Frank Cannon
American Principles Project president Frank Cannon

Monday, Frank Cannon has a new post published at Witherspoon Institute’s blog. Frank Cannon is president of the American Principles Project (APP), an anti-LGBT hate group (not SPLC designated). We need to go back in time in order to explore the culture of APP which remains unchanged. Please bear with me.

APP was founded by Robert P. George. In late 2009 APP started the Innocence Project. The project’s purpose was to provide a venue for George and others to  smear an Obama appointee to the Education Department, Kevin Jennings, because Jennings is gay. They claimed that Jennings threatened the innocence of children. It was no dog whistle. It was a shout of bigotry from a bullhorn.

American Principles Project was consumed with Kevin Jennings at APP, AP In Action and

Mr. Cannon would like to project respectability. APP it not respectable. Its anti-LGBT bigotry may not be as outwardly blatant as it was in 2009/2010 but it is there at every opportunity. That bring’s me to Cannon’s current post.

We are underfunded. We are limited by a conventional wisdom among our donor class that says we are better off investing our limited resources in reforming our academic, cultural, and legal institutions instead of embracing the rough and tumble of politics. And we are up against a behemoth in the well-funded, institutionally dominant progressive Left…

Poor them. They have the support of the wealthiest organization on the planet, the Catholic Church. The poor us continues:

America’s political reality is falling apart, and the social conservative movement is scrambling to cope. The absence of structures in the social conservative movement to fight back against the aggressive machinations of the Sexual Left have left the country undefended, even in areas that have traditionally been strongly socially conservative. Even these areas may not be socially conservative for much longer.

In the above, Cannon is complaining that they are less able to discriminate against LGBT Americans. Tell that to a trans kid who happens to live in the Bible Belt. Tell that to a gay couple unable to adopt children in a number of states. Just what is the “Sexual Left?” Does that require every LGBT person to be a liberal? APP still obsessed with anti-LGBT animus?

That is, at least the goal of pro-LGBT megadonor Tim Gill, who last year told Rolling Stone he wanted to use his considerable fortune to “punish the wicked”—meaning Christians who didn’t fully accept the Sexual Left’s new mandatory doctrine.

Doctrine? Once again a religious conservative is falsely asserting that we want to compel approval. We do not care. We neither seek nor require Cannon’s approval or that of his ilk. What Mr. Gill meant was that he wanted to frustrate the efforts of people in red states to continue to discriminate against LGBT people. This isn’t about what Cannon believes. It is about what he does. He is trying to redirect conduct to belief because it probably works with Cannon’s constituency but it is intellectually dishonest.

One of Gill’s first target states is Pennsylvania, an important battleground where his crusade against social conservatism—and Christianity itself—is well under way. This past month, Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services were denied city contracts to provide foster care services due to their longstanding commitment to placing children in families with both a mother and a father.

Oh the poor persecuted Defender of the Faith. I do not know whether or not this advocacy is attributable to Mr. Gill. However, when the city contracts with organizations to provide foster and adoptive services, those agencies are doing the work of the government. If they cannot provide the services without discriminating against gay people then they have no business doing the work. There are other contractors willing to represent the city without bigotry which harms the children they are to serve.

Catholic charities would presume to favor far less qualified couples simply because they are heterosexual. It is not a policy grounded in social science. Rather it is an expression of Christian privilege.

Christian hospitals and other social services could be next in the crosshairs. Meanwhile, in Harrisburg, Gill-aligned legislators have been pushing hard for changes to non-discrimination law that would enshrine SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) as a new, protected class, thus imperiling religious liberty statewide.

And there you have it. Religious liberty© defined as the right to discriminate.

But progressives won’t stop here. National Review’s David French recently described a new proposed law in California that would “ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality.”

French, who has worked for the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom is wrong — and crazy. The bill bans conversion therapy as a commercial service.

As French notes, “Despite the obvious constitutional problems and despite its obvious intolerance for the Christian ethics of millions of its citizens, the bill is presently sailing through — passing two committee votes by 8–2 and 8–1 margins.”

Somehow, a bill banning quackery is persecuting Christians. Cannon is repeating idiocy. The bill has very limited effect targeting a handful of conversion therapy crackpots. Furthermore, there are no “constitutional problems.” The case law is clear and the Supreme Court has denied review of those cases. The rulings of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stand.

Needless to say, social conservatives are facing a dire situation. The march of radical progressivism is accelerating, and calls for compromise and tolerance are being shrugged aside as the Sexual Left becomes ever bolder in its attempts to root out perceived “bigotry.” Furthermore, social conservatives’ attempts to push back against this onslaught appear increasingly feeble when compared to the Left’s successes.

The bottom line is this: if social conservatives don’t radically alter what we are doing—if we don’t buck the current conventional wisdom and do something different—we will lose. Adapt or die.

What exactly does this guy want? “Tollerance” for what? Discrimination? What he wants is to impose Church dogma on public policy. Now that is unconstitutional. Moreover, it is based on the provably false premise that gay people are “objectively disordered” and that transgender people are just “gender confused” by “gender ideology.” All they need is some Christian counseling. This is when faith becomes superstition. By and large, American Catholics support LGBT equality in greater percentages than the general public. Cannon is expressing extremist views.

Consider the SOGI issue. Just a few short years ago, the issue of gender identity was barely a blip on most Americans’ radar screens. But in 2016, sensing an opportunity to pounce against a weak Republican Party that had ceded the gay marriage issue, progressives decided to make an example out of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for signing HB2, a bill that overrode a Charlotte SOGI ordinance in order to protect privacy and religious freedom.

It is conservative Christians who have created attention to, and controversy over, gender identity. North Carolina created this problem, not progressives. North Carolina decided to make an example of trans and gender nonconforming school children in order to impose conservative Christianity on public policy. Privacy and religious freedom excuses are just pretext for religious fundamentalism. People are free to believe what they want but we should draw a line when everyone else is forced to accept those beliefs.

With no advocates for religious freedom in the Democratic Party (and few public ones in the Republican Party), and no support in our nation’s institutions, corporate America, academia, and the media, what hope is there? What chance do social conservatives have to protect our nation’s most sacred freedoms?

I still do not know what specific freedom he thinks is at risk. A manufactured right to discriminate against a minority does not define a freedom. It describes tyranny of the majority. The real battle that underlies Cannon’s discontent is over the evidence provided by science that is contradictory to Church teachings on human sexuality which amount to nothing but baseless superstition. Public policy should not be based on superstition and the Establishment Clause is supposed to make doing so constitutionally impermissible.

Our hope is the American people, who by and large support religious freedom and are still bound by an intuitive understanding of natural law and common sense. Yet this asset—our “silent majority,” the only asset social conservatives actually possess—remains relatively unused.

Getting Nixonian only deepens his problem. I think that the American people know that what Cannon is writing about is not related to religious freedom but discrimination. More than two-thirds of the nation support marriage equality. I suspect that similar margins support the right of gay couples to be treated fairly by public accommodations in accordance with local law.

We see that here in Florida. Florida is Alabama with Disney World and pockets of sanity. There are no state laws protecting LGBT people. However, the citizenry of a number of subdivisions support fair treatment. Miami-Dade has some of the strictest nondiscrimination codes in the country. Miami Beach bans conversion therapy as well. Overall, America has a diverse society. Not respecting that diversity is un-American.

Contrary to Cannon’s fear mongering, nondiscrimination laws are passed by the duly-elected representatives of the people and signed into law by a duly-elected executive. These laws do not mystically materialize. There will be more as more and more people realize that gay and transgender people are perfectly normal citizens who want the same things that everyone else wants.

According to data compiled by my organization, the American Principles Project Foundation, over the last seven years, spending by social conservative organizations has skewed heavily toward nonpolitical efforts to change policy and culture, to the detriment of electoral opportunities.

Oh please. Changing policy is a political endeavor. Policy is changed by Congress, state legislatures and city councils — composed of elected representatives. Conservatives have also spent a great deal of money on litigation intended to thwart advances made in public policy.

In 2016, for example, three of the Sexual Left’s largest groups—EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, and Human Rights Campaign—combined to spend more electorally than the entire social conservative movement over the previous four election cycles.

The claim is irresponsible because of dark money. We do not know where much of our political campaign money is coming from.

Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, recently bragged in The Hill about his track record of winning important races to promote the transgender agenda. Griffin fully understands the importance of politics. He closed his piece with a warning: “And as we continue to prove — from North Carolina, to Virginia, to Alaska — if you come for us, we will come for you on Election Day.”

We are winning because people like Cannon refer to equal rights as an evil “agenda.” In the final analysis we are doing what the NRA has done for decades. We fund and promote politicians who are supportive.

Griffin is living rent-free in the heads of establishment Republicans across the country. That threat—and the success the Sexual Left has had in taking down politicians who challenge them—has a chilling effect on legislative efforts to protect our religious liberty. The First Amendment Defense Act, important religious liberty legislation that was supported by President Trump on the campaign trail and ostensibly supported by the Republican Party as a whole, has never even come close to getting a vote in Congress.

The highly discriminatory FADA does not get a vote because it acknowledges the legitimacy of same-sex marriage in order to be constitutional. Conservatives do themselves in by refusing to accept a simple fact that gay people have a constitutional right to marry. Protecting religious liberty? He means protecting discrimination. FADA is probably doomed as well it should be.

It’s pretty clear that we need a victory… which brings us back to Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf is one of the most aggressive anti-religious liberty extremists in the country. …

This guy has balls on a skateboard to call anyone else an extremist. Wolf’s views are mainstream.

In order to wage an all-out battle against Wolf, we would need a strong conservative who believes in religious liberty to be the Republican nominee. Unfortunately, the frontrunner, Scott Wagner, is just as bad as Wolf on the issue. …

Cannon is looking for someone who supports discrimination based upon religious dogma. That is not the position of a true conservative who respects the Constitution.

The good news is there is a strong conservative candidate in the race: Paul Mango. Mango has attacked Wagner repeatedly for his support of the “bathroom bill” and has promised to protect religious liberty in the state of Pennsylvania. He is the perfect candidate to take on Governor Wolf in the fall. …

Currently, as we argued in our Case for Politics report, there isn’t a major group that focuses on leveraging religious liberty as a political issue. While groups like ours (American Principles Project) episodically participate in this, as we did in North Carolina and Virginia, there is no consistent funding for this effort.


We, too, are operating on a shoestring budget. We, too, have the odds stacked against us. And we, too, can be successful if we embrace politics and embrace the American people, where we have a distinct advantage over our radical opponents.

Mango’s problem is that he has no record. He is long on platitudes and short on specifics. He wants to repeal all school property taxes, allowing municipalities to come up with solutions to the shortfall he would be creating. The only option would be to replace property taxes which are at least marginally progressive with sales taxes which are entirely regressive. This would directly affect poorer people and blue collar wage-earners. It is probably a political nonstarter.

Cannon (who presumably resides elsewhere) doesn’t care as long as Mango spouts religious-conservative doctrine. The state could go bankrupt as long as Cannot can discriminate against LGBT people. And they wonder just why they have a shortage of political currency. American Principles Project remains true to the culture that went all out to oust Kevin Jennings. It is defense of the faith … and then some.

As for Mr. Jennings, he served the Education Department for over two years with great distinction and numerous accomplishments. He resigned under no pressure whatsoever to assume a leadership role at a nonprofit.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.