IFAS | Freedom Writer | May 1995 | update.html

Religious Right update

Beware of taxpayer groups

Springfield, IL The Institute for First Amendment Studies has been receiving more and more evidence that the Religious Right works through taxpayer groups. One example appeared in the April 17 edition of Citizen magazine, published by Focus on the Family.

According to the article, the Springfield, Illinois public school system proposed a curriculum that would promote diversity and treat homosexuality "as normal." An anti-abortion activist associated with Taxpayers Alliance for Better Schools (TABS) contacted anti-gay sex researcher Judith Reisman. Reisman presented the school committee with her biased findings regarding homosexuality.

Stan Welch, president of TABS, said, "Reisman was pivotal in causing the board to reject the diversity initiative." Citizen magazine said Reisman "revealed the destructiveness of the homosexual lifestyle."

Judith Reisman participated in the May 1994 secret conference at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs. The conference, sponsored by Colorado for Family Values, with help from Focus on the Family, and attended by representatives from some 35 state and national organizations, was conceived with the goal of eliminating gay rights in the U.S.

Pataki thanks Religious Right

Albany, NY George Pataki, New York's new governor, recently thanked the state's most active Religious Right group for helping him get elected to New York's highest office. Pataki addressed New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms at the organization's March 28 annual meeting.

"I owe you a debt of gratitude for my victory last November," Pataki told the crowd of more than 2,000 assembled at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. "Your voices have been heard," Pataki said. "Your prayers and your belief that we can regain this state for the people are beginning to be answered. And all I ask of you is your continued prayers, your continued support, and your continued confidence in your beliefs and values."

Pataki's unannounced appearance before New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms was somewhat peculiar since he is prochoice on abortion and says he "feels very strongly" about the separation between church and state. However, when Pataki was a little-known state legislator he attended the group's meetings to accept awards because his voting record reflected the agenda of the conservative Christian group.

Prior to Pataki's appearance, Christian Reconstructionist minister D. James Kennedy of Florida's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church addressed the group. He spoke on his usual Christianizing America theme, declaring that the United States is a Christian nation.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, headed by the Rev. Duane Motley, is supported financially by more than 130 fundamentalist churches across the state of New York. The group is known for its stands against abortion, gay rights, and pornography.

Road to Victory '95 plans announced

Chesapeake, VA The Christian Coalition recently announced its fifth annual Road to Victory convention to be held September 8-9 in Washington, D.C. This year's conference may be the group's most important to date. Launched in 1991 by a then little-known Virginia-based group, the annual conferences are "a must" for Republican presidential candidates.

Five Republican presidential candidates are expected to speak at the event: Bob Dole, Phil Gramm, Pat Buchanan, Alan Keyes, and Bob Dornan. Newt Gingrich and a host of other political and religious conservatives are listed on the speaking roster. They include Oliver North, Beverly LaHaye, Phyllis Schlafly, Daniel Lapin, Don Wildmon, and Gary Bauer.

Workshop and seminar topics include family tax relief, welfare reform, minority involvement, outcome-based education, school choice, and protesting religious bigotry. This reflects the Christian Coalition's effort to appear more mainstream. Earlier conferences focused more on issues such as abortion and gay rights.

As it has for the past four years, The Freedom Writer will publish a full report on Road to Victory.

Christian Coalition Live update

Washington, DC On Tuesday, April 18, the Christian Coalition held its monthly interactive meeting with its satellite affiliates. Hosted by Ralph Reed and Star Parker, the first half of the program focused on defeating Dr. Henry Foster's nomination for Surgeon General. Reed said Foster's defeat was one of the Christian Coalition's top priorities. In attacking Foster, the program linked him with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, "the world's largest abortion provider." It was also mentioned that Foster may have performed hundreds of abortions himself.

The second half of Christian Coalition Live is a closed session for Christian Coalition Action Groups. Marshall Wittmann, the Christian Coalition's Washington lobbyist appeared as a guest. (Wittmann is leaving the Christian Coalition to join the Heritage Foundation on May 1, 1995. No replacement was announced.) The conversation briefly touched on Planned Parenthood and third trimester abortions, and "the homosexual agenda in education." Wittmann's segment of the program closed with the monthly Action Items. Participants were asked to call the numbers on the screen to contact their Senators and ask them to vote "no" on the following items: Dr. Foster's nomination; funding for the National Endowment for the Arts; and funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Christian Coalition Live concluded with an interview with Roberta Combs, state director of the South Carolina Christian Coalition. With 42 out of the state's 46 counties organized, Reed described South Carolina as "one of the strongest state affiliates we have in the nation." He said Christians now control the state's House of Representatives. Combs said her affiliate operates on a $200,000 a year budget, and has Precinct Captains in 1,000 of the state's 1,900 precincts. The money is raised through events and individual contributions. She relies heavily on prayer, she said, to raise money.

Reed closed the program by saying that the Christian Coalition is going to begin focusing on "the moral crisis in America." "Watch the Christian American," he said, referring to the Christian Coalition's monthly tabloid.

OR founder rejects GOP

Washington, DC The close ties between the Republican Party and the Religious Right are "starting to unravel," Randall Terry, the radical founder of Operation Rescue, said recently. "I believe that the days of the marriage between the Religious Right and the GOP are numbered," Terry predicted. He said religious conservatives were disappointed that the first 100 days of the new Congress lacked a "strong effort on abortion." Terry is a strong supporter of the U.S. Taxpayer's Party, headed by Howard Phillips.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.