On August 6, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will host The Response, a ?prayer rally? in Houston, along with the extremist American Family Association and a cohort of Religious Right leaders with far-right political ties. While the rally?s leaders label it a "a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting," the history of the groups behind it suggests otherwise. The Response is powered by politically active Religious Right individuals and groups who are dedicated to bringing far-right religious view, including degrading views of gays and lesbians and non-Christians, into American politics.
In fact, a spokesman for The Response has said that while non-Christians will be welcomed at the rally, they will be urged to ?seek out the living Christ.? Allan Parker, a right-wing activist who participated in an organizing conference call for the event, declared in an email bearing the official Response logo that including non-Christians in the event "would be idolatry of the worst sort."
Perry told James Dobson that the rally was necessary because Americans have ?turned away from God.?
The following is an introduction to the groups and individuals who Gov. Perry has allied himself with in planning this event.
The American Family Association
The American Family Association is the driving force behind The Response. Founded by the Rev. Don Wildmon in 1977, the organization is based is best known for its various boycott campaigns, promotion of art censorship, and political advocacy against women?s rights and LGBT equality. The organization also controls the vast American Family Radio and an online news service, in addition to sponsoring various conferences frequented by Republican leaders, including the Values Voter Summit and Rediscovering God in America. The AFA today is led by Tim Wildmon, Don?s son, and its chief spokesperson is Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy and host of its flagship radio show Focal Point.
Fischer routinely expresses support for some of the most bigoted and shocking ideas found in the Religious Right today. He has:
held gays responsible for the Holocaust and likened them to domestic terrorists and Nazis who are intent on committing ?virtual genocide? against the military, and asserts that ?homosexuals should be disqualified from public office?;
said ?we have feminized the Medal of Honor? by awarding it to a soldier who saved his fellow combatants rather than killing enemies;
demanded all immigrants ?convert to Christianity? and renounce their religions;
asserted that Muslims have ?no fundamental First Amendment claims? and should be banned from building mosques and deported from the US, adding that Muslims are inherently stupid as a result of inbreeding;
claimed African American women ?rut like rabbits? due to welfare and that Native Americans are ?morally disqualified? from living in America because they didn?t convert to Christianity and were consequently cursed by God with alcoholism and poverty;
said that the anti-Muslim manifesto of the right-wing Christian terrorist who killed dozens in Norway was ?accurate.?
Other AFA leaders and activists are just as radical:
AFA President Tim Wildmon claims that by repealing Don?t Ask Don?t Tell President Obama shows he ?doesn?t give a rip about the Marines or the Army? and ?just wants to force homosexuality into every place that he can.?
AFA Vice President Buddy Smith, who is on the leadership council of The Response, said that gays and lesbians are ?in the clasp of Satan.?
The head of the AFA?s women?s group led a boycott against Glee because she accused it of indoctrinating children in homosexuality and idolatry.The editor of AFA Journal Ed Vitagliano said that gay pride months are an affront to the Founding Fathers and will usher in ?a return to pagan sexuality.?
A columnist for the AFA demanded Christians stop practicing yoga because it was inspired by the ?evil? religions of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Among the other far-right figures who have signed on to work with Gov. Perry on The Response are:
Rob Schenk, an anti-choice extremist who was once arrested for throwing a fetus in the face of President Clinton, and who allegedly had ties with the murderer of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian.
Loren Cunningham, who is working to mobilize support for the rally is a co-founder of the radical ?Seven Mountains Dominionist? ideology. Cunningham says that he received the ?seven mountains? idea, which holds that evangelical Christians must take hold of all aspects of society in order to pave the way for the Second Coming, in a message directly from God.
Doug Stringer, The Response's National Church and Ministry Mobilization Coordinator, who blamed American secularism and the increased acceptance of homosexuality for the 9/11 attacks, saying ?It was our choice to ask God not to be in our every day lives and not to be present in our land.? Cindy Jacobs, self-proclaimed ?prophet? and endorser of The Response, who famously insisted that birds were dying in Arkansas earlier this year because of the repeal of Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell.
C. Peter Wagner, an official endorser of The Response, is one of the most prominent leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation, a controversial movement whose followers believe they are prophets and apostles on par with Christ himself (other adherents include Engle, Jacobs and Anh). Wagner has advocated burning Catholic, Mormon and non-Christian religious objects. He blamed the Japanese stock market crash and later the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the country on a traditional ritual in which the emperor supposedly has ?sexual intercourse? with the pagan Sun Goddess.
Che Ahn, a mentor of John Hagee and official endorser of The Response, who endorses ?Seven Mountains? dominionism and compares the fight against gay rights to the fight against slavery.
John Benefiel, a self-proclaimed "apostle" and official endorser of The Response, who claims the Statue of Liberty is a "demonic idol" and that homosexuality is a plot cooked up by the Illuminati to control the world's population, and that he renamed the District of Columbia the ?District of Christ? because he has ?more authority than the U.S. Congress does.? James ?Jay? Swallow, official endorser of the rally, who calls himself a ?spiritual warrior? and hosts ?Strategic Warriors At Training (SWAT): A Christian Military Training Camp for the purpose of dealing with the occult and territorial enemy strong holds in America.? Alice Smith, who advocates "spiritual housecleaning" because demons "sneak into" homes through everyday objects.
Willie Wooten, a self-proclaimed ?apostle? who claims that God is punishing the African American community for supporting gay rights, reproductive freedom and the Democratic Party. Pastor Stephen Broden ? Broden, an endorser of The Response, has repeatedly insisted that a violent overthrow of the U.S. government must remain ?on the table.?
Timothy F. Johnson ? Johnson, a former vice-chairman of the North Carolina GOP, was elected to that post despite two domestic violence convictions and still unresolved questions about his military service and educational record.
I'll believe corporations are persons when Texas executes one.: LBJ's Ghost