The so-called Values Voter Summit is coming our way again this weekend, and if you think we will see any mellowing of the Religious Right platform, think again. With a cast chock-full of the likes of Tony Perkins, Jerry Boykin, Mat Staver, Gary Bauer, James Dobson, the almost-had-an-HGTV-show Benham Brothers, E.W. Jackson, Star Parker, Todd Starnes, and Sandy Rios, we can expect more of what we’ve been seeing recently.
After all, it was just yesterday that the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer took to the radio to proclaim that all immigrants should be converted to Christianity. Fischer was thinking mostly about Islam, as usual with voices coming from the Right Wing Clown Car, but his dream – a nightmare for everyone else – would be to “have one god, we would have one law, we would have one culture, and we would have one language.”
Sadly, Fischer isn’t as bad as it gets. And you might remember last year’s shindig, when the Religious Right’s sinister lunacy was put on public display by the likes of Jerry Boykin, E.W. Jackson, Rick Santorum, and, of course, Michele Bachmann, among others. If you bring back the same religious extremists year after year, you can’t expect much in the way of change. You certainly can’t expect improvement. Let’s face it: next year, ISIL will still be ISIL, and the Religious Right will still be the Religious Right.
People for the American Way provides a rundown of this weekend’s cast of horrors, and it’s not a pretty sight. No, because bad as that group listed above might be, would-be martyr Sen. Ted Cruz, pretend moderate Sen. Rand Paul, and Vladimir Putin’s brother of another mother, Gov. Bobby “Rooting for Obama to fail isn’t treason” Jindal will, as PFAW puts it, “take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders” and try to suck up to that group to secure their endorsement and through them, the votes of bigots and haters across the land.
As People For the American Way President Michael Keegan says:
When they appear at the Values Voter Summit, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal and their fellow GOP officials will send an unmistakable message of support to the most extreme elements of today’s Religious Right. But the rest of us are listening, too. Any public official who attends the Values Voter Summit should be prepared to tell voters whether he supports the agenda of hate promoted by its sponsors and speakers.
Speaking of endorsements, take a look at the veritable murderer’s row of sponsors:
PFAW provides brief bios of the notables and I will share a few of those with you here, beginning with the man who is the most over-the-top hater among a bunch of over-the-top haters:
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:
- Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
- Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
- Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
- Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
- Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
- Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”
Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush 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. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”
Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:
- Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
- Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
- Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
- Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.
Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America,” specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:
- Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
- Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
- Blamed Obama for “orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
- Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
- Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.
Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. Rios has also:
- Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
- Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
- Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
- Warned that the “homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
- Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.
Expect the worst, and then multiply that by a factor of three. Or five. Or ten. After all, we are coming off a Monday on which Larry Klayman, the guy who once marched on the White House in order to overthrow our government, again (PoliticusUSA covered his first call here) called for the military overthrow of President Obama on the grounds that he is “not a legitimate president.”
I mean, Barack H. Obama was only elected twice by the majority of American voters. How could he possibly be legitimate, right?
So stay tuned, take notes, and remember this coming weekend when you go to the polls to vote, assuming you can get through the cordon of armed, violently right-wing, white supremacist militia patrolling the streets.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.