A week ago Kim Davis’s lawyer, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, announced that she met privately with Pope Francis to thank her for her “courage” and encourage her to “stay strong.” The Vatican acknowledged that Pope Francis briefly met with her and others, but denied that he knew any specifics about her legal case or that he endorsed what she had done.
In assessing Mat Staver’s credibility, do you believe it would have been helpful to know that last year the Southern Poverty Law Center classified Liberty Counsel as a virulent homophobic hate group?
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,
Founded in 1989 and based in Orlando, Fla., the Liberty Counsel is well known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric. Mat Staver, the group’s president, co-founder and former dean at the Liberty University School of Law, has claimed that with full marriage equality, everyone will decide to be gay and society will “cease to exist.” (He also has linked homosexuality to rampant increases in disease, falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse.)
Human Rights Campaign has identified five examples of his hatred for LGBT:
1. Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said LGBT young people have “confusion” because of “the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser,” so they need to be cured by dangerous attempts to change their sexual orientation – a practice that has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country.
2. Liberty Counsel compared marriage equality to slavery and forced sterilization. Mat Staver said, “It’s shameful for the Supreme Court for what they have done to marriage as it has been shameful in the history of the court with regards to the Dred Scott decision or the Buck v. Bell decision, where they said that the state of Virginia can forcibly sterilize her because of this eugenics idea that they want to eliminate the undesirables of the world. That was the shameful day that we ultimately look back with shame upon and I think this is going to be one of those same kind of situations.”
3. Liberty Counsel has claimed that LGBT hate crimes protections are part of the “radical homosexual anarchist agenda.” Laws aimed at preventing anti-LGBT bias motivated crimes “trample the free exercise of religion,” according to Mat Staver. “Pedophiles find refuge in this so-called hate crimes bill, while veterans and grandmas are left to fend for themselves.”
4. Liberty Counsel calls a bill that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, “one of the most dangerous and discriminatory pieces of legislation in modern times.” According to them, prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee for being LGBT is actually forcing them to “abandon the biblical and traditional values” in order to protect “those who openly flaunt expressly sinful and demonstrably self-destructive sexual behavior.”
5. Liberty Counsel thinks being LGBT is not only a health hazard, but is also just like being a drug addict, which justifies legal discrimination. They actually said, “Laws that single out those who want to engage in a harmful behavior, like drug laws that discriminate against heroin users, are not unlawful discrimination but rather compassionate public policy.”
On the subject of lying, Media Matters reports,
Since Davis’ release from jail, Liberty Counsel has been embroiled in several PR controversies, almost exclusively attributable to Staver’s own incompetence. During the September 17 edition of Liberty Counsel’s Faith and Freedom broadcast, Staver claimed that the hosts of ABC’s The View had called for Kim Davis to be killed, a blatant falsehood he was later forced to apologize for.
A few weeks later, while speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit, Staver displayed a picture of what he claimed was a 100,000-person prayer rally in Lima, Peru for Davis. The photo was met with immediate suspicion from media commentators, who could find no evidence on social media that such a massive rally had taken place. After days of doubling down, attacking its critics, and revising its defense of the photo’s authenticity, Liberty Counsel was forced to admit that the image actually came from a completely unrelated event in 2014, calling the mix-up “an honest mistake.”
Mat Staver is a liar and the only way to deal with a liar is to assume that they are lying unless independent evidence confirms what they say.