This week Policy Watch published a story delving into the connections between Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and right-wing religious group the American Renewal Project.
The group rejects the separation between church and state -particularly in public schools – condemns LGBTQ people and Muslims and regularly uses religious war rhetoric while portraying Christians as marginalized and oppressed in America. Robinson, Cawthorn and Walker attended one of the group’s events in Asheville this week. Robinson is scheduled to headline more events for the group through the end of the year.
Since the story was published, Robinson – the state’s highest-ranking Republican elected official – has found himself at the center of yet another controversy over anti-LGBTQ remarks.
This week the group Right Wing Watch posted to Twitter a video of Robinson speaking at Seagrove church in June. In the speech he railed against public schools and LGBTQ people in the sort of language that has been common throughout his time in office. But this video, like the 2018 clip of a public speech on gun rights that took him from political obscurity to high public office, went viral online.
“There’s no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling children about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson said in the video clip of his church speech. “Yes, I called it filth.”
The comments have led to calls for his resignation from prominent Democrats and condemnation from the White House.
“These words are repugnant and offensive,” said Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, in a statement Friday. “The role of a leader is to bring people together and stand up for the dignity and rights of everyone; not to spread hate and undermine their own office.”
Robinson is defending the remarks in interviews and statements. On Friday night, he used the controversy in a fund-raising e-mail in which he asked supporters to help him “continue the fight against the left.”
The letter, in its entirety:
Democrats and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) are calling on me to resign from my position because I am taking a stand against the sexualization of our children in public schools.Let me be clear: I. WILL. NOT.I will not resign, and I will not stop the fight. The left is attacking me because I scare them. I’m a black man who grew up poor and am a Christian Conservative. I am the first black Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina who stands on conservative values.I am a fighter who doesn’t cower to the left, and because of that they hate me. They attack me, they call me names. WRAL even went so far as to depict me (A member of the State School Board) as a member of the KKK!These calls of resignation are intended to bully me into silence. It will not work.I will continue to fight for the children of our state, and for the rights of parents to decide when and how sexual content is discussed with their kids.I am not a politician, and I hope that I am never seen as one. I am a Patriot, and I need other Patriots to stand with me.I am calling on 1,000 Patriots to show their support by donating $5, $10, $25, $50, or more so that we can continue the fight against the left. Together, we will push back against the radical left and their tactics of intimidation.STAND WITH MEMark RobinsonLieutenant Governor of North Carolina
Robinson has still not responded to Policy Watch’s questions about his association with the American Renewal Project, his views on LGBTQ people or his recent remarks.But we did hear from Walker Friday afternoon. The former congressman and current U.S. Senate candidate said Policy Watch’s story didn’t give a nuanced view of his politics or his support from across the political spectrum. He also took exception to the story’s characterization of his criticisms of Bruce Springsteen over his cancelling a 2106 concert in Greensboro North Carolina over HB2.
Walker’s e-mail to Policy Watch:
Hope you’re doing well… Read your article… a couple of points:
1. Bruce Springsteen: My main beef was that he cancelled the day before and it cost vendors and local businesses a great deal of money.
2. I think it’s a little unfair to stereotype me as only another firebrand conservative. Here’s why that narrative is false:
– I was the only Republican in the state who called out the racist chant of “Send her back’ at the Greenville rally. In fact, I am happy to send you a Joe Scarborough piece lauding me remarks.,
– I am the only Republican in the U.S. House to with the UNCF President’s list award and I’m the only elected Republican at any level to give the commencement address at one of our state’s HBCU’s…
– The last time John Lewis walked across the Edmund Pettus bridge, I was invited to go with him… 48 Democrats and 2 Republicans at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Would not you have to agree there’s a reason that these relationships are genuine?
Point is, what you said about me being connected with the religious conservative community is accurate but I think it is unfair to paint me as one dimensional.
Thanks for allowing me to share my perspective…
Policy Watch’s story did not include any mention of racism concerning Walker, Robinson or Cawthorn. His comments to Policy Watch did not address any of the various specific controversies that are detailed in the story.
Walker’s comments to the Hollywood Reporter on Springsteen in 2016 did not mention the rock star’s impact on vendors or local businesses.
He did describe Springsteen as “a bully” and “known to be on the radical left.”
He then went beyond the HB2 controversy, which Walker suggested Springsteen didn’t properly understand, to make an ill-reasoned musical attack on Springsteen’s judgement.
“This is a guy who has such a lack of discernment that he sang a draft-dodging song at a Veteran’s Day concert meant to honor those who have actually served,” Walker said of Springsteen, referencing his performance of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Fortunate Son” at a The Concert for Valor back in 2014.
The song, written by Army veteran John Fogerty, is a particular favorite of many Vietnam War veterans and service men to this day, as evidenced by the rapturous applause given to Springsteen, and Dave Grohl, who joined country superstar Zack Brown in his performance of the song before service members and their families at the show.
Policy Watch asked Walker for reaction to Robinson’s anti-LGBTQ remarks and for reaction to the substance of some of the American Renewal Project’s inflammatory remarks on LGBTQ people and non-Christians.
Walker has not yet replied.
Five years ago this week Walker felt compelled to criticize then-presidential candidate Donal Trump for a series of lewd sexual remarks about women captured on tape.
Walker has made no comparable remarks about inflammatory comments about and characterization of LGBTQ people by members of his own party, including Robinson, or the American Renewal Project and its affiliates.