Monday, November 30, 2015

News Tidbits

The Texas Tribune: Cruz Condemns Colorado Shooting, Rejects Anti-Abortion Link

Voice of America: Yazidis Say They Are Being Targeted for Christian Conversion

The Guardian: Marriage venue owners fight $13,000 fine for refusing lesbian wedding 

Washington Post: Group threatens to sue school over reading of transgender teen Jazz Jennings’s book

Religion News Service: Why imprisoned pastor’s wife kept her marital abuse a secret – until now

Fox 5 New York: Protest at Harlem church over anti-LGBT messages

The Advocate: Liberty University Denies Tuition Discounts to LGBT Military Spouses 
Gay Star News: Bermuda hotel cancels two anti-gay marriage forums

Pink News: Christians want a ‘war chest’ of money to fight equal marriage in Australia

Commentary Tidbits

Jezebel: Meet the Shock-Jock Theologian Offering Grace to a Small Town's Abusers, Forgiveness to the Abused

Associated Press: Planned Parenthood: Long a Lightening Rod in U.S. Culture Wars

Think Progress: You Are More Than 7 Times As Likely To Be Killed By A Right-Wing Extremist Than By Muslim Terrorists

Al Jazeera America: The Mormon church turns against gay families

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Religious Right Tweets About the Planned Parenthood Shooting

On November 27th, a gunman killed three people and injured several others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Figures from the Religious Right, including prominent anti-abortion activists, have weighed in on the attack. Many condemned the attack and expressed grief for the victims, but a few couldn't resist taking swipes at abortion.

Mass Shooting at Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs

On November 27th, a gunman killed three people and injured nine others at the Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Spring, Colorado, according to ABC News. The armed standoff reportedly lasted for five hours, after which the gunman was taken into custody by police.

According to Reuters, police identified the suspect as 57 year-old Robert Lewis Dear, who allegedly said "no more baby parts" after his arrest. Dear's alleged comment may have been a reference to videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that has accused Planned Parenthood of allegedly selling fetal tissue. However, the Center for Medical Progress condemned the shooting spree as "barbaric" in a November 28th statement, calling Dear a "madman". (Hat tip to Huffington Post.)

Police records acquired by the Daily Beast indicate that Dear had a record of run-ins with law enforcement in South Carolina. For instance, Dear's wife called police after a domestic violence incident in 1997. Dear had also been arrested for a "peeping tom" incident in 2002 (the charges for which were later dismissed) and animal cruelty in 2003 (for which he was found not guilty).

On the evening of November 29th, hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for the shooting victims in Colorado Springs. An Associated Press video captured the community's grief Garrett Swasey, a University of Colorado police officer who was killed during the mass shooting.

Condemnation of the shooting was swift and strong. The Guardian reports that after a November 28th vigil at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, Rev. Nori Rost called the gunman a "domestic terrorist" who used a "weapon of war" to murder people.

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, grieved for the dead and expressed gratitude to law enforcement in a November 27th press release. Cowart stressed that Planned Parenthood would not stop providing services, despite the current "poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence".
"We share the concerns of many Americans that the continued attacks against abortion providers and patients, as well as law enforcement officers, is creating a poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence. But, we will never back away from providing critical health care to millions of people who rely on and trust us every day."
President Obama lamented the "easy accessibility" of guns in a November 28th statement about the attack.
"We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect.  We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America.  And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.

This is not normal.  We can’t let it become normal.  If we truly care about this -- if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience -- then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.  Period.  Enough is enough."
Media reports stress that the gunman's motive remains unclear. However, a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility and a suspect who reportedly said "no more baby parts" both suggest that the gunman may have been an anti-abortion extremist. This tragedy reminds us that we must confront anti-abortion extremism in order to prevent future tragedies. No one should die because of right-wing extremism. No woman should live in fear of exercising her reproductive rights. No clinic staffer should have to accept violence as part of their job.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

RH Reality Check: Anti-Choice Leaders’ Response to Colorado Violence Reveals Tension Between Rhetoric and Actions

Progressive Secular Humanist: Christian Conservatives Celebrate Colorado Planned Parenthood Shooting

Los Angeles Times: Colorado embodies nation's divide over gun control

Sunday, November 22, 2015

News Tidbits: Xenophobia Edition

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, some right-wing figures have lashed out at law-abiding Muslims and Syrian refugees. (More here and here.) Some right-wing leaders have called for everything from bans on Syrian refugees to mosque closures to monitoring of Muslim residents. Xenophobia and bigotry are very much alive in the U.S., sadly.

Even my home state, Pennsylvania, has not escaped the controversy. When Governor Wolf stated that Pennsylvania would still accept Syrian refugees, some Pennsylvania lawmakers and citizens urged him to reverse his decision.

Below are news stories on the recent eruption of open xenophobia among some Republicans and right-wing figures.

The Tennessean: Tennessee GOP leader: Round up Syrian refugees, remove from state

Washington Post: ‘Rabid’ dogs and closing mosques: Anti-Islam rhetoric grows in GOP

Kansas City Star: Missouri lawmaker calls for legislature to stop ‘Islamization of Missouri’ by Syrian refugees

CNN: Trump would 'certainly implement' national database for U.S. Muslims

Media Matters for America: Fox Business Chyron: "Close All U.S. Mosques?" 

Talking Points Memo: GOP Rep. Bashes 'Xenophobic And Knee-Jerk' Rhetoric On Syrian Refugees

(Hat tip to Slaktivist for some of these links.)

Commentary Tidbits

Rolling Stone: What the Hell Is Going on With Ben Carson?

Seattle Pi: Mark Driscoll, ex-Mars Hill pastor, to speak at conference: ‘The Most Excellent Way to Lead’

The Inquisitr: Family Research Council: Josh Duggar's Former Employer Addresses P0rn Addiction 

Right Wing Watch: Cruz Touts Endorsement Of Radical Anti-Choice Activist Troy Newman

Salon: Stephen Colbert just nailed the GOP’s Christian hypocrisy on Syrian refugees with one Bible verse 

The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser: “Taking Her Myself” A New Trend in Quiverfull Courtship & Betrothal

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stop Eating Rice with Your Hands, Jim!

Vic Berger has done it again. In this YouTube video, Berger somehow makes Jim Bakker and his dehydrated doomsday food even more creepy. Enjoy scenes of Bakker eating rice with his hands and stirring goopy "cheese" sauce with a shovel. (Oh, and remember to buy separate shovels for digging latrines and serving cheesy rice.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

News Tidbits

USA Today: Josh Duggar sued by p0rn star for sexual assault

Associated Press: Ohio lawmaker push ban on LGBT conversion therapy for minors

The Columbus Dispatch: Advocates back Ohio bill to ban conversion therapy on gay, transgender minors

The Guardian: Ohio pro-life senators suggests food banks as Planned Parenthood substitute

Pink News: Texas: Vile ad attempting to stop LGBT rights laws depicts man raping small girl

The Advocate: Neighbors Rally to Counter 'Sodomite Semen' Pastor's Hate Speech

BBC News: Singapore jails City Harvest megachurch founder and officials

Commentary Tidbits

The Good Men Project: Sounding Off on “Purity” Parents Who Want to Keep LGBT Information Out of Sex Education

The Grio: Kirk Franklin apologizes to gay community for ‘homophobia’ in black church

The Root: Ben Carson, aka the Negro Pat Robertson, Should Own His Homophobia

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Candidates courting the Christian fringe

Existential Ennui: Christianist Doublespeak

The Guardian: Republicans like to invoke the Bible yet ignore what it teaches about refugees

The Advocate: GOP Hates Extremism Except When Endorsing It

New York Times: Stung by Edict on Gays, Mormons Leave Church

Salon: I went to church with Ted Cruz. He is building an army of young Christian voters in Iowa

Daily Beast: The Religious Fundamentalists Are Losing

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kevin Swanson Condemns Victims of Paris Attacks for "Practicing the Works of the Devil"

The Bataclan Theatre, a concert venue, was one of the locations targeted by Islamic extremists during last Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Terrorists killed eighty-nine people at the Bataclan during an Eagles of Death Metal concert that night, according to the Irish Times.

While most decent people around the globe were horrified by the attack, some fundamentalist Christians were more outraged by the band and their song "Kiss the Devil", accusing the band of Satan worship. Religious Right commentator Kevin Swanson, who gained national attention this month for his homophobic rant at the Freedom 2015 conference, is among the latter. Swanson used his radio show to demonized the victims of the Bataclan attack, unfazed by the murders of dozens of innocent people. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)

During the November 19th edition of Generations Radio, Swanson was devoid of pity for the victims of last week's Paris attacks. Rather, he criticized the victims for dancing to "Kiss the Devil", calling the concert a "worship service" to Satan. At the 10:37 mark, he told listeners that the Devil himself drove the terrorists to attack the club, sneering at the concert-goers for celebrating "the works of the Devil as your friends were being shot up in that concert". By blaming the Bataclan attack on Satan, Swanson absolved the terrorists of responsibility for their actions and made intelligent analysis of the attacks impossible.
"It's a warning, certainly a providential irony here. These are the works of the devil, the mass murder itself are the works of the Devil. In other words, there was a demonstration of the Devil and his works happening at the time that they were singing the song ... At the moment they were singing that, the Devil himself, or at least the Devil influencing these murderers, entered in and showed the concert-goers the works of the Devil.

Now at that point, I think we need to ask the concert-goers, at least those who survived, did you love the Devil and did you love the Devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre? I think we ought to ask the question right now, and I'm very serious. I'm deadly serious asking this question. You were dancing to this worship service to the Devil. The Devil came in, the Devil did what the Devil does best, he killed, he massacred, he destroyed. As the Devil did his works ... did you appreciate the works of the Devil as your friends were being shot up in that concert?"
Swanson quoted 1 John 3:8 -- "The one who does what is sinful is of the devil" -- and accused the concert-goers of "practicing the works of the Devil" by dancing to "Kiss the Devil". At the 11:58 mark, he denounced the victims for their sin.
"Those who were sinning, those who were in that concert sinning on the one hand, of course, dancing to the worship service, but also those who were shooting up the concert-goers, these were those who were practicing the works of the Devil."
At the 13:12 mark, Swanson's co-host Steve Vaughn suggested that the Eagles of Death Metal members were spared by Satan so as to continue his work. Vaughn seemed to have forgotten that several employees of the band's record company were killed in the terrorist attack.
"What's interesting too is that none of the band members were harmed. And so the Devil essentially saved his preachers to go out and preach some more."
At the 14:02 mark, Swanson suggested moral equivalency between ISIS and the "demon worshipers" at the concert. Swanson conveniently forgot that the attackers were Islamic extremist murderers and the victims were innocent people.
"It's also interesting that ISIS is at war with the humanist West, and I would say that these ISIS devil worshipers have pitted themselves against humanist devil worshipers. So you see, I'm not on either side here. I'm not taking the side of the devil worshipers performing the concert. I'm not on the side of ISIS, who are slaughtering the demon worshipers in the concert. I'm not on either side. It's interesting [that] the Devil takes both sides, and then shoots each other up. This is exactly what the Devil does best."
Swanson and Vaughn spent the rest of the episode expressing outrage over "Satanic" rock bands from the 1970s and 1980s such as Black Sabbath, Slayer, and Alice Cooper. At a time when decent people are grieving for the Paris victims, Swanson and Vaughn are clutching their pearls over forty year-old rock music.

Swanson and Vaughn's smug self-righteousness disgusted me. Only men with hearts of stone could blame the innocent victims of a terrorist attack for their own deaths. Swanson and Vaughn showed no compassion for the victims, seemingly more enraged by their music tastes than by their deaths. It says volumes that Eagles of Death Metal have shown more compassion and decency in the wake of the Bataclan attack than either of these so-called men of God. 

This is the moral universe that Swanson lives in, a universe in which dancing to "Kiss the Devil" is morally equivalent to terrorism, a universe in which murder victims merit no grief, a world in which evil is blamed on an invisible boogeyman.

You know what, Kevin? I'll take devilish musicians over cold-hearted men like you any day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Franklin Graham: "Islam has declared war on the world"

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is getting attention for his response to the Paris terror attacks. At Graham's direction, a group of chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team were scheduled to deploy in Paris to offer spiritual solace, according to a press release. However, his social media remarks about the attacks have attracted much more attention.

In a November 16th Facebook post, Graham wrote that "Islam has declared war on the world". Islamists seek global domination right now, but one day, Islamists will kneel before Jesus Christ, he assured readers (a sentiment he repeated on Twitter).
"Islam has declared war on the world, and it’s high time we acknowledge it and respond decisively. Thursday, suicide bombers struck Beirut, killing at least 41 people and injuring 200 in the deadliest attack in the capital since the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1990. Just over two weeks ago ISIS blew up the Russian jetliner taking 224 lives. Then the shocking and devastating Paris attacks. Let’s not forget what they have already done in America, killing nearly 3,000 people on 9/11 and then the carnage at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Add to these attacks the lone wolf Islamists who have followed the call to bring destruction and terror–it's a long list. As Alain Bauer, former security advisor to the French government, said on CBS 60 Minutes last night: We need to take ISIS at their word. I agree–they have told us what they plan to do. Their goal is world domination. They want to control us—they want to destroy us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live under Islam. I will bow my knee to no one except Almighty God. The Bible says one day “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”–and that will include the knees of Islamists.

We need to elect a president and leaders willing to take the fight to the Islamic State. We need to join forces with Russia who was our ally in WWII, France who is our oldest ally, Germany, and others to destroy this enemy. The French are already responding to Friday’s attacks, but it is going to take much more to stop them.

Our world is in great peril. We need to pray for God’s mercy, His grace, and His protection. I pray that America will turn to God before it’s too late."
In a November 14th Facebook post, Graham warned readers that "Islam is not a peaceful religion", describing the faith as a "religious group who want to destroy us and our way of life". He expressed disapproval of "unchecked" admission of Muslim immigrants into the U.S., insisting that admitting more Muslims into the U.S. would spell disaster. Graham has a history of condemning Islam and Muslim immigrants. (Hat tip to the Charlotte Observer.)
"I’ve said this before, and many people criticized me for saying it. We must reform our immigration policies in the United States. We cannot allow Muslim immigrants to come across our borders unchecked while we are fighting this war on terror. If we continue to allow Muslim immigration, we'll see much more of what happened in Paris—it’s on our doorstep. France and Europe are being overrun by young Muslim men from the Middle East, and they do not know their backgrounds or their motives and intentions. Islam is not a peaceful religion as George W. Bush told us and as President Barack Obama has said—that is just not true. Our president and our politicians in Washington need to wake up before it’s too late. This is not the time to be politically correct. Our nation’s security is at stake. The future of our children and grandchildren is at stake. We should not allow any political or religious group who want to destroy us and our way of life to immigrate to this country. Right now let us continue to pray for the victims and family members of the ‪#‎parisattacks‬."
In his rage against the Paris attacks, Graham stereotyped all Muslims as extremists. Graham forgot that most Muslims are law-abiding people, and that the Muslims (and Christians, and Druze, and Yazidis) fleeing Syria are not sympathetic to ISIS. By demonizing all Muslims as extremists, Graham relegated them to the status of despised outsiders, undeserving of refuge in the U.S.

Such thinking is not only cruel, but dangerous. We cannot allow law-abiding people to be lumped together with Islamic extremists. We cannot allow the entire Muslim community to be scapegoated as threats en masse. We cannot ignore the fact that Muslims too have been persecuted, killed, and driven from their homes by Islamic extremists. If Americans are to mount a sane response to Islamic extremism, they must be able to distinguish friend from foe, harmless believer from violent jihadist. Stereotypes and irrational hatred will not keep us safe.

News Tidbits

NBC News: Kasich Proposes New Government Agency To Promote Judeo-Christian Values

Washington Post: Jeb Bush: U.S. assistance for refugees should focus on Christians

Religion News Service: Obama denounces religious test for refugees: ‘That’s not who we are’

Gay Star News: Indiana Senate pledges bill to balance LGBTI protections, 'religious freedom' 

Associated Press: Opponents of LGBTQ rights descend on Indianapolis Statehouse

Commentary Tidbits

The New Yorker: Unfollow: How a prized daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church came to question its beliefs

Vox: Rubber Band Experiment Taught Me How Wrong Gay Conversion Therapy Is

Rosa Rubicondior: Mormon Cult Losing Members Over Homophobic Bullying

The New Yorker: Ted Cruz’s Religious Test for Syrian Refugees

Religion Dispatches: War with Islam? Evangelicals ponder Christian response to Paris attacks

Religion Dispatches: As New Poll Finds “Increased Xenophobic Streak,” Republicans Heighten Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

New York Times: Ted Cruz and the Anti-Gay Pastor

The New Civil Rights Movement: Republican Presidential Candidates Align With Anti-Gay Religious Leaders

Huffington Post: Marked for Death: A Homosexual's Rant to His Would Be Executioners

Friendly Atheist: Christian Pastor Criticizes Paris Terror Attack Victims for Attending “Death Metal” Concert

The Inquisitr: Duggar Family Forced to Remove Josh from Illinois Facility

Brane Space: 'Little Sisters of the Poor' Need an Education In Artificial Birth Control

Monday, November 16, 2015

Berean Pastor: "I do not feel pity for a godless society"

Remember Sean Harris, the pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina who told parents to punch their "effeminate" sons back in 2012? Sean Harris and his colleague William Sturm weighed in on the Paris attacks during a November 15th podcast entitled "France will be merciless in its response to ISIS". After sharing a news report on the attacks, Harris and Sturm offered commentary that was startling in its coldness. The podcast serves as yet another example of right-wing disregard for Syrian refugees.

At the 3:48 mark, Harris and Sturm mocked the idea of France clamping down on terrorism among their Muslim population. Sturm called France "dumb" and accused it of lacking "good backbone" for admitting Syrian refugees. The two men seemed to conflate Muslims, Islamic extremists, and Syrian refugees.
HARRIS: So Bill, he says that they're going to be merciless. What's your reaction to that, because I heard that Friday night. What's your reaction to the fact that France is going to be merciless?

STURM: I don't think they have any idea how to even start. I mean, 24 percent of their males under the age of 25 are Muslim.

HARRIS: 25 percent?

STURM: 24 percent of males under the age of 25 are Muslim. What are you going to do?

HARRIS: A quarter of their national population.

STURM: Yep. Male population under the age of 25, a quarter of them are Muslim. What are you going to do? ... It says they haven't seen this mayhem since World War II. Well, there's some other things they haven't seen in Paris since World War II, and that is a good backbone, okay? A good backbone. When you let Syrian refugees and you let these fighting-age Middle Easterners flee to your country, and ISIS says they've put 4,000 fighters into Europe through the refugees' movements, how dumb are you? How dumb are you?
At the 13:15 mark, Harris and Sturm insisted that gun control prevented the Paris victims from arming themselves before the terrorist attacks. Terrorists (whom they again conflated with Syrian refugees) will not heed gun control laws anyway, they argued.
STURM: In a country where they have strict, strict obnoxious gun control.

HARRIS: Right. So much so, Bill, that no one was armed. No one was able to respond. Not a single person in the theater was able to do anything. They all just had to cower and run for their lives. Not one single individual had a concealed carry permit, because they don't allow that in Paris. They've "evolved" beyond that. We are the "barbarians" in America who think that there's a need to have weapons.

STURM: And of course, refugees, they abide by things like gun control.

HARRIS: Laws. Once you tell them once the laws are, they obey them. "Of course! We didn't know that was the law! Now that we know that's the rule."

STURM: "Good thing the mayor's coordinating a gun turn-in, a buy-back-a-gun thing. We'll take all our AKs in, and our explosive vests, since we know there's a law now. We'll take them in and turn them in."
In a breathtaking show of callousness, Sturm admitted that he felt no sympathy for France. The Paris attacks were just desserts for a "godless society", he insisted at the 16:37 mark, forgetting that the victims were innocent people with names and faces. Sturm and Harris afforded pity to "brothers and sisters" in Paris, presumably evangelical Christians, but not to French victims.
STURM: I do not feel pity for a godless society that is now eating the fruit of their own ways. I feel pity for my brothers and sisters who are in Paris who are partakers of this.

HARRIS: Sure, sure. It's hard not to say "You're reaping what you sowed," but at the same time, Bill--

STURM: I have brothers and sisters there.

HARRIS: Yeah, that are now living in terror.
Harris and Sturm somehow used a conversation about terrorist attacks as an opportunity to slam the LGBTQ community. At the 18:12 mark, Sturm tastelessly likened the advance of radical Islam to the advance of LGBTQ equality. Harris warned listeners that pedophiles will rise up in the same way as LGBTQ persons and Islamic extremists, drawing upon ugly stereotypes of LGBTQ people as child abusers.
STURM: I noticed an escalation. It works with the LGBT community. It works with Islam. Everyone that seems--"Just let us live peaceably." Before you know it, they're shaking the dog. They're wagging the dog.

HARRIS: Yeah, and you're saying that you see this with the Muslim community, you saw it with the LGBT community, and Bill, it seems as though that the transgender community's on that same glide path, and the logical follow-up to that'll be the pedophilers.
These two Christian pastors couldn't sound less Christlike if they tried. Two men who revere the Bible seem to have forgotten the Bible's commands to care for the destitute and to welcome the foreigner. Whatever happened to, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in"? Whatever happened to, "The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born; love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt"?

I was struck by the lack of compassion that Harris and Sturm felt for the Paris victims. For them, the terrorist attacks were an opportunity to indulge in victim-blaming, to sneer at France for its alleged inferiority to the U.S. Sturm berated France for supposedly being "dumb" and "godless" instead of grieving for the victims or sharing constructive observations about the attacks. The essence of their commentary seemed to be, See? We're better than those frogs. That won't happen to us because we're smarter/holier/armed to the teeth.

Harris and Sturm also demonstrated tribalism, in that they respected members of their in-group ("brothers and sisters") but looked down their noses at people outside their Christian, American, right-wing tribe. Perceived outsiders, including French citizens, Muslims, refugees, and LGBTQ people, were either dismissed as foolish or demonized as threats. Their podcast reminds us that tribalism prevents us from recognizing the humanity of other people, from expanding our moral universe to include people who are different from us.

Xenophobia and tribalism won't undo the damage of the Paris attacks, and they won't make us safer. I wish more figures from the right, including Harris and Sturm, understood that.

Commentary Tidbits: Paris Aftermath Edition

Political opportunists among the Religious Right quickly used the terrorist attacks in Paris as an opportunity to sermonize about their pet issues. Now, right-wing responses to the attacks have taken a darker turn. In the U.S., the Paris attacks have inflamed right-wing xenophobia toward Syrian refugees and Muslims. Some point to the fact that a Syrian passport (which may or may not be authentic) was found near the remains of one of the Paris suicide bombers, confirming their fears that terrorists are allegedly infiltrating Europe alongside refugees.

Governors of twenty-five states -- almost all of them Republican -- have refused to accept Syrian refugees, arguing that the Department of Homeland Security needs to review its screening procedures, according to ABC News and CNBC. PBS Newshour reports that Republican lawmakers may try to obstruct President Obama's plan to allow more Syrian refugees into the U.S. Right-wing commentators continue to look askance at Muslims and now demand that refugees be denied entry.

Callous measures will not keep terrorism at bay. Denying aid to Syrian refugees and demonizing all Muslims as would-be terrorists will not make the U.S. safer, but it will create hardship for thousands of innocent people and contribute to an atmosphere of hatred.

Below are commentary pieces on right-wing xenophobia in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Entertaining Faith: Jesus would welcome Syrian refugees

Think Progress: Fearmongering Against Refugees In The U.S. Begins

Love, Joy, Feminism: Michael Farris Calls for Closing Doors to Syrian Refugees

CBS News: GOP candidates rip Syrian refugee policy after Paris attacks

Right Wing Watch: WND Pundit: Ban Muslims From Public Office

Media Matters for America: Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle: Refugee Resettlement In The United States Is "Forced Infiltration"

News Tidbits

Greenville Online: Cruz at BJU: Gay marriage issue not settled

Gay Star News: Ted Cruz sponsors rally for activists who consider gays part of Satan

NBC News: Texas Abortion Law Is About Politics, Medical Groups Say

Reuters: U.S. top court's Texas abortion ruling to have broad impact in states 

Tulsa World:  Christian convert, former lesbian draws protesters for upcoming lecture at TU

New York Times: Mormon Resignations Put Support for Gays Over Fealty to Faith

The Salt Lake Tribune: Top Mormon leaders tweak gay rules, but fears remain for the children

Associated Press: Donations Drop for Boy Scouts in Utah After Gay Leader Decision

The Advocate: North Irish Official Endorses Praying the Gay Away

Saturday, November 14, 2015

More Religious Right Reactions to the Paris Attacks

Steadily, members of the Christian Right are responding to yesterday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Not surprisingly, some are using the tragedy as an opportunity to sermonize on their favorite political topics. In the past twenty-four hours, commentators have used the Paris attacks to slam President Obama, demand closed borders, and warn believers about "moral decadence" leaving nations vulnerable.

First, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued a statement on the Paris attacks. In his November 14th statement, Huckabee defended his positions on Syrian refugees and tighter border security, arguing that these were reasonable responses to "a threat to western civilization."
"...We are clearly not dealing with leashed animals or with a JV team. We’re dealing with a threat to western civilization. During the debate last week, I stated that we should not admit those claiming to be Syrian refugees and was condemned by the left for that position. I was right and the events in Paris affirm that. Even the far left and politically correct government of France has closed its borders. It’s time for a President who will act to protect Americans, not just talk and protect the image of Islam.

I call for the following:

1. Close our borders instead of Guantanamo.

2. Institute an immediate moratorium on admission to those persons from countries where there is strong presence of ISIS or Al-Qaeda.

3. Build a coalition that will include NATO, Russia, and nations of the Middle East to aggressively destroy ISIS. Nations who refuse to participate will be sanctioned and isolated.

4. Revoke any agreement with Iran regarding their nuclear capacity. Radical Islamists, whether Sunni or Shia, are a clear and present danger to civilization."

Huckabee was not the only candidate whose response was tinged with right-wing sentiments. During the November 14th morning edition of Fox and Friends, Texas Senator Ted Cruz accused President Obama of underestimating the threat of Islamic extremism in the wake of the Paris attacks, even though the President condemned the attacks the day before.
"...these attacks underscore that we are facing an enemy who is fierce, who is relentless, who is at war with us even if our own president does not understand that it is at war with us, and who will not stop until it is defeated. That enemy is radical Islamic terrorism. As long as we have a commander-in-chief unwilling even to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism, we will not have a concerted effort to defeat these radicals before they continue to murder more and more innocents, whether Europeans or Israelis or Americans."
Like Huckabee, Cruz saw the Paris attacks as an example of the problems that erupt from unchecked immigration. He warned Tucker Carlson that if the U.S. accepts Syrian refugees, it could unwittingly allow terrorists onto its soil. Cruz argued that the U.S. should provide "safe haven" for Christian refugees but resettle Muslim refugees in the Middle East.
"You know President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syria Muslim refugees to America is nothing less than lunacy.  If you look at the early waves of refugees that have flooded into Europe, one estimate was that 77% of those refugees were young men. That’s a very odd demographic for a refugee wave. The director of national intelligence here in America has said of those refugees in Europe, it is clear that a significant number of them may well be ISIS terrorists.

It makes no sense whatsoever for us to be bringing in refugees who our intelligence cannot determine if they are terrorists here to kill us or not. Those who are fleeing persecution should be resettled in the Middle East in majority Muslim countries. Now on the other hand, Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians that are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them."
Other voices used recent events in Paris to blast President Obama as well. In a column at World Net Daily entitled "A Dance of Death in the West", Michael Savage mocks President Obama as a "Caesar" who supposedly fails to grasp the gravity of the extremist threat.
"There is a dance of death in the West and actual death in the Middle East, courtesy of the Islamofascists. Meanwhile, the Caesar in the White House entertains himself with a thousand sycophants, partying on behind closed doors as if the Islamofascist hand will not touch him. He thinks he’s protected from this new plague, the Black Death of radical Islam.


This is a barbaric revolution, and we have a man in the White House who denies its existence. But whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not, it’s going to continue until someone puts a stop to it."
Still other voices used the tragedy as an opportunity to decry the world's alleged impiety. One American church leader living near Paris argued that society has descended into "moral decadence", resulting in God's removal of his protection. In a commentary piece at Charisma entitled "3 Ways to Pray for Paris After Deadly Terrorist Attacks", Robert Baxter told readers that he and his loved ones were praying for three things in the wake of the Paris attacks.
"We are praying for God's great mercy and compassion to be poured out on those who have lost a family member, friend, colleague. We are praying for this evil to be turned into a wave of salvation for the French.

God has told us that there are other terrorist cells active in France; and we are praying that they would be exposed to the authorities and dealt with adequately.

And finally, we believe God has called us to repent for the silence of the church as our society has slid into moral decadence. We believe that the "normalization" of immorality has destroyed God's protection over our nation. And He is calling us to repent."
Would it really be so hard to hold off on political sniping and decrying "decadence" until more time has passed? Can we please grieve for the victims instead of using their deaths to score political points?

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Associated Press: Santorum uses Paris attacks to criticize Clinton

Media Matters: Right-Wing Media Immediately Criticize Obama After He Condemned Paris Attacks

CNN: Cruz ties Paris attacks to religious liberty pitch

Religious Right Responses to the Paris Massacre

The November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris, France have left the world reeling. The Washington Post reports that 129 people were killed in a series of suicide bombings and shootings at the Bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France, and several bars and restaurants. The attacks remind us that Islamic extremism continues to threaten innocent lives in both the West and the Middle East.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins stated that the killings were carried out by seven terrorists divided into three teams, reports USA Today. According to the Washington Post, at least one of the seven dead attackers was a French national. Two of the dead attackers may be Belgians, and yet another was found with a Syrian passport near his body. Ten suspects have since been arrested in Belgium, and Reuters adds that a man arrested in Germany this month may also be linked the the Paris carnage.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to CNN, prompting French President Francois Holland to declare the killings an "act of war". World leaders, religious leaders, and ordinary citizens have condemned the attacks in the strongest possible terms.

Several Religious Right organizations and figures have responded to the catastrophe via Twitter. Some offered genuine warmth to Paris, while others used the tragedy as an opportunity to pontificate on gun control.

Friday, November 13, 2015

News Tidbits

Reuters: Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky to open July 2016

The Guardian: Supreme court to hear Christian argument for contraception exemption

Reading Eagle: Alvernia Seniors College course examines separation of church and state

Daily Monitor: Abed Bwanika to Use Prophesy to Govern Uganda

Pink News: Australia: These anti-gay marriage Christians want to stop being called ‘bigots’

Commentary Tidbits

Sheep Dip: Camp Shunshine to Support Children of Gay Apostates

The White Hindu: I Don’t Like Kimmy Schmidt (What It’s Really Like to Leave a Cult)

Infidel753: Hell Frozen Over

Falls Church News-Press: GOP Candidates Bow Down Before Bigots at Hate Conference

Religion News Service: Leaving Mormon church rolls, over cruel policy on gays’ kids

Freak Out Nation: Harsh Look Into Fundamentalist Religion

MSNBC: Shuttered: The End of Abortion Access in Red America

LGBTQ Nation: Ben Carson’s campaign proves the GOP have totally lost it

Washington Post: Spotlight portrayal of sex abuse scandal is making the Catholic Church uncomfortable all over again

Think Progress: The Supreme Court Is About To Consider A Case That Could End Roe V. Wade

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What the--?

As of this morning, the Right Wing Watch account at YouTube is down, and thus the videos of the Freedom 2015 conference are unavailable. The Right Wing Watch account page says that the account was terminated "because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted." Hmmm.

Right Wing Watch performs an invaluable public service, so this development disturbs me. Let's hope the matter is resolved soon and that those videos find their way back online.

UPDATE: Right Wing Watch is working on the issue.

11/19/15 UPDATE: The videos are back online at YouTube.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

News Tidbits

KUTV 2: LDS apostle's gay brother worries for future of LGBT people in the church

KIVI-TV 6: Utah attorney helping Mormons resign from church

Raw Story: Ben Carson: My ideas about creationism and pyramids are ‘not silly at all’ — they’re in the Bible

Huffington Post: Marco Rubio Aide Warned Gay Marriage Would Lead To 'Sin' And 'Suffering'

Pink News: Pastor who defeated Houston LGBT rights: ‘The Bible can cure trans people’

Sedalia Democrat: Same-sex couple turned away from Heritage Ranch

LGBTQ Nation: Homophobic Christian extremist gets extremely mad at Starbucks cup on CNN

Commentary Tidbits

Brane Space: If A Kristallnacht Event Occurred in the U.S. Would Anyone Recognize It?

Salon: The right-wing’s insane new fear of Frozen

Buzzfeed: Volunteering At An Abortion Clinic Made Me Lose Patience With The Abortion Debate

Friendly Atheist: This Saturday, There Will Be a Mass Resignation from Mormonism in Salt Lake City

Daily Beast: Houston’s Anti-LGBT Campaign Was Led by Wingnut Who Would Expel All Gays 

The Guardian: God has become a political football in the presidential game

Washington Post: Why 2015 has been a banner year for films about abuse and religion

Flunking Sainthood: Mormon apostle stands by new policy barring children of same-sex marriages

Huffington Post: After 13 Years, I'm Leaving Christianity

Rachel Maddow on Freedom 2015 Conference

The November 9th edition of The Rachel Maddow Show covered the Freedom 2015 conference. Maddow called out Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee for appearing at the event alongside homophobe Kevin Swanson.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Freedom 2015: Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee Woo the Religious Right

To read an introduction to Freedom 2015, click here. To read about Kevin Swanson at Freedom 2015, click here. To read about Geoffrey Botkin's talk, click here and here.

Freedom 2015: The National Religious Liberties Conference took place on November 6-7 in Des Moines, Iowa. Three Republican presidential candidates -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee -- spoke at the event alongside controversial radio host Kevin Swanson. Freedom 2015 offered the candidates an opportunity to woo Religious Right voters with talk of "religious liberty" and "judicial tyranny".

The three candidates seemed unfazed by the event's homophobic, sexist, and Christian reconstructionist speakers. To boot, the organizer's history of vicious anti-gay remarks failed to serve as a red flag for the candidates, despite a petition from People for the American Way urging the candidates to denounce Swanson's bigotry. In the wake of Swanson's deranged rants, I wonder if the three candidates regret attending the event.

In the days leading up to the event, Cruz was evasive about his ties to Kevin Swanson. At the 14:53 mark of this video, CNN's Jake Tapper asks Cruz about Swanson during an interview on The Lead with Jake Tapper, but Cruz changed the subject.
TAPPER: You are speaking at a conference this weekend, the National Religious Liberty Conference in Des Moines. It's organized by a guy named Kevin Swanson. You've been very outspoken about what you deem liberal intolerance of Christians, but Kevin Swanson has said some very inflammatory things about gays and lesbians. He believes Christians should hold up signs at gay weddings, holding up the Leviticus verse instructing the faithful to put gays to death because what they do is an abomination. I don't hold you responsible for what other people say, but given your concern about liberal intolerance, are you not in some ways endorsing conservative intolerance?

CRUZ: Listen, I don't know what this gentleman has said and what he hasn't said. I know that when it comes to religious liberty, this is a passion of mine that has been a passion of mine for decades, and that I have been fighting for religious liberty for everyone ... In the last six and a half years under the Obama administration, we have seen an assault on religious liberty from the federal government.
I'm surprised that Cruz knew nothing about Swanson's homophobia. Why wouldn't a political candidate do his research before a major public appearance? What presidential campaign fails to vet events and allies?

When Cruz appeared on-stage with Swanson at Freedom 2015, he insisted that a U.S. president must be religious. In an excerpt of his speech captured by Right Wing Watch, he had this to say.
SWANSON: How important [is it] for the resident of the United States to fear God, and what does that mean to you?

CRUZ: Any president who doesn't begin every day on his knees isn't fit to be commander in chief of this country.

Bobby Jindal spouted right-wing talking points at the summit as well. In this Right Wing Watch video, Jindal waxed poetic about religious freedom, pitted religious freedom against LGBTQ equality, and warned listeners that the IRS would be targeting Christians.
Look, the IRS could be coming after churches and pastors next. We can't simply say, 'Well, it doesn't impact me, 'cause I'm not a baker, I'm not a caterer, I'm not a musician.' They're coming after those of us that want to live our lives according to our Christian faith. 

It shouldn't take a governor's executive order to protect our First Amendment rights. The Founding Fathers put this in the Constitution on purpose. They understood that America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America. There's no freedom of association or freedom of speech without religious liberty, so when the left tries to take God out of the public square, we need to remind them [that] the Founding Fathers ... got something profoundly right. Government is not what makes America great. Government doesn't create our rights. The Founding Fathers were creating a limited government to secure but not create our God-given rights ... No earthly court can change the definition of marriage. No federal government, no ACLU should be able to take away our religious liberty rights. We were given those by God Almighty.

Finally, Mike Huckabee refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In an excerpt of his talk captured by Right Wing Watch, Huckabee admitted that if elected president, he would not acknowledge the Supreme Court's decision as law.
SWANSON: As Christians, we are concerned about two important Supreme Court rulings: Roe v. Wade in 1973, and then this year, Obergefell. How in the world can we reverse these horrific rulings at the Supreme Court of the United States? What can the president do about it?

HUCKABEE: Well the first thing the president ought to do is exactly what he should do, and that's uphold the Constitution. The courts can't make law, and if the president surrenders the entire executive branch power to the judicial, he has surrendered to the doctrine of judicial supremacy, which leads us to what Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, and Lincoln all called judicial tyranny. So here's what the president should do, and if I were president, this is what I would do. On the same-sex marriage decision, I would simply say it is not law. It is not law because the people's elected representatives have not made it law, and there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Supreme Court the power to make a law. They are the Supreme Court. They are not the supreme branch or the supreme being. They can't make law!
These are some of the GOP candidates who want to be president of the United States: a senator who conflates religiosity with presidential competence, a governor who feeds the Religious Right's persecution complex, and a former governor who would ignore Supreme Court decisions he disliked. These three candidates do not understand what real religious liberty entails and do not represent Americans outside the fundamentalist Christian bubble. Voters, take note.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Warren Throckmorton: Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee and the Alternative Reality Conference

Religion Dispatches: “Ready to Be Arrested?”: GOP Prez Candidates Show Up For Freedom 2015

The Daily Beast: Jesus Freaks Huddle For The Gaypocalypse

News Tidbits

Washington Post: Mormon Church makes same-sex couples apostates, excludes children from blessings and baptism

MSNBC: God ‘judges nations for sins,’ says host of evangelical event featuring 2016ers

CNN: Supreme Court to hear new challenge to Obamacare contraception mandate 

Reuters: Kentucky's governor-elect to remove clerk names from state marriage licenses

Wichita Eagle: Conway Springs teacher asked to resign after anti-bullying video upsets parents

Associated Press: Hearing set in state suit against Jehovah’s Witnesses elders

The Advocate: Rick Santorum Says Support for Trans Youth Encourages 'Gender Confusion'

Daily Monitor: Ugandan politician Abed Bwanika vows to rehabilitate homosexuals

Commentary Tidbits

Utah Public Radio: An Anthropologist's Response To A World Congress Of Families

Ward Gossip: Time to Leave the Table

Dad's Primal Scream: Children of Gays and Mormon Credibility

Washington Blade: Shame on the Mormon Church

Leftcheek Deuce: Violence in the House of Hell

Mother Jones: Jeb Bush Hired a Spanking Proponent to Run His Troubled Child Welfare Agency

Houston Press: The Struggles of Being Young, Homeless and LGBT

The Guardian: How cardinal disgraced in Boston child abuse scandal found a Vatican haven

Think Progress: Experts Believe Hobby Lobby Stole Biblical Antiquities From Iraq. Here’s Why.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Freedom 2015: Kevin Swanson Comes Unglued

To read an introduction to Freedom 2015, click here. To read about Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee at Freedom 2015, click here. To read about Geoffrey Botkin's talk, click here and here.

The Freedom 2015 conference took place on November 6-7 in Des Moines, Iowa, drawing over 1,600 attendees, according to WHO 13 TV. Sponsored by Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision, Samaritan Ministries, Heritage Defense, and other Religious Right groups, Freedom 2015 included appearances by Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal. The conference focused on supposed assaults on Christian "religious liberty", with special emphasis on the LGBTQ rights movement as an alleged threat.

Right Wing Watch and Brian Tashman were kind enough to live-tweet the event, which featured Botkin books, homophobic pamphlets, an array of Religious Right speakers, and a schedule full of workshops on alleged "religious persecution".

Progressives took notice of Freedom 2015's right-wing themes and dubious speakers. The summit came under fire by People for the American Way, who posted a petition urging Cruz, Huckabee, and Jindal to condemn Kevin Swanson's vicious homophobia. One Iowa, an LGBTQ rights organization, hosted a counter-event on November 7th, entitled "America’s First Freedom 2015: A Civil Conversation", a forum to discuss "religious liberty as envisioned by our founders" and counteract "self-serving versions that encourage and sanctify discrimination". (Hat tip to the Des Moines Register.)

I will discuss the speeches of Cruz, Huckabee, and Jindal in a future post, but first, I'd like to share some Freedom 2015 quotes from Kevin Swanson. With Kevin Swanson at the helm, Freedom 2015 quickly devolved into a circus. Swanson paced back and force on stage, screaming about hell and repentance as if on the verge of tears. Swanson's rants not only dripped with homophobia but also included bizarre comments about cow manure, pus-filled sores, children's movies, and country music. By appearing on stage with Swanson and failing to condemn his extremism, Cruz, Huckabee, and Jindal have torpedoed whatever slim chance they might have had of being viable presidential candidates.

For example, in a Freedom 2015 excerpt captured by Right Wing Watch, Swanson claimed that he would sit in cow manure outside a church if one of his children entered a same-sex marriage, then warned the audience not to carve happy faces into infected sores (!?).
"I was thinking, you know, there are parents -- and this is not a funny thing -- there are families whose -- and we are talking Christian families, pastors' families, elders' families in good godly churches. Their sons are rebelling, hanging out with homosexuals and getting married, and the parents are invited. What would you do if that was the case? Here's what I would do. Sackcloth and ashes at the entrance to the church, and I'd sit in cow manure, and I'd spread it all over my body. That's what I would do. And I'm not kidding. I'm not laughing. I'm grieving, I'M MOURNING! I'M POINTING OUT THE PROBLEM! It's not a gay time! These are the people with the sores, the gaping sores, the sores that are pussy and gross, and people are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores. That's not a nice thing to do! DON'T YOU DARE CARVE HAPPY FACES ON OPEN, PUSSY SORES! Don't you ever do that!"

In another Right Wing Watch clip, Swanson raged against abortion for allegedly killing billions of human beings. He saved his hottest rage for the Harry Potter franchise, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kacey Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow" because they allegedly normalize homosexuality. Unfortunately, this was not the first time Swanson had made ridiculous comments about arts and culture.
"Friends, we are on the very cusp of judgment, as I see it, and we need to call America to repent. As you say, repentance from what? Repentance from defying the Almighty. Repentance of abortion, repentance of the hundreds of millions of dead bodies. I don't know how many children have been aborted by way of abortifacients, by way of the surgical abortion since the 1960s, but I do believe that Margaret Sanger is responsible for more deaths in the world than any single person who has ever lived, and I'm talking about billions of little babies thanks to the technology she developed in the 1960s.

Friends, it's us! The problem is us! We call the nation to repentance today. Repent America! ... America, repent of Harry Potter! America, repent of How to Train Your Dragon! America, repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter, that Hiccup's mentor in How to Train Your Dragon emerged as a homosexual himself in order that history might repeat itself one more time, in order that little six and seven, eight year-olds might stumble, in order that tens of millions of parents, it would be better for them that a millstone be hanged around their neck and they'd be drowned at the bottom of the sea, in order that there would be so many people stumbling so many children in public schools, in movie theaters, in homes, in which children are raised to be stumbled by the Dumbledores and the mentors of Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon!

My friends, AMERICA NEEDS TO REPENT! AMERICA NEEDS TO REPENT of her culture! America needs to repent. Country music stations need to repent of playing the song "Follow Your Arrow" ... THESE RADIO STATIONS NEED TO REPENT OR THEY WILL BE DAMNED BY THE ALMIGHTY, BY GOD HIMSELF!"

In a particularly offensive excerpt captured by Right Wing Watch, Swanson argued that the Bible commands death for the "sin" of homosexuality. It was not the first time Swanson has made such a statement.
"There are instances in which both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak to the matter with unbelievable clarity, and friends--and this is the highest level, the very highest level of clarity, where the word of God has spoken. Both Old Testament and New Testament. Ought not to be any debate whatsoever about it, and you know what that sin is. It's the sin of homosexuality. Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy I think it's chapter 4, and of course Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20. The word of God speaks there, both, and in fact, [in] Romans 1, Paul affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death, in Romans 1. So, granted, there are varying levels of clarity/relevance relating to ethics, but still, the Old Testament and New Testament I believe both speak with authority, and we ought to receive it."

With regards to whether the U.S. should execute LGBTQ persons, Swanson was evasive. In one Right Wing Watch clip, he argued that mass repentance for sexual "sins" (homosexuality, adultery, divorce, and porn consumption) was of far greater urgency.
"Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. Yes, [in] Romans 1:32, the apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death. HIS WORDS, NOT MINE! AND I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God, and I AM WILLING TO GO TO JAIL for standing on the truth on the word of God! And I know I've taken the counsel. Many have told me this weekend, 'You be careful. You choose your words carefully. We have presidentials coming down to this conference this weekend.' I understand that, but I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD, and I'm willing to go to jail for it.

Then they ask me, 'Yes, but do you advocate for our civil leaders to do this today?' And my answer is no. But why? Here's why. Because that's not such a big deal. We are not to fear those who can kill the body. Yea, Jesus says fear rather the one who can cast body and soul in hell forever.

The discussion concerning the capital punishment of homosexuals is nothing, is not all that important when contrasted with hellfire forever. You say why wouldn't you call for it? I say it's because we need some time for homosexuals to repent. That's why ...

There is not much difference between adultery and homosexuality as conveyed by the word of God. There's not much difference between adultery and divorcees who themselves have committed adultery by illegitimate divorce or remarriage. There is hardly any difference. They need TIME TO REPENT, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? AMERICA NEEDS TIME TO REPENT! YOU SAY, WHY DON'T YOU CALL FOR IT? AMERICA NEEDS TIME TO REPENT of their homosexuality, their adultery, and their porn addictions, and I'm speaking of 80% of young men who, according to Barna research last year, have confessed to a porn addiction, to at least weekly or monthly involvement in pornography, an addiction that, my friends, constitutes such a porneia that as I see it, they are not qualified to even marry.
America's steeped in a destructive form of sexuality, and friends, THEY'RE BOUND FOR HELL! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? It's not so much an issue of the death penalty; it's an issue of God's judgment that's hanging upon this nation today."
Swanson's howling, his palpable fear and rage, his paranoia about being incarcerated, and his ongoing obsession with sexual "sins" all made me squirm. This was not a pundit making outlandish statements just to score political points; this was a man seized with terror, loathing, and morbid obsessions. Something is very, very wrong with this man, I thought as I watched him scream.

Swanson's statements bring the madness of the Religious Right into sharper focus. Screaming aside, his dismay at the state of the world echoes the Religious Right's dismay at 21st century life. People who cling to patriarchy, heteronormativity, and Christian hegemony now find themselves disoriented as women, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities assert their rights. Their disorientation gives way to anger and fear as they find themselves unable or unwilling to adapt to the new world.

And so Swanson and his ilk lash out. They lash out at women who exercise their reproductive rights. They lash out at LGBTQ people, demonizing them as worthy of death. They lash out at church-state separation, wailing about "religious persecution" as they persecute others. As their hegemony weakens, their rhetoric becomes more fevered and outrageous.

Swanson's rants at Freedom 2015 magnified what we've know about the Religious Right for years: they're angry, they're hateful, and they're disconnected from reality. We must counteract the Religious Right's efforts, especially in the political realm, for that reason.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Towleroad: ‘Kill the Gays’ Pastor Says ‘We Are Messed Up’, Proves It with Epic Meltdown

Jezebel: Spitting and Sweating, Anti-Gay Pastor Kevin Swanson Welcomes Huckabee and Jindal to Weird, Weird Conference

The New Civil Rights Movement: Christian Pastor Says Gays 'Worthy Of Death' At Conference With 3 GOP Presidential Candidates

The Frisky: What If Bernie And Hillary Spoke At An Event With People Who Wanted To Kill Christians?