Southern Poverty Law Center goes after the AmTaliban
Wild wingnuttery (clockwise from top): James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association; Gary Bauer, president of American Values; and Pat Buchanan, a political commentator and founder of American Cause. All are getting the heat turned up on them by the SPLC. (Photos: AP)
“Our bailiwick is extremism,” he said. “We’ve avoided the Christian Right in the past, and we don’t feel we’ve expanded to include the Christian Right — we feel very strongly they have entered our world [of extremism].— Mark Potok, editor of SPLC’s Intelligent Report.
The Southern Voice reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center is going after our little hot-to-trot friends in the AmTaliban. In the article “Holy War: The Religious Right’s Crusade Against Gays Heats Up,” SPLC’s magazine, The Intelligence Report.the SoVo article, which features quotes from pro-gay minister (and former ‘ex-gay’ — he got out of the self-loathing cycle) Mel White and Melissa Fryrear “gender issues analyst for Focus on the Family and a self-described former lesbian.”
There’s also a great round-up with thumbnail sketches of the players. If you’re a regular House Blender, you’ll see that these names come up frequently because of their completely unhinged homophobic statements.
These organizations represent some of the most influential anti-gay groups operating today, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Alliance Defense Fund
In 1993, a coalition of 35 Christian Right groups founded the Alliance Defense Fund to combat gay-rights victories in the courts. Key founders included D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association and James Dobson of Focus on the Family.
The ADF trains other attorneys “to battle the radical homosexual legal agenda” in free, week-long National Litigation Academies, whose participants commit to “provide 450 hours of pro bono legal work on behalf of the Body of Christ.”
In 2000, the ADF helped defend the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on openly gay scoutmasters, which was upheld by a narrow 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.
American Family Association
Best known for leading boycotts of advertisers in the mass media, including Disney, Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Ford. Its leader is Rev. Donald Wildmon, a former Methodist minister who has led a series of religious-right groups since 1976.
The American Family Association includes a 200-station radio network, about 100 employees and a monthly “AFA Journal” sent to 180,000 people, largely on the basis of anti-gay appeals.
AFA has 21 state directors, including California’s Scott Lively, co-author of “The Pink Swastika,” a book that claims “homosexuals are the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.”
Founded in 1978 by Gary DeMar, American Vision is a prominent proponent of Christian Reconstructionism. DeMar contends that the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation” and that its democracy should be replaced by a theocratic government run by Christians who will strictly impose certain Old Testament prohibitions, including passages they interpret as opposing homosexuality and abortion.
Concerned Women for America
When she founded Concerned Women for America in 1979, Beverly LaHaye was best known for “The Act of Marriage,” an anti-feminist bestseller co-authored with her husband, Tim.
CWA now has a daily radio show that reaches more than one million listeners, four affiliate organizations, and a cadre of attorneys, researchers and lobbyists.
In 2001, LaHaye hired two of America’s most prominent anti-gay propagandists, Robert Knight and Peter LaBarbera, to launch CWA’s Culture and Family Institute.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CWA accused same-sex partners of those killed of “trying to hijack the moral capital of marriage.”
Family Research Council
In 1988, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family mega-ministry merged with the Family Research Council, a small Washington think tank headed by Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate. With Focus’ millions behind it, FRC’s profile shot up as Bauer brought Dobson’s anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-sex education messages to leaders on Capitol Hill.
When FRC’s lobbying threatened Focus’ tax-exempt status in 1992, the groups severed their legal ties.
During the gays-in-the-military debate of 1993, Bauer wrote an influential op-ed alleging that gay people’s “notion of ‘civil rights’ would mean a jackboot on the back of the 99 percent of society that still follows the norms of nature.”
Family Research Institute
Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Family Research Institute was founded in 1987 by Paul Cameron who told the 1985 Conservative Political Action Committee conference that “extermination of homosexuals” might be needed in the next three to four years. He has advocated tattooing people with AIDS in the face, and banishment to a former leper colony for anyone who resisted. He has called for gay bars to be closed and gays to be registered with the government.
Cameron was kicked out of the American Psychological Association for ethical violations in 1983. Anti-gay groups and commentators including Pat Buchanan frequently cite Cameron’s studies alleging that gay men intentionally spread AIDS.
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, Colo.
James Dobson, a former child development professor who advocated spanking, founded Focus on the Family in 1977.
On Focus’ 47-acre campus in Colorado Springs, some 1,300 employees battle against gay rights, sex education and women’s rights with an annual budget of $130 million. Dobson’s radio show is aired daily on more than 9,000 radio stations worldwide, giving him an estimated audience of more than 200 million.
Among the anti-gay rhetoric on the group’s Web site is a Dobson essay that says: “Moms and Dads, are you listening? This movement is the greatest threat to your children. It is of particular danger to your wide-eyed boys, who have no idea what demoralization is planned for them.”
Dobson’s effectiveness was seen clearly as he successfully spearheaded the national campaign against gay marriage in 2003 and 2004.
Thanks to House Blender Adrian for the pointer.