The GOP’s Favorite Pastor Is Furious That You Gays Picked A Fight With God

“Kill The Gays” Pastor Not Going Anywhere

Last week the New York Times ran a horrifying story under the mostly innocuous headline “Ted Cruz and the Anti-Gay Pastor.” It started out like every other Good Christian Fella Ted Cruz news blurb we’ve read this past year: He’s buddies with a pastor who loves home schooling, hates Harry Potter, and thinks Princess Elsa has some kind of master plan to turn all young girls into lesbians. (That’s Queen Elsa to you, sir.) But the further the NYT pulled back the curtain on this guy, Kevin Swanson, the more sinister his whole deal revealed itself to be. Yeah, he’s a kook, but he’s a powerful, incredibly well connected kook who fully believes God is calling him to unleash a genocide on all the gay people in America. And Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz are all courting his support.

This movement is a power to be reckoned with in Republican Party politics. Mr. Cruz, for one, is basing his strategy on winning its support. Ben Carson told a Liberty University convocation this month of his concern that so many people “are trying to push God out of our lives.” And early this year, Mr. Jindal hosted a religious revival rally on the Louisiana State University campus that was sponsored by the American Family Association.

But the real influence of the movement is in the less visible realm of state legislatures. In 2015 alone, 87 religious refusal-related bills were introduced in 28 states.

Prior to the NYT story, Rachel Maddow tackled the lunacy of Kevin Swanson’s National Religious Liberties Conference — at which Huckabee, Jindal, and Cruz spoke — calling it, “A ‘kill the gays’ call to arms.”

Now that his bigotry and hatred have made their way into the mainstream spotlight, Swanson has ramped up the rhetoric on his terrifying break from reality. He called the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris “humanist devil worshipers,” insisted that criticism against him is criticism against God himself, and has promised to drown his children before he lets them read Harry Potter. According to Right Wing Watch, Swanson told listeners of his radio show that the “media firestorm” that broke out last week after his connection to three GOP presidential hopefuls was revealed is proof he’s doing the Lord’s work.

“Any time the nation has taken up a fight with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the universe, you don’t pick a fight with the Creator of all of the galaxies, all of the planets, this entire solar system, you don’t pull together a couple of ants and lift a fist to the Almighty and think you can get away with it,” he said. “This is, I think, the reason why the media firestorm — we have touched the conscience of a nation and they realize they’re in trouble, they’re in trouble with the God of the universe.”

Unsurprisingly, neither Cruz nor Huckabee nor Jindal have apologized for participating in Swanson’s hate mongering “religious liberties” conference or tried to distance themselves from his unhinged fire-and-brimstone bigotry. ThinkProgress has a really good breakdown on the way the GOP has successfully framed themselves as the victims in the war on religious freedom, a narrative that is sure to continue through the 2016 election as Republican candidates try to justify their racism, xenophobia, and homophobia.

Elsewhere in The GOP Primary

+ Donald Trump has doubled down on his lies and callousness, and it’s working. He’s pulling away in the polls (though Nate Silver thinks we all need to calm down about it). This week, Black Lives Matter activist  Mercutio Southall Jr. was attacked by Trump supporters at a rally, a thing Trump fully supported, saying he deserved to be “roughed up a little.” Southall shared his story about the assault with ThinkProgress. Trump also tweeted some completely fabricated racially charged stats to seemingly justify his supporters’ decision to ambush Southall; the numbers were so egregiously inaccurate that even Bill O’Reilly called out Trump on it.

+ Ben Carson and Donald Trump are both lying about seeing Muslims celebrate on 9/11.

Black Lives Matter

+ Five Black Lives Matters activists who were participating in a sit-in in Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct — near the spot where 24-year-old Jamar Clark was killed by police — were shot by an armed white supremacist who fled the scene. Miska Noor, a Black Lives Matter spokesperson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “A group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights … [and] opened fire on about six protesters.” All five activists were treated for non-fatal wounds. Mike Huckabee thinks it’s hilarious.

+ Over the weekend, a video surfaced of Jamar Clark moments after he was shot by police. Governor Dayton told reporters that the video footage, which was retrieved from an ambulance, was “inconclusive.”

+ NYT columnist Charles M. Blow visited Tamir Rice’s mother on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Since the killing of Trayvon Martin, I have interviewed many — too many! — of these mothers with holes in their hearts. There is an eerie sameness to the arc and articulation of their sorrow.

On top of this, these mothers are forced to share their children with the world, to suppress some of their own grief so that they can be a composed instrument to serve a message. There is also the disconcerting feeling of being famous because of another’s infamy, of being exalted for extreme loss, of having your voice amplified while your personal space feels invaded.

+ The Chicago police officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times last year will face first degree murder charges.

Grab Bag

+ In the wake of Transgender Awareness Week, the Associated Press ran a longer form story on the horrifying number of trans homicides this year, noting the “22 killings so far this year of transgender or gender-nonconforming people — including 19 black or Latina transgender women.”

+ Openly gay former congressman Michael Michaud has been confirmed as the assistant secretary of labor for veterans’ employment and training.

+ The KKK is alive and well in Florida and turning its attention toward bashing gay people.

+ The Alabama Supreme Court is at it again! This time, they’re refusing to validate a Georgia-approved adoption that granted parental rights to a lesbian mother who had three children with her former partner with the assistance of a sperm donor.

+ Five girls in Northern California are petitioning to join the Boy Scouts.

The Unicorns began to consider themselves Boy Scouts last fall, after they enrolled in a skills-building course, Learning for Life, that is affiliated with the organization and is offered to boys and girls. Several Unicorns had tried the Girl Scouts but found the experience too sedate: rest time and whispering instead of playing tag and lighting fires.

Once again, I mourn that there’s no real life Lumberjanes.

+ President Obama is going to screen The Danish Girl at The White House.

+ Amazon and New York’s MTA have tag-teamed to create the worst marketing campaign I have ever seen in my entire life.

Seats on 42nd Street subway Shuttle cars are wrapped with symbols from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, intended to carry commuters into the alternate history of the Amazon TV series, The Man in the High Castle, in which the Axis Powers were victorious.

“Half the seats in my car had Nazi insignias inside an American flag, while the other half had the Japanese flag in a style like the World War II design,” said straphanger Ann Toback. “So I had a choice, and I chose to sit on the Nazi insignia because I really didn’t want to stare at it.”

+ ThinkProgress thinks the campus speech wars might be heading to The Supreme Court.

Senior Editor Yvonne is traveling today for the holidays, but will be back next week for your Tuesday News Fix! 

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Wow, that ad campaign is really upsetting.

    It’s all really upsetting, actually. But I knew about the other ones, and then that just comes as a nice surprise kick at the end. Who thought that ad campaign was okay?!?!?

    • I know, like I am sure they had a few people saying, I don’t think we should do this. Hell, they should know that in NY there is going to be religious Jews who take the subway and will for sure say something about. I would have given the show a shot, but the horrible marketing has me saying fuck you to the people who thought that was a good idea.

  2. Yeah, that ad campaign is a TERRIBLE idea. I remember when I was a drama major in undergrad, one theatre group on campus was advertising their production of The Merchant of Venice, and did so using posters that had the Nazi flag on them. Meanwhile, I was involved in a production called “Guess Who’s Coming to Sabbath”, to which we’d specifically invited members of the Jewish community in our small university town. We REALLY didn’t want them walking by posters with the Nazi flag on them on their way to the theatre, and we actually petitioned to get the other company’s posters removed. It actually turned into a bit of a shit show, with members of both productions getting into arguments about freedom of speech, artistic license, anti-semitism in Shakespeare, etc.

    • That sounds pretty awful. And I’ve seen a few posts on tumblr on the subtle anti-Semitism in Shakespeare’s work, so I could only imagine how an actual in person discussion went.

      • There’s absolutely nothing subtle about Shakespeare’s anti-semitism, and anyone who has ever read Merchant is aware of that, but for me that’s okay because I recognize that he is a product of his time, and that nowadays, Shylock is almost exclusively portrayed as a sympathetic rather than villainous character.

        To be fair to that theatre company, their production of Merchant was directed by a Jewish guy, and their portrayal of Shylock was a sympathetic one, it was really just their marketing campaign that we took issue with (just like with this series – I’m sure it’s a great show, it’s just a terrible marketing campaign).

  3. So I’ve never agreed with his politics but sometimes I still can’t believe Mike Huckabee turned out to basically be the devil incarnate. Maybe it’s because he looks like my old youth pastor but I always figured he was a generally decent person. Turns out he’s chosen to gleefully make himself a poster boy for all types of bigotry.

    • I’ve never much liked Huckabee, but I think the ugly quote attributed to him should have a better source that a single twitter account. Especially when the quote is not conceptualized, in no entirely in quotation marks, and from a source dated before the Minneapolis shooting. As a lifelong Minnesotan I’m deeply effected all that’s been going on since Jamar Clark was killed, but I’ve yet to hear any connection to Huckabee and the twitter source doesn’t even say “which” protesters he referred to.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen so many hateful and asinine statements from various politicians over the years (and especially the last few months) that I could easily believe he said it. Yet I know how easy it is for someone to take a quote and run with or assume it’s real without knowing where it came from. He probably did say something callus at best. I just think it’s potential misleading to lack a primary source.

  4. I fucking hate that article about the girls petitioning Boy Scouts. Like, good for them and all, the story itself is fine, but the language used paints Girl Scouts in such a negative and false light. If they’re bored with their Girl Scout experience, they need to take action and change it – go to camp, go to council sponsored programs, switch troops if they’re so bored. Their experience is clearly not the broad Girl Scout Experience and it upsets me that they paint it as if it is.

    • Agreed.

      “say they would rather be camping and tying knots than selling cookies.”


      Also, Boy Scots sell gross (when I last tasted it admittedly 15 years ago) popcorn. So…

      And that they just leave this quote without any explanation of what GS actually does:

      “Maybe their approach should have been to go to the Girl Scouts and say: Instead of painting our nails and clipping our — whatever they do — to do archery and do climbing.”

      I don’t know what their boring troop did, but leaving the idea that Girl Scouts don’t do archery or climbing already is ridiculous. THERE IS A DAMN CLIMBING PATCH. My mother taught archery with Girl Scouts for many years.

      SO in summary, you weren’t the only one with these feelings.

      • I agree that the language in the article is really problematic.

        I did, however, have a Girl Scouting experience pretty much in line with that they are describing — more sleepovers and fewer campouts, more badges having to do with the old school “feminine arts” like cooking and managing household finances then science or outdoorsy ones.

        My experience, of course, was just the one I had in the one troop I joined. I didn’t try to join another troop or try to change it from within. I didn’t even realize that was a thing. Like I was in fourth and fifth grade, I assumed all the troops were the same and that was just how it worked. So I quit.

        I think gender-neutral scouts would be super rad. But it also sounds like the Girl Scouts are pretty amazing these days, at least a lot of troops, and that these girls’ experiences and mine may not be typical.

        • I get that, and I hear personal “why I dropped out of Girl Scouts” stories really frequently, actually, and I’m not blaming you as a person who quit Girl Scouts. I wouldn’t expect a 10-year-old to know that they can switch troops, or that they can tailor their experience to be what they want it to be. But I guess these girls are making such big ripples to make me expect it of them. If they’re capable of petitioning the Boy Scouts, they’re capable of communicating with their local Girl Scout council to find out what their options are (assuming they don’t already know their options). Hell, with five girls, they already have the minimum number required to start a brand new troop. One of the moms is leading them and taking them to the Boy Scout meetings. Like, I can’t grasp the idea that she’s not signing up to be a Girl Scout leader herself…. and then doing all of those things they want to do as a Girl Scout troop.

        • I had one of those really negative experiences with girl scouts in first grade, and I just dropped it because I had no conception of “changing it from within” or switching troops (which wouldn’t have been an option, because of geography). I don’t expect these girls to be perfect activists, I’m impressed they recognized a problem and are doing something about it.

          • I don’t think it’s about gender exclusion so much as the fact that being gendered organizations is essentially the root of both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In Girl Scouts that takes the form of creating a safe space for girls to explore topics and ideas that are limited at school, and develop leadership skills that can be otherwise stunted due to gender roles in education. We talk about women’s health and relational aggression, and we hold STEM events, for just a couple of examples. We accept trans girls. We accept kids that are in the middle of figuring out their genderqueer or non-binary identity. We don’t accept boys. Letting boys into Girl Scouts and girls into Boy Scouts is in itself a problematic answer.

    • Agreed! I’m glad those girls are pushing for cool outdoors experiences, but the way the Girl Scouts are being presented is bizarrely inaccurate. (Of course every troop is different, for Boy and Girl Scouts and for camp fire kids too. I’m sure individual experiences are all over the map). The framing of this narrative is so insulting and steeped in sexism.

    • Yes, totally! I read that and was just really sad that their Girl Scout experience has been so dull for them. I hope they can find or make a troop that will do the awesome stuff they want to do.

  5. On Monday 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the case Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Schimel, about a Wisconsin statute that was trying to limit abortions (or taking care of “women’s health” as it’s called nowadays).

    Of course, this is not the end of the fight because there are 2 cases pending on the US Supreme Court. But I want to quote some parts of that ruling, parts of Judge Richard Posner (nominated by Ronald Reagan and a man that generally identifies himself as a conservative) opinion.

    This is gonna be a little long, but I kindly ask for some patience.

    “No other procedure performed outside a hospital, even one as invasive as a surgical abortion, is required by Wisconsin law to be performed by doctors who have admitting privileges at hospitals within a specified radius of where the procedure is performed. And that is the case even for procedures performed when the patient is under general anesthesia, and even though more than a quarter of all surgical operations in the United States are now performed outside of hospitals.
    And that is true even for such gynecological procedures as diagnostic dilation and curettage (D&C) (removal of tissue from the inside of the uterus), hysteroscopy (endoscopy of the uterus), and surgical completion of miscarriage (surgical removal of fetal tissue remaining in the uterus after a miscarriage, which is a spontaneous abortion rather than one medically induced)—procedures medically similar to abortion.”

    “The defendants argue that admitting privileges improve continuity of care. But nothing in the statute requires an abortion doctor who has admitting privileges to care for a patient who has complications from an abortion. He doesn’t have to accompany her to the hospital, treat her there, visit her, call her, etc.”

    “We can imagine an argument that what Wisconsin did in this case was to make the regulation of the treatment of abortion complications simply the first step on the path to a regulation of all potentially serious complications.
    The statute has been on the books for more than two years, yet there is no indication that the legislature has given any consideration to requiring admitting privileges for any doctors other than abortion providers.”

    “Until and unless Roe v. Wade is overruled by the Supreme Court, a statute likely to restrict access to abortion with no offsetting medical benefit cannot be held to be within the enacting state’s constitutional authority.”

    “It’s also true, though according to the cases just quoted irrelevant, that a 90-mile trip is no big deal for persons who own a car or can afford an Amtrak or Greyhound ticket. But more than 50 percent of Wisconsin women seeking abortions have incomes below the federal poverty line and many of them live in Milwaukee (and some north or west of that city and so even farther away from Chicago). For them a round trip to Chicago, and finding a place to stay overnight in Chicago should they not feel up to an immediate return to Wisconsin after the abortion, may be prohibitively expensive.
    The State of Wisconsin is not offering to pick up the tab, or any part of it. These women may also be unable to take the time required for the round trip away from their work or the care of their children.”

    “An abortion-restricting statute sought to be justified on medical grounds requires not only reason to believe (here lacking, as we have seen) that the medical grounds are valid, but also reason to believe that the restrictions are not disproportionate, in their effect on the right to an abortion, to the medical benefits that the restrictions are believed to confer and so do not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.”

    “There are those who would criminalize all abortions, thus terminating the constitutional right asserted in Roe and Casey and a multitude of other decisions. And there are those who would criminalize all abortions except ones that terminate a pregnancy caused by rape or are necessary to protect the life or (in some versions) the health of the pregnant woman. But what makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to an abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health—and the abridgment challenged in this case would actually endanger women’s health. It would do that by reducing the number of abortion doctors in Wisconsin, thereby increasing the waiting time for obtaining an abortion, and that increase would in turn compel some women to defer abortion to the second trimester of their pregnancy—which the studies we cited earlier find to be riskier than a first-trimester abortion.”

    “…And comparably in our case the requirement of admitting privileges cannot be taken seriously as a measure to improve women’s health because the transfer agreements that abortion clinics make with hospitals, plus the ability to summon an ambulance by a phone call, assure the access of such women to a nearby hospital in the event of a medical emergency.”

    “Opponents of abortion reveal their true objectives when they procure legislation limited to a medical procedure—abortion—that rarely produces a medical emergency. A number of other medical procedures are far more dangerous to the patient than abortion, yet their providers are not required to obtain admitting privileges anywhere, let alone within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed.”

    This just show us that yes, you can be a conservative, there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes is nice to take your head out of your ass and think (yes, I’m talking to all the GoP presidential candidates).

    PD: I just love American court’s rulings, because are quite easy to read. Maybe not everybody thinks this way but if you ever see a ruling from any court in my country, you’ll really change your mind, because here you need a dictionary just to understand the name of the case.

  6. If you take it out of context, the phrase “humanist devil worshipers” actually makes devil worship sound pretty good. Like if the devil is encouraging humanistic principles, maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.

  7. Welp, it’s never good when my hometown is mentioned in the same sentence as KKK and gay bashing. ?

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