Religious Right Evangelical Megachurch Leaders Set To Infiltrate DC — As GOP Congressmen
In several key House and Senate races this year, the winner may look familiar to voters — because he’s also been their pastor or faith leader.
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.Â
Oklahoma’sÂ James Lankford already has a leg up — he’s a sitting U.S. Congressman. But in November, he’sÂ likely to become the Senate’s only former full-time religious leader, and a handy tool for the religious right.Â
“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 Oklahomaâ€™s Arbuckle Mountains every summer,” Roll Call reported 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 andÂ defeat one of this cycleâ€™s most-talked aboutÂ GOP Senate candidatesÂ in a June primary.
Lankford is vehemently anti-gay. In 2012, Think Progress cornered Lankford and asked him about supporting ENDA.
“Well, youâ€™re now dealing with behavior and Iâ€™m trying to figure out exactly what youâ€™re trying to mean by that,” Rep. Lankford told Think Progress reporters. “Because youâ€™re dealing with â€” race and sexual preferences are two different things. One is a behavior-related and preference-related and one is something inherently â€” skin color, something obvious, that kind of stuff. You donâ€™t walk up to someone on the street and look at them and say, ‘Gay or straight?'”
He added, “I think itâ€™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 roleÂ 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 Carolinaâ€™s most powerful politiciansÂ by 6,300 votes inÂ a GOP runoff.
Gary Palmer alsoÂ won a Republican runoff last week,Â in Alabamaâ€™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.Â 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.Â Hiceâ€™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…Â 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 theÂ 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 rememberÂ 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 noÂ 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,Â will likely become Tea Party RepublicanÂ Congressman Jody Hice.
Hice has saidÂ that gay people have a secret plot to seduce and sodomize Americaâ€™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 byÂ Kevin SchraerÂ via Flickr
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.
NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.
Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch.
Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.
Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds.He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty.
READ MORE: ‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”
Harding is not the only family member accused of criminal acts.
“Harding’s indictment follows a September guilty plea from his brother-in-law, Patrick Walsh,” Florida Politics reported in December. “As reported by Fresh Take Florida, Walsh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges connected to his receipt of nearly $8 million in disaster relief loans.”
Unrepentant to the harm many feel he has done to children and the LGBTQ community, in a statement Tuesday Harding said: “During the past legislative session I have felt the support of millions of Americans while fighting for our shared concerns and for the rights of parents. I will never forget the support I received from every corner of this great country.”
READ MORE: 18 Attorneys General Blast Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as Unconstitutional
Harding will be sentenced in July.
Florida’s Voice also reported Harding’s guilty plea Tuesday.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Chilling’: Law Enforcement ‘Seriously’ Investigating Threats Ahead of Possible Trump Indictment Says Top WaPo Reporter
Ahead of a possible indictment of Donald Trump, law enforcement agencies are investigating “chilling” threats, including against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, according to top Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig.
Leonnig was careful to say she is not aware of any of the threats being deemed credible, but also noted that “all sorts of law enforcement agencies” seem to be taking much more interest than some agencies did in the weeks before the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
“I have received copies and screenshots and internal documents and emails flagging concerns about specific protests, investigations into specific online threats that have been made that are not yet determined to be ‘credible and likely to occur’ but have been chilling nonetheless in terms of the threats that have been made about killing certain people,” Leonning, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Deadline” White House.”
“Claims of, you know, ‘Alvin Bragg needs to needs to die,’ and claims online that could just be, you know, bravado, but are being seriously investigated and checked into this time around, ones that were not checked into as clearly at all in the weeks before January 6, despite significant warnings to the FBI about what these threats meant.”
Mirroring Leonnig’s reporting, Rolling Stone, citing law enforcement reports, on Tuesday noted: “Violent extremists are advocating lethal attacks and proclaiming their willingness to die for the cause.”
READ MORE: ‘All-Out War’: Trump’s Attorney Tells Kimberly Guilfoyle Ex-President Will Be ‘Loud and Proud’ When Showing Up for Indictment
“U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Fusion Center, and the Federal Highway Administration have all circulated warnings about the uptick in online threats over the past 48 hours. The bulletins and threat assessments detail some of the online threats and discussions about the use of specific tactics and methods for carrying out attacks — including online discussions about lethal attacks if Trump is arrested.”
On Saturday in an explosive series of social media posts Donald Trump urged his supporters to “protest” and “take our nation back.”
That “announcement was met with an immediate increase in violent online rhetoric and expressed threats toward government and law enforcement targets perceived as participating in a political persecution of the former president, as well as calls for ‘Civil War’ more generally.”
The DC Fusion Center, which analyzes threats, in a report stated it “assesses that potential criminal justice actions taken toward a former US president — or actions perceived to be taken toward the former president — remain a ‘line in the sand’ for [Domestic Violent Extremist] communities and thus have the potential to manifest in violence toward government targets or political officials,” Rolling Stone added.
Missouri Supreme Court Refuses to Disbar Lawyer Who Sexually Assaulted Six Women: Report
An 86-year old defense attorney will be allowed to keep his law license after the Missouri Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling refused to disbar him despite having sexually assaulted six of his clients, all women.
Attorney Dan K. Purdy will be “indefinitely suspended from practicing law but allowed to apply for reinstatement after a year,” The Kansas City Star reports.
“In September 2020, Purdy made sexual advances toward four clients in a Vernon County jail interview room, including touching and kissing, that were confirmed by video provided by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office,” The Star reports. “Each woman was later interviewed by officers and told them Purdy’s advances were unwanted.”
In addition to jail interview roos, Purdy’s sexual advances took place in court and in his car. All were locations where his clients might have felt uncomfortable to complain.
READ MORE: Trump Calls for Congress to Investigate NY AG After Judge Refuses to Delay $250 Million Fraud Trial Against Ex-President
“Purdy’s clients either did not know or did not realize they could repudiate his sexual advances,” Justice George W. Draper III wrote in the majority opinion.
There are seven justices on the Missouri Supreme Court, four appointed by Republican governors, three by Democratic governors. Four are men, three are women.
The ruling was not along party lines.
“In my view, neither the race, gender, ethnicity, nor age of an attorney should be taken into consideration to determine appropriate discipline,” wrote Justice Zel M. Fischer in his dissent. “In my view, Mr. Purdy’s conduct, which was clearly and explicitly depicted in the video evidence, warrants disbarment.”
“As recognized by the principal opinion, not only did Mr. Purdy sexually assault six female clients, he ‘exhibited a continued pattern or practice of improper and disturbing conduct, which continued, even after the present case was filed against him,'” Fischer noted. [Bolding in original text.]
Image of Missouri Supreme Court via Wikimedia
- RIGHT WING EXTREMISM3 days ago
‘Reacting to a Cult Leader’: Trump Supporters Organizing to ‘Stock Up on Weaponry’ Says GOP Adviser
- News2 days ago
‘This Man Is a Criminal’: George Conway Busts GOP’s ‘Completely Ridiculous’ Trump Defense
- BREAKING NEWS2 days ago
Jim Jordan Waging ‘Purely Political Attack’: Demands Bragg Testify Before Congress Over Expected Trump Indictment
- News2 days ago
‘RICO’: Trump Could Be Facing Racketeering and Conspiracy Charges Used to Prosecute Organized Crime
- BREAKING NEWS2 days ago
Trump Files Sweeping Legal Motion to Try to Block Georgia Grand Jury Findings and District Attorney Fani Willis
- News2 days ago
Republicans Are ‘Obstructing Justice’ and ‘Becoming Accessories’ to Trump’s ‘Crimes’: Former Prosecutor
- News1 day ago
‘All-Out War’: Trump’s Attorney Tells Kimberly Guilfoyle Ex-President Will Be ‘Loud and Proud’ When Showing Up for Indictment
- RIGHT WING EXTREMISM20 hours ago
Powerful GOP Committee Chair Admits He Can’t Control Marjorie Taylor Greene