At long last! I thank you for your patience if you have read all the material prior to this. This project has been several months in the making and I will keep updating it as time and circumstances allow. While I have been following the exploits of the radical religious right since the first days of the first Moral Majority, some of what I have learned in doing the research for these pages surprised even me. Not that it really should have— power corrupts those who seek to retain it after their time is through. Or in the case, those who should not have had it to begin with.
These pages have only touched the tip of the iceberg. These groups, through their pocketed politicians, their mouthpieces and their lobbying organizations, have a strangle-hold on the country, on the media and on the politicians in office. And not at the national level only. School boards and town councils across the US are filled with followers of the RRR agenda and their numbers grow with virtually every single election. (Although there was a bright spot recently when every single member of the Dover (PA) school board who supported teaching "intelligent design" in public schools was voted out of office in the elections of November, 2005.)
These pages are not meant to change the mind of the RRR's followers. A line from a Moody Blues song comes to mind when I think about those folks:
The words that I remember from my childhood still are true:|
There's none so blind as those who will not see.
"I Know You're Out There Somewhere", ©1988 Justin Hayward
I also know I'm preaching to the choir to most progressive and liberal-minded people. My purpose in these pages is to provide those people sitting on the fence, wondering "What harm can they really do?" with enough information to show them that the RRR can do a LOT of harm. To show the hypocrisy, the bigotry, the intolerance, the hatred, the lack of logic and reason and, in many cases, the downright subversion of the US Constitution by these groups. If we're going to save this great nation, those sitting on the fence as well as those "in the know" but not actively involved in fighting the RRR must get actively involved.
The leaders of the RRR can be found in virtually every evangelical, pentecostal or fundamentalist church in the nation. And we shouldn't forget many Catholic churches as well, especially now that there is a new Pope who, by all accounts, makes John Paul II look like a liberal.
There are literally hundreds— if not thousands— more examples of mouthpieces in local markets. For example, here in the Pittsburgh area, we were, for a while (rumor has it he was fired for some outrageous stunt or comment) "blessed" to have Marty Minto on WORD-FM. Marty's afternoon talk radio show was often akin to a cross between Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern (Stern's insults, not the sex talk). And Marty isn't unique— every major radio market has their own Marty Minto because, as much as these people want to say it's about spreading the word of God, it's about advertisers and ratings. And people like Minto bring in listeners and therefore ratings go up and advertising dollars come in.
Every conservative-leaning newspaper has their own version of Ann Coulter— although I find it hard to believe that there can be anyone more hateful than she. But again, it's about selling papers. Much of what Coulter writes or says is so outrageous that many truly conservative groups attempt to distance themselves from her.
One of the reasons for the success of these mouthpieces of the RRR is that many (maybe even most) people in America seem to enjoy the scandal, the derision and the extremism. And it's not just with news media. Witness the popularity of "magazines" like the "National Enquirer" and "The Star". And I'd be willing to bet that there's just as many, if not more, people who watch the season openers of "American Idol" (where they show some of the worst contestants who make fools of themselves on national television) as watch the finale. While shows like "Nanny 911" can truly help families (even those who aren't on the show), my guess is many watch it to see just how bad the next set of parents did at raising their kids. "Trading Spouses" seems to make it a point to put the new parents in as uncomfortable a position as they can by making their "new family" as different as possible from what the moms are used to.
While I focused on nine organizations, I had at least another nine I had researched and have had emails giving me many more examples of organizations that readers feel need to be "Exposed!" That doesn't include the hundreds of local groups across the nation who may have only five or six members, but those members are very organized and very active because they truly believe that this world is an evil place and it is up to them to save it.
In my humble opinion, therein lies the reason why it seems to be so difficult to motivate and activate liberals and progressives. Liberals and progressives tend to expect the best of their fellow man. They tend to believe that most humans will act fairly and with honor. As a result, they tend to have a "Oh, that law won't pass!" attitude because said law is so blatantly unfair. This attitude often means they don't get involved in efforts to stop the passage of the law and often, in fact, means they don't even vote. That has GOT to change. Not the belief that most humans will act fairly and with honor, but the unwillingness to become active in the political process. The less active they become, the more politicians wind up in the pockets of the RRR.
The pocketed politicians could include almost the entire Republican party— from the federal level down to the state and local levels. (Witness the "Contract with America" being signed by every Republican incumbent and most candidates in the US Congress in the early 90s.) Virtually every judge that Bush appoints takes us a step back on the path to civil rights for all. With the rather unexpected retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor and the death of William Rehnquist, Bush now has the opportunity to appoint— for life— two justices to the US Supreme Court. Those two appointments could drastically alter the outlook of the court, which could in turn affect legislation for the next 30 years or more.
While the American people have very little direct influence on who gets appointed to the courts, we have plenty of direct influence over who we elect to Congress. But we can't stop there. We have to actively participate in state and local races. Here in Pennsylvania, we have our own version of Marilyn Musgrave in the likes of a state lawmaker named Jerry Birmelin. Two years ago, Mr. Birmelin used the same kind of underhanded tactics used by Istook by attaching more than 30 anti-gay amendments to an adoption bill that had wide bipartisan support. Those amendments were attached right before the bill was sent to the floor for a vote. Fortunately, Birmelin was stopped— this time. But there's no doubt that he'll try again.
The total disregard for the US Constitution exhibited by these pocketed politicians (unless it is their rights that are being "infringed upon") has only become more blatant.
- Roy Moore, one-time Alabama Supreme Court chief justice stripped of his judgeship, admits in his autobiography that sneaking a monument of the Ten Commandments into the Alabama judicial building in the middle of the night was "the completion of a lifelong mission to use his position as the state's highest judge to publicly display a symbol of his religion." (What, he couldn't wear a cross necklace or pin a cross to his lapel? It had to be big and flashy so that everyone knew what a good Christian he was? Jesus has said that people like Moore already have their reward...) And this man has the support of millions despite his blatant disregard for the First Amendment! Moore's unconstitutional display of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom puts all his judicial decisions in question: if a judge is violating the law while hearing a case, how can we be sure that he followed all the other laws during the trial?
- Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan, also of Alabama (must be something in the water?), showed up for court last December 13 in a judicial robe embroidered in gold with the Ten Commandments.
- General William "Jerry" Boykin, in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, declared that the Christian God was "bigger" than Allah (who he said was an "idol") and has repeatedly stated in public that George W. Bush was chosen by God to lead the global fight against Satan. He has stated that Islam will always be our enemy because we are a "nation of believers" of Judeo-Christian heritage.
- Alliance Defense Fund1 spokesman Greg Scott lauded the efforts of some conservative Christians to boycott stores who used "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas". According to Scott, "I think it is part of a growing movement of people with more traditional values, which make up the majority of people in this country, saying enough is enough."
- RRR groups across the country decried the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to uphold the state constitution by granting marriage rights to same-gender couples.
- One of the largest and most popular Christian schools in Cary, North Carolina uses a book called "Southern Slavery, As It Was". Providing Biblical justification for slavery, the book attempts to paint a different picture of what life was for slaves, calling it "a life of plenty, of simple pleasures." School officials defend their use of the book, stating a need for both the Northern perspective and the Southern perspective.2
- A group calling itself Christianexodus.org has begun plans to move massive numbers of conservative Christians to the state of South Carolina and establish a state government based on the ten commandments and the Bible. The groups founder, Cory Burnell, has said if the US government doesn't like it, they haven't ruled out seceding from the US.3 With over 700 members now and half a dozen families already moved, the group makes no bones that their goal is to "concentrate like-minded Christians in a single area to influence local laws". So much for the separation of church and state. Like most other RRR groups, the decline of society is laid on the shoulders of gays. According to the group, "the legalization of same-sex marriages in Massachusetts [was] the straw that broke the camel's back."
- Faith-based initiatives cost the US government one billion dollars in 2003. But just what constitutes a "faith-based" groups is not clearly defined. Some groups who found themselves on the list as a "faith-based group" were surprised since their mission is purely secular. Faith-based initiatives were put in place by executive order after Congress refused to lower the wall of separation between church and state. Faith-based initiatives were intended to help small organizations provide services in areas not covered by larger organizations. Yet an AP analysis of the grants given in 2003 shows that "More than 80 percent of recipients at HHS had received federal money before. At HUD, the figure was 93 percent." Two large, well-established groups accounted for more than half the $1.17 billion dollars dispersed.
- George Bush's nominee for attorney general, the highest prosecutorial office in the land, Alberto Gonzales, is the man who figured out a way to twist the words of the Geneva Convention and other treaties as well as the US Constitution in order to justify the Bush administration's policy of torture. Think about that for just one moment and if it doesn't scare the hell out of you, maybe you need to see a doctor. If approved, the official charged with the sacred duty of protecting your civil rights and mine, is the author of a document on how the US president can get around existing laws in order to commit torture. And now Bush is nominating him for the chief prosecutor of this land. And we're supposed to trust that he's going to follow the US Constitution and not look for ways to get around protecting your rights and mine.
- Pharmacists, doctors and other medical professionals the nation over are seeking passage of what they call "conscientious objector" laws that all them to refuse to treat a patient or fill his/her prescription if such treatment violates the individual doctor, pharmacist or other medical professional's religious beliefs. So if my pharmacist is Catholic, he would be permitted to refuse to fill my prescription for birth control because it violates his faith. This kind of law is said to protect the right of the individual to practice their faith, but what it does in truth is to allow those with a radical religious agenda to impose their beliefs on others. Fortunately, none of these laws have yet passed state legislatures (but not for lack of trying) and some states, like
Illinois, are making it illegal for pharmacists to refuse to fulfill a prescription based on their faith.
These are just a few of the hundreds of stories I have archived in my files. They are the latest in an alarming trend that will, if allowed to continue, erode the very document upon which our government is founded: the US Constitution. And that, dear reader, is the intent of the RRR. The US Constitution prohibits this nation from ever becoming the Christian nation that the RRR wants it to be. They may argue that the Puritans came to America to found a religious colony, but what they hope you don't figure out is that it was just that: a colony. The Puritans had no intent of forming a new nation and were quite content to remain under English rule. By the time of the American Revolution, the goal was to set up a new nation in which ALL people had equal rights and that NO religion was ever the official religion of the nation.
In a report issued in November, 2004 by Syracuse University, an analysis of Justice Department data showed that prosecution of civil rights cases had dropped dramatically, despite the fact that the number of complaints was relatively constant.
- With the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act (a 700 paged legal document that was somehow pulled together in just over 6 weeks after 9/11, a document that made sweeping changes to how law enforcement can operate, a document that not one single member of Congress had the opportunity to read or study before it was voted upon and approved), the violation of civil rights is made much more easier and even "legal". The end of 2005 revealed that the US government, without proper authority or legal precedent, is spying on its own citizens. Rather than express outrage at what the government is doing, Bush not only vowed to continue the spying, but promised to find the individual whose "shameful act" revealed the illegal workings of his regime.
- The wall of separation of church and state has been blasted by the Bush administration with the executive order establishing faith-based initiatives and programs like school vouchers.
- The Federal Marriage Amendment as well as the federal DOMA laws (and their state counterparts), allows the government to recognize as legal some marriage ceremonies performed by churches but refuse to recognize others done by the same church.
- Women's reproductive freedoms are being threatened and the growing trend to give the rights of an unborn fetus greater importance than the rights of a living human being threatens the civil liberties any woman of child-bearing age.
- It is no longer possible to hold protest rallies at locations where Bush will be appearing. Protestors are instead put into "free speech zones" that are often far from Bush's actual location and conveniently out of the media spotlight.
- A court in Illinois just ruled that a couple undergoing infertility treatment can sue for "wrongful death" of a fertilized egg that was accidentally thrown out by an employee because the fertilized egg is as much a human as any living, breathing newborn infant. [One has to wonder if that is truly the case in Illinois law, then why isn't the employee being charged with murder?]
Slowly but surely, the rights in the US Constitution (both enumerated and not enumerated but protected by the Ninth Amendment) are being taken away from us with legislation that is often written by or at least has the approval of the RRR. There are four main areas where the RRR is focusing its attention:
I strongly suggest that you read each of the sections below for examples of the kinds of legislation that are being put forth and how it impacts your rights and your freedoms, but it's not necessary to understand what follows.
- the issue of choice
- gay equality
- separation of church and state (what they have erroneously dubbed "religious liberties")
- parental rights
|Synopsis: The RRR is taking a two-pronged approach to outlawing abortion. First, they're going in through the back door by enacting laws that give rights to the fetus, playing on the emotions rather than on reason and logic. They're also taking a direct judicial route: early in 2005, Norma McCorvey (the Jane Roe from Roe v Wade) filed a suit before the US Supreme Court to overturn the historic decision that legalized abortion. [Note: The link above requires the ability to read a .pdf file. If you do not have a program that will do so, you can download Adobe Acrobat for free. I don't get any sort of financial gain from recommending them.] If that doesn't work, their hope is that Bush will appoint a more anti-choice justice. Roberts has already been approved as the new chief justice and now Alito is up for approval and could take a seat on the bench as early as the end of January, 2006. See how the current laws on fetal rights are being misused in our courts to punish women— particularly minority women.|
|Synopsis: This is THE hot button issue for the RRR. From backing amendments to limit marriage to one man and one woman to fighting against hate crime legislation, the RRR is determined to keep GLBT citizens in their place as second class citizens. Their campaign focuses on fear-mongering and misinformation in order to scare the average American into voting as the RRR wants them to vote. See some examples of the misinformation as well as discover the true "gay agenda".|
|Synopsis: According to the RRR, the entire Christian church is under attack from "liberals". What's really happening is that Christianity is losing many of the special (and unconstitutional) privileges they had for so many years and the RRR doesn't like that. From school prayer to proselytizing to nativity scenes in the local courthouse, the RRR twists the truth in order to once again scare voters into voting for the RRR position.|
|Synopsis: This one is not often talked about, and it could be listed under "religious liberties", but I felt the stakes were too high to bury it in with a lot of other issues. Parental rights amendments seek to have the law declare that no government agency has the right to interfere with the moral upbringing of a child by the parent. Sounds innocent enough, but is it really?|
The RRR believes that we are living in the "end times"— the time right before the return of Jesus Christ. They point to passages in Revelations and to events in modern history, like globalization, and warn that we must be prepared for the Rapture (when all true Christians will miraculously disappear and meet Jesus in the sky) and the ensuing Tribulation because they believe they're coming soon. (It doesn't matter to them whether you believe this will happen or not: you too must prepare of your own free will or they'll write legislation to force you to do so.)
Apocalyptic theology isn't a new phenomenon. It's been around since the beginnings of Christianity. There are passages in Revelation that suggest that the writer fully expected Jesus to return within the writer's lifetime— or at least within the lifetime of those who were alive when the writer was alive. Apocalyptic thinking tends to reach a fevered pitch at the end of a century that grows even more pronounced when that century is also the end of a millennium.
But this millennium, according to the RRR, was "special". Their "reasoning" goes as follows:
Is it any wonder that at this most recent millennial change, going from the sixth "day" to the seventh, that the RRR was in such an uproar about Y2K. Many fully expected the Rapture to take place at the turn of the millennium— or soon thereafter. The only problem is that "soon" is a very subjective term.
- Genesis says that the earth was created in six days and on the seventh day God rested.
- 2Peter 3:8 says that a day to God is like a thousand years unto men.
- Young earth creationists claim that the earth (traced from Adam to Jesus through Biblical lineages and ages given in Numbers) is 6000 years old— or six days in the eyes of God.
- When the Rapture takes place, and the Tribulation is ended, Jesus will return to earth where he will rule for 1000 years. This 1000 years will be the "seventh day" in God's eyes.
If you read up on Rapture thinking, one of the central themes is the "One World Order". This One World Order, according to this line of thinking, is a government of the anti-Christ. It is an essential component to the start of the Tribulation— and one of the reasons that no RRR organization supports the US being part of the United Nations. The One World Order will consist of all nations united under one flag— and the RRR wants to keep the US out of that "evil" organization. One form of currency, one language, one leader (the anti-Christ) and one legal faith— that of worshiping the leader. So when the EU formed and created a single currency for all of Europe, it was only another sign to the RRR that the Rapture was that much closer.
The RRR, in general, supports laws that will make English the official language of the US. Already, in most nations around the world, English is the "second language" of choice. The dollar is often the "blackmarket" currency (although with the fall in the value of the dollar, that may someday soon change to the euro). And Christians are and have been doing their damnedest to convert the entire world to Christianity since the new religion started more than 1950 years ago. (Ironically, they don't see this as part of the One World Order— simply as part of the Great Commission given them by Jesus to go out and spread the Good News.] The One World Faith they believe will be either Islam or pagan (including "new age") beliefs— all of which have skyrocketed in recent years in terms of followers. They see it as their sacred duty to create a nation that is Biblically based and ruled— a theocracy. A world theocracy if they could get it, but at least a theocracy in the US.
The only thing really missing— the only area in which there is no sign that "the end is near"— is the one world leader. And the leaders of the RRR are bound and determined to give the unfolding future of our world a nudge in the direction of their interpretation of Revelations by either "drawing out" that one world leader or creating him themselves.
I don't believe that the RRR thinks that George W. Bush is that leader.4 But I do believe that they think Bush— and whomever they pick as Bush's successor— can bring the world to One World Order faster than anyone else. Bush's policies of imperialism play right into the beliefs of the RRR— either Bush (or more likely his successors) will invade so many other sovereign nations of the world the the rest of the world will unite against the US to stop us from taking over the entire world. Many nations around the world view the US as a "schoolyard bully" who needs to be stopped.
The RRR beliefs tell them that they will be persecuted by non-believers and by the anti-Christ. And whoever "commands" the united world against the US would, for the intents and purposes of the RRR, be the anti-Christ. (Although if the rumors about Bill Clinton wanting to be secretary general of the UN are true, the RRR will most assuredly begin claiming that Clinton is the anti-Christ.)
Their "enemies" within the US itself (ie, all those people Jerry Falwell named in his infamous post-9/11 blame-fest) are the non-believers. That many Christians would die defending their now-Christian nation against these apostates would also fulfill the "prophecy" they see in Revelations as well as make them martyrs for Jesus— much the same way that suicide bombers and the 9/11 hijackers became martyrs for Allah. (Those in the RRR fail to see the irony of this as well.) Additionally, this administration shares many of the same tactics as the RRR leadership: the fear-mongering, the intentional misrepresentation, the twisting of the truth, the doublespeak, the hypocrisy and the unwillingness to accept personal responsibility for one's actions.
Many believe that the RRR is only out for political power and to rule the world. I both agree and disagree. The widowers and pensioners, the elderly poor, the children and the "average Christian" who send in their rent, food money or allowance because one of the RRR leaders says it's needed to do God's work are truly following Jesus, in my humble opinion. The masses truly believe that they're doing God's will. The leaders of the RRR, however, are merely counting the money accumulating in their accounts— which makes them something of an anti-Christ themselves. Jesus did not need money to spread the good news. Nor did he force people to follow him by passing legislation. In fact, Jesus advocated for the separation of church and state by declaring that we are to give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and give unto God that which is God's.5 He didn't use any of the tactics used by the RRR to "win souls for God".
The Bible— which is the book that the RRR supposedly bases their actions on— relates the following story in Matthew 19:16-23:
16And, behold, one came and said unto him, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?"|
17And he [Jesus] said unto him, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
18He saith unto him, "Which?" Jesus said, "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
20The young man saith unto him, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?"
21Jesus said unto him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
22But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
23Then said Jesus unto his disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven."
The leaders of the RRR are the modern day Pharisees that Jesus so often took to task for their hypocrisy. Their goal is personal power and glory and in order to achieve that goal, they must deceive the masses and trick them into surrendering their rights because the RRR has no means to take those rights by force. To this end, the leaders of the RRR must dismantle the US Constitution because as long as the Constitution is in effect, every citizen of this country is entitled to live his life as he sees fit according to the beliefs that he holds dear. That is what "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" boils down to. We're not there yet, by any stretch of the imagination, but if the RRR has their way, we'll never get there. If the RRR agenda— the dismantling of the US Constitution in order to create a Christian theocracy in the US— is played out, we will see what Hitler might have achieved had he gone unhindered.
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|1 ADF is a conservative Christian legal group started by the likes of Dr. James Dobson and Dr. D. James Kennedy, among others. The group has three main issues it deals with: sanctity of life, traditional family values and religious freedom.
|2 Of course, the fact that one of the book's authors, Douglas Wilson, is the one who wrote the curriculum the school follows and accredited the school in the first place doesn't play into the equation. Nor does the fact that some of the school leaders helped found the Christ Church in Cary— a church associated with the church founded by Wilson in Idaho. Wilson's co-author, Steve Wilkins, is a on the board of directors of "League of the South", a group of Neo-confederates who have been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
|3 These groups seem to miss the sad irony that they only exist because of the US Constitution's First Amendment, guaranteeing them the right to worship as they please. They then seek to take that right from everyone else in the entire state of SC. This is hypocrisy at its most blatant.
|4 It is easy to confuse the Republican agenda with the agenda of the RRR. While there are many areas that overlap, the Republican agenda is one of gaining personal wealth and protecting big business. Which is why the Bush administration is lying about the benefits of privatized Social Security and trying to get rid of employer paid health insurance. (And that's not even going into the fiasco of the Iraq War and Haliburton...) The Republicans are spewing the same hateful rhetoric that the RRR spews in order to get votes from the flocks of RRR followers. They want to stay in office and make laws that make them more money. They believe they're using the RRR to further their agenda. But in truth, it is the RRR that is using the Republicans because it is the Republicans that seek the votes of the RRR. They do the RRR's bidding and not the other way around. For now, the RRR is content to make use of the Republican penchant for greed and self-servitude. But one must keep in mind that the RRR does not unconditionally support the Bush administration as witnessed by the chastisements and casitgations of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and others RRR leaders over the years. In fact, James Dobson has already threatened to leave the Republican party and form another party if Bush doesn't turn further right. I could go on for another hundred pages about the disgrace this administration has brought on this nation and the damage it has caused, but a lot of that will be revealed in the Links section.
|5Thanks, GH, for that inspiration!|
|There are many other wonderful sites that specifically follow the dealings and workings of the RRR. I strongly recommend that you check them out.|
|Synopsis: Probably the most documented and thorough site on the rise of the RRR within the Republican party. The site is extensive and easy to navigate.|
||The Religious Freedom Coalition|
|Synopsis: Another extensive and well-documented site that ties together all the players and follows the money trails. My only problem with the site is that it's hard to navigate. The pages are really long— even longer than this one, which is by far the longest on this site (well, except maybe for the Solution section and the ever growing Links page.)|
||Americans United for the Separation of Church and State|
|Synopsis: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is, in the eyes of the RRR, nothing but an atheist organization, despite the fact that it has many members of the clergy on staff.|
||People for the American Way|
|Synopsis: PFAW has a section on this site called "Right Wing Watch" that follows the various organizations and keeps track of their latest outrageous quotes and actions.|
All text © 2004-13 Shelly Strauss except where quotes with references are provided.|
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