A Refresher on Samuel Rodriguez
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 10:36:59 PM EST
We have written a great deal at Talk to Action about Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.  For a number of years he was sold to us (along with Rick Warren) as epitomizing a new, moderate, social justice oriented evangelicalism. Even liberals and Democrats were supposed to like him. The media puffed him as the most important Latino Christian leader in America.

But like all things that seem to be too good to be true, there were many problems. Even as he was celebrated by DC insiders as a bridge builder, he was, among other things, an overt religious supremacist and, his denials not withstanding, a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation, and the beneficiary of some very odd journalism.  Over the past year or so, I have written several times for Political Research Associates about Rev. Rodriguez, who continues to play an outsized and undeserved role in American public life.  Here are a few excerpts from those articles which taken together, may serve as something of a refresher about a man who remains prominent in public life.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: Not So Moderate   October 2, 2012   

"Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, executive director of the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) is regularly tapped by national media outlets like CNN and The New York Times as the leading voice of Latino evangelicals and has been treated accordingly by both major political parties.  From 2007 to 2009, he was a columnist for the Washington Post's On Faith section online, and he frequently appears on NPR's "Tell Me More." He is a member of the boards of some of the leading organizations of evangelicalism-Christianity Today magazine, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, and the National Association of Evangelicals.

But he is not nearly the evangelical moderate that he is presented as being.

The 42-year-old Puerto Rican evangelist often describes himself as a cross between Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. "with a little salsa tossed in." He describes Latino evangelicals the same way, with the same joke, and has for years. The humor takes the edge off of the grandiosity, but leaves little doubt about his sense of destiny for himself and the people he seeks to lead towards a distinctly conservative Christian America. He is, in fact, a leader of the Christian Right who says he is not. He is a partisan Republican who claims not to be. And he is conservative on just about everything but immigration policy." [although I later learned, he was more conservative on immigration than met the eye as well.]

"Bipartisan" Evangelical Rev. Rodriguez Conservative Even on Immigration  February 25, 2013   

"Great value is placed on being bipartisan in Washington, D.C., today.  Or, at least, appearing bipartisan.  That may be part of the secret of the remarkable success of Christian Right leader Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), who manages to appear bipartisan without actually being bipartisan. Rodriguez claims he supports the "agenda of the Lamb" (a biblical metaphor for Jesus) rather than the Democratic donkey or the Republican elephant, a self-portrayal the media eats up, but... "

It turned out that Rodriguez was working behind the scenes to help with Republican Senators to craft a conservative alternative to immigration reform.  This should come as no surprise, since he is unambiguously in and of the Christian Right.

 

"This is not an issue of equality," Rodriguez said regarding marriage equality on a radio show in May 2012. "There is an attempt to silence the voice of Christianity, there is an attempt to silence the voice of truth, of righteousness and Biblical justice.

Although the Lamb's Agenda is supposed to require both bars of the Cross, Rodriguez said, "We must vote vertical. We must look at our legislators and those that represent us on Capitol Hill and say, "religious liberty, the family, biblical marriage and life, must stand protected."

As off message as it sounds for those who view him as a bridge builder, his real views should come as no surprise. Rodriguez is a frequent headliner at Christian Right political conferences. He was featured, for example, at regional election year conferences hosted by veteran Christian Right televangelist James Robison in the summer of 2012. At the Dallas conference, which drew some 7,000 participants, Rodriguez declared, "The 21st century stands poised to experience the greatest transformative Christian movement in our history." He denounced such demonic spirits as Jezebel, which he says push people into "sexual perversion" and the spirit of Herod, which he says is responsible for abortion. "This movement will affirm biblical orthodoxy," he declared. "It will reform the culture. It will transform our political discourse. I am convinced God is not done with America and America is not done with God."

He revealed his true colors in a post 2012 election interview.

Throughout an interview with other conservative evangelical leaders on the Christian radio program BreakPoint on November 8th, Rodriguez unambiguously spoke of "we" when referring to conservative, Christian, Republicanism.

"I am a staunchly prolife, pro-marriage, limited government person," he declared while discussing how many ethnic Americans supported president Obama because he was the first African American president. But Rodriguez assured us that soon the "anomaly" of his presidency will be over. What's more, he insisted that circumstances could change to the point where "[i]f the Republican conservative movement can rebrand itself to be a party of justice and freedom, then we can make significant inroads in ethnic communities and the next generation." Later in the interview he suggested that if that happens, "we are going to see a fresh Christian conservative movement in America.

Updating the Image of Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry  March 13, 2014   

"The most recent "softer-language" campaign to launch from the Right is the Imago Dei Campaign, organized by a group of Christian Right leaders and Hollywood allies. The group, whose name translates from Latin to "image of God," is seeking to alter its leaders' well-established reputation as promoters of anti-LGBTQ bigotry and discriminatory legislation."

"Jim Daly [one of 6 Imago Dei directors and head of Focus on the Family] has told reporters that the Campaign is seeking to avoid framing its message in warlike terms, such as in the "culture war" framing. But Daly's  remarks notwithstanding, there is little indication they are moderating their war of aggression on the civil and human rights of others. Indeed, the Campaign acknowledges that it has not changed its opposition to marriage equality or the idea that homosexuality is a sin. What's more, the recent initiatives of Citizen Link--the national political arm of Jim Daly's Focus on the Family--and its state political affiliates demonstrate that the changes in language may be superficial and are intended to distract from or take the edge off of their recent effort to legalize anti-LGBTQ discrimination for reasons of "sincerely held religious belief."

Sarah Posner, writing at Al Jazeera America, noted that Citizen Link affiliates in Arizona, Idaho, and Kansas have been centrally involved in the development and promotion of similar bills. As I reported in The Public Eye magazine last year, these groups are  part of a well-coordinated national network of state "family policy councils" that have promoted anti-LGBTQ legislation and ballot initiatives--particularly against marriage equality and non-discrimination laws--since their formation in 1988. Daly would have us focus on his softer words and tone, turning a blind eye towards the horrific legislation he and his religious and political empire are promoting."




Display:
An inversion of the admonition to the Spreaders of the Word these days. Go stealth. They are operating from the standpoint of they are absolved from all sins they will do in order to bring their Christian Utopia to the most powerful and dangerous country on Earth. A sobering prospect.

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