ACTIVISM: Subverting the Political Christian Right

In the interest of opposition research, I read many right-wing publications, scan many conservative Web sites, and exist as a member of numerous political-right mailing lists. On one such E-list, I decided to have some fun while doing some good.

The list belongs to the mendaciously titled American Family Association. The group, founded in 1977 as the National Federation for Decency, exists largely to raise large amounts of cash and support for right-wing Republican candidates for political office. Their goal: to preserve traditional Christian values and protect families in the US from abortion, gay marriage, and entertainment they consider indecent. The AFA Web site shares the organization’s philosophy:

The American Family Association believes that God has communicated absolute truth to man through the Bible, and that all men everywhere at all times are subject to the authority of God’s Word. Therefore, a culture based on Biblical truth best serves the well-being of our country, in accordance with the vision of our founding fathers.

The AFA is led by Donald Wildmon, a Methodist minister whose mission is “to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth.” Right now, Wildmon and Co. are focused boycotting of the Ford Motor Co. for its sponsorship of this year’s PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) National Convention.and the 2007 London Gay Pride Parade. The site claims the action is working: AFA boasts nearly 700,000 people have signed its won’t-shop-Ford pledge and hints that the boycott is responsible for the automaker’s recent falling sales figures.

Truth be told, AFA and other right-wing activist organizations kick the Left’s ass on a regular basis. They beat the bushes to get everyone they can into their easily controlled fold (and risk getting folks like me peeking in on occasion). Christians are their target, of course, but they focus on a particular type: fundamentalist, devout, conservative. Rich ones are quite important because they send lots of donations to seal their entrance into heaven or to feel better about themselves or to do what they think is right. The struggling fundamentalist poor are valuable too: They cling to their faith because it’s all they have, and they can be bitter and angry over the lot life gave them. This can make them all too happy to pick on queers and feminists, and if they can’t give much money, they sure can give their time and letters and phone calls.

All of this translates into real power: These obedient soldiers for Biblical “truth” receive their marching orders and deluge “errant” corporations and politicians with letters, e-mails and phone calls. And even if the Dems have Congress, if the Left grassroots doesn’t make itself heard, guess who wins? Not justice. Not equality for all under law.

The Passion of the Christ showed the power of the Christian market. Word of mouth through Christian channels spurred interest in Mel Gibson’s controversial film, which went on to be a huge success, grossing $370,782,930 domestically and $241,116,490 abroad. The same power than can support a movie with more than half a billion dollars can do just about anything if real progressive efforts aren’t made to coalesce into a lean, mean, ORGANIZED grassroots-activism machine.

It can be fun. One of my favorite things to do is to take right-wing action alerts and do the opposite of what the group wants responders to do. An example from today follows:

From: Donald Wildmon at afa.net
Re: New bill would gives special preference to homosexuals

Call your representative today!

Dear NR,

A new bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has been introduced in the House of Representatives by homosexual Congressman Barney Frank. The bill (HR 2015) would force organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars, day care centers, Christian business owners, adoption agencies, public schools, municipalities and a host of other businesses and organizations to hire homosexual applicants.

ENDA would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on his or her sexual orientation or “gender identity.” Such acts would be considered crimes subject to severe penalties. For a list of the co-sponsors of ENDA, click here.

The same day that ENDA was introduced, another bill — commonly called the Hate Crimes Act (HR 1592) — cleared committee for a full vote by the House. The Hate Crimes Act criminalizes a vast array of state and local acts and threatens religious leaders with criminal prosecution for their thoughts, beliefs, and statements.

The intent of the Hate Crimes Act is to give special status to homosexuals. Republicans tried to expand the “protected class” in the bill to include senior citizens, pregnant women, prior victims, children under 18, the unborn, court witnesses, the military and more. Democrats defeated all amendments, projecting the welfare of homosexuals above other classes of citizens. The House Judiciary Committee then passed the bill on strict party lines —20 Democrats for and 14 Republicans against.

* Send an e-mail to President Bush asking him to veto ENDA (HR 2015) and the Hate Crimes Act (HR 1592) bills.
* Call your representative and ask him or her to vote against ENDA and the Hate Crimes Act. You can reach your representative at 202-224-3121. If you don’t know your representatives name, simply give the operator your address and you will be given his or her name and connected with his or her office.
* Forward this e-mail to your pastor, family and friends. Ask your pastor to urge members to send this e-mail and to call your Representative.

* Send an email to President Bush

If you think our efforts are worthy, would you please support us with a small gift? Thank you for caring enough to get involved.

Sincerely,

Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

P.S. Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!

Give ’em points, these guys cover all their bases.

So I took action. I sent e-mails to my congressperson, Rep, Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and to Dubya himself, demanding that they support ENDA all the way. (Which you all should do, by the way.) And then, I dashed off a reply to Wildmon:

Thanks! This is a bill I want to see passed! I will indeed write to the White House and encourage that it sign ENDA once it passes the House and Senate. God would not want to see His homosexual children treated unfairly while they are trying to feed themselves and their families, and the bill protects heterosexuals from being fired or discriminated in the workplace as a result of anti-het bigotry. This truly is a bill for everyone and will help make America the land of equality it claims to be. I am so looking forward to seeing the Hate Crimes bill become law for the same reason. Bless you for bringing the matter to my attention. I will pass the word on to my church family and encourage them to contact the president and lawmakers to ensure that all God’s children — sinners though we all be — are equal.under law. And I’ll tell them AFA gave me the information. Thank you!

In Christ,
NR Davis

Try it, you might dig it. And please consider doubloing, tripling, n-thing your efforts to make your views known and to encourage others to get involved too. The very meaning of the nation — and the lives of families AFA ignores — is at stake.

One note: If you’re going to subert fundie action alerts, DO NOT use their Web interfaces for sending e-mails. All too often, they provide an unchageable script. Instead, copy the e-dress and send an email message of your own via your personal client. GET BUSY FOR ENDA AND PROGRESSIVE CHANGE!

HAPPY 11TH, DAVID!

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