Freedom Writer - August 1994
Glen Eyrie:The organized assault on gay rights
By Skipp Porteous
In 1990, _The_Freedom_Writer_ announced the "rebirth" of the religious
right. At that time, many observers thought the movement had run out
of steam. Insiders knew better. "By the end of the decade," declared
evangelist Paul Cain, "the whole earth will view the church in a different
light. The church will no longer be mocked and despised, but either
loved or feared."
Our readers were among the first to learn of the religious right's
new two-fold plan of attack. In a simple but effective move, the religious
right changed its focus from national politics to local politics.
Additionally, the hard right abandoned its haphazard approach to politics
and instituted long-term planning to achieve its ultimate objectives.
Now, the mainstream media is working hard to bring its reporting up
to speed. Recently, _The_New_York_Times_ reported on the religious
right's efforts to take over the Republican Party. In the November/December
1991 issue of _The_Freedom_Writer_, Frederick Clarkson wrote that
the Christian Coalition "intends to take over the Republican Party
from the inside, and elect thousands of right-wing Christians to state
and local office -- as well as the Congress -- through a massive and
disciplined bloc of voters." He continued, "At their recent 'Road
to Victory' national leadership conference in Virginia Beach, almost
every session was devoted to instruction in the mechanics of how to
At that 1991 "Road to Victory" conference, Gary Bauer, of the Family
Research Council (an arm of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family
ministry) set the tone for the conference: "Obviously, this conference
is about the 1992 elections," he said. The reason this and all elections
are important, Bauer observed, is because "We are engaged in a social,
political, cultural civil war."
While effective, the strategy of focusing on local elections and planning
for the long-haul is not enough. A movement requires another ingredient.
For years, in the shadow of communism, the hard right had a villain.
And they milked it for all it was worth. The religious right took
it a step further and ferociously attacked "secular humanism," a philosophy
the Rev. Tim LaHaye called "the world's most dangerous religion."
With the fall of communism, however, the hard right lost a valuable
element of its crusade. The movement was desperately in need of a
new devil. For a while, the hard right rode on the wave of anti-abortion
sentiment. Abortion is a losing political issue, though, and the religious
right has, to a large degree, let the ultra-radicals in the movement
deal with it. (One should not think that the fight to preserve choice
is over. In some ways, that war is intensifying, simply because of
the radical element carrying on the fight against abortion rights.)
The radical right thinks it has found the missing ingredient, the
important social issue to galvanize the movement. It is "the militant
homosexuals," or "the gay agenda."
For almost three years now, the majority of fund raising material
coming from the religious right has focused on gay rights. These vicious
and hysterical fund raising letters are proven moneymakers. Most
of the top religious right groups have picked up on this theme.
Groups such as the Oregon Citizens Alliance and Colorado for Family
Values (CFV), started fighting gay rights in their states at the grass
roots. They introduced the term "special rights," to imply that gays
and lesbians wanted more than equal rights. Only recently have larger
national groups become involved in strategy and planning.
CFV succeeded in passing Colorado's Amendment 2, which denied equal
protection for gays and lesbians. Amendment 2, the only statewide
anti-gay rights measure to be approved by voters, was struck down
by Colorado courts as unconsitutional.
Encouraged by its limited success, CFV held a small conference last
year to discuss future strategy. As a result, CVF produced _The_Colorado_
Model_, a workbook designed to help anti-gay activists in other states
ban gay rights. The $95 workbook came with nine audio tapes featuring
the conference speakers. A newer version comes with two video tapes.
Conference speakers appear on one. The other video, "The Gay Agenda,"
is a scurrilous film about gays and lesbians. With hundreds of thousands
of copies in circulation, "The Gay Agenda" greatly influenced Colorado's
vote against gay rights.
Because leaders of religious right groups around the country responded
so favorably to CFV's material and leadership in fighting gay rights,
the Colorado group scheduled another conference.
According to a May 19, 1994 article in _The_Washington_Times_, "Leaders
of anti-homosexual-rights groups across the nation wrapped up two
days of top-secret meetings" in Colorado Springs. Representatives
of about 35 state and national religious right organizations attended
the meeting, according to the article. The purpose of the meeting
concerned policy and strategy in dealing with the gay rights movement
in the United States.
_The_Washington_Times_reporter_, Valerie Richardson, noted that she
was banned from the meeting because the sponsoring group, Colorado
for Family Values, attempted to suppress media coverage. Nevertheless,
Richardson's article got our attention and contained enough data for
_The_Freedom_Writer_ to launch an investigation of the clandestine
The conference, _The_Washington_Times_ article said, took place at
the "gated" Glen Eyrie Conference Center. Glen Eyrie is operated by
the Navigators, an evangelical group based in Colorado Springs.
_The_Freedom_Writer_ commissioned a researcher and a photographer
in Colorado Springs to go out to the conference center and look around.
After clearance from the security people at the main gate, the two
enjoyed limited access to the grounds.
The centerpiece of Glen Eyrie is a massive stone castle. Various dwelling
places, or dormitories, dot the surrounding mountainous landscape.
The CFV conference, attended by about 40 people, was held on a second
floor meeting room in the castle.
Some members of conservative Christian groups in Colorado Springs
provided helpful information, and, bit-by-bit, we pieced together
the names of most of the people from about twenty states who attended
the conference. In talking with some of them, we confirmed names,
and gathered more information.
Some individuals interviewed by _The_Freedom_Writer_ for this article
were extremely closed-mouthed, while others even denied attending.
One, in particular, was deceitful. Representative Darlene Cornfield
of Kansas told _The_Freedom_Writer_, "I was not there. I don't know
where that came from! I don't know why anyone would say I was there
when I wasn't."
Judy Thomas, a reporter for _The_Wichita_Eagle_, told _The_Freedom_
Writer_ that Jim McDavitt of the Kansas Education Watch Network told
her that he attended the conference with Darlene Cornfield. The significance
of a state representative at this meeting was not lost; that's why
we called Cornfield.
Cornfield, a conservative Christian, is up for reelection in November.
Outspoken about her beliefs, Cornfield told _The_Freedom_Writer_,
"I believe the Lord wanted me in the Legislature." She told us that
she is anti-choice, and opposed to gay rights. "I just believe the
Bible from cover to cover," she said.
Asked if there is any reason she wouldn't want someone to know she
attended a conference of this type, Cornfield responded, "Of course
not, everything I do is wide open."
Next, we called the Kansas Education Watch Network and talked to "Mary,"
McDavitt's secretary. She said McDavitt was away, and she denied knowing
anything about any conference in Colorado Springs. We learned later
that McDavitt was away speaking at a religious right conference in
Apparently, McDavitt told Judy Thomas of _The_Wichita_Eagle_ that
the conference dealt with a number of different issues -- not just
gay rights. However, this was not the case. It focused solely on devising
a strategy to deprive gays and lesbians of equal rights.
The whole story came out when someone in Colorado Springs obtained
conference tapes from the Navigators. Recordings of the ten conference
speakers are contained on seven tapes. One speaker, Robert Skolrood,
president of the National Legal Foundation, even referred to the wonderful
work in Kansas of Darlene Cornfield, "who is sitting in the audience."
One conference attendee, Patricia Houston, of Warriors Not Wimps For
Jesus, based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, offered high praise for Jim
McDavitt of Kansas. "He was on fire for the Lord!" she told _The_Freedom_
Writer_. "He had information much further along than anyone else.
I learned a lot from him."
Houston expressed surprise that not everyone at the conference was
a born-again Christian. She mentioned that one of the speakers, Judith
Reisman, is Jewish. Houston said that McDavitt "witnessed strongly"
to Reisman, trying to convert her.
"It was nice to see a legislator there," Houston continued, referring
to Darlene Cornfield. According to Houston, McDavitt and Cornfield
Houston said she attended the conference with Margaret Kramer, a spokesperson
for a New Mexico group called Mothers Against Bad Government. According
to Houston, the religious right of New Mexico is concerned about legislators
who support gay rights.
"We have two people," Houston said, "two of our most powerful legislators,
who openly endorse the homosexual movement." "One of them," she added,
"has a son who is homosexual." "The legislator with the gay son,"
she claimed, "is Manny Aragon, and the other legislator is Raymond
Since 1973, another legislator, Tom Rutherford, has been, according
to Houston, "introducing pro-homosexual legislation." "Though he's
never come out and announced it," Houston said, "I've since found
out he is homosexual."
Houston said that she was impressed by the number of men at the conference,
including Jim Woodall, a vice president for management of Concerned
Women for America. "You know, men are the leaders of the country,"
According to Will Perkins, the purpose of the conference was "to come
out of here with a plan...how we can impact this nation -- our groups,
our collective voices out there. If we have a good, strong, coordinated
approach... they don't know who to shoot at if we have all of us out
"We need to hold pastors and churches and denominations accountable,"
Perkins continued, "who are condoning homosexual behavior. And [we
need to] make the public realize that they are also condoning adultery,
fornication, bestiality, and polygamy."
"I feel," Perkins said, "that there is not a more important meeting
being held in these United States as is being held here these next
two days. If we lose this battle, there are no more moral absolutes
left for this nation."
Robert Linden, the conference moderator picked up Perkins' theme.
"The absolute values that were established by God," he proclaimed,
"are still absolute."
John Eldridge, the first speaker, brought "greetings and warm regards
from Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family." "Dr. Dobson," Eldridge told
the group, "and those of us at Focus on the Family in the public policy
fight, see this issue as one of the key issues of our time. So much
hinges on what happens with the full agenda of the militant gay movement."
Eldridge outlined an agenda for the religious right to follow in its
assault on gay rights. The agenda must:
Change public perception about gay rights
Use ideas and language that appeal to the public
Create the impression that the anti-gay movement is a grass-roots
Use lay people to keep the anti-gay movement going
Develop a long-term project to convince evangelical pastors to support
the anti-gay movement.
We need to "tell America WHY heterosexuality is best for individuals
and society." "That case," he said, "needs to be made strongly, and
supported by what Americans consider 'gospel truth,' -- that is empirical
science. That is the high priest of our culture."
"Shrewdly," Eldrige continued, "we need to show why society needs
to make certain demands on people sexually." He said that public perception
has to be changed. "We must never appear to be attempting to rob anyone
of their rights -- their constitutional rights. We must never appear
to be mean-spirited or bigoted. We must be shrewd to get consensus
for our position by appealing to shared values and concern, and issues
of fairness and justice."
Eldridge stressed that the anti-gay movement must be "perceived as
a genuine grass roots uprising." He said that "home rule" is important,
because a top-down approach doesn't work. If a community perceives
that an outside, national group is behind local activism, the community
will rebel against it. So, the perception of grass-roots organizing,
or home rule, is critical. He explained that this is why Focus on
the Family is staying in the background. His national group, he noted,
is like an 800-pound giant compared to Colorado for Family Values,
which has a half dozen people in a one-room office. (During the conference,
Frank York of Focus on the Family admitted that Focus on the Family
now has a $150 million dollar-a-year budget.)
"I would not say this in other cultural contexts," Eldridge explained,
"but the gay agenda has all the elements of that which is truly evil.
It is deceptive at every turn. It is destroying the souls and lives
of those who embrace it."
John Eldridge said several things troubled him greatly. "As an evangelical,
there is no question that the church, being a house divided -- having
the Mel Whites, the Peggy Campolos, and that sort of thing -- is extraordinary
damaging to our movement." (Mel White is the gay ghost writer who
formerly worked with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, and
Oliver North. He tells his extraordinary story in his fascinating
book, _Stranger_at_the_Gate_. Peggy Campolo is the wife of the popular
evangelical motivational speaker Tony Campolo. The Campolos have expressed
sympathy for gay rights.)
More than one speaker, including Eldridge, said that the anti-gay
rights movement is being led by lay people, not the clergy. "Pastors
are terrified that this issue will split their churches," Eldridge
remarked. "The local church is a mess. The pastors are a long-term
Robert Skolrood, president of the National Legal Foundation also expressed
ill feelings towards evangelical ministers. "Our pastors don't know
anything," Skolrood declared. "And most of them are wimps."
Skolrood, an attorney who formerly worked for Pat Robertson, sometimes
speaks more like a faith healer than a lawyer. He described the war
against gay rights as "a spiritual battle" and spoke of the need to
keep "demons from polluting the word of God."
Pastors aren't the only ones avoiding the controversial gay rights
issue, Skolrood said, but "Christian legal organizations don't want
to touch the issue." He said his group is available to help other
groups initiate state referendums against gay rights.
Frank York, another Focus on the Family spokesperson, also addressed
the gathering. He focused on computer and fax technology, which he
explained "is an essential part of the battle we're in."
York encourage the group to use computers and facsimile machines to
broadcast communications to: phone trees, congressmen and other politicians,
conservative college newspapers, and churches.
Besides using computers to communicate within the religious right,
York suggested that computers be used to gather intelligence on the
enemy. "You have to know your enemy," he said. "Gays and lesbians
are a large part of the Internet."
Monitoring on-line computer services, York said, "is an intelligence-gathering
operation. They're not aware that you're gathering this information.
It's very important to gather intelligence this way." He claimed that
by monitoring online computer services he learned in advance of a
lesbian sit-in at Focus on the Family.
One speaker, Judith Reisman, a self-professed sex expert, perpetrated
the myth that gays try to recruit heterosexuals, bringing them into
"the homosexual lifestyle."
"I would suggest to you," she said, "that while the homosexual population
may right now be one to two percent, hold your breath, people, because
the recruitment is loud; it is clear; it is everywhere. You'll be
seeing, I would say, twenty percent or more, probably thirty percent,
or even more than that, of the young population will be moving into
Buzz Harris, who works with Sue Hyde in the New England office of
the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's "Fight the Right Project,"
said, "They want to stoke the flames of internalized homophobia in
a attempt to 'convert' us to heterosexuality." "It is irrelevant,"
he continued, "to their closed-minded world view that the American
Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and
the U.N.'s World Health Organization have all stated clearly for many
years that bisexuality and homosexuality are a normal and healthy
part of human love and sexual expression."
In concluding her talk, Reisman said, "You will not ever be able to
do anything about homosexuality until you address pornography in the
church, pornography in your own lives; it is interlocked and related."
After all the speakers made their presentations, the group held a
series of brainstorming sessions. The final session led to the top
two "Primary Strategies."
Comprised of two main parts, the first "Primary Strategy" involves
"Information & Data Exchange" and "Media." Under "Information & Data
Exchange," the group aims to establish a computer network using a
bulletin board service (BBS) or a commercial on-line service such
as America Online (AOL). Focus on the Family, incidentally, is considering
AOL as a way to distribute some of its publications.
The second part of "Information & Data Exchange" is the development
of a central clearinghouse, with different organizations handling
the following responsibilities:
A gay office holders and activists data bank
Information resources about ministries to convert gays
Record anti-gay successes
Record anti-gay defeats
Track scientific literature
Monitor corporations/who they fund/where they spend their advertising
Religious tracking/where evangelical churches and pastors stand on
Monitor people in the media/their stand on gay rights
Monitor national and state political candidates and gay office holders
Monitor crimes committed by gays
News clipping service
The second part of the first "Primary Strategy" deals with the media.
The group hopes to "get all conservative organizations united to promote
a mass-media/legislative blitz on Dr. Kinsey's child abuse data, calling
for investigation and cessation of all tax money funding sexuality
programs, until Kinsey's scientific fraud is proven."
The second aspect of dealing with the media involves writing letters
and placing phone calls. The group plans to blitz newspapers with
letters, and radio talk shows with phone calls. One aspect of this
is to "I.D. favorable educators and get them involved with letters
to the editor and interviews." They also plan to buy radio ads in
order to "access radio programs to reveal truth of homosexual lifestyle
vs. heterosexual marriage." Finally, the media blitz involves the
development of "a base of letter writers and callers who can respond
on a regular basis to editorials and news stories."
The second of the two "Primary Strategies" deals with "Legislative/Legal"
concepts. First, the anti-gay proponents want to "enact legislation
rewarding traditional families with tax rewards." Another long-term
goal is to "pass resolutions in legislatures in the 50 states to affirm
that the traditional mom and dad family is the superior or ideal model."
Their political agenda includes:
Voter education in the area of school board candidates and candidates
for state legislators
Particular attention should be paid to one other area of the anti-gay
right agenda. It is the implementation of "Project Spotlight." This
is a highly organized and detailed model currently underway in Ohio.
The goal is to take over all the legislative bodies in the state,
including city councils and the state legislature. A crucial part
of the plan is to identify exactly where every elected official and
candidate stands on gay rights. The next step is to get 25% of the
voters to sign a pledge not to vote for any candidate who supports
gay rights. In this way, Project Spotlight is designed to defeat any
candidate who supports gay rights. After the designated law-making
bodies are taken over, the next step is to introduce new laws that
ban gay rights.
The religious right is convinced that pornography and homosexuality
are inextricably linked. The assumption is also made that organized
crime controls most of the production of pornography. Therefore, the
religious right concludes that gay rights lobbying is funded by organized
crime. With this in mind, the religious right intends to "Educate
the grassroots that homosexual, pornography and organized crime lobbying
is [sic] one and the same."
Finally, the anti-gay rights movement is developing a litigation strategy.
To do this, it plans to share research, resources, and coordinate
involvement at the trial level. It intends to offer "legal support
for workers being sued by homosexuals." This presumably deals with
harassment in the workplace.
In its effort to deny gays and lesbians equal rights with other citizens,
the religious right wants to take its agenda all the way to the Supreme
Court. Currently, the movement is seeking the best case to take to
the High Court. Utilizing "political experts, constitutional lawyers,
and public relations experts," it has proposed the formation of an
"advisory board to formulate the best case to take to the U.S. Supreme
_The_Freedom_Writer_ finds it significant that Dr. James Dobson and
his Focus on the Family believe that gay rights is one of the most
important issues of our times. Focus on the Family is arguably the
most influential of all the religious right groups, leading in resources,
outreach, and organization. The involvement of Focus on the Family
in the anti-gay rights movement has profound implications.
Hopefully, Americans concerned about true rights for all people, regardless
of religion, race, national origin, sex, or sexual orientation, will
see the anti-gay rights movement as another ploy by the radical religious
right to take political power.
Sidebar: [ref002]Who was there?
Sidebar: [ref003]Conference speakers bare hidden agenda
[ref004][ref005] Return to table of contents
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