The John Birch Society was launched at a two-day meeting in Indianapolis on December 8-9, 1958. Opponents immediately discovered the Society's potential and created a withering smear campaign to keep Americans from joining. Some enemies said the Society wouldn't last 10 years. Now, at 49, the Society is alive and well and going strong!
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In addition to holding down a post as vice president of a nationwide candy company, Robert Welch was a historian, philosopher, author, and intense lover of America. Deeply concerned about the triple threats of communism, collectivism, and abandonment of moral principles, he gathered a small group of like-minded friends in Indianapolis on December 8, 1958. After speaking to them for two full days, he proposed the formation of The John Birch Society, and delightedly welcomed several as the organization’s first members.
Known widely for its unbending anti-communism, the Society has always been opposed to all forms of totalitarianism: communism, socialism, Nazism, fascism, etc. More than what it set out to oppose, Birchers have always been champions of limited government. How limited? Precisely as mandated in the U.S. Constitution. Society leaders claim that, if the Constitution were fully enforced, the federal government would be 20 percent its current size and 20 percent its current cost.
By establishing groups of citizens in the cities and towns of America, the Society sought to overcome the grip on the people's thinking held by what it terms "the deficient mass media." The belief has always been that small, well-informed, and active community leaders who were possessors of solid information and perspective could capably circumvent the liberal and revolutionary attitudes constantly being given the public by the media and venal politicians.
The Society's steady stream of books, magazines, pamphlets, films, and speakers began to have impact almost immediately. Several of its "wake the town and tell the people" campaigns brought it to the attention of those who wanted more government, more cooperation with communist leaders, and more submission to world opinion and the United Nations. Rather than respond to the Society's carefully assembled information, these enemies orchestrated a withering smear campaign. The Society, the American people were told, was an anti-American hate group no different from communists, Nazis, anti-Semites, and racists. None of those charges could be backed up, and the Society's black and Jewish members worked tirelessly to counter the smears. But the anti-Birch campaign was so intense that some Americans are still influenced by what was said erroneously about the Society 40 years ago.
Early Birch Society campaigns called for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, exposure of domestic communist hands behind those who promoted and engaged in violence during the civil rights movement, and awareness about the difference between the republic (rule of law) established by the Founding Fathers and a democracy (rule by the mob) that had ushered in the downfall of ancient civilizations and empires.
When the Society was only a few years old, some of its political and media enemies confidently predicted that it would never survive to see its tenth anniversary. How wrong they were! Plans are now being drawn to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary in the fall of 2008.
Currently, the Society has initiated a campaign to alert fellow Americans about a plan to dissolve national sovereignty and create the North American Union. Numerous state legislatures have responded to Birch Society-produced information with resolutions opposing such a move. Political candidates and office holders are inundated with information about this attack on national independence. And Society members are busily distributing information calling for opposition to big government schemes, federal indebtedness, entangling alliances, and moral decadence.
As they celebrate 49 years of effort on behalf of personal freedom and national independence, the organization's leaders delight in noting a new upsurge in the public's interest, new member growth, and numerous other successes small and large. They claim that the public is catching on to their motto: "Less government, more responsibility, and — with God's help —a better world."
John F. McManus is President of The John Birch Society.
Copyright © 2007 The John Birch Society