A new campaign to attack socially moderate Republicans indicates the political extremity of organizations associated with The Gathering and funded by its biggest charity, the National Christian Foundation.
Conservative evangelical groups heavily funded by the elite community of hard-right Christian leaders and foundations associated with The Gathering – a yearly meeting of evangelical financiers where New York Times op-ed columnist and All Things Considered commentator David Brooks, as well as Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, will be speaking this year – are launching an ‘unprecedented’ campaign to sabotage the election of socially moderate pro-marriage equality, pro-reproductive rights Republicans.
Both board membership and also funding link the new initiative to The Gathering, held this year in 2014 from September 25th to the 28th at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Orlando, Florida. Over the years, representatives from billionaire families DeVos, Coors, Prince, Green (of Hobby Lobby fame), Friess, Maclellan, and Ahmanson have attended the elite invite-only event, whose attendees are restricted to speakers and heads of foundations that dole out over $200,000 per year in grants.
The biggest foundation at The Gathering, the National Christian Foundation, funds the three groups behind the initiative and may well be the biggest and most prolific anti-LGBT funder in America according to an extensive Twocare.org survey of NCF anti-gay funding.
As Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner reports,
“Conservative activists are launching ‘an unprecedented campaign’ against three Republican candidates — two of whom are out gay men — because of their support for marriage equality and abortion.
The National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council Action, and CitizenLink ‘will mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots’ for Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio in California and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby in Oregon, according to a letter sent to Republican congressional and campaign leaders on Thursday.”
The letter announcing the new initiative against socially moderate Republicans indicates the willingness of the groups leading the effort to attack the socially moderate wing of the GOP even if that effort leads to Democratic Party control of contested House and Senate seats, observes Justin Snow of Metro Weekly, who writes,
“What’s most remarkable about the letter, which was signed by Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Tom Minnery of CitizenLink, is that the three conservative leaders appear to rather see the two House seats and one Senate seat remain in Democratic control than to have voters send a Republican to Capitol Hill who supports LGBT-rights and abortion.”
All three organizations have played significant roles in the World Congress of Families, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBT hate group credited with having helped provoke anti-gay hatred and anti-gay legislation in Russia.
A special Twocare.org/Center Against Religious Extremism report reveals that from 1997 to 2012 roughly half of the Americans listed as having been speakers at major WCF congresses have been associated with organizations that have received National Christian Foundation funding.
While the National Organization For Marriage has received over $300,000 (in 2008-2012) from the biggest foundation at The Gathering, the National Christian Foundation (NCF), the other two of the three groups fronting the new campaign – the Family Research Council (FRC) and Citizenlink (the political action wing of Focus on The Family) – have especially close financial and leadership ties to The Gathering and the NCF.
In 2012 the FRC got over $1.4 million from the NCF, and Focus on the Family received over $5 million from the hard right behemoth the National Christian Foundation – which in 2013 was ranked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as America’s 12th biggest charity.
According to the 2013 tax filing of The Gathering, Inc. which hosts the yearly The Gathering event, Atlanta, Georgia lawyer Terry Parker sits on the board. of The Gathering, Inc. Parker is also co-founder of the National Christian Foundation, one of the biggest funders of the Family Research Council – whose board Parker has also served on and which is co-leading the new initiative.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins personally addressed The Gathering in 2006, in a speech in which Perkins described homosexuality as the second biggest threat to America, surpassed only by Islamic terrorism. During his speech to The Gathering Perkins stated,
“I would say there are two great threats to our nation today,and I don’t think liberals understand either one of them. I think we’re at great threat, externally, from radical Islamists who want to destroy us and our way of life… there’s about forty million of these radical Muslims who simply want to kill us.
The second greatest threat I think this nation faces is internally, and it’s from the radical homosexuals that want to destroy the underpinnings of our nation. And this is not an idle, this is not on idle threat. They are absolutely determined to redefine marriage and with it everything else.
…[Islamic terrorists are] for real and they want to destroy us — But the homosexual, the radical homosexual, wants to destroy our way of life too. They want to bring the rest of the nation down to their point of, really, moral degradation.”
The other group leading the campaign against pro same-sex marriage, pro reproductive rights Republicans is Citizenlink, the 501(c)(4) political action arm of Focus on The Family. The 2012 990 tax form that Citizenlink filed with the IRS (the most recent the group has filed) lists as a board member Anthony Wauterlek – who is also a board member emeritus of the National Christian Foundation, the preeminent foundation represented at The Gathering.
Focus on The Family President Jim Daly, who also serves as the paid CEO of Citizenlink (and received $238,227 compensation for that position in FY 2011-2012), addressed The Gathering 2011, held that year on Amelia Island of the coast of Florida. Joining Daly at that The Gathering event were Ross Douthat, columnist for the New York Times and David Gerson of the Washington Post – where the two participated in a panel discussion moderated by Ethics and Public Policy Center Vice President Michael Cromartie, who is a signatory to declaration from the the industry-funded climate change denial group The Cornwall Alliance.
The occasion for Perkins’ 2006 speech to The Gathering was a 3 and 1/2 hour briefing to The Gathering by the Alliance Defense Fund (Alliance Defending Freedom), which was described as the Family Research Council’s “sister organization in the policy side”.
ADF has been described as the “most active antigay legal group” by HRC VP Fred Sainz. Its board membership interlocks with multiple religious right activist organizations including Focus On The Family, whose senior vice president of Government and Public Policy Tom Minnery sits on the Alliance Defending Freedom board of directors.
In 2013, Alliance Defending Freedom president Alan Sears was advertised as giving a special briefing at The Gathering 2013. In 2012 the ADF got over 25% of its budget (over $10 million) from the National Christian Foundation, the biggest foundation at The Gathering.
Also in 2013, The Gathering was attended by three generations of the Green Family, head plaintiffs of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court case that gave unprecedented new religious freedom rights to private corporations such as Hobby Lobby (see this Twocare.org special report.)