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Week Ending December 19, 2003
Religious Freedom Coalition
December 19, 2003 10:29PM EST




The Senate will reconvene January 20, 2004 


Senator John Breaux of Louisiana is one of the few "middle of the road" Democrats still in the Senate. Most recently he worked with Republicans to reform Medicare. He has also worked on various pro-life issues and voted for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban which was signed into law by President Bush. Senator Breaux has a 100% rating from the National Right To Life Committee. Although only 59 years old, Senator Breaux has announced he will retire, making him the fifth Southern Democrat in the Senate to make that announcement this year. Democrat Senate seats are open in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and now Louisiana.

Although there has been no Republican elected to the Senate from Louisiana since Reconstruction, that may change. Louisiana is a religious state and polls show that those who are religious and attend church regularly tend to vote Republican. The entire Senate picture could be altered drastically after the next election if all or most of these Southern Senate seats go Republican, allowing for much more social conservative legislation to be passed. Democrat filibusters of President George W. Bush's judicial appointees would also become more difficult. With additional Senate seats the Republicans would seek further restrictions on abortion, more funding for abstinence education and to assist families with adoption. Conservative Republicans could also insist on passing a Freedom of Speech from the Pulpit Act similar to the one proposed by Congressman Walter B. Jones (R-NC) in the House.


The House reconvenes January 20, 2004


A good friend of social conservatives, Republican Congressman David Vitter of Louisiana has announced he will run for the seat being vacated by Senator Breaux. (See above) Congressman Vitter is pro-life and a true social conservative. In several states social conservative congressmen like him are running for the Senate seats. This is good and bad news for the Religious Freedom Coalition. If they win in the Senate we will continue to work with them; however, those who replace them in the House will be unknown to us. Congressman Vitter and other social conservatives must give up their House seats to run for the Senate. Whether he wins or loses the Senate race, we will not have Congressman Vitter to work with in the House in 2005.



During an ABC News interview with Diane Sawyer this week President George W. Bush said, "If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that." When asked about Civil Unions for homosexuals the President responded, "... "whatever legal arrangements people want to make." (See Transcript )

The President found himself immediately challenged by a variety of social conservative organizations. Even the Washington Times headlined the interview on their front page: Bush marriage stance not 'clear'. Concerned Women for America criticized the President's apparent support of Civil Unions, and Gary Bauer of American Values said, "What the president said is confusing, and some will find it hard to distinguish from Howard Dean, who supported domestic partnerships in Vermont at the state level."

For weeks the Weekly Standard, which is the semi-official voice of the White House, has touted Civil Unions as an option. The thrust of one major article was simply that the word "marriage" needed to be protected, but that marriage by any other name would be just fine for same-sex relationships.

There is a deep divide in the conservative community over the issue of Civil Unions. A good number of Republican leaders see Civil Unions as a win-win situation. In their view marriage is "saved" and the homosexuals and lesbians get the contractual benefits they want. They think the GOP could keep the religious right vote and gain some of the "gay" vote as well. This group seems to lack an understanding of the message that Civil Unions sends to the educational establishment and fails to see why not only social conservatives but the general public stands against the idea. If these same sex relationships are given government blessing, then they must be taught as normal in the public schools. This means that sex education classes would have to include instruction on homosexual "safe sex." The more politically correct school systems such as those in California and New York may punish students for publicly saying they are exclusively heterosexual. What happens when a straight male student refuses the advances of a homosexual? Will he be sent to the office to be questioned about his "homophobic" behavior? It's not inconceivable, because right now we have kids being punished simply for inviting classmates to church!

Civil Unions are not the win-win situation some Republican leaders believe they are. There is not a single major social conservative organization which accepts the idea of Civil Unions, but there are several that will swallow hard and support them to "save" the institution of marriage. Most, however, will oppose any effort at creating Civil Unions, and the President's social conservative base will be split.

In my view, which I have previously expressed, there is a larger danger with Civil Unions that is not being addressed at all. They cannot be limited to same-sex partners. Very rapidly Civil Unions could become popular among the divorced and widowed who will see them as legalizing relationships without adding the legal and financial problems that come with marriage. The elderly in particular will be able to obtain medical and other benefits for live-in partners without marriage. Civil Unions demand little real commitment and are very easy to dissolve, so they could become popular with younger age groups as well, where living together without marriage is already widespread. The institution of marriage could rapidly be eroded in favor of Civil Union status. I don't believe the proponents of Civil Unions in either the Democrat of Republican party have done any real long range thinking with regard to the ramifications of such social change.

This apparent confusion in the White House comes at a time when 65% of the American people are against "gay" marriage" and only 17% say they are strongly in favor of it according to a USA Today - Gallup Poll .


The staff of the Religious Freedom Coalition extends its gratitude to the White House for the Christmas tour for our staff and their families. Along the way we all got to meet one of the President's dogs, Spot. It was a wonderful experience particularly for the teenagers and younger children. The White House has a special Holiday site that includes "Barney Cam" featuring one of the President's dogs, which you may want to share with your children or grandchildren.



The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has issued its latest report and to the surprise of no one, the findings stated that there was no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. The commission recommended that, "The U.S. Congress should fund and authorize a study that investigates Saudi government funding of the global propagation of any religious ideology that promotes hate, intolerance, or violence." The commission also recommended action against Vietnam and Turkmenistan. The Religious Freedom Coalition fully supports the findings of the commission and will urge congressional action. Read report .

The Religious Freedom Coalition funds Christian schools in the West Bank at the same time the Saudi government funds Islamic schools there that teach hatred and murder. The RFC is still collecting funds for Christmas gifts to Christian schools in the West bank. Click here to donate .



In 2003 the Religious Freedom Coalition did not lay off a single employee. I am very grateful, because we are about the only social conservative organization in Washington that did not have to reduce staff or cut programs. One large group I will not name was more than $4 million behind budget as the year was closing. Unfortunately, social conservative organizations are having to cut back just as they are reaching a peak of power on the political front. Groups that are called on by congressmen and Senators to review legislation can't pay their bills. What happened? The Internet happened. The bread and butter of social conservative groups for more than 20 years has been direct mail. The groups send letters to supporters telling them what they are doing in Washington and the supporters send back checks to help them keep up the good work.

Fewer and fewer people respond to direct mail. They read the newsletters and updates of organizations on the Internet where everything is "free" or at least they think it is free. It is sort of like music downloads. Actually, many Internet users don't think the actors, authors, songwriters, singers or musicians should get paid. Many believe that once movies, songs or books are on the Internet they should be free. But if the actors, authors, songwriters, singers and musicians don't get paid for their work, why should they bother to produce any products? The same applies to organizations like ours. We have influence with politicians in Washington because we have an office and staff. It is my full time job along with others in my office to meet with congressmen and Senators every single week. This may seem strange to some Internet users, but our staff actually gets paid to do this as it is our full time employment. If I did this part time from my basement I can assure you I would never be invited to a Senator's office or be asked by a congressman to help with one of his bills.

The social conservative movement is at a crossroads. Direct mail is dying. Big corporations will not give social conservatives any grants because they don't want to be labeled 'anti-gay' or face boycotts from "abort the baby and save the whale" tree-huggers. At the same time most Internet users think all information should be free and become greatly offended when asked for contributions. Doesn't sound good does it? I can assure you of one thing: ten years from now there will be fewer social conservative groups in Washington, DC - but - the Religious Freedom Coalition will be one of them. There is a job to be done for our future generations and someone has to do it.

William J. Murray, Chairman - Religious Freedom Coalition

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