Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jan 09, 2017 at 10:41:20 PM EST
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC

Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy DeVos, Building Mercenary Army in UAE

The Prince and DeVos families are at the intersection of radical free market privatization and the Religious Right, and have made an enormous impact on the current political atmosphere.  Erik Prince played a significant role in privatizing military functions while his older sister Betsy is at the helm of a movement to privatize public schools. The billionaire brother/sister duo are also vice presidents of their parents' foundation which is one of the major funders of Focus on Family and Family Research Council and an array of missionary organizations and right-wing think tanks.

The Sunday New York Times reported that Erik Prince, founder and former owner of Blackwater (now XE), is building a "secret desert force" of 800 non-Muslim foreign mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates. Blackwater "collected billions of dollars in security contracts from the U.S. government," but Prince sold the company and moved to Abu Dhabi in wake of legal troubles.  Over the last decade, as Prince has built private armies funded with tax dollars, his older sister Betsy DeVos has been leading a campaign to privatize education but fund it with tax dollars. Her organizations have also run into legal troubles, including a $5.2 million fine in Ohio for breaking campaign finance laws.

The Prince and DeVos Families

Betsy Prince DeVos and Erik Prince are two of the four children of  Elsa Prince Broekhuizen and the late Edgar Prince.  The Prince family made their fortune in Prince Automotive, and became one of the primary supporters of numerous Religious Right organizations and right-wing causes.  Betsy Devos is married to Dick DeVos, former CEO of Amway/Alticor and Republican candidate for governor of Michigan in a failed bid in 2006.  Betsy DeVos has served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party, but is best known for her many years at the helm of the national movement to privatize public education through the use of school vouchers and tax credits. (Links to a series of articles on DeVos and the school voucher movement follow the article.)

The four Prince siblings, including Erik Prince and Betsy DeVos, serve on the board of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.  A partial listing of recipients of grants from the foundation from 1999 - 2009 are listed in the chart, below right.  The chart was compiled using the 990 IRS tax forms filed by the foundation. Some pages were missing from the 1999 and 2007 990 reports available online, so some of these figures would actually be a little higher.  

Money given to family foundations is tax deductible.  These funds, in turn, can be donated to 501(c)(3) nonprofit institutions, such as those seen in the chart.  This chart does not include donations given individually by Prince family member, or contributions to nonprofits that support political candidates, such as 527s and political action committees (PACs).

The Elsa and Edgar Prince Foundation gave over $2.7 million to Family Research Council and over $4.4 million to Focus on Family between 1999 and 2009.

In his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Jeremy Scahill quotes Gary Bauer on the formation of Family Research Council.

"When James Dobson and I decided that the financial resources weren't available to launch FRC, Ed and his family stepped into the breach," wrote Bauer.  "I can say without hesitation that without Ed and Elsa and their wonderful children, there simply could not be a Family Research Council."

Erik was one of the first interns at FRC, according to Scahill, and the organization was bankrolled by both the Prince and DeVos families.  Betsy Prince married Dick DeVos, in a merger of the two wealthy Holland, Michigan families.  Dick DeVos is son of Richard and Helen DeVos.  The DeVos fortune was made through the multi-level marketing business Amway, and they now own the Orlando Magic.  

Both the Prince and DeVos families give many millions of their billions away, primarily to Religious Right organizations, ultra-conservative religious institutions, right-wing think tanks, and the Republican Party.

In his book, Scahill writes that DeVos and Prince funding was also crucial to the  "Republican Revolution" led by Newt Gingrich in 1994, with Amway and the DeVos family giving the largest soft-money donation on record to any political party in history.  He adds,

In 1996, Amway also donated $1.3 million to the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau to pay for Republican "infomercials" broadcast on Pat Robertson's Family Channel during the RNC convention."

Scahill's footnote on this quote is "She Did it Amway" in Mother Jones Sept/Oct 1996.

Ten years later in 2006, Russ Bellant, author of The Religious Right in Michigan posted a four-part series on Dick DeVos at, as DeVos was running for governor of Michigan.  Links:  One,  Two,  Three, and Four.

The author of a  Metro Times editorial from 2006 titled "You Don't Know Dick" also interviewed Russ Bellant for an article about the ability of Dick DeVos to hide his hard right agenda while running for governor.   The author, Curt Guyette pointed out that DeVos only slipped up once during the campaign, stating in an interview that he wanted intelligent design to be taught in science classes.

Guyette also quoted Molly Ivins from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the ties between the DeVos family and the Republican Party.

"'My favorite tax break in the new budget package is worth $283 million to one corporation: Amway. The company and its top leaders have contributed at least $4 million to the Republican Party during the last four years, so that's a $4 million investment in campaign contributions with a $283 million payoff for Amway.'
Ivins went on to report that the break was inserted into the legislation `at the last minute' by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich."

In January 2010,  ABC News credited the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation with helping to fund the Citizens United case.  The Supreme Court decision allows unlimited and unpublished funding of Super PACs.

Both the Prince and DeVos families belong to the Christian Reformed Church in North America, which has roots in Dutch Calvinism.  Several members of the families, including both Richard and Dick DeVos,  Elsa Prince, and Betsy Prince DeVos attended Calvin College.  The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation has contributed $6,439,000 to Calvin College and the Richard and Helen DeVos foundation has contributed $13,449,300 and close to $4 million more to Calvin Theological Seminary.  (One of Richard DeVos' recent projects is an  effort to unite the Christian Reformed Church with the Reform Church of America.)  

Erik Prince converted to Catholicism and has worked with Chuck Colson to promote Catholic and Evangelical unity in what Jeremy Scahill describes as a "common theoconservative holy war."  Colson, one of the Watergate conspirators, is an advocate for faith-based prisons and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries has been heavily funded by the Prince and DeVos foundations.  The Elsa and Edgar Prince foundation contributed $962,000 between 1999 and 2009, the Richard and Helen Devos Foundation have contributed at least one million, and Jeremy Scahill reports that Erik Prince's Freiheit Foundation gave $500,000 in 2000.   (Freiheit is German for liberty.)

Edgar Prince died in 1995 and  Elsa Prince has since married retired pastor Ren Broekhuizen, who sits on the board of the Acton Institute and the Russian-American Christian University.  Betsy DeVos has also served on the board of the Acton Institute, which was  the  recipient of $801,500 from the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation between 1999 and 2009 and has also been heavily funded by the DeVos families.

Elsa Prince Broekhuizen has served on the board of the Council for National Policy, the Family Research Council, Focus on Family, and Focus on Family Action.  As reported in previous articles in the series of Betsy DeVos and school privatization, Richard DeVos has also been an important figure in the Council for National Policy, which brings together  right-wing business and political figures with Religious Right leaders, or as DeVos describes it, bringing together the doers and the donors.

Tens of Millions to Evangelize and Privatize the Globe

Acton Institute is a right-wing think tank which combines free market fundamentalism with Dominion Theology, or the belief that Christians should take control over the institutions of society and government.  Acton Institute brings together Dominionists and business interests that have common interests, such as opposition to environmental regulation.

Calvin Beisner, who has been an Acton Fellow, heads the Cornwall Alliance, which recently produced a pseudo-documentary titled "Resisting the Green Dragon."  In the production, Religious Right leaders, including several from organizations funded by the Prince and DeVos families, claim that environmentalism is a cult competing with Christianity. The Acton Institute is a sponsor of the Worldview Super Conference of American Vision, a Dominionist organization cited as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their virulently anti-gay activism.

The chart continuing  at right shows some of the entities receiving funding from the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation from 1999 - 2009. Elsa Prince Broekhuizen is president of the foundation and Erik Prince, Betsy DeVos and their two siblings are vice presidents.  The Prince siblings and the children of Richard and Helen DeVos have their own charitable foundations, including the Dick and Besty DeVos foundation.  

The Richard and Helen DeVos foundation have given to a similar list of pro-privatization think tanks, Religious Right groups, and missionary organizations  including $4,790,000 dollars to Focus on Family,  $6,300,000 to the Heritage Foundation, $14,665,800 to Coral Ridge Ministries (founded by the late James Kennedy), $3,500,000 Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, $8,025,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries,  and$2,000,000 to Russian American Christian University.  (Regular readers will be interested to note that Luis Palau is the brother -in-law of Ed Silvoso, head of International Transformation Network and a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation.)

The chart of contributions at right also includes one Jewish organization.  Toward Tradition is headed by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who for many years has participated in Christian Right organizations and activities, allowing them to present their events as including Jews.  Lapin rails against liberal Jews and has befriended Tom DeLay and other right-wing politicians. Jack Abramoff has served on the board of Toward Tradition and documentation in his plea bargain in his Indian casino lobbying case revealed some involvement of the organization in moving money from gambling interest.  Senate testimony in the Abramoff scandal revealed the creation of fake awards from Toward Tradition to embellish Abramoff's resume.

One relatively unknown entity stands out on the list of recipients of multi-million dollars contributions.  The Haggai Institute received $2,490,000 from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, $2,000,000 from the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, $5,356,150 from the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.  This is an organization based in Atlanta which has quietly trained over 80,000 lawyers, judges, doctors, engineers, and other government and professional leaders from Asia, Africa, and South America, in missionary skills for evangelizing their own communities and countries. Jeremy Scahill reports that, despite his conversion to Catholicism,  Erik Prince has also contributed to Haggai Institute through his Freiheit Foundation. *See notes on the Haggai Institute at the end of the article.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a list of the dozen most influential anti-gay groups in the nation.  The Prince and DeVos families have directly funded at least seven of them and indirectly funded more. [Update 5/17/11: There are now 18 organizations in the list, several designated as hate groups including ones directly funded by the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.]

In addition to the causes supported through the family foundation, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen was the top individual contributor in 2004 to Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, giving $75,000 in support of a ban on gay marriage in Michigan, according to Media Mouse. She gave $450,000 in support of Proposition Eight in Californian, which prompted Californians Against Hate to produce a commercial in response. (Video)  She was ranked the fourth largest individual donor to Proposition Eight behind:  #3 - Robert Hurtt, #2 -Howard Ahmanson, and #1- John Templeton, president of the Templeton Foundation.  

Erik Prince's Private Armies

Erik Prince was not charged in many of the cased against Blackwater, including the cases for the killing of 17 Iraqi citizens in the Nisoor Square massacre, however, in 2009, former Blackwater employees brought cases against Prince.  The cases focused on the claims that Blackwater defrauded the U.S. government.  The affidavits filed in the case included claims that Prince was motivated by a crusader mentality.

One affidavit filed in the case was quoted in The Economist,

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to "lay Hajiis out on cardboard." Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as "ragheads" or "hajiis."

It is interesting that Prince has landed in the UAE working for Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi .  As the press has noted, the UAE has no extradition treaty with the U.S.  The New York Times describes the purpose of Prince's new "secret desert force" is to conduct "special operations missions inside and outside the country" including defending oil pipelines and putting down internal revolts

Erik Prince's new venture in the United Arab Emirates is called Reflex Responses or R2. The company has brought in Latin American recruits to be trained by South Africans from the mercenary company Executive Outcomes, known for manning coup attempts in Africa. The article states that due to his notoriety Erik Prince hides his involvement in contracts, sometimes using the name "Kingfish" and that they hire no Muslims because Prince doesn't believe that Muslims could be counted on to kill fellow Muslims.

From Sunday's  New York Times article:

People involved in the project and American officials said that the Emiratis were interested in deploying the battalion to respond to terrorist attacks and put down uprisings inside the country's sprawling labor camps, which house the Pakistanis, Filipinos and other foreigners who make up the bulk of the country's work force. The foreign military force was planned months before the so- called Arab Spring revolts that many experts believe are unlikely to spread to the U.A.E. Iran was a particular concern.

Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers are brought into the UAE for construction and other heavy labor jobs from East Asia. (See an article on labor camps for foreign workers.)

 The New York Times article closes,

So far, the Latin American troops have been taken off the base only to shop and for occasional entertainment.

On a recent spring night though, after months stationed in the desert, they boarded an unmarked bus and were driven to hotels in central Dubai, a former employee said. There, some R2 executives had arranged for them to spend the evening with prostitutes.

One of the accusations in a case brought by two former employees against Prince is that the company was hiring prostitutes and billing the U.S. government.  

Melan Davis, who said she handled some record-keeping and billing roles at Blackwater, said in a signed court statement that she found that a prostitute in Afghanistan had been placed on Blackwater's payroll under the "Morale Welfare Recreation" category.
Davis, who was fired from the company and is challenging her dismissal, said she also helped with record-keeping for Blackwater's response in Louisiana to Hurricane Katrina. Among other charges of excessive billing there, Davis said two workers paid a vendor for "cleaning services" but the vendor would instead provide strippers.

A 2007 article on Prince in the New York Times, "Blackwater Chief at Nexus of Military and Business,"  examined his background and ties with leaders from across the spectrum of the  right-wing world.  Prince's defenders claimed that he was more of a libertarian than a social conservative like his father.  But as is increasingly apparent, the "free market" fundamentalist and Religious Right have been partners for many years.

Right-wing think tanks promoting radical privatization schemes have claimed for years that privatizing government services would be cost effective and services provided would be superior.  The much-touted experiment in privatizing the military has not been the cure-all that was promised.  Although this experiment in privatization has failed, and often with disastrous outcomes, Betsy DeVos is leading another experiment in privatization which could impact every community across America.

Privatizing American Schools

Betsy DeVos, like her brother, is at the intersection of free market think tanks, the Religious Right, and business interests that see the potential in privatization. She has been able to bring together into a coalition unlikely partners including libertarian hedge fund managers and openly theocratic organizations.  Meanwhile the pro-voucher movement is framed in terms of reforming public education, fighting bigotry, and saving poor urban children and has spent millions promoting this mirage.

Both Americans United for Church and State and People for the American Way have documented the push to privatize public education.  My ongoing series at  documents the role of Betsy DeVos and her American Federation for Children in the current wave of school voucher legislation.  (Links at end of article.)  

Betsy DeVos credits her organizations with moving many tens of thousands of children into private schools, predominately religious-based schools, which can teach as much bigotry against other religions and those who are different, as they choose.  There has been little discussion of this in the media's coverage of the voucher wars.

The Prince siblings would not be where they are today without the ability to bring together these different factions in support of their privatization goals.  And the ability to direct many tens of millions to the beneficiaries of their choice did not hurt their prospects.  

Also see:

Overview of school voucher movement
Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wing Family Working with the Religious Right to Kill Public Education.

Details of AFC-affiliated financing and mobilizing in Pennsylvania

Details of AFC-affiliated financing in Indiana and other states

Update on AFC-affiliate activities in Pennsylvania and sponsorship of mailer attacking opposing senator

Also see the transcript of Amy Goodman's interviews of author Jeremy Scahill and Samer Muscati of Human Rights Watch, concerning Erik Prince's building of a mercenary army in the UAE. Link.

*Notes on Haggai Institute

Although virtually unmentioned in the press, the Haggai Institute is one of the top recipients of foundation grants of any entity in the Atlanta area.  For instance in 2007, the institute had 10 grants totaling almost five million dollars, giving it a ranking of 18th in the city, along with major Atlanta universities, art centers, and organizations. Rev. Michael Youseff, of the Atlanta-based Church of the Apostles and a signer of the Manhattan Declaration, worked with the Haggai Institute for ten years.  The Egyptian-born evangelist also heads Leading the Way, which recevied $117,500 from the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.

The Haggai Institute was founded by John Edmund Haggai on the principle that the best missionaries are those who come from the countries where they are working. The organization claims 80,000 alumni, bringing professional leaders from other nations, particularly third world countries, to train at their Atlanta headquarters. They do not widely advertise their work.   Haggai Institute also has locations in Hawaii, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, West Africa (Nigeria and Cameroon), Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East, Mexico, Philippines, and the United Kingdom.

The Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation have also continued their foray into the privatization of the arts with a $22 million gift to establish the Devos Institute of Art's Management at The Kennedy Center. The Institute headed by Michael Kaiser is providing free Art's Management workshops across the country shaping the cultural control of our art institutions and non profits.

by richardkooyman on Mon May 16, 2011 at 06:22:02 PM EST
As someone who has tried to raise money for the arts, I know that it is a relief to find big donors.  However, the control that one family is gaining over these arts programs is alarming.

As arts institutions around the country lose public funding and participants are increasingly financially squeezed, I fear that our programs are going to become increasingly dependent on a few super-wealthy right-wing families, similar to what we are seeing in university funding.  No doubt they will be able to use that power to influence programming and what is taught in these institutions.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue May 17, 2011 at 11:57:16 AM EST

Looks like the top of the pyramid pays good profits!

by wilkyjr on Tue May 17, 2011 at 03:08:05 PM EST

Great article on an important subject, but a couple of pieces near the end seem to be missing.

For example, an Economist article is cited without a link, and the sentence "She has been able to bring together into a coalition unlikely partners including libertarian hedge fund managers and openly theocratic organizations, in their ." lacks a noun at least. The name "Bush" is conspicuously absent as well.

Also: who are the other two siblings, and what are they up to?

And, are there any among the hyperchristians, or even just plain Christians, who have spoken out against Erik P's Killers for Khrist and Kash?

by Pierce R Butler on Tue May 17, 2011 at 10:10:25 AM EST

but you need to define what you mean by "just plain Christians".  I consider myself a Christian, and I've been opposed to those types for many years.

Many of those who attend my church (Unitarian Universalist) consider themselves to be Christian, although the more conservative "Christians" don't accept our faith (and make strenuous attempts to proselytize us).  Of those who do say they are Christian, some are aware of the dominionist problem and oppose the, as you put it, "Erik P's Killers for Khrist and Kash" (and anyone else of that ilk).  The others... just haven't been exposed to the bad yet.

by ArchaeoBob on Tue May 17, 2011 at 11:30:35 AM EST

By "just plain Christians" I meant the believers with at least one foot on the ground, trying to help others and otherwise mind their own business.

By "hyperchristians" I mean the extremists who are so sure what all the rest of us should be made to do and not do that they can't sleep at night.

By and large I have no gripe against the Unitarians, and know that their Social Justice committees and the like do good work in their local areas. But have the UUs, or any other denominations, spoken out at the national level, or taken action on a grassroots basis, about the extremists using the name of Christianism for their essentially parafascistic programs?

by Pierce R Butler on Tue May 17, 2011 at 08:35:13 PM EST

How many people in the pews KNOW about the dominionists?  How many understand the connections?

Seriously.  We're in conflict with an entire culture that tends to distract people from what's going on around them.  Not that the culture is the problem - it's inherent in the consumer/entertainment mindset.  Combine that with the propaganda mill and the fact that the dominionist message is structured to take advantage of the dominant thinking in this country, and people will ignore the evidence until it smacks them in the face (because it's too foreign to their worldview).  They may have a vague discomfort with this news, but don't understand the ramifications at all.  Then you have the knowledge of conspiracy theories being passed around - and either the problems with dominionism is written off as "tin-hatter stuff", or people start buying into nonsense and the real problems get sidetracked.  They don't have the knowledge (or training) to think critically or to evaluate evidence, connect the dots, and grasp the big picture.  

I have heard of resistance to dominionism in general, although an outcry against this (RECENT) news has not been reported (yet) - and that could also be because of the political control over reporting.  As far as resistance to dominionism in general - at the least, the United Methodists have officially resisted at the denomination level (at least major portions of that church).  There was even a video explaining about the IRB (Institute on Religion and Democracy) and the danger the organization posed to the denomination.  I've heard of resistance at the church and individual level on a far more frequent basis.  However, even as ordinary citizens are often clueless about the danger they face, so it has also been with church leaders.  I've talked with church leaders who told me of throwing out up to a dozen steeplejackers a year out of their church - but at the same time refusing to accept that the attempts at steeplejacking was deliberate and part of the goals of an entire movement/denomination (and they also refused to believe that those 'other churches' would deliberately train students to try to take over other denominations).

BTW - your "HyperChristians" are probably the same as what I call "Good Christians"; those who think they're doing God a favor by harming others (or who refuse to recognize the harm they've done).  They claim to be "Good Christians" but turn people off at best.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed May 18, 2011 at 12:06:51 AM EST

Pierce, thanks for pointing this out.  I've been working long hours!  I'm adding The Economist link now!

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue May 17, 2011 at 11:43:54 AM EST
...  are Emily Prince Wierda and Eileen Prince Ellens. They are also on the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation board.  They keep a much lower profile than the other two.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue May 17, 2011 at 12:06:04 PM EST
We can only hope that Emily & Eileen are, except for their family foundation work, actually leading quiet and private lives of no concern to others. I shudder to think that they might turn out to be, say, the Great Lakes equivalent of Marvin & Neil Bush.

Please don't misinterpret my petty criticisms as dissatisfaction with your overall efforts - as this article shows, y'all are doing all sorts of journalistic heavy lifting that the corporate media shamefully neglects, and I for one am deeply grateful.

by Pierce R Butler on Tue May 17, 2011 at 08:44:49 PM EST

... and I certainly don't want to leave any typos in an article!  No offense taken.  Also, please feel free to comment any time you are interested in a link that I fail to include!

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue May 17, 2011 at 10:45:48 PM EST

who supposedly lead relatively quiet lives, but in reality may be very big and deeply embedded in the dominionist movement.   The people that know them don't have a clue as to what they're really about and downplay (or reject) their impact/power.

Right now I'm not sure I want to name names or give facts (a few people here may understand what/who I'm talking about), but the thing is, I distrust people with low profiles and high connections.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed May 18, 2011 at 12:13:05 AM EST

This piece is just the factual, complete and rhetoric-free ammunition I need to persuade my west Michigan friends that I'm not a conspiracy-minded loon.  The DeVos and Prince families are masterful at hiding their extreme religious and political agendas while presenting a positive image to the community. They fund major urban revitalization projects, hospital improvements and charity events, and never editorialize on controversial issues. Despite the fact that Amway is a deceptive worldwide pyramid scheme employing cult-like tactics, the local company headquarters is an excellent employer. When it comes to criticism of the DeVos and Prince families, most locals plug the ears, close the eyes and say LALALA...

by cbelt on Wed May 18, 2011 at 12:56:50 PM EST

First off, is there an online discussion forum anywhere that is focused on this site and its articles, links, and topics? I ask because I want to pose a question that is related to all of the things usually posted here but not necessarily directly linked to any specific article (at the moment).

Second, since a picture is worth 1000 words, does anyone have any graphical depiction of the nefarious network of connections tying all of the things discussed on this site together with politics in America? Something like an entity diagram or network analysis diagram? I'm trying to find something that would readily show these underlying connections. From DeVoss and vouchers and art institutes to Republican Governor's Association and attack on worker's rights, entitlement programs, education, and redistricting to far-right dominionist theology proponents.

Thanks for your time,

by rahilliard on Wed May 18, 2011 at 02:50:10 PM EST

That is something I've thought about repeatedly as I try to unravel the relationship of the right-wing think tanks, funding foundations, and the interconnected network of school privatization activist groups.  My next Talk2action article will be an attempt to explain the latter group.

There is a lot of good information online about the right-wing think tanks.  Easy-access charts showing  funding are available at Media Matters Action under the tab "Transparency."

I don't know of any website that has mapped out or compiled exactly what you are looking for.  If any readers have sources, please comment.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Thu May 19, 2011 at 01:21:36 PM EST

Wow! This article is so comprehensive and complete. Thank you very much. As a Michigan resident, I'm aware of this family's influence, but only recently became aware of its agenda for Dominionism. A question: Rachel, are there any indications that the Prince/DeVos family embraces Christian Reconstructionist plans to convert the government of our country--and the entire world--back to Old Testament laws and its death penalties for adultery, homosexuality, etc.? I ask because of the DeVos/Prince family's strong support for Calvinist organizations and the fact that the Christian Reconstructionist's brand of Dominionism grew from a Calvinist background.

by BaileyinMI on Wed May 18, 2011 at 02:53:26 PM EST
... directly and indirectly.  They heavily fund the Acton Institute which has sponsored Christian Reconstructionist events including American Vision conferences.  

Betsy DeVos has served on the Acton board.  Also, well-informed observers of the Religious Right has categorized the late James Kennedy as a "soft-Reconstructionist" and, as noted in the article, the DeVos family was a primary funder of his ministry.

I would argue that several Religious Right entities funded by the DeVos and Prince families are embracing either Reconstructionism or the Charismatic Dominionist counterpart. If you are unfamiliar with the relationship between these two forms of Dominionism, see "The Rise of Charismatic Dominionism" at

by Rachel Tabachnick on Thu May 19, 2011 at 01:15:44 PM EST

WOW! This article reads like a synopsis for a Hollywood thriller! It is chilling to see these connections in broad daylight! And in such a timely manner what with Newt Gingrich in the news of late!

This is big news and the connection with Gingrich makes it highly relevant to current news cycles! Has anyone heard of any mainstream media outlets giving this any attention? Rachel Maddow maybe?

by rahilliard on Wed May 18, 2011 at 03:46:43 PM EST

DeVos has said she supports science, but then goes on to pretend that Intelligent Design Creationism is science. She has also contributed to the Thomas More Law Center, "the sword and shield" of those who wish to teach Creationism: 1/19/dover-id-trial-referenced-devos-hearing/96779114/

by Tristram on Sat Jan 21, 2017 at 01:57:14 PM EST
When you remember that much of dominionism (especially the Christian Reconstructionism flavor) comes out of Rushdoony's books, it should be almost terrifying.

For one thing, he advocated "re-education camps" or the death penalty for people (especially social scientists) who did NOT teach "from a Biblical perspective".  Teaching evolution - anathema.  They can't teach "Deh BIBLE!" outright, so they couch it in pseudoscientific language.  

I would also point out that they've been hostile to public education since the beginning.  You see, they wanted ALL children taught the Bible and anything else was that dreaded "socialism!" (in later years) or "opposing God's word".  

Unless you're one of them, you're the enemy.  If you value truth (especially scientific truth) you are automatically an "enemy of God" in their eyes.  (They seem to forget that we are interested in the "How" - and that science does not negate God.  Science only negates a literal interpretation of books written thousands of years ago - and Science is part of the reason why they can read it in English instead of Aramaic, Hebrew, and Ancient Greek.)

Funny thing, the most faithful and decent people I've met were scientists and/or liberal educators - and NOT creationists.  Since walking away from their religion and only associating with liberals (and scientists), life has been different.  Let me put it this way:

My wife and I are STILL not used to being treated like human beings - and equals.  It's really a pleasant feeling.  It's NOT how we were treated in the churches.

I don't want to go back.  People like DeVos scare me, because that is their goal.  They believe they MUST "Take Back (over) America for JESUS!" otherwise God "will remove His Blessing from her!"  Those of us who don't agree...

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Jan 22, 2017 at 01:07:00 PM EST

that the UUs treated us well, but in the long run we realized they just weren't as good a 'fit' as we thought.  Our path was different, and we wish them well and think highly of them.  Much of what I learned there applies to me today, but I've moved on.

It was the mainstream and conservative churches that treated us... badly.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Jan 22, 2017 at 01:12:25 PM EST

I can't imagine focusing long enough to research; much less write this kind of article.  You've outdone yourself with this material.  This is great content.
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Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (147 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (39 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (29 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (35 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (34 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (32 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (31 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (31 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (16 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (14 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (18 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (43 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (11 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (24 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (32 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (48 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (31 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (28 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (72 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (28 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (31 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (34 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (24 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (22 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (24 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (25 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (24 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (33 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (32 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (30 comments)

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