The highly influential Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC – which has featured presidential candidates and conservative leaders going back to Ronald Reagan – has barred a traditional-family advocacy group from sponsoring the upcoming conference and hosting an exhibit, because its “tone” toward culture-war adversaries “crosses a line.”
CPAC approved the application of Massachusetts-based MassResistance on Jan. 29 to have an exhibit at the event, which begins next Wednesday. But last week, Dan Schneider, the executive director of CPAC’s organizer, the American Conservative Union, told the group the decision had been reversed. Schneider cited a video that surfaced with remarks by MassResistance President Brian Camenker in a panel discussion at a conference in Salt Lake City in November 2015 called Stand4Truth.
One of the panelists, Michael Brown, a WND columnist, said defenders of traditional values should treat adversaries “respectfully,” “speaking the truth in love.”
Camenker interjected that he respectfully disagreed.
“I think there’s a place for being insulting and degrading, and I think I can back that up by Scripture,” the MassResistance founder said. “I think we have to look at this as a war, not as a church service.”
Moderator Sandy Rios – the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director, the president of the conservative political action group Culture Campaign, a Fox News Channel contributor and a talk radio host – agreed with Camenker, saying evangelicals “have gotten a little bit soft and not understood warfare.”
MassResistance posted a statement on its website saying CPAC reversed the approval of the application “because of our Biblical approach to fighting the ‘culture war.'”
The pro-family group, which specializes in spotlighting promotion of the homosexual-rights agenda in public schools, said it’s “become very clear to us that CPAC does not want to offend their pro-LGBT constituency by allowing a group that insists we’re in a serious ‘culture war’ (rather than a ‘political disagreement’) against those efforts to radically re-order society.”
The group noted that for the past three years the homosexual group Log Cabin Republicans has been a sponsor and exhibitor at CPAC. Prior to that, a homosexual group called GOProud was an official CPAC exhibitor in 2009 and 2010, drawing protest from some conservative groups.
In an interview Wednesday with WND, CPAC’s Schneider emphasized that the conference’s organizer, the American Conservative Union, “is a longtime organization founded on a proposition that traditional values are what hold a society together.”
“We have not changed. That is our point of view,” he said.
“On basic policy toward marriage, we believe in traditional marriage,” he said. “But we do not use derogatory or insulting language toward people or organizations who have a different point of view.”
Schneider said MassResistance “is trying to deflect the issue,” which is “that their language, their tone crosses the line.”
“If someone were to use that kind of language or that kind of tone toward a Christian or a black person or toward a white person, I would not allow organization to sponsor CPAC either,” he said.
The CPAC director said the policy applies to speakers as well.
“Anybody who would use that kind of language toward people who are of a particular faith, or color, or who are gay, we would not allow that person to speak at CPAC,” he said.
Last year, CPAC disinvited then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, an openly gay libertarian, over video clips that surfaced of him allegedly defending pedophilia.
MassResistance charged that CPAC “goes to great lengths to present itself to the mainstream media as the gathering place for conservatism in America,” but “that is very deceiving.”
“Similar to the direction of the GOP establishment, in recent years CPAC has become more libertarian-oriented and pro-LGBT – and hardly any pro-family groups have had exhibits or been sponsors. This seems to mesh with the attendees: approximately half are 18-24, and clearly products of modern culture,” MassResistance said.
Schneider explained to WND that CPAC was “established to be a unifying organization, so we try to have as many right-of-center groups as possible, but the still have to meet our eligibility requirements.”
“We see it as our mission to help people understand what conservatism is and to get more and more people to agree with us. So we want to be talking to people and winning them over,” he said.
Before being approved for participation, MassResistance representatives said they were provided by Schneider with four criteria:
- The applicant organization must stand for at least one conservative/right-of-center proposition
- The applicant organization must not exist primarily for a liberal purpose
- The applicant organization must be legitimate (no overnight pop-ups, no funding by shadowy entities, staff and officers must be philosophically right of center)
- The applicant organization cannot be disrespectful of either ACU or CPAC
MassResistance said it was hard to believe that the Log Cabin Republicans would pass criteria No. 2, “since they clearly exist to homosexualize the Republican Party and push the LGBT agenda in government and society.”
Schneider told WND that CPAC differs with Log Cabin Republicans on traditional marriage but aligns with the group on issues such as protecting Second Amendment rights and opposing the climate-change agenda.
MassResistance also noted Log Cabin Republicans placed an ad in USA Today in 2016 denouncing the GOP platform committee at the Republican National Convention for supporting traditional marriage.
The ad features, in large font, the insults “Losers! Morons! Sad!” It goes on to explain that these aren’t Donald Trump tweets, it’s what “common-sense conservatives are saying about the most anti-LGBT platform the Republican Party has ever had.”
When WND referred Schneider to the USA Today ad, he said it was the first time he had seen it.
He emphasized that the American Conservative Union “continues to stand for the proposition that marriage should be between one man and one woman” and supports policies that uphold that idea.
“We believe that history has demonstrated what a stable family requires and that stable families are the basis of a strong society,” Schneider said. “But that does not mean that we are going to prevent those on the right who have a different opinion from participating in CPAC.”