Cruz, Carson To Attend Right-Wing Media Convention Featuring Anti-LGBT, Anti-Muslim Extremists

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson are scheduled to attend the National Religious Broadcasters' “Proclaim 16” Convention, which will run from February 23 to 26 in Nashville, TN. The annual convention has a history of anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim content, and this year convention will feature three anti-LGBT hate groups, a panel sponsored by the Islamophobic extremist organization behind Trump's proposed Muslim ban, and multiple notoriously anti-gay extremist speakers.

National Religious Broadcasters Is Hosting Christian Media Convention “Proclaim 16”

NRB Describes Itself As A “Non-Partisan, International Association Of Christian Communicators.” The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) describes itself as a “non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators.” NRB's annual “International Christian Media Convention,” this year called “Proclaim 16,” will be held in Nashville, TN, from February 23 to 26. [NRB press release, 2/9/16]

Cruz and Carson Will Attend “Presidential Candidates Forum.” Cruz and Carson will headline one of NRB's three “Presidential Candidates Forum” events, on February 26. An NRB press release stated that other candidates have also “committed” to the forums:

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R) and Dr. Ben Carson (R) have confirmed attendance on Friday, February 26, and several other candidates have committed and are coordinating their forum dates. NRB, a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers, has invited candidates of both major American political parties to participate. [NRB press release, 2/9/16]

Senior Facebook Executive Will Also Make An Appearance. Katie Harbath, global politics and government outreach director at Facebook, will kick off the convention's “Digital Media Summit” by speaking on “Harnessing the Power of Facebook.” Harbath attended last year's NRB convention as well. [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters, 2/26/15]

Last Year's Convention Featured Anti-LGBT And Anti-Muslim Extremists. In 2015, the convention featured a number of anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim groups and was co-sponsored by WorldNetDaily, a right-wing birther website that has suggested President Obama is secretly gay. [Media Matters, 2/26/15

2016 Convention Stocked With Anti-LGBT Content, Including Anti-Gay “Hate Groups”

Convention Will Host Anti-LGBT Session Dedicated To “Redefining Marriage.” The convention public policy session “Losing the Freedom to Believe: Redefining Marriage” will showcase the “victims” of laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination. The speakers will include a Kentucky T-shirt printer and a Washington state based florist, both of whom were found guilty of violating non-discrimination laws after refusing to serve LGBT people.  [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters, 10/8/14; Media Matters, 2/24/15]  

  • Session Will Feature A Representative From Alliance Defending Freedom, An Anti-LGBT Legal Powerhouse That Has Worked Internationally To Criminalize Gay Sex. [Media Matters, 4/16/15]
  • Fox News' Anti-LGBT Commentator Todd Starnes Will Also Speak On “Redefining Marriage.” [Media Matters, 4/6/12]

Notoriously Anti-Gay Pastor Rafael Cruz Will Make A “Special Guest Appearance” At Affiliate Event. Pastor Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz's father, will make a “Special Guest Appearance” at the NRB-affiliated event “2016 International Christian Prayer & Dinner Event for Israel.” Rafael Cruz has said the LGBT community will try to “legalize pedophilia,” called gay Boy Scouts “potential sexual predator[s],” and  referred to Obama as a Marxist who should go “back to Kenya.”  [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Right Wing Watch, 10/28/15; Right Wing Watch, 11/5/13; The Daily Beast, 11/7/13]

Conservative Radio Host Who Warns Of “Homo-Fascists” And “Rainbow Jihad” Will Speak At Conference.  Right-wing Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who is listed on the Proclaim 16 speaker list, has a history of extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric, including referring to gay activists as “homo-fascists” bent on promoting a “Rainbow Jihad.”  [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters, 2/2/16]

Three Anti-LGBT “Hate Groups” And Extreme Group Seeking To Criminalize Gay Sex Will Host Exhibits At The Convention. American Family Association, Family Research Council, and Liberty Counsel -- all of which have been designated anti-gay “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- will host exhibits at Proclaim 16, as will the anti-gay group Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF). [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters; 4/16/15; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15

Convention Will Host Extreme Anti-Muslim Lunch And Speakers

Convention Will Devote A Lunch To Discussing “Why the Jihadists Want to Take Away Our Freedom of Speech - And How Our Government and the Left are Helping Them Do it.” [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16]

Lunch Sponsor Is The Anti-Muslim Hate Group Linked To Trump's Muslim Ban. The lunch is sponsored by the Center for Security Policy, an extremist anti-Muslim organization that was behind the flawed poll Donald Trump used to justify his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US.  [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters, 12/7/15]

  • Center for Security Policy Has Been Designated An Anti-Muslim “Hate Group” By The Southern Poverty Law Center. [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2/17/16]

Lunch Speaker Includes Anti-Muslim Extremist And Conspiracy Theorist. The lunch speakers list include Center for Security Policy Founder Frank Gaffney, who the Southern Poverty Law Center has called “one of America's most notorious Islamophobes.” The New York Times has reported that Gaffney “has claimed that President Obama is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood” and believes that “agents of the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the U.S. government, the Republican Party and conservative political organizations.” [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters, 12/8/15]

Anti-Gay Hate Group Representative Who Claims Islam Is “Not A Religion” Will Also Speak At Lunch. Another speaker is  retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, executive vice president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council. Boykin is an anti-Muslim activist whose comments on Islam drew criticism from President George W. Bush in 2003. Previously, Boykin said that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections.” [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15; Media Matters, 7/30/13; Right Wing Watch, 2/17/11]

Second Anti-Gay Hate Group Speaker Claims Obama Is A Secret Muslim. Sandy Rios, director of governmental affairs for the anti-gay hate group American Family Association, will also speak at the lunch. Rios has claimed that President Obama is a secret Muslim and said that “Muslim Americans do not have First Amendment Rights.”  [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 9/10/15; Right Wing Watch, 1/16/15; Southern Poverty Law Center, 6/9/15]

Other Right-Wing Extremist To Speak At Convention

Conservative Commentator Who Accused Obama Of “Verbal Rape” For Mentioning Crusades Will Speak At Presidential Candidates Forum. Conservative anti-LGBT columnist Star Parker is scheduled as a panel participant on all three of the convention's “Presidential Candidates Forum” events. Parker has called LGBT non-discrimination laws “entitlements,” claimed black lesbians are a “product” of fatherlessness, and accused Obama of “verbal rape” for mentioning the Crusades at a prayer breakfast. [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; GLAAD, accessed 2/17/16; Media Matters, 7/27/15; Right Wing Watch, 2/9/15]

Presidential Forum Moderator Identified Gay-Inclusive Churches As Proof America Is Turning Into Nazi Germany. Eric Metaxas is a conservative author who will moderate the Presidential Candidates Forums including the one featuring Cruz and Carson. Metaxas has written in defense of discredited “ex-gay” therapy and pointed to gay-affirming churches to compare conditions in America to those preceding Nazi Germany. [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Cristian Post, 6/7/12; Right Wing Watch, 3/18/14]

Right-Wing Speaker On “Christian Genocide” Compared Obama To A “Skinny, Ghetto Crackhead.” Brent Bozell, founder of the right-wing Media Research Center, is slated to speak on a convention panel called “Christian Genocide.” Bozell previously likened President Obama to “a skinny, ghetto crackhead,” and called gay characters on children's television shows “propaganda.”  [Proclaim 16, accessed 2/12/16; Media Matters, 12/22/11; Media Matters, 6/13/14