Below are short biographies of those who have been mentioned as participating in tonight’s “Values Voter Presidential Debate” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida:
Farah, designated to moderate the Values Voter Debate, is publisher of WorldNetDaily.com, a right-wing web site that provides a home for a large stable of infamous and lesser-known commentators, such as Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Roy Moore, Jerome Corsi, and Jonathan Falwell (son of the late Jerry Falwell). In his own column, Farah accused Bush of being involved in the “War on Christmas,” said Democrats opposing the nomination of Janice Rogers Brown were “racist to the core,” and started an early anti-Giuliani pledge.
In 1992, Farah founded the Western Journalism Center to counter supposed liberal media bias. The group went on to sponsor Christopher Ruddy’s lengthy “investigation” of the Clinton Administration, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from conspiracy theories about the death of Vince Foster.
Schlafly first made a name for herself in right-wing circles with her pro-Barry Goldwater book “A Choice Not An Echo” in 1964 and then firmly established herself as a bona fide force by almost single-handedly leading the campaign to kill the Equal Rights Amendment.
In 1974, she established the Eagle Forum, an organization that focuses on a wide variety of issues, ranging from standard right-wing concerns such as reproductive choice and “judicial supremacy” to more arcane topics like open hostility to various international treaties, including the Genocide Convention, and opposition to mandatory vaccination. Recently, Schlafly has become increasingly concerned about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which she and many others believe is part of a conspiracy to create a North American Union that will usurp US sovereignty.
Schlafly has long been an ardent anti-feminist, defending the notion that men should not marry career women, despite the fact that she possesses a Masters degree and a law degree, runs one of the most influential right-wing organizations in Washington, DC, has testified before more than 50 congressional and state legislative committees, has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention nearly ten times, has thrice been elected President of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women, and was twice a candidate for Congress from Illinois.
Schlafly has a long history of making outrageous claims, as evidenced by her statements in the last year blaming the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech on the University’s English Department and claiming that married women cannot be raped by their husbands.
Judge Roy Moore
Moore, former Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court was ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court for his refusal to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse despite orders from a federal court judge to do so. Moore quickly became one of the most popular figures in Alabama and an icon among the Religious Right who paid for Moore and “the Rock” to tour the country visiting churches and conferences of conservative Christians in at least 31 states.
Moore considered challenging President Bush as a third party candidate in 2004 but instead decided to focus his sights unsuccessfully on the governorship of Alabama in 2006.
Moore writes a column for Worldnetdaily on issues ranging from decrying proposals to expand pre-kindergarten programs as an attempt by “liberal elites” to “indoctrinate our youth,” on par with the formation of the Hitler Youth to linking the conviction of Cheney aide Scooter Libby on perjury charges to the removal of 10 Commandments Monuments in courtrooms across the country.
Moore is currently Chairman of the Foundation for Moral Law, a nonprofit legal group that represents individuals in religious liberty cases and works to education the public on the necessity of acknowledging God in law and government. They most recently represented the three protestors arrested for disrupting a Hindu prayer in the Senate.
Scarborough is president of Vision America and a pioneer in organizing “Patriot Pastors” to get out the vote, a model of religious-right electoral activism designed to supplant the waning Christian Coalition. The Texas-based former Southern Baptist pastor, a long-time ally of Tom DeLay, formed the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration with stalwarts such as Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly to oppose “activist judges.” Scarborough organized a “Judicial War on Faith” conference following the death of Terri Schiavo in 2005, and a “War on Christians and Values Voters” conference in 2006.
In the summer and fall of 2006, Scarborough concentrated his efforts on opposing a stem-cell research initiative in Missouri and a referendum in South Dakota that repealed an abortion ban. Scarborough toured both states with Alan Keyes, warning of a dystopian future of clone slavery, not to mention the wrath of God, if the measures succeeded, which they did.
Scarborough has already begun holding church political rallies in anticipation of 2008. His “70 Weeks to Save America” tour, featuring Keyes and ex-chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, is designed to “enlist 100,000 Values Voters, 10,000 key leaders, 5,000 Patriot Pastors and 5,000 women” right up to Election Day. As he explained at the first of a planned “One Day Crusades,” quoting from the “Rick Scarborough Version” of the Bible: “He who hath the most votes wins.”
Gordon James Klingenschmitt
Klingenschmitt has only recently become a high-profile right-wing activist, thanks to his relatively high-profile fight with the US Navy over what he claims where attempts to prohibit him from praying in the name of Jesus, though in reality he was discharged for violating rules against wearing his uniform at political or partisan events. Klingenschmitt’s attempts to portray himself as a martyr has been so over-the-top that it even prompted his former commanding officer to set the record straight:
“I was the dishonored ex-chaplain’s supervisor for the past 2 years. I found him to be totally untruthful, unethical and insubordinate. He was and is contemptuous of all authority. He was not court martialed for praying in Jesus’ name. I sent him out in uniform every week to pray at various ceremonies and functions. He always prayed in uniform and in Jesus’ name. He was never told that he could not pray in Jesus’ name. In fact, the issue of prayer had nothing at all to do with his dismissal from the Navy. He disobeyed the lawful order of a senior officer.”
Klingenschmitt spoke at last year’s “The War on Christians and Values Voters,” hosted by Vision America, where he went so far as to compare himself to Abdul Rahman, the man who faced a potential death sentence for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan. Since his discharge from the Navy, Klingenschmitt has again teamed up with Vision America and is taking his tale of persecution around the country as part of the “70 Weeks to Save America Crusade” where he has joined Rick Scarborough and Alan Keyes.
Wildmon is the Founder and Chairman of the American Family Association, which exists primarily to decry whatever it deems “immoral” in American culture and lead boycotts against companies that in any way support causes, organizations, or programs it deems offensive, particularly anything that does not portray gays and lesbians in a negative light.
Over the years, AFA has targeted everything from the National Endowment for the Arts, Howard Stern, and the television show “Ellen” to major corporations such as Ford , Burger King, and Clorox. AFA has also been particularly focused on Disney, declaring that the company’s “attack on America’s families has become so blatant, so intentional, so obvious” as to warrant a multi-year boycott.
Recently, AFA has been busy warning that proposed hate-crimes legislation is designed to lay the “groundwork for persecution of Christians,” attacked presidential candidate Mitt Romney over his time on the board of Marriott Corporation because the company offers adult movies in its hotels, and warned that the US Senate was “angering a just God” and bringing “judgment upon our country” by allowing a Hindu chaplain to deliver an opening prayer.
Staver is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, as well as the Dean of Liberty University School of Law, both of which are directly tied to the late Jerry Falwell. Liberty is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family” which routinely files lawsuits and argues cases claiming religious discrimination against Christians.
Last year, Staver offered public school teachers advice on how to sneak discussions of Christianity into “literature class, art class, music class, whatever course it is” by subtly turning the discussion toward the “Judeo-Christian influences on the subject matter.” He was also active during the last election, urging pastors to “put their toe right on the line” and endorse candidates from the pulpit, claiming that tax laws prohibiting such things were unconstitutional.
Staver was also featured on the recent CNN series “God’s Warriors” where, along with Jerry Falwell, he made clear that the Right’s ultimate goal is complete control over the Supreme Court, saying that he is training future generations of lawyers at Liberty University to “keep fighting at the Supreme Court until we have a new day. We never ever, ever give up.”
Staver is also the author of several books, including “A Complete Handbook for Defending Your Religious Rights,” “Take Back America,” and “Judicial Tyranny.”
Weyrich, President of the Free Congress Foundation has been one of the foremost right wing strategists for 35 years and is often referred to as the father of the Religious Right. He helped draft Rev. Jerry Falwell to head the Moral Majority, and helped to start several other groups that have become pillars of the right-wing movement, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council and the highly secretive Council for National Policy. He is currently the president of the Free Congress Foundation.
He was quoted in 1984 describing his efforts as a departure from strategies pursued by traditional conservatives: “We are different from previous generations of conservatives…We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country.”
Weyrich was also one of the first to recognize the political potential of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Opposition to abortion was one of the biggest factors uniting the coalition of disparate groups known as the “New Right” that elected Ronald Reagan president in 1980.
According to Media Transparency, ‘ Weyrich was one of the earliest commentators to advance the idea that the United States is engulfed in a cultural civil war.” Describing this “cultural civil war,” Weyrich once said, “It may not be with bullets, and it may not be with rockets and missiles, but it is a war, nonetheless. It is a war of ideology, it’s a war of ideas, it’s a war about our way of life. And it has to be fought with the same intensity, I think, and dedication as you would fight a shooting war.”
Weyrich strategic vision is matched by his aggressive promotion of grassroots activism. He pioneered America’s Voice (formerly known as National Empowerment Television), a cable network designed to rapidly mobilize Religious Right followers for grassroots lobbying.
Weyrich’s most recent efforts include the Arlington Group, the newest coalition of the leaders of Religious Right groups brought together by Weyrich and Don Wildmon, head of the American Family Association, to coordinate activities. The group is widely credited with being the driving force behind the effort to put marriage protection amendments on the ballot in 11 states in the 2004 election.
Parker, founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), is the author of such books as “Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats” and “Uncle Sam’s Plantation,” denouncing social service spending as a form of racism against blacks. She’s been a featured speaker at right-wing events such as CPAC, the Christian Coalition’s Road to Victory, and Mayday for Marriage.
A former rabbi and radio talker, Spero has generally been on the periphery of the Right, although he has been involved with groups such as Rick Scarborough’s Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration (a group opposed to “activist judges”), Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation (4 or 5 people organized by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to protest the supposed “war on Christmas”), and Stop the Madrassa (organized to protest an English-Arabic school in New York). Spero’s own group is Caucus for America, although the Values Voter Debate program lists him as part of Jewish Action Alliance, a New York City-based outfit formed after the Crown Heights riot.
Spero styles himself one of the first Jewish leaders to endorse Ronald Reagan in 1980, although by 2000 he was an advisor to Pat Buchanan’s Reform Party bid.
Thompson, a former Detroit-area prosecutor known for dogging Jack Kevorkian, co-founded the Thomas More Law Center with Domino’s Pizza magnate Thomas Monaghan. The Center frequent argues, files briefs on, or simply opines about cases or laws involving abortion (unsuccessfully suing Planned Parenthood to make them hype a supposed connection to breast cancer, for example), gays (e.g., opposing adoption by gay couples), and religion (e.g., school prayer). In the group’s most famous case, they unsuccessfully defended the Dover, Pennsylvania school board’s policy promoting “Intelligent Design” creationism.
Bozell is also a founder of the right-wing online news service CNSNews.com and the Culture and Media Institute (CMI), which describes its mission this way: “to thwart the efforts of the liberal media to subvert America’s culture, character, traditional moral values, and religious liberty.”
Bozell is founder and Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Committee (CVC), an independent multi-candidate political action committee that has helped elect dozens of right-wing candidates over the past ten years. He was National Finance Chairman for the 1992 Buchanan for President campaign, and Finance Director and later President of the former National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).
Schindler is the brother of the late Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman whose feeding-tube removal sparked a fierce nationwide debate in 2005. He now tours the country speaking at anti-choice and anti-euthanasia events.
Scott is President and CEO of Sky Angel Television Network, a Christian and family direct-to-home satellite television service has been on the air for 10 years and currently provides 36 channels of Christian TV and radio, family entertainment, and 24-hour news channels. Satellite channels include the Liberty Channel from the campus of Liberty University, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the most watched faith channel, and FoxNews, among other. Sky Angel will be broadcasting the Value Voters Debate.
Eliason is the founder and head of VCY America, a religious broadcast ministry based in Wisconsin. In 2006, Eliason signed on to a letter blasting Rick Warren for inviting Senator Barack Obama to speak at an AIDS event held as his church because of the latter’s position on abortion. The letter, signed by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly, Janet Folger, Peter LaBarbera, and others called on Warren “to rescind his invitation to Senator Obama immediately. The millions of silent victims who have died because of the policies of leaders like Senator Obama demand a response from those who believe that life is a gift from God.”
In 1995, Eliason agreed to pay Julie Brienza, a former United Press International reporter, $255,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after he led a successful radio campaign to get her fired because she was a lesbian, proclaiming that “Christianity has triumphed” when her employment was terminated. [Associated Press, 5 April 1995]