The World According to Tim LaHaye: Chapter Six - The Council for National Policy
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 09:43:53 AM EST
Senior Analyst,
Political Research Associates
(author info)

Left BehindTo understand how "Tim LaHaye helped engineer today's Religious Right," it is important to track his role in speciifc New Right institutions. (IFAS 1999). We have traced how Tim LaHaye helped make televangelist Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority a powerful force for recruiting voters to the Republican Party. But LaHaye's role in creating and leading the Council for National Policy(CNP) is less well known. According to Skipp Porteous, "The CNP is a networking vehicle for right-wing leadership. CNP meetings enable members to become acquainted with one another, speak freely, and to plan short and long-term strategies"

The CNP was founded in 1981 with Tim LaHaye as the first president and his allies in the New Right salon that created the Moral Majority in 1979--Billings, McAteer, Falwell, Weyrich, Phillips, and Viguerie--joined this new group. The Council brings together “a broad array of top right-wing evangelicals, secular activists, government officials, retired military and intelligence officers, journalists, academicians, and business leaders,” writes Matthew N. Lyons (1998). CNP membership is by invitation only, and pricey since “several thousand dollars a year” are expected as dues.

The CNP was founded in 1981 with Tim LaHaye as the first president and his allies in the New Right salon that created the Moral Majority in 1979--Billings, McAteer, Falwell, Weyrich, Phillips, and Viguerie--joined this new group.

The Council brings together “a broad array of top right-wing evangelicals, secular activists, government officials, retired military and intelligence officers, journalists, academicians, and business leaders,” writes Matthew N. Lyons (1998). CNP membership is by invitation only, and pricey since “several thousand dollars a year” are expected as dues.

Lets step back and look at the context. In 1979, LaHaye is ensconced in the role of running the newly-crated Moral Majority. The goal is to take over the Republican Party. The problem is how to mobilize conservative Christian Evangelicals. One solution: in 1979 Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim, established Concerned Women for America, which quickly grew to become an effective vehicle for mobilizing grassroots political activism. CWA is just one star in a constellation of Christian Right para-church ministries and social movement organizations aimed at mobilizing evangelical women into political activism. This should not be dismissed lightly. Beverly LaHaye’s Concerned Women for America claims more than 500,00 members, and along with other such groups plays a major role in a variety of right-wing projects (Hardisty; Luker; Klatch, Berlet & Lyons).

As Matt Lyons and I explained, organizations "such as Concerned Women for America also encouraged women to develop self-confidence and assertiveness, to speak publicly and assume leadership—so long as they championed women’s traditional roles and did not challenge men’s preeminence (Berlet & Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America; citing to Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, p. 105; Faludi, Backlash, p. 255; see also, Wessinger, Brasher). "LaHaye and her husband, Christian Right leader Tim LaHaye, also wrote a frank sex manual, The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love, which declared that (married, heterosexual) women have a right to sexual pleasure—'Your heavenly Father placed [your clitoris] there for your enjoyment'—encouraged women to be active in lovemaking, and even endorsed birth control because it enabled women to enjoy sex more fully" (Berlet & Lyons; citing Faludi, Backlash, pp. 250–252).

In 1980 LaHaye publishes The Battle for the Mind, which is essentailly "his blueprint on how conservative Christians could take over the government of the United States," (IFAS 1999). In 1980 the Moral Majority and other emerging New Right groups help elect Ronald Reagan President of the United States. Reagan owes the New Right. How does the New Right coordinate the political payoff and keep pressure on the Republican Party and President Reagan?

So the CNP in 1981 is just the next link in the New Right chain. Russ Bellant reports that:

The council was founded in 1981 at the initiative of John Birch Society (JBS) leaders William Cies and the late Rep. Larry McDonald (R-GA), who had recently become chairman of JBS. They brought in Christian Right leader Rev. Tim LaHaye to be the first chair of the group. Among the earliest recruits were brewer Joseph Coors, Louisiana State Rep. Woody Jenkins, and a then-obscure marine major on the staff of the National Security Council, Oliver North. By 1984, the CNP had 400 members comprised of Christian Right leaders, Reagan administration operatives, New Right election experts, militant anti-communists, pro-apartheid activists, and conservative funders. Although CNP membership has remained steady at around 500, the composition has recently included more leaders of the Religious Right and fewer anti-Communists and pro-apartheid activists.

--(Bellant 1994)

It turns out that Tim LaHaye had also been talking about a similar idea for a networking group with his pals from the Moral Majority meeing in 1979, Paul Weyrich, and Richard Viguerie (Leaming and Boston). So in a variety of other reports, a number of folks have claimed credit for having a hand in creating the CNP. Bellant reports that by the mid 1990s, the CNP is being coordinated by a “triumvirate” composed of Paul Weyrich, chair of the Free Congress Foundation, Reed Larson of the National Right to Work Committee; and Morton Blackwell of the Leadership Institute, who also served as executive director of the CNP.

Who else is involved in the CNP, and what interests does it represent? According to Matthew N. Lyons:

Representing a very different sector of the business community, significantly further to the right than the [American Enterprise Institute] was the Council for National Policy (CNP). The CNP was founded in 1981 as a secretive discussion group to bring together a broad array of top right-wing evangelicals, secular activists, government officials, retired military and intelligence officers, journalists, academicians, and business leaders. Researchers such as Russ Bellant have pointed to the CNP as a key networking forum within the ultraconservative Right. Among business-affiliated CNP members in the 1980s, Sun Belt outsiders and old-line nationalists predominated. Firms represented were typically entrepreneurial (controlled by one family or individual), with about 70 percent of business members based in the South and West. The biggest bloc was in the overlapping fields of Sun Belt real estate and construction, oil and gas, and financial services. Southeastern textiles and other old (and probably labor-intensive) industries, many of them in the Midwest, were represented, as were an assort­ment of food, beverage, and retail industries. So, too, were many businesses directly tied to right-wing politics (e.g., religious broadcasting, direct-mail marketing).

The CNP also included a sprinkling of members linked to multinationalist firms such as CBS and Pepsico and a handful of people in international finance. However, conspicuously few CNP business members had ties with high-tech industries such as the aerospace, electronics, telecommununications technology, computer software, or pharmaceutical industries. Tobacco industry people, too, were almost completel y missing from this right-wing assemblage, belying a coinmon stereotype but consistent with tobacco's long-standing character as a multinational industry not especially tied to ultraconservative politics.`

On the activist side, the CNP included evangelical leaders ...[but also] government leaders such as Senator Jesse Helms and Representatives Jack Kemp and Dick Armey; and many other well-known figures. Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America and English First was a member; later, he would help launch the militia movement. For Christian Right leaders, the CNP was home ground. By comparison with the [American Enterprise Institute] this gathering was more oriented toward mass organizing and toward moral traditionalism, cultural nationalism, and populist antielitism.

--(Lyons 1998)

According to Porteous, "At each meeting, CNP Action Inc. sponsors standing committee workshops, which provide a vehicle for members to work together to influence crucial public policy decisions. According to a CNP memo, at these workshops members 'formulate strategies and execute plans to make a difference on the issues where we can have a real impact.' " The six permanent standing committees in 1995 were:

  • Family co-chaired by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum.
  • Law and Justice co-chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III and former Texas Court of Appeals judge Paul Pressler.
  • Economics co-chaired by former Office of Management and Budget director Jim Miller and Reed Larson of the National Right to Work Committee.
  • Defense and Foreign Policy co-chaired by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and How-ard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus.
  • Institutional Reform co-chaired by former California state senator H.L. Richardson and direct mail expert Richard Viguerie.
  • Environment chaired by former Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Energy Don Hodel.

--(Porteous 1995)

Hugh Urban notes that over the years the Council for National Policy has included "Ralph Reed, Jesse Helms, Tom DeLay, Oliver North, Christian Reconstructionist R.J. Rushdoony and, formerly, John Ashcroft (himself a Pentecostal Christian). Recent speakers at the Council's highly private meetings have included Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, and Timothy Goeglein, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. Although the group initially focused primarily on domestic agendas like abortion and homosexuality, LaHaye's Council has recently begun to turn to larger international issues such as U.S. policy in the Middle East and the state of Israel" (Urban 2006).

In August 2004, the CNP met in New York City prior to the Republican Convention. The New York Times was slipped an agenda and an enterprising reporter followed up with interviews. The reporter, David D. Kirkpatrick, wrote:

The administration and re-election effort were major focuses of the group's meeting on Thursday and yesterday. Under Secretary of State John Bolton spoke about plans for Iran, a spokesman for the State Department said.

Likewise, a spokesman for Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta confirmed that Mr. Acosta had addressed efforts to stop ''human trafficking,'' a major issue among Christian conservatives.

Dr. Frist spoke about supporting Mr. Bush and limiting embryonic stem cell research, two attendees said. Dan Senor, who recently returned from Iraq after working as a spokesman for L. Paul Bremer III, the top American civilian administrator, was scheduled to provide an update on the situation there.

Among presentations on the elections, an adviser to Mr. Bush's campaign, Ralph Reed, spoke on ''The 2004 Elections: Who Will Win in November?,'' attendees said.

--(Kirkpatrick 2004)

Well, we know who won the election--at least we know who had more votes "officially" counted. And the project of Tim LaHaye and his friends, this Council for National Policy, now plays a significant role in shaping foreign and domestic policy in the United States. And among those debating issue at these events are people like Tim LaHaye who continue to push what are basically the conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society merged with totalitarion dreams of theocratic dominionism...and the Republican Party just adapts to these theories and the demands of the Christian Right as they grow increasingly surreal.

Read More about the Council for National Policy:

Alternet article by Sarah Posner

International Relations Center Right Web Project

IFAS Special Research pages on CNP (includes dated but mesmerizing membership lists)

ABC News

The overly-modest CNP home page


Portions of this article are gleened from Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, New York: Guilford, 2000.

Russ Bellant. 1994. “The Council for National Policy: Stealth Leadership of the Radical Right,” Front Lines Research, Planned Parenthood, 1:2 (August 1994), online archive.

Russ Bellant. 1991. The Coors Connection: How Coors Family Philanthropy Undermines Democratic Pluralism. Boston: South End Press/PRA.

Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, New York: Guilford, 2000.

Sara Diamond. 1989. Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right. Boston: South End Press.

Sara Diamond. 1998. Roads to Dominion: Right–Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, New York: Guilford Press.

Jean V. Hardisty. 1999. Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. Boston: Beacon Press.

IFAS. 1999. "Tim LaHaye:The Man behind the Bestsellers," Freedom Writer (IFAS magazine), September/October.

David D. Kirkpatrick, “Club of the Most Powerful Gathers in Strictest Privacy,” New York Times ( August 28, 2004): 10, online archive.

Tim LaHaye. 1980. The Battle for the Mind: A Subtle Warfare. Old Tappan , NJ : Fleming H. Revell.

Jeremy Leaming and Rob Boston, “Behind Closed Doors: Who Is The Council For National Policy And What Are They Up To? And Why Don’t They Want You To Know?" Church & State, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, (October 2004), (accessed June 14, 2006 ).

Matthew N. Lyons, 1998, “Business Conflict and Right-Wing Movements,” in Amy E. Ansell (ed.), Unraveling the Right: The New Conservatism in American Thought and Politics, Boulder: Westview, pp. 80–102.

Skipp Porteous "Clandestine Council Meets in Virginia," Freedom Writer, (IFAS) June 1995.

Hugh Urban, 2006, “Bush, the Neocons and Evangelical Christian Fiction: America , ‘Left Behind,’” Journal of Religion & Society, vol. 8,, (accessed February 17, 2006 ).

On birth of the New Right:

Dinesh D’Souza. 1984. Falwell: Before the Millenium. Chicago: Regnery Gateway.

William Martin. 1996. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books.

Berlet and Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America.

Diamond, Roads to Dominion.

Hardisty, Mobilizing Resentment.

On the LaHayes' sex manual, see Faludi, Backlash, pp. 250–252.

On conservative women generally, see

Diamond, Spiritual Warfare; Roads to Dominion.

Brenda E. Brasher, 1998, Godly Women: Fundamentalism and Female Power, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Elinor Burkett, 1998, The Right Women: A Journey Through the Heart of Conservative America, New York: Touchstone..

Faludi, Backlash.

Hardisty, Mobilizing Resentment, especially pp. 69-96.

Rebecca E. Klatch, 1987, Women of the New Right, Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, especially pp. 119–153.

Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood;

Wessinger, Religious Institutions and Women’s Leadership

On the group Women Exploited by Abortion, see Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 97–98.

On LaHaye:

by Chip Berlet

"Left Behind Video Reflects Bigoted Apocalyptic Violence of Original Fiction Series," (6/12/2006)

"LaHaye and Jenkins: Why is the Criticism Left Behind? "

The World According to Tim LaHaye: A Series
Part One: Hunting Down the Enemies
Part Two: Pre-Trib Perspectives
Part Three: Satanic Secular Humanism
Part Four: Secular Humanism as False Religion
Part Five: The Secular Humanist Web
Part Six: The Council for National Policy
Part Seven: Humanists Attack the Family
Part Eight: The Age Old Conspiracy

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates

The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates

Chip's Blog

I have three organizations targeted, CNP, IRD, and the Arlington Group, as the most powerful parts of the conduit between the Dominionists and the government..

Before I could really teach my Religious Right Taskforce about the CNP, I needed a way to organize my considerable information in an teachable form and I needed documentation.  This diary should get me going in a much more fruitful direction.

Speaking of the Arlinglinton Group, do you have any useful information about the current level of their effectiveness.  There seems to have been a good deal of infighting within the organization and I'd rather move them out of my sights if their level of power as a group has dimmed significantly.  If they are still seriously worrisome, do you have any idea about who is up and who is down?


by tikkun on Mon Jul 31, 2006 at 11:09:21 AM EST

Thank you for an excellent article.  I first "discovered" CNP about 10 years ago when I was trying to follow the money from HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association).  I wondered why HSLDA was giving a group that had nothing to do with homeschooling $3000 a year.  If Michael Farris had not used member's dues to pay his CNP dues I never would have found CNP or made the connections between HSLDA and so many other groups.  I truly appreciate the efforts of so many researchers who've made these things public enabling me to put puzzle pieces together.  Thank you so much.

by Brainbelle on Sun Aug 06, 2006 at 10:04:42 PM EST

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