Three Republican presidential candidates are slated to speak at a National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines, Iowa the weekend of November 6th and 7th. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will be featured speakers at the event. Although the gathering has a fairly innocuous sounding name, the conference is being hosted by controversial pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson.
Swanson is a viciously anti-gay preacher who supports executing homosexuals. He has defended Uganda’s death penalty for gays, and he wants America to copy that model, criminalizing homosexuality and making it punishable by imprisonment or death.
Not only does Swanson support executing gay people, but so do a couple of other scheduled speakers for the National Religious Liberties Conference. Phil Kayser, pastor of Dominion Covenant Church, and Joel McDurmon, president of the Christian Reconstructionist group American Vision, are two additional guest speakers who promote executing gays.
In addition to his barbaric support for the death penalty for homosexuality, Swanson also has taken other extreme positions. For example, he has argued that girl scout cookies promote “lesbianism”, and that gonorrhea is God’s punishment for single women who engage in pre-marital sex.
Despite Swanson’s crackpot views, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee want to share the stage with him in Des Moines. The reason they want to join him is that right-wing white evangelicals are a major voting bloc in the Republican caucuses, and a candidate who can win over Christian extremists is setting himself up for victory in Iowa.
The disturbing reality is that while Swanson’s extreme views are probably shocking to most Americans, they are mainstream points of view within the evangelical wing of the Republican Party. So mainstream, in fact, that Republican presidential candidates feel no discomfort in enthusiastically associating themselves with Swanson’s radical views.
Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are smart enough not to say they support putting gays to death, for saying so would be political suicide. However, they are also clever enough to recognize that holding hands with a preacher who does support putting gays to death, is smart politics in Iowa, where Republican evangelicals dominate the GOP caucuses.
Cruz, Jindal and Huckabee embrace pastors who adhere to a murderously dangerous ideology of fundamentalist dominionism. As such, none of those men should even be considered for president of the United States.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.