Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events and Activities: 8.24.17

The following is a list of activities and events of anti-LGBT organizations. Organizations listed as anti-LGBT hate groups are designated with an asterisk.

American Family Association*

The American Family Association* sent out a reminder email about its “Spiritual Heritage Tours,” which involve trips to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown and another to Washington, DC and Mt. Vernon. Though the tours on the website have already been updated for 2018, the dates for 2017 remain the same. The Williamsburg, Jamestown & Yorktown tour is slated for September 16 - 19 and the Washington, D.C., and Mt. Vernon tour is scheduled for September 19 - 23.

AFA president Tim Wildmon and the founder and president of the Providence Foundation, Christian dominionist Stephen K. McDowell, lead the tours. The Providence Foundation is a “nonprofit Christian educational organization whose mission is to spread liberty, justice, and prosperity among the nations by educating individuals in a Biblical worldview,” according to the Spiritual Heritage Tour website.

McDowell has close ties to religious right pseudo-historian David Barton and his WallBuilders group (McDowell was listed as a board director of WallBuilders Presentations on the group’s 2015 IRS 990 form and Barton serves on the board of the Providence Foundation). The tenets of Barton’s interpretation of American history posits that secularists and non-Christians have “stolen” America’s rightful heritage and are driving God from the public square, a key narrative of the modern politicized religious right, which in turn dominates many state legislatures, according to journalist Bruce Wilson, who writes extensively on the American religious right.

McDowell is the author of the article “The Bible, Slavery, and America’s Founders,” a piece found on the WallBuilders website and on the Providence Foundation site that seems to justify the existence of slavery for certain people.

The article spells out the four types of slavery permitted in the Bible, including the permanent enslavement of “unbelievers,” and suggests that slavery was not in God’s original plan, but entered the world with sin. McDowell argues that the Bible provided some guidelines regarding the treatment of slaves, which “were for the benefit of all involved … the Biblical slave laws reflect God’s redemptive desire, for men and nations.”

McDowell cites the late R.J. Rushdoony throughout the piece, and McDowell’s interpretations of slavery appear to fall in line with those of Rushdoony, who is considered the founder of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which believes that America should be governed under Christian theocratic rule. Rushdoony, a Holocaust denier and supporter of execution for LGBT people, also argued that slavery is Biblically permitted. McDowell appeared with Rushdoony in 1999 along with other Christian Reconstructionist leaders in a video titled God’s Law and Society.

McDowell coauthored a Christian home school textbook (first published in 1989) called America’s Providential History. He and fellow author Mark A. Beliles claimed that the book’s goal is to equip Christians in America and throughout the world to introduce Biblical principles into public affairs in order to bring about a “Godly change.”

This text, according to Rachel Tabachnik, who writes and researches extensively on the religious right, is the foundation for many of the Providence Foundation’s publications, media and seminars, and pushes Biblical capitalism and Christian nationalist history. It is also source material for other religious right organizations and leaders.

Baylor University

Baylor University, based in Waco, Texas, has announced a new initiative on faith, ethics and public policy, which will be named after Princeton law professor Robert P. George, a leading scholar of the religious right who is a chairman emeritus of anti-LGBT group the National Organization for Marriage. He is also one of the three drafters of the anti-choice and anti-LGBT “Manhattan Declaration,” a theocratic manifesto that calls for Christians to disobey laws they disagree with, seeks to ban same-sex marriage and disallow recognition of any kind of civil union between same-sex people.

George, who served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has also argued that the battle for same-sex marriage is not about legal recognitions and protections, but rather “sex.”

The idea that is antithetical to those who are seeking to redefine marriage is that there is something uniquely good and morally upright about the chaste sexual union of husband and wife — something that is absent in sodomitical acts and in other forms [sic] sexual behavior that have been traditionally — and in my view correctly — regarded as intrinsically non-marital and, as such, immoral.

Robert George on C-Span's "Book TV."
Robert George on C-Span's "Book TV."

George is a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, which provided nearly $700,000 to anti-LGBT sociology professor Mark Regnerus for his debunked 2012 study. In addition, George launched the American Principles Project (APP) in 2009, a group that had been working hard to derail the Common Core educational standards, including using conspiratorial turns such as warning about “dark forces” behind the standards.

In keeping with the anti-LGBT history of organizations with which George is affiliated, in an August 9 press release posted on the APP website, Anna Anderson, director of religious freedom at APP, asserts that communities will soon have to deal with “children identified as transgender … forced to ‘transition’ and accept transgender ideology fully and without compromise.” George himself has referred to transgender identity as “absurd” and “superstitious.”

“We are honored that Professor George will be associated with our work in the nation’s capital,” said Thomas Hibbs, director of Baylor in Washington, in the announcement. George will participate in regular events in Washington, D.C., as part of the Baylor in Washington program.

Family Research Council*

The Family Research Council (FRC)* and the North Carolina Family Policy Council (NCFPC) filed an amicus brief the week of August 14 (according to an email FRC sent out) with the with the Supreme Court in the case of Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. v. Washington, et.al. In that lawsuit, a Washington state florist, Barronelle Stutzman, is suing the state because she ran afoul of the state’s non-discrimination laws when she refused to provide flowers for a gay couple’s wedding. Stutzman is represented primarily by Alliance Defending Freedom* a powerful national Christian law firm that has been working to ensure so-called “religious liberty” laws that allow people to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religious beliefs.

The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Stutzman in February 2015, upholding a lower court’s decision that she violated the state’s anti-discrimination ordinance; Stutzman knew the couple and had previously supplied flowers to them.

The FRC/NCFPC brief claims that the state of Washington “uses its anti-discrimination laws to impose crippling penalties on entrepreneurs who refuse to set aside conscience and create visual art that violates the owners’ faith and conscience.” By “crushing dissent,” the brief continues, “Washington promotes intolerance, uniformity, exclusion, inequality” (emphases in original). The result is, according to the brief, “an unconscionable inequality where people who hold traditional marriage beliefs are excluded from owning a public business.”

The brief goes on to claim that the case “is not really about LGBT rights or discrimination” which it refers to as a “smokescreen” that “obscures the invidious inequality Washington has created” by not allowing citizens to deny service to LGBT people — specifically, “citizens who graciously serve and interact with LGBT persons, but who oppose redefining the institution of marriage” and are, according to the brief, “now treated as unequal. Washington imposes crippling penalties to punish a dissenting view of marriage.”

The NCFPC — an affiliate of the Family Policy Alliance, the policy arm of anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family — played a major role in the passage of North Carolina's draconian HB 2 in March, 2016, which erased anti-discrimination ordinances from all cities, banned cities from passing future anti-discrimination ordinances and banned transgender people from using public restrooms and facilities in accordance with their gender identities. Less talked-about is that the bill also banned minimum wage increases and took away the right to sue under state law for employment discrimination, forcing people into the federal system instead.

John Rustin of North Carolina's Family Policy Council.
John Rustin of North Carolina's Family Policy Council.

In March of 2016, before HB 2 was passed, John Rustin, president of NCFPC sent a letter to then-governor Pat McCrory decrying the city of Charlotte’s February passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance that included sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, something Rustin called “controversial” and “hazardous.” In bold type, Rustin urged the governor to call the general assembly into a special session prior to April 1, which was when the Charlotte ordinance was to go into effect.

The letter claimed that the Charlotte ordinance violated the religious liberties of many citizens and forced them to “accept and embrace the Council’s extremely liberal view of marriage and human sexuality.”

The General Assembly went into special session March 24 and HB 2 was passed and signed that same day. The bill was described by then-acting executive director Sarah Preston of the American Civil Liberties Union as the “most extreme anti-LGBT bill in the nation.”

The state faced major backlash from business and individual interests. McCrory lost the 2016 election to Democrat Roy Cooper, who had pledged to overturn the law. An attempt in December of that year failed, and another attempt in April 2017 resulted in a compromise bill that is not a full repeal. Cooper signed the new bill, which allows the state to have final say over multi-stall restrooms and ensure that “women and girls should not have to share bathrooms with men,” according to one of the bill’s backers cited by NBC News, and puts a three-year ban on local governments implementing non-discrimination ordinances.

FRC Radio Roundup:

FRC president Tony Perkins hosts a daily radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests Aug. 1 through Aug. 21 have included Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC); Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS); Penny Nance (president of Concerned Women for America); Sen. John Boozman (R-AZ); Tom Fitton (president of Judicial Watch); Grant Wolf (chairman of Southern Methodist University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom); Roy Beck (president of anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA); Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA); Ryan Mauro (of anti-Muslim group Clarion Project*); Jim Campbell (senior counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom*); Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC); Texas State representative John Smithee (R); former Florida lieutenant governor Jennifer Carroll; David French (National Review senior writer); Curtis Houck (managing editor, Newsbusters); Mary Kay Culp (executive director, Kansas for Life); Dave Workman (senior editor of TheGunMag.com); Eben Fowler (director of broadcast operations for Bott Radio Network guest hosts); Bishop Harry Jackson; Valerie Huber (chief of staff to the assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services); Frank Buckley (professor of law, George Mason University); Jesse Watters (“Watters’ World” on Fox News); Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA); Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Bradford Richardson (reporter, Washington Times); Ronnie Floyd (senior pastor, Cross Church, Springdale, AR); Justin Danhof (general counsel, National Center for Public Policy Research); Jack Graham (pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, TX); Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH); Jon Pritchett (senior vice president, John Locke Foundation); Terry Jeffrey (editor-in-chief, CNS News)

Jim Garlow

Garlow is the pastor at Skyline Church, a San Diego megachurch. He helped spearhead the battles in California to pass Proposition 8 to ban marriage equality (it was later overturned by the courts). Right Wing Watch (RWW) reported on Aug. 15 that Garlow is again expanding his ministry, this time to the United Nations. He named former congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) as executive director of this initiative. The Garlow Facebook post RWW originally linked to is no longer available, but he did post a follow-up on Aug. 17 that included a photo of Bachmann standing outside the UN building in New York City and referred to her as the executive director of the ministry of Skyline Church.

RWW also reported that the original Facebook post noted that Garlow thanked C-Fam* (Center for Family and Human Rights; formerly Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) for assistance in establishing this ministry and also said that Fox News reporter Jon Decker would be working pro bono as the communications director. Austin Ruse, who is the president of C-Fam, has linked homosexuality to pederasty and also once called for liberal professors to be “taken out and shot.”

Skyline Church hosted a major conference in 2015 geared toward battling LGBT equality. A major theme, according to Media Matters, was Christian persecution as a result of the growing acceptance of LGBT people. Speakers talked about the rainbow flag as the “dark flag of tyranny”; referred to gay sex as “inherently unhealthy” and that gay men’s sexual entanglements pose “substantial risk of harm”; called LGBT activists “pawns of a malevolent master”; and calls to disobey the law with regard to LGBT people.

Garlow has claimed that Satan is behind same-sex marriage and compared same-sex marriage to slavery. In 2013, he hosted a series of webcasts seeking to mobilize pastors in California on behalf of a petition drive that sought to repeal a state law that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities.

Michele Bachmann has a long history of anti-LGBT statements and recently said that the U.S. State Department has been pushing a “gay agenda” on other countries. She has also said that former President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and his policies toward Iran would bring about “the rapture.” In addition she has claimed that homosexuality is “personal enslavement” and that LGBT people want to abolish age of consent laws to that adults would be able to “freely prey on little children sexually.”

It is yet unclear how Garlow’s ministry at the UN will operate, or what specific role it will play.

Scott Lively

Scott Lively.
Scott Lively.

Long-time anti-LGBT activist and conspiracist Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries* (his website is called “Defend the Family”) took to his blog, “Scott Lively Ministries” on August 8 to warn about the next stage of the “gay agenda.” In a post titled “What’s Next on the ‘Gay’ Agenda after Transgenderism?” he foresees the collapse of civilization and the formation of human/animal/machine hybrids. The overarching goal of the “gay agenda,” according to Lively, is “the elimination of the restrictions on sexual ‘freedom’ imposed by Judeo-Christian civilization.”

He links the gay movement to the Marquis de Sade and pederasty, then links it to the Nazi Reich, which is another of Lively’s conspiracy theories — that the Nazi ranks were full of gay men who helped orchestrate the Holocaust.

Lively argues in the post that the current fight over transgenderism “goes much deeper and attacks the very bedrock on which civilization’s cornerstone rests” because it “challenges what it means to be human.” Ultimately, Lively says, “the ‘gay’ agenda is simply a sub-plot of the larger satanic agenda” which he links to shadowy puppet-masters (unnamed). The final goal is not only the deconstruction of civilization, he writes, “but the dissolution of all boundaries between human and animal and machine, to produce creatures that are a blend of all three.”

Ruth Institute*

The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) is hosting its 10th annual conference on September 9 in Los Angeles. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the California-based Ruth Institute (RI)*, will be a keynote speaker.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president and founder of the Ruth Institute.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president and founder of the Ruth Institute.

According to its website, CALL is a “national organization dedicated to the growth and spiritual formation of the Latino leaders of this country in their knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith” and it engages in evangelization in this country. Its Resources for the Family includes a link to the American Family Association*, which has spent years propagating anti-LGBT rhetoric and materials, including linking homosexuality to pedophilia and currently, falsely claiming that allowing transgender people to use public restrooms in accordance with their gender identities will cause the sexual assaults of women and children.

The Ruth Institute* was originally a project of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage (NOM) until 2013, when it split off and became independent, though it continued its anti-LGBT messaging, working to “make marriage cool” for heterosexuals (especially geared toward college-aged people) while working against same-sex marriage.

Since 2013, the RI has rebranded itself as a “global non-profit organization dedicated to creating a lasting and Christ-like mass social movement to end the agony and injustice of family breakdown” with a website tagline of “inspiring the survivors of the sexual revolution.”

Roback Morse’s academic background is in economics, and over the years she has steered clear of some of the more virulent anti-LGBT rhetoric, though the RI, like NOM at the time, used a tactic in which RI bloggers selectively quoted from virulently anti-LGBT sources while claiming to support LGBT individuals and simply being opposed to marriage equality.

In one instance in December, 2011, while the RI was still under NOM’s aegis, an RI blogger posted a strong recommendation for a book titled Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk, written by Mathew “Mat” Staver, president of Liberty Counsel*. The book, which the RI claimed is “filled with real answers” is actually filled with harmful misinformation about LGBT people, including claims that same-sex parents molest their children.

Over the years, Roback Morse has claimed that the gay rights movement is “anti-human” and has used Catholic doctrine to assert that LGBT people are “intrinsically disordered” and that they should remain celibate (or leave the “gay lifestyle”) and not act on their attractions.

In 2016, Roback Morse posted a blog that ostensibly agreed with the Obama administration that transgender people are not sick, but then veered claims that transgender is a “political” term that results in:

allowing a child to define themselves into the ‘transgender’ category without parental involvement or knowledge does accomplish one thing, though. It allows kids to become part of the political Transgender movement at the lowest possible cost. It requires the schools to become part of the ideological destabilization of the concept of innate biological sex differences.

In a statement about the Obama administration’s 2016 guidelines concerning transgender students in public schools, the RI claimed that the guidelines would not help “real children, struggling with unique and complex issues” and “will certainly harm the millions of ordinary children who are not struggling with gender identity issues at this time.” Furthermore, the RI states, school boards are within their moral and legal rights to “decline to participate in the federal government’s war against nature.”

A more detailed statement about the guidelines referred to a “transgender political regime” and quoted an anti-trans lesbian feminist who accuses trans women of invading women-only spaces and exercising male privilege. The more detailed statement also erases trans identity and claims that students of the “opposite sex” will claim to be transgender and engage in voyeurism and assault in school restrooms, a harmful myth peddled by the anti-LGBT right.

Legislation

The so-called Texas bathroom bill died Aug. 15 in the special legislative session called for July by Texas governor Greg Abbott. In an unexpected move, the Texas House wrapped up its 30-day session a day early while the Senate adjourned a few hours later. It’s the second time the bill has failed in Texas since May, but it may surface in later legislative sessions.

Abbott blamed moderate Republican House Speaker Joe Straus, who has sided with powerful business interests and said that the bill could hurt the state’s economy. The governor admitted, however, that Straus had told him before the special session that he would not bring the bill to the floor.