Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition is probably the most influential national Christian Right group in the United States. Founded in October 1989, the Coalition boasts more than 400,000 members organized in county-level chapters in all 50 states, and has a goal of 700,000 members by the end of 1993. The army of the faithful have begun to wield real political power in the past year through their tireless efforts to take control of the Republican party from the grassroots level up, and by supporting and electing "stealth candidates" to local school boards, county commissions, and other offices. The Christian Coalition's local chapters produce voter guides outlining which candidates support the "pro-family" agenda, which are distributed through church networks to Christian voters.
In 1992 the Oregon Citizens' Alliance became the official Oregon affiliate of the Christian Coalition, earning a $20,000 donation in support of Measure 9. 1993 has seen the Coalition take part in the battle over the "Children of the Rainbow" curriculum in New York City schools and coordinate a county-by-county campaign in Tennessee county commissions to issue statements opposed to the inclusion of lesbians and gays under the Federal Civil Rights Bill, among many other activities.
This edition of NGLTF's Fight the Right Action Kit contains an extensive case study of the Christian Coalition and an analysis of their successful "stealth" electoral strategy.
Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE), like the Christian Coalition, is heavily involved in grooming like-minded candidates for school boards. School curricula frequently face attack from CEE activists, concerned that books, educational materials, courses, and faculty conform to a heavily-censored Christian party line. Restoring prayer to schools, teaching creationism, and eliminating any traces of "secular humanism" in the educational environment remain among their primary goals.
People for the American Way record Simonds' boast that CEE has helped elect 1,965 school board members through the work of its 925 chapters. CEE's radio program, "Issues in Education," is broadcast in 26 states.
Concerned Women for America, with more than 1200 tightly structured chapters across the country, is a multi-issue organization with tremendous grassroots organizing skills and an innovative "535" program they use with great effectiveness to influence Congress. Via small local groups known as "prayer chains," CWA can rapidly force grassroots political pressure on elected officials to promote their antigay, anti-choice, "pro-family" agenda.
This issue of NGLTF's Fight the Right Action Kit contains an extensive case study of Concerned Women for America.
Though much smaller than the other Christian Right women's organization, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum has gained respect from religious right leaders for their godly efforts. Ralph Reed, Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, has described Schafly as the one woman most responsible for the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment. In any case, Schafly's high media visibility has allowed Eagle Forum's denigration of "feminism" to reach a mainstream audience. Schafly founded the Republican National Coalition for Life in 1990 and has maneuvered Eagle Forum into a position of great responsibility within the committee drafting national Republican party platforms and policy with regard to abortion and homosexuality.
The Family Research Council (not to be confused with the Family Research Institute associated with decertified homophobe "psychologist" Paul Cameron) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that split from Focus on the Family in late 1992. The FRC is primarily a lobbying organization opposing laws that allow unmarried domestic partners and homosexuals the same legal protections and privileges as married heterosexuals. They also oppose government-funded child care, health care, and equal protection laws for women in the workplace. FRC adamantly believes that lifting the ban on gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the military would dramatically increase the incidence of AIDS.
Focus on the Family portrays itself as an educational institution meeting the political development needs of evangelical Christians. In addition to seminars and voter guides, Focus on the Family produces books, children's magazines, and a radio program broadcast over more than 4000 stations worldwide (many in the former Soviet Union).
Focus on the Family employs approximately 900 people and has an operating budget of about $80 million per year.
The Free Congress foundation is a grassroots development organization that has recently developed an "Empowerment" program, including a newsletter and several monthly television programs (billed as National Empowerment Television, or NET) carried over satellite cable. In addition, the Free Congress Judicial Selection Monitoring Project has begun its lobbying efforts to influence the appointment of social conservatives and religious right judges to the federal bench.
Weyrich has long been a Christian Right leader. It was he who turned abortion into a major issue around which to rally fundamentalist voters. In 1973 he founded the Heritage Foundation and in 1974 the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, both of which were funded by reactionary beer mogul Joseph Coors. The Heritage Foundation is easily the most politically influential think tank in the country, and the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress became the prototype for an organization specializing in training and promoting candidates and targeting vulnerable incumbents. Weyrich was the first prominent New Right figure to support Pat Robertson's 1988 presidential campaign, and he has recently allied himself with the Christian Coalition, for which he provides strategic support through the Heritage Foundation.
Founded in 1986 by New York used car salesman Randall Terry, Operation Rescue has received national media attention for its efforts to shut down clinics that perform abortions. Operation Rescue brought street fighting tactics, and what is, in effect, urban guerilla warfare, to the anti-abortion movement. Not content to lobby Congress or petition the Supreme Court, OpRes activists physically barricade clinic entrances, vandalize property, and terrorize both women attempting to enter the clinics and medical professionals who work within them. Following the murder of Dr. David Gunn in Florida in March, 1993, Randall Terry, while admitting that murder can never be advocated, expressed relief that at least Dr. Gunn would no longer be able to murder unborn babies. Following President Clinton's pledge to lift the Department of Defense ban on gays and lesbians in the military, Terry added opposition to changing the ban to the Operation Rescue agenda.
The Rutherford Insitute is the premier legal arm of the religious right, acting as a sort of reactionary version of the ACLU. Whitehead has said, "There can be no solution to problems...both individual and social, other than those the Bible offers." R.J. Rushdoony, the "Marx" of Christian Reconstructionism, is a former board member of the organization which specializes in what they term "religious liberty" cases. As Skipp Porteous from the Insititute for First Amendment Studies has written,
Within the framework of the radical Christian right, "religious liberty" can include Sunday blue laws, prayers at public school graduations and sporting events, the teaching of creationism in public school science classes, tax exemptions for churches and church-run businesses, and housing and employment discrimination against gay and unmarried couples who cohabitate.
Lou Sheldon was once described by USA Today as a "California Falwell," a label that fits the high-profile preacher as well as any. His media-friendly crusades have played a major role in defeating gay and lesbian rights legislation in California in recent years. Sheldon has suggested, according to reports in the Los Angeles Times that people with AIDS should be segregated in "cities of refuge" for their own good and the good of society. He also pushes the "no special rights" for homosexuals line and the claim that gays and lesbians subvert the "heterosexual ethic."
Traditional Values Coalition chapters are known to exist in 17 states, but Sheldon's influence extends further, as dozens of small groups using "traditional values" and similar language claim at least ideological affiliation to Sheldon and his California organization.