July/August 2012 Church & State | People & Events

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), has inaccurately accused Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn of saying that the United States should emulate China in dealing with Christians.

Perkins recently issued an email appeals for funds headlined “Help stop secular tyranny,” that contained this assertion: “Recently, a top liberal attorney – the head of the anti-Christian Americans United for Separation of Church and State – said that COMMUNIST CHINA was a good model for how to deal with conservative Christians.”

The reference was to AU’s Lynn – who said nothing of the sort.

It turns out Perkins was referencing a recent debate Lynn took part in during the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville. That city is the home of Vanderbilt University, a private institution that requires all campus clubs to be open to all students.

Fundamentalist Christians have been complaining about this policy, saying it will require Christian clubs to admit gay students.

During the debate, Lynn noted that Vanderbilt is a private school that is free to determine its own policies, and he advised evangelical critics of the policy to “stop whining.”

The Christian Post reported on the event and quoted Lynn as saying: “I would suggest that people in this position – to use a phrase on a button in my dentist office that he always wears when he works, it says, ‘stop whining.’ I’d say stop whining here. Why not do what evangelicals do: Go out into the world, out into the community [and] have your meetings, if you have to, off campus.

“Show your faith,” he continued, “[and] meet with students not in a club room somewhere in the university, but in those home churches that kept Christianity alive during the darkest days of communist China.”

Far from advocating Chinese religious policies in America, Lynn was pointing out that if Christianity can survive official persecution in a communist country, evangelicals in America will probably endure, despite this policy at Vanderbilt.

AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog noted that Perkins made the comments during a rough period for the FRC leader. He had been criticized for stating that discredited “birthers” who insist that President Barack Obama was not born in America have raised “a legitimate issue.”

Perkins had also been ridiculed on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” after he complained about a publicity stunt by a Pennsylvania candy company that makes “Mike & Ike” fruit-flavored candy. The firm, Just Born, Inc., issued a press release asserting that Mike and Ike were splitting up due to creative difference.

Perkins inaccurately asserted that the split was an example of gay divorce.