This weekend Republican and conservative leaders, including GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, are set to address the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. Last year, nearly every single Republican candidate for President addressed the conference, where speakers denounced gay rights, secular government, legal abortion and the Mormon faith.
This year, Ryan will be speaking at a conference that is playing host to some of the most extreme activists in the Religious Right who have made careers demonizing gays and lesbians, attacking the freedoms of Muslim-Americans and promoting wild conspiracies about President Obama.
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 has one of the most anti-gay platforms of any major political organization, including expressions of support for the criminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and abroad in countries law Malawi and Uganda. 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:
- said Islam is “evil”;
- attacked the media for dismissing conspiracies about Obama’s birth certificate;
- demanded Christians who voted for Obama “repent” since he has a “disdain for Christianity”;
- linked homosexuality to pedophilia and compared it to alcoholism;
- warned, “I don’t know if the country can survive ” another Obama term and that the president’s reelection would “ destroy this country.”
- called gay rights activists “intolerant,” “hateful,” “vile,” “spiteful” and “pawns” of Satan and said that homosexuality is “man shaking his fist in the face of God”;
- denounced hate crimes laws for promoting “chaos” and leading to the “indoctrination of our children in schools and the loss of religious freedom and the freedom of speech”;
- wrote that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better Project” is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion”;
- denied that there was a correlation between anti-gay bullying and depression and suicide, saying instead that gay and lesbian teens know they are “abnormal” and “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict”;
- wrote that senators would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands” if they vote to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military;
- insisted the government may introduce the “promotion of same-sex relations ” as a means of “population control”;
Following the deplorable and tragic shooting at the Family Research Council’s headquarters, Perkins has tried to blame the incident on everyone from the Southern Poverty Law Center to the Obama administration. The unconscionable shooting, however, should not be used as a way to conceal his organization’s virulent language targeting gays and lesbians.
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 (LC) has been implicated in the Lisa Miller kidnapping case, where an LC client kidnapped her daughter and fled to Central America after a court granted custody to her former partner.
Through his role at Liberty Counsel and on his radio program Faith & Freedom, Staver has:
- argued that President Obama “does not respect America” and wants to intentionally cripple America so he can have global power;
- suggested that the president was using health care reform to create his own personal army of Brownshirts;
- pledged to resist the “abusive and lawless regime in the Executive Branch and in the United States Congress”;
- defended Malawi’s law criminalizing homosexuality and said U.S. opposition to criminalization was “immoral”;
- urged schools to prohibit students from holding a “Day of Silence” to protest anti-gay bullying;
- alleged that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will lead to child molestation, sexual assault, and even death if passed;
- promoted “ex-gay” reparative therapy and warned that gays and lesbians are “ intent on trampling upon the fundamental freedoms”;
- warned that the Obama administration might have its own “ affirmative action program” for Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers;
- linked gay rights to the country’s economic problems;
At last year’s Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “ agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and western civilization.
Family Research Council vice president and 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. He:
- asserted that “Islam is evil”;
- rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.”
- wants to ban mosques;
- warned Obama is using the health care reform law as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him;
- accused the Obama administration of showing “support for the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into our government”;
- claimed the bailout of AIG led to the establishment of Sharia law;
- said that American Jews were misled into supporting Democrats by wrongly thinking Adolf Hitler was right-wing extremist;
Along with his role at the FRC, Boykin is also a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative. In a speech at the group’s conference last April, he declared that George Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations conspired to collapse the U.S. economy in order to help Obama get elected.
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 has:
- warned a demon called the Queen of Heaven is behind efforts to pass a marriage equality law in Maryland;
- claimed 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.”
- insisted gays “want to recruit your kids” by supporting marriage equality;
- compared the gay rights movement to an iceberg that if struck will “take us under”;
- said the tactics of gay rights advocates are reminiscent of “the times of Hitler”;
- maintained that God is removing proponents of marriage equality from office’
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.”
Kamal Saleem tells audiences at Religious Right conferences he is ex-terrorist, yet he refuses to provide any details substantiating his claims, and his story has been repeatedly debunked as a myth. Saleem is using his phony story to claim that President Obama is likely a secret Muslim who wants to change the laws so “terrorism will be legal” and everyone will “be wearing ragheads” as part of his twenty year plan to bring about Sharia law. According to Saleem, Roe v. Wade is part of a plot to “bring Sharia law liberally in our face” and that U.S. currency in some parts of the country now reads “In Allah We Trust.” Along with the Obama administration and the judiciary, Saleem says radical Islamists have penetrated the education system, medical and banking industries, the church and the U.S. military, claiming that “many generals who swore to destroy the United States of America are generals in the United States” and that the hate crimes law and contraception mandate are part of a plan to instill Sharia law and to try and go about “legalizing terrorism.”
Frank Gaffney tries to pose as an intellectual to promote his own anti-Muslim and anti-Obama conspiracies, and has significant sway over Republicans in Congress who believe them. Frank Gaffney is a proud birther and has called President Obama “America’s first Muslim president,” while suggesting that Obama is out to become a dictator by using similar tactics as Adolf Hitler. He accuses Obama of simultaneously pushing Sharia law and the “radical homosexual agenda” and also asserting that George W. Bush’s inner circle and the conservative movements were also penetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. His outrageous conspiracies got him banned from the American Conservative Union’s CPAC and a weekly meeting of top conservative activists . He continues to smear even Republicans, including John McCain and John Boehner, who don’t sign on to his anti-Muslim conspiracies.
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon will be speaking in lieu of AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer this year, but Wildmon and Fischer share the same ultraconservative views. Wildmon believes gay rights, secular government and the theory of evolution have put America “on the road to self-destruction” and accused gay rights supporters of acting “in the most vile, wicked, evil ways.” He claims Obama is not a Christian but an ”evil” and tyrannical leader who is out “to destroy religious freedom in this country” as part of his “administration’s all-out war on Christians.” Wildmon has also attacked Obama as “un-American” and said his administration’s policies to combat climate change are “anti-American [and] anti-Christian.”
Former Concerned Women for America president Sandy Rios now hosts a show on the American Family Association’s radio network where she regularly floats anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-Obama conspiracies. She believes that there are “tons of people in government,” including Obama, who “embrace Socialism/Communism.” Obama, says Rios, is trying to bring about America’s “destruction” and compared his campaign to Hamas. According to Rios, liberal and secular Jews specifically are among “the worst enemies of the country,” lamenting that most Jews identify with the left and warning that “Jewish leftists in this country are eager to embrace Islam .” Rios also criticizes Muslim-Americans, saying they plan to “overpopulate and overtake” America and joining Michele Bachmann in promoting conspiracies about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration. Like other anti-gay activists on the far-right, Rios has dubbed child molestation as “ homosexual recruitment” and knocked Ellen DeGeneres for pushing “moral chaos.”
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 and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all budgetary and societal problems. At last year’s Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God is getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion.
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.”
She says she has a plan to “take out Planned Parenthood,” which is part of her battle with the “lie of Satan.” 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.”
Child actor Kirk Cameron has pushed hismisleading, Religious Right documentary about America’s founding to become a hero among conservative activists. After calling homosexuality “ destructive” to civilization, he faced criticism from gay rights supporters and likened his ordeal to being “drug out to the public square and stoned, so to speak.” He said that the “greatest threat we face today is the secular totalitarianism of our current system” and believes America is heading in a similar direction as Nazi Germany . Cameron in particular blames the theory of evolution for society’s problems, maintaining that an “anti-Christian agenda” is promoting evolution to diminish religious freedom.
Vision America’s Rick Scarborough believes that AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality and that America is facing “sexual anarchy led by sodomites.” Scarborough joked on The Daily Show, “I’ve never turned my back on the gays, but that’s a different story.” He blames America’s supposed cultural decline on Jerry Seinfeld, Rachel Maddow and Bart Simpson – mourning the decline in the white share of the population as a “sad reality” and warning that “if this country becomes 30 percent Hispanic, we will no longer be America.” He has accused Obama of leading a “campaign to de-Christianize America” and warned in 2009 that his arrest is imminent after Obama signed the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.