Though John McCain struggles to excite the religious right, many of
them will make the trip to St. Paul to showcase the movement at the
Republican National Convention. The Pioneer Press polled leaders
from throughout the party, including leaders of the religious right, to
see who was going to show up this year. Among the attendees will be
Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins — a who’s
who of the religious right.
For a better look at what to expect from evangelical Christianity’s
movers and shakers, here are some thumbnail sketches of how these
people have shaped the party and the platform.
Phyllis Schlafly: She is 83 years old and has attended every GOP convention since 1952. Schlafly spent the last 30 years fighting the Equal Rights Amendment,
a constitutional amendment that sprung out of the women’s suffrage
movement in the 1920s to guarantee equal rights under the law
regardless of gender. On women joining the workforce, Schlafly said,
"The flight from the home is a flight from yourself, from
responsibility, from the nature of woman, in pursuit of false hopes and
During the 1996 Republican National Convention, gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile
asked Schlafly about her son who had come out in 1992. "Run along!
Shoo! Shoo! Why can’t you just go away?" she said. Signorile responded,
"Phyllis, we are never going away!"
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Schlafly has been an outspoken opponent of abortion and gay rights, and
has long advocated teaching Christianity in public classrooms.
On the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on social issues in the 20th century, Schlafly wrote:
"Out went the Ten Commandments, in came condoms. Out went the Cross and
pictures of Christ, in came drawings of apes pretending to walk like
humans. Out went Adam and Eve, in came Heather Has Two Mommies. Out
went Easter, in came Earth Day. Out went teachings against
homosexuality, in came teachings in favor of homosexuality."
Schlafly’s Eagle Forum is reported to have
said in 1996, "Many years ago Christian pioneers had to fight savage
Indians. Today missionaries of these former cultures are being sent via
the public schools to heathenize our children."
She has had a heavy hand in forming the Republican Party platform every four years, guiding the party’s stance on abortion.
Tony Perkins: A former Republican legislator in
Louisiana, Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council,
founded by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson. Perkins came under sharp
criticism in 2005, when The Nation reported that in 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for use of his mailing list.
The Family Research Council works to prevent laws protecting LGBT Americans, and opposes abortion, gambling and divorce. Some notable Perkins quotes:
- "Counterfeit marriages called ‘civil unions’ pose a
serious threat to the health of our culture, and while the President
may believe this is an issue to be resolved at the state level, he
should use his moral leadership to steer states away from such
culture-threatening unions — not encourage them by showing
indifference or political tolerance."
- "Supporters of V.
Gene Robinson, the newly consecrated homosexual Episcopal bishop, claim
his elevation sends ‘a powerful message of love and tolerance.’
However, it is not ‘tolerant’ to brush off opposition to the
consecration of a homosexual bishop. Nor is it ‘loving’ to suppress
evidence that homosexual behavior is a ‘death-style’ that is sending
young people to an early grave."
- "…[O]ne of the primary
goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of
consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’
of a new sexual order."
- "Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement."
Perkins had a hand in crafting a more anti-gay platform for the GOP in 2004.
Ralph Reed: Reed has been active in the religious
right and in Republican corporate circles. In both spheres, scandal
seems to follow him closely. Reed was arrested in 1985 as part of
Operation Rescue after he burst into a clinic waiting room. Hired by
televangelist Pat Robertson to run the Christian Coalition in the 1980s
and 1990s, the organization fell apart after financial mismanagement.
The Federal Election Commission determined that the coalition, under Reed’s watch,
"violated federal campaign finance laws during congressional elections
in 1990, 1992 and 1994, and the presidential election in 1992."
After his work with the Christian Coalition, Reed contracted with Enron
shortly before its collapse. He then moved on to work with Jack
Abramoff and was implicated in the ensuing lobbying scandals when his
communications firm was paid with gambling funds.
Gary Bauer: Bauer runs an organization called American
Values. That organization is dedicated to bringing "traditional values"
back to America by preventing the legalization of gay marriage,
overturning Roe v. Wade and putting Christianity into public
classrooms. It also targets children to recruit them to
neoconservatism. The organization’s mission says it is committed to
"equipping our children with the values necessary to stand against
liberal education and cultural forces."
Bauer served as President Reagan’s Undersecretary of Education and
Chief Domestic Policy Advisor in the 1980s and went on to work for
Dobson’s Family Research Council. Bauer was replaced by Perkins when he
decided to run for president.
Bauer ran for the GOP nomination against McCain and George W. Bush, among others, and was saddled by rumors of adultery.
When running for president, Bauer said that it’s important to keep
employment discrimination against gays and lesbians legal. "I oppose
changing the definition of marriage to permit same-sex marriages, or
the granting of special rights on the basis of sexual preference. I
will strongly defend the rights of organizations like the Boy Scouts
and Salvation Army to participate fully in American culture, free from
legal coercion to hire personnel who would undermine the beliefs of
Bauer has also been sharply critical of public education and arts funding. The National Endowment for the Arts
is run by "a small cadre of cultural revolutionaries, militant
homosexuals, and anti-religious bigots who are intent on attacking the
average American’s most deeply held beliefs while sending them the