Family Research Council sounding a lot like the "Patriot" movement

A new online fundraising appeal urging recipients to stop American "tyranny" has a distinctly anti-government ring

By Chip Berlet
Published July 10, 2013 9:20PM (EDT)
President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins   (REUTERS/Sean Gardner)
President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins (REUTERS/Sean Gardner)

This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Southern Poverty Law Center As barriers to equality for the LGBT community continue to fall, the Family Research Council (FRC), an influential Christian Right group that has been propagating anti-gay pseudo-science for decades, is broadening its message by adopting the language of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

Case in point: This week, less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot discriminate against legally married same-sex couples, the FRC circulated an online fundraising appeal that urges recipients to “Seize this Opportunity to Stop Tyranny in America!”

The word “tyranny” reflects a core theme of the Patriot movement, which is composed of groups that engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing or that advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. The movement has seen explosive growth since President Obama was elected. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented an 813 percent increase in Patriot groups, which include armed militias, since 2008 – from 149 to 1,360 by the end of 2012.

The FRC’s increasing adoption of Patriot rhetoric may indicate the group’s recognition that it is losing the battle over LGBT rights and its desire to find new issues. (Last July, for example, the FRC hired retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, a radical anti-Muslim propagandist, as its executive vice president.) Or, it may simply reflect the Patriot movement’s widening influence on conservative politics and across the spectrum of groups on the radical right.

The subject line of the FRC’s July 8 E-mail, signed by FRC President Tony Perkins, asks, “Is God giving America another chance?” The top of the page sports an image of a red button exclaiming “Give Today to Help Restore America.”

According to Perkins, a donation to the FRC helps the group with what he believes “is a God-given opportunity to stop a rapidly encroaching tyranny in America.” The word “tyranny” appears as a theme throughout the missive, which listed a series of supposed offenses committed by the Obama administration.

The E-mail reads:

“Is it really ‘tyranny’? You be the judge:

  • American families are being forced by ObamaCare to buy health insurance they don’t want . . . and which will lead to rationing for the weak and elderly.
  • Christians are being forced to buy ObamaCare insurance that funds abortion drugs.
  • The IRS has been caught harassing and bullying a growing number of groups, including ministries – for the ‘offense’ of opposing the Obama agenda.
  • Obama awarded the IRS official in charge of the harassment with a promotion and $103,900 bonus.
  • The Department of Justice has been caught spying on news reporters.
  • The Department of Defense has been caught persecuting Christians.
  • The Department of State has been caught covering up the Benghazi scandal and punishing dissident officials trying to blow the whistle.
  • Federal officials have stated that homosexual rights will supersede religious rights.”

While many of these assertions are dubious at best, Perkins assures potential donors that their financial support will “help FRC as our team of 82 staff and experts work on Capitol Hill and the media to take advantage of this moment to educate decision makers about” a list of issues highlighted in the letter as important to the FRC’s constituency. Those issues, which sound remarkably like a list compiled by Patriot groups, are:

  • Abolishing the IRS.
  • Repealing ObamaCare and its anti-faith mandates.
  • Bringing corrupt officials to justice.
  • Repealing persecution of religion in the military.
  • Stopping the homosexual agenda from destroying religious liberty in schools and the workplace.
  • Exposing “big government socialism” for what it is: an effort to shove biblical values out of social influence and shut down the gospel.”

Clicking on the banner at the top of the E-mail takes you to a donation page with the headline “Stop Tyranny Today,” in case the theme was somehow unclear. Perkins ends the solicitation with the words “Standing (Ephesians 6:13),” which may be cryptic to some. The full verse in the New International Version of the Bible is, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The FRC is listed by the SPLC as a hate group because of its dissemination of baseless anti-gay propaganda and its incessant demonization of LGBT people as sick, evil, perverted, incestuous and a danger to the nation. Contrary to what the FRC has repeatedly claimed, SPLC does not list the FRC as a hate group because of its opposition to gay marriage or because of its religious beliefs.

Chip Berlet

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Barack Obama Family Research Council Patriot Movement Southern Poverty Law Center