This past weekend, a collection of Religious Right groups, including the Family Research Council (FRC), American Family Association (AFA) and Liberty Counsel, held an event in Washington, D.C., called the Values Voter Summit (VVS). It’s an annual opportunity for the forces of the Religious Right to strategize on how they can “take America back.”
Despite the bitter defeat the Religious Right suffered in the 2012 presidential election, about 3,000 attendees from around the country showed up this year. They were addressed by a handful of politicians who wanted to pander to extreme conservative voters, as well as far-right stars like Glenn Beck, who just wanted to peddle their latest books. As usual, the speeches at the conference were filled with paranoia, delusion and hate. Here are some examples:
Church-state separation didn’t come up much over the weekend, but former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who once said that 78-81 members of the Democratic Party are communists, made sure to proclaim his fear of this principle.
“America has a Judeo-Christian heritage and when I hear people say ‘separation of church and state,’ it concerns me because we cannot be separated from our faith,” West said.
Many, many speakers spent their allotted time attacking Obamacare, describing it as anything from an assault on “religious liberty” to modern slavery.
“Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” said Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has become a right-wing icon thanks to his anti-Obama and homophobic comments. “And in a way it is slavery because it’s making us subservient to the government.”
And speaking of homophobic comments, quite a few were expressed at the VVS. The AFA, which has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) because of its anti-gay rhetoric, attempted to defend itself – and managed to prove the SPLC right in the process.
“The American Family Association doesn’t hate anyone, including homosexuals,” said AFA radio host and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios. “We love them enough to tell them about the moral, physical and spiritual dangers of homosexuality.”
And what would a Values Voter Summit be without a huge dollop of paranoia? U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had that covered.
“These are extraordinary times… we can’t keep going down this road,” Cruz said. “We’re nearing the edge of a cliff. We have a couple years to turn this country around before we go off the cliff to oblivion.”
This is just a sampling of some of the wild and hateful claims made this weekend at the Values Voter Summit. For a full report on the VVS, check out the forthcoming November issue of Church & State.