Sunday, September 28, 2014

Entertainment Voices at the 2014 Values Voters Summit

The annual Values Voters Summit, hosted by the Family Research Council and other Religious Right organizations, is a treasure trove of right-wing quotes. The 2014 summit featured not only politicians and Religious Right activists, but entertainers as well. For your reading pleasure, I've put together a sampling of quotes from Jim Bob Duggar, Alan Robertson, and the Benham brothers, who spoke on the evening of September 26th.

First, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting appeared on stage with most of their large family, including Josh Duggar of the FRC. After the family sang "It's Through the Blood", Jim Bob and Michelle talked at length about their faith. Jim Bob told the audience that he and his wife sought to "raise up warriors" for God.
"Our goal as a family is really to raise up warriors for the Lord. We don't want our kids just to be Christians that go to church on Sunday, but we want Christ to be in every aspect of their life, and we want to see each one of them impact this world for Christ."
Jim Bob encouraged listeners to expose children to Christian political campaigns, adding that he and his family have supported anti-abortion causes.
"We encourage you to get behind Christian candidates. It will teach your children all about the aspects of running for office, and then make trips to your state capital. We've been up several times, helping with legislation for the Heartbeat Bill and for several other pro-life measures. Matter of fact, we're going to Tennessee on Monday to do a press conference about Amendment 1 to allow the representatives and senators in Tennessee to be able to vote on pro-life legislation."
Later, Alan Robertson of A&E's Duck Dynasty spoke at length about his family's reality show, dogs, and beards. More than once, he referred to his "sensitive" brother Jeb as "the sister we never had", and I wondered how that comment went over with female listeners. Amidst folksy stories about Duck Dynasty, Robertson inserted commentary about Christianity, the merits of "small government", and his disdain for "hand-outs".

Robertson claimed that God was behind the success of Duck Dynasty, despite attempts by Satan to sabotage the family's efforts.
"Are you going to say this guy is really going to not only be successful and become wealthy and become very well-known, but can also be a leader in a nation to restore a culture? Would that happen? You'd say, 'Well there's no way that would happen', unless the Almighty God might be behind it. And that's exactly what's happened with our family. Now Dad has a book that just came out, and it's called unPHILtered, and it is unfiltered for sure. In that book, he talks a lot about what God has done to not only shape him but also to help him be able to shape a message for a people at a time when we need it more than any other time .. The Evil One tried at the beginning to derail that message, but he's not more powerful than the one that we serve, and therefore he's not going to derail us from what we know is right."
Robertson called for "a return to godliness, a return to how our country was founded", lamenting that modern Americans have allegedly lost touch with godliness. He argued that the Founding Fathers recognized the importance of God and the Bible, apparently unaware that several of America's founders were deists and that many championed separation of church and state.
"We've got generations of people in our nation that really don't understand godliness at any level. They don't know. And so they're only reacting the way that's natural and the way that's been shown [to] them after generations of being away from what our country was founded on ... When our founders began this nation, they knew the importance of the Bible and they knew the importance of God in people's lives. They realized that as this country grew, without having self-restraint, there would be no way that this country could be governed."
Perhaps the most outrageous part of Robertson's speech was when he compared his father, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, to the Biblical prophets.
"A lot of people ask me about my Dad, and they say, "Well, who is he like?" and I always compare him to those old time prophets. There's no doubt about it. Those men that were raised up every millennium. Elijah was one of those; John the Baptist was one of those."
I don't see too many similarities. John the Baptist was an ascetic who was imprisoned and executed by a tyrant, according to legend, while Phil Robertson is a reality TV star who makes neanderthal comments and puts his face on beard-shaped lollipops. Furthermore, when I look back on spiritual thinkers who have shaped the modern era, people such as the Dalai Lama, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Simone Weil come to mind, not the Duck Dynasty patriarch.

Finally, perhaps the most arrogant voices of the evening were Jason and David Benham, sons of anti-abortion activist Flip Benham. David Benham's anti-gay comments costs the brothers a reality show on HGTV and made them darlings of the Religious Right.

David Benham began their speech with a sound bite to demonstrate their right-wing credentials.
"We are dangerous men. We shop at Hobby Lobby. We eat at Chick-fil-A. We watch Duck Dynasty, and we graduated from Liberty University."
Jason Benham spoke of the Flip It Forward debacle in bombastic terms, comparing himself and his brother to Jesus suffering on the cross.
"It is a fun thing to follow Jesus until you find out where he's going, because he's going to a cross and he's asking you to come follow him. And we got that experience in real life when we got fired in front of a watching world. Jesus Christ gave us a picture of what that looked like."

Sure, Jason. Because losing a lucrative television show due to homophobic remarks is just like being tortured and crucified. The arrogance behind his comment stunned me.

David described the days leading up to their show's demise, showing disdain for the LGBTQ movement and insisting that he and his brother would not submit to the gay "agenda".
"Our executive shot me a text on my cell phone. He said, 'Can you guys hop on a quick phone call?' So we jumped on a call, and he said that there is someone who has contacted us [who] is not really happy about you and your brother being on our network named GLAAD. Gay and Lesbians Anti--whatever, defamation, something. I don't know. It was irrelevant to us, still irrelevant to us today ... We ended the conversation that day with saying, 'We will not bow to an agenda. We won't do it'."
David continued, warning his audience that a "radical agenda" allegedly wants to silence America.
"There is a radical agenda that has come in our nation ... The weapon of choice for the agenda in the Middle East is a sword, but the weapon of choice for the agenda in America is silence. They demand silence. It's one thing to believe in Jesus, it's another to be vocal about Jesus and his standards and his word."
Sadly, it seems that the Benham brothers have learned nothing from their recent controversy, and will not be reexamining their attitudes any time soon.

Stay tuned! More quotes from the 2014 Values Voters Summit are on their way!


  1. All those cringe-inducing quotes. From a former brainwashed fundie's perspective: So many triggers in such a small space.

    : )

    1. Agi Tater -- I'm amazed that you lived this. How did you put up with guys like that?

    2. It was my "normal" and really the only language I knew. Religious apocalyptic rhetoric defined (and thereby limited) my family, my purpose, my reality, and especially myself, from the day I was born.

      Leaving it was like crawling out of a box into the sunshine … but it took some serious deconstruction ... among other things. I had to redefine everything.

      Before I could leave that box I had to overcome a deeply conditioned fear of what lay beyond it. That's one reason I can empathize a little with those fundies who are still stuck in their respective boxes. More than anything, they are profoundly disempowered. By design. It's quite evil.

    3. Agi Tater -- I applaud you (and others like you) for escaping that fearful, suffocating world. Your life is richer for it.

    4. And we enjoy your company, Agi!

  2. Amazing that there are still people that believe the nonsense some of these guest spouted. Eg. If you still believe that the USA was founded on Christian principles then you are uneducated in many ways.

    Seriously watching some of these people, I have to wonder if some of them are not just in it for the money. Which makes them in my eyes even worse than they are.

    1. Christian -- It would take a special kind of unethical person to spout this nonsense for money. You're right -- it would make them even worse than the misguided true believers.


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