Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Socialism, even though it has yet to become a major political force in America, has manged in the last two years to dominate the political dialog. This is very ironic and surprising considering there is only one federal elected official who actually is a Socialist. In spite of that the backbone of the opposition to health care reform, a plan very similar to one proposed by no less than Richard Nixon, was cries of government takeover and socialism. Recently the Senate Minority Leader decried the recent health care reform, highly inadequate Net Neutrality rules, and financial reform as a government takeover of the economy. Some of the opposition to the First Lady's nutrition bill was on the grounds that it was government interference in private lives. We have seen elected officials go so far as to block a bill to provide for the health care of 9/11 first responders because the bill would be funded by closing a tax loophole exploited by outsourcing companies.

All of these actions show a much larger and far more worrying pattern. Consistently the cry of socialism has been taken up against any form of government action that does not favor entrenched interests. The message from these declarations has gone beyond opposing a specific political philosophy to railing against public or community action of any kind. In the minds of the proponents of this extreme philosophy action for the public good is an inherent threat to civil liberties regardless of what the action actually is or why. In this Ayn Randite worldview life is everyone for themselves and greed is enshrined as inherently virtuous. It is this philosophy that has shoved the political spectrum in Washington DC so far out of whack that Richard Nixon, the original Red fighter, would be an unrepentant big government liberal.

This entire line of thinking is fundamentally inhumane and immoral.

It says you should take the check from BP and waive right to suit because justice hurts profits.

It says enforcing fairness in the marketplace for all players, large and small, will wreck our economy.

It says heroes, in spite of great courage, do not deserve anything from the society they gave everything for.

It says good health is a commodity one must purchase even if the cost runs you out of house and home.

It says look out for number one and anything you step on while climbing the ladder of success deserved it.

It asks us, in exchange for promises of wealth, power, and security to cast aside obsolete ideas like honor, family, public good, and community.

This is not, by a long shot, principled opposition to communism and socialism. These people are not the glorious watchmen on the battlements of democracy. This is naked contempt for any act or idea that asks us to give of ourselves for the sake of others.

This philosophy is nothing less than the sanctification of antisocial behavior as virtuous.

Also published at Pagans+Politics

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mapping the Religious Right: Family Research Council

The Religious Right is a powerful force in American politics and society, tipping elections and making themselves one of the most influential voting blocs in the country. Their objectives are worn on their sleeves; their zeal unquestionable. Yet for everything that is known far more remains just out of common knowledge. In this series we will delve into this unknown tracking down more on their most powerful players, money, influence, and how they achieve their goals.

On Tuesday November 23rd the Southern Poverty Law Center added the Family Research Council to their list of hate groups. This recent bad press along with the FRC's response claiming the label is nothing more than a smear campaign has brought this influential fundamentalist group back into the public eye. Controversy is nothing new to the Family Research Council having been on the front lines of the Culture War since its inception. Far from being a fringe organization the Family Research Council is a multi-million dollar powerhouse spearheading the political efforts of the Religious Right.

The Family Research Council was founded in 1980 by James Dobson to “drive the national debate on family issues”. It was incorporated in 1983 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to serve as advocates for the Christian Fundamentalist cause. In 1992 under the leadership of Gary Bauer created FRC Action, a 501(c)4 political action group as their lobbying arm. They declare their mission as the defense of marriage and family believing that “God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.” This is re-affirmed by FRC Action's support for “A renewal of ethical monotheism and traditional Judeo-Christian standards of morality-the "Laws of Nature and Nature's God"-to which the founding fathers appealed in the Declaration of Independence.”

The FRC is an organization with considerable reach and power. With a donor base for their political arm cutting across economic and geographic lines the FRC has a large, mobilized, and well-coordinated body of supporters. They regularly post updates of action items on their site calling for action by good Christians often to great effect. In 2005 they flexed this muscle by helping organize Justice Sunday to rally support to end the filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. They declared the filibuster was an insult to people of faith and cried persecution, claiming the Democratic filibuster was covering for activist judges who were “working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms.” Alito received strong support from the FRC following his nomination airing ads in support and mobilizing supporters to contact their senators. In 2006 they organized the first Values Voters Summit to bring together social conservatives in Washington DC. Now in its fourth year the summit boasts an impressive list of sponsors including Liberty University and the American Family Association. Gary Bauer, Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schafly, and Sean Hannity have all addressed the Summit as a keynote guest speaker. The FRC has stayed on the front lines of the Culture War organizing or participating in campaigns nationwide and acting abroad. In 2008 the FRC through FRC Action was an active part of the election campaign spending large sums of money to defeat Barack Obama and in support of several socially conservative candidates. In June of 2010 they joined several other organizations in opposition to a Congressional resolution condemning an Ugandan anti-gay law. The law included provisions calling for the death penalty to “recidivists” and prison time for any who sheltered people suspected of “homosexual tendencies”. Their most recent victory was the 2010 unseating three of the Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn the state's gay marriage ban.

The FRC shows no signs of slowing down any time soon with substantial revenue and assets on-hand. Their propaganda campaigns are broadcast nationwide with multiple local groups doing the boots on the ground work. Boasting connections with the most influential members of the movement and favors owed by powerful politicians the FRC is no minor fringe group but a potent force to be reckoned with in the vanguard of the Religious Right.

Also published at