During the Values Voter Summit in October, evangelical Christian leader Tony Perkins giddily touted the Christian nationalist infiltration of the Trump administration.
"Personnel is policy," said Perkins, quoting the late conservative Christian political activist Paul Weyrich. "And that's what makes the difference in this administration: We're not on the outside looking in. We're on the inside working out."
That's how Perkins, president of Summit sponsor the Family Research Council (FRC], introduced Alex Azar, the secretary of President Donald Trump's U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has launched numerous attacks on women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and others in the past three years. Perkins also applauded HHS officials Roger Severino (formerly of the conservative Christian legal group Becket) and Shannon Royce (formerly an FRC employee) who were in the audience and have helped shape the department's agenda of misusing religious freedom to justify discrimination.
"We have Value Voters in the White House," Perkins said, noting that he had just returned from a White House meeting with Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
On night two of the Values Voter Summit, as he introduced Trump as the speaker of the event's closing banquet, Perkins continued name-dropping allies in the administration: Vice President Mike Pence; Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And of course there was Perkins himself, who parlayed membership on Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board to an appointment as Trump's commissioner on international religious freedom.
Perkins and the Values Voter Summit crowd spent the weekend celebrating the inroads they've made at redefining religious freedom as the right to impose their narrow set of religious views not just on fellow Americans, but on people around the world.
Attendees arriving at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., were given a three-page FRC handout misleadingly titled "Trump Administration's Accomplishments on Life, Family, and Religious Liberty." The document outlined how Trump and his appointees have "taken significant action on issues of concern to social conservatives," including:
* HHS policies like the Denial of Care Rule, which invites all health care workers to cite religious beliefs to deny care to any patient; the rules allowing employers and universities to cite religious beliefs to deny...