GOP Prez Candidates, Religious Leaders Attack Each Other
Even with a seminar branded “Straight Talk on Gay Marriage,” the average LGBT leader was nowhere to be found at the ‘Values Voter Summit’ in Washington, D.C., at the Omni Shoreham Hotel this past weekend.
This Christian-themed event featured thousands of participants, and was hosted by organizations listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as ‘hate groups.’ At the event a litany of Republican presidential candidates vied for a straw poll victory.
The winner would eventually be Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning candidate, who peppered his customary verbal assaults on American fiscal and foreign policy with biblical allusions. Paul garnered 37 percent of the vote to Herman Cain’s 23 percent. Senator Rick Santorum took third place with 16 percent. But Paul was a hero in a forum, which at times seemed like a revival meeting.
“We have too long relied upon our king in Washington and we have to change that,” Paul stated, imploring the raucous crowd to help bring an end to wars “that undermines the families of America.”
The three day conference featured leaders from the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, the American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage. The seminars included forums on ‘Saving the American Dream,’ ‘Saving America’s Children from Pimps and Perverts,’ and ‘Exposing Planned Parenthood.’
Conservative radio host Bryan Fischer was roundly applauded for stating that “the homosexual agenda is the most immediate threat to every freedom and right that is enshrined in the first amendment.” A spokesman for the American Family Association, he declared “we have to choose between homosexuality and liberty because we cannot have both.” That was after calling for all Muslims to be deported. He was enthusiastically applauded each time.
Mitt Romney called Fischer’s dialogue “poisonous…lacking in civility.” He asked the conservative audience to focus on “values that unite us…rather than an agenda which narrows our vision.” Apparently, the crowd did not agree. Romney would finish last with 4 percent in the straw poll.
Even though it was ordered by a state Supreme Court ruling, Fischer had previously blamed Romney for the fact that Massachusetts became the first state to recognize gay marriages, because it happened on Romney’s watch. Trying to focus on the stature of the U.S. in the world, Romney offered up again his trademark line that “I will never, ever, apologize for America,” and that under his watch the U.S. would become again “the strongest nation on Earth.”
Another religious leader who took to the podium on Friday was Texas mega-church Pastor Robert Jeffress, who denounced Romney, claiming he wasn’t “a genuine follower of Jesus Christ,” and that “Mormonism was a cult.” Jeffress endorsed Rick Perry, saying that he preferred having a “competent Christian” like Perry over a “competent non-Christian” like Romney. But his remarks did not go unanswered. Former Education Secretary and radio host Bill Bennett called the Jeffress comments out and out “bigotry,” claiming he was doing Rick Perry “no favors” with his endorsement.
On Sunday, Perry, an evangelical Christian, rejected the comments by Jeffress and said he did not believe Mormons were a cult. Meanwhile, Jeffress, back in Texas, defended his remarks at his own church, stating that Mormonism “is a false religion.” Jeffress, who also once remarked that Oprah Winfrey is doing the “work of Satan,” told his congregation that he decided as a private citizen to endorse Perry to "push back against the evil that is engulfing our country.”
Rick Perry had addressed the summit on its opening day, Friday, by taking an indirect shot at Romney’s position on abortion. "For some candidates, pro-life is an election year slogan to follow the prevailing political winds. For me, it's about the absolute principle that every human being is entitled to life." One of the loudest ovations during Perry's speech came at the mention of his decision to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas. A Planned Parenthood Action Fund Spokesperson angrily retorted that Perry’s decision “has resulted in 300,000 Texas women losing access to preventive health care such as birth control, cancer screenings and annual exams.”
One of the summit organizers, Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council delivered the summit’s wrap up address on Sunday. Perkins defended Michelle Bachman’s husband, Marcus, who runs a Minnesota clinic which ‘cures people from their homosexuality’ by offering ‘reorientation therapy.’ Constantly on TV himself as a spokesman for the FRC, Perkins has argued that the homosexual agenda is “a devastating strategy “meant to destroy innocence, religious freedom, and ultimately, the family.” Fox News featured him three times in eight days in August alone.
The popular gay themed Towleroad website referred to the gathering as the “Nuremberg Rally for the religious right.”