South Carolina was the site of a recent "family values" rally for the Religious Right. The Pro-Family Rally brought together Religious Right supporters who opposed same-sex marriage, abortion, and supposed affronts to "religious liberty". Rally organizers encouraged attendees to "Bring your family and your faith and show the Supreme Court there is a Supreme Creator with a supreme law on marriage." According to the State and WISTV 10, roughly 10,000 people attended the Christian revival rally in front of the State House in Columbia, South Carolina on August 29th.
The Pro-Family Rally website urged Americans to stand against the supposed evils of same-sex marriage, "civil unrest", and "perversion".
"All must agree that we are living in very uncertain times. The landscape of this great republic is eroding daily and the floods of change are seeking to assassinate the moral fiber of the land we love. Crime rates are rising, civil unrest is abounding and perversion is growing exponentially. The recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex-marriage is yet another proof of the spiraling degeneration of this nation's morals. It is evidently obvious that we are not the nation the Founders intend. The United States was founded upon the Bible ...
... We must stand and oppose those who disdain our heritage and our Founders wishes. Thirty- six states voted that marriage is recognized in each of these respective states as being between a man and a woman. Seventy-eight percent of South Carolinians voted in this same manner. The Supreme Court's decision is an open attack on the sovereignty of every state in the Union. As citizens and as patriots of America we cannot support nor obey the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex-marriage. The repercussions of this decision will have far reaching negative effects on churches and religious ministries in days to come. As Christians we do not hate homosexual people but we must stand where God stands regarding sin. The purpose of We Stand With God is to encourage and empower God-fearing citizens to stand in this evil day. Timing is critical. Come stand with us on Saturday, August 29, 2015 as we gather at the South Carolina State Capitol in Columbia, SC for a peaceful protest against the sin of the Supreme Court."
Among the rally's speakers were presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, who raged against Washington, the Supreme Court, and Planned Parenthood before a rapt crowd. Right Wing Watch captured an excerpt of Rick Perry's speech, in which he likened himself to Jesus overturning the money-changers' tables at the temple.
"Literally, the foundation of America is under attack from those on the left! It's under attack from Washington, D.C. You know, talking about Washington, D.C., early in the ministry of Jesus Christ, he saw corruption in the temple, and he got angry about it, and he did something about it. He went in there and he overturned the tables of the money changers. He saw corruption, just like today. We need somebody that's got the backbone to go to Washington, D.C. and turn over the tables of the money changers, of the corruption, of the greed that we see in Washington, D.C. And the question is, will you join me in that effort? Will you load up? Are you ready to sacrifice? Are you ready to stop the corruption, the crony capitalism, the greed that we see in that temple of government in Washington, D.C.? Jesus was angry. I'm angry. I hope you're angry."Perry asked listeners what sacrifices they were willing to make for God and country, calling them "Christian soldiers".
"What are you willing to die for? What are you willing to sacrifice for? Are you willing to rise up and stand for God, and to go forward and deliver the principles and the values that this country were based upon? Are you ready to do that? ... Onward Christian soldiers!"
Ted Cruz offered plenty of angry red meat to the audience, stoking their anger against abortion providers. Cruz promoted the dubious claim that Planned Parenthood allegedly sells fetal tissue at the 2:36 mark of this video.
"We've seen in recent weeks these horrific videos of Planned Parenthood. Let me tell you right now, innocent life should not be treated as a business transaction. Merchants of death who are selling the body parts of unborn children--I call upon every citizen on South Carolina, every American, watch these videos. Even if, especially if you call yourselves pro-choice, watch these videos. See these senior Planned Parenthood officials coldly, callously selling the body parts and laughing about it, and ask yourself 'Are those my values?" On those videos they are confessing to multiple felonies. It is a felony with a ten year jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children!
And I'll tell you something right now. If I'm elected president, on the first day in office, I will instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and to prosecute any and all criminal violations by that organization."Homophobia frequently rears its head at Religious Right events, and the Pro-Family Rally was no exception. At the 5:16 mark, Cruz sneered at the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, calling it "illegitimate" and "lawless". Cruz promised to restore the right of marriage definition to the states if elected president.
"Just a couple of months ago, we saw the U.S. Supreme Court issue a decision, a fundamentally illegitimate, lawless decision that purports to tear down the marriage laws of every state. Let me tell you something. Marriage existed long before the United States Supreme Court. Marriage existed long before the United States of America. Marriage was not ordained by any law in this country. Marriage was ordained by God Almighty.
And Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit! In the United States Senate I've introduced a constitutional amendment to protect the authority of state legislatures of every state in the union to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman."At the 9:55 mark, After citing cases of business owners who were held accountable for discriminating against LGBTQ people, Cruz warned listeners that they could be persecuted for their faith.
"If you think your faith is safe, next may be you. Next may be me. Next may be you pastor who preaches the word from the pulpit. Next may be your sister or brother or mom who volunteers at the pregnancy crisis center."
The Religious Right persecution narrative was very much alive at the Pro-Family Rally. Tony Beam, host of the Christian Worldview Today radio show, also stoked the audience's persecution fantasies. In a video posted by Right Wing Watch, Beam depicted Christians as a marginalized population that the powers that be seek to criminalize.
"You know, if you look back and you look through history, there’s a three step process that’s always resulted in tyranny and dictators, and that process is this. First comes the demonization of any people you want to get rid of. We saw that start in the 1970s as the church began to be demonized and God’s people were made fun of, and it’s continued to today. The next step is marginalization. They take the people they want to get rid of and they push them to the side of the debate and they ignore them. You know, a lot of the national media may ignore us today, but we can’t be ignored because we stand for the sovereign God of the universe. And so, after marginalization comes criminalization. And you know we live in a country now that’s trying to criminalize God-fearing believers for trying to run a business to honor God."The Pro-Family Rally served to unite and energize Religious Right voters as the 2016 presidential race heats up. By playing to the audience's persecution complex, homophobia, and disdain for Planned Parenthood, speakers sought to galvanize them into voting for right-wing candidates. We can expect more rhetoric like this as November 2016 draws closer.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
The New Civil Rights Movement: 'Marriage Was Ordained By God Almighty': Ted Cruz Preaches At 'Pro-Family' Rally
Right Wing Watch: Ted Cruz: Anti-Christian Persecution Will Soon Take Your Pastor, Your Mom, Me