Will Schenck Also Get a White House Meeting?

Over the last few days, we’ve written several posts about an upcoming meeting at the White House between Joshua DuBois, head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and representatives of Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, and other right-wing groups.

Now, in his daily video update, Faith and Action’s Rob Schenck reveals that his organization is also trying to set up a meeting with DuBois.

Schenck explains that he has a busy day ahead of him, entailing a meeting with Tim Goeglein, the former Bush Administration aide who was forced to step down after admitting to plagiarism and was recently hired by Focus on the Family to be their chief lobbyist in DC and with whom Faith and Action shares office space. He then has a meeting with the Salvation Army and then another meeting with the leaders of a new Congressional Prayer Caucus and finally a reception with “Christian members of Congress.”

Then, around the 2:50 mark, Schenck reveals that they will also be talking to the White House today about a meeting with the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and Josh DuBois.  After a bit of rambling, Schenck says that Christian conservatives are losing credibility because when the opposition says or does the right thing, they are reluctant to commend them.

Schenck says he is “finding some stuff that is really good here and I’ve quoted President Obama recently on his statement that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman. Hey, I ‘ve got to applaud that and I’m using it and I’m complementing him on it and, in fact, using it to reinforce our argument that the sanctity of marriage requires that it be reserved for a man and a woman, exclusively.”

Interestingly, before the election the Obama campaign was supposed to participate in an event hosted by Schenck and his group but pulled out at the last minute, which turned out to be a smart move, as Sarah Posner explained:

The meaning of the Declaration of Independence was supposed to take center stage at a forum for religious outreach representatives from both presidential campaigns yesterday, but the lunchtime crowd of conservative activists and congressional staff at the Capitol Hill Club was instead treated to a lineup of speakers tossing out apocalyptic rhetoric about Barack Obama.

The event was sponsored by the Capitol Hill-based Faith and Action’s Reese Roundtable, an annual luncheon about the moral meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Faith and Action’s motto is “bringing the word of God to bear on the hearts and minds of those who make public policy in America.” One of its goals is to “restore the moral foundations of our American culture” through placing Ten Commandments displays in public buildings.

Faith and Action’s Rob Schenck, a perennial religious-right adviser and gadfly, moderated and wasted no time in lambasting the Rev. E. Terri LaVelle, the Obama campaign’s senior religious adviser, who had committed to attend but cancelled at the last minute. “A snub!” protested Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America.

With McCain’s conservative-coalitions director Robert Heckman looking on, and at one point chiming in that Obama’s recent faith and values outreach was a “colossal flop,” Obama was portrayed by speakers as a figure of evil and doom. No one came right out and called him the Antichrist, but the apocalyptic message was clear.

Bernie Reese, the octogenarian founder of the Reese Roundtable, said, “I grew up during [the] days of Hitler; we’ve almost got a blueprint to what brought Hitler to power. He rode in on an economic crisis and promised the moon to the middle class. He was a man who had glittering rhetoric; he could sit in the room and have his audience in his hand.” Alveda King, niece of the civil-rights icon and an adviser to Priests for Life, the militant anti-abortion group, said abortion in the African American community had been done “deliberately, by genocide.” We’re “beyond chastisement,” she went on. “We’re in judgment.”

“Lord,” prayed Johnny Hunter, an African American pastor who gave the benediction, don’t let us elect someone who might “bring this nation down.”

The Obama campaign didn’t want to be seen with Schenck and Faith and Action during the election—good choice—and let’s hope that nothing has changed since then.

We have written about Schenck and his ties to a variety of different right wing groups a number of times, most recently when he, Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, and Rep. Paul Brown anointed the door at the Capitol before Barack Obama’s inauguration.  While far from a household name, Schenck has seemingly been becoming more influential over the last few years – he met privately with John McCain during the campaign and even received a VIP invitation to McCain’s announcement that Sarah Palin would be his running mate, where he had the opportunity to speak with both of them.  

He also has a history of harassing Democratic politicians, especially former President Bill Clinton, having been arrested back in 1992 for thrusting a fetus at him during the campaign and being stopped by the Secret Service after confronting him outside of the Washington Cathedral in 1996. He was also deeply involved in the early 1990’s in protesting women’s health clinics, including targeting one where a doctor was eventually assassinated.