Religious Extremism and U.S. Politics: Often an Ominous Pairing
Religious extremism, as practiced by those professing to emulate the credos of any one of the three faiths that claim kinship to the Prophet Abraham, those being Christianity, Judaism and Islam, has always been acknowledged as not exemplifying the spirit of enlightenment meant to embody any of the three faiths.
Through the centuries, religion, or to be precise, the profession of belief and adherence to religion, has been used to wage war and justify all manner of atrocities throughout humankind’s history.
Adherents to Christianity, Judaism and Islam have waged war, with each other and within their ranks among themselves, for centuries, each assured in the belief that their way was the only way to seek or serve the ‘one, true God’.
The professed belief that America is a Christian nation has long driven extremist activity in the United States to be committed in the name of Christ.
All who profess beliefs and engage in actions that defy the embrace of what are the accepted teachings of Christ often do not believe their actions are un-Christian in nature.
In the not too distant past, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) dominated segments of American society and politics, openly and behind the scenes, as many in American society, although not members of the Klan, were supportive of their ideology and beliefs. The KKK believes itself to be a Christian organization, carrying out ‘God’s work’.
The cross is a sacred symbol to millions of the world’s population who have declared their faith to be Christianity. The Ku Klux Klan has used a flaming cross as a symbol of intimidation and terror while committing unspeakable acts, including murder.
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), functioning as a dominant, political force in American society, no longer exists in today’s so called modern world. The framework for the Klan’s belief system has been replaced by a more complicated, intricately woven nativism, which takes on a variety of characteristics and can be observed within some organizations found in what has come to be known as the Religious Right.
The connections and interaction between proponents of White nationalist/supremacist doctrine and its agenda, the Religious Right and elected members engaged in United States’ politics have existed for decades, connections whose links might be considered disturbing to many. One notable organization interacting in all three worlds is the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) was formed in 1985. Its Statement of Principles declares, in part, “ We believe the United States is a Christian country” and“We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people” and “ …. We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non- western people into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime.”
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), led by Gordon Lee Baum, is currently headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. It is an organization formed from remnants of the Whites only Citizens Councils found throughout the southern United States during the 1950s and 1960s.
The Citizens Councils were comprised of anti-integration activists, often referred to as the ‘white collar Klan’ due to its use of economic and political means to suppress Black citizens throughout the South. Although publicly denouncing violence, the Citizens Councils were known to use violence to ‘influence’ desired outcomes.
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) lists United States’ local, state and federal politicians, judges, congressmen and senators, from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, as its supporters.
Notable among the organization’s supporters who have made news are former Republican Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, who raised eyebrows and ire, in 2007, when, while discussing immigration, he shared with a reporter an anecdotal solution for keeping undocumented persons out of the United States, involving goats and an electrified fence and Bob Barr, former Republican congressman turned Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States in 2008.
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) has 8 branches in southern U.S. states, 3 in the Midwest, 2 in California and one in New York.
The largest nationalist/supremacist website on the internet is Stormfront.org, described as the most well known hate site on the internet. The site’s founder is Don Black, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. Perusal of the list of topics of interest at the site verifies its reputation.
Former Republican Lousiana Representative David Duke, also a former Grand Wizard of the Klan, ran for governor of Lousiana in 1991, winning 39% of the votes cast. He is a frequent guest and co-host with Don Black on Stormfront.org. The two often make personal appearances together.
In June 2009, Don Black and David Duke attended a conference hosted by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), in Jackson, Mississippi. The conference was broadcast live at the Stormfront.org website.
Tony Perkins is chairman of the Family Research Council (FRC), founded in 1983. He has been called the most influential, individual conservative Christian in Washington, D.C.
The Family Research Council (FRC) sponsored the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. in September 2009. This year’s summit highlighted concerns that had been identified as important to leaders affiliated with what has come to be called the Tea Party Movement.
Elements from among the nationalist/supremacist movement have formed their own Tea Party organization called the Tea Party Americans Coalition, urging its members to develop ways to infiltrate, recruit and consume other elements of the Tea Party movement.
It has been reported that Family Research Council (FRC) head Tony Perkins, while acting as a GOP campaign manager for a candidate seeking a Louisiana senate seat in 1996, purchased White nationalist/supremacist leader David Duke’s mailing list for over $82,000.00.
The Family Research Council (FRC) is the lobbying organization for the Right Wing conservative religious group, Focus on the Family.
Tony Perkins has attended and addressed Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) events and served on the board of Focus on the Family.
Focus on the Family is an evangelical, conservative Christian umbrella organization, founded and formerly headed by Dr. James Dobson. The organization wields great influence within the conservative Christian community. The organization received unwanted scrutiny in the late summer of 2008 during the United States’ presidential campaign.
Focus on the Family’s website, later declaring it was a joke, posted a video calling upon visitors to the site to pray for rain at an open air venue in August 2008, when then candidate Senator Barack Obama was scheduled to address those assembled on the final evening of the Democratic National Convention in Colorado. That evening, Senator Obama was to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States.
Focus on the Family also posted a 16 page document online, written by Dr. Dobson, during the 2008 presidential campaign, detailing an apocalyptic doom and gloom scenario of the demise of America during an Obama led administration in Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.
Appearing before the Council for National Policy (CNP) in October 2009 to receive an award, in remarks reminiscent of his Letter from 2012 in Obama's America, Dr. Dobson stated that the nation is in " .... greater danger, right now I think, than at any time since the Civil War", stressing his belief in the Religious Right's importance in American politics.
The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a secretive, ultra Right Wing organization, known among some conservatives for comments made by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, referring to the organization as being " .... the heart of a great conservative movement that helped to make America strong and prosperous in the 20th century – and is now helping to ensure she remains free and secure in the 21st century" .
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as well as former Vice President Richard 'Dick' Cheney, the 2009 awardee, have been recipients of the Keeper of the Flame award. This award is given by the Center for Security Policy. The organization's president is Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
From 1983 through 1987 during President Ronald Reagan's administration , Mr. Gaffney served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr., has joined other Right Wing conservatives to address the political lobbying organization for Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins' Family Research Council in 2008. He is a long time supporter of Right Wing, neoconservative advocacy groups and think tanks and a proponent of the discredited belief that President Obama is an adherent to the Muslim faith.
Mr. Gaffney has promoted his theory that President Obama has used secret 'code' language, not understood or recognized by most Americans, when he has addressed members of the Muslim world.
Appearing with believed to be 2012 Republican U.S. presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani at a Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in October 2009, Frank Gaffney addressed those gathered, at one point remarking " .... “by not being bigoted and not being racist, [George W.] Bush has embraced Islamofascists on several occasions” .
Among the rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution, in the First Amendment, is freedom of religion, “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”.
Regarding the intersection and intertwining of U.S. politics and religious extremism, it’s a good idea to know to whom and what some may have chosen to pledge their fealty.
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