Religious Rightist Blows Smoke, Changes Subject
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 02:32:52 PM EST
"Note the irrationality of the left's rhetoric," wrote Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D, a senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America, in a recent column on the rightist What caught Crouse's ire was a report published late last year by Pam Chamberlain of Political Research Associates, on the Christian Right's anti-abortion, anti-contraception campaign at the UN.  
Chamberlain refers to the left as "human rights activists" (as though their radical agenda is based on human rights; their mantra is that "women's rights are human rights"). She assumes that international meetings are an exclusive club for elite leftists and that those "bizarre" conservatives -- the people that the Washington Post labeled the uneducated, easily-led religious right -- are crashing the party.

Of course, Chamberlain and PRA do not view international meetings as exclusive or elite; nor do they agree with the Post's long ago, one-time mischaracterization of the members of the Christian right. Crouse's version of rationality does not seem to include the necessity of getting facts right. The word "bizarre" is used in reference to conservative beliefs or actions nowhere in Chamberlain's report.    

Still, there is much there for Crouse to be upset about -- since the report nails what she and her cronies are up to in seeking to disrupt the formation of good and necessary international consensus on a host of important matters.  Crouse's response?  Blow smoke and change the subject.

Let's take a look at what Chamberlain was really talking about. The executive summary of Chamberlain's report states:
The Christian Right increasingly seeks to restrict women's reproductive rights internationally through its growing number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with consultative status at the United Nations. Believing their power to be enhanced by the election of an anti-choice president in 2000, these anti-choice NGOs have increased their presence at the UN. They oppose UN programs and platforms promoting access to abortion and contraception, and they promote an abstinence-only family planning curriculum worldwide. Using the access to a few official delegations and activities offered by their consultative status, the NGOs pursue their goals by attempting to stonewall the deliberative process of committees, organizing and funding an international caucus composed of other conservative religious entities and governments to mobilize opposition more broadly within the UN.

Well now. You won't hear much about that anywhere -- since most UN functions are no longer covered in the MSM or even the alternative news media. And of course, the religious right likes it that way, because they can get away with so much more when the press is not looking. When an informed reporter is on the case, everything changes. In 2005 for example, CynCooper reported at Talk to Action:  

Beverly and Tim LaHaye... endorse birth control and describe The Pill as the best method of contraception in their book The Art of Marriage, first published in 1976 and subtitled The Beauty of Sexual Love.. The 1996 edition says that 2.5 million copies have been sold.

The bible says nothing about the number of children one should have in a given lifetime. God leaves that decision up to each couple. Personally, we don't believe He is against restricting the size of one's family....

Almost all Christians today seem to believe in limiting the size of their families. Why do we say this? According to medical science, a normal woman unhindered by any form of birth control is capable of having as many as twenty children during her childbearing years. Since we have yet to meet a Christian family with twenty children, we suspect that they have utilized some method of reducing that potential number.

The LaHayes, who conducted Family Life Seminars across the country long before Tim became co-author of the popular Left Behind book series, are quite specific in their suggestions. They recommend birth control pills, condoms, diaphragms, vaginal foam. They write:
Birth control is a very personal decision, one of the first a young couple should have settled before their wedding day. Some people, for religious reasons, do not believe in contraceptives. We respect that and feel each couple should be convinced in their own minds what is the best plan for them ....

Because of its safety and simplicity, we consider the pill the preferred method for a new bride in the early stages of marriage.

Tim is one of the co-founders of the Moral Majority, and is instrumental in the Traditional Values Coalition and other religious right organizations. His wife, Beverly, founded Concerned Women for America, which has waged a constant battle against the morning-after pill, and has stood firmly against its release for over-the-counter sales. The morning-after pill is a high-dose birth control pill.

I asked Wendy Wright, a spokesperson for Concerned Women, about this apparent discrepancy after a Food and Drug Administration hearing on the morning after pill in December 2003, but she turned on her heel and walked away without answering.

Crouse is presently attending a meeting of the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women in New York from which she will be writing a "nightly commentary." If you happen to bump into Crouse at a UN gathering, or on a radio talk show, you might ask her about the views of her boss -- you know -- the woman after whom the Beverly LaHaye Institute is named.

Meanwhile, here is a little more from the report that Crouse would rather you not read, because it contains information she would rather you not know.

Chamberlain observes that extensive network of health and feminist organizations across the globe has successfully advocated for women's sexual and reproductive autonomy for decades, in both local and global arenas. The global women's health movement has made substantial gains in guaranteeing access to health services for women and girls, including reproductive services, and the UN has increased its commitment to women and children. These impressive gains have attracted organizations that oppose abortion and comprehensive sexuality education, igniting a small but vigorous backlash movement at the UN.

And that as a result:

A small group of U.S. Christian Right organizations has inserted itself in the international arena in four major ways. They have created a vocal antiabortion, anti-reproductive health presence at the UN, both by gaining consultative status as NGOs and through Bush administration appointments to official US delegations, special UN meetings, and special sessions. They have succeeded in publicizing their frame that the right to life is a basic human right and that advocates for abortion access and reproductive health are calling for illegitimate, special rights. They have cultivated hostility to the UN among the U.S. "pro-life" community. And they have pressured Bush to overturn Congressional decisions by refusing to fund some international health programs.

That's pretty important and straitforwardly reported stuff. But perhaps Crouse was just upset that PRA accurately quoted her in the report:

Former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, author and public speaker Crouse has been a vocal representative of CWA at the UN and an official U.S. delegate at UN conferences. Yet she has said,
The U.N. is actively anti-American; both the Security Council and the General Assembly work to thwart American interests.... Literally billions of dollars have been squandered in misguided utopian efforts that failed to accomplish the stated goals or were misdirected into the hands of corrupt officials through the U.N.'s poor management, cronyism or support for harsh dictators and ruthless regimes.

Chamberlain continues:  

Participating in UN activities as a hostile NGO is a "Trojan Horse" strategy, according to Jennifer Butler, former UN liaison for the NGO Presbyterian Church USA and author of Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized. About these conservative NGOs she notes, "By infiltrating the system of an organization they oppose, they hope to stall, influence, and even undermine its work from within."  

To close observers at the UN... conservative NGOs interfere with the already-prolonged process of consensus building and decision making that is the bulk of the work at UN gatherings worldwide. They are learning to mobilize conservatives from the official delegations of other UN member nations. These groups tout their behavior as successes through the media outlets of the Christian Right, providing some fuel for the antiabortion and "pro-family" passions at home. And they use the forum of the UN to train volunteers whose sometimes large numbers give the impression of powerful organizations. But the work of conservative NGOs at the UN has been primarily to reinforce Bush's anti-abortion and abstinence-only messages in an international arena....

Because mainstream media in this country do not cover developments at the UN in the detailed way Christian media do, many U.S. residents remain unaware of these developments and their potential impact. As Jennifer Butler has suggested, not just progressives but also liberals and moderates should be concerned to learn that the attempts to insert "pro-family" policies at the UN have interfered with realizing laudable goals such as the protection of universal human rights or the public health and welfare of humankind.

In 2002 she predicted: "If the United States continues to provide a platform for the Christian Right at international meetings, then in the next three to eight years we may see the advances made by human rights activists over the past two decades undermined, or at least stalled."

No wonder Janice Shaw Crouse is blowing smoke and changing the subject.  

is meeting in New York. Crouse & co are there. I wonder how, or if, the media will cover it?

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 03:43:23 PM EST
I was part of an effort several years ago being spearheaded by Bernie Siegal of the Genetics Policy Institute to prevent the UN from issuing a resolution against SCNT research (therapeutic cloning). Bernie can tell you stories about butting heads with the religious right. But like you said, no one covers it.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Mar 02, 2007 at 07:36:54 AM EST

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