New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn is touring Israel with this week with other members of the Republican National Committee courtesy of two evangelical groups that have come under fire for controversial language directed at gays, Mormons and Muslims.
Sponsoring the trip, reportedly for about 60 RNC members, is the American Family Association and the American Renewal Project. Politico reported today that about a week ago, officials at the Anti-Defamation League privately reached out to the RNC saying it would be “inappropriate” for RNC members to travel to Israel with members of those groups because they are known for “incendiary and bigoted” language.
But Horn’s participation is not an endorsement of the groups’ controversial stands, the state GOP said.
Elissa Voccola, the NHGOP’s new executive director, confirmed today that Horn is on the trip and issued this statement to the New Hampshire Journal:
“Chairman Horn does not agree with or condone comments made by some individuals associated with AFA and the American Renewal Project. However, this trip is an opportunity for participants to advance their understanding of U.S.-Israel relations. Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, and Republicans believe that we must do everything possible to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations.”
The trip comes at a time when relations between the Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are at an all-time low, with the administration unhappy that Netanyahu accepted House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to speak to the U.S. House without informing the White House. However, the invitations for the trip were sent out by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus more than two months ago, on Nov. 21, before the current controversy arose.
In an email to RNC members, first reported by Time, Priebus wrote, “As previously announced, the RNC Members have been invited in their personal capacity, to participate on a trip to Israel in early 2015. This incredible opportunity is made possible through the generosity of David Lane’s American Renewal Project and the American Family Association. The trip to Israel will take place January 31 – February 8, 2015.
“For RNC Members, the trip includes economy class roundtrip airfare from JFK International Airport to Israel, all meals, accommodations (based on double occupancy per room), tours, and admissions to museums and historic sites. RNC members are permitted to bring their spouse or a guest; however the spouse/guest will have to pay their way entirely including all airfare, hotels and meals.”
Priebus also wrote, “Please note that although this is a trip for RNC Members and guests, this trip is not an RNC event.”
David Lane is listed in the “extremist files” of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights group that has engaged in legal battles against white supremacist and other groups it classifies as “hate groups.” The Center has also labeled the AFA a “hate group.”
According to Politico and the Huffington Post, Lane has written of the importance of “juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false God of Mormonism” and has written extensively against homosexuality, including a 2013 article that includes, “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and — more so — is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.”
As Politico noted, Lane has also written: “As to the future of America – and the collapse of this once-Christian nation – Christians must not only be allowed to have opinions, but politically, Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America and quit believing the fabricated whopper of the ‘Separation of Church and State,’ the lie repeated ad nauseum by the left and liberals to keep Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.”
Lane has also had ties to several potential presidential candidates, Politico reported:.
“Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul traveled to Israel with Lane in 2013 on a trip sponsored by the AFA. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee traveled in Europe with Lane in November, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz attended a Lane event in Iowa in 2013. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have organized prayer rallies in conjunction with the AFA.”
Bryan Fisher was reportedly fired as the AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis last week after following reports on the trip by left-leaning MSNBC. He remains on the air on an AFA-affiliated radio program.
He has compared LGBT rights to the Nazi Party, according to Politico, saying in 2011, “They are Nazis. Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They’ll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany.”
Horn is the only New Hampshire RNC member on the trip. State RNC members Steve Duprey and Juliana Bergeron confirmed they are not on the trip.