Zero Degrees of Separation
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Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 02:55:00 AM EST
Monday's Washington Post informed us that at least 18 states are considering 36 bills that would "protect" and "shelter" pharmacists and other health care workers from providing care that conflicts with their personal religious beliefs.

About half of the proposals would shield pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills because they believe the drugs cause abortions. But many are far broader measures that would shelter a doctor, nurse, aide, technician or other employee who objects to any therapy. That might include in-vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cells and perhaps even providing treatment to gays and lesbians.

In an exquisite touch of irony, the Post titled its story "Health Workers' Choice Debated" - because this is the one kind of choice that the Religious Right will defend.

"It's already a very hot issue," said Edward R. Martin Jr. of the Americans United for Life, who is advising legislators around the country pushing such bills. "I think it's going to get even hotter, for lots of reasons and in lots of places."

The flurry of political activity is being welcomed by conservative groups that consider it crucial to prevent health workers from being coerced into participating in care they find morally repugnant -- protecting their "right of conscience" or "right of refusal."

"This goes to the core of what it means to be an American," said David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. "Conscience is the most sacred of all property. Doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care workers should not be forced to violate their consciences."

The swell of propositions is raising alarm among advocates for abortion rights, family planning, AIDS prevention, the right to die, gays and lesbians, and others who see the push as the latest manifestation of the growing political power of social conservatives.

For the past few years so-called "conscience" bills have been a growing trend, introduced by religiously conservative politicians with the full support not only of the more socially acceptable faces of religious activism, but of more extreme factions such as Operation Rescue/Operation Save America that can be relied upon to take the crusade to the streets with a campaign of intimidation.

This what OSA looked like when it protested outside the clinic of Dr. Warren Hern in Boulder, Colorado last July.

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"If we are silent about abortion, we are being silent about the gospel." -- Fr. Frank Pavone

Operation Save America's long-time friend and ally, Fr. Frank Pavone, from Priests for Life, described the last days of Terri Schiavo for OSA prolifers gathered at the Boulder Central Park bandshell this morning. He was blunt about her starvation and dehydration death, "Greer, Felos and Michael Schiavo are murderers!" he said.
Saints paraded with abortion signs through Boulder streets to what is probably the only clinic in the country with "Abortion" in its name, Boulder Abortion Clinic. This is where the infamous Warren Hern commits his crimes against unborn children and their mothers.

And this is what OSA affiliate Small Victories Ministries looked like when it protested outside a Walgreens in Illinois a few weeks ago.

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Ten gentle Christians stood in the cold outside Walgreens in Glen Carbon, IL, where two of the four pharmacists suspended without pay had worked, and exposed the truth that Walgreen's policy towards God fearing pharmacists is wrong. Acts 5:29 "We must obey God, rather than men."

Walgreens has put these pharmacists on unpaid leave because they refuse to dispense the (Plan-B) abortion pill, because they know all life is sacred. One of the pharmacists is seven months pregnant and her maternity benefits are now in question.

According to the new law enacted by the most pro-abortion head of state in Illinois ' history, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, all pharmacies are required to dispense the drug. But, all pharmacists are not required to. So we are proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and His laws reign.

When OSA went to Boulder last summer, its operatives targeted Dr. Warren Hern with tactics of personal intimidation that inspired him to fight back. Dr. Hern took his case to the people of Colorado with a full page newspaper ad that contained the following statement.  

The fundamentalist "Christians" who make up "Operation Save America" are fascists. "Operation Save America" is the face of fascism in America.  Americans need to understand fascism.  This is how fascists create an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, repression, destruction of individual lives, and the destruction of a free society.

It is right out of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" or "1984."  "Big Brother Is Watching You." The name of this gang, "Operation Save America," is a fulfillment of Orwell's prophecy: a lie in the service of totalitarian repression.  

How is "Operation Save America's hatred and demonization of abortion doctors different from the Nazi's persecution of Jews in the Germany of the mid-1930's?  How is it different from how white racists and the Ku Klux Klan treated black people in the South before the lynching began?  How is it different from the Salem witch-hunts, and how is it different from the hysterical anti-communist McCarthyism of the 1950's?  How is it different from the Taliban's puritanical repression?  It isn't.

If you think it's different, just give "Operation Save America" more power. Their friends are already running the federal government.

When Dr. Hern says that Flip Benham's friends are already running the federal government, it might be hasty of us to dismiss that as an exaggeration.  Jeff Sharlet has an article in the current issue of Rolling Stone that is receiving a great deal of notice. It's an in-depth piece on Sam Brownback: "God's Senator."

Nobody in this little church just off Times Square in Manhattan thinks of themselves as political. They're spiritual -- actors and athletes and pretty young things who believe that every word of the Bible is inerrant dictation from God.
But on this evening in January, politics and all its worldly machinations have entered their church. Sitting in the darkness of the front row is Sam Brownback, the Republican senator from Kansas. And hunched over on the stage in a red leather chair is an old man named Harald Bredesen, who has come to anoint Brownback as the Christian right's next candidate for president.
Bredesen squints through the stage lights at Brownback, sitting straight-backed and attentive. At forty-nine, the senator looks taller than he is. His face is wide and flat, his skin thick like leather, etched by windburn and sun from years of working on his father's farm just outside Parker, Kansas, population 281. You can hear it in his voice: slow, distant but warm; a baritone, spoken out of the left side of his mouth in half-sentences with few hard consonants. It sounds like the voice of someone who has learned how to wait for rain.

"He wants to be president," Bredesen tells the congregation. "He is marvelously qualified to be president." But, he adds, there is something Brownback wants even more: "And that is, on the last day of your earthly life, to be able to say, 'Father, the work you gave me to do, I have accomplished!'" Bredesen, shrunken with age, leans forward and glares at Brownback.

"Is that true?" he demands.

"Yes," Brownback says softly.

"Friends!" The old man's voice is suddenly a trumpet. "Sam . . . says . . . yes!"

The crowd roars. Those occupying the front rows lay hands on the contender.
Brownback is unlikely to receive the Republican presidential nomination -- but as the candidate of the Christian right, he may well be in a position to determine who does, and what they include in their platform. "What Sam could do very effectively," says the Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical activist, is hold the nomination hostage until the Christian right "exacts the last pledge out of the more popular candidate."

Schenck's assessment could be right on the money.  Sharlet's article details Brownback's longstanding involvement with the shadowy but powerful Fellowship, the group whose best known role is as host of the annual National Prayer Breakfast.  But that public face hides a very secretive reality.

One of the little-known strengths of the Christian right lies in its adoption of the "cell" -- the building block historically used by small but determined groups to impose their will on the majority. Seventy years ago, an evangelist named Abraham Vereide founded a network of "God-led" cells comprising senators and generals, corporate executives and preachers. Vereide believed that the cells -- God's chosen, appointed to power -- could construct a Kingdom of God on earth with Washington as its capital. They would do so "behind the scenes," lest they be accused of pride or a hunger for power, and "beyond the din of vox populi," which is to say, outside the bounds of democracy. To insiders, the cells were known as the Family, or the Fellowship. To most outsiders, they were not known at all.

"Communists use cells as their basic structure," declares a confidential Fellowship document titled "Thoughts on a Core Group." "The mafia operates like this, and the basic unit of the Marine Corps is the four-man squad. Hitler, Lenin and many others understood the power of a small group of people." Under Reagan, Fellowship cells quietly arranged meetings between administration officials and leaders of Salvadoran death squads, and helped funnel military support to Siad Barre, the brutal dictator of Somalia, who belonged to a prayer cell of American senators and generals.

Additionally, Brownback's position as chair of the Values Action Team -- a "war council" dedicated to tailoring public policy to the pattern of the Religious Right, and a group that even Brownback's press secretary admits is "cloak and dagger" -- makes him the senator from whom all blessings flow.  And the allegiance of other members of VAT -- such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the Eagle Forum, the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America and many more - ensures Brownback the power to give and to take away.

The VAT coordinates the efforts of fundamentalist pressure groups, unifying their message and arming congressional staffers with the data and language they need to pass legislation. Working almost entirely in secret, the group has directed the fights against gay marriage and for school vouchers, against hate-crime legislation and for "abstinence only" education.  ...  When it comes to "impacting policy," says Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, "day to day, the VAT is instrumental."

Since Brownback took over leadership of the VAT in 2002, he has used it to consolidate his position in the Christian right -- and his influence in the Senate. If senators -- even leaders like Bill Frist or Rick Santorum -- want to ask for backing from the group, they must talk to Brownback's chief of staff, Robert Wasinger, who clears attendees with his boss. Wasinger is from Hays, Kansas, but he speaks with a Harvard drawl, and he is still remembered in Cambridge twelve years after graduation for a fight he led to get gay faculty booted. He was particularly concerned about the welfare of gay men; or rather, as he wrote in a campus magazine funded by the Heritage Foundation, that of their innocent sperm, forced to "swim into feces." As gatekeeper of the VAT, he's a key strategist in the conservative movement. He makes sure the religious leaders who attend VAT understand that Brownback is the boss -- and that other senators realize that every time Brownback speaks, he has the money and membership of the VAT behind him.

Yes, Brownback has all sorts of friends.  Here he is with Fr. Frank Pavone's emissaries from Priests for Life.

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Just last week in Washington, DC, Pavone presented Brownback with the Pro-Life Recognition Award, " because he is one of the pro-life movement's best friends in Washington, DC.  [H]e is not one who can simply be counted on to vote with us when the pro-life battles come. Rather, he goes forward pro-actively to seek the battles and to work to advance the cause."

Frank Pavone, of course, has a multitude of friends of his own - such as Flip Benham, with whom he collaborated in last July's assault on doctors and insufficiently religious universities in Colorado.

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As the Washington Post and Jeff Sharlet make clear, at least there's one kind of choice that Brownback, Pavone and people like Benham can all understand.

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Standing on his porch, [Brownback] thinks back to the days before the Civil War, when his home state was known as Bloody Kansas and John Brown fought for freedom with an ax. "A terrorist," concedes Brownback, careful not to offend his Southern supporters, but also a wise man. When Brown was in jail awaiting execution, a visitor told the abolitionist that he was crazy.

"I'm not the one who has 4 million people in bondage," Brownback intones, recalling Brown's response. "I, sir, think you are crazy."

This is another of Brownback's parables. In place of 4 million slaves, he thinks of uncountable unborn babies, of all the persecuted Christians -- a nation within a nation, awaiting Brownback's liberation. Brownback, sir, thinks that secular America is crazy.

The senator stares, his face gentle but unsmiling.

He isn't joking.

I don't think he's joking, either -- any more than I think it's the Pharmacists for Life who are in of need of shelter, shielding and protection.

I've actually done a few posts--both here and on Talk2Action--regarding "moral refusal" clauses and how they were in fact designed by dominionists to allow them to essentially refuse to render any medical assistance they felt was "immoral" (even if it was lifesaving treatment for lesbigay persons).

Articles of note:

"Every Zygote Is Sacred", or "Can I have my birth control, already?" (includes details not only on "moral refusal" re abortions and filling prescriptions for Plan B, but also plans by dominionists to expand these clauses to allow disregarding "Living Wills" and end-of-life care directives, and cases where people are even being refused anti-herpetic medication (which is used for a lot of things besides herpes, usually in cases of adult chickenpox or chickenpox in immunocompromised individuals) under "conscience clauses")
"Moral refusal" extends to healthcare in general (detailing how reproductive assistance services are now being denied lesbians in California under "conscience clauses")
Dominionism: Pro-cancer, pro-birth-defects (details efforts to fight a potentially lifesaving vaccine against HPV (the cause of most cervical and penile cancer) by dominionists, as well as a libel campaign conducted against the March of Dimes (claiming they are abortionists or abortion-supporters) and are even pushing for essentially eliminating divorce even in the case of domestic assault through "Covenant Marriage")

Other posts I've done that are directly relevant:

And yet more Abramoff-dominionist links (includes details on "The Fellowship", which has a legitimate claim to being the world's first dominionist group; per this excellent expose of the group "The Fellowship" has been around since at least the 30's and (along with the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International) is one of two dominionist groups primarily responsible for popularising both the "Red Scare" and integration of Russia into premillenial dispensationalist mythology.

Regarding "cell churches", entire books have been written on the spiritually abusive aspects of "shepherding" groups in general in Bible-based coercive religious groups.  I will simply direct people to the posts I have made in past on spiritually abusive tactics within the dominionist movement, and particularly both the first part of a two-part series on coercive tactics within dominionism and a history of "dominion theology" within the pentecostal movement.

As for antiabortion violence, there are some very interesting links between the more violent antiabortion groups and racist and militia groups that I've detailed in this post.

by dogemperor on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 07:57:15 AM EST

Thank you for making the connection along the spectrum of religious right advocates from the people on the street at varying levels, the politicians who use them to win office and the policies that they try to implement.

I think that most people would be massively outraged to find out that their prescriptions could be rejected by a pharmacist.  But understanding how this is part of a larger movement is more difficult.  They should read this.

by cyncooper on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:48:39 AM EST

Here is the latest lawsuit filed by the American Center for Law and Justice to support the notion that pharmacists can refuse to fill women's birth control prescriptions.  I wrote about the ACLJ in a prior post here.

The lawsuit was filed on January 27.  The article is from Aliana Ramos of the News-Democrat.

The battle over four metro-east pharmacists' objections to dispensing the so-called morning after-pill on moral and religious grounds has been taken to court.

On Friday, the American Center for Law and Justice filed a lawsuit in Madison County against Walgreens on behalf of four pharmacists who were suspended without pay after voicing opposition to the company's policy on dispensing the "Plan B" pills because of their personal beliefs.

Walgreens requires all of its Illinois pharmacists to dispense Plan B pills as mandated by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's new state rule, said Michael Polzin, a spokesman for Walgreens. The rule, which is the only one of its kind in the nation, requires that all Illinois pharmacies dispense contraceptives without delay.

"According to the state rule, the prescription must be filled at the same time that it would take to fill a normal prescription. At 5 p.m., that average time is 45 minutes; at 2 a.m. it takes about 5 minutes," Polzin said. "It doesn't give us the option of having a pharmacist on call."

Other major retail pharmacies have not interpreted the order the way Walgreens has, said a statement from Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. The center is a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C., founded by evangelist Pat Robertson.

"For whatever reason, Walgreens chose not to respect its pharmacists," Manion said. "That's why we're going to court."

The lawsuit alleges Walgreens violated the rights of John Menges of Edwardsville, Carol Muzzarelli of Collinsville, Kelly Hubble of Belleville and G. Richard Quayle of Highland under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Under the act, workers cannot be forced to act contrary to their conscience. One other pharmacist was suspended, but returned to work after agreeing to dispense the Plan B pill.

Blagojevich spokesman Abby Ottenhoff contended pharmacists are not covered under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, and several efforts to include pharmacists have failed in the past."

We will vigorously defend a woman's right to get the medication she needs," Ottenhoff said.On Dec. 7,

The American Center for Law and Justice also filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission in December on behalf of the pharmacists. Then, on Dec. 19, the group filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Springfield challenging the legality of the administrative rule. Both cases are pending.Plan B is a set of prescription-only pills that can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.

Many anti-abortion activists believe life begins at fertilization, and view Plan B as a potential form of abortion.

by cyncooper on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 11:37:09 AM EST

There's at least one other excellent article detailing the history of the "Fellowship" (which has gone under multiple names, including "The Family", in past).

Of note, in the 1930's (at its beginnings) it actually was a pro-Nazi group--yet another link between racism and dominionism.  (Larry Flynt's mention of the article is a summary of the full article by Wayne Madsen, which I'm linking to here.)  From the full article:

The roots of the Fellowship go back to the 1930s and a Norwegian immigrant and Methodist minister named Abraham Vereide. According to Fellowship archives maintained at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, Vereide, who immigrated from Norway in 1905, began an outreach ministry in Seattle in April 1935. But his religious outreach involved nothing more than pushing for an anti-Communist, anti-union, anti-Socialist, and pro-Nazi German political agenda. A loose organization and secrecy were paramount for Vereide. Fellowship archives state that Vereide wanted his movement to "carry out its objective through personal, trusting, informal, unpublicized contact between people." Vereide's establishment of his Prayer Breakfast Movement for anti-Socialist and anti-International Workers of the World (IWW or "Wobblies") Seattle businessmen in 1935 coincided with the establishment of another pro-Nazi German organization in the United States, the German-American Bund. Vereide saw his prayer movement replacing labor unions.

(The German-American Bund was a group that can legitimately be termed an American Nazi party (it was formed from the merger of two groups, one of which was the American branch of the NSDAP--the Nazi party itself).   Eventually, the group was outlawed during World War II and many of its members arrested and interned for the duration.)

In other words, the whole thing was started by someone who was a sympathiser to Nazis--not neo-Nazis, the old-school kind of Nazis who killed thirteen million people in Europe.

The links don't stop there:

One philosophical fellow traveler of Vereide was the German Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, a colleague of Leo Strauss, the father of American neo-conservatism and the mentor of such present-day American neo-conservatives as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Strauss's close association with Heidegger and the Nazi idea of telling the big lie in order to justify the end goals - Machiavellianism on steroids -- did not help Strauss in Nazi Germany. Because he was Jewish, he was forced to emigrate to the United States, where he eventually began teaching neo-conservative political science at the University of Chicago. It is this confluence of right-wing philosophies that provides a political bridge between modern-day Christian Rightists (including so-called Christian Zionists) and the secular-oriented neo-conservatives who support a policy that sees a U.S.-Israeli alliance against Islam and European-oriented democratic socialism. For the dominion theologists, the United States is the new Israel, with a God-given mandate to establish dominion over the entire planet. Neither the secular neo-conservatives nor Christian fundamentalists seem to have a problem with the idea of American domination of the planet, as witnessed by the presence of representatives of both camps as supporters of the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative blueprint for America's attack on Iraq and plans to attack, occupy, and dominate other countries that oppose U.S. designs.

What bound all so-called "America First" movements prior to World War II was their common hatred for labor unions, Communists and Socialists, Jews, and most definitely, the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Vereide's Prayer Breakfast Movement, pro-Nazi German groups like the Bund, and a resurgent Ku Klux Klan had more than propaganda in common - they had an interlocking leadership and a coordinated political agenda.

Not only was Vereide pro-Hitler, he was the only Norwegian of note, who was not officially a Nazi, who never condemned Norwegian Nazi leader Vidkun Quisling, a man whose name has become synonymous with traitor and who was executed in 1945. Vereide and Quisling were almost the same age, Vereide was born in 1886, Quisling in 1887. They both shared a link with the clergy, Vereide was a Methodist minister and Quisling was the son of a Lutheran minister. The Norwegian link to the Fellowship continues to this day but more on that later.

Interestingly, the article also details that many of the fundamentalist churches of the time were sympathetic to Nazis.

It also seems the same tactics of demonisation were actively in force as early as the 1930's from "The Fellowship" and its founder:

The Unsuccessful Right-Wing Coup Against a Democratic President

Vereide and Buchman had important allies on Wall Street. According to Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, shortly after Franklin Roosevelt was elected President in 1932, he was approached by a group of wealthy Republican industrialists to lead an anti-Roosevelt Fascist coup against the government. As with today's Fellowship, Vereide and Buchman were merely front men for anti-Socialist big businesses who hid behind the façade of a Christian evangelical movement. To them and their bankrollers, Roosevelt was some sort of anti-Christ who was going to go to bat for the workers, blacks, the poor and women while, at the same time, menacing the ultra-rich and the rising Nazi and Fascist specter in Europe. The coup was to be financed mostly by the J. P. Morgan and Du Pont financial empires. General Butler, who had no time for these industrialists since his military forays into Central America and the Caribbean as a foot soldier on behalf of wealthy capitalists, rejected their overture. Gerald MacGuire, a Wall Street bond salesman and former Commander of the Connecticut American Legion, was the chief recruiter for the coup plot. Butler informed Congress of the plans for the coup. However, Congress was owned by Wall Street and no charges were ever brought against the plotters. Butler was incensed and went public but he was dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. Not until 1967, when journalist John Spivak uncovered the secret Congressional report, was Butler's version of the events validated. In the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Nazi Propaganda Activities in the United States, Rep. Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) concluded that there was evidence of a coup plot by the right-wing against Roosevelt. However, much to Butler's chagrin, no criminal action was taken against the plotters.

Butler said MacGuire's plan was for Butler to force Roosevelt to declare he had become too sick from polio and create a powerful new Cabinet position, the Secretary of General Affairs, to run the government on his behalf. The New Deal, something the U.S. fascists and Nazis referred to as the "Jew Deal," would have be scrapped. The comparison between the Secretary of General Affairs and the present Secretary of Homeland Security is striking. If Roosevelt did not agree to the coup plotters' demand, a half million American Legion veterans would march on Washington to physically remove Roosevelt from office. But MacGuire decided that the perception management campaign would work and an armed force would not be required. He told Butler, "You know the American people will swallow that.  We have got the newspapers.  We will start a campaign that the President's health is failing.  Everyone can tell that by looking at him, and the dumb American people will fall for it in a second..."  Shortly after his testimony before the House investigation committee, MacGuire died of pneumonia at the age of 37.

It is of note that "Christian Patriot" groups and even quite a few dominionists to this day condemn Roosevelt.

It doesn't stop there:

Meanwhile, Buchman's co-ideologist Vereide made his first entrée into the U.S. Congress. In 1942, he began to hold small and discreet prayer breakfasts for the U.S. House of Representatives. The next year, the Senate began holding prayer breakfast meetings. Vereide's Prayer Breakfast Movement was formally incorporated as the National Committee for Christian Leadership (NCCL). Its headquarters were in Chicago. In 1944, while Vereide's friends in Germany were being pummeled by the Allies, especially by the Soviet Red Army, NCCL changed its name to International Christian Leadership (ICL), an indication that Vereide saw an immediate need to extend his influence abroad in the wake of a certain Nazi defeat. Vereide also made plans to move his headquarters to Washington, DC. In 1944, his first ICL Fellowship House was established in a private home at 6523 Massachusetts Avenue. In 1945, Vereide held his first joint Senate-House prayer breakfast meeting. In 1945, Vereide quickly got together a group of powerful right-wingers for a prayer breakfast following the death of President Roosevelt, one of Vereide's and Buchman's most despised politicians. Roosevelt did not comport with a President who followed the dictates of "God's Will," a major Vereide and Buchman principle. At the breakfast were Senators H. Alexander Smith (R-NJ), Lister Hill (D-AL), and World Report publisher David Lawrence. Lawrence was an ardent foe of the New Deal.

After President Truman announced that he was going to continue FDR's programs - what he called the Fair Deal - the religious right of Republicans and southern Democrats decided to attack Truman. His vulnerability to charges that Communists were embedded in his administration would give rise to the cancer of McCarthyism. However, for the religious right of Vereide, Buchman, and their political allies, this was a necessary and God-driven form of political and moral cleansing. The radical right would also force Truman to consolidate power in a new post-war intelligence agency that would replace the Office of Strategic Services - the Central Intelligence Agency.

(No, the whole "Democrats are a bunch of satanists" slurs are nothing new.  This group and the FGBMFI are pretty much the two big forces behind selling the Cold War as a literal Holy War to dominionists.)

Also (and this is the first I've read of this--it would be really nice to see some secondary confirmation) it seems George W. Bush may have been originally introduced to dominionism in a "faith-based coercion" program:

Bush had reason to be thankful to the Christian fundamentalists. They helped his son, George W. Bush, avoid a certain court martial and prison time. On or about April 18, 1972, the Houston Police arrested First Lieutenant George W. Bush of the Texas Air National Guard for possession of cocaine. Bush and a friend were booked into the Harris County jail. Bush's father, who was serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, hurriedly flew to Houston from New York and began to make the required phone calls to keep his son from receiving a court martial, dishonorable discharge, and a prison sentence. As one senior Bush business partner recalled, then-Ambassador Bush knew that junior was in "deep shit." Senior Bush arranged for his son to serve at a religious drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in San Diego between May and November 1972. Conservative San Diego was a major center for Fellowship activities.

The time Bush spent in religious rehab in San Diego represents part of the famous "gap" in Bush's National Guard service record. According to a fitness report on Bush issued by the White House in 2004, Bush was "Not rated for the period 1 May 72 through 30 Apr 73. Report for this period not available for administrative reasons." This represents the time Junior Bush was being shown the way from drugs to Jesus in San Diego and afterwards, his court-ordered community service penance in Houston. The senior Bush arranged to have the arrest record on Junior expunged and even his name removed from the police blotter. Later, a ruse that Junior Bush went to Alabama to work on the Republican Senate campaign of Winton Blount was concocted to throw off nosy opposition research investigators and journalists. The deception worked.

After drug rehab, Bush returned to Houston to perform prior court-arranged community service with Project P.U.L.L. (Professional United Leadership League), a Houston inner-city program to help troubled and mostly minority teens. It was run by John White, a former tight end for the Houston Oilers, who died in 1988. White's assistants told Knight-Ridder in late October 2004, that because the senior Bush was honorary co-chairman of Project P.U.L.L., he asked White to do him a favor by placing Junior Bush into a volunteer slot. One of White's administrative assistants told the news service that White recalled that Junior Bush had "gotten into some kind of trouble" but was not more specific. Willie Frazier, another former Houston Oiler and a P.U.L.L. volunteer in 1973, recalled to Knight-Ridder that the senior Bush impressed on White that an "arrangement" had to be made for the Junior Bush. P.U.L.L. closed its doors in 1989, a year after White's death but several P.U.L.L. associates remembered that unlike other volunteers, Junior Bush's hours as a volunteer had to be accounted for because he was in some kind of "trouble."

Senior Bush had a few other chores to take care of. One was to thank Harris County District Attorney Carol Vance, a past president of the National District Attorneys' Association, for helping to drop the drug charges against Junior and expunging the arrest record. According to close Bush associates, in appreciation, Mr. Vance was rewarded with a partnership at the prestigious Houston law firm of Bracewell & Patterson. First International Bank (later InterFirst Bank), on whose board Senior Bush served, was a major client of Bracewell & Patterson. InterFirst and its predecessor served as a primary money conduit for Saudi and other foreign money that was pumped into the business and political campaign coffers of both George Senior and Junior.

Vance also had links to the organization that would become Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries, an adjunct of the Fellowship. Vance, an evangelical Methodist, ministered to inmates in solitary confinement in Texas prisons. Later, Vance would team up with Colson in a variety of prison ministry projects in the United States and Brazil. Governor Ann Richards appointed Vance to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the entity that oversees the state's Correction's Department. Vance convinced newly-inaugurated Governor George W. Bush to establish faith-based prisons in Texas, a move that was endorsed by Colson. Bush also permitted ministers to act as detoxification counselors without professional training and certification. In addition, churches were allowed to operate day care centers without state accreditation. Vance became one of the leading advocates of evangelical-run prisons in the United States - something that Colson, Bush, Coe, and the Fellowship all advocated. Vance also saw Satan as being behind Ouija boards and the game Dungeons and Dragons - cultural smears that would be extended by his fellow evangelicals to other innocent children's icons like Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz's Good Witch of the North and Wicked Witch of the West, the Vulcan Mr. Spock in Star Trek, and Jedi Knight Yoda in Star Wars, all accused of spreading Satanism and the Teletubbies character Tinky Winky, SpongeBob SquarePants, Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, Buster Baxter the Bunny from Public Broadcasting's Postcards from Buster, and Barney the Dinosaur, all charged with promoting homosexuality.

Junior Bush's time in San Diego at a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is where the future President of the United States would first be given large doses of Jesus indoctrination. With Nixon's resignation in disgrace and the Republicans taking a beating in the 1974 elections, little did the Fellowship realize what a huge catch they had made in George W. Bush. Gerald Ford's administration vainly tried to salvage the Republican cause - but Ford would be defeated in the 1976 race against a born-again Christian, nuclear submarine commander, and former peanut farmer from Georgia named Jimmy Carter. True, Carter was an evangelical Christian but he was not the type favored by the Fellowship and their big business allies, especially two key members of the Ford administration, Chief of Staff Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And Ford's CIA Director, George H. W. Bush, was miffed when Carter did not invite him top stay on as spy chief. Bush would have his revenge against the upstart former Governor of Georgia and peanut farmer soon enough.

Again, confirmation of Dubya's participation in this program would be appreciated from researchers--if so, this could explain a great deal.  (If confirmed, this would be an extremely powerful argument against "faith based coercion"!)

It also appears the Fellowship may have been instrumental in the infiltration of the military by dominionists:

The Fellowship also made inroads within the U.S. military, particularly the officers' ranks. Through an entity known as the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF), the Fellowship tapped officers in all the services and future officers in the service academies to become "ambassadors for Christ in uniform." The motto of the OCF is "Pray, Discover, Obey." The Christian Military Fellowship served as the OCF's counterpart among the enlisted ranks. Adjunct Fellowship organizations targeted foreign officers and enlisted men, particularly in Great Britain and Australia; service spouses; and service mothers. The international military fellowship is known as the Association of Military Christian Fellowships (AMCF). One person close to the AMCF is Arthur E. ("Gene") Dewey, a retired Army officer who served as Colin Powell's Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. Dewey was also a personal consultant to Douglas Coe. In his State Department position, Dewey was an ardent foe of international family planning programs, including the denial of reproductive health care to refugee women.

Eventually, the Fellowship would count some of the military's top leaders among its members. They include former Joint Chiefs Chairman General David Jones, current Joint Chiefs chairman General Richard Myers, former Marine Corps Commandant and current NATO commander General James L. Jones, Iran-contra figure Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, and, perhaps even more controversial than North, Army Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, the military head of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's intelligence branch. In 2003, Boykin, in a speech to the First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, referred to the United States as a "Christian nation" and, that in reference to a Somali warlord, he stated, " I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." The reverberations of Boykin's comments were felt around the world. But his allies and Fellowship compatriots, Rumsfeld, Myers, Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt, and most important, George W. Bush, refused to condemn him. Calls for Boykin's reassignment when unheeded. Soon afterwards, Boykin's Pentagon intelligence group was discovered to have been involved with the torture and sexual molestation of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The sexual molestation of prisoners included male and female teens being held in Iraq. Also of note is the current head executive director of the OCF. He is retired Lt. Gen. Bruce Fister, the former head of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.

(Multiple pieces of documentation exist regarding Boykin being the architect of torture policies in both Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.)

Campus Crusade for Christ, an Assemblies of God-associated Christian Zionist group, and a second coercive group targeting college-age students are linked, too:

Another organization affiliated with the Fellowship is the Campus Crusade for Christ, which, in turn, runs something called the Christian Embassy, its outreach arm in Washington. There is also an "International Christian Embassy" in Jerusalem that also houses the studios of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Through the Campus Crusade, the Fellowship and its affiliates seek converts among college students in the United States and abroad. An additional Fellowship activity is the National Student Leadership Program and the associated Navigators, which seek converts among college and high school-aged young people. The Fellowship's network can also reach out to other evangelicals for the purpose of political marches on Washington. Whether they are called "Jesus Marches," Promise Keeper rallies, or anti-abortion gatherings, the fundamentalists have been able to tap the support of Falwell; Richard Roberts, the son of Oklahoma-based evangelist Oral Roberts; and Florida-based evangelist Benny Hinn. In addition, the Fellowship has its own aggressive "Youth Corps," which is active seeking converts, according to Jeff Sharlet's Harper's article, in countries as diverse as Russia, Ukraine, Romania, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal, Bhutan, Ecuador, Honduras, and Peru. The Fellowship seeks to groom young leaders for future positions of leadership in countries around the world. According to Sharlet, the goal of the Fellowship is "two hundred national and international world leaders bound together relationally by a mutual love for God and the family." In Fellowship-speak, the "family" is synonymous with the Fellowship. The strategy of placing Fellowship "moles" in foreign governments would pay off nicely when George W. Bush and his advisers had to cobble together a "Coalition of the Willing" to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

(The "International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem" is a Christian Zionist group that is one of approximately forty separate and distinct front groups of the Assemblies of God; one of the more infamous works they are linked to is a bit of Holocaust revisionism called The Pink Swastika (which is frequently quoted in AFA publications) that claims that LGBT people were not killed in the Holocaust and that in fact the Nazi party was almost entirely homosexual.)

("The Navigators" are a "parachurch" group that is a force in hijacking more moderate Christian churches, largely target college-aged youth, promote "faith-based coercion" programs (Alpha USA is almost exclusively used by dominionist groups in the US in "stealth evangelism" campaigns, and in fact the Alpha courses (as presented in the US) are largely courses in how to conduct stealth evangelism), is part of the Colorado Springs complex of dominionist groups, requires agreement to a fundamentalist statement of faith, is quite explicitly dominionist, may well have invented stealth evangelism (the group has a very early history, dating back to the 1930's), and has been linked to the highly abusive "cell church" movement, quite possibly as one of its primary architects.)  (Campus Crusade for Christ, of note, has also been noted as using abusive "shepherding" techniques as well as promotion of "bait and switch" evangelism.)

Quite a few dominionist-friendly legislators are linked to the Fellowship:

Past and current residents of the C Street Center have included former Representatives Steve Largent (R-OK) and Ed Bryant (R-TN), former Representative and current Democratic Governor of Maine John E. Baldacci, Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) (Brownback is also a member of the right-wing Fascist-oriented Opus Dei sect within the Catholic Church), Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), and Tom Coburn (R-OK), Representatives Mike Doyle (R-PA), Bart Stupak (D-MI), Zach Wamp (R-TN), and former Senator Don Nickles (R-OK).

Other past members included Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA), Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), Roger Jepsen (R-IA), Charles Percy (R-IL), Strom Thurmond (R-SC), David Durenberger (R-MN), Jennings Randolph (D-WV), Paul Trible (R-VA), Phil Gramm (R-TX), William Armstrong (R-CO), Lawton Chiles (D-FL), Dan Coats (R-IN), Jeremiah Denton (R-AL), John Stennis (D-MS), Al Gore, Jr. (D-TN), and Larry Pressler (R-SD), and former Representatives J. C. Watts (R-OK), Robert Dornan (R-CA), and Tony Hall (D-OH). George W. Bush named Hall, who purported to be a strong defender of human rights, to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for World Hunger. In typical Fellowship fashion, Hall immediately began to lobby the UN on behalf of Monsanto to accept genetically-modified foods.

Other significant members of the Fellowship are Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), James Inhofe (R-OK), Bill Nelson (D-FL) (Nelson's wife Grace serves on the Fellowship Foundation's Board of Directors), and Rick Santorum (R-PA), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), and George Allen (R-VA), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA), Tom DeLay (R-TX), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Curt Weldon (R-PA), Jerry Weller (R-IL), and Joseph Pitts (R-PA).

Friends of the Fellowship, if not outright members, include Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), and former Senator Zell Miller (D-GA).

Somewhat disturbingly (yet not surprisingly), the Fellowship is also linked with "Third Wave" pentecostal churches promoting dominion theology--as noted in several areas.

by dogemperor on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 11:28:01 AM EST
The first time I read it, my brain almost melted.

Thanks so much for all the information you have linked in both comments. Your input alone has made this story one to bookmark for reference.

by moiv on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 11:41:57 AM EST

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