5 Quotes that Prove Tony Perkins’ Religious Freedom Commission is a Bad Joke

Last year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell elected Tony Perkins, leader of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, the Family Research Council (FRC), to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Earlier this week, when Perkins was elected to Chair that group, outgoing Chair Tenzin Dorjee said “Chair Perkins is an effective leader and an experienced advocate for freedom of religion or belief.”

But Perkins’ previous statements cast doubt on the notion that he wants religious freedom for all. Instead, his previous statements — and there are many — paint a picture of a man who has one overarching goal: to impose his narrow, evangelical ideology on the United States (and the rest of the world) that not-too-coincidentally serves the rich, white, straight male.

1. He’s Anti-Islam

Put simply, Perkins doesn’t believe Islam can be classed as a religion within the bounds of United States law. He made this in an FRC email from 2015:

“What most people either don’t realize or willfully ignore is that only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic, and political system. Christianity, by comparison, isn’t a judicial or economic code — but a faith. So to suggest that we would be imposing some sort of religious test on Muslims is inaccurate. Sharia is not a religion in the context of the First Amendment.”

2. He Thinks Islam Doesn’t Get Religious Freedom Protection At All

In order to illustrate that this wasn’t an example of Perkins being taken out of context, here he is again repeating that same tired line. This time, he asserts why he believes Christianity is superior and specifically why Constitutional protections of religious freedom don’t apply to Islam:

“Religious freedom and our liberty is ordered liberty under the Constitution. And as Dr. Carson pointed out, and I know this is driving the Left crazy, that Islam is not just a religion, Islam is an economic system, it is a judicial system, it is a comprehensive system which is incompatible with the Constitution. … The reality is: I think what you’re seeing here is an effort to drive a wedge into this issue of religious liberty by scaring people into thinking this means we have to embrace all of Islam, and that even providing protection for our country against those who want to blow — I mean, when was the last time you saw a Baptist trying to blow something up?” 

He made these comments during a radio interview, so the audio is available. Perkins has repeated this line several times but has noticeably always failed to outline what areas of Islam he would consider protected under the Constitution and how we go about picking and choosing.

Supporters say he has spoken out for religious freedom for Muslims, for example the Uyghurs minority of China. However, this should not be allowed to obscure Perkins’ many past anti-Islamic statements and do little to dissuade us from the notion that Perkins believes his religion is superior.

3. He Views LGBT People as an Attack on, Well, Everything

Several times now, Perkins has characterized LGBT people as an “evil” force that is destroying America. There are many examples to pick from, but in a text published last year called ”Military’s ‘Don’t Ask’ the Turning Point in Bigger War,” he said the following:

“Three years since the decision that redefined marriage for America, the Left is still bulldozing their way through every possible social norm. The country finally realized — too late — that this isn’t about two people who love each other. It’s about obliterating every moral and cultural boundary humans have ever known.”

4. He Wants Men to ‘Turn Over Some Tables’ Because of Drag Queens Reading Stories to Children

Drag Queen Story Hour has proved a massive success across not just the United States, but in many places across the UK and Europe. It teaches tolerance, it’s entertaining and it allows kids to explore their own sense of what gender might be without any preconceived notions–they are free to interact, or not, with the idea on their own terms.

So, of course, Perkins hates it. Notice in the following quote he also conflates drag queens with sexual predators with the dog whistle of “get your hands off”:

“I see that and I think, ‘Where are the dads?’” Perkins said at a Watchmen on the Wall conference panel. “Men need to begin exerting themselves as leaders, and as you said Pat, ‘That’s my child, I bought them into the world, get your hands off! I believe it is time for men to express and display some righteous indignation and turn over a few tables in our culture when it comes to our children.”

Perkins has repeatedly (and I mean repeatedly) used the lie that LGBT people are more likely to be sexual abusers while also being silent on the documented and widespread abuses made by key religious figures.

5. He’ll Call Things Demonic at the Drop of a Hat

Apparently, Eminem expressing his displeasure over President Trump’s politics in a 2017 video was not palatable to Perkins, who voiced his disquiet in vaguely racist undertones using the otherizing “them”. He said during an episode of his ”Washington Watch” show:

“I was watching this tirade he [Eminem] went on — what they call rap… I don’t know how they call that a talent. But it was demonic, he was demonic on his attack on President Trump.”

Were Perkins not the Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, this would be fairly funny — that someone can be so threatened by freedom of expression that they label it demonic. Given that Perkins is now Chair of a religious freedom body, though, this is a chilling example of someone attacking freedom of speech by using their religion as a weapon.

It is absolutely right and compassionate that we give people a chance to move on from previous prejudices and ignorant statements. It is compassion in action and a recognition that we are all capable of grievous errors in judgement, but Perkins has never disavowed any of these comments.

Tony Perkins isn’t just a poor choice for the religious freedom Chair. He embodies everything that critics feared this panel would be: a weapon to impose a narrow religious view not just on the United States, but on its foreign policy as well.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

174 comments

Janet B
Janet B8 hours ago

Thanks

SEND
Vikram S
Vikram S19 hours ago

Thanks

SEND
Alea C
Alea Cyesterday

Saving the rain forest by commenting here!!!!

SEND
Alea C
Alea Cyesterday

tyfs

SEND
Janet B
Janet Byesterday

Thanks

SEND
Alea C
Alea C2 days ago

Care2 is still giving commenting points. (I said earlier that Care2 wasn't but I was wrong.

SEND
Alea C
Alea C2 days ago

Care2 is still giving commenting points. (I said earlier that Care2 wasn't but I was wrong.

SEND
Alea C
Alea C2 days ago

I was wrong. Care2 just gave me my commenting points. (I said earlier that Care2 didn't give me my commenting points.)

SEND
Alea C
Alea C2 days ago

Care2 is still giving butterfly credits for comments.

SEND
Janet B
Janet B2 days ago

Thanks

SEND