Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson to speak at conservative summit in Atlanta

Family Research Council has sparked controversy over its stand on social issues
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, right, and Pennsylvania Republican candidate for Senate David McCormick attend the Wallenpaupack Sportsman’s Association’s annual ice fishing party. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, right, and Pennsylvania Republican candidate for Senate David McCormick attend the Wallenpaupack Sportsman’s Association’s annual ice fishing party. (Tom Gralish/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Political commentator and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-President Donald Trump cabinet member Ben Carson are scheduled to join a slate of conservative leaders in Atlanta during the “Pray Vote Stand for Life Summit” later this month.

As many as 2,000 people are expected to attend the three-day summit, which is sponsored by the right-wing Christian advocacy group, Family Research Council, and its legislative arm, Family Research Council Action. It will be held at First Baptist Atlanta from Sept. 14 through Sept. 16.

The Washington, D.C.-based FRC has lobbied and taken strong stands against issues such as abortion and LGBTQ rights, such as same sex marriage and gender-affirming surgery.

Speakers will address such issues as voting, education, abortion and religious freedom

President Biden is talking about the battle for the soul of America and there is (a battle),” said Brent Keilen, vice president of FCA Action. “There is a battle for the souls of our kids and students. A lot of parents are fired up about what is going on in the nation. “

In addition to Huckabee and Carson, scheduled speakers include Gov. Brian Kemp; Melissa Ohden, founder, Abortion Survivors Network; Anne Graham Lotz, founder, AnGeL Ministries and a daughter of the late evangelist Billy Graham; and Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor, Free Chapel, Gainesville, Ga.

Founded in 1983, the FRC is a non-profit think tank that describes its mission as informing people “about family issues that affect the nation from a biblical worldview,” according to its website.

The Rev. Anthony George, senior pastor of First Baptist Atlanta, said the church is allowing the organizers to use the building, but it did not have an input in the programming.

“It will just be a time for educating Christians on issues that are important for values-based voters,” he wrote in an email.

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For several years FRC has been on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate watch for its anti-LGBTQ ideology.

The Family Research Council “has consistently demonstrated the use of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and dissemination of materials that target LGBTQ people, spread demeaning untruths, and defame LGBTQ people and their supporters,” Rachel Carroll Rivas, SPLC’s interim deputy director of research, Intelligence Project wrote in an email.

Bishop Thomas Lewis Brown Sr. presiding bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia and a founder of Faith Works, a voting rights group representing more than 1,000 Black congregations accused the Family Research Council of wanting to roll back gains made in the last senate and presidential elections.

“It shows we did something right in 2020. There is definitely a battle for the soul of America, but this is all wrapped up in religious language and sentiment,” he said. “This is a battle of over just what kind of America we want to be.”

He pointed out the group’s stand against abortion.

“They want to make sure that women are not free and the most basic right that anyone has is to decide what to do with her own body,” he said.

It’s no coincidence that the summit is being held in Atlanta.

Georgia is an important battleground state with two closely watched races between Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock and Herschel Walker, a Republican backed by former President Trump.

Warnock’s win in 2020 helped turn Georgia, a reliably red state to blue as Joe Biden won the state and the White House.

The state’s gubernatorial seat is also at stake in a contest between incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, the former secretary of state, and Stacey Abrams, who ran a close race in 2018.

FRC has come under scrutiny by House Democrats, who recently asked the IRS to review the tax-exempt status of the group, arguing that it may be using that designation to avoid financial scrutiny, according to a recent article in The Washington Post.

Democrats opposing the IRS designation, say the group’s tax status “strains credulity” because the group operates primarily as “a political advocacy organization,” according to the Post article.

In opinion piece in the Aug. 18 issue of Washington Times, a conservative daily newspaper, Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, described the group as a religious organization “with a published statement of faith that works with thousands of churches across the nation. So, we sought and obtained the classification as an association of churches...

“…This designation is not a legal dodge. We have relationships and partnerships with more than 40,000 churches of many denominations and traditions nationwide.”



Pray Vote Stand for Life

Sept. 14-16

Where: First Baptist Atlanta, 4400 North Peachtree Rd. Atlanta

Registration: 1-877-372-2808