Cover lifted on secretive conservative group


Great Barrington, MA, Aug. 1, 1996 - Clothed in secrecy since its founding in 1981, the Council for National Policy (CNP) is a virtual Who's Who of the Hard Right. Comprised of the Right's Washington operatives and politicians, its financiers, and its hard core religious arm, the CNP's membership list, until today, has been highly confidential.

Starting today, "The Council for National Policy Unofficial Information Page" went on the Internet through the web site of the Institute for First Amendment Studies (IFAS), publishers of Freedom Writer magazine. Freedom Writer publishes information on religious political extremists.

According to Freedom Writer publisher Skipp Porteous, "Hard core conservatives use the CNP's three-times-a-year secret meetings to plan strategy for implementing the radical right agenda. It is here that the organizers and activists meet with the financial backers who put up the money to carry out their agenda."

For example, televangelist Pat Robertson met Amway's Rich DeVos at the CNP. Then, this year, they launched a scheme for broadcasting the Republican National Convention on Pat Robertson's Family Channel.

Last September, the CNP sent a confidential memo to its members outlining how religious conservative freshman in Congress planned to stand up to Speaker Newt Gingrich and shut down the government to force implementation of the conservative's social agenda.

Because CNP rules state that "Council meetings are closed to the media and the general public," and "Our membership list is strictly confidential and should not be shared outside the Council," the mainstream press knows very little about the CNP. Through this site, and the Freedom Writer, the Institute for First Amendment Studies is, for the first time, revealing the activities and current membership of the Council for National Policy.

The IFAS home page lists the more than 500 CNP members both alphabetically and by state. In most cases, the member's affiliation or company is also listed. The web site also includes several articles about CNP from recent issues of Freedom Writer magazine. "New information is being added regularly," according to Porteous.

A private promotional video obtained by Freedom Writer reveals the purpose of the CNP as described by some of its members. "It isn't often in life that reality is better than the dream. That's the way it is with the Council for National Policy," according to the Rev. Tim LaHaye, CNP co-founder and the group's first president.

"The Council for National Policy allows people to know each other, and by knowing each other they can integrate one movement with another," said Judge Paul Pressler.

"I've often thought back that when we launched this organization with prayer and some very good men, and it really seemed like the Lord was with us that day in Dallas," remarked right-wing fund raiser, Richard Viguerie.

Amway head, Rich DeVos said, "I got inspired by the people who spoke here, who shared their stories, got thrilled by not just talking about being a conservative person, but by the number of people in this organization who are doing things to make the country a better place."

Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson said, "If you want to be in the know about the real scoop, that you don't read about in the newspapers, this is the organization to be part of."

One of the group's few women members, Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum said, "I was a charter member of the Council for National Policy, and it is a great organization. It has all the best people in it."

"CNP is an organization which has been effective in developing links among people who ought to know one another, who are moving in the same direction. But who, but for the fact that these meetings occurred, would simply be ships passing in the night," according to Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus and The U.S. Taxpayers Party.

Former U.S. Attorney General and current [1996] CNP president, former, Ed Meese, said, "Council encourages it's members to be activists. And, that is not just to learn something about the issues, but do something about it. It is so important to get involved."

Other leaders, such as Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, said, "There are very few organizations left that say 'yes, we believe.' And, we're out to implement that policy in every way we can. We need those people out there who are considering linking hands and arms with us in this battle.

Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, who originally joined CNP through its Youth Council, said, "I think the Youth Council for National Policy has been a critical part...because what it has allowed us to do is to sit at the feet of our elders and to learn from them."

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