Freedom Writer - November 1995
BEST OF THE FREEDOM WRITER
What's in a name?
By Skipp Porteous
_The_CDL_Reporter_, November 1988
In November 16, 1989, more than 60 federal agents and
plainclothes police officers conducted a pre-dawn raid
on the squeaky-clean Crescent Hotel. The agents seized
the resort and secured the office of the president
of the hotel, long-time Christian activist Charles
H. Keating Jr.
The feds' takeover of the porn-free Crescent Hotel
was just another chapter in a scandal that will cost
U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. Keating has been
the focus of criminal investigations by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service,
the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange
Commission, and the House Banking Committee. The federal
government has also filed a $1.1 billion suit against
Keating and his associates. The suit arises from accusations
of fraud and illegal loan activity by the Lincoln Savings
and Loan Association, another Keating company.
Additionally, it was revealed that five U.S. Senators
who tried to stall regulatory actions against Keating
had received $1.3 million in campaign contributions
from him. Keating has openly admitted that he sought
to buy Congressional influence.
In 1957, Charles H. Keating Jr. founded the non-profit
Citizens for Decency Through Law (CDL), a pro-censorship
organization. He has remained active with CDL for the
past 32 years.
Earlier this year, we observed a subtle change in _The_
CDL_Reporter_, the group's newsletter. Until that time,
the words "Founded in 1957 by Charles H. Keating, Jr."
appeared on the back of every issue. Suddenly, Keating's
name was omitted. It wasn't that Keating withdrew his
abundant financial support or his active involvement,
but perhaps the group anticipated what lay ahead.
Then, in April, the government seized Keating's insolvent
Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. Keating is also
chairman of the American Continental Corporation, Lincoln's
parent company. The government contends that American
Continental took $95 million from Lincoln's depositors
with bogus land investments. Some 23,000 uninsured
customers lost their savings.
In July, CDL changed its name and became Children's
Legal Foundation (CLF). In its July/August newsletter,
executive director Alan Sears attempted to explain
the change. In doublespeak, he said the old name was
"cumbersome and does not have the distinct message
it originally carried." He added that its staff has
"encountered increasing confusion about our name and
mission." More likely, in light of the founder's deceitful
activities, the old name had become an embarrassment.
Keating is to the savings and loan industry what Jim
Bakker was to television evangelism. Both men, notable
Christian crusaders, represent wealth attained through
deceit and fraud. Perhaps the Children's Legal Foundation
will redeem its founder. It could come to the aid of
the families who lost their Christmas club savings,
and the families which put money aside for their children's
Citizens for Decency Through Law, though, was not the
first radical right organization to change its name
out of embarrassment.
The Moral Majority was chided about its name probably
more than any organization in history. A popular bumpersticker
proclaimed, "the Moral Majority is neither."
Then came a parade of disgraced TV evangelists — our
keepers of morality. The scandals got so bad that the
Rev. Falwell had to change his group's name to the
Liberty Federation. At the time, _The_Freedom_Writer_
commented, "The Liberty Federation will do no more
for liberty than the Moral Majority did for morality."
Since the January 1986 name change, the Liberty Federation
has also become history.
Even before the advent of the Moral Majority, another
moralist, the Rev. Donald Wildmon, founded the National
Federation for Decency. His purpose was to "promote
the Biblical ethic of decency in American society."
This "decent" fellow has recently been blasted over
his use of anti-Semitic innuendo. Last year, the Rev.
Wildmon announced that his group would henceforth be
known as the American Family Association.
Radical religious zealots continue to be their own
worst enemy. Decency and morality are more than a name.
Unable to keep the standards implicit in their names,
group after group has been forced to adopt "safe"
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