Candidates for president at a “Values Voter” political summit sponsored by hate groups

What’s wrong with this picture?

In his 2006 book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges documented how theopolitics was at work corrupting the American ideal of civil equality for all citizens.

His comments on the back of the dustcover make the point:

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age—he was then close to 80—we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

The warning, given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of leaders in the Christian Right who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shorts. Their ideological inheritors in America had found a mask for fascism in patriotism and the pages of the Bible.

A “Values Voters Summit” was held October 7–9, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The event’s primary sponsors were the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and Liberty Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified all three as “hate groups.”

Imagine that. A Republican Party political event sponsored by an unholy trinity of hate groups featuring all the GOP candidates for president of the United States. What’s wrong with that picture?

Among the featured speakers was Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. I’ve written more than a few articles about Mr. Fischer’s theofascism and blatant anti-gay hate-mongering. Although both were on display at the October event, the former took center stage:

Romney jabs controversial speaker at Values Voter Summit

Washington (CNN)—Addressing the Values Voter Summit in Washington, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney chided a controversial conservative leader who has denounced Mormonism.

The former Massachusetts governor, whose family has deep ties to the Mormon Church, made no mention of the clamor surrounding Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, who called Mormonism a “cult” after appearing at the summit on Friday.

But Romney did take aim at Bryan Fischer, a director at the American Family Association, who was slated to speak directly after the candidate took the stage Saturday.

Fischer has claimed that Mormons and Muslims have “a completely different definition of who Christ is” than the founding fathers did, and do not deserve First Amendment protections as a consequence.

Without naming Fischer, Romney said those comments are out of bounds.

“One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line,” Romney said. “Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. . .

Romney’s campaign said the remarks were directed at Fischer. [italics added]

Mr. Fischer contends that he knows the “definition of who Christ is” that the Founding Fathers held. The claim is prima facie absurd, not to mention unbelievably arrogant.

The 50+ Founding Fathers were all fiercely independent freethinkers. They held a variety of beliefs about “God” and “Christ” and especially about the dangers of organized, dogmatic religion. More than a few were Deists. Then as now, Deists accept the notion of “a Creator” and respect Jesus as a teacher, but do not believe in the second-hand “revealed word” attributed to Moses and Old Testament prophets, or New Testament authorities such as Peter, Paul and John, and in the 18th century, Deists were particularly skeptical of the allegedly “God-given” dogma created and propagated by politically motivated church leaders, as well as religiously motivated politicians.

There is absolutely no mention of Jesus or even “God” in the Declaration of Independence (or the Constitution), only a generic “Creator.” That’s not by accident.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . .

Jefferson originally referred to “sacred Rights,” but Benjamin Franklin objected to the phrasing as too religious sounding, hence the change to “[inherent &] inalienable” and finally to “unalienable.”

Mr. Fischer never lets truth or facts get in his way. Indeed, “poisonous language” is all he and his ilk at the American Family Association, Family Research Council and Liberty Council have, and they’ve used it very effectively to line their coffers, spread hate, encourage discrimination and, of course, cast themselves as victims.

In the nine years I’ve been checking AFA’s website, I’ve never found a new posting on a Sunday morning. October 9 was different:

Bryan Fischer: Mitt Romney publicly attacks me. Why? It’s not about Mormonism
Sunday, October 09, 2011 9:32 AM
By Bryan Fischer

Mr. Fischer’s whining response was full of his usual tactics: playing victim, sidestepping the issue at hand, positing irrational conclusions based on factual errors and misrepresentations, and condemning those who uphold the law even when it may be at odds with their personal religious beliefs. Exactly the rants expected from a theofascist:

. . . I think the main reason Mitt Romney tried to kneecap my on Saturday is that I have been unswerving in pointing out he imposed same-sex marriage on Massachusetts by executive fiat.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the fall of 2003 that the state’s existing natural marriage law—which outlawed same-sex marriage—was unconstitutional. The court, in a nod to the separation of powers, urged the General Assembly to write a new law, since that’s not the role of the judiciary, and gave it 180 days.

The General Assembly did precisely nothing. In fact, same-sex marriage is still illegal in Massachusetts. It is against the law, because the law has never been changed. You could look it up.

But Gov. Romney, in his craven capitulation to homosexual activists, was not about to be deterred. He plunged ahead and “legalized” same-sex marriage in a burst of executive activism and tyranny. . . .

There’s a rule in politics: you never punch down; you only punch up. You never attack someone who has less power than you. Yet Mitt Romney came after me, someone with a minor national profile and no political power whatsoever.

Why did he punch down by going after me? Because I’m saying something he does not want Republican voters to know: America has same-sex marriage because of Mitt Romney.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court struck down the law that banned same-sex marriages. That law was rendered null and void: wiped off the books. Therefore the basic American principle underwriting all civil constitutions filled the void in lieu of legislative action: civil equality for all citizens. Marriage is a state-sanctioned, state-licensed civil institution. Governor Romney was absolutely correct in his actions. He was fulfilling his oath of office by taking the actions he did. It was the civil rights thing to do. Contrary to what Mr. Fischer claims, America has increasingly supported civil equality, as seen even in a Christianity Today article.

As for Mr. Fischer’s other whining, whimpering complaints—“Mitt Romney came after me, someone with a minor national profile and no political power whatsoever”—“someone with a minor national profile” does not get invited to speak at such a gathering, and although Mr. Fischer and his minions in similar hate groups are not in elected political office, they do exercise considerable political power, otherwise they would not be hosting such an expensive national political gathering, nor would prospective presidential candidates be courting them.

It’s truly disgusting when those who earn a living by demeaning and encouraging civil discrimination against others play victim themselves. And speaking of a victimizers playing victim, a veteran of that role, Rick Santorum, was also a featured speaker at the “Values Voter” event. Mr. Santorum has been whining for quite some time about being victimized.

What got me started writing about gay and lesbian issues was then Senator Rick Santorum’s comments in an AP interview in which he compared gay sex to bestiality (among other things). Those comments made him the poster-boy for malicious theopolitical rants, an image he reinforced when speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate during its debate of the Federal Marriage Amendment. With histrionic bravado Mr. Santorum proclaimed, “the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security—standing up and defending marriage?”

Santorum’s dogmatic views on gays and several other issues—in addition to his abrasive personality and “I know everything” attitude, plus his cyber school scandal—prompted Pennsylvania voters to kick him out of office. Apparently Mr. Santorum didn’t learn anything from his ignominious defeat and is still uttering the same nonsense in his run for the GOP presidential nomination:

Santorum: Perry Must Support Polygamy If He’s ‘Fine’ With New York’s Marriage Equality Law
By Igor Volsky on Jul 25, 2011

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R) lashed out against Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for suggesting that he was “fine” with New York’s decision to legalize same-sex message, asking Perry—who is said to be considering his own run for the White House—if he would similarly endorse polygamy or laws against “heterosexual marriage” . . .

On the campaign trail, he has repeatedly argued that marriage equality would “destabilize” society, called for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and claimed that gay people don’t deserve the “privilege” of parenthood. Allowing gay people to marry is “going to have a devastating impact on our children, it’s going to have a devastating impact on families, and it’s going to have a profound impact on religious liberties,” he said during a campaign stop last month.

Mr. Santorum has zero, nada, zip evidence to back up his “destabilizing” claim. The same holds true for all those other holier-than-thou bloviators who claim civil equality will destroy America, marriage, families, or bring about the end of the world, as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson claimed in his 2004 book Marriage Under Fire.

And let’s not forget the other Rick at the Values Voter Summit. Santorum had previously attacked him on the issue of civil equality. Texas governor Rick Perry—who doubts the validity of evolution, preferring the account in Genesis—may be “fine” with civil equality in New York, but he certainly doesn’t want it to a national thing. Early in his campaign Perry signed the National Organization for Marriage’s anti-gay, anti-equality pledge:

The Texas governor, who polls show is the race’s new front-runner, today joined not only Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum but also former front-runner Mitt Romney by aligning himself with NOM.

The NOM presidential to-do list includes amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, nominating judges who say the Constitution doesn’t guarantee marriage equality, and putting gay marriage up to a vote in the District of Columbia, where local lawmakers made it legal. Perry and the others also promise to fight for the Defense of Marriage Act in court—something President Obama isn’t doing.

By adding his name to the NOM pledge, Perry has also committed to create a “presidential commission on religious liberty” that would “investigate” Americans who oppose bans on gay marriage for supposed harassment of such measures’ supporters. That Perry signed shouldn’t be a surprise given his history, which includes hosting a prayer rally with a “hate group” (as listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center) and comparing homosexuality to alcoholism in his book On My Honor.

And now, Perry’s wife has embraced the victim strategy. Given the campaign pandering to the Christian right, it’s a bit hard to believe she was acting “on her own”:

GOP candidate Governor Rick Perry recently equated homosexuality with alcoholism and his wife Anita now claims they’ve been brutalized due to their faith.

Speaking at North Greenville University in South Carolina last Thursday, Anita said it’s been a rough month and she and her husband have “been brutalized and eaten up and chewed up in the press.”

According to Talking Points Memo, her 15-minutes long speech included many Biblical references. 

“It is a comfort to know that I am in this place where I can feel the presence of God. We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party,” she said. “So much of that is, I think they look at him because of his faith.”

Mrs. Perry also told the audience God had called her husband and other “true conservatives” to run for president.

Called by God to foster, encourage and, as pledged to NOM, make sure religion-based discrimination is codified into civil law. What’s wrong with this picture?

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