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The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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The following was sent by Katherine Yurica of the Yurica Report:

The Largest Network in the World.

The religious right launched its political power base from a vast communications network--a network that had originally been set up to proclaim the message of Jesus. But since the 1980 elections, more and more of the electronic preachers abandoned their original message for the message and cause of radical conservative politics. Radio and television evangelists were encouraged to enter the political arena by cult leaders who claimed that the religious right wing had no platform of influence in America from which their "side of the story" could be heard. Franky Schaeffer, the son of the late evangelical theologian, Francis Schaeffer, started a holy crusade to take over the American media with his fiery suggestions that religious conservatives "buy a network," purchase a wire service and take "controlling stock interest in a newspaper."

Conservative activist, Phyllis Schlafly urged the National Association of Religious Broadcasters to devote a portion of their air time to reporting events from a conservative point of view. "Give your listeners," she said, "the daily news through the eyes of those who believe in God." (The implied message being that only evangelical broadcasters believe in God).

Meanwhile, some social and cultural observers began to warn the public. Jeremy Rifkin wrote, "the evangelical community is amassing a base of potential power that dwarfs every other competing interest in American society today."[1] In 1981, Jeffrey K. Hadden and Charles E. Swann published their alarming findings in their book Prime Time Preachers: The Rising Power of Televangelism (Menlo Park, California, Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.).

The religious broadcasters had indeed amassed a communications empire. Not even the three major networks own as many television stations as "those who believe in God." In 1985, the networks owned 15, the religious broadcasters owned 36 and the number was rising. The three major religious networks were Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Jim Bakker's PTL Broadcasting Network, and Paul Crouch's Trinity Broadcasting Network. Robertson boasted that the 700 Club s how was broadcast in 13,000 communities in all 50 states plus 45 foreign countries. In the mid 1980's he reached almost 25 million people through CBN which was in the process of being wired to reach almost 50 million more Americans. In addition, the religious broadcasters syndicated television programs and bought television and radio time on commercial stations. Religious broadcasters owned 1,400 radio stations and according to Jeffrey Hadden, "There is virtually no home in the United States into which the electronic church cannot send its songs, sermons, and appeals in generous measures. Merely to contemplate its potential power is staggering."[2]

The big-time preachers made no secret about their ambitious plans for the continued expansion of their communication networks. Paul Crouch, an ardent political conservative and owner of 13 TV stations in the mid 1980's, told his audience how far he wished to carry his power. He said he wanted to control "the world's programming during the millennium." (The millennium is a prophesied thousand-year period of peace in which many fundamentalists believe they will rule and reign with Jesus over the entire world.) It appears that Crouch is making a good start at it. By 1999, TBN feeds 406 TBN and affiliate TV stations in America, 4,886 cable systems and an estimated 10 million home satellite dishes. In addition they have a total of 346 foreign stations on the air worldwide and have 2.5 million watts of radio power around the world. Today, as I write this, Crouch is only one satellite away from total live global coverage!

By the mid 1980's, Paul Crouch and Pat Robertson were exporting their shows to every major continent in the world. One could travel in Africa or South America and hear the strains of secular fundamentalism's Social Darwinism preached between songs and testimonies of Jesus.

The process of transcribing and writing down words has a way of illuminating ideas clearly; divorced from the emotional impact of the words delivered in an oily smooth and often boyish manner, the words take on a different and stark coloring. The contradictions and inconsistencies become glaringly obvious for what they are--hallmarks of propaganda and misrepresentations. more

[1]Rifkin was quoted by Jeffrey K. Hadden and Charles E. Swann in Prime Time Preachers: The Rising Power of Televangelism (Menlo Park, California: Wesley Publishing Co., pp. 7-8

[2]Hadden, Prime Time Preachers, p. 8.

Trinity Broadcasting Network to Broadcast Justice Sunday II, August 12, 2005

The Universe of Christian Right Media

From The Nation, September 22, 2003:

"The Apocalypse is at the heart of a growing evangelical popular culture industry, which is aimed at the approximately one-third of Americans who claim to be evangelicals or "born again." This industry includes a rapidly expanding book market, which has major publishing houses, notably Warner Books and Bertelsmann, rushing to sign up evangelical authors for their new "Christian" imprints. Contemporary Christian music is the fastest-growing segment of the music industry. And conservative Christian films, videos, radio, national conferences and community events have evolved into mass-marketed sites for talking about evangelical concerns, from family life to weight loss to global missionary work. Instead of condemning popular culture, as they did in the past, many evangelicals are now feverishly adopting its forms to create a parallel world of entertainment, a consumer's paradise of their own." more

From Columbia Journalism Review, May/June, 2005: Stations Of The Cross: How evangelical Christians are creating an alternative universe of faith-based news


One can drive anywhere in the country and listen to Christian broadcasting on the radio. "Focus on the Family," a popular radio show hosted by James Dobson, reaches a reported four million people daily. Tens of millions more tune in occasionally. This show is carried by 4,000 radio and TV stations in 40 countries. "Focus on the Family," refers to the powerful lobbying organization, Family Research Council as its sister organization, which is why FRC is so influential.

American Family Radio (AFA) owns 194 stations. Its "AFA Report", a thirty minute news feature is available on about 1,200 stations nationwide. AFA has used a Federal Law to take over airwaves of National Public Radio in Louisiana, Oregon and Indiana leaving NPR fans without Public Broadcasting. The chairman of AFA, the Reverend Don Wildmon, admits that he detests NPR. AFA programs attack "indecent" influences in American culture including the separation of church and state, and "the homosexual agenda." Recently many public radio stations have complained that religious stations are stepping on the airwaves at the edge of their transmission areas. Some NPR stations are fighting back by building their own radio.

A New Puritan Era for Broadcasters

From Salon, April 14, 2004:

After years of a carefree enforcement attitude toward indecency, the FCC, pressured by the Republican Congress, is ushering in a new puritan era for broadcasters.

"They're executing him," says Michael Harrison, publisher of the radio industry's Talkers magazine. "The government has unleashed a round of volleys that will drive him off the air."

From Radio Talk Show Host Howard Stern:

"My days here are numbered because I dared to speak out against the Bush administration and say that the religious agenda of George W. Bush concerning stem cell research and gay marriage is wrong," Stern said. "And that what he is doing with the FCC is pushing this religious agenda."

CSN, Christian LPFM Empire threatens to Self Destruct. But don't hold your breath., Talk To Action, March 7, 2006

Out of Thin Air, Columbia Journalism Review, March/April, 2006

TX Religious Broadcaster, Local CA Group Fight For PBS Station License, Talk To Action, October 2, 2006


Billionaire Richard Mellon-Scaife bankrolled a $2.4 million media campaign to smear Bill and Hilary Clinton. He's now set his sights on Teresa Heinz-Kerry. From AlterNet, July 29, 2004:

As the editorial page editor for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review , a newspaper owned by eccentric rightist billionaire Richard Mellon-Scaife, McNickle came to Boston as an agent provocateur. "What happens when a conservative commentator infiltrates the Democratic National Convention?" the Tribune-Review asked in pre-convention promotion of McNickle's coverage. McNickle answered that question on Sunday, July 25 by provoking a spat with Teresa Heinz-Kerry.

"The dust-up between Teresa Heinz-Kerry and Colin McNickle has a long history behind it that goes back a good 15 years before McNickle even worked there," said Dennis Roddy, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , who has covered Pennsylvania politics for over 30 years. "Scaife has had it in for [Heinz Kerry] because she's not sufficiently conservative, she's a moderate voice. She has always felt badly treated by the Tribune-Review and it doesn't surprise me that her grievances finally came out."

Six "journalists" who have been paid propaganidists for the Bush administration: New York Times, February 20, 2005:

By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist" (four of whom have been unmasked so far this year) to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Mr. Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports ("In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting," went the script) pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.

Conservatives and Rivals Press a Struggling PBS, New York Times, February 17, 2005

A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets, New York Times, February 21, 2005 (The man who founded the group discussed in this article, USANext, is Richard Viguerie, one of the founders of the Moral Majority.)

A New Screen Test for Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano, New York Times, March 19, 2005

Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases, New York Times, May 2, 2005


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Last updated: October-2006