Two days after a massacre at an Orlando LGBT nightclub by a lone gunman, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted a “thank you” to the LGBT community for what he apparently believes is support for his candidacy.
The tweet included the line, “I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”
A week later, Trump met with hundreds of conservative evangelical leaders in New York City at an invitation-only event organized by former presidential candidate Ben Carson, who was working in conjunction with other groups including the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group. At the event, Trump called religious liberty “the No. 1 question,” and he promised to appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices.
Trump’s campaign also released a list of people who would make up his evangelical advisory board, and it includes several who are no friends of LGBT people:
Michele Bachmann: A former Congresswoman, Bachmann has a reputation for making damaging claims about and displaying strange behavior toward LGBT people. She has stated that LGBT people “target children”; has claimed that two constituents who ran into her in a bathroom at a town hall meeting were “holding her against her will” (the women in question were Pamela Arnold, partner of famed Arctic explorer Ann Bancroft and a former nun); and was spotted hiding behind some bushes at a rally opposing her amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage (she claimed she had sore feet and couldn’t stand anymore). “This is not funny. It’s a very sad life,” Bachmann has said of homosexuality. “It’s part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay.” At the time, she was speaking about her lesbian stepsister. In 2014, Bachmann accused the “gay community” of pushing “deviancy,” “tyranny” and child rape.
Tim Clinton: Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, has advocated (PDF) for so-called “ex-gay” therapy, a harmful pseudoscience that claims to be able to make LGBT people heterosexual. In a 2009 “fact sheet” titled “Homosexuality,” Clinton listed 4 steps for “Freedom from Homosexuality.” They included ending homosexual relationships and choosing not to frequent places that involve homosexual relationship or activities. He also called to “address the issues” that may have “caused” homosexuality, including a “deficit in relationship” with a parent of the same sex or “past sexual abuse” –– common themes in the ex-gay community. The 2014 Code of Ethics (PDF) for the AACC states, “Christian counselors do not condone or advocate for the pursuit of or active involvement in homosexual, bisexual or transgendered behaviors and lifestyles.”
James Dobson: Founder of the right-wing Christian powerhouse Focus on the Family, Dobson and Focus on the Family were well-known for anti-LGBT views, including claiming homosexuality was “preventable” and “treatable.” A strong supporter of ex-gay therapy, Focus on the Family launched the “Love Won Out” ex-gay ministry in 1998 under the leadership of John Paulk, who was later photographed at a gay bar and left the ministry in 2003. Dobson, who now has an independent radio show, has referred to homosexuality as “disordered” and resulting from “early developmental problems.” He wrote in 2015 that the “homosexual activist movement” is bent on “overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia” and that with same-sex marriage comes the fall of Western civilization. He also claimed that acceptance of bisexuality meant acceptance of sexual relations between both genders “in groups.” Dobson has claimed that, “Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage” which will “destroy the Earth.” Dobson has also distorted legitimate research to push his anti-LGBT views.
Ronnie Floyd: Floyd is a pastor at Cross Church in Arkansas and the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). At the 2015 gathering of the Convention, Floyd stated that “We are in spiritual warfare” against gay marriage. He is also the author of a book titled The Gay Agenda, a reference to a widespread conspiracy theory that claims LGBT people’s work for equality is actually a ploy to take over the world. According to Floyd’s book, “if left unopposed [the gay agenda] will annihilate the family as we know it” and that “proponents of the gay lifestyle have declared war against our culture and they have an agenda.” Last year, SBC formally cut ties with a California church because of the latter’s support of LGBT people. The church “walked away from us as Southern Baptists,” Floyd said, “So it is with compassion that I would appeal to them to reconsider their decision, mostly their position related to the Word of God on homosexuality.” The SBC’s 2016 resolutions that emerged from its recent annual gathering stated that last year’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage “does violence to the Constitution.”
Jack Graham: Graham is a former president of the SBC and the current pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, which fought to repeal an LGBT rights ordinance in 2012. When asked to respond to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, Graham said, “[W]e will not accept, nor adhere to, and legal redefinition of marriage issued by any political or judicial body, including the U.S. Supreme Court.” And though he claims that “we affirm our love for all people,” “we cannot and will not affirm the moral acceptability of homosexual behavior.”
Harry Jackson: Pentecostal Bishop Harry Jackson is a prominent campaigner against marriage equality who led the unsuccessful fight against it in Washington D.C., working closely with the National Organization for Marriage. Jackson is also a longtime ally of anti-LGBT hate group FRC, and co-wrote a book with FRC director Tony Perkins. Jackson, who has worked to build a multi-racial religious right movement by using anti-LGBT and anti-abortion sentiment as a wedge between Black churchgoers and their supporters in the Civil Rights movement, supports the so-called “Seven Mountains” doctrine, which calls for Christian domination over the seven cultural mountains of society: media, education, business, arts and entertainment, family, religion, and government. He has called gay marriage part of a “satanic plot” to destroy “our seed,” claimed that gay people cannot reproduce, so they must “recruit.” Jackson has also said that gay marriage is an “assault” and that the “Enemy” (Satan) wants it to be a seed planted in this generation that “corrupts, perverts and pollutes society.”
Robert Jeffress: Jeffress is another megachurch pastor based in Texas. Jeffress has a long history of anti-LGBT rhetoric. He has claimed that “70% of the gay population” has AIDS; that gay people live a “miserable lifestyle”; and linked homosexuality to pedophilia. “There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals…and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse. It represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low,” Jeffress said, “there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”
Richard Land: Land is a former director of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Land also has a reputation for anti-LGBT statements. He has claimed that homosexuality causes destruction in human society and the “homosexual lifestyle” also causes destruction. He has claimed that LGBT people “recruit” children for “homosexual clubs” and peddled the myth that gay people don’t live as long as heterosexual and also claimed that LGBT people are out to “destroy marriage.” As current president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, he has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and warned that allowing gay Scout masters is “a grave and dangerous mistake.” He attempted to soften the blow by implying that all adult men are apparently attracted to young teens, so it would also be a mistake to put heterosexual men in charge of Girl Scout troops.
The members of the advisory board will convene on a regular basis, and will lead a “much larger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee” that will be announced later this month.
This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.