At last week’s Values Voter Summit, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel displayed a picture that he claimed showed a 100,000-person prayer in Peru for his client, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. That picture has since been identified as having been uploaded to Facebook on May 25, 2014 and portraying a massive one-of-a-kind five-day convention known as “Jesús Te Ama Y Te Cambia” (“Jesus Loves You And Changes You”).
After spending Monday defending the photo, Liberty Counsel has admitted that it is not of a Kim Davis rally. In fact, they no longer claim that any rally whatsoever took place for Davis in Peru, but merely that some people in Peru prayed for her.
Nevertheless, the organization is trying to avoid taking responsibility for the photo, tweeting to ThinkProgress Tuesday morning that Peruvian Congressman Julio Rosas was the source of the photo and that they were just parroting his claim:
— Liberty Counsel (@libertycounsel) September 29, 2015
Later Tuesday morning, Liberty Counsel issued a new statement addressing the controversy and further scapegoating Rosas for the photo.
“When some questioned whether such a large event occurred, Liberty Counsel sought verification this past Saturday and yesterday,” the statement reads. “It now appears that while prayer meetings did occur throughout Peru, the photograph presented to Mat Staver was an honest mistake and was of a different Christian assembly in a soccer field.”
This is a change of tune even from Monday, when a different press release claimed that Rosas had confirmed the validity of the picture both on Saturday and again Monday morning.
Staver has apparently attended several anti-gay and anti-choice marches that Rosas has organized in Peru, which is why he claims that the photo “did not appear unusual because such large Christian gatherings happen much more frequently in Peru.” Liberty Counsel still asserts that people in Peru did pray for Davis that Sunday, but now offers no evidence of how widespread that support actually was.
Matt Barber, who also used to work for the Liberty Counsel, similarly defended the photo on Monday on his conservative site BarbWire, but published a correction noting that “Zack Ford and Think Progress appear to have been correct about the questionable nature of this photograph.” The site has since crossposted Liberty Counsel’s new statement.
Though Staver called the photograph “an honest mistake,” he insisted that people still give Davis a thumbs-up everywhere she goes. “Make no mistake, however, that there is widespread support for Kim Davis. Last week she was recognized by many people as she walked through the Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Reagan airports. People gave her a thumbs up sign or verbally expressed support for Kim Davis. While she has obvious detractors, Kim Davis also has wide support.”
Davis has not traveled internationally during the past few months that her controversy has played out, and thus has likely not received any thumbs-ups in Lima’s airport.