Three Republican presidential candidates – Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee – spoke yesterday at the Freedom 2015 Conference, a gathering of delusional evangelicals preparing themselves to fight against “the persecution of Christians in America.” The display would have been merely laughable were it not for the violently bigoted and homophobic beliefs of pastor Kevin Swanson, the host and organizer of the conference. In his speech yesterday Swanson called for the execution of homosexuals, saying:
“There are instances in which both the Old and New Testament speak to the matter with unbelievable clarity. There’s not to be any debate about it…. You know what that sin is – it’s the sin of homosexuality…. In fact in Romans 1 Paul affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death, The Old and New Testament, I believe both speak with authority and we ought to receive it.”
Swanson then went into a passionate rage, declaring that if his son ever had a same-sex marriage, he would “sit in cow manure” outside the church and “spread it all over [his] body.” Just in case anyone was confused, he added, “I’m not kidding, I’m not laughing. I’m grieving. I’m mourning. I’m pointing out the problem with this country. “
While Cruz, Jindal, and Huckabee – each of whom have their own long history of bigoted statements – are not directly responsible for the deplorable hatred that Swanson spews, their very presence at an event he organized and hosted constitutes a tacit approval of his message. And it’s not like Swanson’s comments yesterday came as a surprise. He has a long history of arguing that homosexuals should be put to death, not to mention exhorting Christians to attend gay weddings only if they hold up a sign condemning the couple to death. Cruz was even confronted with the issue of his attending the conference in an interview on CNN, but in typical Republican fashion he made it clear he saw nothing wrong in the conference.
When prominent mainstream Republican candidates endorse the views of such a bigoted hate-mongerer, it is immensely clear that the Republican Party is a party with little respect for human life, civil rights, and equality. Rather it is a reactionary and regressive party of delusional, xenophobic bigots who feel their traditional grip on power in American society slipping and are willing to do anything to halt the march of progress that grants freedom and opportunity to people who are not like themselves. Huckabee and Jindal, thankfully, are afterthoughts, but Cruz is now polling close to 10% and it is despicable that a candidate with such medieval views can attract such widespread support.
Right-wingers who were so quick to criticize Barack Obama for even interacting with Bill Ayers, who had by then totally renounced violence and was a prominent professor and reformer, should unequivocally condemn Cruz and the also-rans for fraternizing and endorsing such a backwards bigot as Kevin Swanson. But of course they won’t, because the Republican party is the party of bigots. The very same persecution that right-wing Christians have delusionally convinced themselves they are suffering from is in fact being felt by several minority groups in this country, not least the LGBT community, and more often than not it emanates from none other than the right-wing evangelical community. It is a national tragedy that such people are granted such tremendous influence on politics, even more so because no one on the right seems able to realize the cesspool of bigoted decadence their party is mired in.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.