America�s domestic "Evil Empire"
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jan 19, 2006, 00:30

The Ku Klux Klan called itself �the invisible empire.� Reagan called the Soviet Union �the evil empire.� In America today the highly visible Evil Empire is the phalanx called �the evangelical Christian Right.�

Lead by boycott king Don Wildmon of the American Family Association (AFA), the Evil Empire is again threatening Ford Motor Company. This is the January 10 letter AFA and 42 other so-called �pro-family� groups sent to Ford.

The AFA letter began with the statement �On November 28, Ford Motor Company and American Family Association worked out a representation concerning Ford�s support of groups promoting the homosexual agenda including homosexual marriage.� The letter�s conclusion included the threat, �We can not, and will not, sit by as Ford supports a social agenda aimed at the destruction of the family.�

As usual, the American Family Association and the rest of the fraudulently �pro-family� Christian Right simply do not recognize the existence of or the legitimacy of, much less care about, families -- that include hundreds of thousands if not millions of children -- headed by same-sex parents. How much more hypocritical can you get?

And what could be more blatantly evil than proactively working to hurt those families as much as possible? As the Christian news service Agape Press reported, one of AFA�s original demands was that Ford cancel �its policy of offering benefits to same-sex domestic partners.� In other words, AFA wanted Ford to stop being truly pro-family and join the Evil Empire�s anti-family campaign.

Glenn Stanton is the director of social research and cultural affairs for Focus on the Family. Mr. Stanton claimed �Same-sex marriage only serves the interests of adults and provides no necessary benefits for society.� Since when do �the interests of adults� -- also known as �citizens,� �voters� and �taxpayers� -- not matter? Marriage confers 1,138 federal benefits on partners and their families. Apparently Mr. Stanton believes gay and lesbian Americans who form families and rear healthy, happy children are of no benefit or value to society. Not surprisingly, Stanton�s boss, the anti-gay founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, was a signatory of AFA�s letter to Ford.

The AFA letter threatened that �We can not, and will not, sit by as Ford supports a social agenda aimed at the destruction of the family.� Same-sex civil unions have been legal for several years in Vermont. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for a year and a half. Neither has caused the �destruction� of the �families� Wildmon and the letter�s other signatories -- a veritable Who�s Who of American Homophobes -- claim to care about. If those �families� have been affected at all, it�s probably because of the bigotry and homophobia Wildmon and the rest of the Evil Empire spend every day encouraging, nourishing, expanding, and propagating.

It goes without saying that the Christian Right is on the far-right politically and staunchly supports all things Republican. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that Florida �state campaign finance records show that of the $193,000 that has been raised by, the political committee working to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, $150,000 of it came in a single donation from the Florida Republican Party.� The Evil Empire wants nothing less than to destroy gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their children, and anyone else who supports civil equality. The �representation� AFA claimed to have reached with Ford Motor Company attested to that:

1. Ford would not renew current promotions or create future incentives that give cash donations to homosexual organizations based on the purchase of a vehicle.

2. Ford would stop giving cash and vehicle donations or endorsements to homosexual social activities such as Gay Pride parades.

3. Ford would not make corporate donations to homosexual organizations that, as part of their activities, engage in political or social campaigns to promote civil unions or same-sex marriage.

4. Ford would cease all advertising in homosexual websites and media outlets (magazines, television, radio) in the U.S. with the exception of a small amount to be used by Volvo. The Volvo ads would be the same ads used in the general media and not aimed at the homosexual community specifically.

How many more Americans and their families would be hurt -- directly and indirectly -- by AFA�s theofascist demands?

One has to wonder from whom AFA and the other agents of the Evil Empire get their funding to propagate hate, bigotry and discrimination. According to People for the American Way, AFA�s �finances� in 2000 were listed at $11.4 million. Wildmon�s Tupelo, Mississippi-based organization employed a staff of �about 100 employees and five full-time lawyers.� It�s highly unlikely those five full-time lawyers work pro bono ad infinitum, especially given the number of lawsuits in which they�re involved.

So let�s see. �Finances� of $11.4 million, 100 employees, five full-time lawyers, multiple on-going lawsuits, a glossy monthly publication (AFA Journal) with a circulation of 180,000, a nationwide radio network of 200 station, an extensive website, the normal overhead of office space, services and supplies, the production and distribution of several videos, including �Excess Access,� �It�s Not Gay,� and �Suffer the Children.� Do those �finances� and expenditures add up to you?

The American Family Association, like many other groups in the Evil Empire, hide behind �non-profit� and other legalities to avoid disclosing who contributes to and funds their political campaigns of hate and discrimination. But every so often, the truth comes out. An article entitled �How Abramoff Funded The Anti-Gay Agenda� appeared on the website of (Similar articles also appeared in the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.) The article�s opening was just the beginning of the expos�:

One aspect of the corruption and bribery mega-scandal shaking Washington that is swirling around conservative lobbyist Jack Abramoff . . . and which hasn�t gotten much mass media attention: how a lot of dough from Abramoff-controlled slush funds went to leading homophobes from the religious right.

Some of that money went to America�s premier homophobe -- and crusader against Internet gambling -- Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition:

Abramoff did more than hire anti-gay luminaries as Rev. Lou Sheldon (head of the Traditional Values Coalition) and Ralph Reed (former head of the Christian Coalition [and current candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor]) with money from Abramoff�s clients and front groups to lobby for special interests. Abramoff also funded an anti-gay group close to the lobbyist�s best buddy and biggest water-carrier, Rep. Tom Delay -- the U.S. Family Network -- with laundered money that has been traced to Russian oil interests. [links added]

According to the InfoShop article, �Sheldon�s Traditional Values Coalition received at least $25,000 from an Abramoff client, eLottery -- an online lottery company.� Abramoff called Rev. Sheldon �Lucky Lou.� The moniker �hypocrite� also comes to mind.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin has been linked to Ralph Reed, Karl Rove and, of course, Jack Abramoff. As the InfoShop article noted, �Lapin�s 1999 book, �America�s Real War,� is a Pat Buchanan-like diatribe about the �culture wars� in America that is dripping with homophobia and targets gays.� Lapin has been drumming up anti-gay sentiment in the Jewish community through his organization Toward Tradition, despite the overwhelming support for equal civil rights from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The president of URJ, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, recently labeled the Evil Empire �zealots� who claim a �monopoly on God� while promoting anti-gay policies akin to those of Nazi Germany: �We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations.� Lapin�s Toward Tradition organization got $25,000 from Abramoff and $50,000 from two Abramoff clients, including eLottery.

Let�s be honest and blunt. The only things the organizations of the so-called �pro-family� Christian Right, their allies and sycophants really care about are increasing their social, economic and political power, hurting gay and lesbian Americans, their children and their families, and anyone else who believes in equal rights for all Americans. I can think of no better definition of �Evil Empire.�

But �evil� always ultimately fails, and political �empires� always fall victim to their own corruption, as CNN reported:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert is trying to force out Ohio Rep. Bob Ney as chairman of the House Administration Committee, a week after Justice Department documents linked Ney to a bribery scheme involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Ney�s committee has jurisdiction over the Republican reform agenda in the wake of the Abramoff scandal, and Hastert believes it is inappropriate to let Ney run it, said a GOP leadership aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the negotiations between Ney and the speaker.

Ney, while claiming he did nothing improper, relinquished his committee chairmanship last Sunday.

It remains to be seen how the AFA-Ford confrontation will play out, but previously targeted companies are taking a stand against the Evil Empire as Andrew Garber�s Seattle Times article, �Major companies back gay-rights legislation,� noted:

A group of some of the biggest companies in Washington state, including Microsoft and Boeing, sent a letter this week to Republican and Democratic legislative leaders supporting gay-rights legislation.

Although many companies have backed the measure individually or in groups in the past, supporters say this is the first time so many prominent businesses have jointly signed a letter endorsing the bill.

The letter supports House Bill 2661, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. �It remains legal in 38 states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation,� the letter, dated Jan. 10, states. �This is not only bad for business, it is bad for America.�

That letter was also signed by representatives of Corbis, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, RealNetworks, and Vulcan.

In a report released May 6, 2004, the Human Rights Campaign documented that:

Private employers are instituting domestic-partner health insurance benefits for gay employees at the rate of three companies a day. . . . The analysis by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that more than 1,000 private employers and colleges and universities added domestic-partner benefits in 2003, 18 percent more than the year before. Some 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies now offer domestic-partner benefits, including nearly 70 percent of the 50 top businesses. . . . The report says providing such benefits enhances morale, productivity, recruiting, and competitiveness. One of the study�s authors, Kim Mills, said the 18 percent rise is an indication that employers are deciding that such benefits are good for business.

Since then things have only gotten better for gay and lesbian Americans in corporate America, despite the malicious efforts of America�s Evil Empire. One has to wonder if the American Family Association will take on CNN and the Arcus Foundation:

CNN has announced a $100,000 donation to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Scholarship Fund endowment for students seeking a career in journalism. . . . a combined gift of $3 million to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force made by the Arcus Foundation and its founder and president, Jon Stryker. (story)

Quality education, truth in journalism, and equal civil rights are, after all, the natural enemies of the Evil Empire.

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