Concerned Women for America
Founded by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Religious Right activist Tim LaHaye, as a counter to the progressive National Organization of Women, Concerned Women for America (CWA) describes itself as "the nation's largest public policy women's organization." CWA opposes gay rights, comprehensive sex education, drug and alcohol education, and feminism, while advocating what it calls "pro-life" and "pro-family" values.
Concerned Women for America
1015 Fifteenth Street NW - Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
Founder and Chairman: Beverly LaHaye
President: Wendy Wright
Founded: 1979, San Diego, CA
Finances: Concerned Women for America - $8,484,108 (2004); Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee - $555,477 (2004)
Membership: CWA claims over 500,000 members.
State chapters: 500 regional groups across the country.
Donations: In 2002, CWA reported earnings in the form of "gifts, grants and contributions received" in the amount of $10,731,558
Publications: Family Voice (published monthly, has 200,000 subscribers) and Issues at a Glance (monthly). Family Watch, a church communication, reaches 500,000 people in churches across the country. CWA also offers many books, cassettes, and video tapes to their supporters on a wide variety of subjects.
Radio: CWA's daily radio show, "Concerned Women Today," is broadcast on 75 stations and reaches an estimated weekly audience of over 1 million.
Affiliate groups: Concerned Women for America Education and Legal Defense Foundation, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), the Beverly LaHaye Institute, and the Culture and Family Institute.
Read the latest news on Concerned Women for America on the group's Right Wing Watch index page
- Concerned Women for America is "the nation's largest public policy women's organization…[CWA seeks] to protect traditional values that support the Biblical design of the family.".
- CWA is anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-feminism and anti-sex education. Beverly LaHaye started CWA to respond to the advances of feminism after watching NOW founder Betty Friedan on television in 1978. CWA identifies feminism as "anti-god, anti-family." CWA identifies state-level Equal Rights Amendments (ERAs) as responsible for the breakdown of families, "The ERA proposes the elimination of our God-given roles as men and women, resulting in the redefinition — and eventual destruction — of family."
- CWA has lobbied against the Freedom of Choice Act and gay rights legislation in many states. Grassroots activity in most states is led by a CWA Area Representative and a steering committee. According to its 2003 990 Report, CWA spent a total of $92,560 in lobbying expenditures to influence both public opinion and legislative bodies.
- This group monitors state legislation, organizes Prayer/Action chapters and coordinates the CWA's "Project 535" grassroots congressional lobbying program. ("Project 535" refers to the total number of Members of Congress in both the House and Senate.)
- CWA fights against sex education curricula that is not completely abstinence based and opposes anti-drug and alcohol abuse programs that emphasize self-esteem. Many challengers to books and curricula in public schools use CWA-produced materials.
- CWA has been active in the fight against using Harry Potter books in schools. Publications such as "Harry Potter: Seduction of the Occult" claim that the books promote the practice of witchcraft among children. CWA offers books and videos such as, "Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged: Making Evil Look Innocent." (Produced by Tim LaHaye, Beverly LaHaye's husband.)
- CWA has also been active in supporting the teaching of Creationism and "Intelligent Design theory" in science classrooms.
- CWA's anti-gay work covers many issues, from supporting the Boy Scouts of America ban against gay participants, to opposing any openly gay people in President Bush's administration. CWA has been active in opposing any and all gay and lesbian civil rights measures, including supporting the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment. CWA supports the "Truth in Love" campaign that says that homosexuality is a sin and claims gays and lesbians can become "straight" through "the love of Jesus Christ." CWA established the Culture and Family Institute (CFI) to combat gay and lesbian civil rights. Robert H. Knight, a long time anti-gay crusader, leads the Culture and Family Institute.
- During John Ashcroft's confirmation hearings in the Senate, CWA and many other "pro-family" groups held a press conference of conservative women leaders, which they claim resulted in 13,000 e-mails to senators, phone calls from members, hand-deliver information to senators and appeared on several major news networks. CWA called Ashcroft's critics "anti-religionists."
- As a leader of the religious right, Beverly and her husband Tim LaHaye are strong supporters of other Religious-Right groups and leaders. For instance, in the summer of 2001 the LaHayes gave Jerry Falwell's Liberty University $4.5 million. (Beverly LaHaye is a trustee of the university.)
- Beverly LaHaye, alongside many other conservative leaders, has lobbied to de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). In 1991, she testified before the Committee on Appropriations, Interior Subcommittee, of the House of Representatives to argue for de-funding of the NEA.
- In 2002, CWA vehemently opposed ratification of CEDAW (the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), claiming its pro-women empowerment and equality sections comprised a "leftist utopian wish list." The Convention, which opposes the discrimination or subordination of women across the globe, was criticized by LaHaye Institute Fellow Janice Shaw Crouse, as imposing contemporary colonialist, neo-Marxist agendas. CEDAW was ratified on January 7, 2005, by 71 countries, and endorsed by 76 signatories. The United States was not one of them.
- In 1994 CWA filed suit on behalf of an anti-abortion protester who was arrested during a protest against the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which banned protesters from blocking clinic entrances. In 1995 the Court of Appeals upheld FACE and CWA appealed to the Supreme Court, although the Court refused to hear the case.
- In 1994 the Virginia State Democratic Committee filed an injunction against CWA to stop the distribution of CWA's "nonpartisan" voter guides. CWA and the Family Foundation (of Virginia) appealed to the courts, which ordered the ban lifted.
- In 1993 CWA-Iowa claimed victory by helping to defeat the state ERA with a 52 percent majority vote.
- In 1988, Beverly LaHaye testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the confirmation hearings for Judge Anthony Kennedy to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- During the 1987 Supreme Court nomination hearings for Robert Bork, CWA led a national petition drive, sponsored a "Women for Bork" rally, and organized 350 people to lobby senators on Bork's behalf.
Mike Farris: Founder and former President (until 2000) of the Home School Legal Defense Association, Mike Farris worked for CWA as a full-time attorney while still upholding his responsibilities to home-schooling. HSLDA is an organization that defends a parent's right to home-school their children, and frequently defends parents who have been contacted by Social Services for reasons ranging from educational neglect to physical child abuse. Farris is no longer President, yet he still remains the Chairman of the Board and General Counsel at HSLDA. Farris was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1993, and is the President of Patrick Henry College. Farris is also the founder and president of The Madison Project, a political action committee supporting "Republicans who clearly demonstrate their conservatism."
Michael Schwartz: Schwartz was the Vice President for Legislative Affairs and the Vice President of Governmental Relations at CWA. During his career with CWA, Schwartz co-authored Gays, AIDS, and You, and was a leading advocate for the sanctity of life, parental rights, and religious freedom. Schwartz is currently the chief of staff in the office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).
Many of the CWA state groups are very active on local issues. For instance, in 1998 the CWA-California Bay Area chapter helped gather 60,000 necessary signatures to force the Board of Supervisors to either repeal or place on the ballot a domestic partnership ordinance. The Board repealed the ordinance.
Quotes from Beverly LaHaye
"Christian values should dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the Bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." Read
"Most women know the feminist agenda has failed. They see our culture crumbling from its influence. In fact, feminism has harmed women and families worldwide as its proponents have used the United Nations to spread their agenda." (CWA's Family Voice, July-August, 1999, pg. 5)
"Yes, religion and politics do mix. America is a nation based on biblical principles. Christian values dominate our government. The test of those values is the Bible. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." ("Ms." magazine, 2/87)
On censorship: "I am aware that America is and must always be a land of freedom including freedom of speech. But there is a right time and place for everything." (CWA News, 3/91)
Mrs. LaHaye warned her members that homosexuals "want their depraved 'values' to become our children's values. Homosexuals expect society to embrace their immoral way of life. Worse yet, they are looking for new recruits!" (CWA direct mail, 5/92)
Updated: April 2006
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