In 1996 Tony Perkins, while managing a U.S. Senate campaign, paid $82,500 to purchase the mailing list of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. The campaign was then fined for filing false disclosure forms in an apparent effort to hide the payment. In May 2001 Perkins was photographed in front of a Confederate Flag giving a speech to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), an organization that has described blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity”. Perkins claimed not to know the group’s ideology at the time but their racist views had been widely publicized just two years earlier when U.S. Senator Trent Lott received national news coverage for associating with the hate group.
Like the American Family Association (AFA), Mr. Perkins and his Family Research Council (FRC), regularly and falsely link gay Americans with pedophilia, purposely inciting hatred for fellow Americans.
Here are a few sample quotes from FRC literature taken from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“…One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order.” —”Homosexual Behavior & Pedophilia,” a FRC publication, July 1999,
“Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.” —”Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia,” FRC publication, July 1999,
“We believe the evidence shows … that relative to the size of their population, homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are heterosexual men.” — Peter Sprigg, FRC leader, “Debating Homosexuality: Understanding Two Views.” 2011.
“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.” — FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010
Please note that, according to the research and the professional medical associations, there is NO link whatsoever between being gay and pedophilia. Gays are no more likely to abuse a child than a heterosexual. It is disgusting that Mr. Perkins so regularly lies and incites hatred – thereby promoting violence – towards his fellow Americans. What is worse is that Mr. Perkins, despite being the leader of a certified hate group with a racist background himself, is regularly invited to speak on national television as a ‘Christian’ leader, yet American Christians are silent on this — and Republican leaders continue to meet with him. Mr. Perkins is also a regularly invited guest at conservative political and religious conferences. Any wonder why American Christians are seen as unkind when they tolerate the leader of a hate group speaking and lying for them? Is there any other group of Americans Mr. Perkins could speak this way about and not be condemned and kicked off the air? If Mr. Perkins lied this way about Jews or Christians or any group other than gays, would Republican politicians and pastors be willing to be seen with him?
The AFA and the FRC (both tax exempt organizations), show the danger of politicized Christianity – willing to say or do anything – even lie – in order to accomplish ‘Christian’ political goals — even if it incites hatred and violence towards fellow Americans. Yet like the AFA, the FRC also tends to claim they are Christian while simultaneously advocating for tax cuts for the rich, against health care for the poor, against environmental rules, against basic worker protections such as the minimum wage, and in favor of legal discrimination against gays in employment, housing, and in public accommodations. The AFA and the FRC represent a Christianity that is focused on defending the status quo; a sanitized, non-threatening Christianity that is more concerned with ministering to the white middle and upper class than to the suffering of the poor, the mentally ill, the prisoner, minorities, or the sick. This is ironic as Jesus preached a revolutionary message that was anything but status quo. Despite their defense of the status quo and their message of hate, American Christian leaders give the FRC and the AFA – certified hate groups along with the Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan – a pass. ‘Christians’ Like Mr. Perkin and Mr. Fischer are lacking in grace and love, and reinforce the growing impression among America’s youth that the Church is cruel and irrelevant to the unmet needs they see all around them. The AFA and the FRC represent political Christianity at its worse and show the dangers of mixing religion and politics. Respectable Christians need to rebuke such “spokesmen”. It isn’t fair for Americans to complain that Muslims should denounce extremism in the Muslim faith, yet American Christians fail to denounce extremism in the Christian faith, particularly when Christian extremist are influential in government while simultaneously inciting hatred and violence against fellow Americans.
One cannot be untruthful and cruel and still be a follower of Christ. Where is the leadership in the American church? Too often political Christianity in America wants to stand up for Jesus, but only in public life and only in easy ways. We call this ‘shirtsleeve religion’. It’s a religion more focused on symbolism than on the fundamental Christian principles of grace, love, and justice.
Ask yourself this: are fundamentalist Christians more known for promoting harmful civil policies that discriminate and force their private religious beliefs onto others — or more known for showing love and kindness by aiding the poor, the sick, and the homeless? While I write this, a video is getting much attention of an American Christian family hitting, cursing at, and kicking out of their home their teenage son for being gay. Such examples discredit the love and compassion of Christ and his church while revealing a particularly harsh American version of Christianity more focused on legalism than on kindness, grace, or love. If there is little love or kindness in American Christianity, than there is little appeal in American Christianity.
This bears repeating: If there is little love or kindness in American Christianity, than there is little appeal in American Christianity. God is not honored when his followers are unkind.
We must always beware when religion is used to advocate for unkind actions or policies.