted by Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum all blatantly pandering to the Religious Right.

After Bush kicked things off by providing a vague promise to be a "strong advocate of religious liberty" as president, Carson turned things up a notch by declaring that "the greatest threat to religious freedom in America today is secular progressivism," as demonstrated by the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, and vowing that, if elected president, he will work with Congress to pass legislation exempting Christians from having to recognize this decision.

Carson was followed by Cruz, who insisted that Christians "face an unprecedented attack on our first freedom from an aggressive secular state that seeks to push faith out of the public square entirely" and likewise promised that, if elected president, he'll make it his first order of business to see that "the persecution of religious liberty ends today."

Later in the broadcast, Carly Fiorina told those watching that "religious liberty is under assault in our country" and that America needs a leader who will fight to "take our country back." And that leader should be her, Fiorina explained, because "my faith has been tested in good times and in bad and never found wanting."

She was followed by Huckabee, who trotted out his standard campaign promise to simply ignore the Supreme Court's rulings on gay marriage and abortion and essentially outlaw them both through executive action.

Up next, Rubio declared that "it shouldn't surprise us, this all-out assault on our liberties, because we have a president that, when he was a candidate the first time, he said that those of us that have traditional values are bitter people who cling to our guns and to our religion." He went on to promise that, as president, he will proudly "stand up for those" who are called "bigots and haters" for opposing gay marriage and abortion.

Santorum finally closed things out by decrying the "virulent assault" on religious liberty in America as demonstrated by "the lack of tolerance" for those who oppose gay marriage, promising that, as president, he will not only sign the First Amendment Defense Act, but "then we'll move further" and reverse the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling.