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Romney Meets With Leader of Radical Christian Group, Despite Extremism Exposed By Their New Hire

With the hiring of the right's favorite Islamophobe, the Family Research Council's extremism just got a little harder to ignore.

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Back in February, Boykin had been invited to speak at a National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, but a group of West Point faculty and cadets – mostly Christians – objected, along with advocacy groups familiar with Boykin’s record.  

One faculty member wrote that Boykin’s invitation would cause "horrible consequences" around the world: "The true price to be exacted, by granting this high-profile speaking engagement to the bigot Boykin, will shamefully be paid in blood, and the blood of innocents," the faculty member  wrote to the Military Religious Freedom foundation (which withheld the person's name). As opposition grew, Boykin withdrew, and he and his allies on the Religious Right went to work portraying him as a martyr to anti-Christian bigotry. Boykin called on Christians to "draw a line in the sand" against efforts to "silence" people like him.

This martyrdom campaign may well have been his trial run for working at the Family Research Council, which constantly portrays the Christian majority in America, and politically influential Religious Right groups, as if they were a tiny minority on the verge of being persecuted into extinction.  

Perkins loves to make irresponsible claims about President Obama, who Perkins says "has created an environment that has become hostile to Christianity in this country." Perkins alleges that the administration wants to "sweep Christianity off the face of military bases." As Adele Stan has reported, Perkins has his own long and well-documented record of extremism, including a 2001 appearance at a gathering of the Council of Conservative Citizens and the purchase of a mailing list from KKK’er David Duke when Perkins was running a congressional campaign in the 1990s.

Boykin’s military record and his God-and-country appeal to far-right activists and donors may have proven irresistible to the folks at FRC. But the bluntness of Boykin’s bigotry may – and should – end up diminishing FRC’s ability to portray itself as the mom-and-apple-pie of the far right. If nothing else, Boykin’s demonstrated hostility to the rights of one religious minority should (but probably won’t) give Mitt Romney pause about his penchant for cozying up to the FRC at its annual Values Voter Summit.

Peter Montgomery is a senior fellow at People For the American Way and an associate editor at Religion Dispatches .