The 10 Most Dangerous Religious Right Organizations
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5. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Lobbying Expenditures: $26,662,111
The USCCB for years has lobbied in Washington, D.C., to make the hierarchy’s ultra-conservative stands on reproductive rights, marriage, school vouchers and other public policies the law for all to follow. This year, the USCCB escalated its efforts in the “culture war” arena, forming the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. Led by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, the committee seeks to reduce Americans’ access to birth control, block efforts to expand marriage equality and ensure federal funding of church-affiliated social services, even if the services fail to meet government requirements. American Catholics often disagree with the hierarchy’s stance on social issues, but the bishops’ clout in Washington, D.C., and the state legislatures is undeniable.
6. American Family
Founded by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, the Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA once focused on battling “indecent” television shows. When that failed, the group branched out to advocate for standard Religious Right issues such as opposing gay rights, promoting religion in public schools and banning abortion. In recent years, AFA staffer Bryan Fischer has become notorious for making inflammatory statements. Fischer has asserted that Adolf Hitler invented church-state separation and has proposed kidnapping children being raised by same-sex couples. The AFA, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, frequently announces boycotts of companies that don’t give in to its demands. The organization says it operates nearly 200 radio stations nationwide.
7. Family Research Council
Revenue: $14,840,036 (includes 501(c)(4) affiliate FRC Action)
This group, an offshoot of Focus on the Family, is headed by GOP operative and ex-Louisiana legislator Tony Perkins. It is now the leading Religious Right organization in Washington. Every year, FRC Action sponsors a “Values Voter Summit” to promote far-right politicians and rally Religious Right forces nationwide. The 2012 edition hosted many top Republican politicians and drew about 2,000 attendees. The organization frequently assails public education, political progressives, reproductive justice and the church-state wall and seeks to form a far-right coalition with the Tea Party. FRC is also known to engage in harsh gay bashing and has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
8. Concerned Women for
Revenue: $10,352,628 (includes 501(c)(4) affiliate CWA Legislative Action Committee)
Founded to counter feminism, Concerned Women for America (CWA) claims to be “the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.” Its mission is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” CWA was organized by Tim and Beverly LaHaye in 1979 to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, and when that issue faded, it moved on to other Religious Right agenda items. The group attacks public schools for allegedly promoting “secular humanism” and supports the teaching of creationism in science classes. It also vehemently opposes abortion and gay rights.
9. Faith & Freedom Coalition
This 501(c)(4) advocacy group was founded by former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed. He formed the organization after his run for lieutenant governor in Georgia was derailed because of his ties to disgraced casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In just three years of operation it already boasts more than 500,000 members and claims affiliates in 30 states. Reed is infamous for exaggerating his organizations’ clout, but his latest group is certainly making political waves. In 2012, it hosted forums for GOP presidential hopefuls in four states. Faith & Freedom Coalition claims to have budgeted $10 million in 2012 to lure conservative religious voters to the polls.