The Republican Party is Moving in a Direction That is Incompatible With Religious Freedom: Tony Perkins
The following is a partial transcript of Todd’s interview with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Perkins, one of the nation’s leading evangelical leaders, has grave concerns about the direction of the Republican National Committee. He’s calling for Republicans to stop sending money to the RNC and he’s also calling for the ouster of RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel.
TONY: [00:23:08] Not sure what’s happening other than the leadership of the RNC, I think is moving the party in a direction that is incompatible with religious freedom and many of the things that we see parents fighting for across the country. Now, look, I’ve been very clear. I mean, you’re in this category with me. We love all people, but we don’t love all ideas. Not all ideas are equal. And so, you know, we’ve affiliated with a party and I’ve been a part of writing their party’s platform for the last three cycles. That is very clear about religious freedom. It’s very clear about marriage, human sexuality. There are those now that want to change that. And as you move to be quote unquote inclusive with those that have radical ideas on human sexuality, which are hostile to religious freedom, the Republican Party becomes just Democrat-lite. And that’s what I’m concerned about.
TODD: [00:25:41] was I was actually speaking to some folks, you know, within the Log Cabin movement and they contend that at the end of the day that people like you and, you know, Christian conservatives are not going anywhere no matter even if the Republican Party embraces all of this jettisons issues on marriage and things like that, strictly because of the pro-life, you know, platform. Is that true? Do you think that the Republicans are going to or the Christian conservatives are going to stay no matter what?
TONY: [00:26:11] You know, Todd, I heard I’ve heard that many times I’ve been in politics, you know, in this arena for 25 years. I heard that during the Romney presidential campaign, I heard it during the McCain presidential campaign that your folks aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be here. Well, guess what? What happens is it comes down to an issue of intensity. And this is one of the things that Donald Trump understood is that our elections today in America are, I mean, we’re I hate to say it, but we’re polarized. We’re we’re divided down the middle. And it’s when you identify with the policies. And evangelical voters are not tied to personalities. They’re tied to policies, especially the what George Barna calls SAGE Conservatives – spiritually active governance engaged conservatives. They’re motivated by policies. That’s why Donald Trump had such enduring support from conservatives was his policies, wasn’t his personality, wasn’t his tweets, it was his policies. So to the degree that a candidate separates himself from those policy, he separates himself from voters. So that is blatantly untrue what they’re saying, Todd.
TODD: [00:28:46] Where does all of this go, Tony? Because without without Christian conservatives, Republicans cannot win election. You’re right.
TONY: [00:28:54] You’re right. And I should point out there was just a poll that was released, I think yesterday or today a Harris poll, which is not a conservative entity by any means that shows that 62 percent of Americans say a person’s sex cannot be changed. That’s a significant move about a 20 point movement from last year. This issue is shifting as more people have time to think through it and see the ramifications in terms of the policies in our schools. Here’s where I think this goes. If the Republicans get this wrong, they become a Democrat Lite party, and I think they begin to lose immensely because when you look at the fact that Republicans disproportionately get their support. Support from social conservatives, they have to be mindful of that, and they have to continue to advance a values platform that is consistent with the traditional values that made America great.
TODD: [00:29:51] Well, you know, our good friend, you know, Ralph Reed registered more voters than the entire RNC did in the last election cycle.
TONY: [00:29:59] That’s another issue is that the RNC is really not as effective as it was like when Reince Priebus was the chairman. And so not only is there a turnout mechanism, which is what they’re supposed to be doing failing, but they’re now embracing this agenda that is hostile to a large portion of their constituency. And one thing I’ve told people, Todd, is do not send your money to the RNC if you want to support candidates, support them directly or through PACs of organizations like ours that vet these candidates to make sure that they’re consistent with the values that you embrace.
TODD: [00:30:33] Were you guys alerted? Were you all brought to the table? Said, Hey, heads up, we’re going to be doing this. We’re moving down this path.
TONY: [00:30:40] No, and in fact, not even the RNC membership was. I’ve been talking to some people about this, and there’s a lot of RNC members in leadership positions that are upset about this because they were not told this was something that Ronna did on her own. Quite frankly, I think it’s time for her to to take up something else and leave the party to those who I think can chart a path forward to restore what has been lost and make sure that the Republicans, the Conservatives regain the majority both in Congress and continue to see victories and gains in states across the nation.
TODD: 00:31:19] So she needs to step down – Is what you’re saying…
TONY: I think she needs to step down. I think she she has outlived her purpose at the RNC.
TODD: [00:31:26] All right. Well, Tony, we appreciate your great leadership on those big issues of the day. And it is and I appreciate you saying what you said because this is not about hating anybody. This is not about, you know, shoving anybody outside. You know, Reagan always called for a big tent party, but the party has to be able to stand for something.
TONY: [00:31:47] You’re right, the party has charted a path forward. It has stated its principles that it stands for. And if you can agree with those principles or the vast majority of them, welcome to the party. But we can’t change the party to accommodate a minority that, quite frankly, most of them do not even want to be in the party. They want to change the party into something that it has never been. And again, I just have to underscore this, Todd. That ideology ultimately works its way out in policy. And if we want a strong party that’s going to advance conservative values and principles. We’ve got to stick with those solid values.
TODD: [00:32:28] All right, Tony, we got to leave it there. Always good hearing from you, sir, and appreciate the great work that y’all are doing at Family Research Council.
TONY: [00:32:35] Thank you. Todd, always good to be with you.
TODD: [00:32:37] All right, folks. There is the other breaking news nugget of that conversation. Tony Perkins, who an argument could be made, is the most powerful leader in Christian Conservative in the Christian Conservative world in Washington, D.C., calling for Ronna McDaniel to step aside as chairperson of the RNC. That will certainly have it will have a ripple effect. So we will see how that news plays out here. We’re going to be posting that story up a little bit later on in the show here. But again, the breaking news Tony Perkins on the Todd Starnes radio program now calling for Ronna McDaniel to step aside. There are concerns that Christian conservatives are being shoved aside within the party, and that is a big problem. We’ve got to get it together. There’s got to be a way for everybody to work together here. But you’re not going to be able to work together if you’re shoving the Christian conservatives out of the way. All right. Got to take a break here.