Section 1: Introduction
Washington citizens may be surprised to learn of the following actions which took place in their state in the 1990s:
- In Richland in 1994, the school board president urged the district to consider a proposal to teach creationism in science classes.
- In Lynden in 1994, the Washington Alliance of Families succeeded in having the Pulitzer-prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres removed from a high school English reading list, complaining that it portrayed immorality.
- In 1993 in Spokane, members of the American Family Association picketed a television station for carrying the acclaimed dramatic series "NYPD Blue."
- In Quilcene in 1992, a group of people who claimed that a public school self-esteem program promoted "New Age" philosophy organized to defeat the school levy, then filed suit against the school district.
- In Walla Walla in 1991, a group calling itself Citizens for Active Responsibility in Education mounted a campaign to ban a widely used reading series from elementary schools on grounds that it taught the religion of witchcraft.
- In Vancouver in 1991, members of a group calling itself Residents Enthusiastic for Quality Education removed five books on homosexual subjects from the Fort Vancouver Regional Library -- and announced they had burned two of them.
These actions were not isolated events. Rather, they are part of the religious right political movement that has been growing across the nation. It is a movement that invokes religious authority for its anti-liberty political agenda. Its adherents seek to use government to enforce an absolutist view of morality based on its version of Christianity.
The ACLU strongly supports the right of religious citizens to participate in our state's democratic processes. Indeed, America has a long tradition of people involved in politics because of religious values. Our concern is with their political agenda that would limit basic freedoms for others by:
- banning a woman's right to choose abortion;
- denying basic civil rights to gay and lesbian people;
- limiting the opportunities for students to learn critical thinking skills and have access to complete information about prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases;
- censoring books available in public schools and libraries.
Many pundits proclaimed that the influence of the religious right was waning after the collapse of the Moral Majority and the defeat of Pat Robertson's presidential candidacy in the late 1980s. But groups such as the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family worked on grassroots organizing and media-based fundraising. They have built a powerful political apparatus -- a network of national and local organizations, mailing lists, media, and training schools, with an ability to mobilize followers quickly.
In Washington, activists of the religious right won control of the state Republican Convention in 1992 and adopted a platform with planks that startled many mainstream citizens, including opposition to "channeling" and witchcraft in the public schools. Not long after, Presidential contender Patrick Buchanan announced before the Republican National Convention and a national television audience, "There is a religious war going on in this country."
In the 1994 elections, the Christian Coalition claimed to have distributed 33 million voters guides nationally. In Washington, over 40 candidates endorsed by religious right organizations were elected to the state legislature. New members of Congress elected with the backing of religious right organizations include Linda Smith, a long-time opponent of abortion rights and gay rights; Randy Tate, a Pat Robertson delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1988; and Doc Hastings, who received funds from the anti-abortion National Right to Life Political Action Committee.
Also in 1994, two competing organizations circulated statewide initiative measures aimed at denying basic civil rights to gay and lesbian people. Though these failed to reach the ballot, efforts to curtail freedoms continue on many fronts.
This report examines some of the key organizations, leaders, ideology, and activities of the religious right-and their interconnections. Its focus is on those aspects which threaten constitutional freedoms, including the separation of church and state. In a nation with people of many diverse backgrounds and faiths, keeping religious doctrine separate from government is a cornerstone of freedom. It ensures the right of all people to practice the religion of their choice or no religion at all free from interference or control by the state. It guarantees that religious minorities in a community are not subjected to the will of the majority.
Yet leaders of the religious right have declared the United States "a Christian nation" and tout the need to elect officials who will take Biblical positions on public issues. In a widely circulated pamphlet, the leader of Citizens for Excellence in Education wrote, "Only Christians can truly represent the Judeo-Christian views. Therefore, Christians should elect godly Christians whenever possible."
Some religious right leaders deride the wall between church and state as a "socialist myth," a "lie of the left," and a concoction of civil libertarians and misguided judges. Others give lip service to the principle while working to erode it by reintroducing organized prayer and the study of creationism as science to public schools.
In addition, the religious right's methods of operation often are antithetical to our nation's tradition of democratic pluralism. Key leaders have endorsed "stealth tactics" which deliberately seek to avoid full and open discussion of political aims. In invoking divine sanction for their political stances, they sometimes imply that people who think otherwise are "unGodly." In proclaiming they alone stand for "pro-family values," they stigmatize cultural diversity, especially non-nuclear families and gay and lesbian people. Their language is filled with images of warfare and too often demonizes their political opponents, whom they accuse of perpetrating an "abortion Holocaust" and engaging in "religious cleansing."
When their agenda and tactics have been challenged, leaders of the religious right have complained they are victims of "religious bigotry." This claim distorts the matter. When people pursue political goals and claim theirs is the Christian position, it is not bigotry to explain and disagree with their political program. It is part of the give and take of an open democratic society.
This report uses the term "religious right" advisedly. Many devoutly religious people do not subscribe to its political aims, nor do many deeply conservative people. We choose religious right only as the most convenient way to describe a movement of people organized to use government to enact their version of religious orthodoxy.
ACLU of Washington
Section 2: The Religious Right in Washington
National Organizations Active in Washington
The Christian Coalition
The most influential national religious right organization in Washington state is the Christian Coalition. It was founded in 1989 by evangelist Pat Robertson, head of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of its "700 Club" talk show. In 1988, Robertson ran for the Republican nomination for President; although that bid failed, his campaign provided the organizational structure and mailing lists that become the foundation for the Christian Coalition.
Today the Christian Coalition is one of the best-organized political groups in the nation. Nationally it claims 1.4 million members spread across every state and organized into 1,100 chapters, with volunteers in 50,000 precincts, and full-time staff in 19 states. Its annual budget is estimated to be $12-14 million. Robertson reaches tens of millions of people daily through his television program. He heads an empire of enterprises which includes The Family Channel, Regent University, and a legal arm, the American Center for Law and Justice.
The Washington state chapter of the Christian Coalition was incorporated in 1993. Headquartered in Olympia, the chapter claims 50,000 members statewide. As of November, 1994, it listed local chapters in 9 counties, with more in formation.
The Christian Coalition's stated mission is "to mobilize and train Christians for effective political action" and "to reverse the moral decline and encroaching secularism in this country." In pursuit of this mission, Robertson has argued explicitly against the separation of church and state:
"They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the Constitution. It's a lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore."
Robertson has advocated that Christians take control of society's key institutions:
"If Christian people work together, they can succeed during this decade in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from them over the past 70 years. Expect confrontations that will be not only unpleasant but at times physically bloody ... This decade will not be for the faint of heart, but the resolute. Institutions will be plunged into wrenching change. We will be living through one of the most tumultuous periods of human history. When it is over, I am convinced that God's people will emerge victorious."
The organization's key political strategist is executive director Ralph Reed, former executive director of the National College Republicans and who worked in campaigns for Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich and Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Reed shares Robertson's vision of Christians taking control of society's institutions from the bottom up:
"... What Christians have got to do is take back this country, one precinct at a time, one neighborhood at a time and one state at a time ... I honestly believe that in my lifetime we will see a country once again governed by Christians ... and Christian values."
Toward this end, Reed has built the Christian Coalition into a 50-state organization with several key goals:
- Organize Christian activists for political involvement at the state, county, and precinct levels;
- Provide political training for activists and candidates;
- Take control of state and county Republican Party organizations.
Reed has also advocated the so-called "stealth campaign" strategy. According to this approach, activists are encouraged to run for school boards, city councils, and other low-profile posts without announcing their religious right affiliations or full political agendas.
Campaign organizers rely on church directories for "get-out-the-vote" efforts and distribute flyers extensively in church parking lots. According to Reed, voter registration drives sometimes are conducted in church pews when the offering plate is passed. This allows for a highly effective campaign with little visibility to opposing candidates or the general public. As Reed has put it,
"I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night."
The effectiveness of stealth strategy was demonstrated dramatically, with Christian Coalition support, in San Diego in November, 1990. Sixty of a slate of 88 candidates espousing "family values" and opposed to the right to choose abortion were elected to office. According to the New York Times, the candidates organized through churches while avoiding public appearances and often declining to answer candidate questionnaires. Once in office, Vista's new school board members caused a public furor by pushing for the teaching of creationism.
"We may feel like we are fighting in Satan's front yard here in Washington State, but we must never forget what we stand for and Who we represent."
-- Christian Coalition of Washington newsletter, January, 1994
The Christian Coalition is formally established as a 501c(3) organization, prohibited by federal law from participating in partisan politics. Nevertheless, the Coalition is structured like a political party, organized to exert influence from the precinct to the national level. In April, 1994, for example, the Christian Coalition sponsored a daylong precinct-organizing seminar in Renton on "How To Take Over Your District." The state chapter's November, 1994 newsletter solicited candidates to run for elected office, seeking people who "believe we need to restore Judeo-Christian values to public policy."
While the Coalition does not endorse or make financial contributions to candidates, it does distribute copious amounts of political literature. The group's state director said it distributed 400,000 Christian Coalition voter guides for Washington's 1994 primary elections. The guides listed candidate positions on issues including restricting abortions except to save a mother's life, civil rights laws protecting gays against employment discrimination, Outcome Based Education, and gun control. A national spokesperson told the Morning News Tribune that the group produced thousands of guides for Southwest Washington telling voters how to write in Linda Smith as Republican candidate for Congress.
In Washington state, as elsewhere, the Christian Coalition has been built on the foundation supplied by Pat Robertson's 1988 campaign for president. The 1986 Washington state Republican caucuses and conventions were heavily attended by religious right activists, serving as a prelude to Robertson's 1988 campaign. In 1988, Robertson benefited from this state's caucus system, which can be dominated by a relatively small but well-organized minority. Although Robertson failed to win any other state primaries on "Super Tuesday," he placed first in the Washington caucuses. State Christian Coalition coordinator Jim Robinson used a prayer meeting held on the Friday evening before the 1992 state Republican convention to promote the organization. The Christian Coalition of Washington was finally incorporated in May, 1993.
The group has focused on training political activists and candidates and organizing at the local level. To achieve this, the Christian Coalition operates periodic Leadership Schools --two-day programs where participants learn how to organize precincts, run for office, and tap church-based support. In October, 1993, the state chapters of Oregon and Washington conducted a leadership school in Portland; speakers included Lon Mabon, head of the anti-gay Oregon Citizens Alliance.
The Executive Director of the Washington state chapter is David Welch. In 1986, Welch served as chairman for Citizens for Decency, a Lacey-based group that sought the repeal of an Olympia city ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians. He served as Washington state coordinator for Pat Robertson's 1988 presidential campaign. In a 1993 op-ed piece in the Daily Olympian, Welch argued against extending civil rights protections to gay people; he said that homosexuals "are creating their own problems by forcing a deviant, unnatural lifestyle on the rest of society."
However, Welch has taken steps to avoid the rancor that divided the religious right from Republican moderates in 1992. In April, 1994, Welch and other Christian conservatives including former state senator Ellen Craswell met with Republican moderates, led by Thurston County auditor Sam Reed. Their deliberations resulted in a show of unity between the religious right and the moderates at the 1994 state convention and a state platform without divisive rhetoric. The state Christian Coalition also kept some distance from anti-gay Initiatives 608 and 610, though local activists and chapters supported the measures.
Robertson and Reed seem committed to working within the Republican Party, which helps account for the Christian Coalition's recent efforts to moderate its image. In a 1993 article in Policy Review (published by the Heritage Foundation) titled "Casting a Wider Net," Reed sounded a theme he later voiced in a speech in Vancouver in March, 1994: the need to move beyond "pro-family issues" to concerns which can attract the majority of voters, such as crime, taxes, and health care. In January, 1995, Reed announced that the Christian Coalition is launching a million-dollar lobbying campaign in support of the Republican Party's "Contract with America."
This new approach forces the Coalition to walk a careful line. On the one hand, the group is emphasizing issues which appeal to a broader audience. But on the other hand, it is the social issues -- such as abortion and homosexuality -- that motivate the core supporters who are crucial to the Christian Coalition's success.
American Center for Law and Justice
Modeled after the ACLU, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is the legal arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. The organization was founded in 1990 to promote "pro-liberty, pro-life, and pro-family causes." As of 1994, it employed 25 staff lawyers, claimed to have over 200 affiliated lawyers nationwide, and had 50 cases in active litigation. Among its key goals is to erode the separation of church and state, which Robertson regards as a myth invented by groups such as the ACLU. He explained the ACLJ's mission in a 1992 newsletter:
"We can see the day that children are allowed to pray in schools again, the Bible is once again honored as the basis for morality and law, secular humanism no longer reigns supreme in our public institutions, and hostility toward religion in the public arena is eliminated. With a conservative Supreme Court in place, we can change the laws significantly in the next few years."
A leading ACLJ campaign provided misleading information in support of school prayer. Since 1992 the group has sent mailings to local school officials around the country asserting that prayers at graduation ceremonies are constitutional if initiated by students. The ACLJ advisory cited a U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Jones v. Clear Creek) which applied only in three states and conflicted with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1993 decision (Lee vs. Weisman) that graduation prayer at official school ceremonies violates the First Amendment. In November, 1994, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over the Northwest) ruled that since officially-sanctioned prayers in public school are unconstitutional, graduation prayers are not subject to a majority vote by students.
Regarding Washington, the advisory ignored the strong provisions of the Washington constitution on the separation of church and state which has led Washington courts (Rosenberger v. Yelm School District, 1991) to rule against graduation prayer. The state and national ACLU provided information to school officials correcting the inaccuracies in the ACLJ mailing.
Pat Robertson also founded the National Legal Foundation in 1985 but is no longer associated with it. Based in Chesapeake, Virginia, it is a law firm active in anti-abortion and church-state cases. Its head, Robert Skolrood, provided legal advice on drafting of Colorado's anti-gay Amendment 2, which the Colorado Supreme Court subsequently overturned as unconstitutional. Skolrood also was a co-counsel in defense of Cincinnati's anti-gay initiative, which an Ohio court found unconstitutional in 1994.
Focus on the Family/Washington Family Council
One of the largest organizations mobilizing evangelical Christians for political action is Focus on the Family (FOF), founded by child psychologist Dr. James Dobson in 1977. Today FOF has approximately 2,200 employees and an annual budget of over $77 million. FOF has opened a new $27 million headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Dobson urges Christians to become involved in the "cultural civil war between Judeo-Christian values and secular humanism." But he and his organization often project a relatively moderate image; this stems partly from Dobson's extensive writings offering advice on family and child-rearing issues. Nonetheless, FOF regularly advocates for anti-civil libertarian stances on key issues:
- opposition to abortion rights;
- opposition to anti-discrimination laws protecting gay civil rights and to gays in the military;
- support for teaching creationism in science classrooms;
- a ban on school-based health clinics and support for gender segregation for sex education classes.
Its language on these social issues is far from moderate. Focus on the Family distributes "The Homosexual Agenda: Changing Your Community and Nation," which charges that gays and lesbians aim "to force their lifestyle and its consequences upon society." In March, 1993, its Washington affiliate strongly attacked a bill before the state legislature that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation:
"No one has yet proven that homosexuality is anything but a behavior -- a choice. Furthermore, this 'choice' is vile and degrading, biologically and morally perverse, and inherently unhealthy."
In 1994, Dobson wrote a letter to voters in Idaho endorsing the anti-gay Proposition 1, which was sponsored by a spin-off of Lon Mabon's Oregon Citizens Alliance and was strongly supported by FOF's state affiliate.
FOF reaches a large audience. Its 30-minute radio show can be heard on almost 1,800 radio stations, including 49 in Washington state. Focus on the Family magazine reaches 2 million homes, and its political magazine Citizen has 277,000 subscribers.
To increase his organization's influence on national politics, Dobson in 1988 took over the Family Research Council, a small Washington, DC think tank. Headed by former Reagan administration official Gary Bauer, the Research Council formally severed its ties to FOF in 1992 because the latter's non-profit legal status restricted it from lobbying. Dobson maintains, however, that the two groups are "legally separate but spiritually one."
Focus on the Family plays an important role by providing evangelicals with a sophisticated, well-presented justification for becoming politically active. FOF and its state affiliates co-sponsor Community Impact Seminars, which offer a Biblical rationale for social action on issues such as abortion, gay rights, and sex education. Seminar handouts have explained that America was "a Christian nation at one time," and that "forsaking that heritage was a big mistake." In response to moral decay, Christians must either "persuade the gatekeepers (i.e., society's leaders) to do the right thing" or "replace them with leaders who will."
The seminars also provide a strategy for political organizing: They encourage activists to form Community Impact Committees within their churches to enlist church members in what Dobson calls "A Civil War of Values." The seminars have provided this basic model for grassroots activism to large numbers of potential activists. In June, 1993, FOF and the Washington Family Council cosponsored a Community Impact Seminar in Bellevue which 1,200 people attended, according to an article in Washington Citizen. Several hundred more came to seminars held in Spokane in September, 1993; in Tacoma in the winter of 1994; and in Kennewick in July, 1994. One outgrowth has been the formation of church-based "Community Impact Networks" in Bellevue, Gig Harbor, and the Tri-Cities. FOF involves itself in local political affairs through over 30 state affiliates, each one an independent corporation with its own board of directors. The Washington Family Council (WFC) is the state affiliate for Focus on the Family. Its Executive Director, Jeff Kemp, is a former Seattle Seahawks quarterback and the son of conservative leader Jack Kemp. Its board includes Jack McMillan, co-chairman of Nordstrom's; Steve Sego, chairman of the Bellevue-based Republican campaign consulting firm the Madison Group; and Nona Brazier, recently chair of the King County Republican Party.
WFC publishes a monthly newsmagazine, the Washington Citizen, included as a four-page insert to FOF's political magazine Citizen. It also publishes bimonthly "Community Impact Bulletins" with briefings and recommended actions on legislative issues, plus reports on businesses which allegedly "promote the gay agenda." WFC has helped organize and publicize anti-abortion events, such as March for Life and LIFECHAIN, and legislative action workshops in Olympia.
Founded in 1982, the Rutherford Institute is a nonprofit legal network headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia with chapters in three dozen states, including Washington. It operates with an annual budget of about $11 million and 12 staff attorneys in five regional offices, plus 250 volunteer attorneys around the country. It has been involved in hundreds of cases, often in defense of individuals' rights to practice their religion. For example, Rutherford joined the ACLU and others in supporting the right of Native Americans to use peyote in their traditional religious rituals, just as Christians use wine in sacraments.
The Rutherford Institute has also undertaken many cases that advance an anti-civil liberties agenda. Nationally it has been involved in attempts:
- to prevent the National Endowment for the Arts from funding art it viewed as "blasphemous";
- to deny gay students the right to organize student groups on campus;
- to defend the militant anti-abortion tactics of Operation Rescue;
- and to uphold a Louisiana law enabling the teaching of "creation science" in public schools.
In Washington a Rutherford chapter was organized in 1990 with over two dozen volunteer attorneys headed by Theodore Vander Wel of Bellevue. Rutherford actions in this state have addressed several right-wing concerns:
- Anti-Gay: In 1994 the Rutherford Institute helped defray the legal expenses of Megan Lucas of Orcas Island in her much-publicized attempt to prevent a gay couple from gaining custody of the son she already had given up for adoption. Her claim faltered after reports of her history of substance abuse and allegations by her husband that she had threatened to harm the child. In April, 1994, the state Court of Appeals ruled that her petition to adopt the child was "utterly devoid of merit"; the state supreme court declined to hear an appeal.
- AIDS Prevention: In 1992 the Rutherford Institute sent a letter to school board members in several districts discouraging them from holding hearings to consider condom distribution programs. An official of the Washington State School Directors Association advised local districts that the letter gave a distorted view of state law, saying, " ... school boards should not be intimidated out of considering condom distribution programs because of the Rutherford Institute letter."
- School Censorship: In 1991 a lawyer for the Rutherford Institute threatened to sue the Walla Walla School District for using the elementary reading series Impressions, claiming its fantasy stories violate the separation of church and state. As Rutherford attorney John Herrig put it,
"Impressions teaches religion -- a secular religion in a public school. That religion is Wicca, or witchcraft --Satanism ... In short, we feel that the Impressions series is fostering spiritual pornography."
Herrig warned that Rutherford was willing to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which, he said, could cost the district a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees.
School district officials voted to continue using the series, and the Rutherford Institute never sued. In 1994 the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a claim brought by the American Family Association in California that Impressions promoted witchcraft or denigrated Christianity; the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois made a similar ruling earlier in the year.
- Anti-Abortion: In 1991 the Rutherford Institute attempted to block Initiative 120, which guaranteed Washington women the right to choose abortion. Its unsuccessful lawsuit sought to bar the initiative from the ballot because of alleged flaws in its wording.
The American Family Association
The American Family Association describes itself as a "Christian organization promoting the Biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media." AFA (originally called the National Federation for Decency) was founded in 1977 by Donald Wildmon, a non-practicing Methodist minister from Tupelo, Mississippi. Its 1992 budget was $7.2 million. AFA claims that it has 450,000 members and 640 chapters. The organization employs about three dozen people and has an annual income of about $6 million.
AFA currently has 10 chapters active in Washington. According to the Institute for First Amendment Studies (a group which monitors the far right), AFA currently claims over 2,000 members in the state. Members monitor television programs for mentions of homosexuality and picket stores that sell adult videos. In 1993, AFA members in Spokane supported an unsuccessful campaign to change the public library's open shelves policy for minors. An FM radio translator to broadcast AFA programs is planned for Sunnyside, WA, sponsored by the Cornerstone Church there.
AFA is known best for its crusades against television shows, movies, and other purveyors of popular culture which it deems offensive for being sexually explicit, pro-gay, anti-Christian, or violent. Its preferred tactic is the consumer boycott, used typically against manufacturers who advertise on television programs it finds objectionable. These have included "Cheers," "The Golden Girls," "The Johnny Carson Show," and "Tales of the City," an award-winning PBS drama which included openly gay characters. In 1993, AFA members in Spokane picketed KXLY-TV to protest its airing of the Emmy Award-winning program "NYPD Blue." One of AFA's most prominent campaigns was its attack on the film The Last Temptation of Christ, which Wildmon considered blasphemous toward Christianity. Wildmon was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for focusing on the Jewish origins of the MCA executives who he suggested were solely responsible for producing the film. AFA members sponsored picket lines to protest the showing of the film in Seattle in 1988.
"We need strong school board members who know right from wrong. The Bible, being the only true source on right and wrong, should be the guide of board members. Only godly Christians can truly qualify for this critically important position, although many conservative non-Christians are trying to hold up most of our Christian agenda."
-- Robert Simonds, How to Elect Christians to Public Office
More recently, AFA has been involving itself in anti-gay politics. It claims to have distributed 30,000 copies of the lurid anti-gay video The Gay Agenda in 1992 and 1993. In Florida, AFA spearheaded an unsuccessful drive to place an anti-gay initiative on that state's 1994 ballot.
Traditional Values Coalition
The Rev. Lou Sheldon founded the California-based Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) in 1983 to inform churches of legislative actions to promote "pro-family" causes. Sheldon is a former aide to Pat Robertson. TVC has five offices around the nation and claims active members in about 20 states and affiliations with 25,000 churches.
TVC has been especially active in opposing civil rights for gay people. Sheldon has called homosexuality "the most pernicious evil today." He played a key role in convincing California Governor Pete Wilson to veto a gay rights bill, and TVC has worked to eliminate references to homosexuality -- and to evolution as "scientific fact" -- in the state's public school texts.
Robert Larimer's organization Washington for Traditional Values became an affiliate of TVC in 1994. In November, Sheldon joined Larimer in a press conference attacking Seattle's domestic partnership ordinance and at a rally in Renton promoting a statewide anti-gay initiative campaign for 1995. Sheldon helped create alliances in Arizona and Minnesota which unsuccessfully sought to place anti-gay initiatives on the ballots of those states in 1994.
Citizens for Excellence in Education
The religious right's preeminent national leader on education is Robert Simonds, who heads the National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) and its offshoot, Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE). Regarding the separation of church and state as a "socialist myth," Simonds seeks to have Christian doctrine determine what is taught in public schools.
CEE goals include having creationism taught in science classes and eliminating programs that teach self-esteem, globalism, "secular humanism," and "New Age occult" practices.
Simonds has played a key role in setting the religious right's long-range strategy for gaining control of local school boards. In 1985 he published a 65-page booklet, How to Elect Christians in Public Office, which offers practical advice on getting Christians guided by the Bible in charge of public schools. Simonds stresses using churches as a political base. "Every evangelical church," he has written, "must be involved if our Christian candidates have a chance to win." He advocates gaining the support of pastors; getting their permission to set up voter registration tables at church exits; providing the pastor with bulletin inserts describing the issues and candidates; and reminding every Christian to vote on election day.
Based in Costa Mesa, California, NACE/CEE aids local grass-roots organizations in mounting challenges against local schools. Simonds's "Public School Awareness Kit" provides strategies for running religious right candidates for school boards. In his March, 1994 "President's Report" for NACE/CEE, Simonds talked of his success and mission:
"We've just begun. There are about 92,000 school board members in America. In the past five years, CEE has only enabled 11,972 to be seated on local and state boards. We must do much better and move much faster. God's army is growing."
It is difficult to determine precisely the size and power of Simonds's organization nationally. According to Simonds, CEE has 300,000 activists, 1700 chapters, and 880 churches with Public School Awareness committees nationwide as of the end of 1994. Simonds also claims that his organization controls 2,200 boards nationally. Simonds, however, refuses to document these claims, saying "It's not that we want to hide anything. It's just that every time we do it, the NEA takes its union goons to persecute Christian parents."
Citizens for Excellence in Education has been active in Washington for at least a decade. In 1985 the Lynden School Board removed the drug and alcohol awareness program "Here's Looking at You." A local CEE chapter had objected that it lacked moral absolutes and had "roots twined in Humanism." Their objections focused on the program's alleged lack of moral absolutes and teaching of "secular humanism."
By 1987, CEE was reported to have 23 chapters in Washington. As of November, 1994, CEE listed chapters in Everett, Ferndale, Marysville, Olympia, Bremerton, Moses Lake, Malone, and Benton City. In addition, CEE publications have circulated widely throughout the religious right.
Christian Educators Association International
Based in Pasadena, California, the Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) promotes Christianity in the public schools through its teacher members. The group represents 3,600 members -- an increase of 91 percent in the past year --and aims to recruit two members in every school in America by the year 2000. Its leaders seek to circumvent the secular nature of public education and encourage teachers to evangelize in the classroom. Executive Director Forrest Turpen has said, "As a local missionary force, the Christian educator in the state public school is the church's best-kept secret." Its regional representative is teacher Dick Streeter of Spokane.
Concerned Women for America
Beverly LaHaye founded Concerned Women for America (CWA) in 1979 to "protect the rights of the family through prayer and action." CWA's annual budget is approximately $10 million, and it claims a national membership of 600,000 (100,000 of them men), more than twice the membership for the National Organization for Women. LaHaye has said that CWA opposes "everything that NOW favors," which includes abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1992, LaHaye supported the anti-gay ballot initiatives in Oregon and Colorado. In the latter state, CWA activists circulated petitions that helped get the anti-gay measure on the ballot. CWA members work against sex education curricula that provide information on how to protect against unsafe sex and oppose anti-drug and alcohol abuse programs that emphasize self-esteem.
"Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the Bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office."
-- Beverly LaHaye
CWA maintains a national, grassroots organizational structure. Its activists are organized into chapters of 50 people each. The chapter, in turn, consists of a leader and seven prayer chain leaders, who each have seven contacts to make on a given issue. As of November, 1994, CWA had "Prayer in Action" chapters in Tacoma, Bellevue, Redmond, Vancouver, Montesano, Chelan, Graham, and Freeman. Rep. Val Stevens of Arlington has served as both Area Representative and a national board member of CWA. And Beverly LaHaye and her husband Tim LaHaye (who is a prominent evangelical organizer and author) have served on the advisory committee of IMPAC, a Political Action Committee which supports conservative Christian candidates in Washington state.
Founded in 1972, Eagle Forum has 80,000 members and is led by Phyllis Schlafly. Best-known for opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, the group also works against the right to choose abortion, gay civil rights, and sex education that is not totally abstinence-based. Congress member Linda Smith was first elected to the state legislature in the early 1980s after becoming active in her local Eagle Forum chapter. Cathy Mickels of Lynden, head of the Washington Alliance for Families and spokesperson for the anti-gay Initiative 608, has been a national board member of the Eagle Forum. Mickels and Sally Bostad have served as state leaders for the group. There is an Eagle Forum chapter in Whatcom County.
Based in Aledo, Texas, WallBuilders seeks to erode the Constitution's wall separating church and state by promoting the historical works of founder David Barton. Mixing quotations and anecdotes often taken out of context, Barton purports to show that America was founded on Christian principles, which were intended to be "officially and legally inseparable from American public life." A report by the Anti-Defamation League described his version of history as "an assault on scholarship." Best-known are his book The Myth of Separation and his video America's Godly Heritage. WallBuilders materials are widely distributed by religious right groups, and Barton is a popular speaker on the religious right circuit. "Family in Touch" (see below) and four churches sponsored lectures by Barton in Spokane, Edmonds, Bothell, and Tacoma in the fall of 1994. (Refutations of Barton's premises are provided by Rob Boston's book Why the Religious Right is Wrong about Separation of Church and State and the ACLU's video America's Constitutional Heritage.)
Washington Alliance of Citizens
The Washington Alliance of Citizens was founded in early 1993 in Vancouver by Lon Mabon as an offshoot of his Oregon Citizens Alliance. The organization sponsored the anti-gay rights Initiative 610, which failed to gain enough signatures to reach the 1994 ballot. It also opposed protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation for city employees in Vancouver and has criticized diversity training for state employees. In January, 1995 it filed two initiatives: one that would bar adoptions and foster care by gay people and another that would remove waiting periods, fees, and regulations from buying and owning firearms. In March, 1995 it filed Initiative 167, an initiative to the 1996 legislature, that would bar adoptions by gay people and restrict adoptions by single individuals and unmarried couples. Its state director is Sam Woodard of Ariel in southwest Washington.
Washington for Traditional Values
Robert Larimer, Jr. founded Washington for Traditional Values (WTV) in early 1994 after he resigned as head of the Citizens Alliance of Washington in a strategy dispute with its guiding spirit, Lon Mabon of the Oregon Citizens Alliance. Larimer, a Frito-Lay factory worker, was active in promoting school censorship efforts in the Evergreen School District in Vancouver in the mid-1980s and ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature in 1986. In late 1994 he announced that his new group had become an affiliate of the California-based Traditional Values Coalition headed by the Rev. Lou Sheldon.
Larimer said WTV would initially focus on opposing gay rights but would also take on property rights, gun-ownership rights, and other conservative causes. The organization's base of support has been primarily in southwest Washington. In May, 1994, school district officials in Longview and Kelso withdrew support for AIDS awareness workshops after Washington for Traditional Values circulated flyers urging parents to keep their children out of the training sessions. In November, WTV drew 50 people to a rally at a church in Renton in support of an anti-gay initiative aimed at the 1996 state legislature by the sponsor of 1994's Initiative 608 (the Committee for Equal Rights, Not Special Rights). Larimer joined the Committee's board after the 608 campaign.
Washington Public Affairs Council
The Washington Public Affairs Council was incorporated in late 1992 with the intention of promoting a statewide initiative to bar legislation extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. In 1994, a spin-off group (the Committee for Equal Rights, Not Special Rights) sponsored Initiative 608, an anti-gay rights initiative which fell short of garnering enough signatures to make the ballot. In March, 1995 it filed a similar measure, Initiative 166, aimed at the 1996 state legislature. Its chair is Doug, an insurance salesman in Pierce County and veteran political organizer. Burman is former director of the Washington Family Council, the state affiliate of Focus on the Family. (See section on The Campaign against Gay and Lesbian Rights, page 32)
Washington Family Council
Headquartered in Bellevue, the Washington Family Council is the state affiliate of Focus on the Family. Its Executive Director is Jeff Kemp. It was formerly known as the Family Values Alliance. (See National Organizations section, page 5)
Washington Alliance of Families
Based in Lynden, the Washington Alliance of Families was incorporated in 1993 and works for "pro-family" causes. Its most visible presence is through the activities of its head Cathy Mickels, who has served as a national board member of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and the anti-abortion Republican Coalition for Life. Mickels has been involved as an organizer and spokesperson for numerous right-wing causes:
- In 1989 she headed the Mothers' Campaign for Fairness, which helped defeat the Children's Initiative, which would have provided increased funding for education and other programs to benefit children.
- In 1992, as delegate to the Republican National Convention, she served on the platform committee and successfully promoted a plank that rejected civil rights guarantees for gays and lesbians.
- In 1993 she was an outspoken opponent of Outcome-Based Education reforms under consideration by the state legislature. She opposed teaching critical thinking because "it can undermine the values taught in the home."
- In early 1994 she led a protest against Jane Smiley's novel A Thousand Acres which succeeded in having it removed from an optional reading list of a college-preparatory course at Lynden High School.
- In 1994 she served as a spokesperson for the No Special Rights Committee in its campaign for anti-gay Initiative 608.
Mid-Columbia Family Alliance
Formed in 1993, the Mid-Columbia Family Alliance (MCFA), along with groups with overlapping leadership, has provided a focal point for religious right activities in the Tri-Cities area. MCFA President Wayne Burgess and board member Keith Pauley sit on the board of Family Pack, a "pro-family" Political Action Committee. Both were leading advocates for the anti-gay Initiative 608, and MCFA advisory board member Rev. Joe Munday was local coordinator for the 608 campaign.
"After so many tears, so much prayer, and so much effort, why have we had so little impact? The answer is simple -- The Righteous are not in authority!"
-- IMPAC flier
The goal of the Mid-Columbia Family Alliance is to "provide a bridge among the pro-family, pro-life, benevolent and conservative groups with which the Alliance shares family values." To that end, it cosponsored a March, 1994 seminar for educators on religious activities in public schools led by Gregory Casey of the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom. It also promoted a "Community Impact Seminar" held by Focus on the Family in Kennewick in July, 1994.
The public schools have been a particular focus for the religious right in Tri-Cities. In 1993 over 120 people called a Pasco middle school to object that a Planned Parenthood staffer had been allowed to make a presentation on prejudice. Later in 1993, Pasco school board member Brenda High helped organize a series of lectures by Families for America, a national group led by right-wing Mormon Cleon Skousen. Titled "The Miracle of America," the lectures supported teaching of absolute religious values in public schools. In 1994, Al Brauer, an MCFA advisory board member, made a presentation to a Richland School District committee in 1994 advocating the teaching of "intelligent design theory" (creationism) in science classes.
IMPAC is a Lacey-based political action committee founded in 1987. According to its literature, IMPAC is
"... designed to put Bible-believing Christians in leadership in our state. Genuine long-term reform will come only when Bible-believing people are making, interpreting, and enforcing our laws."
IMPAC addresses citizens who oppose abortion rights and gay rights and who want to put officially organized prayer back in school. Its literature contains strident references to concerns that "Sodomites have special rights under the law" and to alleged efforts "to eradicate every vestige of Christianity from the marketplace of ideas."
IMPAC endorses candidates for the legislature and sends mailings to its membership, who are pledged to donate $10 to each of four candidates that it endorses each election cycle. IMPAC raises very little money for itself --only enough to pay for basic expenses and the cost of its mailings. Successful candidates it has supported include state legislators Linda Smith of Hazel Dell, Val Stevens of Arlington, and Randy Tate of Puyallup; Bill Backlund of Redmond, whom it also endorsed, lost in the election but later was appointed to the state House and was reelected in 1994. All four candidates it endorsed in 1994 won election to the legislature: Senator Gary Strannigan of Everett, and Representatives Lois McMahan of Gig Harbor, John Koster of Arlington, and Grant Pelesky of Puyallup.
IMPAC's Executive Committee includes former State Senator Ellen Craswell, publisher of "Family In Touch" newsletter. Its endorsers include such prominent figures as State Representatives Val Stevens and Steve Fuhrman; former state legislator Bob Williams, now director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation; and Gregory Casey of the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom.
IMPAC's Advisory Committee has included three key national leaders of the religious right: Beverly LaHaye, head of Concerned Women for America; her husband Tim LaHaye, an author and founding board member of the Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority; and R.J. Rushdoony, a prominent Christian Reconstructionist who seeks to rebuild society according to a Biblical blueprint.
"Family In Touch"
Former state senator Ellen Craswell of Poulsbo publishes the newsletter "Family in Touch," which urges readers to lobby state legislators on issues such as the gay civil rights bill and touts "pro-family" candidates. In 1994 it mailed petitions for the anti-gay Initiative 608. The newsletter also includes announcements for workshops and seminars by religious right leaders. These have included former Washington State Legislator Glenn Dobbs on "Exposing the Gay Agenda," and Colorado for Family Values Director Kevin Tebedo on "The Gay Agenda, Its Threat, and How Christians Can Counteract It." The publication also promotes events, such as Focus on the Family's Community Impact Seminar in Bellevue in June, 1993.
"God has been increasing the numbers of His people in the Legislature and we believe He will use them to recapture the lost ground."
-- "Family In Touch," March, 1994
Craswell received the Christian Coalition of Washington's first annual award in 1994 for bringing "Godly, Judeo-Christian values into public policy."
Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government
Washington Evangelicals for Responsible Government was organized in 1993 under the leadership of former Republican legislator Skeeter Ellis. Its key undertaking is the Capitol Project, which tracks bills and state regulations from an office in Olympia. It has been touted by the King County Christian Coalition as "the first-ever professional lobbying organization for Bible believing churches and Christian organizations." (The mainstream Washington Association of Churches and a number of individual Christian denominations have long had lobbyists in Olympia.) In 1994 it focused on opposition to the gay civil rights bill, diversity training, and inclusion of sexual orientation in equity in education. Lobbyist Priscilla Martens was a longtime aide to Ellen Craswell, former state legislator who now publishes "Family In Touch" newsletter (see above).
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) is an Olympia-based think tank established in 1991 by Bob Williams, a former Republican state legislator and gubernatorial candidate. While EFF is not a religiously based organization, EFF's leaders are well-connected to the state's network of religious right organizations. Williams, its president, is an endorser of IMPAC (a right-wing Christian Political Action Committee) and was listed as an instructor at a March, 1994 leadership training school held by the state Christian Coalition. EFF Executive Director Lynn Harsh is a former anti-abortion movement organizer who also managed Williams's 1990 campaign for Congress. Robin Bernhoft, senior health care analyst, is an advisory board member of the Washington Public Affairs Council, which birthed the anti-gay Initiative 608 campaign.
EFF deals with a broad range of issues, with an emphasis on the state budget and government waste. It has also worked closely with religious right organizations in opposing state education reform. In 1993, EFF cosponsored a speaking tour by Peg Luksik, a Pennsylvania-based religious right activist and opponent of Outcome Based Education. It produced materials critical of the reform program, then under consideration in the state legislature. It promoted a 1993 conference in Richland on "Reclaiming America's Culture," which focused on education reform and featured Jeff Kemp of the Washington Family Council.
Williams also heads Grassroots Washington, which describes itself as a political education committee and publishes a monthly newsletter, "Letters of Correspondence."
Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom
Founded in California in 1987, the Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom is a regional network of attorneys. It has a headquarters in Spokane directed by J. Gregory Casey and regional offices in Seattle, Eugene, Oregon, and Newport Beach, California. The Center specializes in assisting individuals at the local level in advancing religious concerns.
Like the Rutherford Institute, it also works to advance the social issues of the religious right. As a Western Center brochure explains, it aims to resist what it regards as moral decline by working against "unrestrained abortion," "secularist public education," and "opposition to moral standards in public institutions." Its attorneys have worked with the American Family Association on a case challenging an elementary reading text for allegedly teaching witchcraft.
Founder and now Special Counsel David Llewellyn appears as a specialist on civil rights law in the virulent anti-gay video The Gay Agenda. In this state, the Center in 1992 represented parents in Everett who objected to use of an elementary school self-esteem program called "Pumsy."
Besides lawsuits and legal advocacy, the Western Center also provides education programs. Its flyer "Political Guidelines for Pastors and Churches" advises churches how to be involved in political activism without transgressing their IRS tax-exempt status. It has presented a series of workshops around the state on "The Law in Education," including information on how students may pray, distribute religious literature, and meet for bible study on school property. In addition, chief counsel Casey was on the agenda for the Christian Coalition's leadership school in Spokane in 1994.
Section 3: Historical Background
Origins of the Religious Right
The Goldwater Campaign
The modern religious right first emerged as a political force in the 1970s. But its origins can be found in Barry Goldwater's unsuccessful campaign for president in 1964 and the conservative movement known as the New Right which developed after it. The Goldwater campaign brought together several elements of the right wing into a national movement. Among these were hardline anti-Communists who had followed the preaching of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and people who believed that a movement they called "secular humanism" was trying to steer the U.S. from a God-centered society to atheistic socialism. Reinforcing this conspiratorial world view were members of the John Birch Society, whose founder Robert Welch once claimed that even Dwight Eisenhower was a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy."
Three men who worked on the Goldwater campaign became key leaders of the New Right. Shortly after the candidate's 1964 defeat, Richard Viguerie painstakingly copied the names and addresses of Goldwater donors available at the Library of Congress and used the information to launch a fundraising empire based on direct mail appeals. These appeals became a key underpinning of the New Right. In the early 1970s, Howard Phillips founded the Conservative Caucus and championed militarism as well as the cause of the apartheid government of South Africa. Paul Weyrich, with financial backing from Colorado beer magnate Joseph Coors, in 1973 founded the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank that later guided many of the policies of the Reagan administration. He also established an organization that became the Free Congress Foundation, which worked to build a right-wing political movement and elect sympathetic politicians to Congress.
Viguerie, Phillips, and Weyrich were savvy organizers but lacked a popular base of support for these organizations. To gain a mass constituency, they sought to capitalize on resentments to the political and social protest movements of the 1960s. By focusing on social and cultural issues, instead of economics and race, they hoped to attract working class, historically Democratic voters into their New Right coalition. They made overtures to the American Independent Party, which had rallied alienated white working-class voters to support George Wallace's 1968 presidential bid; when their bid was rebuffed, they were also turning their attention to other potential supporters.
Mobilizing a New Constituency
In the mid-1970s Viguerie used his sophisticated direct mail fundraising techniques to address another constituency: evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Viguerie sought to tap resentment toward Supreme Court decisions banning prayer in the public schools and establishing a woman's right to an abortion. His direct mail efforts not only brought money into the New Right's coffers; they disseminated a steady flow of appeals that encouraged evangelicals to become involved in politics.
Other new activist organizations also played an important role in mobilizing this constituency. In 1974 and 1975 a group of key leaders, including Richard DeVos, president of Amway Corporation, and Bill Bright, president of Campus Crusade for Christ convened a series of secret meetings to plan the development of the religious right. This group published a blueprint for Christians to win elections and a manual designed to persuade evangelical Christians to adopt conservative positions on a whole range of issues. Bill Bright subsequently sponsored the "I Found It," campaign, which used billboards, bumper stickers, and newspaper ads in a massive effort to expose every person in the United States to the gospel. Between 1976 and 1980 the campaign spent several hundred million dollars, much of it raised by Texas billionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt.
Organizations arose to mobilize women by appealing to "family values" and anxieties about the emerging feminist movement. In 1972, Phyllis Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum to organize opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, which she saw as a threat to the traditional family. (Schlafly had authored a conspiratorial book titled A Choice Not An Echo, which had served as the slogan of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign.) And in 1979, Beverly LaHaye founded what would become the most successful New Right women's organization, Concerned Women for America.
Civil rights for gay people emerged as another flashpoint for the Right. In 1976 singer Anita Bryant led a successful campaign against a gay rights ordinance in Dade County, Florida, which also activated New Right women. In 1977 Bryant inspired a campaign in California for a ballot initiative that provided for charges against school teachers and others advocating, encouraging or indiscreetly engaging in homosexuality. This measure failed, however, and in 1979 Bryant's anti-homosexual campaign fell apart. The issue of equal rights for gay people, though, would assume increasing importance in the 1990s.
Television, like direct mail, played a critical role in stimulating the rise of the religious right. Televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker reached into millions of homes. The most influential of the TV preachers would be Pat Robertson, who transformed a rundown television station he bought in 1959 into a media empire centered around the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). In 1963 he devised the "700 Club," asking that 700 viewers each donate $10 a month to keep his station in the black. Additional funds for the Christian Broadcasting Network have come from "sympathetic corporations," according to CBN's public affairs director. In the late 1970s, CBN became increasingly political. It established a news department in 1978, and the "700 Club" began featuring political guests regularly.
The Moon Organization
Although usually regarded as a fringe religious cult, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, or Moon Organization, played an important behind-the-scenes role in spurring the development of the New Right and religious right. Direct mail guru Richard Viguerie has raised money for various Moon Organization groups since 1965. The principle source of Moon's funding, however, is in Japan, where Moon has had close connections with the Japanese right wing and prominent members of the Liberal Democratic Party. Beginning in 1975, a conservatively estimated $80 million a year began flowing from the Japanese branch of the Unification Church to the United States. Much of this money went to various New Right organizations and to Moon's Washington Times, a daily newspaper that since 1982 has served as a sounding board for the New Right.
Activists for the Moon Organization usually work with others on the right through an array of groups with patriotic-sounding names, such as the American Freedom Coalition and the anti-Communist CAUSA. Founded in 1987, the American Freedom Coalition brought together various elements of the right, including anti-Communist, anti-abortion, and "pro-family" groups. Its National Education Task Force, directed in the late 1980s by Evergreen School Board (in Vancouver) member Wendy Flint, worked against AIDS awareness curricula and for private school vouchers.
The Moon Organization has also worked very closely with a major religious right organization, Christian Voice. Beginning with the 1980 election, Christian Voice developed a tactic that has become widespread in the religious right -- publishing "moral report cards" which rated Congressional and Presidential candidates on the issues and which were distributed by the tens of thousands in church lobbies and parking lots.
The Moral Majority
By 1979, Viguerie, Phillips, and Weyrich had abandoned their plans for a third party. In that year, along with Ed McAteer, founder of the Religious Roundtable, they met with televangelist Jerry Falwell. The New Right leaders asked Falwell to spearhead a national Christian political organization that would apply pressure to the Republican Party on abortion and other social issues. Falwell agreed, and the Moral Majority was born.
Besides opposing a woman's right to choose abortion, the Moral Majority fought sex education in public schools, supported the teaching of creationism in science classes, and opposed equal rights for gay people. In 1980 the Moral Majority worked with other right-wing groups in support of Ronald Reagan's campaign for President and against liberal legislators. In Washington state, the Moral Majority published ratings on local political candidates during the 1980 elections, giving them a score of 1 through 10 on such issues as "morality, family, and religious freedom."
The election of Ronald Reagan gave increased impetus to right-wing moral crusaders. Under the leadership of attorney Michael Farris in the early 1980s, the Washington state Moral Majority sued the State Library for a list of school districts or their employees who had checked out a sex education film called "Achieving Sexual Maturity." The suit was dropped after the library said no school districts had checked out the film. The Moral Majority also backed a lawsuit against Mead School District in Spokane County by a parent seeking to ban from the high school curriculum the book The Learning Tree, Gordon Parks's frank portrayal of his boyhood in Kansas as an African American. A federal district court judge in Spokane dismissed the suit in 1982. (After the Moral Majority folded, Farris moved out of the state. In 1993 he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, gaining 46 percent of the vote.)
Shift to Local Politics
Ronald Reagan's victories brought federal appointments for several religious right activists, and the Reagan administration often gave lip service to conservative social values. But Reagan kept the religious right's social agenda -- such as banning abortion and restoring school prayer -- on the back burner, preferring to focus on economic issues and foreign policy. One index of the resulting frustration among adherents of the religious right was the growth in the late 1980s of militant anti-abortion organizations such as Operation Rescue, which staged mass blockades at medical clinics.
Disappointed with their accomplishments through the Reagan Presidency, religious right leaders shifted their strategy and tactics to winning offices at the state and local level and gaining control of local Republican Party organizations. With the eclipse of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, Paul Weyrich and Pat Robertson worked as allies in both this shift in strategy and this power struggle. In 1988, Robertson made a bold bid to succeed Reagan as President and head of the Republican Party. He placed a surprising second in the Iowa caucuses and carried Washington state, where his well-organized supporters overwhelmed the low-turnout caucuses. But he failed to win any of the Southern or border states and ended active campaigning before the national convention.
Robertson's failed Presidential bid led many pundits to conclude that the religious right's influence had peaked. However, Robertson's campaign recruited new activists and laid the organizational foundation for a 50-state political network. In 1989 the televangelist founded the Christian Coalition, and it began directing work at the state and local level, seeking to take control of Republican Party organizations and running candidates for school boards, city councils, and state legislatures. Groups such as Focus on the Family and its state affiliates and the American Family Association also became increasingly active in grassroots political issues.
From Cold War to Cultural War
Another important development in the late 1980s was the end of the Cold War. Anti-Communism had long been the glue which held the right wing together. With the demise of the Soviet Union abroad, the Right turned its attention to enemies at home. This focus appeared dramatically at the 1992 Republican Party convention, as speakers called for a cultural war against secular humanism. In 1964 Goldwater had talked about the decline of traditional morality; in 1992 the Republicans talked about "family values." As Pat Buchanan declared, "There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America."
Rhetoric that equates the political work of the religious right with warfare is commonplace among the movement's leaders. It reflects in part an apocalyptic vision of politics and in part a conviction that their agenda reflects divine will. The battles in their war are now being waged throughout the United States, including Washington State.
To Rule and Reign: The Ideology of the Religious Right
If the religious right is, as many of its leaders say, fighting a war, then it is a war in which ideas are critical. Conservative evangelical leaders seek control of political institutions as a means to implement their theological ideas. And their theology can provide a powerful motivation for political activism. Awareness of these ideas is essential to understanding their political tactics and objectives.
The religious right is by no means monolithic; it is divided on certain theological issues and organizational style. Yet despite these divisions, it has forged a working consensus on political ideology and strategy.
The "End Times" and Today
Belief in an evangelical religion does not automatically lead to involvement in public affairs. For much of this century, evangelicals have avoided direct involvement in politics and instead have focused on saving souls. Evangelicals' motivations for political activism depend, in part, on their beliefs about the "end times." Indeed, the most important divisions within the religious right revolve around beliefs on this issue. There are two main schools of thought.
In the larger school are the "premillennialists." They believe that Christians will be lifted into heaven en masse -- in what is known as the rapture -- before the battle of Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil. Afterwards, they will return to earth, where they will "rule and reign" with Christ. Since premillennialists believe that Christ's return will cause the world to be reformed, they have little incentive to become politically active and reform the world themselves. Instead, their primary obligation is to evangelize -- to convert as many non-believers as possible before Christ's return. Overcoming this disinclination to political activism has been one of the greatest challenges confronting the leaders of the religious right.
In the smaller theological camp are the "postmillennialists," who believe that Christ will not return until after Christians reign for a thousand years. Because they believe that they must literally prepare the way for Christ's return, their ranks include some of the most committed political activists on the religious right.
The most militant postmillennialists are known as Christian Reconstructionists. Though a tiny minority on the religious right, their ideas have exerted an important influence. They stress a literal interpretation of the Bible and believe that society should be "reconstructed" to conform to Biblical laws.
The most prominent Reconstructionist is Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, a former Orthodox Presbyterian minister and John Birch Society activist who has published numerous books and tracts through his think-tank, Chalcedon, headquartered in Vallecito, California. He and his son-in-law Gary North (now estranged) are largely responsible for developing and propagating Christian Reconstructionism's political program.
Rushdoony and North seek to rebuild society according to a biblical blueprint. Their prescriptions include the death penalty for unrepentant homosexuality, abortion, and adultery; the abolition of the prison system; which would be made possible by imposing the death penalty on serious criminals and forcing less serious criminals to make restitution; the elimination of sexually explicit materials; schools run entirely by the churches; and the complete elimination of property taxes.
Rushdoony's extreme views are shared by only a tiny minority of the religious right, but these views have had a major impact through what is loosely known as "Kingdom" or "Dominion" theology. According to these theologies, Christians are mandated by the Bible to take control of all secular institutions and build the Kingdom of God on earth. Kingdom theology gives evangelical organizers not only a powerful incentive to become politically active, but also a long-range social vision which has become the central, unifying ideology for the religious right.
Nationally, the influence of Reconstructionism has been felt through the Coalition on Revival. Founded by Dr. Jay Grimstead in 1982, COR has a low profile but is important as a networking organization that has sought to bridge the theological gaps between conservative Christians and foster a common political program. Grimstead has said: "I concur with most of the Reconstructionist matters; and I am trying to help rebuild the society on the word of God, and loosely that would be a Reconstructionist orientation in anybody's book." COR's steering committee has included over 100 well-known religious right leaders, including several whose organizations are active in Washington state, including: Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America, Robert Simonds of the National Association of Christian Educators, and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association. Recently, however, these and other leaders have stepped down because COR's involvement with Christian Reconstructionism proved too controversial.
A recent example of Kingdom Theology's influence in Washington state can be found in IMPAC, a political action committee which has included Rushdoony on its Advisory Committee. As its brochure states,
"IMPAC is a Political Action Committee designed to put Bible-believing Christians in leadership in our state. Genuine, long-term reform will come only when Bible-believing people are making, interpreting and enforcing our laws. IMPAC is your opportunity to see this happen!"
And a 1992 candidate endorsement letter signed by IMPAC Chairman Thomas Minnick stated, "... these candidates can be counted upon to take scriptural positions on our issues ..."
Kingdom theology has also been the guiding ideology of the "shepherding" movement. Shepherding refers to a form of organization in which a group of Christians submits to the "spiritual authority" of their leader, or shepherd. Often the shepherd wields great power over his sheep, who must ask permission on such personal matters as dating or purchasing a car. COR, for instance, has advocated that pastors "restructure their congregations into 'home cell groups' of no more than 12 members accountable to each other in personal matters."
Typically, shepherding groups are highly secretive. And their tight-knit method of organization makes it easy for leadership to mobilize their followers for political action.
In her book Spiritual Warfare, researcher Sara Diamond reported that in the mid-1980s at the Christ Church of Northgate in Seattle, that the pastor had organized some parishioners into "shepherding cell groups" and that he had submitted himself to national shepherding leader Bob Mumford. The congregation helped organize an annual anti-abortion event, the March for the Unborn.
Section 4: Threats to Civil Liberties
The Right to Choose Abortion
The religious right's efforts to curtail abortion rights in Washington state have followed the national pattern: The issue has been used effectively to mobilize thousands of activists and voters. Although they have failed to achieve the goal of banning abortion, they have reduced the number of locations where women may obtain abortions and have intimidated doctors, some of whom have ceased to perform abortions.
In recent years the national leadership of the religious right has downplayed abortion to focus on other issues, notably curtailing civil rights for gays and lesbians. But some in the rank and file have continued their crusade with more militant tactics, including the blockading of abortion clinics and even violent attacks. And activists who cut their political teeth in the anti-abortion movement have moved on to other right-wing causes.
Washington state experienced its most severe anti-abortion violence over a decade ago. The Feminist Women's Health Center, an abortion clinic in Everett, faced disruptive protests virtually from the day it opened in October, 1983. After a series of three arson fires -- the last one in April, 1984 -- the operators of the clinic decided to close its doors. Anti-abortion activist Curtis Beseda was later convicted for setting the three fires and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.
The health clinic brought suit against Beseda and four other individuals whom it claimed had conspired to close the clinic. According to testimony presented in the trial, the anti-abortion group Choose Life had hoped to close the clinics; among its tactics were harassing "hang-up" phone calls, which severely disrupted the clinic's ability to do business. Though plaintiffs presented testimony linking Beseda to other defendants, the testimony failed to prove conclusively that these had prior or subsequent knowledge that Beseda had committed the arsons. In the end, Beseda was held liable for $295,000 in damages, while Dottie Roberts and Sharon Codispoti, both of Lake Stevens, were each held liable for $3,600 in damages. The jury found that Michael and Sharon Undseth of Brier had not conspired or taken action to close the clinic.
In 1984, Dottie Roberts and Michael Undseth had both been leaders of a campaign in favor of Ballot Measure 471, which sought to end state funding of abortions. Also leading the campaign -- which was known as the Committee to Repeal State Funding of Abortion -- were State Representatives Mike Padden of Spokane and Steve Fuhrman of Kettle Falls. The campaign gathered enough signatures to place the initiative on the ballot, but the measure was defeated 53 to 47 percent.
The next year, the Christ Church of Northgate became the prime sponsor for what became the annual March for the Unborn. However, the 1984 campaign would be the last time an anti-abortion measure would succeed in making it onto the ballot in Washington. In 1986, Roberts and Undseth again sought to place an initiative (479) on the ballot that would have repealed state funding of abortions. This time, Roberts and Undseth, working with an organization called Family Action, fell a few thousand signatures short of the 151,000 they needed.
The 1986 campaign revealed differences between the more moderate and militant wings of the state's anti-abortion movement. Human Life, a key local organization, opposed launching another campaign so soon after the defeat of Initiative 471; though once the campaign was begun, Human Life supported it. However, Human Life's spokesperson, Doug Scott, criticized the tactics of the movement's militant wing, objecting to anti-abortion activists having held up signs at the Republican convention directing delegates how to vote. He also expressed dismay that more anti-abortion activists did not condemn such actions as the firebombing of abortion clinics.
The Initiative 479 campaign was directed by Rick Woodrow, the director of the Life Amendment Political Action Committee (LAPAC), a national anti-abortion fundraising group. Earlier in the year, LAPAC had supported the Oregon Senate campaign of Joe Lutz, who had challenged Sen. Bob Packwood -- a noted defender of abortion rights -- in the Republican primary. Although Lutz was defeated, his campaign led to the formation of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which would later become known for its anti-gay campaigns. LAPAC, meanwhile, had gone deeply into debt. Woodrow moved the organization to Everett, WA and attempted to revive its sagging fortunes. (It no longer appears to be active.)
Another veteran of the Lutz campaign, Lynn Harsh, also relocated to Washington. In 1987, Harsh served as the director of Family Action, which had sponsored Initiative 479. With the anti-abortion movement losing momentum and suffering financially, she and Woodrow began working with another organization: the American Freedom Coalition (AFC), the 50-state political operation backed both financially and organizationally by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. After a spate of publicity revealing the AFC's ties to the Unification Church, both Woodrow and Harsh left the AFC. Harsh later managed the campaign of Bob Williams for Governor in 1988. Today, Harsh works with Williams at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based think tank which worked closely with religious right groups in opposing Outcome Based Education.
"We are the 82nd Airborne, we are the Marines ... The people who hit the beaches always suffer the most casualties, but we accept that's our role in the culture war."
-- Lon Mabon, January, 1994
In 1989, Rep. Mike Padden filed another anti-abortion measure (this time an initiative to the legislature) that would have required abortion providers to give the woman seeking an abortion written and visual information about the procedure and its alternatives, unless the woman signed a waiver. According to the Washington State Medical Association, however, the only important change that the initiative would have made was to compel a doctor to show the woman a picture of a fetus. The backers failed to collect the requisite number of signatures.
In 1991, supporters of abortion rights placed Initiative 120 on the ballot. The measure, which narrowly passed, put into Washington state law the same abortion rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade, and it required that the state include abortion services within reproductive health care provided for poor women.
In response to this measure, as well as to Initiative 119 --the so-called "Death with Dignity" measure -- a new organization was formed: Washington United. Two of its leaders, Doug Burman and Val Stevens, later played prominent roles with the Washington Public Affairs Council, which sponsored the anti-gay Initiative 608 in 1994. Washington United continues to solicit funds for "pro-family" causes; it reported raising over $36,000 in 1993.
Finally, in 1994 a Bellingham man sponsored an initiative proposal (611) that would have mandated a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion and required physicians to show graphics of fetal development. It garnered scant support from right-wing organizations and failed to qualify for the ballot.
Despite these electoral setbacks, harassment of individual clinics has continued, modeled after the militant tactics of the national group Operation Rescue. In 1988 anti-abortion protesters affiliated with Operation Rescue staged blockades of Aradia Women's Health Clinic in Seattle and Cedar River Clinic in Renton. After pro-choice advocates obtained a court injunction against Operation Rescue, 60 members of a group calling itself the Puget Sound Children's League were arrested for blocking access to Seattle's Cobb Medical Building in 1989.
The same year in Spokane, a hundred members of the group Rescue Northwest blockaded the Sixth Avenue Medical Building; among those arrested was Harold Hochstatter, now a Republican state senator from Moses Lake. Since then, Lifeline Ministries has held frequent picketings of Spokane's Planned Parenthood Clinic. In April, 1994, Lifeline leader Jim Anderson was joined by the former executive director of Operation Rescue in protests at the homes of clinic doctors.
Harassment of individual clinics and medical professionals continues. In September, 1994, for example, a former vice-president of Washington State University's Right to Life organization was convicted of sending a threatening letter to a doctor who performs abortions. The election of numerous state legislators backed by the religious right is expected to bring new efforts in the legislature to restrict abortion rights, such as proposals for waiting periods, parental consent for minors, and mandatory lectures by physicians.
The Campaign Against Gay and Lesbian Rights
Opposition to civil rights for gays has replaced opposition to abortion rights as the religious right's most prominent issue. In 1994 efforts to place anti-gay initiatives on the ballot were organized in several states, among them Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, and Maine. Only in Oregon and Idaho did initiative measures qualify for the 1994 ballot. In Washington State, two organizations attempted to place anti-gay initiatives on the November, 1994 ballot. One is the Vancouver-based Citizens Alliance of Washington, an offshoot of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which has sponsored a series of anti-gay initiatives in Oregon. The other is the Committee for Equal Rights, Not Special Rights, which is an offshoot of the Tacoma-based Washington Public Affairs Council.
These efforts represent the second wave of anti-gay organizing by the religious right. The first wave was sparked by singer Anita Bryant in the late 1970s, when she led a successful campaign to repeal an ordinance passed in Dade County, Florida that prohibited discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, public accommodations, and employment. Bryant also inspired a similar campaign in California, but this first wave ended in 1979 when her organizations Anita Bryant Ministries and Protect America's Children collapsed.
In the early 1980s, Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation played a key role in reviving the anti-gay cause. It promoted the idea that the "homosexual movement" represented an attack on traditional "pro-family" values and therefore was a threat to the well-being of Americans. Anti-gay stances have been promoted by numerous national religious right organizations, among them the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, the Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America, and the Eagle Forum.
The Oregon Citizens Alliance
The most militant anti-gay organization in the Northwest has been the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA). The OCA's origins can be found in Joe Lutz's failed 1986 primary campaign for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Bob Packwood, who was opposed by the religious right because of his prominent support for abortion rights. Following his defeat, Lutz and three of his campaign aides, including Lon T. Mabon, founded the OCA in Klamath Falls in 1987. Mabon became OCA's Executive Director.
In 1988 the OCA led an initiative campaign to rescind then-Governor Neil Goldschmidt's executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in state employment. The campaign received key support from Focus on the Family head James Dobson, who encouraged people to distribute and sign the petition on his daily radio show. The measure passed by 53 to 47 percent, although the Oregon Court of Appeals later found it unconstitutional.
In 1990 the OCA attempted to pass a ballot measure making abortion illegal. After this measure failed, the OCA returned to its anti-gay agenda. In 1992 it placed Measure 9 on the ballot. The measure would have amended the state constitution to forbid state agencies and schools to allow any program that would "promote, encourage, or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism, or masochism" and classified them as "abnormal, wrong, and perverse." Measure 9 was defeated by a 56 to 44 percent margin. The OCA subsequently sponsored anti-gay measures that passed in two dozen small towns and counties. It also mounted a new statewide initiative drive (Measure 13), which again met defeat, though by a smaller margin.
During the Measure 9 campaign, the Oregon Citizens Alliance worked closely with the Christian Coalition. The Christian Coalition's state and national organizations combined gave nearly $50,000 to the OCA, and in September, 1992 Mabon and several other OCA leaders filled positions on the Oregon Christian Coalition's Board of Directors. Mabon also spoke about his fight against gay rights at a Christian Coalition national training session.
Relations between the OCA and the Christian Coalition have since cooled. In June, 1993, Mabon and three other OCA leaders resigned from the Oregon Christian Coalition board, and the state director of the Christian Coalition resigned from the board of the OCA (though he retained his OCA membership). Mabon claimed that the move was a strategic decision, saying, "Both the Christian Coalition and the OCA realized that it's too hard for one organization that is growing to be an affiliate of another." Another likely reason, however, may have been that the Christian Coalition wanted to distance itself from Mabon's strident style and divisive public image.
In Idaho, by contrast, the Idaho Citizens Alliance -- an offshoot of the Oregon Citizens Alliance -- has worked cooperatively with the Christian Coalition in 1994 to promote an anti-gay initiative. In Washington, Christian Coalition state director Dave Welch kept some distance from the state's anti-gay initiative drives, discouraging local chapters from becoming involved until after the measures qualified for the ballot.
Meanwhile, Mabon has been seeking to broaden his political base. The Oregon Citizens Alliance filed an unsuccessful initiative in Oregon that would change Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Commission, making its members elected by the public rather than appointed by the governor. The Commission's restrictions have often been a point of contention among loggers, ranchers, farmers, and developers throughout the state. The measure is apparently part of a strategy to broaden and solidify the OCA's support in logging communities. Mabon also has formed a U.S. Citizens Alliance, whose platform takes conservative stands on a broad range of issues.
The Colorado Model
In Colorado the campaign for the anti-gay initiative, Amendment 2, was headed by Colorado for Family Values (CFV), which was founded by Kevin Tebedo and Tony Marco. Five national organizations were represented on its executive and advisory boards: Focus on the Family, Summit Ministries, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, and the Traditional Values Coalition.
In 1991 a major religious right organization, Focus on the Family, relocated its headquarters to Colorado Springs. With a strong anti-gay message, the group provided an important catalyst for the local anti-gay organization. Among the publications it distributes, one titled "The Homosexual Agenda" includes a section on "Starting an Initiative." Although it had no official ties to Colorado for Family Values, Focus on the Family offered advice and gave an in-kind donation worth $8,000.
Colorado voters approved the initiative by a 53-47 percent margin. One explanation for its success is that Colorado for Family Values did not have as strident an image as Lon Mabon and the OCA. Unlike the Oregon initiative, the Colorado amendment did not condemn homosexuality as being "abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse." Instead, it proposed to make it illegal for any government agency to adopt a law or policy granting
"... whereby homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of, or entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination."
For the purposes of the campaign, this was reduced to the slogan "No Special Rights," which implied that measures that provided protection against discrimination to gays and lesbians were granting "special rights" over and above those already guaranteed by the Constitution. The success of this approach, combined with the failure of the OCA's, have resulted in most subsequent anti-gay campaigns choosing to frame the issue in this way.
Colorado for Family Values has actively encouraged initiative campaigns elsewhere. In the summer of 1993, its leader Kevin Tebedo spoke at an anti-gay organizing seminar in Lynden, WA. Also in 1993, CFV contributed $390,000 to Take Back Cincinnati, sponsor of an anti-gay measure nearly identical to Colorado's Amendment 2. The money funded a last-minute media campaign that took opponents of the anti-gay measure by surprise. The measure passed by 62 to 38 percent.
When the constitutionality of such measures has been tested, courts have ruled against them for taking away the fundamental right of a group of people to participate in the political process.
- In 1992 an appeals court in Oregon threw out a statewide initiative passed in 1988 which nullified an executive order barring discrimination against gays in government employment.
- In September, 1994, a federal judge in Ohio overturned an anti-gay initiative passed in Cincinnati, ruling that a majority of voters cannot take away basic constitutional rights from other people.
- And in October, 1994, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned Colorado's Amendment 2.
Another approach has been to propose an anti-gay initiative that avoids mentioning homosexuality. In Florida the American Family Association spearheaded an effort to place a measure on the 1994 ballot that would have restricted anti-discrimination protection to 10 classifications: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, ethnic background, marital status, and familial status. It would thereby have prohibited the extension of such protection to gays and lesbians. The measure was kept off the ballot, however, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that its lack of a narrow, clearly defined focus violated the state constitution's single-subject requirement.
Mabon Branches Out
Shortly after the 1992 election, Lon Mabon announced his intention to establish an organization in Washington state and to place a statewide anti-gay measure on the ballot. The Citizens Alliance of Washington was incorporated on January 29, 1993, and was headquartered in Vancouver, where it had an initial base of supporters. Its board of directors consisted of Mabon, Oregon's Joe Lutz, and Robert Larimer, Jr., a Frito-Lay factory worker and veteran of schoolbook censorship attempts in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, another OCA offshoot, the Idaho Citizens Alliance succeeded in placing an anti-gay measure on the 1994 ballot in Idaho. However, a Mabon-sponsored anti-gay initiative drive in Nevada fizzled.
Mabon has adopted the Colorado approach for these ballot measures, as well as his more recent efforts in Oregon. He has avoided language labeling homosexuality "perverse." Instead, the measures are designed to deny homosexuals "minority status" and to prevent the schools and the government from sanctioning homosexuality.
Founded as an import from Oregon, the Citizens Alliance of Washington began organizing without strong connections to religious right organizations in the state. Its base of supporters was mostly in southwest Washington, and efforts to expand its influence have not proceeded smoothly. Its first public meeting in Seattle, in October, 1993 at a north Seattle church, drew a lukewarm response, and the CAW leaders on the platform (besides Mabon) were all from Clark County. By the end of 1993, the CAW had raised only $1,561.61.
Mabon's offspring has encountered difficulties in Eastern Washington, too. At a June, 1994 public meeting of the CAW in a Spokane high school, the 50 attendees were outnumbered by 100 supporters of gay rights demonstrating outside. An altercation in which Spokane CAW leader James Mertens pushed a demonstrator led to his dismissal by the state CAW director.
Ironically, one of its first public efforts resulted in the adoption of a policy protecting gay civil servants against discrimination in Vancouver. In September, 1993, CAW leader Robert Larimer asked the Vancouver City Council for assurances that its newly adopted workplace diversity policy would not cover gay people. Made aware of their omission of sexual orientation from the policy, council members quickly broadened it to include gay employees -- despite vocal opposition from CAW supporters.
The CAW also has agitated against a diversity training program for state employees for allegedly promoting acceptance of homosexuality. State officials adopted the program to foster respectful treatment of colleagues and clients. At an August, 1993 CAW forum attacking diversity training, featured speaker Gail Yenne, a DSHS employee, complained, "They should keep this garbage outside the workplace, where it belongs." (In January, 1994, Yenne filed the anti-gay Initiative 608 for the Committee for Equal Rights, not Special Rights.)
In January, 1994, Robert Larimer quit as CAW head in a dispute over campaign strategy with Mabon. Larimer wanted to cooperate with the rival Washington Public Affairs Council, which has cultivated a low-key image. As Mabon explained the difference, "We're the 82nd Airborne of the conservative movement. Not everybody fits that mode." Replacing Larimer as CAW leader was Sam Woodard, a railroad maintenance worker from Ariel and a self-described political novice. Larimer went on to found another organization, Washington for Traditional Values, which later affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition, a California-based group known for its anti-gay campaigns.
Previous Anti-Gay Initiatives in Washington State
The current anti-gay campaigns have precedents in Washington State. In 1978 an organization calling itself Save Our Moral Ethics led by Seattle policeman David Estes sought to pass Initiative 13, which would have removed the sexual orientation clause from Seattle's anti-discrimination laws on housing and unemployment. The measure was defeated by a 63-37 percent margin.
In 1986 state legislator Glenn Dobbs of Chehalis led a campaign to gather signatures for an initiative which would have overturned local ordinances protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination; barred avowed homosexuals from employment in schools, day care centers, foster-care programs, and government entities; and overturned then-Governor Booth Gardner's executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in hiring for state jobs. The measure failed to garner enough signatures to be placed on the ballot.
In 1989 the Tacoma City Council passed an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public services on the basis of sexual orientation. In response, the No Special Rights Committee, headed by Doug Burman, organized to repeal the measure through Proposition 2. Burman's group used essentially the same appeals that would later be adopted in Colorado. He argued that homosexuality was "not the kind of behavior that should be given special legal protection."
During the 1989 campaign, Burman brought in California Congressman William Dannemeyer, who is well-known for his anti-gay views. Burman also enlisted help from Lon Mabon, who delivered a keynote speech -- entitled "A Call to Battle" -- at a forum sponsored by the No Special Rights Committee. The measure passed with 51 percent of the vote.
The next year Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot in an effort to reinstate the original ordinance protecting gay and lesbian rights. Burman again led the opposition, and the measure was defeated by a wide margin.
The Washington Public Affairs Council
More recently, Doug Burman, an insurance salesman in Lakewood in Pierce County, became the leader of an effort by the Washington Public Affairs Council (WPAC) to place an anti-gay initiative on the 1994 ballot. A veteran political organizer, Burman in 1992 was vice-chair of Washington United, which worked against both Initiative 119, a right-to-die measure, and Initiative 120, an abortion rights measure.
Burman has also served as Director of the Washington Family Council, the state affiliate of Focus on the Family. In February, 1993, when Jeff Kemp took over as its Executive Director, Burman became its Associate Director. Six months later Burman stepped down from the position because, according to Kemp, the Washington Family Council intended to stay officially neutral in the upcoming anti-gay campaign.
WPAC is well-connected with religious right organizations and activists statewide. As spokesperson Cathy Mickels told the Seattle Times, "There's a network out there with real passion and energy. A lot of us have worked on the same issues together in this state for a long time." WPAC has assembled an advisory committee which reads like a Who's Who of religious right leaders from throughout the state:
- Rep. Val Stevens of Arlington. Stevens has served as the Washington State Director and a National Board Member for Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women of America. She also served on the board of Washington United, which opposed abortion rights and right-to-die initiatives in 1992.
- Rep. Steve Fuhrman of Kettle Falls, another state legislator. Both Stevens and Fuhrman have also served on the Advisory Committee of IMPAC, a statewide right-wing Christian political action committee.
- State Senator Harold Hochstatter of Moses Lake. A dedicated anti-abortion activist, Hochstatter was arrested for trespassing during a blockade of a Spokane medical clinic in 1989. In February 1994, he sent a letter to constituents condemning homosexuality as "extremely destructive" and saying that homosexuals in Washington "have contributed as many casualties as the wars in Vietnam and Korea combined."
- Cathy Mickels of Lynden, head of the Washington Alliance of Families. Mickel has served as a board member of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, and she was a delegate and member of the platform committee at the 1992 Republican National Committee, where she helped push through a plank denouncing civil rights protections for gays. She has co-chaired the Washington chapter of Republicans for Life, an anti-abortion group.
Mickels joined Rep. Val Stevens in campaigning against adoption by gay couples. In October, 1993, they appeared at a press conference to support an Orcas Island woman objecting to a gay couple's gaining custody of a child she had given up for adoption. "Two men playing house is no substitute for a real home," said Mickels. Stevens offered legislation in 1994 and 1995 that would prohibit adoptions by gay people.
Burman filed incorporation papers for the Washington Public Affairs Council in September, 1992. In a letter dated June 10, 1993, spokesman Geoff Swindler declared the organization's intention to place an anti-gay rights initiative on Washington's ballot the next year. To lay the groundwork, WPAC brought in William Dannemeyer, a well-known right-wing Congressman from California, for a strategy meeting in June, 1993. By August, WPAC had begun distributing the brochure "Homosexuality and Public Policy, which proclaimed the need for compassion toward gay people but asserted that a gay person has a perversion that requires treatment:
"Compassion is not shown by pretending that his behavior is normal or healthy, any more than by pretending that an alcoholic should 'celebrate his alcoholism,' and creating 'rights for alcoholics.'"
1994 Anti-Gay Initiatives
In January, 1994 both the Citizens Alliance of Washington and an offshoot of the Washington Public Affairs Committee (the Washington Committee for Equal Rights, not Special Rights) filed initiatives with the Secretary of State. Both initiatives sought to bar civil rights protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and to prevent schools from presenting information that portrayed homosexuality as acceptable. The CAW's initiative went farther, also seeking to ban gays and lesbians from adopting children or gaining custody in divorce settlements.
The Committee for Equal Rights was originally intended to be a compromise between WPAC and the Citizens Alliance of Washington, which would join forces to sponsor a single initiative. The two groups apparently quarreled over control of the mailing list for the committee and eventually went their separate ways.
WPAC's efforts in putting together an initiative drive were far more successful, reflecting its connections with the statewide religious right infrastructure. Campaign chair Dr. Dorsett Smith, a University of Washington faculty member, had been active in a physicians' group opposed to the 1991 right-to-die initiative. Campaign spokesperson Cathy Mickels was head of the "traditional values" group the Washington Alliance of Families and a veteran of fights over abortion, school reform, and sex education. Key local activists included clergy, such as Reverend Joseph Munday, an advisory board member of the Mid-Columbia Family Alliance in the Tri-Cities, and Rev. Gary Small, leader of the Youth Action Coalition in Whatcom County.
Neither initiative drive garnered enough support to reach the 1994 ballot. Initiative 608 sponsors claimed to have gathered the 181,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, but not the extra cushion of 20,000-30,000 needed to offset duplicate and invalid signatures. A CAW spokesperson said that group collected only 40,000 signatures for Initiative 610. WPAC also has been much more successful at raising money. As of July 31, 1994, WPAC and its affiliate, Washington No Special Rights, reported raising about $128,000 compared to $6,500 for CAW and a related political action committee. The largest individual contribution to WPAC was $20,000 from C. Davis Weyerhaeuser, a retired member of the wealthy timber industry family. The family operates the Stewardship Foundation, a charitable organization which donates to conservative Christian organizations.
Failures to reach the ballot reflected several factors: the aggressive opposition campaign coordinated by Hands Off Washington; opposition to the initiatives from many religious leaders; lawsuits filed by the ACLU and others which kept the anti-gay groups on the defensive; success of opponents in communicating the fact that the initiatives promoted discrimination; and political inexperience on the part of initiative sponsors, especially the CAW.
In response to such lack of success, some anti-gay strategists have talked of shifting tactics away from initiative campaigns. According to a report by the National Gay/Lesbian Task Force, a representative of WPAC participated in a May, 1994 meeting of activists from religious right groups nationwide in Colorado Springs to coordinate strategy for the anti-gay movement. Participants reportedly discussed moving their focus to attacking political leaders and churches supportive of gay civil rights. One strategic plan being circulated nationally is "Operation Spotlight," which includes gathering pledges not to support any politician who accepts endorsements from gay groups.
Both sponsors of anti-gay initiatives in Washington are mounting new campaigns in 1995. In January, 1995 the Citizens Alliance of Washington filed an initiative that would bar adoptions and foster care by gay people and restrict adoptions by single people and unmarried couples. In March, a similar measure was filed as Initiative 167 to the 1996 state legislature. Unlike its previous Initiative 610, the measure would not block gay parents from gaining custody of their own children. As CAW head Sam Woodard told the Spokane Spokesman-Review, "People, especially women, got all upset about the idea of taking people's kids away from them. Men are more analytical in their thinking. Women got emotional about it."
The Committee for Equal Rights, Not Special Rights in March, 1995 filed a measure identical to its Initiative 608 --but this time as an initiative (Initiative 166)to the 1996 state legislature. The new spokespersons were Annetta Small, a veteran right-wing activist in Whatcom County and wife of Rev. Gary Small, and their son Jason Small.
When activists of the religious right wrote the 1992 Washington State Republican Party platform, some of the most controversial planks focused on educational issues. These included:
- supporting the teaching of creationism in schools;
- opposing the introduction of "channeling" and "witchcraft";
- favoring the use of corporal punishment.
These concerns were not new. Gaining control of the educational system has long been one of the strategic objectives of religious right leaders. As Robert Simonds, head of the National Association of Christian Educators/Citizens for Excellence in Education, has put it,
"When we get an active parents' committee in operation, we can take complete control of all local school boards. This would allow us to determine all local policy ..."
The writings of Simonds and his organization have circulated widely in religious right circles. An article in a Citizens for Excellence in Education bulletin presented "Citizens for Responsive Education" as a model name for Christian groups seeking to gain control of local school boards. Several right-wing groups active in Washington school districts have had remarkably similar names: Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE) in Seattle; Citizens for Active Responsibility in Education (CARE) in Walla Walla; Citizens Organized for Responsible Education (CORE) in Kennewick and Issaquah); Citizens for Responsible Education in Kent and Bothell; and Parents for Responsible Education, in Highline.
Religious right groups have worked to limit intellectual freedom, remove materials they deem offensive from school curricula, restrict information about sexuality, and undermine the secular nature of public education. They have been active in several key areas.
Washington state ranked in the top 10 states in requests for removal of books and curricula from the public schools during the past decade, according to a survey by People for the American Way. While censorship efforts can come from many sources, they have often stemmed from campaigns promoted nationwide by religious right organizations.
Among the most influential is Education Research Analysts, run by Mel and Norma Gabler of Longview, Texas, whose newsletter targets schoolbooks considered objectionable for promoting New Age philosophy, witchcraft, secular humanism, and other "immoral" ideas. The monthly Blumenfeld Education Letter, published by Samuel Blumenfeld of Boise, Idaho, also attacks intellectual freedom in public school curricula, as do publications by national religious right organizations, such as Citizens for Excellence in Education, Concerned Women for America, and the Eagle Forum.
One notable series of censorship campaigns took place in Evergreen School District in Clark County. In 1983 the ACLU filed suit against the district for removing books from school libraries without any review process. Nearly 40 books eventually were returned to library shelves, but later, right-wing parents successfully pressured the school board to censor books for such sins as including profanity (Stephen King's The Shining in 1986), discussing sexuality (Inside Mom in 1986 and How We Were Born in 1987), and dealing with incest (Just Hold On in 1989). "Evergreen, unhappily, fast becomes a synonym for censorship," lamented the Vancouver Columbian.
A leader in the censorship drive, Wendy Flint, served on the school board from 1986-1989. Flint also served as director of a group, the National Education Task Force of the American Freedom Coalition, linked to the Moon Organization that in 1988 published A Call to Action, her right-wing manual on how parents can organize to elect candidates to school boards. The book blasted "secular humanism" for subverting traditional values in schools; criticized AIDS education and school health clinics for their sexual education programs; and challenged multicultural education for undermining patriotism.
More recently, Lake Washington School District in Kirkland experienced a series of book challenges led by members of Overlake Christian Church. In 1992, Sandy Vanderburg (who subsequently ran unsuccessfully for school board) sought to ban three books in the Scary Stories series from an elementary school library. In 1993, another parent sought to ban the use of the classic Japanese novel The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima in high school; she objected that the story of young lovers who decide to abstain from sex gave "lessons in immorality, perversion ... (and) degradation of women." Also in 1993 the use of Soul Catcher, a novel by Frank Herbert about a Native American bitter over the role Christianity has played in degrading Indian traditions, was challenged by a woman who quoted biblical passages condemning vulgar language, premarital sex, and taking the Lord's name in vain. District review committees voted to retain all three challenged books.
Censorship efforts commonly have centered around several themes, illustrated by the following sampling of incidents:
- Immorality: In Lynden in 1994, Washington Alliance of Families leader Cathy Mickels led a campaign against use of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about an Iowa farm community that included accounts of incest and an extramarital affair. Mickels criticized the book on her radio show and sent out a press release with photocopies of passages from the book underlined for emphasis. In response, the Lynden High School principal removed the book from the optional reading list of a college-preparatory English course, fearing that opposition to the book could scuttle the district's school tax levy.
- Satanism: In Federal Way in 1992 and Othello in 1993, some parents sought removal from school libraries of the book Halloween ABC by poet Eve Merriam for allegedly containing satanic references and promoting violent and deviant behavior. Othello officials had the book reviewed by a police department occult expert in California, who reported it contained neither demonic nor cult symbols. Both Othello and Federal Way School Boards voted to continue elementary school use of the book.
- Witchcraft: The elementary-level series Impressions tops lists of schoolbooks most often challenged nationwide during the past decade. Impressions takes an innovative approach to teaching reading, using world literature including myths and folk tales. In a 1990 letter to his members, Citizens for Excellence in Education head Robert Simonds called the book's fantasy tales of supernatural characters and monsters "an affront to all decent people."
- In Walla Walla in 1991, a group calling itself Citizens for Active Responsibility in Education challenged the school district's use of Impressions, claiming that it included stories promoting witchcraft and that accompanying class exercises resembled the rituals of witchcraft. Lawyers for the Rutherford Institute, a national religious right legal foundation, threatened to sue the school district for allegedly promoting the religion of witchcraft. The series was also challenged in Oak Harbor in 1987 and in Anacortes in 1990. School officials voted to retain the books in all three districts. Two federal appeals courts have rejected suits claiming that use of Impressions violates the First Amendment.
- Self-Esteem: In 1992 in Quilcene, a group of parents objecting to the elementary school self-esteem program Positive Action organized against and helped defeat a school levy. Complainants claimed the program undermined family relationships and promoted a New Age idea that left students without responsibility for their actions. When the objectors filed suit to stop school use of Positive Action, the anti-censorship group People for the American Way intervened on behalf of parents opposed to the suit, which was later dismissed.
- Secular Humanism: In 1986, 95 citizens signed petitions against the use of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in an honors English class in Aberdeen High School. A protest leader charged that the book promoted "secular humanism" and complained that students were being exposed to "a very humanistic environment where they were being "desensitized to any moral values." The school board voted to retain the book.
Sex Education and AIDS Curricula
Organizations of the religious right have often opposed providing students with full and accurate information about sexuality, prevention of pregnancy, and the prevention of sexually transmitted disease.
Focus on the Family crusades against HIV/AIDS prevention programs that advocate "safe sex." In 1993 the group placed a full-page ad about sex education titled "In Defense of a Little Virginity" in 500 newspapers nationwide, including the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The ad attacked recommending condom use to teenagers and promoted abstinence as the only way to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancies. Sex educators criticized its several inaccuracies:
- The ad claimed that teenagers are never told abstinence is the best course. But Washington state law mandates that AIDS education programs emphasize abstinence as the best way to avoid any sexually transmitted disease.
- It misrepresented research on the effectiveness of condoms. The same study cited as saying that condoms can fail over one-third of the time reports that, when used correctly, condoms have shown a failure rate of only two percent.
- It insists that making condoms available to teenagers encourages sexual activity. But experts say there is no research to suggest condom promotion encourages or sanctions sex. Yet Focus on the Family's themes have been echoed by local groups seeking to limit sex education programs to promotion of abstinence and to restrict information about the use of condoms to prevent pregnancy and disease.
In its manual for local chapters, Citizens for Excellence in Education suggests that activists seek adoption of the abstinence-only sex education programs Teen Aid and Sex Respect. In 1993 a judge in Shreveport, Louisiana barred schools from using Sex Respect on grounds that it presents inaccurate medical information and subjective religious beliefs. Curricular materials developed by Teen Aid, a religious right nonprofit organization based in Spokane, are used in a few school districts in Washington. The state's Department of Health has disapproved Teen Aid's HIV/AIDS curriculum for being "incomplete, incorrect, misleading, and/or confusing." Among its inaccuracies are inflating the failure rate of condoms and overstating the risk of becoming infected with HIV, including misidentifying saliva as a means of transmission.
Opposition to curricula which acknowledge or provide information about homosexuality has been a touchstone of virtually every religious right organization. Typical is the viewpoint of Robert Simonds, head of Citizens for Excellence in Education, in denouncing people who advocate teaching tolerance for diversity, including differing sexual orientations:
"Not only would they like to destroy families, but the entire human race, with such ideas -- irrational, sick ideas that our schools often go along with ...
"Can we afford to allow our school boards or superintendents to unknowingly sell our children out to Baal? I think not, dear friends. CEE will stop this immorality whenever we find it, or remove those board members supporting it. It has to be!"
Parent groups in local districts have campaigned against tolerance for lesbians and gays in schools:
- In Tacoma in 1993, members of a group called Voices in Northwest Education filed a petition objecting to a reference to "families with two mothers or two fathers" in an elementary school drug abuse prevention program. "You'd have to be dead if you didn't know this was part of the gay agenda," said one objector. The school district rejected a request to delete the line but instructed teachers not to read it aloud.
- In Highline School District near Seattle in 1993-94, the group Parents for Responsible Education, organized through local churches, protested an English teacher's discussion of homosexuality, the showing of a documentary film about AIDS, and a guest speaker's presentation on AIDS. They objected that the Highline High School student newspaper had "recruited" homosexuals by publishing an article on Lambert House, a center for gay and lesbian youth; under pressure from school board members, administrators directed the newspaper to write about "another side" of the topic. A petition demanded that students "not be confronted with the topic of homosexuality" without parental consent. Susan Santie, an activist with the group, ran unsuccessfully for school board in 1993.
- In Kent in 1994, another group calling itself Citizens for Responsible Education opposed the school board's adoption of a policy banning discrimination against teachers based on sexual orientation. It submitted petitions demanding that teacher discussions of homosexuality be censored and that district employees be barred from referring students to organizations which provide counseling and support to gay youths.
- In Olympia in March, 1995, members of the Evergreen Christian Center were vocal opponents of a student club's invitation for Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer to speak at Olympia High School as part of Women's History Month. Cammermeyer had sued for reinstatement after her dismissal from the National Guard for being a lesbian -- a story which had been made into a film shown on network television. Nineteen state legislators, including Lois McMahan of Gig Harbor and Grant Pelesky of Puyallup, signed a letter to the school board condemning Cammermeyer's speech.
Though social studies classes can survey creation-of-the-world beliefs, U.S. Supreme Court rulings (Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968 and Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987) have made clear that creationism may not be taught as science in public schools because it is a religious dogma. Since then, advocates of adding creationism to science curricula have pursued "back-door" strategies. The most popular tack nationally has been to substitute the euphemism "intelligent design theory" promoted by the creationist text Of Pandas and People. Some recent creationist efforts in Washington:
- In Richland in 1994, school board president Teri Sharp asked the school district's science curriculum committee to consider a request that creationism (called "intelligent design" theory by its proponents) be included in the district's science classes. The curriculum committee rejected the proposal after objections by citizens, the district's attorney, the ACLU, and others. Sharp's effort to form a committee to study the issue further failed.
- In Mount Baker School District near Bellingham in 1992, a dozen students dropped out of a freshman Biology class because the teacher declined to include the Biblical concept of creationism when he taught about evolution. The District allowed the students to take an alternative Biology course taught off-campus at a church by a teacher hired by parents.
- In Stanwood in Snohomish County in 1992, Donald E. Chittick, an adjunct faculty member with the Institute for Creation Research in Santee, California, was invited to talk to high school biology classes about "weaknesses in the theory of evolution." The speaker also showed a religious-oriented video; the district superintendent later acknowledged that the video crossed the boundary for appropriate material.
Outcome Based Education
Religious right activists mobilized opposition to the Outcome Based Education (OBE) plan before the state legislature in 1993. OBE is an education reform program which requires students to master minimum skills and knowledge ("outcomes"), rather than simply to earn credit hours for graduation. The opposition stemmed partly from claims that learning objectives such as critical thinking and self-esteem are behavior modification techniques that promote secular humanism and undermine Christian values.
Opponents sponsored widespread showings of the two-hour video Who Controls the Children?, which charges that OBE is a plan to manipulate children's minds. The conspiratorial video was produced by Peg Luksik, a former anti-abortion activist in Pennsylvania whose work has been promoted by Robert Simonds, leader of Citizens for Excellence in Education. Education officials have denounced Luksik's claims as factually incorrect and fear-mongering. In May, 1993, Luksik spoke against OBE in Spokane, Yakima, and Seattle. Her sponsors included two right-wing organizations -- the Seattle-based Public Education Research Council headed by Kay Fox and the Olympia-based Evergreen Freedom Foundation headed by former state legislator Bob Williams -- which provided extensive materials critical of OBE.
In passing education reform legislation in 1993, the legislature left intact a provision calling for teaching analytical and creative thinking skills (though the term "think critically" was dropped). But under pressure from the religious right, legislators removed language that would have set a goal of teaching students to "function as caring and responsible individuals and contributing members of families, work groups, and communities."
Members of religious right groups have attempted to limit the availability of materials they find morally objectionable at public libraries. Censorship campaigns have involved drives to remove or to restrict access to books and other materials. Librarians have vigorously opposed such proposals for hampering the public library's mission of serving as a neutral repository of information representing a wide spectrum of viewpoints.
- In April, 1994, the Citizens Alliance of Washington (sponsor of the unsuccessful anti-gay Initiative 610) filed an "Erotic Materials" initiative to the 1995 legislature. The measure would remove an exemption for libraries and museums in existing state law and require them to label erotic materials "Adults Only" and restrict their areas of display. "This isn't a censorship initiative ... It would just keep trash, such as the book The Joy of Gay Sex, out of their (i.e., minors') hands in libraries," said CAW head Sam Woodard.
- In Spokane in 1993, a group calling itself the Coalition for Better Community Standards, sought to have the best-selling book Sex by rock star Madonna banned from city libraries. After the Library Board rejected their challenge, the group proposed that librarians identify sexually explicit materials and library cards for minors be coded so that they could not check out these materials without parental approval. In early 1994, the Library Board reaffirmed its longstanding endorsement of the American Library Association's policy of open access for all library users.
Vancouver, Washington has experienced a series of efforts to censor library books. In 1991, members of a group calling itself Residents Enthusiastic for Quality Education removed five books from the Fort Vancouver Library System -- and burned two of them. Among the books removed were The Joy of Gay Sex and Our Right to Love: A Lesbian Resource Book. The organization, which consisted of 20 to 30 families, had previously targeted AIDS curricula in the public schools, according to its spokesperson Tom Armstrong of Battle Ground, who said he had custody of the other three books.
In late 1992 a group called Responsible Parents of Clark County asked the Fort Vancouver Regional Library not to allow minors to view rock star Madonna's book Sex. After the Library Board declined to restrict access, opponents of the open availability of Sex and homosexual books mounted a campaign to defeat a levy for a new library branch. Voters passed the measure by 52-48 percent in September, 1994.
In 1993 in Everett, Don Bovey objected to a list made available to patrons of the Everett Public Library of books that might be of interest to homosexuals. The library board rejected Bovey's effort to remove the reading list. Two years earlier, Bovey had been active in a campaign of conservative clergy and business people to boycott the Everett Herald. Calling themselves We Expect Decency, the group objected to the paper publishing announcements of mutual commitments by gay and lesbian couples.
Section 5: Appendix
Sources and Resources
A wide variety of written sources were used in compiling this report, including the following:
Morning News Tribune
Northwest Christian Journal
Seattle Gay News
Walla Walla Union Bulletin
Weekly of Seattle
Church and State
New York Times
Publications of the following organizations:
American Association of University Women
American Family Association
American Library Association
Citizens for Excellence in Education
Family in Touch
Focus on the Family
Institute for First Amendment Studies
People for the American Way
Washington Alliance of Citizens
Washington Family Council
Western Center for Law and Religious Freedom
For further research, the following resources are recommended.
Although it is now somewhat dated, Sara Diamond's Spiritual Warfare (Boston: South End Press, 1989) is the best overall book on the religious right.
The two best sources on specific national religious right organizations are The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance and Pluralism in America, (New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1994) and Challenging the Christian Right: The Activist's Handbook by Frederick Clarkson and Skipp Porteous (Great Barrington, Mass.: Institute for First Amendment Studies, 1993), which also has an extensive resource guide. People for the American Way also publishes useful reports on various religious right organizations and activities.
Church and State, a monthly magazine published by Americans United for Separation and Church and State, provides excellent reporting and analysis of the religious right. The Institute for First Amendment Studies publishes a bimonthly, The Freedom Writer, which often reports from inside religious right political meetings. Another useful publication, which covers a broader range of right-wing political activity, is The Public Eye, published quarterly by Political Research Associates.
Recommended resource organizations on the religious right are:
- Institute for First Amendment Studies
PO Box 589
Great Barrington, MA 01230
- People for the American Way
2000 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
- Political Research Associates
678 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 702
Cambridge, MA 02139
Regarding the activities of religious right organizations active in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho:
- Coalition for Human Dignity
PO Box 40344
Portland, OR 97240
See especially their report ,"The Covert Crusade (co-published by the Western States Center, 1993).
Recommended for analysis of the political organizing of the religious right nationally:
- Chip Berlet, "The Right Rides High," The Progressive, October, 1994.
- Sidney Blumenthal, "Christian Soldiers," The New Yorker, July 18, 1994.
Regarding the religious right and the Republican Party in Washington State, see
- Jim Simon and Barbara Serrano, "Christian Right Gets Results at Polls," Seattle Times, October 13, 1994
- David Schafer, "GOP unity arranged prior to convention," Seattle Times, Friday, July 1, 1994
- Steve Maynard, "Answering God's New Call," Morning News Tribune, March 7, 1993
Recommended coverage of specific religious right organizations:
The Christian Coalition
On the Christian Coalition's national efforts, see Jerry Large, "Christian Coalition Leader on a Roll," Seattle Times, November 22, 1994; Joseph Conn, "Behind the Mask," Church and State, November, 1994; Rob Boston, "Operation Precinct," Church and State, July/August, 1994, p. 8-13; Robert Sullivan, "An Army of the Faithful," New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1993.
American Center for Law and Justice and the Rutherford Institute
See Sara Diamond, "The Religious Right Goes to Court," The Humanist, May/June 1994, p. 35 and "See Them in Court," Z Magazine, April, 1994, p. 38.
American Family Association
Bill Dedman, "Bible Belt Blowhard," Mother Jones, Nov./Dec., 1992
Citizens for Excellence in Education
David Hill, "Christian Soldier," Teacher Magazine, November/December, 1992, p. 18 et seq.
Focus on the Family
People for the American Way, "Focus on the Family: Extremism Cloaked in the Rhetoric of Family Values." Sara Diamond, "Focus on Some Families," Z Magazine, July/August, 1994, p. 29. Rob Boston, "Out of Focus," Church and State, March, 1993. Laura Stepp, "The Empire Built on Family & Faith," Washington Post, August 8, 1990.
Origins of the Religious Right
Two books, both of which are now out of print, recount the origins of the New Right: Thunder on the Right by Alan Crawford (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), and Ominous Politics by John Saloma (New York, Hill and Wang, 1984). On the origins of the religious right, see Diamond, Spiritual Warfare. Regarding Paul Weyrich, see The Coors Connection by Russ Bellant (Boston: South End Press, 1991).
The coverage of the Moon Organization is based on the author's research for a forthcoming book, Moon Rising. The Moon Organization's Washington state connections, as well as background information, is covered in "Mainstream Moon," by Walter Hatch, Seattle Times, February 12 and 13, 1989.
To Rule and Reign
Sara Diamond provides an excellent treatment of the ideology of the religious right in Spiritual Warfare. See also Challenging the Christian Right by Clarkson and Porteous, particularly regarding the Coalition on Revival.
The Right to Choose Abortion
The Everett clinic bombing trial was well-covered by the Everett Herald. Regarding Lynn Harsh and Rick Woodrow's connections to the Moon Organization, see "Mainstream Moon," by Walter Hatch, Seattle Times, February 12 and 13, 1989.
The Campaign Against Gay and Lesbian Rights
People for the American Way's report, "Hostile Climate," presents state-by-state summaries of anti-gay organizing. The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force's Fight the Right Project (522 SW 5th Ave., #1375, Portland, OR 97204) monitors anti-gay initiative campaigns. See also Jim Simon, "Gay Rights Fight Takes National Stage," Seattle Times, May 29, 1994. Heather Rhoads, "Cruel Crusade: The Holy War Against Lesbian and Gays," The Progressive, March, 1993.
On the origins of the Oregon Citizens Alliance in particular and anti-gay politics in general, see "Rolling Back Civil Rights," by S.L. Gardiner (Portland: Coalition for Human Dignity, 1992). For more on the OCA and its founder Lon Mabon, see Sura Rubenstein, "OCA's Rise Meteoric," Oregonian, June 21, 1993; Angela Wilson, "Queer Notions," Willamette Week, May 13, 1993; Sally Chew, "Ding Dong, Mabon Calling," Out Magazine, February, 1993; Marc Cooper, "Queer Baiting in the Culture War," Village Voice, Oct.13, 1992.
The Coalition for Human Dignity monitors the religious right, including anti-gay activity, on an ongoing basis (see listing under National Organizations).
Regarding anti-gay activity in Washington state, see the reporting of Tom Flint for the Seattle Gay News and Lynda Mapes in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Public Schools and Library Censorship
People for the American Way covers censorship issues and can also provide information on Citizens for Excellence in Education. The American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom (phone: 800-545-2433) monitors censorship issues nationally.
The Washington Coalition Against Censorship (6201 15th Ave. NW, #640, Seattle, WA 98107; 206-784-6418) monitors censorship incidents in Washington. The Washington Education Association (33434 Eighth Ave. S., Federal Way, WA 98003; phone 206-941-6700) monitors school censorship incidents. What's Left After the Right and No Right Turn, both written by Dr. Janet L. Jones for the Washington Education Association, present excellent overviews of school censorship issues.
For analysis of right-wing efforts to restrict sex education, see "Under Siege, Sexuality Education in the Public Schools", ACLU Reproductive Rights Update, September, 1994.
The National Campaign for Freedom of Expression 's "Bulletin" has regular coverage of art censorship issues. NCFE has offices in Washington, DC (918 F St., NW, #609, Washington, DC 20004; phone: 202-393-2787) and Seattle (1402 Third Avenue, #421, Seattle, WA 98101; Phone: 206-340-9301).
Special thanks for research assistance to the following individuals:
Mike Shevar/Citizens Project
Financial support for this report came from the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the Washington Education Association.