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Friday, October 21, 2016

Televangelist James Robison recently declared that he’s praying for a merger of the Tea Party and the religious right. Is he kidding? That merger is well underway. And it’s getting a hefty push from a couple of billionaire brothers.

No, not Charles and David Koch. Brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who reaped a fortune off the fracking gold rush and cashed in their Texas-based company a few years ago for more than $3 billion. In addition to buying up vast swaths of land in the West, they’re “using the riches that the Lord has blessed them with to back specific goals,” as Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody puts it.

What are those goals? They’ve embraced both the anti-government politics of the Koch brothers and the religious right’s anti-gay, anti-choice cultural warfare. The Wilks brothers belong to Pastors and Pews, an organization connected to Christian-nation extremist David Lane, who wants to make the Bible a primary public school textbook.

Dan Wilks told Brody that we need to “bring the Bible back into the school, and start teaching our kids at a younger age.” Adds brother Farris: “They’re being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right.”

The brothers and their wives have followed in the footsteps of other far-right funders and set up foundations. Together they’ve funded them to the tune of more than $200 million. In 2011 and 2012 they gave away millions, both to churches and to culture-war political groups. More than $5.5 million buttressed groups in the Koch brothers’ political networks.

Another $4 million or so funded leading organizations in the religious right political movement, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Another big chunk — more than $4 million — enriched anti-abortion groups. The brothers support a network of “pregnancy centers” that refuse to talk to single women about contraception and require married women to check with their husbands and pastors before discussing birth control.

The Wilks family also backs conservative politicians. They made a splash in Montana, where they own a lot of land and gave more to Republican legislative candidates than anyone else in 2012. In Texas, they’ve backed both Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican aiming to replace him. At the federal level, the brothers and their wives together contributed $125,000 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

The brothers’ worldview seems to draw heavily on the teachings of a church founded by their father, which combines Biblical literalism with a heavy emphasis on the Old Testament. According to church doctrine, abortion is “murder,” including when it ends pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. And homosexuality is “a serious crime — a very grievous sin.”

Farris is a pastor of the church. In his sermons, he decries “socialism” and argues that the Bible was grounded in the free market. He urges congregants not to vote for candidates who promise “free this, free that,” saying “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.” He has suggested that the melting of the icecaps might be punishment for sin, and that President Barack Obama’s re-election may be a harbinger of the “end times.”

Since Obama’s election, conservative political strategists have made him a rallying point in their efforts to merge the energies of two wings of the conservative movement, the religious fundamentalist wing and the anti-government wing. Their success at bringing the Tea Party faithful and religious right movements together is embodied in funders like Farris and Dan Wilks as well as politicians like Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican elected in 2012.

The result is a more extreme, and more powerful, right-wing movement that threatens our nation’s well-being by seeking to undermine the separation of church and state, opposing equality under the law for all Americans, and limiting the ability of the federal government to regulate corporate behavior and promote the common good.

Peter Montgomery is a senior fellow at People For the American Way Foundation where he leads the organization’s research and writing on the Religious Right.

Cross-posted from Other Words

Photo: Ervins Strauhmanis via Flickr

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • damspam

    Great. Just what we need. More God Nazis with money.

  • Independent1

    “The brothers’ worldview seems to draw heavily on the teachings of a church founded by their father, which combines Biblical literalism with a heavy emphasis on the Old Testament.”

    And here we go again, another group of fake Christians who apparently have chosen to ignore a very important part of the New Testament: Hebrews 8. Where through the writer of this book, God makes it clear that the Old Testament was to have long since become null and void – it was obsoleted by the ministry of Jesus and should have faded away. The only parts of the Old Testament that ‘true Christians’ should be using for reference, are the many examples of those who demonstrated that they could remain faithful to God and the many verses in the Old Testament that provide encouragement to those who remain faithful.

    But with respect to directives which should guide Christians in the way they live their lives – the only guidelines ‘true Christians’ should be following are those recorded in Matthew 5,6 and 7 and in the other teachings of Jesus during his ministry, including the lessons contained in the many parables Jesus brought out; whatever directives God provided in the Old Testament – should have been long since forgotten. (Remember Lots wife who was turned to a pillar of salt for looking back.)

    See these verses from Hebrews 8:

    6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. 7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

    • Blueberry Hill

      These idiots don’t even realize that Christianity began with the 2nd Testament, the 1st Testament was before Jesus’ time and is little more than a history of religion and beliefs; mainly Jewish and Muslim.


      • Ford Truck

        Islam may have copied a lot of beliefs from the old testament, but Islam did not start until 400+ years AFTER the NEW testament was made up.

      • Ford Truck

        As an atheist, (actually anti-theist because I hate the existence of religion) I need to point out that most christians delude themselves into thinking the New Testament and Jesus’ teaching replace the Old Testament law. But remember, in Mathew 5:17, Jesus said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” That means that he expected ALL Old Testament law to be followed. So, if you are a true believer, you better get busy killing all non-believers (2 Chronicales 5:12-13); and their offspring (Isaiah 14:21); and killing anyone who prays to a different god (Deuteronomy 13:13-19); and killing your kids if they talk back to you (2 Kings 2:23-24); and stoning anyone who works on the sabbath (Exodus 35:2); and stoning any woman that is not a virgin on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21); and killing gardeners who plant different crops side by side (Deuteronomy 22:9); or stoning people who wear old clothing with new patches (Matthew 9:16);…….. or you can come to your senses and stop believing all that crap about god.

        • Blueberry Hill

          What I learned when I went to church regularly some time ago, is that the death of Jesus, freed the Christians from those barbaric laws. When baptized, we are freed from sins, and saved by grace from the laws of the 1st Testament.


          • Ford Truck

            Then the church that you were raised in was not is strict adherence to the EXACT words/teaching of Jesus, but a religion that was mellowed and greatly altered by SECULAR reasoning.

          • Blueberry Hill

            Actually, it is the Baptist Church.


          • Independent1

            Don’t forget that there’s a caveat to being truly saved – doing the will of God throughout our lives. See these verses from Matthew 7:

            21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

        • Independent1

          Jesus was talking about the 10 commandments had not been nullified; but clearly, much of what is in the Old Testament has been obsoleted – Jesus proved that himself.

          Here’s just a couple examples:

          When the Pharisees pointed out that his apostles were going against the commandment to not do any work on the Sabbath by rummaging through the cornfields for food, Jesus pointed out that it’s okay to do good on the Sabbath, including feeding yourself (while in Leviticus it says that those who do not keep the Sabbath shall surely die). Obviously a big change here.

          And God said nothing when the early patriarchs not only fathered children by their wive’s handmaidens but in addition many of them also had multiple wives and concubines, but when Jesus came he made two things quite clear- even looking at a woman lustfully was committing adultery in ones heart and that men and women were to have only one marriage in their llfetime and that divorce was taboo (Moses had said men could divorce their wives by giving them a divorce document in writing) – quite some changes here too.

          And for those who really paid at least some attention, he clarified and changed the meaning of numerous other Old Testament dictates during his ministry.

          And one thing everyone seems to overlook, is that in about 3 years of preaching, Jesus never once mentioned that being gay is a sin; even when he had many convenient opportunities to do so; like when he was making it clear that just lusting after a woman is akin to adultery and that divorce is a no no; and when he was pointing out a number of other human weaknesses that we need to avoid making. Clearly, Jesus wasn’t one to not take an opportunity that he was given to make a point that he felt was really necessary to make.

  • ps0rjl

    Dear God,
    Please save me from these so called Christian right wing wack-a-doodles, who because of their money think they know what God wants all of us to do.

    • Blueberry Hill

      This is nothing but a stunt to control people. Just like the once Supreme Court with Hobby Lobby. We need to fight this and fight it hard. The Tbags are the worst thing to have come along in some time, and out to take away our rights and destroy us and our government. Time to get rid of them in every way we can, beginning with our votes. Get them out of any power. Our livelihood depends on it, and get off all duffs and get out to VOTE!


    • johninPCFL

      These are the “intellectual children” of those who preached that Jews in Europe were the cause of the plague. Thousands of innocents were burned at the stake because God was mad at mankind.
      Intense ignorance lives on through the generations.

  • Joseph White

    (Sighs and facepalms.)

  • jakenhyde

    “start teaching our kids at a younger age” Isn’t that supposed to be done at home? Translated, that means they want to start brainwashing youngsters into believing the crap and fairy tales that are written in the bible….teach kids to hate themselves if they’re gay, and to hate gays if the kids happen not to be gay.
    If they want bibles in school, why not the koran, etc? Their true color shows when that subject comes up.
    If they happen to actually read the bible, they will find that being wealthy will exclude them from getting into their perceived heaven.

  • Gary Graves

    Money and false religion, they go hand in hand, like the 5 board of directors of Hobby Loby thier rights preceed thousand of their employes.

  • Mark Forsyth

    No doubt these jerks will soon be candidates in the regular Friday Nat.Memo article: This Week In Crazy. They’ve got nothing new,just the same old convoluted logic stirred into the brew of low I Q fundamentalism and reasoning abilities of Neanderthals.They are not capable of coming up with an original,positive idea because they are so heavily invested in a literal interpretation of the antiquated old testicle oops,I mean testament.The corner stone of their belief system is invariably Leviticus and they never will make any more sense than tits on a bull.Praise The Lord and Send Me The Money.They are only trying to paint something that is rusted and busted.

    • Suralin

      Comparing these hyper-fundamentalists’ reasoning ability to that of Neanderthals is a grave insult to Neanderthals.

      • Mark Forsyth

        I would have bet that someone would say that.I guess you’re right though.At least Neanderthals were not “willfully” ignorant.

  • Doug

    It’s a bit scary, the more you listen, the more they sound like post war Germany.

    • Allan Richardson

      Don’t you mean PREWAR and WARTIME Germany? After the war, the Western allies “denazified” West Germany, and the Soviets in their own way “denazified” East Germany as they “Stalinized” it. In today’s Germany, Nazi propaganda is illegal (imagine our First Amendment with that ONE exception).

  • 503me

    The americann Taliban exists in our country, made legal by the supreme court and fundedby the uber rich

  • jmprint

    I don’t see the their religion and muslim religion being any different.

  • socrates2

    To paraphrase something I read back in the 60’s, “Truth is so strong it stands alone. Lies are so weak they need 100’s of millions of dollars to support them…”
    Be well.