Values Voters Summit

Are VVS Organizers Trying To Hide Fischer's Involvement?

Last month, we asked why Bryan Fischer was not being pictured among the confirmed and invited leaders to the upcoming Values Voter Summit.

Fischer has been a featured speaker for each of the last two years at the event and has always been prominently featured on the speaker's list in years past.  And considering that his employer, The American Family Association, is a co-sponsor of the event, it seemed rather unlikely that Fischer had been dropped, despite his long record of unmitigated bigotry.

The Values Voter Summit is being held next week and Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum are all pictured on the confirmed speaker list, as are dozens of other GOP and Religious Right leaders ... but Fischer is nowhere to be found:

But just because he is not listed on the speakers page, that doesn't mean that Fischer won't be speaking, because the event schedule has him listed as speaking directly after Mitt Romney on Saturday:

9:00 a.m. - Noon


- Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), Republican Presidential Candidate*

- Dr. Bill Bennett, Host, Morning in America*

- Governor Mitt Romney, Republican Presidential Candidate*

- Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis, American Family Association*

Straight Talk on Gay "Marriage"

- Moderator: Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, FRC Action
- Daniel Avila, J.D., Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family , U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops*
- Brian Brown, Executive Director, National Organization for Marriage
- Derek McCoy, President, Maryland Family Alliance*
- David Tyree, Former Wide Receiver, New York Giants

- General William Boykin (Ret.), Former Commander, Delta Force*

The asterisk by Fischer's name indicates that he is a confirmed speaker, so why are event organizers seemingly trying to conceal his participation?

Perkins Tries And Fails To Downplay The Extreme Views Of 'The Response' Organizers

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews on Friday to discuss The Response. During the show, Matthews played a number of videos, first posted on Right Wing Watch, of Response organizers Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer, John Hagee of the Cornerstone Church, and John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network.

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Lynn said Perry’s links to such extreme figures don’t represent “guilt by association” but “guilt by construction.” Perkins, on the other hand, tried to distance the import of Bryan Fischer, saying, “Look, he has a talk show on the American Family Association.”

While Perkins may be trying to downplay Fischer’s role at the AFA, he knows full well that Fischer isn’t just some radio talk show host but is in fact the public face of the American Family Association. In fact, his official bio lists him as the “spokesman for AFA.” He represented the AFA at Perkins’ Values Voters Summit and had a prime speaking slot, although as Kyle notes Fischer is not a listed speaker this year. Fischer is the group’s Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy, hosts AFA’s flagship radio program Focal Point and is the go-to voice of the AFA for inquiring journalists. Perkins himself co-hosted Today’s Issues with Fischer on AFA radio.

Perkins acknowledged that he knew the background of Fischer and other organizers, commenting, “Look, I don’t, as I said before, not everybody that’s on that platform agrees with what others have said or what they hold to believe.”

But no one has suggested that Rick Perry agrees with Bryan Fischer’s argument that gays and lesbians should be banned from holding public office, Mike Bickle’s claim that Oprah is the harbinger of the Antichrist or John Benefiel’s belief that the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol. The problem is that a sitting governor and likely presidential candidate is effectively endorsing and promoting individuals and organizations with such far-right and extreme views in an exclusively fundamentalist Christian prayer rally.

While Perkins attempted to give Perry cover about the extreme views of the prayer rally organizers, The Response represented the extent Republican leaders and Religious Right groups will go to jockey for the support of even the most fringe figures and elevate their voices.

CPAC Board To Decide GOProud's Fate

As we noted yesterday, the American Principles Project and several other Religious Right goups have been threatening to boycott next year's CPAC conference if the gay conservative group GOProud to participate again this year.

Now WorldNetDaily is reporting that the pressure is getting to organizers at the American Conservative Union, which has decided to put to issue to a vote before CPAC's board of directors, and that more groups are planning on boycotting the event if GOProud is not given the boot:

The Conservative Political Action Conference board of directors is voting whether to permit a homosexual activist group, GOProud, to participate in CPAC again this year.

CPAC's organizer, the American Conservative Union, is under pressure after the American Principles Project issued an open letter announcing its withdrawal from the conference over GOProud's participation.

"If someone is tempted to think for a moment that GOProud is a benign force, then they should examine GOProud's insistence that the Republican party abandon social issues entirely. This makes them the friend of the Democratic party, which long ago embraced every radical sexual expression under the sun," said Robert Knight, senior correspondent for Coral Ridge Ministries.

With several more social conservative groups dropping out or threatening to do so behind the scenes, ACU chairman David Keene called on CPAC's board of directors to decide whether GOProud should be welcomed at the conference for a second straight year, according to a source on the board.

The results of the vote will be announced on Monday.

"We've decided to put our resources elsewhere," said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel. "We're going to attend the Values Voters Summit and Awakening 2011."

Staver explained that the latter conferences would both respect all three legs of the conservative "stool" described by President Ronald Reagan: fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and social conservatism.

Values Voters' Angry Afternoon Tea

The afternoon of the first day of the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC, continued the morning’s themes: denunciations of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama axis of evil and celebrations of all things Tea Party – and the insistence that the religion and values agenda of the Religious Right is inseparable from the Tea Party’s limited government goals.

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum kicked off the session with a reprise of his current stump speech, a denunciation of secularism and an assertion that we can’t have economic freedom without virtuous people, and we can’t have virtuous people without lots of religion in our public life. Like other speakers, he called this November’s elections the most important of our lifetime.
Gary Bauer made it clear he was vying for “angriest man” honors, hectoring the audience with bitter complaints about liberals treating the Constitution like toilet paper and the president trying to “set one class against another in the rawest class warfare.” He insisted that “this country is in shock about what’s being done to our nation.” The country is “sick and tired of being lectured by liberal elites.” Bauer claimed, ridiculously, that “almost none” of America’s elites believe the 9-11 attacks were caused by radical Islam. When he attacked Obama and Bloomberg for defending the rights of Muslims to build a cultural center in New York, shouts of “traitor” were heard from the audience. (In contrast, there was only scattered tepid applause when Bauer described as “foolish” the Florida pastor who threatened to burn copies of the Koran.) Bauer ended with a graphic recounting of the violence that took place on the 9-11 flight brought down by the passengers, and demanded that people show the same kind of mettle in taking back America.
Delaware’s new GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell urged people to remember how despondent they felt in the early days of the Obama administration, when conservatives were told, she said, to curl up in a fetal position for eight years. “Well,” she exulted, “how things have changed.” O’Donnell also railed against the “ruling class elites” who look down on Tea Party activists and insisted, “there are more of us than there are of them.” She said Tea Partiers are shouting back at these would-be masters, “You’re not the boss of me!” She encouraged people to keep fighting. “We aren’t trying to take back our country, we ARE our country.”
The afternoon’s “surprise guest” was not Sarah Palin, as some had speculated, but Dale Peterson – the guy from Alabama whose choppy, quick-edited, gun-toting ad running for agriculture commissioner became a YouTube sensation. Peterson was seemingly meant to be the authentic voice of Tea Party America. He said Obama hates America and is doing all he can to bring down America. Peterson later told journalist Sarah Posner that he doesn’t believe President Obama was born in the U.S.
A Tea Party panel brought together three activists who told stories about their own transformations from being moms and conservatives who minded their own business to becoming activists.  Activists Katie Abram and Billie Tucker said their Tea Party work was guided by God waking them up early in the morning with instructions, the same way, one said, God does with Glenn Beck. Tucker describes a disagreement among organizers of their local tea party group. When one argued against adding moral issues to the mission, Tucker responded, saying “God did not wake me up for four months at four in the morning to say, ‘Billie, we’ve got a tax issue.’ He woke me up because he said my country doesn’t love me like it used to love me.”
Amy Kremer of Tea Party Express said her group’s mission was focused on fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets; she credited Rick Santelli’s rant about the mortgage meltdown with lighting the fire. Kremer, who worked for Joe Miller’s Senate campaign before heading to Delaware to campaign for Christine O’Donnell, urged activists to focus on the fall elections. “The time has come to put down the protest signs and pick up the campaign signs and engage,” she said. “If we’re going to truly effect change it’s going to be at the ballot box.”

Lou Dobbs Opens Values Voters Summit

Newscaster Lou Dobbs, known for his fiery anti-immigrant stance, primarily presented a calm and placid speech to the 2008 Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC this morning. Avoiding immigration, Dobbs targeted "orthodoxy" in the "liberal media," stating that the exclusion of the views of people of faith in the media was "outright censorship." Dobbs also was critical of Hollywood stars who were attacking Repulican VP candidate Sarah Palin.

Lou Dobbs

A Star is Born

You have to admit that it is rather amazing that an unknown, one-term governor of a sparsely populated state can not only be tapped as a major ticket vice-presidential candidate but can, in doing so, simultaneously become the new de facto leader of the conservative movement:

Gov. Sarah Palin has seemingly overnight become the leading candidate for future leader of the conservative movement in the nation - regardless of whether she and running mate Sen. John McCain capture the White House in November.

Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin, the governor of Alaska, were invited to address this weekend's Values Voters Summit in Washington but are expected to be no-shows, leaving only Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as two of the biggest political names scheduled to address the conclave of social conservatives.

Yet, neither the former Massachusetts governor nor the former House speaker tops the list of people conservatives are talking up as the next top leader of their movement.

Asked who that leader would be, Mr. Gingrich gave The Washington Times a two-word answer: "Sarah Palin."

Even more amazing is that Palin, with almost no discernable record of actually pushing or accomplishing anything on the Right Wing's agenda during her short time in office, has somehow managed to displace proven right-wing stalwarts like Tony Perkins and Mike Huckabee as the new leader of the movement: 

[Tony] Perkins has his admirers, but he and Mr. Romney look almost puny going up against Mrs. Palin - at least for now.

"The movement has a reasonably strong bench but no clearly identified leader coming from that bench right now," said Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna. "Tony Perkins is as close to being that next generation of leader as anyone."

Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, conservative cause prompter Richard Viguerie and Free Congress Foundation President Paul M. Weyrich - all considered movement founders - each gave The Times the same two-word answer to the question about the emerging leader of the right: "Sarah Palin."

"None of the above names - Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee, DeLay - will be the conservative movement's leader in the coming years," Mr. Viguerie said. "Governor Palin's VP nomination is huge. It changes conservative, Republican and American politics for the next 20 years."

Perkins and Huckabee have dedicated nearly their entire political careers to advancing the conservative agenda and yet, in the span of two weeks, have seen their rightful positions at the movement's forefront entirely usurped by someone who, just two weeks ago, nobody had ever heard of.  

Saving America One Right-Wing Event at a Time

It is almost time again for the annual Values Voter Summit, the political conference sponsored by the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Values, and others where right-wing activists gather to rant and rave, attack homosexuals, and suggest that the anti-Christ is gay while Republican presidential candidates fall all over themselves to pander for votes.   

Heading into this year’s event, FRC unveiled a new ad urging right-wing activists to attend or risk “losing America”:

Are we losing America? Radical activists redefine marriage. Your tax dollars put towards abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. Your parental rights erased. Your religious liberties expunged. Your basic freedoms eliminated. Are we losing America? Unless we act now, the answer is YES! That’s why this year’s Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC is so vital. This September, you’ll discover how you can make a difference. We’ll equip you to protect the tradition of marriage, the innocence of your children, and the sanctity of your faith. Join leaders like Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett, Chuck Colson, and others for the Values Voters Summit September 12-14 in Washington, DC … Are we losing America? We don’t have to.

While the Values Voter Summit is one of the Religious Right’s premier political events filled with pomp and professionalism, the same cannot be said for the 9th Annual Freedom21 National Conference, which is taking place right now in Dallas, TX.  Whereas FRC can boast of heavy-hitters like Gingrich, Sen. Sam Brownback, and James Dobson, the best Freedom21 could do was land the likes of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Jerome Corsi, Phyllis Schlafly, and third party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin … and with third-rate entertainment and lackluster attendance such as this, it is not hard to see why:

Values Voter Summit: Impressions, Day 2

Guest Post from Pam Chamberlain of the Public Eye The Values Voters Summit is in its second day here at the Omni Shoreham, the grande dame of D.C. convention hotels, freshly painted and efficiently handling the 1000+ attendees. National press has tended to represent the event as the sound bite opportunity that such events have become. Planners claimed to have drawn 100 members of the media, and especially on Friday, they took up most of the back of the Diplomat Ballroom, spilling into the corridors and exhibit hall. It’s more than just a media event, though. It is a pep rally, designed to mobilize committed conservative activists to work hard in the coming electoral campaigns, despite their possible hesitation about the Republican Party. Sitting in the audience, I alternately feel as though I’m in church or watching TV. Many of the speakers are pastors or elected officials, and they know how to hold the interest of a crowd. The audience is knowledgeable about scripture and can quote chapter and verse along with the person at the podium. Repeatedly, individuals testify to their faith from all corners of the hall. Nobody seems to be taking notes, and my busy scribbling makes me self-conscious. The “congregation” is, in fact, an important part of this ritual, feeding on the energy of the speakers and building consensus around a litany of topics, summarized by the event’s sponsors as Family, Faith and Freedom. The stage itself is a TV set, decorated in red white and blue drapes, with elaborate lighting effects and logo backdrops, two huge video monitors, and a central stage with two imposing Ionic columns and twin American flags. Speakers enter from behind a curtain and walk across to the podium (Dobson referred to it as a “pulpit”) accompanied by musical introductions chosen to match their messages. The production quality is impressively high. One of the most popular events was a 20 minute “talk show,” with the FRC’s Tony Perkins, James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, and Alan Sears, President of the Alliance Defense Fund comfortably perched on stools, amicably chatting. Perkins was the host, and in the course of the “program” I felt Dobson was publicly passing the torch of leadership over to Perkins, signaling a new era for the American Christian Right. (When talk-show host Sean Hannity referred to Dobson as the man who vetted his bachelor jokes, William Bennett corrected him by reminding us that Perkins was running the show.) Testifying to how up-to-date this movement has become, the exhibits are media-savvy, with some form of CD, DVD or web-related handout in every booth. Rev. Donald Wildmon, whose ministry consists of boycotts of corporations his American Family Association perceives as being gay friendly -- like Ford – says he can mobilize 380,000 emails, representing ten percent of his database, in a matter of days. The organizers may have thought they were introducing Wildmon to their audience, since he was given the podium at a special luncheon to describe his 150 person outfit in Tupelo, MS. But when he asked how many were already on his email alert list, a good 40% raised their hands. His hard-edged brand of non-aplogetic gay-bashing apparently has already been accepted by supporters of the FRC who were simultaneously being asked by other speakers to show their compassionate sides. The Shoreham is not the only institution here with a face lift. This wing of the Christian Right is positioning itself to influence elections and win both the war on terrorism and the war on liberal culture.

Values Voter Summit: Whose Values?

Values Voter Summit logoFamily Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose “Values Voter Summit” this weekend will feature religious-right all-stars alongside major Republican politicians, insisted that abortion and gay marriage are the issues that motivate the bloc he has labeled “values voters.” Referring to Jim Wallis’s “Red Letter Christians,” a group that seeks to expand the language of “values” in politics beyond those two issues, he wrote on Wednesday:

Yesterday, leaders of the religious left hosted a press conference to counter FRC Action's Values Voters Summit this weekend. They called for a "different moral agenda" without an emphasis on abortion and the defense of marriage. I won't apologize for speaking out on these great moral concerns of our day. These liberal leaders fail to speak to the millions of values voters who were central to the 2004 election and who identify abortion and marriage as key issues driving them to the polls.

However, a newly-released survey from the Center for American Values in Public Life (a project of People For the American Way Foundation) found that abortion and gay marriage were among the least important “values” issues motivating voters.

When given a list of concrete choices and asked which would be the most important to deciding their vote in the upcoming congressional elections, the public ranked abortion and gay marriage last out of eight choices – getting only give percent of the total. Even among evangelical Christians, only 10 percent say abortion and gay marriage will be the most important factor in determining their vote.

In the coming days, Right Wing Watch will feature coverage of the Values Voter Summit and the kind of values the far Right wants to see enacted in public policy.

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