The Religious Extremists At Trump’s Republican Convention

by JOSH ISRAEL –

rnc convention trump

Anti-immigration activists, “prosperity gospel” preachers, anti-LGBT politicians, and the NRA’s top lobbyist will headline Donald Trump’s 2016 Republican National Convention. The Republican National Committee released a partial list of the people who will speak at next week’s event and it is a virtual who’s who of extremist voices from within the party. Additional names reported by the New York Times include anti-abortion activist Tim Tebow, who briefly was an NFL quarterback.

Here are some of the people who will highlight the Cleveland convention, where Trump is widely expected to receive the GOP nomination for president:

Pam Bondi

Florida’s Republican attorney general, Bondi’s relationship with Trump has drawn criticism from ethics watchdogs and state newspapers. Four days after she announced she might join an investigation into Trump University, one of Trump’s family foundations gave $25,000 to a group supporting Trump’s re-election. Soon after, she announced she would not pursue a lawsuit. She also drew criticism for reportedly asking for an execution to be delayed so as not to conflict with her re-election kick-off party. After the Orlando shootings last month, CNN’s Anderson Cooper took her to task for presenting herself as a champion of the LGBT community, despite her anti-gay record. Bondi responded by blasting Cooper for “[inciting] anger and hatred.”

Mark Burns

An African-American prosperity gospel preacher, Burns has been a frequent Trump surrogate throughout the campaign. At a March rally, he claimed that Bernie Sanders “doesn’t believe in God,” and must convert to Christianity. “Listen, Bernie gotta get saved. He gotta meet Jesus,” Burns said of Sanders, who is Jewish.

David Clarke

The African-American sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and nominally a Democrat, Clarke has emerged as the go-to Fox News critic of the Black Lives Matter movement. He has called groups protesting the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri “vultures on a road side caucus” and claimed that homes with single mothers were the real cause of police shootings of black men. Clarke has also predicted that Black Lives Matter “will join forces with ISIS” to bring down the United States. A strong gun-rights advocate, he has also proposed adding a semi-automatic rifle to the nation’s seal.

Chris Cox

The chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, Cox is a staunch opponent of efforts to reduce gun violence and has warned that those lawmakers who seek to blame his organization for the epidemic of gun violence “will pay a price for it.” At his group’s May convention, he made a series of sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, calling her a “horse” and playing an out-of-context video of her barking.

Jerry Falwell Jr.

The son of the late televangelist Jerry Falwell, Falwell Jr. is now president of Liberty University. He made headlines in December when he suggested he might pull a gun out at a campus assembly to demonstrate how to shoot terrorists. “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them,” he told his students.

Darryl Glenn

The surprise winner of last month’s Colorado GOP Senate primary, El Paso County Commissioner Glenn is an African-American and a self-described “unapologetic Christian constitutional conservative pro-life second amendment-loving American.” He believes in fetal personhood, thinks neighbors must spy on each other to root out potential terrorists, and has likened social safety net programs like Social Security to Jim Crow laws.

Mike Huckabee

The former pastor and former Arkansas governor is best known for his staunch opposition to LGBT rights, claiming marriage equality will lead to legalized polygamy and prostitution. He emerged last year as a chief defender of Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and her illegal refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, comparing her to Abraham Lincoln. He also has suggested using federal troops to stop women from accessing abortions, claimed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be “appalled” by the Black Lives Matter movement, warned that some immigrants only come to America “because they heard there is a bowl of food just across the border,” and proclaimed that Beyonce’s music is “mental poison.”

Antonio Sabato Jr.

A underwear model turned soap opera actor, Sabato has been a strong supporter of Trump and his proposal to build a border wall. In recent weeks, he has tweeted that America should “Remove all politicians especially #obama #Hillary send them to #Gitmo remove all gun laws,” and proposed arresting President Obama and Hillary Clinton, which he called the “safe way keep the country safe.”

Jeff Sessions

Before being elected a Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions was a rejected nominee for a federal judgeship. The reason: senators were concerned about his history of racially insensitive remarks, including reportedly calling the NAACP an “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” organization that “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” Today, he uses his perch in the Senate to attack immigrants, who he says “create culture problems.”

Peter Thiel

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was revealed in May to be the secret backer of a lawsuit aiming to take down Gawker Media. After Gawker outed Thiel as gay in 2007, the billionaire lambasted the publication as the “Silicon Valley Equivalent of Al Qaeda.” He previously was behind a thus-far-unsuccessful scheme to build a man-made island where investors could avoid government influence and funds a fellowship that requires students to drop out of college — a program former Harvard President Larry Summers called “the single most misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade.” Thiel has called the U.S. college system “as corrupt as the Catholic church was 500 years ago.”

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Other speakers include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who recently called Black Lives Matter “inherently racist,” voter suppressionist Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), and Ben Carson, who admitted in March that he did not want to endorse Trump, but had been offered a position if he did.

More people could be added. On Thursday, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told MSNBC that controversial former college basketball coach Bobby Knight, who allegedly once choked his own player, will also be on the docket.

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress