Sunday, June 2, 2019

#2199: Jonathan Saenz

Jonathan Saenz is the president of Texas Values, which is a piece of information that should really be sufficient to establish that he is a serious loon. Texas Values is the lobbying arm of the Liberty Institute, an organization notorious for peddling conspiracy theories and discredited stories about how government and progressive activists are attacking religious liberty.

And just as you’d expect, Saenz really, really doesn’t like gay people – that his former wife apparently left him for another woman might be part of it, but his lunacy is nevertheless all his own. The primary goal of his group is to combat LGBT equality and basic protections for LGBT people, such as efforts to prevent anti-LGBT bullying (that would, as they see it, constitute granting “special rights” to “homosexuals”). They also wish to keep anti-sodomy laws on the books, claiming that efforts to repeal such laws are efforts to push a gay “agenda”. In addition, Texas Values opposes sex education and considers themselves brave soldiers for good in the mythical “war on Christmas”, mostly by pushing conspiracy theories and myths: the “war” is “a key front in the radical movement to remove all religious expression from the public square” and create a world where children are too afraid to even talk about Christmas at school.

In 2014 Saenz called the marriage equality ruling in Texas a “hollow victory” (??), after calling it “one of the most egregious forms of judicial activism of our generation;” judicial activism, of course, is when the courts issue a ruling Saenz doesn’t like ( To help himself cope with such decisions, Saenz has turned to denialism so delusional (growing support for gay marriage in the US is “a myth” – the vast majority of Americans really agrees with him; facts be damned) one would almost have felt sorry for him if he weren’t so hateful; the same sort of delusions are on glorious display here.

He is no fan of non-discrimination ordinances either, ostensibly because they discriminate against his religious freedom to discriminate against those who don’t share his religious beliefs. Indeed, with regard to Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance, Saenz called it a demonic attempt to empower “sexual predators” to “terrorize women and children.” 

In conclusion, according to Saenz, gay people are like an enemy army, and “America today is occupied territoryThe enemies of religious freedom occupy every power center from government to academia. Everyone except its spiritual core…” That core would be the pastors, who are now “the Leaders of the Resistance,” who are accordingly targeted by this demonic army of gay people (therefore you should send Saenz money). Indeed, Saenz seems to think that the battle for marriage equality is really just a flimsy cover for a Satanic attack on churches and, ultimately, Christianity itself – gay rights advocates really want to “destroy” marriage, “attack churches,” and make sure “religious liberty will be obliterated”; indeed, advocates of gay rights ultimately want to throw their opponents in jail, or even in concentration camps. Of course, Saenz’s paranoia is partially fueled by his complete inability to grasp the distinction between criticism and censorship – true to form, Saenz has called those who criticize him “enemies of freedom”. He also, unsurprisingly, has a bit of trouble with the distinctions truth/falsehood and honesty/lying.

Though his energies have, at least the last few years, mostly been devoted to anti-gay efforts, Saenz has a long history of wingnut advocacy for a wide range of types of bigotry, denialism or pseudoscience. Saenz, a staunch creationist (the theory of evolution, which he doesn’t remotely understand, is a “left-wing ideology” that “any respectable scientist” should see through), was for instance a supporter of having Texas public schools teach creationism; when the education board decided that science classes should be devoted to science in 2009, Saenz was outraged and lambasted the board for wanting to “bow down to the scientific community”: “It’s outrageous that our highest elected education officials voted to silence teachers and students in science class” and thus prevent them from teaching kids all other non-science stuff that Saenz they might believe. “Despite being overwhelmed by e-mails and phone calls to keep strengths and weaknesses, the divided State Board of Education ignored constituents and sided with a small group of activists,” continued Saenz: “This decision shows that science has evolved into a political popularity contest. The truth has been expelled from the science classroom.” It is a lovely illustration of Saenz’s deranged mind that he failed to notice the blatant contradiction between those two claims. He did, however, commend the board for a resolution calling on textbook publishers to limit references to Islam, ostensibly to combat the stealth influence of Middle Easterners on textbook publishing.

He has also called it “untrue and factually and historically inaccurate” that the Constitution separates church and state, as if he had any idea what “untrue” and “inaccurate” mean.

There is a good Jonathan Saenz resource here.

Diagnosis: As confident as he is delusional, Saenz actually wields quite some influence in his native Texas. Extremely dangerous.

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