He Plays A 'Moderate' Minister On TV - But He's Far From It

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez takes great pains to pass himself off as sharing progressive values -- while working to push a right-wing agenda that includes fighting gay marriage, Islamophobia, and pushing for immigration reform as a bulwark against Islam. Yet he's frequently featured in the mainstream media as a voice of moderation. (Since when is dominionism "moderate"?)

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."

This September, Rodriguez is slated to be a featured speaker at a capstone political event called "America for Jesus" that will be broadcast and live-streamed nationally from Philadelphia outside Independence Hall. Ostensibly a prayer rally, it is part of a 30-year tradition of similar election season events. Another featured speaker is Lou Engle of The Call, who came to mainstream attention in the documentary Jesus Camp and played a catalytic role in passing the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 in California. At a pre-election stadium rally he hosted in San Diego, Engle and others called for Christian martyrs to stop marriage equality and abortion.

Philadelphia’s America for Jesus event is the latest in a series beginning in the 1980s, which brought hundreds of thousands to the Mall for the event "Washington for Jesus" in the run-up to the 1980 and 1988 elections.18 Televangelist Pat Robertson recalled in a promotional segment for America for Jesus on his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) that the late Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ believed that Ronald Reagan was elected president because of Washington for Jesus in 1980.19

Although Rodriguez tries not to flaunt it, he cannot hide the fact that he is a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a movement that is transforming historic Pentecostalism and is playing an outsized role in American politics by building networks that span across denominations and churches. For example, many NAR leaders, including Rodriguez, helped organize and attended a prayer rally to help launch Texas Governor Rick Perry's, unsuccessful campaign for president in 2011 which drew 30,000 people.

It's very lengthy, but if you know anything about the right-wing fundamentalist movement, you'll get some idea of how a "nonpartisan" religious leader somehow always ends up on the side of extremist Republicans.

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