The Christian right's compassion deficit
It took President Bush three days to ready himself to go before the
television cameras and make a public statement about Sunday's
devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck southern Asia. Even
though he was late, and much more money will be needed, the president
pledged at least $35 million in aid to the victims of the disaster.
But, as of December 30, some of the president's major family-values
constituents have yet to be heard from: It's business as usual at the
web sites of the American Family Association, the Family Research
Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned
Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries.
These powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist
organizations appear to be suffering from a compassion deficit.
Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against
same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose, and embryonic stem cell
research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the
disaster in southern Asia. None of their web sites are actively
soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami.
In fact, there is no mention of the giant earthquake and tsunami that
devastated southern Asia. There are no headlines about the dead,
injured or the tremendous damage; there are no urgent appeals for
donations; there are no phone numbers to call; there are no links to
organizations collecting money and providing aid for the victims.
Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Thailand were among the countries
hardest hit by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which sent huge waves
that smashed boats, uprooted trees and destroyed structures from
Malaysia to Africa, the Associated Press (AP) reported. As of
Thursday, the death toll had soared to more than 114,000, millions
were homeless from the disaster, and many more were still unaccounted
The web sites of the same organizations that organized a campaign to
block Arlen Specter from ascending to the chairmanship of Senate
Judiciary Committee within hours of his post-election night warning
to President Bush about radically conservative judicial nominees are
At the Reverend Donald Wildmon's Mississippi-based American Family
Association (AFA) web site, the preferred cause -- and top story --
concerns the upcoming battle over the president's judicial
appointees. The AFA hasn't forgotten about gays and lesbians: Under
the headline "P&G Chairman Gives Thousands to Promote Homosexual
Agenda" the AFA claims that "A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble,
recently gave $5,163 in P&G stock to help the homosexual community
repeal a law in Cincinnati that prohibited giving special rights to
The web site also salutes the Rev. Wildmon for being named one of "10
Who Made a Mark on Marketing" in 2004, featured in the December 20
issue of Advertising Age.
"Like him or hate him, this family-values crusader is having a big
impact on marketing," the magazine states. "Although his American
Family Association has been around for more than 20 years, the
influence of Wildmon's group, which targets advertisers in TV shows
it finds offensive via its 200,000-strong One Million Moms and One
Million Dads e-mail network, is growing. Most recently, AFA convinced
Lowe's and Tyson to pull their advertising from ABC's hottest new
property, 'Desperate Housewives.'"
As of Wednesday evening I hadn't received any e-mail alerts regarding
the earthquake from either the One Million Moms or the One Million
Dads. The "current issue" at One Million Moms and Dads is a campaign
to get the Burlington Coat Factory to cease advertising on "Life as
We Know It" and "Desperate Housewives," television programs the AFA
Over at the Family Research Council's web site, the powerful
Washington, DC,-based family-values lobbying group is outraged that
Christians are getting cheated out of Christmas, with two
stories, "Is the Grinch Stealing Christmas?" and "Merry BAH HUMBUG-
mas!" focusing on this. There are no alerts about the
At the Christian Coalition's (CC) web site, the organization's
president, Roberta Combs, is busy thanking CC supporters for
their "time and effort in getting millions of Christian Coalition
voter guides (English & Spanish) distributed to your family, friends,
churches, Christian bookstores and neighborhoods all across America."
Family.org, the web site of Dr. James Dobson's Colorado Springs,
Colorado-based multi-media mega-ministry, Focus on the Family, is all
over the map with its features: From messages to "remember Focus on
the Family in your year-end giving," to helpful hints on how to
survive Christmas without "The Lord of the Rings," to movie reviews
of "Fat Albert" (thumbs up), "The Aviator (thumbs down), "Meet the
Fockers" (a disappointed thumbs down), and "Lemony Snicket's A Series
of Unfortunate Events (a reluctant thumbs up).
First and foremost, Concerned Women for America (CWA) wants you to
know "The Truth About Alfred Kinsey." The twenty-five year-old
organization, which bills itself as "the nation's largest public
policy women's organization," is also offering a "Special Christmas
Feature" from Dr. Beverly LaHaye, founder of the organization, and
Dr. Janice Crouse. But not a word on the earthquake/tsunami.
Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM), Dr. D. James Kennedy's Fort Lauderdale,
Florida-based operation, is also looking in other directions. At its
web site there are advertisements for the CRM's upcoming Reclaiming
America For Christ Conference, which will be held in mid-February,
and for several of Dr. Kennedy's sermons.
At townhall.com, the mother of all conservative web sites and "the
first truly interactive community on the Internet to bring Internet
users, conservative public policy organizations, congressional staff,
and political activists together under the broad umbrella
of 'conservative' thoughts, ideas and actions," current headlines are
totally absent earthquake/tsunami news. Here are the top five stories
as of December 29: "Reggie White, defender of faith -- on and off the
field"; "Focus should shift from testing to teaching"; "False
friends"; "Cheap drugs or safe drugs?"; and "European court forces
Microsoft to alter its products."
Over at falwell.com, the Rev. Jerry Falwell is explaining "The True
Meaning of Christmas," recruiting for his new organization, The Moral
Majority Coalition, and soliciting cruisers for a late July sojourn
aboard the Queen Mary II.
While many Christian evangelical organizations have rushed to help
the victims, why aren't the nation's major religious right political
groups -- quick to claim the moral high-ground at every opportunity --
putting their organizational muscle to good use? Why hasn't the
devastation from the earthquake/tsunami been on the radar screens of
these groups? Are they all on a values vacation?