When three Republican presidential candidates decided to address a conference in Iowa this weekend organized by Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson — a radical activist who thinks that Girl Scout cookies and the movie “Frozen” are turning girls into lesbians and has defended the death penalty for homosexuality — it showed once again that the Republican primary seems to be a competition of who can move farther to the right.
Swanson cleverly focused his Iowa conference on the theme of “religious liberties,” warning that “persecution against Christians is on the rise in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, China, Oregon, and Kentucky.” It was apparently an invitation that Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal — who are constantly harping on the theme that American Christians are on the road to facing persecution on par with Christians living under oppressive regimes — couldn’t pass up.
Swanson made clear what he meant by anti-Christian persecution in interview at the conference with Seattle-based radio host Michelle Mendoza, when he complained that media reports on his anti-gay comments, including his recent remarks that AIDS is “God’s retribution” for homosexuality, is part of a larger attempt to “shut down Christian media.”
Saying that the “liberal media” had taken his AIDS remarks out of context, Swanson proceeded to repeat the very same point to Mendoza.
“Any kind of disease,” he said, “this is the point I made in one of my broadcasts, any kind of disease is God’s wakeup call to us and it points us to the basic problem — Hey, there wasn’t disease, there wasn’t death in the world until sin came into the world with Adam and Eve. So, it’s a basic theological concept, every Christian in America would agree with me. Obviously, non-Christians may disagree but the fact of the matter is God has given us a warning. He gives us something of a warning with disease and death, and we ought to turn to Jesus Christ because he is the overall solution to this.”
Swanson said that in a conversation with Cruz at the conference, the Texas senator “agreed that it’s very possible that the FCC may shut down Christian media in the future if they continue to hold to the position that homosexuality is a sin.”
“Christian colleges may go away very soon, Christian media may go away very soon, conservative media may not survive, so this is going to affect every single part of life since the Obergefell ruling,” he said.
In an interview promoting the conference on the Kentucky radio program “Just Ask Joyce” last month, Swanson made a similar argument, warning that “you can kiss your liberties goodbye” if the right person isn’t elected president in 2016.
Christians must “prepare to see our radio programs and our ministries, and our churches, our schools, completely wiped out by … the homosexual forces” as a result of the Obergefell decision, he said. “This is a decision of seismic proportions for the entire socioeconomic system, for entire social systems, for entire civilizations, for our religions in our country.”