As renegade Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis received the Cost of Discipleship award at the Values Voter Summit Friday, lawyer Mat Staver claimed his client has widespread global support, saying 100,000 people had gathered at a prayer rally for her in Lima, Peru.
But the photo Staver and former Liberty Counsel staffer (and archconservative commentator) Matt Barber both tweeted wasn't of a weekend rally in Lima for Kim Davis. It was actually an image "from a prayer rally known as 'Jesus Te Ama Y Te Cambia' ('Jesus Loves You And Changes You'), which did take place in Peru -- over five days in May, 2014," as ThinkProgress's Zack Ford reported.
"Internet sleuths, including Twitter user @DCHomos, quickly identified the stadium as the Estadio Universidad Nacional Mayor San Marcos at the National University of San Marcos" in Lima, Ford writes. "Then, a number of videos seemed to quickly confirm that the image shared by Staver and Barber was from the 2014 convention organized by the pentecostal Movimiento Misionero Mundial (Worldwide Missionary Movement)." That convention came long before Davis's moment of fame.
Ford could not find a single news story about a rally in Peru for Davis, which supposedly occurred September 13, nor are there any Twitter or Facebook posts regarding the event from Julio Rosas, the Peruvian congressman who is said to have organized it.
By Monday afternoon, Ford and DCHomos found growing evidence that the hate-group's photo had been misrepresented, tracking down a link back to the original 2014 Facebook post that included the photo. Meanwhile, Liberty Counsel doubled down on the photo's veracity in a press release that has now been removed from the certified anti-LGBT hate group's website. When Ford again debunked Liberty Counsel's statement, noting that it offered no independent verification of the facts in question, Liberty Counsel subsequently posted a new version of the release, omitting any mention of the stadium's location but providing no further documentation.
Finally, Barber acknowledged that the photo was not what he ad his Liberty Counsel cohorts claimed it was by late Monday afternoon. In a post on his right-wing blog, BarbWire, ironically titled "Yes, 100,000 Peruvian Christians Did Hold a Rally for Kim Davis," Barber published the following editor's note:
ThinkProgress has updated its blog and linked to a Facebook post date stamped May 25, 2014, which, at the very least, calls into question the origin of the photograph given to Liberty Counsel by Congressman Rosas. BarbWire will continue to seek answers as to where this photograph first originated and why, apparently, someone within Congressman Rosas' office (or elsewhere) represented to the congressman that it was a photograph of a prayer rally held in Peru for Kim Davis when, as it now seems, such was not the case. To the extent that we at BarbWire appear to have received inaccurate information, and, further, to the extent that Zack Ford and Think Progress appear to have been correct about the questionable nature of this photograph, it seems that they were right and we were wrong. We will update our readers as we receive further explanation." ~ Matt Barber
Notably, the original text of the Barber's post, which appears directly below the editor's note, calls Ford an "atheist homosexual activist who blogs for [ThinkProgress]... a left-wing extremist blog that exists to push 'progressive' propaganda."
Staver, Barber, and the Liberty Counsel as a whole have yet to retract the claim that a Peruvian congressman held a massive rally for Kim Davis in Lima, merely apologizing for using a photo that was not from the event, which the right-wing activists still contend really did take place. Barber and Ford hashed out those details on Twitter:
Sunnivie Brydum contributed to this report.