Why is Liberty Counsel claiming Kim Davis is an international superstar?

At last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the Family Research Council made Kim Davis the poster child of martyrdom, giving her their Cost of Discipleship award. In introducing her, FRC president Tony Perkins made quite a big deal out of the True Fact that Kim Davis’s stand against gays in the name of God was so powerful that it led to a groundswell of support around the world.

Want proof? Just look at this massive prayer rally in Peru:

The picture in the video was circulated by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber a day earlier:

That’s right: Peruvian Christians heart Kim Davis and other persecuted American Christians so much that 100,000 people in Lima (population: just over 8 million) turned out to pray for her in a massive soccer stadium.

Or not.

It didn’t take too long for the claim to unravel. Thanks to work from Twitter user @DCHomos and ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford, the picture was identified as being from a prayer rally held in May 2014 by the pentecostal Movimiento Misionero Mundial (Worldwide Missionary Movement):

One would think that this is the part in the story where Liberty Counsel admits their mistake, apologizes and moves on. One would be wrong. In response to Ford’s post, Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber spent the better part of yesterday insisting that the photo was real, and that Peruvians really were cuckoo for Kim Davis.

As he wrote in a now-deleted press release (screenshotted for posterity here and quoted on Matt Barber’s website here):

Julio Rosas, a member of the Peruvian Congress, met personally with Mat Staver and Kim Davis the day prior to the award, explained the prayer meeting, and presented the photograph. Congressman Rosas was involved in announcing the prayer gathering. This past Saturday Congressman Rosas again confirmed the event, and this morning he again reaffirmed the prayer meeting.

While meetings of 70,000 to 100,000 Christians in a soccer stadium may shock people in the United States, they are much more common in Peru. Oftentimes such gatherings do not appear on traditional media any more than the weekly church services in the United States appear on television.

Not only did people gather to pray in Peru on September 13, but Liberty Counsel has received reports of churches in other parts of the world gathering to pray for Kim Davis.

Later yesterday evening, faced with the original picture from the 2014 MMM rally, Barber was forced to back off these claims (slightly) and apologize.

Which leads one to ask the somewhat rhetorical question of why Liberty Counsel felt the need to lie about Kim Davis’s international acclaim in the first place.

The first reason is obvious: money. Liberty Counsel has been taking Kim Davis, and the rest of the religious right, for a massive ride. Their defense of her has much more to do with their public profile than it does with minimizing their client’s legal damage (a strategy of theirs that is far from unique to Kim Davis’s case). If they can convince whoever will listen that their client has become an international symbol of conscientious objection in the name of Christ, they’re all but guaranteed to represent the next minister of God public official who insists on breaking the law. They’ll lose all of their cases, but that will only feed the persecution complex that their soon-to-be clients hold.

Second, that persecution complex. Kim Davis’s entire rationale for why she she should have the privilege of ignoring the laws she is sworn to uphold while Muslims in her position shouldn’t is because Christianity is special. Or, rather, because when the Founders said “religious freedom,” what they meant was the freedom to practice Christianity in any way you see fit. Other beliefs, especially a lack of religious belief, come secondary. The religious right in America are making every attempt to cling to this privilege, and a great way to do that is to convince yourselves that your privilege isn’t a privilege at all. Instead, they see it as a right that’s being taken away unjustly, constituting a relegation to second-class citizenship that must be undone at all costs.

But even if that were the case — even if Christians really were being persecuted as second-class citizens in America — the idea of over a hundred thousand people in a foreign country filling a soccer stadium for one particular Christian is still all kinds of unbelievable. Seriously, why did Liberty Counsel expect even their own audience to take that claim at face value?

In order to fill that credulity gap, one must take stock of the religious right’s anglocentrism. While American Christians are certainly not ignorant of Christian persecution abroad (which is a very real thing in countries where Christians are a religious minority), you don’t see Americans holding rallies with six-figure attendance over the actual crimes being committed against their fellow faithful around the world. They’ll donate a lot of money to prevent more believers from being executed by the Islamic State, but you don’t see them renting out the Georgia Dome to hold a rally in the name of those who already have been.

On the flip side, it appears to be entirely believable for those who attended the Values Voter Summit that Kim Davis is so special, that her cause is so pure and godly, that it inspired a soccer stadium full of Peruvians to rise up for this one American Christian who turned a mild annoyance into a stint in jail. This kind of activism in the name of one foreign compadre over this minor of a grievance wouldn’t cross the mind of an American Christian, yet it was obvious to the attendees at the Values Voter Summit that they could expect this kind of support in their name from abroad.

That’s a particularly American arrogance that deserves to be called out as forcefully as the lie it spawned.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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15 Responses to “Why is Liberty Counsel claiming Kim Davis is an international superstar?”

  1. A2er says:

    Because lying is OK with conservatives and no self respecting conservative will fact check (nor will the media any more) so there are no negative consequences. All upside and it gets the rabble all excited.

  2. 2karmanot says:

    Lying or malignant fantasy is certainly an operative tool. Gawd only knows the Mormon’s have perfected that one with their absurd mumbo jumbo. Catholics are even more adept at it. Consider nearly a billion brainwashed faithful believe in Virgin Birth, ritualized actual cannibalism and the horrors of a conscious ever lasting fiery hell. I think however, it’s much deeper in the psyche than mere lying, the first and rational premise is that belief and subsequent actions revolving around an imaginary supreme being is mental illness, which makes these cracked-pot Christians dangerous. There is a similarity between ISIS bombers and the Christian terrorists that bomb medical clinics and murder doctors. The anarchy these criminals are rapidly advancing is a clear and present danger to a healthy democracy.

  3. rmthunter says:

    In the case of Kim Davis at least in part it’s because she and her “cause” don’t have much support at home. Most people in the US think she should just get over herself and do her job or resign.

  4. AKRNC says:

    They lie because they know their base is too ignorant to research for themselves so they say whatever they want; the more outrageous, the more credible to them.

  5. Joey Grimmett says:

    What a hoot!

  6. ComradeRutherford says:

    “why Liberty Counsel felt the need to lie about Kim Davis’s international acclaim in the first place.”

    Because lying is all the Far Right Christians have. They can not tell the truth, ever, they would lose everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

    Good thing their God like liars, if their religion had some kind of prohibition against lying, they’d be in big trouble with their god.

  7. The_Fixer says:

    I think anybody being surprised that these miscreants are lying certainly has not been paying attention.

    This is the bunch that fakes faith healings, fakes hearing the voice of god and fakes a smile just as naturally as a dog licks his hind end.

    In the end, they did it because they thought that they could get away with it. Which is exceedingly stupid in this day and age, with a world of eyeballs – all connected to the Internet – looking on.

  8. nicho says:

    The human brain

  9. BeccaM says:

    They lie. They lie about everything, because objective truth and verifiable facts do not suit (or support) their radical wingnut agenda. That’s why.

    They lie about the popularity of their radical positions. They lie about their motives and goals. They lie about everything, because they truly believe “Lying for Jesus” is perfectly okay, despite there being no theological, moral, or ethical justification for this belief.

  10. MikeOsborne says:

    Lies are the favorite tool in the Christian toolbox.

  11. Indigo says:

    That too.

  12. Indigo says:

    Liberty Counsel is headquartered right here in O-ville, home of the Mouse, just up the road from DisneyWhirld. It’s all hype. The Mouse is down-to-earth compared to some of the local spin artists who draw inspiration from the fairy tales and, as far as I can see, just make stuff up for their audience. It’s just fables and fairy tales for the Holy Guillable Flock. There’s even a bible-based theme park here, the Holy Land Experience, for the genuinely brain-fogged.

    Why? Because they can get away with it, that’s why. Trinity Broadcasting Network. Liberty Counsel. They work hand in hand. It’s all show-biz.

  13. nicho says:

    What? Christians lied? (clutches pearls, heads toward fainting couch) Quick, hand me my salts. I think I’m going to faint.

  14. LanceThruster says:

    Why…cuz they’re liars…?

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