The Jazz Band

Dave Martin c1996

A broad spectrum of single issue religious and political groups are attempting to destroy our constitutional rights and our way of life. Why are they doing this? What is it all about? Who is really in charge? Is there a hidden agenda? Some people, surprised by the proliferation of right-wing groups, have referred to them as spreading like bacteria. With an analogous eye, we can view them as bacteria in a pond. Pond bacteria can be put to work in wondrous ways. With clever coaching from microbiologists, bacteria already processing compounds in a natural setting can be genetically engineered to flourish while accomplishing other tasks. Like the microbiologist, cultural opportunists can manipulate and husband diverse political and religious groups to work in concert toward a hidden agenda.

A more accurate analogy might be to describe radical right groups in musical terms. The repressive and undemocratic themes we hear from these groups are likened to a musical score, written not for a symphony orchestra but for a jazz band. Let's view right- wing religious and political groups as single instruments in a band. Playing each instrumentís part individually, the original score might not be recognizable, but when jazz instruments play together, we recognize When The Saints Go Marching In. When radical right-wing themes are played together, images are evoked of repressive totalitarian regimes of recent history.

The "New Right" movement was kicked off in the early 1970s by a group of conservative activists which included Paul Weyrich, Joseph Coors and Richard Viguerie. It was Weyrich, founder of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, and Richard Viguerie, direct-mail/fund-raising maven, who first saw the potential of politically organizing church members from a variety of denominations around the abortion issue. It was Weyrich who brought Jerry Falwell into the fold with the formation of the Moral Majority and convinced Pat Robertson to run for president in 1988. Weyrich and Viguerie believed that social conservatives could be organized into a group that would form a constituency larger than the politically active in either the Democratic or Republican parties. Viguerie has been quoted as saying, "I organize discontent."

In 1973, Weyrich and Joseph Coors established the Heritage Foundation, a right- wing think tank, to develop public policy. Later, Weyrich established the Free Congress Foundation (FCF) to promote right-wing public policy. The Heritage Foundation and associated organizations have a hidden agenda for America. Articles written by Heritage staff members are printed in major newspapers promoting the concept that Heritage is a benign think tank, when in fact it has ties to most major right-wing activists such as: Mel & Norma Gabler, who influence schoolbook selection nationally; Robert Simondsí Citizens for Excellence in Education; Mountain States Legal Foundation, an anti-environmental organization which is also against affirmative action, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and the ERA; and Sun Myung Moonís Unification Church. In addition to heading up Free Congress, Weyrich is also permanent Secretary and Treasurer of the Council for National Policy (CNP).

The CNP was started in 1982 as an ultra-conservative answer to the Council for Foreign Relations. Membership is by invitation only and dues are upwards of $2,000 a year. Sara Diamond, a well-known researcher of the radical religious right, describes the CNP as "a highly secretive coalition which represents the entire spectrum of New Right corporate executives, TV preachers, legislators, and former high-ranking government and military leaders. The Council for National Policy is considered the primary coordinating body - and funding conduit - for Christian Right projects." (Spiritual Warfare, Sara Diamond, South End Press, 1989.)

Other prominent CNP members are: Ralph Reed, Jr., Executive Director, Christian Coalition; Pat Robertson, Founder, Christian Coalition; Phyllis Schlafly, The Eagle Forum; James Dobson, Focus on The Family; GOP Congressman, Robert K. Dornan; GOP Congressman, William Dannemeyer; once and future GOP candidate, Oliver North; Jerry Falwell, Moral Majority; Louis P. Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition; Burton Pines, Heritage Foundation; R. J. Rushdoony, Chalcedon, Inc.; T. Cullen Davis (Ft. Worth millionaire who was tried for the murder of his step-daughter); and Texas GOP party chairman, Tom Pauken. Recent additions to CNP membership include GOP Congressman Steve Stockman (Texas). Two well-known Houston CNP members are Ed Young, pastor of the Second Baptist Church and Judge Paul Pressler.

Free Congress Foundation has published a book entitled Cultural Conservatism: Theory and Practice (ISBN 0-942522-16-8) which was edited by William S. Lind and William H. Marshner whose wife, Connaught "Connie" Marshner, is a CNP member. The book contains chapters entitled Why the West? by William J. Bennett and Cultural Conservatism and The Conservative Movement by Paul Weyrich, in which he explores his theories including, for example, government vouchers to private citizens not only for schools but street repair and other municipal services.

In a joint publication of The Heritage Foundation, Empower America, and The Free Congress Foundation entitled The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, William Bennett, Education Secretary under Ronald Reagan, documents in alarming detail how "....violent crime has sky-rocketed; illegitimate births and divorce rates have quadrupled; teen suicide rates doubled; and scholastic aptitude test scores plummeted." Bennett warns that "....these modern day pathologies have risen from the wreckage of the Great Society - a time of booming prosperity." We must, he says, "return to the fundamental purpose of education - to engage in the architecture of souls." This book has been featured on "The Rush Limbaugh Show." Heritage Publications 1993/1994 states, "This book is required reading for anyone concerned about the future of America." Congressman Newt Gingrich is quoted in Heritage Foundation literature praising their publications.

Bennett has been chairman of FCF's National Empowerment Television (NET). According to the Anti-Defamation League's book, The Religious Right, "NET addresses the religious right's meat-and-potatoes issues - including coverage of abortion, gay rights (NET has broadcast the homophobic video, "The Gay Agenda"), school vouchers, and public school curricula developments." NET was a decisive factor in obtaining confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas by encouraging viewers to pressure their congressmen. Burton Pines, Vice-Chairman of NET, calls the project "C-Span with an attitude."

Behind this blizzard of cultural and religious extremism is the desire of the economically greedy for a no-holds-barred laissez faire commercial climate. This group of fiscal conservatives is interested primarily in the passage of legislation which fattens their pocketbooks. They feel insulated from extremism by their individual wealth and power. They care little about the freedoms and opportunities of this or future generations.

Power hungry politicians whose primary concern is winning elections are willing to concede to extremism in their political rhetoric in order to capture the bloc votes of single-issue fanatics. By pandering to right-wing extremism, they make it possible for unrestricted commercial interests to have their day. For example, bills are being introduced to dismantle the Pure Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which stand in the way of obscene and immoral profiteering. Those with robber baron mentalities are more than willing to trade our freedoms to religious fanatics for bloc votes. Recent efforts by the newly elected conservative Congress (1995) to reduce the national deficit and balance the budget at the expense of the poor and elderly are an example. Punishing welfare mothers who have children out of wedlock by refusing aid is a precursor of what is to come. Medicare and Medicaid reductions without implementing some kind of national health care program, while insisting upon a revival of the Strategic Defense Initiative, is pure political pandering to "fat cats" in the defense industry at the expense of the weakest in our society.

Using the Council For National Policy (CNP) as its board of directors; the Free Congress Foundation (FCF) as general manager; the Christian Coalition to control the GOP and to provide congressional representation; and Pat Robertson as chaplain, the Heritage Foundation has the instruments and orchestration to implement Paul Weyrich's compositions of "Cultural Conservatism."

With FCF's National Empowerment Television (NET); right-wing talk-show radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh; columnists like Cal Thomas; organizations such as the Christian Coalition; James Dobson's Focus On The Family; the Coalition On Revival (COR); Promise Keepers; Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE); homophobes such as Jerry Falwell and Lou Sheldon; Christian Reconstructionists; and even anti-government militias and racist organizations, Heritage can propagandize and rally both collaborating and unsuspecting "ditto heads."

Voters with negative and/or selfish motives such as: racists (anti-Semites, skin-heads, survivalists, militias, white supremacists); anti-feminists; pro-lifers; pro-gun fanatics; home schoolers and voucher advocates fall prey to demagoguery and are being blatantly used to reduce this nation to an anti-democratic, two-class social and economic system. Diehard party supporters who ignore the demagogic positions taken and vote for the political party rather than the candidate are witless enablers in this scenario.

Ultra-conservative politicians and Christian Coalition leaders often use the expression "a city on a hill" when describing what they have in store for America. This "city on a hill" would very closely resemble medieval Europe. In medieval times, the church was the largest landholder. The church collected taxes, maintained law courts, and punished criminals and non-believers. There were two classes: the nobility, which included church leaders, and the peasants, who were bound to the land and supported the elite with their labor. This two-class system is the direction in which ultra-conservatives would take us. The radical right would first discriminate against, then exclude by law, atheists and secular humanists. Before too long, religions unwilling to bend to their brand of fanatic fundamentalism would also be excluded.

Western cultureís last experience with church-dominated government lasted over 1000 years. Three factors which brought an end to this oppression were the bubonic plague, the Reformation and the rise of humanism. The plague reduced the population so severely that simple supply and demand gave opportunity to the peasant classes to participate more freely as tradesmen, artisans and soldiers. The Reformation broke the hold of one religious group (the Vatican) over all Western monarchies and subsequently weakened absolutism in governments. Humanism gave philosophic value and hope to the common man. If we allow ultra-conservatives and the Christian Coalition to continue to win ever increasing control of our government, how many years will be required to throw off the yoke? What will be the cost in lives, hope and dollars to repair the damage these greedy fanatics will do to the country? Will the United States be able to maintain its presence as a first-world country with a third-world theocratic government?

If Cultural Conservatism and the regressive economic agenda it disguises is implemented by manipulating single-issue voter groups, will your beliefs and lifestyle pass the litmus tests of these organizations? Will you lose some of your freedoms? Will your neighbor lose all of his? Will you find yourself marching in a band which has the unmistakable beat of a fascist theme underscored by the sound of jack boots?