Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

17 December 2008

A Profile in Influence: The Family Research Council

By Gina Liggett

The next in my profiles of religious right organizations is the Family Research Council, founded by James Dobson of Focus and the Family and headed by Tony Perkins.

The Family Research Council (FRC) doesn't even pretend to be an "educational" organization. Its intent has always been to change the culture to comply with their religious perspective through passing legislation at the federal and state levels:

Since its inception in 1983, Family Research Council has been shaping public policy, as it relates to our nation's families and our religious freedoms, in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the country. We have successfully crafted and promoted policy initiatives..
There is so much going on with this organization, that I almost don't know where to begin. But let's start with their "25 Pro-Family Policy Goals."

Before the 2008 election, he FRC encouraged pastors to pass around their 25-point proposal for a new America. This booklet contains so many proposals to regulate our most private lives, that it's beyond the scope of this post to describe it in detail. Needless to say, it is worth reading to get the impact of how broadly the Family Research Council is targeting their efforts. Below is a sampling of some of the FRC's goals in summary form:
  • Prohibit embryonic stem-cell research.
  • Prohibit women from voluntarily donating their eggs for research or to infertile couples.
  • Ensure that pro-abortion judges (whom they call "activist") are not appointed.
  • Further restrict access to abortion.
  • Support "faith-based" programs in prisons.
  • Require the teaching of "creationism" in the schools as a companion to the teaching of the facts of evolution.
  • Censor the publication of adult pornography to "protect children."
  • Require the teaching of "abstinence before marriage."
  • Pass and uphold state and federal constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
  • Promote the maintaining of a marriage through the manipulation of divorce laws.
  • Prohibit gays from joining the military.
What is striking about the Family Research Council's approach in selling their plan is the scare tactics and disinformation they use to justify their proposals. For example, in their recommendations that restrict access to abortion, they claim that women are not being given proper informed consent before their procedure:
The failure to provide information concerning the risks of abortion for women's reproductive and overall health represents a major gap in the promotion of true health care.
This is just a laughable and flagrant falsehood, as there are already very strict regulations and ethical requirements concerning informed consent about any surgical-type procedure. And Planned Parenthood, enemy number one at the FRC, educates its clients about all their options concerning pregnancy, including those preferred by the religious right.

Another example is the FRC's distorting claims about embryonic stem-cell research:
The claims made for embryonic stem cells are wildly oversold and exaggerated, and cruelly give patients and their loved ones false hope. Meanwhile, the real facts about their potential are ignored or distorted. In 27 years of embryonic stem cell research, not a single patient has been treated.
This is a ludicrous statement. There is absolutely no false promises being made whatsoever. The science explicitly brands itself as being in the "early stages" of basic biological research in the field.

And as a science-based, fact-based education will teach you (as opposed to one based on mythical stories like creationism), it is a long, arduous road from basic biological research to actual application of treating disease. Moreover, President Bush implemented one of the religious right's favorite policies by restricting federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research back in the early 2000s, slowing the whole process down.

Besides the FRC's basic 25-point framework, this organization has begun to change its strategy. Not deterred by the underwhelming support for religious candidates and initiatives this November, the FRC has already begun to broaden their base of support beyond the Republican Party. The FRC's plan is stated in a new book, "Personal Faith Public Policy," by Harry R. Jackson, Jr. and Tony Perkins:
While some argue that evangelicals lose influence when they fail to vote as a bloc for a particular political party, the ability to seed both parties and operate as a political 'free agent' could prove to have a much greater impact on actual public policy.
In their book, they advocate expanding FRC's influence beyond the traditional so-called "pro-family" activities to: "immigration policy, poverty and social justice, racial reconciliation, and global warming."

The Family Research Council is soliciting a $250,000 matching donation. They have the money -- they have the determination -- they have the networking -- and they have a broadening political strategy to foster a new America in their religious image. Let's keep our eyes and ears out for this group, and counter their influence with pro-reason and pro-reality values.

Comment Rules

Rule #1: You are welcome to state your own views in these comments, as well as to criticize opposing views and arguments. Vulgar, nasty, and otherwise uncivilized comments will be deleted.

Rule #2: These comments are not a forum for discussion of any and all topics. Please stay roughly on-topic.

Back to TOP