Republicans to rally for 'liberty' with pastor who defends death penalty for gays
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Republican presidential candidates seem to be competing over who will denounce the (nonexistent) persecution of Christians in America the loudest, with Mike Huckabee decrying the supposed “criminalization of Christianity” and Ted Cruz lambasting the “atheist Taliban” and the gay “jihad” against “people of faith.”

Religious freedom, according to today’s GOP, is on the cusp of extinction, and must be protected from this “liberal fascism.” And nothing says freedom like Uganda’s measure that would have sentenced gay people to death or lengthy terms in prison, at least according to Kevin Swanson, the Colorado-based pastor and homeschooling activist who will be hosting the National Religious Liberty Conference next month in Des Moines, Iowa. Swanson defended Ugandan politicians for “bringing biblical law to bear in the area of homosexuality” by making being gay a capital crime, hailing them for “standing strong” after the U.S. cut aid in response to the country’s anti-gay policies.

But arguing in defense of capital punishment for gays apparently isn’t considered offensive enough for Republicans like Huckabee and Cruz, who along with Bobby Jindal, are scheduled to speak at Swanson’s ironically named “liberty” conference. (Another summit speaker, Joel McDurmon, said Uganda didn’t go far enough, claiming that while “homosexuality should receive the death penalty,” he wished Uganda would “also make the death penalty for adultery and for other things.”)

While Swanson doesn’t think people should have gay friends because it would be no different than befriending serial killers, he does make an exception for attending a same-sex couple’s wedding, but only as long as you hold up a sign saying that gays should be put to death. Otherwise, you might just get caught up in what Swanson calls “the homosexual Borg.”

Sometimes it is hard to take Swanson’s extremist beliefs seriously, like when he rants about the dangers of reading William Shakespeare, listening to Taylor Swift’s “demon songs” and how everyone from Mark Twain to Beyoncé suffers from demonic possession. He told parents not to see the movie “Frozen” because the film wants to “indoctrinate my five-year-old to be a lesbian” and literally begged them to not buy Girl Scout cookies unless they want to find their “little girl turning into a lesbian.” Even the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, has faced Swanson’s attacks, as he hosted an entire radio programsuggesting that Lincoln was a communist.

Other targets of Swanson’s rage include women who use birth control, women in the workforce, women who have sex before marriage, women in government, women farmers and women who wear pants(notice a trend?).

Huckabee, who has said that he always “wanted to be the 5th Beatle,” may take pause in the fact that Swanson labeled The Beatles a “demonic” group that helped destroy civilization.

Jindal, who, like every other governor, declined to order local officials to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, may want to know that Swanson thinks he and all the other governors “will go to Hell” and “have their place in the lake of fire” because they “did not assume the courage to stand against the Supreme Court.”

Cruz, whose wife works for Goldman Sachs, may take interest in what Swanson has to say about mothers who work: they hate their children.

Maybe next time Republican candidates commit to an event hosted by an extremist activist, they could try a simple Google search first.