The GOP’s Next Anti-Gay Plot: Infiltrate The Legislature By Getting Megachurch Leaders To Run For Political Office [TW: Anti-LGBT Bigotry, Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia]
America’s Christian Evangelical religious right has never been shy about spreading the word of God, nor about using any means to do so. Now, in several key House and Senate races, that motivation may pay off — with pastors and religious leaders winning Republican seats in Congress.
Oklahoma’s James Lankford already has a leg up — he’s a sitting U.S. Congressman. But in November, he’s likely to become the Senate’s only former full-time religious leader, and a handy tool for the religious right.
"Lankford served as the director of youth programs at Falls Creek, one of the largest Baptist youth camps in the country that boasts bringing 55,000 people to Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains every summer," Roll Callreported last night, in “Megachurches Prove Mega-Influential in GOP Primaries.”
Republicans said that highly visible gig helped Lankford come out of nowhere to win his first House race in 2010 and defeat one of this cycle’s most-talked about GOP Senate candidates in a June primary.
Lankford is vehemently anti-gay. In 2012, Think Progress cornered Lankford and asked him about supporting ENDA.
"Well, you’re now dealing with behavior and I’m trying to figure out exactly what you’re trying to mean by that," Rep. Lankford told Think Progress reporters. "Because you’re dealing with — race and sexual preferences are two different things. One is a behavior-related and preference-related and one is something inherently — skin color, something obvious, that kind of stuff. You don’t walk up to someone on the street and look at them and say, ‘Gay or straight?’”
He added, “I think it’s a choice issue.”
Roll Call also looked at several House races featuring members of the clergy, past and present.
Until late last year, Baptist Pastor Mark Walker held a leadership role at Lawndale Baptist Church, which has a membership of a few thousand, in the heart of the 6th District in Greensboro, N.C. Last week, Walker defeated the well-connected son of one of North Carolina’s most powerful politicians by 6,300 votes in a GOP runoff.
Gary Palmer also won a Republican runoff last week, in Alabama’s 6th District race to succeed retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus. Palmer has close ties to Briarwood Presbyterian Church, one of the largest churches in Alabama with more than 4,000 members. The founding pastor has endorsed Palmer.
A fourth candidate, Hice, is locked in a competitive House runoff to succeed Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who lost a Senate primary in May. Hice’s ties to a number of Baptist churches in the 10th District, including a faith-based talk radio show, could help him turn out his supporters in this district, located between the Atlanta exurbs and Augusta.
Pastor Mark Walker’s racist and anti-gay platform can be summed up in this quote from his campaign website:
"The breakdown of the American family is a tragic result of a systematic moral devastation. This travesty, created by our government, translates into many other problematic areas within our culture… Our government, which oppresses and misleads its people with its flawed agenda, has been effective in changing an entire culture. The social programs of the Lyndon Johnson era played a damaging role in stripping away the fabric of the family."
Alabama’s Gary Palmer is endorsed by Rick Santorum, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Duggar family (“19 Kids and Counting”), Ralph Reed, David Barton, Gary Bauer, Erick Erickson’s Red State, and Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council. Yes, a hate group has endorsed Palmer, and he proudly posts that on his campaign website.
That last candidate mentioned by Roll Call is Jody Hice.
You’ll likely remember Rep. Paul Broun, who infamously proclaimed in 2012:
"All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.” [Bolding ours]
While Broun won’t be returning to Congress — he tried and failed to win a Senate seat — Hice, who is running to replace him, is no better, and probably worse.
In May, the New Civil Rights Movement reported that Pastor Jody Hice, who is supported by the Family Research Council and Herman Cain, will likely become Tea Party Republican Congressman Jody Hice.
Hice has said that gay people have a secret plot to seduce and sodomize America’s sons, he thinks same-sex marriage is akin to bestiality and incest, and he has compared abortion to the genocide waged by Adolph Hitler.
Image by Kevin Schraer via Flickr