It’s not fresh news that an especially toxic brew of right-wing pseudochristianity and extremist political hypocrisy is headed for Iowa March 24 and 25 (the Iowa Independent reported it first March 1), but we just dug our invite out of the parish wastebasket this week --- so I’m a little slow getting around to it.
It’s called the Iowa Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing --- “Rediscovering God in America.” And by gum if you’re ordained, or can get yourself ordained real quick, you’re welcome --- lodging and meals are, as they say, “complimentary.”
The return address is, according to the Independent, a West Des Moines UPS store. If Iowa’s Episcopal parishes, unlikely to send clergy, received invitations the net was cast widely.
Heck, we already knew most politicians could be bought; now it appears some preachers can be, too. Offer me a few free meals and a bed, sweetheart, and I’ll believe and do anything you tell me to.
This is the third “Rediscovering God in America” event in Iowa --- earlier ones were held in 2007 and 2008. And in all this time, no one’s figured out whose paying the bills. Neither political nor holy shills come cheap, you know, and when you add in the free beds and food plus conference facilities, wow. Similar events have been held under similarly secretive circumstances in as many as 13 states. So whoever’s got the checkbook and doesn’t want us to know it must be some really scary dude.
If “Rediscovering God in America” sounds familiar, it’s the title of a book by Newt Gingrich --- so it’s not surprising that the old hypocrite himself spoke at the first two events and will speak again, this time as a potential GOP candidate. Newt Gingrich? God? Dear Lord, save us from your alleged followers.
Also featured again will be the Rev. Mike Huckabee, that former governor and Southern-gone-to-hell Baptist preacher --- until Windstream Communications came along the only thing many Iowans had to hold personally against the great state of Arkansas. Previously, Huckabee has been the only GOP hopeful invited to speak at these events, suggesting that this old boy and Gingrich are at the heart of the matter.
You’ll note that the “Schedule of Events” posted here is “from the desk of Mike Huckabee,” now a Fox News huckster and, again, potential candidate for president on the get-out-the-barbed-wire-and-start-building-the-internment-camps (aka GOP) ticket. You know Huck --- he’s the birthers’ friend who says outlandish things, then follows up with “aw shucks, I didn’t mean that.”
Other speakers at the top of the heap will be Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, toying with the idea of a presidential run; and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, a Tea Party sweetheart apparently born with a brain but separated from it soon after birth (her most recent revision of U.S. history involved relocating Lexington and Concord from Massachusetts to New Hampshire during a political appearance).
Also appearing on the invite in big type is David Barton, advertised as an historian but actually a Texas preacher ordained in his daddy's church with no credentials whatsoever as either an historian or constitutional scholar (which he also claims to be), who speciailizes in revising U.S. history to suit himself and his masters. His organization, WallBuilders, presents “America’s forgotten history,” according to its promotional literature. Forgotten because it didn’t happen; “presenting pure fiction as American history” would be more accurate. Perhaps he’s Bachmann’s fact-checker.
Also along for the ride --- but in smaller type --- will be evangelical Christian pollster George Barna, founder of the Barna Group; the Rev. Ken Graves, super-macho founder and pastor of Calvary Chapel near Bangor, Maine, who fancies himself a real man’s man (in the nicest possible way, of course) and led the charge against same-sex marriage in his home state; and the Rev. Jack Hibbs, senior pastor at Calvary Chapel, Chino Hills, Calif., another macho megachurch stud with a weakness for hate groups.
John Stemberger, Florida attorney and leading opponent of same-sex marriage now facing a few ethics difficulties down thataway; the Rev. Larry Stockstill, anti-abortion activist and pastor of the family megachurch, Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge; and The Rev. Laurence White, pastor of Houston’s Our Savior Lutheran Church (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), a bud of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and founder in of the 2005 Texas Restoration Project, believed to be the inspiration at least for “renewal projects” in Iowa and elsewhere.
And last, but not least, Don Wildmon, founder and retired chairman of the Mississippi-based American Family Association, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group, right up there with the KKK, because of its vile tirades against LGBT people, Muslims and others. The American Family Association has been a major funder of Bob Vander Plaats’ pseudochristian crusade against the Iowa Supreme Court, so this’ll be kind of homecoming for that old sinner.
Anyway, like I said, toxic brew. So hide your babies, Mamas, and don’t say you weren’t warned. There’s going to be so much hatefulness assembled in the name of God inside the the walls of the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel March 24-25 that the roof’s likely to lift clean off as hot and poisonous air straight from hell rises.