This weekend, GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are scheduled to speak at the National Religious Liberties Conference, an event whose chief organizer, Kevin Swanson, and several other speakers have advocated the death penalty for gay people.
Seeing that Swanson also believes the country’s first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, introduced communism to America, it came as no surprise to see that he invited John Eidsmoe to speak at the summit.
Eidsmoe, who briefly gained national attention in 2012 when then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann identified him as her mentor, is known mostly for his view that the government must impose biblical law.
Like Swanson, Eidsmoe is also no fan of Lincoln, telling a Secession Day rally in Alabama in 2010 that the state had a “constitutional right to secede” and “Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.” Cheering on Confederate leaders at a secessionist rally is par for the course for Eidsmoe, who has a record of addressing white supremacist groups and even denounced the freeing of slaves as “inhumane and irresponsible.” His ties to neo-Confederate groups caused one Tea Party group to drop Eidsmoe from an event.
One theme at the National Religious Liberty Conference will be “interposition,” the idea that elected officials have a duty to defy laws and court rulings that they believe are ungodly, a belief that was popular among Confederates, and later segregationists, trying to preserve racist state laws. (One workshop on interposition will be delivered by an activist who wants gay people to face the death penalty).
Another scheduled speaker, prominent Iowa conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, has suggested that African Americans were better off under slavery, and a radio host appearing at the event, Jan Mickelson, has even called for the reintroduction of slavery (although this time subjugating undocumented immigrants who refuse to leave the U.S.) and said that the Confederacy was wrongly “invaded” by the Union, adding, “I don’t consider the North amongst ourselves.”
But if you’re planning to go to a conference hosted by a pastor who thinks the Girl Scouts, soccer and movies like “Frozen” turn kids gay, then you can’t be surprised when he invites his Confederate-sympathizing friend to the event.