Bachmann, Pawlenty among 2012 hopefuls at Faith & Freedom Conference this weekend

Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty are among a long list of presidential hopefuls attending the Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing this weekend in Washington, D.C. The conference is organized by Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and controversial religious right leader. In addition to Reed, Bachmann and Pawlenty will be sharing the stage with a number of controversial figures from the anti-abortion rights and anti-gay rights movements.

Reed led the Christian Coalition in the 1990s and stepped down as a scandal inside the organization was brewing. He then ran for the office of lieutenant governor in Georgia, but his ties to Jack Abramoff’s gambling scandal created huge hurdles for Reed and he lost the election.

Tom Schenk of Faith & Action will give Friday evening’s prayer. In 1992, Schenk was arrested after he threw a fetus at then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton. He has repeatedly questioned President Barack Obama’s Christian faith.

Speaking just before Bachmann will be Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an anti–gay rights groups recently listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The SPLC has criticized Perkins for his past connections to white supremacy groups and his use of false data to impugn gays and lesbians.

Gary Bauer of American Values will also speak at the conference. He ran the Family Research Council before Perkins.

Also on the speakers list: Jay Sekulow a religious right attorney with a huge salary; Renewing America’s Jim Garlow, who likens fighting gay marriage to battling the Anti-Christ; and Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. Land recently said that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell opens America up to God’s punishment.

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