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SPLC Senior Fellow: “Coven Of Haters” Will Advocate For Harmful And Discredited Ex-Gay Therapy
Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress is headlining the “Stand4Truth” conference scheduled for October 28 and 29 in Houston, TX, which is advertised as telling the “politically incorrect truth about sexuality and gender” and is sponsored by at least three anti-LGBT hate groups. Jeffress -- who is also a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” -- will be joined by fringe anti-LGBT extremists and hate group leaders, and proponents of discredited "ex-gay" reparative therapy.
Right-wing media have bolstered Donald Trump’s campaign strategy of falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton has targeted women who have accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of sexual misconduct, in order to distract from numerous reports that Trump sexually assaulted several women. Multiple independent fact-checkers and media organizations have debunked the claims as unsubstantiated, calling them an “exaggeration too far.”
In the 2016 election cycle, right-wing media have spread misinformation about the Democratic position on abortion access by alleging that the party supports so-called “partial-birth” abortions, often invoking the term as a description of an abortion that takes place in the final months or “moments” of pregnancy. In reality, “partial-birth” abortion is a term coined by anti-choice groups to vilify and stigmatize individuals who elect to have an abortion. Here is what the media should know about this common anti-choice myth and why media figures should not deploy it.
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Pro-Trump Evangelical Leaders Confirm To The Daily Beast That They Still Support GOP Nominee
Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress was one of several right-wing evangelical leaders who reconfirmed their support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump despite the recent discovery of a 2005 recording of Trump profanely bragging about sexual assault.
An explosive October 7 article from Washington Post reporter David Farenthold revealed video and audio of Trump bragging during a private conversation “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping, and trying to have sex with women” with or without their consent. The revelation of the nominee’s apparent admission that he had committed sexual assault set off a firestorm of criticism of the Republican nominee from journalists and political commentators, as the recording corroborated what has been alleged about Trump for years
Despite this torrent of criticism and the flight of would-be supporters, several of the far right conservative evangelical leaders who have been supportive of the GOP nominee for months remain solidly behind him. According to an October 7 report from Daily Beast reporter Betsy Woodruff, right-wing leaders Ralph Reed, Robert Jeffress, and David Bozell believe “the audio won’t change how conservative voters view the candidate,” and Fox contributor Jeffress is “still voting Trump.” From The Daily Beast:
The fact that Donald Trump said in 2005 that he could grab women “by the pussy” because he’s famous doesn’t seem to be changing how social conservative leaders feel about him.
Evangelicals who opposed him before still aren’t fans. And the ones in his camp aren’t phased by the recording. That’s because this isn’t about how much they like the brash billionaire; it’s about how unflinching they are in their opposition to Hillary Clinton.
“People of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defund Planned Parenthood, defend religious liberty and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” said Ralph Reed, who heads the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “A ten-year-old tape of a private conversation with a talk show host ranks low on their hierarchy of concerns.”
Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a member of Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, said the comments were “lewd, offensive, and indefensible.”
But, he added, he’s still voting Trump. He said he moderated a meeting between the candidate and Evangelical and Catholic leaders, and he was forthright about his hesitations about Trump’s moral
“I said at that time, with Trump sitting next to me, I would not necessarily choose this man to be my child’s Sunday School teacher,” [Robert] Jeffress said. “But that’s not what this election is about.”
He added that he doesn’t think Hillary Clinton is morally superior to Trump.
Both Ralph Reed and Robert Jeffress are members of Trump’s anti-LGBT and anti-choice “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” and Jeffress is a long-time Fox News contributor. David Bozell spent 11 years at the right-wing Media Research Center, which serves as a prominent clearinghouse for misinformation parroted by right-wing media outlets.
Nearly a week after declaring himself a “real friend” to the LGBT community, GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump participated in a “conversation” with hundreds of conservative Christians organized in part by two anti-LGBT hate groups. Then his campaign announced an “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board,” a 26-member group featuring several well-known anti-LGBT extremists who have a well-documented history of opposing LGBT equality and making inflammatory comments, such as calling LGBT families “discombobulated, Frankenstein structures” and blaming the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on marriage equality.
Robert Jeffress: Jews Have Embraced "Lies" On Pathway "To Hell"
Fox News contributor and leading Donald Trump surrogate Robert Jeffress wrote in his new book that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, is one of the "servants of Satan." Jeffress also wrote that Jews, Catholics and members of other faiths have embraced "lies" on a "highway to hell."
The Dallas Morning News recently described Jeffress, a Dallas pastor, as "the lead, unofficial religious supporter of" Trump. Jeffress "said Trump sought him out in August and began to cultivate a relationship." A spokesperson for the Trump campaign said that "Jeffress has attended many campaign events and is a great person and supporter." After Jeffress introduced Trump at a September rally, the business magnate said, "What a good guy. ... I love this guy."
Trump has embraced Jeffress despite his incendiary history. Jeffress has attacked LGBT people as leading "miserable" and "filthy" lives, called Catholicism a "cult-like, pagan religion," Islam an "evil, evil religion," and said Judaism and Hinduism lead people to "an eternity of separation from God in Hell."
Jeffress courted controversy during the 2012 presidential campaign when he attacked Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Mormon faith, calling the religion a "cult." Numerous Republicans condemned Jeffress at the time. Romney is now a vocal opponent of Trump's candidacy.
Jeffress has continued his attacks on Mormonism this campaign season. In his new book Not All Roads Lead to Heaven, Jeffress writes that Mormon church founder Joseph Smith and the prophet Muhammad are servants of Satan because they offer people an alternate path to God:
Don't underestimate Satan's resolve to win this war for the souls of human beings. He is determined to lead as many people as possible off the spiritual cliff to eternal death. Jesus referred to Satan as a murderer and a liar (John 8: 44) whose sole purpose is "to steal and kill and destroy" (10: 10). Satan's strategy is to confuse and distract people from following the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, by creating a number of other spiritual lights that deceptively offer a way out of humankind's dilemma.
No wonder Paul describes Satan as one who "disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11: 14). The apostle goes on to say that Satan accomplishes his spiritual deception through religious people who act as Satan's servants by offering alternate paths to God:
Therefore it is not surprising if [Satan's] servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11: 15)
These servants of Satan who "disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" include:
- the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who claimed to have received a divine revelation from the angel Moroni.
- the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, who also claimed that an angel spoke to him about the way to ensure eternal life.
- the religious leader wrapped in beautiful clerical robes who says that faith in Christ is important but not sufficient by itself to obtain the forgiveness of sins. the evangelical pastor who preaches that although he personally believes that Christ offers the way to heaven, sincere followers of other faiths will also be welcomed into God's presence. [Not All Roads Lead to Heaven, pp. 28-29, Kindle edition]
Jeffress also writes that Jews, Catholics, and others have embraced "lies" and are on a "highway to hell":
The road that leads to destruction is deceptive because it is so wide and has so many people traveling on it. "How could so many people be wrong?" ask people who struggle with the idea of Christ offering the only way to heaven. After all, the vast majority of the world's population are not Christian. All the people who are on this "highway to hell"-- including Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, and atheists-- share one characteristic: although they may have embraced different lies, they have rejected the same truth.
What is that truth? It is that narrow belief that faith in Jesus is the only way a person can enter into heaven. And just in case anyone was confused about what that narrow gate is, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14: 6). [Not All Roads Lead to Heaven, pp. 110-111, Kindle edition]
Trump has had trouble getting traction in polling for the March 22 primary in Utah, which is 60 percent Mormon. BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins wrote that "skepticism of the billionaire -- which, polls suggest, predates Romney's emergence as an anti-Trump champion -- is rooted more deeply in Mormon culture and politics." He pointed to Trump's anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stances as likely culprits. The Salt Lake Tribune also reported that Mormon voters are turned off by "Trump's tabloid-ready personal life to his exclusionary policies on immigration and Islam. Mormons also see him as an unsavory candidate who doesn't respect other religions, according to Matt Miles, a political scientist at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University-Idaho."
Right-wing media criticized Pope Francis for suggesting Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's proposals for mass deportation and his promise to build a border wall are not in line with Christian values. Right-wing media personalities demanded the Pope "ask [for] Donald Trump's forgiveness," called him a socialist, and claimed he is a hypocrite due to the Vatican having a wall.
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Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):
Before and after the deadly November 27 attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood that killed three and injured nine more, right-wing media misleadingly argued that the risk of violence against abortion providers and clinics is now "rare." However, in September the FBI released a report to law enforcement concluding there has been an uptick in anti-choice violence against abortion providers and clinics following the release of deceptively edited videos from the Center for Medical Progress, and that the threat was significant and ongoing.
Fox's Jeffress: Islam Is "A False Religion ... Inspired By Satan Himself"
A theological studies director is criticizing Fox News contributor and pastor Robert Jeffress for spreading anti-Muslim "hate speech" that's "abusing God's Word and violating its teaching."
During a November 15 sermon at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Jeffress told his congregation that the Paris terrorists were "acting according to the teaching of Islam," and said "it is time" to call out Islam as "a false religion ... inspired by Satan himself":
JEFFRESS: I believe it is time for us to lay aside political correctness and identify the belief system that is responsible for these horrific acts. And that is the evil, evil religion of radical Islam. That is the belief system that inspired this tragedy. And make no mistake about it. Islam is just not another way to approach God. Islam is a false religion and it is inspired by Satan himself, who Jesus said came to steal, kill, and destroy. And this weekend we saw the fruit of Satan's destruction in the acts of these terrorists. It is impossible to separate what these eight suicide bombers did from their faith, their religion that inspired them to do this. These terrorists were not acting in opposition to the teaching of Islam. They were acting according to the teaching of Islam.
Dr. Robert A Hunt, the director of Global Theological Education at Southern Methodist University, hit back at Jeffress for spreading anti-Muslim "fear and anxiety" through "hate speech." In a November 22 post headlined, "The Darkness in the Heart of Dallas," Hunt wrote that Jeffress "rather selectively quotes Jesus" and is "abusing God's Word" and railing "against Islam out of ignorance and fear" (emphasis in original):
My city, Dallas, wants to be something. It wants to be an international hub of commerce. It wants to be a cosmopolitan center for the cultivation and appreciation of the arts. It wants to be a place whose citizens or all races thrive, whose families are safe from violence, and whose children excel.
And this cannot happen yet. Because in the heart Dallas, in one of its biggest churches, pastors like Robert Jeffress (and others like him across the city) systematically attack the foundations of a diverse society by attacking its foundation of tolerance and respect for religious minorities.
Except this isn't really what is happening. What is happening at the heart of our city is that Christians are anxious and afraid and striking out blindly at what they believe threatens them. Jeffress and his people are grasping at every straw, even abusing God's Word and violating its teaching to justify their fear and anxiety and try to make sense of the world they live in.
When what they actually need is what we all need: the peace of Christ, and to get to know their neighbors so that they can love and respect them as children of God.
If Dallas is going to be the city it wants to be then Jeffress and his fellow pastors who rail against Islam out of ignorance and fear need to engage Muslims in dialogue and learn about the religion from its followers. Only then will they be able to show the kind of leadership our city so desperately needs.
Hunt wrote a November 24 follow-up post explaining why Jeffress' anti-Islam statements are hate speech, and concluding that there "cannot exist a civil society without civil dialogue among people of different religions":
Statements about religion are not opinions about something incidental to the identity of a group or individual. They are statements about the core of who that person is. All opinions have the potential to wound the feelings of another. You can hurt my feelings just by telling me that I'm fat, or bald and these things don't even touch my core identity. But what if you insult something that is essential to my identity like my ethnicity. That would be racism wouldn't it? That would be hateful. The same would be true if you insulted my nation, or my mother. Saying negative things about a person's religion are in the same category as disparaging his or her race, or parentage, or nationality. They are hateful, and are perceived as hateful, and cannot be defended against the charge of hate speech.
There cannot exist a civil society without civil dialogue among people of different religions. And there can be no civil dialogue when people of any religion denigrate the most closely held personal beliefs and values of their neighbors. Call Jeffress' words what you want, they undermine the social fabric of the city of Dallas and more broadly our state and nation. As do, I note, the words of numerous politicians both in office and aspiring to office. Hate speech is rapidly becoming the coin of the realm, and it is daily undermining the currency of reason, respect, and love.]
Jeffress is no stranger to incendiary remarks against those who don't follow his religious beliefs. He has called Catholicism a "cult-like, pagan religion," Mormonism a "cult" from the "pit of hell," and claimed followers of Judaism and Hinduism religions will be led to "an eternity of separation from God in Hell." Jeffress' fiery remarks have been rebuked by Republicans like Mitt Romney and Fox News contributor Karl Rove.
Despite his hate speech, Fox News employs Jeffress and hosts him for regular on-air appearances.