At this weekend’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, which featured GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, conservative radio host Steve Deace revealed that a Republican presidential candidate had dropped out of the summit after learning of the extremism of the conference’s organizer, Kevin Swanson. (Although Deace didn’t name the candidate, Ben Carson was at one point named as a confirmed speaker but later disappeared from the event’s schedule.)
Deace said that the candidate’s campaign manager had called him up and asked him about Right Wing Watch’s reporting on Swanson, including Swanson’s support for the death penalty for gay people and his blaming of natural disasters in his home state of Colorado on such affronts to God as gay people marrying and feminist women who wear pants. Deace said that he laughed and assured the campaign manager that these were all lies made up by Right Wing Watch, but that the candidate dropped out anyway.
It might be more difficult for Deace to pretend that we fabricated all of these statements after this weekend’s conference, where Swanson repeated both views with great enthusiasm. After yelling quite a bit about Leviticus, Swanson clarified on Saturday that he does not actually want the U.S. to implement the death penalty for gay people at the moment, but instead to wait and give them time to repent first.
Then, in the same speech, Swanson declared that anyone who believes in God must see that there “might be a connection” between wildfires and flooding in Colorado and the state’s government refusing to enforce biblical law, and specifically a picture that ran on the front page of the Denver Post showing Colorado’s House speaker kissing his husband after a vote on civil unions.
“You see, when this happens, it is the most egregious, the most abominable, the most arrogant insult to Almighty God,” Swanson said of the Denver Post photo. “And then, the very same year, we had the very worst fires, the most devastating fires we ever did in the state and the worst floods. In the very same year, we had the most devastating floods and the most devastating fires and the worst possible legislature in terms of well, any standard of God’s laws as conveyed in [the Bible].”
“You’ve got to believe that God is the judge of the earth and indeed there might be a connection between the worst flood, the worst fires, and the worst government in the history of the state of Colorado,” he said.
He then defended his statement that thanks to gay rights and pro-choice laws, Colorado might be becoming worse than North Korea, saying, “Well, they murder. We put homosexuals on the front page of newspapers.”
America is held to a higher standard, he said, because of its “godly heritage” stemming from “white guys” like Irish immigrants.
“We’ve got a heritage, we’ve got a great heritage, goes back 2,000 years,” he said.
“Seems to me there’s a lot of white guys in America with a lot of heritage that goes all the way back to the 500s and 600s with Patrick and others. Friends, is America a more evil nation than North Korea in the eyes of God? And I say maybe. Maybe not, I don’t know. But I’d say we’re getting pretty close.”