The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Despite claiming its success this election cycle came from expunging extremists from its ranks, the GOP managed to let a fair number of candidates with extremist views rooted in conspiracy theories and far-right fears slip through the cracks.
“Little was left to chance,” The New York Times reported earlier this week. “Republican operatives sent fake campaign trackers — interns and staff members brandishing video cameras to record every utterance and move — to trail their own candidates. In media training sessions, candidates were forced to sit through a reel of the most self-destructive moments.”
But when all the ballots were counted, not even that was enough to stop the GOP from embracing candidates with fringe views, extremist connections and embarrassing backgrounds.
Consider Michael Peroutka, the onetime Constitutional Party presidential candidate and a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS). Peroutka, running as a Republican, was elected to the Ann Arundel County Council in Maryland, garnering 15,531 votes against Democratic candidate Patrick Armstrong’s 13,638.
Peroutka is an avid Southern secessionist and radical Christian Reconstructionist, as he made clear during his presidential campaign for the Constitution Party in 2004. He has long been an active figure in the LOS, serving on its board until recently. However, as the Capital Gazette in Annapolis noted, Peroutka campaigned almost entirely on local issues, emphasizing his desire to repeal the county’s storm water fees, dubbed by local critics as “the rain tax.”
Peroutka eventually renounced his LOS membership, telling reporters he had discovered that the organization held racist views “contrary to my beliefs.” In spite of that mea culpa, Peroutka has continued to share his extremist views in far-right media outlets. In one media appearance, Peroutka warned that the “gay deathstyle” was intent on recruiting the nation’s children. In another interview, he made clear that his extremist politics will color how he conducts county policy, proclaiming nondiscrimination laws a plot to replace God with government “idolatry.”
While it might be easy to say that Peroutka is alone on the Republic roster with his extremist ideology, there were many other candidates elected Tuesday with similar baggage.
- Joni Ernst, U.S. Senate, Iowa: Ernst has supported state nullification of federal laws, claimed the president is a “dictator” who should be impeached, and given credence to Agenda 21, a right-wing conspiracy theory that claims the United Nations is building a blueprint for the “New World Order” intent on taking away U.S. citizen’s land and possessions.
- Jody Hice, U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia, 10th District: The anti-Islam Hice (who is also a radio talk show host) has said that Muslims shouldn’t get First Amendment protections, has claimed that a satirical piece written in the 1980s is “proof” of a “gay agenda” and said in 2004 that it was okay for a woman to run for office as long as she’s “within the authority of her husband.” He also said on his radio show that “blood moons” are a sign of world-changing. Strangely, Hice’s radio shows have been scrubbed from the Internet.
- Gordon Klingenschmitt, Colorado state legislature, District 15: Best-known for his claims of casting demons out of LGBT people, Klingenschmitt heads up the anti-LGBT hate group The Pray in Jesus [sic] Name Project. He was court martialed by the Air Force in 2006 for disobeying an order. He has claimed that gay people sexually abuse their own children and they should be discriminated against because they’re not going to heaven and only people who go to heaven are entitled to equal treatment.
- Gary Glenn, Michigan state legislature, District 98: Glenn, the author of Michigan’s amendment banning marriage equality, is a former director of AFA-Michigan, an affiliate of the American Family Association, an anti-LGBT hate group. Glenn has expressed desire to recriminalize homosexuality, which he claims is a “proven threat to health and human safety.” He has expressed reservations about businesses hiring LGBT people because of the “severe medical consequences” of homosexuality, which indicates they’re “not the best and the brightest.”
Ryan Lenz, David Neiwert and Evelyn Schlatter contributed to this article.
Former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who calls himself “Dr. Chaps” and claims he exorcises demons out of LGBT people, is now a state legislator in Colorado Springs, Colo.—part of a landslide of Republic wins during last Tuesday’s election.
Klingenschmitt captured nearly 70 percent of the vote in the heavily Republican District located in El Paso County, on the eastern side of Colorado Springs.
But Klingenschmitt isn’t your usual conservative.
He heads up the Pray in Jesus Name Project, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT hate group. Klingenschmitt himself is perhaps best-known for his attempts to exorcise demons out of various people (including President Obama), as well as his numerous false claims and bizarre statements about homosexuality.
The American Family Association – one of the biggest anti-LGBT organizations in the country with an estimated $20 million annual budget – says “homosexual bullies” are threatening to pressure the city of Coeur d’Alene to fine or arrest Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who operate the private wedding chapel. City officials say that’s nonsense.
But that’s not stopping AFA which is directing and encouraging its supporters to flood the Coeur d’Alene mayor’s office and the office of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter with phone calls and e-mails. Hundreds are pouring in.
The governor, in the middle of a contentious re-election campaign, announced on Tuesday that he will ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a full-court review of an earlier ruling that struck down as unconstitutional Idaho’s ban on same sex marriages. They became legal in Idaho last week and at least one same same-sex couple headed to the “Hitching Post” to be married, only to be turned away.
The City of Coeur d’Alene has a law, with penalty provisions, making it illegal for businesses to discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley said if the Hitching Post provides public services primarily or substantially for profit and discriminates in providing those services based on sexual orientation, it likely would be in violation of the ordinance, The Spokesman-Review reported in today’s edition.
The Hitching Post, which performs secular as well as religious ceremonies, filed a federal lawsuit last week, contending the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance violates the religious rights of the business owners. Meanwhile, the Knapps recently filed paperwork with the state to make their business a religious organization which would exempt it from the city ordinance, The Spokesman-Review reported in Tuesday’s editions. The city of C’oeur d’Alene has asked the Knapps to withdraw the lawsuit, since they filed for religious exemption two weeks ago and would thus not be required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
All those developments haven’t stopped American Family from making the Hitching Post case its cause célèbre, with a new “action alert” posting on its web page. “Once again, homosexual bullies have targeted Christian-owned businesses in their attempt to silence all opposition to their sinful lifestyle,’ the AFA message says.
That has resulted in a deluge of 33,000 e-mails and an estimated 300 phone calls to the office of Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer, city spokesman Keith Erickson told Hatewatch today. The e-mail messages “all read the same,” and are cut-and-paste scripted from the AFA web site, Erickson said.
One of American Family’s senior officials, Bryan Fischer, is the former director of the Idaho Values Alliance, a former AFA state affiliate. He has said homosexuality gave the world Adolf Hitler and was responsible for the extermination of six million Jews. Fischer also has called for criminalizing gay sex which, he claims, would end “gay indoctrination” public schools. He has also advocated forcing gay people into therapy to “cure’’ homosexuality which he likens to intravenous drug use.
The ex-gay groups Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), Voice of the Voiceless, and Equality and Justice for All will hold their second annual gathering tomorrow to mark what they’ve dubbed “Ex-Gay Awareness Month,” which includes a day to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
Speakers include some of the most virulent anti-LGBT voices on the right, including: Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who once called for the exportation of LGBT people; Matt Barber, founder of the extreme anti-LGBT site Barbwire.com who co-hosts the Liberty Counsel radio show “Faith and Freedom”; Sandy Rios, a radio host for American Family Radio (American Family Association); and Alan Keyes, who thinks marriage equality is a “crime against humanity.” Keyes disowned his daughter in 2005 because she is a lesbian.
Last year’s “Ex-Gay Awareness Month” was cancelled, but the movement soldiers on despite growing national acceptance of LGBT people and marriage equality, the overturning of parts of the Defense of Marriage Act by the Supreme Court and certainly despite the numerous people who have left movement.
One of those, Yvette Cantu Schneider, agreed to speak with Hatewatch about her involvement in the ex-gay and anti-LGBT movement, and her views on conversion therapy.
Schneider came out as a lesbian as a young woman, then converted to Christianity in the 1990s and spent more than a decade working with anti-LGBT groups and campaigns like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family. She also was active in the Proposition 8 campaign in California, which resulted in the outlawing of same-sex marriage in that state in 2008. (The ban has since been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
Schneider, who eventually married a man, was for years one of the key sources anti-LGBT activists cited as “proof” that people can change their sexual orientation. But in 2009, she began to question her beliefs.
In July 2014, she joined eight other founders, leaders and promoters of the “ex-gay” movement—a largely religious movement that claims therapy can “cure” people of their homosexuality—in joining the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ call for a campaign to end so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy within five years. Schneider has also donated some of the proceeds from her latest book, Never Not Broken: A Journey of Unbridled Transformation, to GLAAD, an LGBT rights group.
Schneider’s perspective on ex-gay therapy is important. Anti-LGBT groups have used the idea that homosexuality is curable as ammunition for decades in their war against LGBT equality, holding it up as “proof” that homosexuality is a choice. But over the years, numerous people—including prominent spokespeople and leaders—have left the movement and denounced it, admitting that ex-gay therapy doesn’t work. Others have been revealed to be engaging in same-sex affairs or relationships. Just last year, Exodus International closed its doors and its president, Alan Chambers, issued a formal apology for the pain many people had experienced through ex-gay therapy.
The first ex-gay ministry, Love in Action, opened in 1973, followed by several others, including Exodus International, which started in 1976 and grew to be the largest. Religion fused with pseudo-science in 1992 with the formation of the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, which is made up of academics and therapists who tout falsehoods such as the claim that people become gay because of childhood sexual abuse or because they didn’t “bond” properly with a same-sex parent. A variety of conversion therapy practitioners have used techniques ranging from the bizarre (banging on pillows with tennis rackets) to the cruel (physical, sexual and emotional abuse) to basic talk therapy.
All of the nation’s leading professional medical and mental health associations have rejected conversion therapy as harmful and unnecessary. In spite of that, it is currently legally available for adults in every state. Two states—California and New Jersey—have banned it for minors. The New Jersey ban is being challenged in court.
Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups are calling on the Republican National Committee (RNC) to distance itself from this week’s Values Voter Summit because of the involvement of groups with a long history of relentlessly demonizing the LGBT community.
In an open letter published in The Washington Post and The Hill, the coalition is reminding RNC Chair Reince Priebus that 15 years ago his predecessor told GOP officials to shun the Council of Conservative Citizens because of the group’s racist views. This year’s campaign is asking the RNC to do it again.
“Will the GOP condemn anti-LGBT bigotry as vigorously as it opposed racism 15 years ago?” the letter asks.
The Value Voters Summit is an annual event hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC) and co-sponsored by the American Family Association (AFA) and Liberty Counsel – groups that engage in groundless demonization of LGBT people by portraying them as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.
Additionally, as part of the campaign to bring awareness to the issue, the SPLC has created a website with information on this year’s summit participants and their views that are helping to shape the modern GOP. You can visit that website here.
Earlier this year, the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF) suspended its conference slated this month in Moscow in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Or did they?
Mother Jones has reported that on September 10-12, something called “Large Families: The Future of Humanity” (aka International Family Forum) congregated in Moscow, at the Kremlin. The WCF conference that was suspended in March had as its theme “Every Child a Gift: Large Families, the Future of Humanity,” and it was originally scheduled to take place the same week in the same locations. ( continue to full post… )
As news of the ultra-violent Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) repugnant activities has filtered into America’s consciousness, right-wing politicians and media outlets have made the group the latest cause célèbre in their endless rhetorical war against the twin evils of Islam and immigration.
An extremist group too radical for even Al Qaeda to stomach, ISIS has horrified the world with the recent beheading of two American journalists and its brutal massacres of Iraqi religious minorities. Though there is no evidence that ISIS has operatives in America, ultraconservative Texas Gov. Rick Perry has suggested that the group has sent combatants over the U.S.-Mexico border, while WorldNetDaily, a far-right conspiracist online tabloid, claims that ISIS is working with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate this country.
The LGBT- and Muslim-bashing hate group Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC), takes it one step further than that.
In an unsigned Sept. 4 blog post apparently written by CADC head Gary Cass (Cass is known to write most of the posts on the CADC site), the group seems convinced that ISIS is already here – and it thinks American Christians must prepare to fight back with “overwhelming Christian just war.” In the post, titled “I’m Islamophobic, Are You?,” CADC says “every true follower of Mohammed wants to … subjugate and murder you. They believe they have been given a mandate by Allah (Satan) to dominate the world.”
That, of course, is in direct conflict with Cass’s own belief that in fact it is Christians who have been given a mandate for dominion. Cass’s mentor, the late D. James Kennedy of the anti-LGBT group Coral Ridge Ministries (of which Cass is the former executive director), once said, “As the vice regents of God, [Christians] are to exercise godly dominion and influence over … every aspect and institution of human society.”
According to the new CADC post, the only way to permanently prevent Muslims from pursuing their “infernal goals” is for Christians to “obtain a gun(s), learn to shoot, teach your kids the Christian doctrines of just war and self defense, create small cells of family and friends that you can rely on if some thing [sic] catastrophic happens and civil society suddenly melts down.”
The CADC post considers and rejects the slightly less harsh options of conversion and deportation. The former is dismissed as “not biblically doable,” because according CADC’s reading of the bible, Arabs are descended from Ishmael, who was cursed to be “an ass of a man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.” While seemingly keen on deportation (CADC is not specific as to where) or forced sterilization, the post is skeptical that American “politicians will do anything until it is too late, unless, of course, ‘we the people’ demand otherwise.” ( continue to full post… )
Editor’s Note: As of Sept. 5, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has confirmed he will participate in the Values Voter Summit.
Where have all the elected officials gone?
The Family Research Council’s (FRC) annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), set for the end of September, is fast approaching. But unlike prior years, very few high profile politicians have confirmed their participation. And the current line up seems more extreme than ever.
Could this annual rite of passage, a must attend event for politicians courting social conservatives, be losing its luster? ( continue to full post… )
In recent weeks, it has seemed as if the American Family Association—already listed by the SPLC as an anti-LGBT hate group—has been on a mission to transform its public image from that of ordinary family-values advocates to a pack of wild-eyed radicals foaming at the mouth about their perceived enemies.
AFA spokesperson Bryan Fischer has been leading the way. In recent weeks on his radio program, Fischer has:
- Declared it will be “the end of America” if Congress does not impeach President Obama.
- Denounced anyone who uses the word “racist,” then insisted that Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are “racists.”
- Sided with radical Islamists in Iraq in calling Obama a “devil worshiper.”
- Suggested on Twitter that accepting homosexuality leads to people to commit acts of necrophilia.
- Said that LGBT people are inherently disqualified from holding public office.
- Written an article in which he wonders if Robin Williams will go to heaven and insults Williams’s mother’s belief system (she was a Christian Scientist, Fischer says, and that is “a counterfeit form of religion that is neither Christian nor scientific”)
It’s not just Fischer, though. A couple of AFA analysts recently decried the recent editorial direction of Archie Comics, saying they now promoted “the occult and homosexuality.”
But as absurd as all these declarations might be, Fischer may not be the only one from AFA making such spurious claims. Kevin McCullough, a fellow AFA pundit who contributes at the organization’s commentary site, The Stand, recently published the following headline and article:
The ALS Challenge is a wildly popular fundraising stunt for the ALS Association in which people are encouraged to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads, record it on social media and then challenge other people to otherwise join them or make a donation to the association.
The stunt has become an Internet sensation, with participants including movie stars, pop singers and politicians, as well as a wide range of others. It has also inspired some moments of accidental low comedy on the Web.
But according to McCullough, the fun and frivolity is overshadowed by his view that “this very challenge is contributing to the on going destruction of human life – intentionally.”
The ALS association is actively now funding embryonic stem cell research and admitting that they likely will continue to do so in the future.
The funding of embryonic stem cell research means that children are created and at their earliest stages of life they are destroyed so that the stem cells (from usually the base of the brain) can be harvested to perform tests with.
Embryonic stem cell research has proven zero percent effective in combating diseases like ALS and other neurological degenerative diseases.
Stem cell research has proven to be a controversial issue for years, with many conservative Christians, including the Southern Baptist Convention, viewing it as akin to abortion. The embryos used for the research are fertilized in the laboratory, and there has never been a baby born or created in such conditions.
The ALS Association also claims to have produced substantial scientific research that, contrary to the AFA’s claims, indicates progress toward finding a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the progressive and fatal neuromuscular malady commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
ALS afflicts about 30,000 Americans, with about 5,600 new cases diagnosed annually. More than 5,000 people die each from the disease. The ALS Association reports that so far more than $31 million has been raised by the ice-bucket challenge.
Two leaders of the racist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), who have followers in Boundary County, Idaho, and in nearby Bountiful, British Columbia, have been charged again with practicing polygamy.
Winston Kaye Blackmore, 57, and James Marion Oler, 49, were first charged in 2009, but those charges were dropped after a judge ruled a special prosecutor in the case had been hired improperly. But a judge ruled that Canada’s anti-polygamy law is valid and does not violate the group’s religious freedom, allowing the charges to be filed again last week. ( continue to full post… )