Tony Perkins

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, photo courtesy Bob Jagendorf/RNS.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were not invited to a major gathering of social conservatives in Washington last weekend in what was viewed as a serious snub of two men considered prominent Republican presidential contenders for 2016.

“They were not invited this year because they just weren’t on the top of the list in terms of what they are doing right now and whether or not it was relevant to the values voters and who they want to hear from,” said Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and chief organizer of the Values Voter Summit, which opened on Friday and ended Sept. 28.

“They shouldn’t take it the wrong way,” Perkins told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview taped on Friday.

But in his report, Brody said the two men had been “snubbed” and that’s not good news for any presidential aspirations they may harbor.

The Values Voter Summit is the pre-eminent venue for GOP candidates who hope to showcase their bona fides to the crucial conservative Christian bloc, and Christie and Bush — the elder brother of former President George W. Bush — are seen as Republicans who could appeal to the center of the electorate but who have not won the hearts of social conservatives.

Meriam Ibrahim and her daughter, Maya, meet Pope Francis at the Vatican. Photo courtesy L'Osservatore Romano/RNS

Pope Francis met Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman spared a death sentence for apostasy in Sudan, at the Vatican on Thursday after she was flown to Rome by the Italian government following a vigorous international campaign to free her.

Ibrahim, 27, was accompanied by her husband Daniel Wani and two young children when she met Francis for nearly half an hour at his Santa Marta residence.

The audience was arranged only hours after she disembarked at Rome’s Ciampino Airport with her family on an official Italian aircraft. She was smiling as she carried baby Maya, who was born just two months ago as Ibrahim was shackled in prison.

The pope thanked her for her courage and loyalty to her Christian faith despite facing threats of execution in an ordeal that lasted nearly a year.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Francis wanted Thursday’s meeting to be a “gesture of support for all those who suffer for their faith, or living in situations of difficulty or restraint.”

Christopher Doering 02-10-2014

The first same-sex marriage ceremony in Jersey City. Photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal. Courtesy The Star-Ledger/RNS

In a major victory for same-sex marriage rights, the Justice Department will soon grant married gay and lesbian couples the same rights in legal matters as other married couples.

The new policy announced by Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday, in New York, marks the latest step by the Obama administration to extend rights to same-sex couples that are afforded to married, heterosexual couples.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights.

Photo courtesy RNS/ Rabinowitz/ Dorf Communications.

The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy (right) and the Rev. Barry Lynn (left). Photo courtesy RNS/ Rabinowitz/ Dorf Communications.

Serving in the armed forces is one of the most honorable professions one can choose in our society. And putting one’s life on the line in defense of freedom is a sacrifice the rest of us can never repay.

That’s why it saddens us that these very freedoms are being undercut by forces seeking to infuse the military with a very specific version of Christian culture. Leaders from the religious right claim that the religious liberty rights of Christians are under assault in the military. This is simply not true, and the implication is an insult to people around the globe and here at home who truly do face persecution for their faith.

What is true is that military life is different than civilian life. A chain of command impacts every aspect of a service member’s life; because of that, safeguards must be in place to ensure that no member of the military is being coerced into religious practices unwillingly.

Chad Connelly, the new outreach director to evangelicals and religious groups for the RNC. Photo courtesy RNS.

The vast majority of evangelicals have voted with the GOP in recent elections. In fact, despite some qualms about his Mormon faith, 79 percent of evangelicals voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, the same percentage that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004.

So why would the party hire its former South Carolina chairman to lead engagement to a group that for a generation or more has been the reliable anchor of the party faithful? Here are four reasons.

Richard Wolf 03-25-2013

They are moms and dads, authors and activists, a former police officer and a former single mom. They’re black and white and Hispanic. One’s a Roman Catholic archbishop, another an evangelical minister. Many have large families — including gay members.

They are among the leading opponents of gay marriage, or as they prefer to be called, defenders of traditional marriage. And they’re trying to stop an increasingly popular movement as it approaches two dates with history this week at the Supreme Court.

Jim Wallis 11-15-2012
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

People pray during the Democratic National Convention. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The day after the election, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler said, “I think this was an evangelical disaster.” 

Not really. But it was a disaster for the religious right, which had again tied its faith to the partisan political agenda of the Republican Party — which did lose the election. But Nov. 6 was an even deeper disaster for the religious right’s leaders, because they will no longer be able to control or easily co-opt the meaning of the term “evangelical.” 

During this election, much of the media continued to use the word as a political term — as a key constituency of the Republican conservative base. But what the media really means when they use term “evangelical” is “conservative white evangelical.” All other kinds of evangelicals are just never counted.

Just as the 2012 electoral results finally revealed the demographic transformation of America — which has been occurring for quite some time — it also dramatically demonstrated how the meaning of the word “evangelical” is being transformed. 

Evangelical can no longer be accurately used to mean “white evangelical.” 

RNS photo by Chris Lisee

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins speaking at the Family Research Council Headquarters. RNS photo by Chris Lisee

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said Sept. 12 that conservative Christians are growing more enthusiastic about GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and predicted they would show up at the polls in record numbers in November.

"When it comes to the values of family, values of faith, values of freedom, Mitt Romney is a clear choice, I think, for value voters across this country," Perkins said at a National Press Club luncheon two days before his organization kicks off its annual Values Voter Summit in Washington.

Perkins, a Southern Baptist, said evangelical Christians have "significant theological differences" with Romney, a Mormon, but he said the GOP nominee, if elected, would not be asked to head a national church.

"We don't want a national church. We want religious freedom," he said. "I think someone who has been a part of a persecuted religion is going to be even more sensitive to the issue of religious freedom."

Tom Krattenmaker 08-29-2012
Perkins speaks to reporters outside FRC's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Perkins speaks to reporters outside FRC's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Family Research Council, for now conceding what conservative groups have been loath to acknowledge in recent years: the truth that incendiary rhetoric indeed does contribute to a climate conducive to politically motivated violence.

Never has the moment seemed more opportune to forge consensus around an overdue new rule in the culture wars. Starting now, can we all please watch our words?

Most likely, you're aware of the incident that ignited this renewed debate about rhetoric and violence. On Aug. 15, a volunteer from a Washington, D.C., community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people walked into the headquarters of the Family Research Council, an influential conservative Christian organization, with a gun, a box of ammunition and a burning grudge against the group and its anti-gay politics and rhetoric, authorities said. The suspect, according to court documents, shot a security guard in the arm before he was subdued by that same guard and taken into custody.

Thank goodness no one was killed and that the security guard acted so heroically to prevent the incident from getting far worse. The group's fiercest opponents in the ongoing national arguments — organizations representing ardent secularists and gay-rights advocates — were quick to condemn the shooting, and rightly so. Conservatives have likewise been clear, for the most part, in their denunciations of violence committed against liberal figures over the years.

Here's where the plot gets thicker.

Aaron Taylor 08-20-2012
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, speaks at a press conference August 16. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Image

When I was in junior high, I attended a private Christian school where my youth pastor used to show us videos of Christians in public schools being arrested for praying at the flagpole, as well as future Christians being executed because of “liberals who want to take away our right to worship.”

So I get it. When a guy walks up to a conservative Christian organization’s headquarters and starts shooting, it confirms what many people already believe: Evangelical Christians in America are a persecuted minority; and the people behind the persecution are groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that labels anyone who “takes a stand for Biblical righteousness” a hate group. The storyline would sound reasonable if it weren’t for one small problem: It’s completely ridiculous.

Chris Lisee 08-17-2012
RNS photo by Chris Lisee

Tony Perkins speaks outside the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., RNS photo by Chris Lisee

WASHINGTON — The head of the Family Research Council on Thursday accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of sparking hatred that led accused gunman Floyd Lee Corkins II to shoot a security guard at the conservative Christian lobbying group’s headquarters.

FRC president Tony Perkins called the Wednesday shooting “an act of domestic terrorism.”

“Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins said.

The SPLC tracks domestic extremists and lists the FRC as an “anti-gay” hate group. On Thursday, Perkins called “an end to the reckless rhetoric that I believe led to yesterday’s incident that took place right here.”

The SPLC's Mark Potok called Perkins' accusations "outrageous," and said his group is committed to offering "legitimate and fact-based criticism."

Timothy King 08-15-2012
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Local and federal investigators work to gather evidence outside FRC headquarters. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Another senseless act of violence today was targeted at the Family Research Council. A security guard is now in stable condition at a local hospital after being shot in the arm by a 28-year-old assailant. The suspect is now in custody. Multiple outlets are reporting that the young man specifically intended to attack FRC staff because of their conservative advocacy.  

My prayers goes out to the security guard and his family as he recovers. His actions may have saved the lives of many. Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, “The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.”

My heart is with the rest of the FRC staff. Their place of work will not feel safe after this. It will undoubtedly be difficult knowing there are those who would do violence against you because of your convictions.

Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, U.S. Army/Handout / Getty Images

Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, U.S. Army/Handout / Getty Images

The conservative Family Research Council has named a former top Delta Force commando and outspoken culture warrior, retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, to run its day-to-day operations.

Boykin’s appointment as executive vice president of the FRC, a mainstay of the Christian right, is designed in part to highlight conservative opposition to President Obama’s military policies, particularly his decision last year to repeal the Pentagon’s ban against gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces.

“The Obama administration has undermined our nation's security and increased the risk to those who serve by systematically using our nation's military to advance a liberal social agenda,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in announcing Boykin’s appointment on July 16.

QR Blog Editor 05-15-2012

In a heated discussion with MSNBC's Martin Bashir, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said:

“We don't think government is the source or the solution for dealing with poverty. We believe that the American people who are generous in their giving, local communities that can address not just the material poverty but the spiritual poverty as well….When you have the government crowding out those nonprofit organizations that go beyond just the material need, instead of just giving someone a fish, teaching them to fish. That's what the religious community does when they're empowered to do so.”

See the full interview here

Timothy King 03-13-2012
(Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

A cardboard cutout of Rush Limbaugh at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference.(Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, appeared on Martin Bashir last week to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s words against Georgetown Law Student, Sandra Fluke.

Bashir asked:

"Mr. Perkins, I’ve found this whole controversy extremely disturbing and it seems almost impossible to find a Republican who unequivocally without conditions condemns what’s been said. Now you are a family man, you’re a committed Christian you play an important role in conservative politics will you for the benefit of our broadcast clearly and categorically denounce what Rush Limbaugh said? "

Perkins response:

"I disagree that because there is a double standard that somehow defends what was said. I do think there is a double standard but that doesn’t defend attacking an individual.

"I think we need to engage in civic -- or civil discussion. I don’t think there’s any room in this process for calling people derogatory names. I think what Rush Limbaugh did by calling this young woman, regardless of her political views, regardless of what she was advocating for, calling her derogatory names. I disagree with her position. I think what she said was off base, what she was advocating for was off base, but I think Rush Limbaugh was wrong in calling her what he did."

Good for him. As Bashir pointed out at the beginning of his program, many conservatives are often hesitant to criticize someone like Limbaugh for fear of on air retribution. Speaking out could cause lost support and donations.

the Web Editors 02-16-2012
Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Tony Perkins speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in DC last week. Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, New York faith leaders, and members of Faithful America  delivered a petition with 20,000 signatures to MSNBC studios in New York City's Rockefeller Center on Tuesday asking that the network stop inviting Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on its programs as a "Christian" spokesman.

Cathleen Falsani 10-03-2011

In his column last week, Sojourners chief Jim Wallis talked about his frustration with the perennial misuse of the word "evangelical" by various media to describe folks and ideas that, in his view, and that of many of us who self-describe as evangelicals, don't bear any resemblance to what we understand that term to actually mean.

Below is a compilation of recent media reports where the word "evangelical" is invoked. When you read these, evangelical brothers and sisters, do you recognize yourself in how the word is used and defined? Or does it ring false to you and your understanding of what "evangelical" really and truly means?

Timothy King 08-03-2011

Today, "Values and Capitalism," a project of the American Enterprise Institute, sponsored a full-page ad in Politico (see page 13) in response to the Circle of Protection. While it is encouraging to see another full-page ad urging our nation's legislators to be concerned about the poor, it is unfortunate that the critique of the Circle of Protection and Sojourners work is based on an error.

Charles Gutenson 03-16-2010

In a recent Family Research Council e-mail, in an article titled, "Rev. Wallis: Wolf in Shepard's [sic] Clothing?" Tony Perkins aligned himself with Fox News commentator Glenn Beck's recent attacks. Perkins said:

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