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CHRISTIAN ZIONISM:right wing anti-enviro plague upon your House(Senate)! [data per member]

See the numbers laid out in graph form, for the Senate and the House:

Forty-five senators and 186 representatives in 2003 earned 80- to 100-percent approval ratings from the nation's three most influential Christian right advocacy groups -- the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council. Many of those same lawmakers also got flunking grades -- less than 10 percent, on average -- from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

We are not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. The 231 legislators (all but five of them Republicans) who received an average 80 percent approval rating or higher from the leading religious-right organizations make up more than 40 percent of the U.S. Congress. (The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian Coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia....But the influence of theology, although less discussed, is no less significant. Inhofe, like DeLay, is a Christian Zionist. While the senator has not overtly expressed his religious views in his environmental committee, he has when speaking on other issues. In a Senate foreign-policy speech, Inhofe argued that the U.S. should ally itself unconditionally with Israel "because God said so." ....231 Christian right-backed legislators...cherished beliefs may lead to the most dangerous and destructive self-fulfilling prophecy of all time.
The Godly Must Be Crazy
Christian-right views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment
By Glenn Scherer
27 Oct 2004

Glenn Scherer is an author and freelance journalist whose stories have recently appeared in Salon.com, TomPaine.com, and other publications. He is former editor of Blue Ridge Press, a syndicated environmental commentary service in the Southeast.

A kind of secular apocalyptic sensibility pervades much contemporary writing about our current world. Many books about environmental dangers, whether it be the ozone layer, or global warming or pollution of the air or water, or population explosion, are cast in an apocalyptic mold.
- Historian Paul Boyer

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place ...
- Revelation 6:12-14

Abortion. Same-sex marriage. Stem-cell research.

U.S. legislators backed by the Christian right vote against these issues with near-perfect consistency. That probably doesn't surprise you, but this might: Those same legislators are equally united and unswerving in their opposition to environmental protection.

See the numbers laid out in graph form, for the Senate and the House:
Senate ratings chart
House ratings chart
See how individual senators and representatives score:
Senate Excel spreadsheet
House Excel spreadsheet
Forty-five senators and 186 representatives in 2003 earned 80- to 100-percent approval ratings from the nation's three most influential Christian right advocacy groups -- the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council. Many of those same lawmakers also got flunking grades -- less than 10 percent, on average -- from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

These statistics are puzzling at first. Opposing abortion and stem-cell research is consistent with the religious right's belief that life begins at the moment of conception. Opposing gay marriage is consistent with its claim that homosexual activity is proscribed by the Bible. Both beliefs are a familiar staple of today's political discourse. But a scripture-based justification for anti-environmentalism -- when was the last time you heard a conservative politician talk about that?

Odds are it was in 1981, when President Reagan's first secretary of the interior, James Watt, told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. "God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back," Watt said in public testimony that helped get him fired.

Today's Christian fundamentalist politicians are more politically savvy than Reagan's interior secretary was; you're unlikely to catch them overtly attributing public-policy decisions to private religious views. But their words and actions suggest that many share Watt's beliefs. Like him, many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.

We are not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. The 231 legislators (all but five of them Republicans) who received an average 80 percent approval rating or higher from the leading religious-right organizations make up more than 40 percent of the U.S. Congress. (The only Democrat to score 100 percent with the Christian Coalition was Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, who earlier this year quoted from the Book of Amos on the Senate floor: "The days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread or of thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord!") These politicians include some of the most powerful figures in the U.S. government, as well as key environmental decision makers: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Republican Conference Chair Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), Senate Republican Policy Chair Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, and quite possibly President Bush. (Earlier this month, a cover story by Ron Suskind in The New York Times Magazine described how Bush's faith-based governance has led to, among other things, a disastrous "crusade" in the Middle East and has laid the groundwork for "a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.")

And those politicians are just the powerful tip of the iceberg. A 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the Book of Revelation are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks.

Like it or not, faith in the Apocalypse is a powerful driving force in modern American politics. In the 2000 election, the Christian right cast at least 15 million votes, or about 30 percent of those that propelled Bush into the presidency. And there's no doubt that arch-conservative Christians will be just as crucial in the coming election: GOP political strategist Karl Rove hopes to mobilize 20 million fundamentalist voters to help sweep Bush back into office on Nov. 2 and to maintain a Republican majority in Congress, says Joan Bokaer, director of Theocracy Watch, a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy at Cornell University.

Because of its power as a voting bloc, the Christian right has the ear, if not the souls, of much of the nation's leadership. Some of those leaders are End-Time believers themselves. Others are not. Either way, their votes are heavily swayed by an electoral base that accepts the Bible as literal truth and eagerly awaits the looming Apocalypse. And that, in turn, is sobering news for those who hope for the protection of the earth, not its destruction.

Once Upon End Time

Ever since the dawn of Christianity, groups of believers have searched the scriptures for signs of the End Time and the Second Coming. Today, most of the roughly 50 million right-wing fundamentalist Christians in the United States believe in some form of End-Time theology.

Those 50 million believers make up only a subset of the estimated 100 million born-again evangelicals in the United States, who are by no means uniformly right-wing anti-environmentalists. In fact, the political stances of evangelicals on the environment and other issues range widely; the Evangelical Environmental Network, for example, has melded its biblical interpretation with good environmental science to justify and promote stewardship of the earth. But the political and cultural impact of the extreme Christian right is difficult to overestimate.

It is also difficult to understand without grasping the complex belief systems underlying and driving it. While there are many divergent End-Time theologies and sects, the most politically influential are the dispensationalists and reconstructionists.

Tune in to any of America's 2,000 Christian radio stations or 250 Christian TV stations and you're likely to get a heady dose of dispensationalism, an End-Time doctrine invented in the 19th century by the Irish-Anglo theologian John Nelson Darby. Dispensationalists espouse a "literal" interpretation of the Bible that offers a detailed chronology of the impending end of the world. (Many mainstream theologians dispute that literality, arguing that Darby misinterprets and distorts biblical passages.) Believers link that chronology to current events -- four hurricanes hitting Florida, gay marriages in San Francisco, the 9/11 attacks -- as proof that the world is spinning out of control and that we are what dispensationalist writer Hal Lindsey calls "the terminal generation." The social and environmental crises of our times, dispensationalists say, are portents of the Rapture, when born-again Christians, living and dead, will be taken up into heaven.

"All over the earth, graves will explode as the occupants soar into the heavens," preaches dispensationalist pastor John Hagee, of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. On the heels of that Rapture, nonbelievers left behind on earth will endure seven years of unspeakable suffering called the Great Tribulation, which will culminate in the rise of the Antichrist and the final battle of Armageddon between God and Satan. Upon winning that battle, Christ will send all unbelievers into the pits of hellfire, re-green the planet, and reign on earth in peace with His followers for a millennium.

Dispensationalists haven't cornered the market on End-Time interpretation. The reconstructionists (also known as dominionists), a smaller but politically influential sect, put the onus for the Lord's return not in the hands of biblical prophesy but in political activism. They believe that Christ will only make his Second Coming when the world has prepared a place for Him, and that the first step in readying His arrival is to Christianize America.

"Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ," writes reconstructionist George Grant. Christian dominion will be achieved by ending the separation of church and state, replacing U.S. democracy with a theocracy ruled by Old Testament law, and cutting all government social programs, instead turning that work over to Christian churches. Reconstructionists also would abolish government regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. EPA, because they are a distraction from their goal of Christianizing America, and subsequently, the rest of the world. "World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish," says Grant. "We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less." Only when that conquest is complete can the Lord return.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

People under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the Apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a Word?

Many End-Timers believe that until Jesus' return, the Lord will provide. In America's Providential History, a popular reconstructionist high-school history textbook, authors Mark Beliles and Stephen McDowell tell us that: "The secular or socialist has a limited resource mentality and views the world as a pie ... that needs to be cut up so everyone can get a piece." However, "the Christian knows that the potential in God is unlimited and that there is no shortage of resources in God's Earth. The resources are waiting to be tapped." In another passage, the writers explain: "While many secularists view the world as overpopulated, Christians know that God has made the earth sufficiently large with plenty of resources to accommodate all of the people."

Natural-resource depletion and overpopulation, then, are not concerns for End-Timers -- and nor are other ecological catastrophes, which are viewed by dispensationalists as presaging the Great Tribulation. Support for this view comes from an 11-word passage in Matthew 24:7: "[T]here shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." Other End-Timers see suggestions of ecological meltdown in Revelation's four horsemen of the Apocalypse -- War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death -- and they cite a verse mentioning costly wheat, barley, and oil as foretelling food and fossil-fuel shortages. During the End Time, the four horsemen shall be "given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." Some End-Timers note that Revelation 8:8-11 predicts a fiery mountain falling into the sea and causing great destruction, followed by a blazing star plummeting from the sky. This star is called "Wormwood," which dispensationalists say translates loosely in Ukrainian as "Chernobyl."

A plethora of End-Time preachers, tracts, films, and websites hawk environmental cataclysm as Good News -- a harbinger of the imminent Second Coming. Hal Lindsey's 1970 End-Time "non-fiction" work, The Late Great Planet Earth, is the classic of the genre; the movie version pummels viewers with stock footage of nuclear blasts, polluting smokestacks, raging floods, and killer bees. Likewise, dispensationalist author Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" novels -- at one point selling 1.5 million copies per month -- weave ecological disaster into an action-adventure account of prophesy.

At RaptureReady.com, the "Rapture Index" tracks all the latest news in relation to biblical prophecy. Among its leading environmental indicators of Apocalypse are oil supply and price, famine, drought, plagues, wild weather, floods, and climate. RaptureReady webmaster Todd Strandberg writes to explain why climate change made the list: "I used to think there was no real need for Christians to monitor the changes related to greenhouse gases. If it was going to take a couple hundred years for things to get serious, I assumed the nearness of the End Times would overshadow this problem. With the speed of climate change now seen as moving much faster, global warming could very well be a major factor in the plagues of the tribulation."

Another prophecy index points to acts of nature (drought in Ethiopia, famine in South Africa, floods in Russia, fires in Arizona, heat waves in India, and the breakup of the Antarctic ice shelf) as proof of the approaching doomsday, noting that "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28).

According to a chart on the End-Time website ApocalypseSoon.org, we are at "the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:3-8) marking the Great Tribulation. The site links to a BBC News article on infectious diseases and a chronicle of extreme weather events on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan's climate-change website as evidence of those unfolding sorrows. However, it adds a stern disclaimer regarding these external links: "We do not, by any means, approve or recommend some of the sites that this page links to. They were chosen simply because they document literally what the Word of God prophesies for the End Days."

If I Had a Hammer

To understand how the Christian right worldview is shaping and even fueling congressional anti-environmentalism, consider two influential born-again lawmakers: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

DeLay, who has considerable control over the agenda in the House, has called for "march[ing] forward with a Biblical worldview" in U.S. politics, reports Peter Perl in The Washington Post Magazine. DeLay wants to convert America into a "God centered" nation whose government promotes prayer, worship, and the teaching of Christian values.

Inhofe, the Senate's most outspoken environmental critic, is also unwavering in his wish to remake America as a Christian state. Speaking at the Christian Coalition's Road to Victory rally just before the GOP sweep of the 2002 midterm elections, he promised the faithful, "When we win this revolution in November, you'll be doing the Lord's work, and He will richly bless you for it!"

Neither DeLay nor Inhofe include environmental protection in "the Lord's work." Both have ranted against the EPA, calling it "the Gestapo." DeLay has fought to gut the Clean Air and Endangered Species acts. Last year, Inhofe invited a stacked-deck of fossil fuel-funded climate-change skeptics to testify at a Senate hearing that climaxed with him calling global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

DeLay has said bluntly that he intends to smite the "socialist" worldview of "secular humanists," whom, he argues, control the U.S. political system, media, public schools, and universities. He called the 2000 presidential election an apocalyptic "battle for souls," a fight to the death against the forces of liberalism, feminism, and environmentalism that are corrupting America. The utopian dreams of such movements are doomed, argues the majority leader, because they do not stem from God.

"DeLay is motivated more than anything by power," says Jan Reid, coauthor with Lou Dubose of The Hammer, a just-published biography of DeLay. "But he also believes in the power of the coming Millennium [of Jesus Christ], and it helps shape his vision on government and the world." This may explain why DeLay's Capitol office furnishings include a marble replica of the Ten Commandments and a wall poster that reads: "This Could Be The Day" -- meaning Judgment Day.

DeLay is also a self-declared member of the Christian Zionists, an End-Time faction numbering 20 million Americans. Christian Zionists believe that the 1948 creation of the state of Israel marked the first event in what author Hal Lindsey calls the "countdown to Armageddon" and they are committed to making that doomsday clock tick faster, speeding Christ's return.

In 2002, DeLay visited pastor John Hagee's Cornerstone Church. Hagee preached a fiery message as simple as it was horrifying: "The war between America and Iraq is the gateway to the Apocalypse!" he said, urging his followers to support the war, perhaps in order to bring about the Second Coming. After Hagee finished, DeLay rose to second the motion. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "what has been spoken here tonight is the truth from God."

With those words -- broadcast to 225 Christian TV and radio stations -- DeLay placed himself squarely inside the End-Time camp, a faction willing to force the Apocalypse upon the rest of the world. In part, DeLay may embrace Hagee and others like him in a calculated attempt to win fundamentalist votes -- but he was also raised a Southern Baptist, steeped in a literal interpretation of the Bible and End-Time dogma. Biographer Dubose says that the majority leader probably doesn't grasp the complexities of dispensationalist and reconstructionist theology, but "I am convinced that he believes [in] it." For DeLay, Dubose told me, "If John Hagee says it, then it is true."

Onward Christian Senators

James Inhofe might be an environmentalist's worst nightmare. The Oklahoma senator makes major policy decisions based on heavy corporate and theological influences, flawed science, and probably an apocalyptic worldview -- and he chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

That committee's links to corporate funders are both easier to trace and more infamous than its ties to religious fundamentalism, and it's true that the influence of money can scarcely be overstated. From 1999 to 2004, Inhofe received more than $588,000 from the fossil-fuel industry, electric utilities, mining, and other natural-resource interests, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Eight of the nine other Republican members of Inhofe's committee received an average of $408,000 per senator from the energy and natural resource sector over the same period. By contrast, the eight committee Democrats and one Independent came away with an average of just $132,000 per senator from that same sector since 1999.

But the influence of theology, although less discussed, is no less significant. Inhofe, like DeLay, is a Christian Zionist. While the senator has not overtly expressed his religious views in his environmental committee, he has when speaking on other issues. In a Senate foreign-policy speech, Inhofe argued that the U.S. should ally itself unconditionally with Israel "because God said so." Quoting the Bible as the divine Word of God, Inhofe cited Genesis 13:14-17 -- "for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever" -- as justification for permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank and for escalating aggression against the Palestinians.

Inhofe also openly supports dispensationalist Pat Robertson, who touts every tornado, hurricane, plague, and suicide bombing as a sure sign of God's return; who accused both Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr. of being followers of Lucifer; and who makes no secret of the efforts of his Christian Coalition to control the Republican Party, according to Theocracy Watch.

A good fundamentalist, Inhofe scored a perfect 100 percent rating in 2003 from all three major Christian-right advocacy groups, while earning a 5 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (and a string of zeroes from 1997 to 2002). Likewise, eight of the nine other Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee earned an average 94 percent approval rating in 2003 from the Christian right, while scoring a dismal 4 percent average environmental approval rating. The one exception proves the rule: Moderate Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) last year earned a 79 percent LCV rating and just 41 percent from the religious right.

As committee chair, Inhofe has subtly chosen scripture over science. The origins of his 2003 Senate speech attacking the science behind global climate change, for example, reveal his two masters: the speech is traceable to fossil fuel industry think tanks and petrochemical dollars -- but also to the pseudo-science of Christian right websites. In that two-hour diatribe, Inhofe dismissed global warming by comparing it to a 1970s scientific scare that suggested the planet was cooling -- a hypothesis, he fails to note, held by only a minority of climatologists at the time. Inhofe's apparent source on global cooling was the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a Christian-right and free-market economics think tank. In an editorial on that site called "Global Warming or Globaloney? The Forgotten Case for Global Cooling," we hear echoes of Inhofe's position. The article calls climate change "a shrewdly planned campaign to inflict a lot of socialistic restriction on our cherished freedoms. Environmentalism, in short, is the last refuge of socialism." Inhofe's views can be heard in the words of dispensationalist Jerry Falwell as well, who said on CNN, "It was global cooling 30 years ago ... and it's global warming now. ... The fact is there is no global warming."

Inhofe's views are also closely tied to the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship, a radical-right Christian organization founded by radio evangelist James Dobson, dispensationalist Rev. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, Jerry Falwell, and Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest who has been editing Vatican texts to align the Catholic Church's historical teachings with his free-market philosophy, according to E Magazine.

The ICES environmental view is shaped by the Book of Genesis: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the seas, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on this earth." The group says this passage proves that "man" is superior to nature and gives the go-ahead to unchecked population growth and unrestrained resource use. Such beliefs fly in the face of ecology, which shows humankind to be an equal and interdependent participant in the natural web.

Inhofe's staff defends his backward scientific positions, no matter how at odds they are with mainstream scientists. "How do you define 'mainstream'?" asked a miffed staffer. "Scientists who accept the so-called consensus about global warming? Galileo was not mainstream." But Inhofe is no Galileo. In fact, his use of lawsuits to try to suppress the peer-reviewed science of the National Assessment on Climate Change -- which predicts major extinctions and threats to coastal regions -- arguably puts him on the side of Galileo's oppressors, the perpetrators of the Christian Inquisition, writes Chris Mooney in The American Prospect.

"I trust God with my legislative goals and the issues that are important to my constituents," Inhofe has told Pentecostal Evangel magazine. "I don't believe there is a single issue we deal with in government that hasn't been dealt with in the Scriptures." But Inhofe stayed silent in that interview as to which passages he applies to the environment, and he remained so when I asked him if End-Time beliefs influence his leadership of the most powerful environmental committee in the country.

And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon

So weird have the attempts to hasten the End Time become that a group of ultra-Christian Texas ranchers recently helped fundamentalist Israeli Jews breed a pure red heifer, a genetically rare beast that must be sacrificed to fulfill an apocalyptic prophecy found in the biblical Book of Numbers. (The beast will be ready for sacrifice by 2005, according to The National Review.)

It can be difficult for environmentalists, many of whom cut their teeth on peer-reviewed science, to fathom how anyone could believe that a rust-colored calf could bring about the end of the world, or how anyone could make a coherent End-Time story (let alone national policy) out of the poetic symbolism of the Book of Revelation. But there are millions of such people in America today -- including 231 U.S. legislators who either believe dispensationalist or reconstructionist doctrine or, for political expediency, are happy to align themselves with those who do.

That's troubling, because the beliefs in question are antithetical to environmentalism. For starters, any environmental science that contradicts the End-Timer's interpretation of Holy Writ is automatically suspect. This explains the disregard for environmental science so prevalent among Christian fundamentalist lawmakers: the denial of global warming, of the damaged ozone layer, and of the poisoning caused by industrial arsenic and mercury.

More important, End-Time beliefs make such problems inconsequential. Faith in Christ's impending return causes End-Timers to be interested only in short-term political-theological outcomes, not long-term solutions. Unfortunately, nearly every environmental issue, from the conservation of endangered species to the curbing of climate change, requires belief in and commitment to an enduring earth. And yet, no amount of scientific evidence will likely shake fundamentalists of their End-Time faith or bring them over to the cause of saving the environment.

"It's like half this country wants to guide our ship of state by compass -- a compass, something that works by science and rationality, and empirical wisdom," quipped comedian Bill Maher on Larry King Live. "And half this country wants to kill a chicken and read the entrails like they used to do in the old Roman Empire."

Those who doubt the dangers of such faith-based guidance need only recall the 9/11 hijackers, who devoutly believed that 72 black-eyed virgins awaited them as their reward in paradise.

In the past, it was not deemed politically correct to ask probing questions about a lawmaker's intimate religious beliefs. But when those beliefs play a crucial role in shaping public policy, it becomes necessary for the people to know and understand them. It sounds startling, but the great unasked questions that need to be posed to the 231 U.S. legislators backed by the Christian right, and to President Bush himself, are not the kind of softballs about faith lobbed at the candidates during the recent presidential debates. They are, instead, tough, specific inquiries about the details of that faith: Do you believe we are in the End Time? Are the governmental policies you support based on your faith in the imminent Second Coming of Christ? It's not an exaggeration to say that the fate of our planet depends on our asking these questions, and on our ability to reshape environmental strategy in light of the answers.

Many years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to his "religious grandparents," who, whenever they were asked about the future, proclaimed, "Armageddon's comin'!" And they believed it. Christ was due back any day, so they never bothered to paint or shingle their house. What was the point? Over the years, I drove by their place and watched the protective layers of paint peel, the bare clapboards weather, the sills and roof rot. Eventually, the house fell into ruin and had to be torn down, leaving my friend's grandparents destitute.

In a way, their prediction had proven right. But this humble apocalypse, a house divided against itself, was no work of God, but of man. This is a parable for the 231 Christian right-backed legislators of the 108th Congress. Their constituency's cherished beliefs may lead to the most dangerous and destructive self-fulfilling prophecy of all time.

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Glenn Scherer is an author and freelance journalist whose stories have recently appeared in Salon.com, TomPaine.com, and other publications. He is former editor of Blue Ridge Press, a syndicated environmental commentary service in the Southeast.


The Council For National Policy (CNP), The Religious Right and Republicans 31.Oct.2004 07:01

Jeremy Leaming and Rob Boston

Who Is The Council For National Policy And What Are They Up To? And Why Don't They Want You To Know?

When a top U.S. senator receives a major award from a national advocacy organization, it's standard procedure for both the politician and the group to eagerly tell as many people about it as possible.

Press releases spew from fax machines and e-mails clog reporters' in-boxes. The news media are summoned in the hope that favorable stories will appear in the newspapers, on radio and on television.

It was odd, therefore, that when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) accepted a "Thomas Jefferson Award" from a national group at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in August, the media weren't notified. In fact, they weren't welcome to attend.

"The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting," reads one of the cardinal rules of the organization that honored Frist.

The membership list of this group is "strictly confidential." Guests can attend only with the unanimous approval of the organization's executive committee. The group's leadership is so secretive that members are told not to refer to it by name in e-mail messages. Anyone who breaks the rules can be tossed out.

What is this group, and why is it so determined to avoid the public spotlight?

That answer is the Council for National Policy (CNP). And if the name isn't familiar to you, don't be surprised. That's just what the Council wants.

The CNP was founded in 1981 as an umbrella organization of right-wing leaders who would gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda. Twenty-three years later, it is still secretly pursuing those goals with amazing success.

Since its founding, the tax-exempt organization has been meeting three times a year. Members have come and gone, but all share something in common: They are powerful figures, drawn from both the Religious Right and the anti-government, anti-tax wing of the ultra-conservative movement.

It may sound like a far-left conspiracy theory, but the CNP is all too real and, its critics would argue, all too influential.

What amazes most CNP opponents is the group's ability to avoid widespread public scrutiny. Despite nearly a quarter century of existence and involvement by wealthy and influential political figures, the CNP remains unknown to most Americans. Operating out of a non-descript office building in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va., the organization has managed to keep an extremely low profile an amazing feat when one considers the people the CNP courts.

New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick was finally able to pierce the CNP veil in August when he attended a gathering of the group in New York City just before the Republican convention, where the organization presented Frist with the "Jefferson Award."

The Times described the CNP as consisting of "a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country" who meet "behind closed doors at undisclosed locations... to strategize about how to turn the country to the right."

Accepting the award, Frist acknowledged the group's power, telling attendees, "The destiny of the nation is on the shoulders of the conservative movement."

The CNP meeting was perhaps more important than what took place on the carefully choreographed GOP convention stage a few days later, said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"The real crux of this is that these are the genuine leaders of the Republican Party, but they certainly aren't going to be visible on television next week," Lynn told The Times days before the start of the GOP convention. "The CNP members are not going to be visible next week, but they are very much on the minds of George W. Bush and Karl Rove every week of the year, because these are the real powers in the party."

The Times' Kirkpatrick was able to obtain the CNP's current membership list and reported that its roster includes Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association and Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. A CNP financial disclosure form for 2002 lists Norquist and Howard Phillips, founder of the ultra-conservative Constitution Party, as directors. The current president of the group is Donald P. Hodel, former executive director of the Christian Coalition.

Other CNP directors include names that would not mean a lot to most people, but they are key players in the right-wing universe. Becky Norton Dunlop is vice president for external relations at the Heritage Foundation. James C. Miller III is former director of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Stuart W. Epperson owns a chain of Christian radio stations. E. Peb Jackson is former president of Young Life. T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., vice president of the CNP, was a domestic policy advisor to President Ronald W. Reagan and runs the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a group that funds right-wing newspapers on college campuses. Ken Raasch is a businessman who works in partnership with popular artist Thomas Kinkade.

Others who have been affiliated with the CNP include TV preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, longtime anti-feminist crusader Phyllis Schlafly, Iran-Contra figure turned right-wing talk radio host Oliver North, former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), wealthy California savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, former House Majority Leader Dick Army (R-Texas), Attorney General John Ashcroft and Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Republican Party glitterati and top government officials frequently appear at CNP meetings. During the gathering before this year's GOP convention, The New York Times reported that several Bush administration representatives were scheduled for speeches. Undersecretary of State John Bolton spoke about plans for Iran, Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta talked about human trafficking and Dan Senor, who worked for Paul Bremer in Iraq, was scheduled to talk about the war there.

The Times said the CNP meeting was focused on the Bush-Cheney re-election efforts and quoted an anonymous participant who called the gathering a "pep rally" for the president's campaign. Passing a federal marriage amendment and using that subject as a wedge issue was also a top priority.

The newspaper noted that another CNP meeting that took place shortly after the American invasion of Iraq included visits from Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. A Canadian newspaper reported that Rumsfeld provided the gathering's keynote address and that Cheney was scheduled to speak. (See "People & Events," June 2003 Church & State.)

In April of 2002, according to an ABC News story that ran online, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the keynote speaker at a CNP meeting in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Timothy Goeglein, a White House liaison to religious communities, also spoke.

Heavy-hitters such as these show that the CNP is a force to be reckoned with, and Republican politicians ignore the group at their peril. In 1999, GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush appeared before a CNP gathering in San Antonio, and, in a closed-door meeting, assured the members of his right-wing bona fides. Bush critics demanded that the president release the text of his remarks, but he refused. Nonetheless, rumors soon surfaced that Bush promised the CNP to implement its agenda and vowed to appoint only anti-abortion judges to the federal courts.

How did this influential organization get its start? To find the answer, it's necessary to go all the way back to 1981 and the early years of the Reagan presidency.

Excited by Reagan's election, Tim LaHaye, Richard Viguerie, Weyrich and a number of far-right conservatives began meeting to discuss ways to maximize the power of the ultra-conservative movement and create an alternative to the more centrist Council on Foreign Relations. In mid May, about 50 of them met at the McLean, Va., home of Viguerie, owner of a conservative fund-raising company.

Viguerie had a knack for networking. Shortly before helping launch the CNP, Viguerie and Weyrich initiated the Moral Majority and tapped Falwell to run it, making the obscure Lynchburg pastor a major political figure overnight. Viguerie's goal was to lead rural White voters in the South out of the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party by emphasizing divisive social issues such as abortion, gay rights and school prayer.

Back when the CNP was founded, it was a little less media shy. In the summer of 1981, Woody Jenkins, a former Louisiana state lawmaker who served as the group's first executive director, told Newsweek bluntly, "One day before the end of this century, the Council will be so influential that no president, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government."

From the beginning, the CNP sought to merge two strains of far-right thought: the theocratic Religious Right with the low-tax, anti-government wing of the GOP. The theory was that the Religious Right would provide the grassroots activism and the muscle. The other faction would put up the money.

The CNP has always reflected this two-barreled approach. The group's first president was LaHaye, then president of Family Life Seminars in El Cajon Calif. LaHaye, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who went on in the 1990s to launch the popular "Left Behind" series of apocalyptic potboilers, was an early anti-gay crusader and frequent basher of public education and he still is today.

Alongside figures like LaHaye and leaders of the anti-abortion movement, the nascent CNP also included Joseph Coors, the wealthy beer magnate; Herbert and Nelson Bunker Hunt, two billionaire investors and energy company executives known for their advocacy of right-wing causes, and William Cies, another wealthy businessman.

Interestingly, the Hunts, Cies and LaHaye all were affiliated with the John Birch Society, the conspiracy-obsessed anti-communist group founded in 1959. LaHaye had lectured and conducted training seminars frequently for the Society during the 1960s and '70s a time when the group was known for its campaign against the civil rights movement.

Bringing together the two strains of the far right gave the CNP enormous leverage. The group, for example, could pick a candidate for public office and ply him or her with individual donations and PAC money from its well-endowed, business wing.

The goals of the CNP, then, are similarly two-pronged. Activists like Norquist, who once said he wanted to shrink the federal government to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub, are drawn to the group for its exaltation of unfettered capitalism, hostility toward social-service spending and low (or no) tax ideology.

Dramatically scaling back the size of the federal government and abolishing the last remnants of the New Deal may be one goal of the CNP, but many of the foot soldiers of the Religious Right sign on for a different crusade: a desire to remake America in a Christian fundamentalist image.

Since 1981, CNP members have worked assiduously to pack government bodies with ultra-conservative lawmakers who agree that the nation needs a major shift to the right economically and socially. They rail against popular culture and progressive lawmakers, calling them the culprits of the nation's moral decay. Laws must be passed and enforced, the group argues, that will bring organized prayer back to the public schools, outlaw abortion, prevent gays from achieving full civil rights and fund private religious schools with tax funds.

The CNP does not directly fund these activities itself. In fact, a glance at the group's publicly available financial statements reveals a modest budget. In 2002, the CNP operated with income of just over $1.2 million. The national office has just a handful of staff members.

(In no way a grassroots organization, the CNP gets much of its money from far-right foundations. The Coors family and Richard DeVos, founder of Amway, have been among the CNP's largest financial backers. The group received $125,000 from a Coors family philanthropic arm, the Castle Rock Foundation, and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. Richard DeVos was also one of the CNP's early presidents and Jeffrey and Holly Coors have been members for many years.)

The CNP's budgetary figures don't tell the whole story, however. Financial data shows that the bulk of its money $815,227 in 2002 is spent on "educational conferences and seminars for national leaders in the fields of business, government, religion and academia to explore national policy alternatives." An additional $69,108 was spent on "weekly newsletters... distributed to all members to keep them apprised of member activities and public policy issues."

In other words, the CNP is merely a facilitator. While the group has an affiliated arm CNP Action that does some lobbying, in the main it does not work directly to implement the schemes its members devise during the three yearly meetings. The well-heeled leaders and their affiliated organizations are expected to come up with their own funds to pay for the plots hatched during the meetings.

Despite the group's obsessive desire for secrecy, some information has leaked out over the years, mainly due to the persistent efforts of a few writers and researchers.

In 1988, writer Russ Bellant noted in his book The Coors Connection, which details the beer dynasty's funding of right-wing causes and groups, that many CNP members have been associated with the outer reaches of the conservative movement. Bellant found that among the far right, there is a certain cachet to being a CNP member. Members pay thousands of dollars yearly to keep their CNP membership. Bellant noted that at the time, individuals paid $2,000 per year for membership and those seeking a spot on the CNP's board of directors shelled out $5,000 each.

Research undertaken by a now-defunct watchdog group, the Institute for First Amendment Studies (IFAS), shed some more light on the group's activities. For many years running, IFAS founder Skip Porteous was able to obtain CNP membership lists, which he posted online.

Bellant noted that Tom Ellis, a top political operative of the ultra-conservative Jesse Helms, followed LaHaye as the CNP president in 1982. Ellis had a checkered past, having served as a director of a foundation called the Pioneer Fund, which has a long history of subsidizing efforts to prove blacks are genetically inferior to whites.

Bellant's book, as well as work by the IFAS, reveals other CNP members who have flirted with extremist and hateful propaganda.

In addition to obsessing over communist threats and buttressing white supremacist ideology, the CNP has included many members bent on replacing American democracy with theocracy.

LaHaye, like the whole of the nation's Religious Right leaders, nurtures a strong contempt for the First Amendment principle of church-state separation, because it seriously complicates their goal of installing fundamentalist Christianity as the nation's officially recognized religion. LaHaye has worked within the CNP and other groups to replace American law with "biblical law." (See "Left Behind," February 2002 Church & State.)

Former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed has also been involved with the CNP and addressed the group during the August GOP meeting in New York. Asked about his relationship with the CNP by CNN's Wolf Blitzer Aug. 29, Reed fell back on the common ploy of asserting that the group is just a ramped-up social club.

"I think it's like-minded individuals who believe in conservative public policy views. And they get together a few times a year," said Reed (whose CNP topic was "The 2004 Elections: Who Will Win in November?").

Reed, now a top official of the Bush-Cheney campaign, said he is no longer a CNP member, asserting that he quit because "I was just busy doing other things."

The CNP goes way beyond LaHaye and Reed in its effort to embrace the Religious Right. For many years, the late leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, Rousas J. Rushdoony, was a member. Reconstructionists espouse a radical theology that calls for trashing the U.S. Constitution and replacing it with the harsh legal code of the Old Testament. They advocate the death penalty for adulterers, blasphemers, incorrigible teenagers, gay people, "witches" and those who worship "false gods."

Another CNP-Reconstructionist tie comes through Howard Phillips, the Constitution Party leader. Phillips, a longtime CNP member, is a disciple of Rushdoony and uses rhetoric that strikes a distinctly Reconstructionist tone. In a 2003 Constitution Party gathering in Clackamas, Oregon, Phillips told party members and guests, "We've got to be ready when God chooses to let us restore our once-great Republic." A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Phillips proclaimed that his party was "raising up an army" to "take back this nation!"

The CNP has provided more prominent Religious Right figures, such as Dobson, with a forum to promote church-state merger and shove the Republican Party toward the right. In 1998, Dobson appeared before a CNP gathering where he admitted he voted for Constitution Party nominee Phillips in the 1996 presidential election instead of Republican candidate Bob Dole. Dobson threatened to bolt the Republican Party and take "as many people with me as possible" if the GOP did not stop taking Christian conservatives for granted. (Dobson's speech, like all addresses before CNP functions, was not intended for media coverage. A transcript was published by the IFAS, which was able to gain access to the meeting. The transcript remains available on the Internet at www.buildingequality.us/ifas /cnp/dobson.html.)

Dobson railed against the Republican-controlled Congress for apparently giving short shrift to the "pro-moral community" and easily acquiescing to a "post-modern notion, that there is no moral law to the universe." That notion, Dobson said, has spread throughout the nation like a cancer.

For Dobson, the moral law of the universe is clear and should be evident to all lawmakers. The universe "has a boss," he said. "And He has very clear ideas of what is right and wrong."

Dobson blasted the Republican-led Congress for increasing funding to Planned Parenthood and the National Endowment of the Arts and for espousing a "safe sex ideology" that he said includes advocacy of the use of condoms to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

All of this, Dobson said, directly contravenes God's law.

"It's a lack of conviction that there is a boss to the universe and that there are moral standards that we are held to and we need officials that will stand up and respect them," Dobson said.

Dobson concluded his lecture by begging CNP members "shamelessly, to use your influence on the party at this critical stage of our history. You have a lot of influence on the party. A lot of you are politicians. I beg you to talk to them about what's at stake here because they've laid the foundation for a revolt and I don't think they even know it because they're so out of touch with the people that I'm talking about."

Dobson seemed fully aware that he was speaking to an ultra-partisan group. Indeed, the ABCNews.com report noted that some CNP members have bragged about helping "Christian conservatives" take over Republican state party operations in several Southern and Midwestern states.

The CNP's current executive director, a former California lawmaker named Steve Baldwin, has tried to downplay the organization's influence on powerful state and national lawmakers. He has remained cagey about the CNP's goals, insisting it is merely a group that counters liberal policy arguments.

In many ways, Baldwin himself exemplifies the CNP's operate-in-secret strategy. As a political strategist in California in the early 1990s, Baldwin was one of the key architects of the "stealth strategy" that led to Religious Right activists being elected to school boards and other local offices.

"Stealth candidates" were trained to emphasize pocketbook issues such as taxes and spending. But once elected, they would pursue a Religious Right agenda, such as demanding creationism in public schools. A spate of the candidates won election in Southern California in the early 1990s, but most were later removed by the voters when the true agenda became apparent.

Baldwin tried to use the stealth strategy during his own campaign for the California Assembly in 1992. He lost that race but fared better in 1994, winning election to a seat in the 77th Assembly District. While in office, he helped lead efforts by Religious Right conservatives to take over the state GOP and, briefly, the entire Assembly.

Baldwin had to leave the Assembly in 2000 after serving six years due to California's term-limits law. According to one California media outlet, his hard-right views had by then alienated most other members of the Assembly.

But Baldwin refused to let up. In the spring of 2002, while working at the CNP, he penned a controversial article for the law review at TV preacher Pat Robertson's Regent University. The piece, "Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement," linked pedophilia to homosexuality.

The article went on to become a staple in the Religious Right's anti-gay canon, despite the fact that its claims were challenged by legitimate researchers.

"It is difficult to convey the dark side of the homosexual culture without appearing harsh," wrote Baldwin. "However, it is time to acknowledge that homosexual behavior threatens the foundation of Western civilization the nuclear family."

What might the future hold for Baldwin and the CNP? Already Jenkins' vision of a day when powerful politicians would pay heed to the group has come to pass. With social issues such as same-sex marriage increasingly dominating the Religious Right's agenda, the organization is not likely to want for things to do.

Americans United, which has monitored the activities of the CNP for years, says the groups holds radical views and is especially dangerous because of its success in connecting Religious Right activism with the secular right's deep financial pockets.

AU's Lynn said he hopes the media begins to pay more attention to the CNP and expose its goals.

"If the CNP gets its way," Lynn said, "the First Amendment, along with the rest of the U.S. Constitution, will be replaced with fundamentalist dogma. In order to ensure religious liberty for future generations of Americans, the CNP's agenda must be derailed."

© Americans United for Separation of Church and State, 518 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 Telephone (202) 466-3234; Facsimile (202) 466-2587; E-mail:  americansunited@au.org

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a watchdog group founded in 1947.


. 31.Oct.2004 08:03



Christian Zionists Bring America To Shame; Are Worse Threat Than 'Communism' 31.Oct.2004 08:18

a strange kind of freedom



American Christianists-- far right-wing, politicized extremists who engage their flocks' genuine Christian faith through manipulation and distortion, are, as the main voter constituency supporting extreme right wing republicanism and the Bush administration, at the core of the problem with America that has led to the state we find ourselves in today-- facing daily disclosures of worse and worse reports of horrible, twisted, perverted tortures.


A Strange Kind of Freedom

The biggest threat to liberty in the US may come from other kinds of fundamentalism: Jewish and Christian

by Robert Fisk




The most astonishing -- and least covered -- story is in fact the alliance of Israeli lobbyists and Christian Zionist fundamentalists, a coalition that began in 1978 with the publication of a Likud plan to encourage fundamentalist churches to give their support to Israel. By 1980, there was an "International Christian Embassy" in Jerusalem; and in 1985, a Christian Zionist lobby emerged at a "National Prayer Breakfast for Israel" whose principal speaker was Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to become Israeli prime minister. "A sense of history, poetry and morality imbued the Christian Zionists who, more than a century ago, began to write, plan and organise for Israel's restoration," Netanyahu told his audience. The so-called National Unity Coalition for Israel became a lobbying arm of Christian Zionism with contacts in Congress and neo-conservative think-tanks in Washington.

. . . In May [2002], the Israeli embassy in Washington, no less, arranged a prayer breakfast for Christian Zionists. Present were Alonzo Short, a member of the board of "Promise Keepers", and Michael Little who is president of the "Christian Broadcasting Network". Event hosts were listed as including those dour old Christian conservatives Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who once financed a rogue television station in southern Lebanon which threatened Muslim villagers and broadcast tirades by Major Saad Haddad, Israel's stooge militia leader in Lebanon. In Tennessee, Jewish officials invited hundreds of Christians to join Jewish crowds at a pro-Israel solidarity rally in Memphis.


Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)



On no issue is the JINSA/CSP hard line more evident than in its relentless campaign for war--not just with Iraq, but "total war," as Michael Ledeen, one of the most influential JINSAns in Washington, put it last year. For this crew, "regime change" by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative. Anyone who dissents--be it Colin Powell's State Department, the CIA or career military officers--is committing heresy against articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East--a hegemony achieved with the traditional cold war recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action.

. . . Indeed, there are some in military and intelligence circles who have taken to using "axis of evil" in reference to JINSA and CSP, along with venerable repositories of hawkish thinking like the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute, as well as defense contractors, conservative foundations and public relations entities underwritten by far-right American Zionists (all of which help to underwrite JINSA and CSP). It's a milieu where ideology and money seamlessly blend: "Whenever you see someone identified in print or on TV as being with the Center for Security Policy or JINSA championing a position on the grounds of ideology or principle--which they are unquestionably doing with conviction--you are, nonetheless, not informed that they're also providing a sort of cover for other ideologues who just happen to stand to profit from hewing to the Likudnik and Pax Americana lines," says a veteran intelligence officer. He notes that while the United States has begun a phaseout of civilian aid to Israel that will end by 2007, government policy is to increase military aid by half the amount of civilian aid that's cut each year--which is not only a boon to both the US and Israeli weapons industries but is also crucial to realizing the far right's vision for missile defense and the Middle East.


The Jesus Landing Pad

Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move

by Rick Perlstein
May 18th, 2004 10:00 AM


It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.



Lieberman's Conflict of Interest

by William Hughes

Like all members of the Senate, Lieberman is required to file an annual "Financial Disclosure Statement" with the Secretary of the Senate. In his May 15, 2001 submittal, he again failed to mention any official membership in any Zionist organizations. Although, he does disclose his significant connection, as an advisory board member, to three Israeli-based non-profit organizations: "The Peres Center for Peace" at Tel Aviv; "Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies" at Bar-Ilan University, and the "Natural History Museum," located in Jerusalem.

Lieberman's membership in these Zionist affiliated groups does raise, on its face, an appearance of a conflict of interest on his part with respect to an issue, like S. Res. 247, since it advances the cause of Zionism and/or Zionist Israel. If he is in fact a Zionist, then the conflict between his public duties and his private interests becomes even more pronounced.

The Anti-Defamation League, a hot air organ for Israel, defines Zionism as, "The guiding nationalist movement of the majority of Jews around the world, who believe in, support and identify with the State of Israel." Does Lieberman subscribe, as a matter of personal political philosophy, to the ADL's definition of Zionism? If so, shouldn't he put that fact on the public record, whether he is a card carrying Zionist or not?

Actually, Zionism is an alien based political movement, global in scope, racially restrictive, with its spiritual headquarters in Tel Aviv, and not Washington, D.C. It aspires to a land grabbing "Greater Israel."

On another disturbing front, Israel Radio (Kol Yisrael), reported on Oct. 3, 2001, that Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had boasted at a Cabinet meeting, "I want to tell you something very clear, don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."

In light of the above, I feel the Senate had a right to know any relevant information about Lieberman's Zionist political ideology, memberships, and associations in order to weigh the value of endorsing or opposing his pro Israel resolution. He should have, at a minimum, disclosed to the Senate any and all of his Zionist connections, and then, if appropriate, recused himself on the matter of S. Res. 247.

Our country is at high risk for terrorist attacks, partly, because of its flawed policy of giving unconditional support to a hawkish Israel, presently led by a man universally-loathed for his brutality. This policy, unfortunately, also includes unfairly demonizing and punishing Muslims and Arabs leaders in general; for example, the economic sanctions against Iraq, which have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, fall into the latter category (CASI, 01/02).

During the 2000 election, Lieberman received $86,000 from Pro-Israel PAC contributors towards his Senate re-election campaign, (See, Janet McMahon, WRMEA, Oct/Nov. 2000 issue). What effect did that financial contribution, and others like it, have on his voting record and on his hidden political agenda?


The faith-based Lieberman


Lieberman, who is Jewish, is also a strong supporter of President Bush's faith-based initiative. In fact, early last year when the president's project was floundering, Bush gave Lieberman and Republican Senator Rick Santorum the task of crafting a compromise initiative. While it seemed to be a balanced pairing of "liberal" with "conservative," the reality is that Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Santorum share more than a seat in the same legislative body. They both share a close relationship to a conservative operation called The Empowerment Network (TEN), where they serve as Empowerment Caucus Chairmen.

TEN describes itself as "a resource hub for state legislators, grassroots organizations, and other civic leaders promoting American family and community renewal of civil society in the 21st century." According to its website, "TEN's grassroots network provides the winning edge on policy initiatives that support youth character and family revitalization, entrepreneurship and the unleashing of faith-based initiatives and cultural remedies."

The Empowerment Network was founded in 1992 by a coterie of right-wing ideologues including:

Its current president, David Caprara, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary under Jack Kemp (during the George H. Bush administration) and National Director for the American Family Coalition;

Sam Brunelli, who from 1988 through 1995 was the Executive Director of the highly partisan American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is member of the secretive Council on National Policy, and, in August 2001, joined the Republican Liberty Council as its National Finance Chairman;

Robin Brunelli, President of the National Foundation for Women Legislators;

Robert Woodson, the President of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise;

Stephen Goldsmith, former Mayor of Indianapolis, current Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and e-Government with Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), Faculty Director for the Innovations in American Government program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Chairman of the Corporation for National Service, and Special Advisor to President Bush on faith-based and not-for-profit initiatives;

George Allen, the former Governor and now Senator from Virginia; and

Clint Bolick, the Vice president for the anti-affirmative action, pro-school voucher Institute for Justice.

So it wasn't surprising that when the Senators came back with a proposal in February of last year, Lieberman called it "a constitutionally appropriate" way to proceed. Lieberman:

"We also have an agreement to increase funding for a group of social service programs, including, particularly, the social service block grant program, which is very important to our states and very important to a lot of nonprofit organizations, including faith-based organizations that now use it to do good works.... We have [also] responded... to the evidence presented by your faith-based office... of not fair play totally toward faith-based groups as they applied for government funding. And this says that if you qualify otherwise, you can't be discriminated against in applying for a grant to do social service work, if you have a cross on the wall or a mezuzah on the door, or if you praise God in your mission statement, and that's the way it ought to be. So this is a real step forward."
Months after the Lieberman-Santorum "compromise" died in the Senate, the President sidestepped the whole process by signing executive orders in late December aimed at giving faith-based groups a leg up in the competition for federal money.

Lieberman and ACTA

Lieberman has comfortably sidled up to right-wing ideologues throughout his career. He, along with Lynne Cheney, the vice-president's wife and longtime critic of left-wing academics on America's college campuses, founded the National Alumni Forum in 1995. The group later changed its name to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). It is a Washington DC-based organization dedicated keeping its eye on campus "radicals" and countering "political correctness."

ACTA unloaded the first shot in the current war against critics of the president's war on terrorism when, in November 2001, it issued a report charging that "colleges and university faculty have been the weak link in America's response to the attack" on September 11. The report, titled "Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America, and What Can Be Done About It," affirms the right of professors to academic freedom, but says that this freedom does not make these academics immune from criticism. "We learn from history that when a nation's intellectuals are unwilling to defend its civilization, they give comfort to its adversaries," the report declares.

To his credit, in a December 18, 2001, letter to Jerry Martin, President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), and co-author of the report, Sen. Lieberman wrote: "If I had been given an advanced copy, I would have objected to its content and methodology and asked you either to revise it or make clear that I had no involvement with it." Lieberman also asked that his name be removed as a "co-founder" of ACTA from its Web site or other Council documents.

Those are some of Lieberman's friends and some of his beliefs. To be fair, the Senator has a decent record regarding the environment, labor issues, and civil and human rights for gays and lesbians, although he did vote in favor of "The Defense of Marriage Act." On the whole, Lieberman enters the race as the most conservative Democrat in the field, and one of the party's most conservative foreign policy hawks since the days of Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson.


Sen. Joe Lieberman Erases Ties to Apocalyptic Fundamentalist Group


>>> With his eyes firmly fixed on the White House, Senator Joseph Lieberman is making moves to whitewash his religious record. Specifically, "Holy Joe" (as he's sometimes called) is trying to erase his association the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization that tries to get fundamentalist Christians to support Israel, especially the emigration of Jews in the former Soviet Union to Israel.

If you haven't been paying attention lately, fundie Christians are growing ever more supportive of Israel, since the creation of that country and the return of Jews to it are two of the big steps on the way to the joys of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, the Rapture, etc., etc. The Fellowship plays on these beliefs by constantly invoking "biblical prophecy," conveniently forgetting that in the End Times scenario, Jews must either convert to Christianity or roast in hell forever.

Lieberman has long been associated with this group. From 1994 to 1999, he was the co-chair of their Center for Jewish and Christian Values. He has praised the Fellowship and appeared in their infomercial.

After announcing his candidacy, he asked the Fellowship to remove him from their half-hour commercial, which pleads for money to send Russian Jews to Israel. Also appearing in the infomercial--which aired on the right-wing Christian PAX network--are Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. (Holy Joe claims he didn't know he was in the infomercial.) A still-frame of his appearance is at the top of the page. I viewed a videotape of the original, uncut version of the infomercial, kindly sent by Ed Ericson. Lieberman's portion comes at the 17-minute mark and lasts for 12 seconds. Sitting in a studio and directly addressing the camera, he intones:

Brother Eckstein established the first dialogs in America between the Jewish community and evangelical Christian community. He is the leader in America, probably in the world, in this important work.

Furthermore, Lieberman has said that the Fellowship is "the best-kept secret in the United States." That cryptic endorsement used to be on the homepage of the Fellowship's Website, but now--naturally--it's gone. However, we've rescued it from purgatory (see above).

"Holy Joe" Lieberman