The Doctrine of Dick DeVos IV: Tithes that Buy the Christian Right

by Hector Solon

As the DeVos for Governor campaign enters its final days in Michigan, the role of the Religious Political Right organizations will play a critical role. Dick DeVos is relying on Christian Right organizations — which he and Betsy established and have financed for years — to turn out the winning margin. One of those DeVos controlled quasi-Christian groups is the Foundation for Traditional Values, and its campaigning arm, the Citizens for Traditional Values.

This piece examines the theology and tactics of DeVos’ church-pew campaign, its origins and implications for Michigan and beyond.

The Doctrine of Dick DeVos: Tithes that Buy the Christian Right

“The priests indeed have heretofore thought proper to ascribe to me religious, or rather anti-religious sentiments, of their own fabric, but such as soothed the resentments against the act of Virginia for establishing religious freedom. They wished him to be thought atheist, deist, or devil, who could advocate freedom from their religious dictations.But I have ever thought religion a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to Him, and not to the priests. I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another’s creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives… For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read.”

Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, 6 August 1816

Tithes that Buy…Votes
Richard DeVos Jr. has “tithed” his and his family fortune into the coffers of organizations from which now he expects will mount a Herculean effort get-out-the-vote blitz on his behalf in his hostile takeover of Michigan. A win here is see as his first stop on the way to national office.

DeVos also supported by a long list of other “Values Based” politicized Christian groups like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, all turning out their own “faithful” is now the only hope of DeVos has to eke out a win.

Quietly and over time, Dick has made his positions of support well-known to the “strong morals” church crowd. As one woman observed in southeast Michigan, “Dick is a man of God.” This message has gone out. Statewide Christian and AM radio have punctuated the mantra.

DeVos’s multi-million dollar efforts are not primarily a campaign for addressing the economy or for Michigan jobs, they’re a crusade for the control of the state and for the imposition of “traditional values”– which is insider code for a very narrow spectrum of behaviors and moral precepts which DeVos’s followers have long sought to impose on the citizens of Michigan via the “Foundation for Traditional Values” (FTV) and its “sister” organization the campaign machine called the “Citizens for Traditional Values” (CTV). This piece will examine the origins, tactics and implications of organizations like the FTV and CTV have on our State, and Nation.

Dick DeVos: “It’s All about Obedience”… doing as I was “Instructed to Do”
These remarks were given by DeVos during the Student Statesmanship Institute’s (SSI) Annual Banquet recently on October 16, 2006. Dick joked he was only there to “pick up my wife Betsy,” who participated in the program. Although “not scheduled to speak”, DeVos offered a greeting, to the 450 people in attendance:

I’m not here to give a campaign speech, just to tell you where we come from. Many of you ask, “Why are you doing this?” The answer to me is pretty simple really, it’s all about obedience.

It became clear with my spirit, and I checked it with many people and sought the counsel of wise individuals, Betsy and I prayed about it we discussed it together, we did the things that we’re instructed to do to reach a decision. It became clear to me that this was the thing that I was supposed to do.

And at the time it wasn’t very clear that this race was even winnable or where it might lead us, but I think we’ve finally found it’s very winnable and it might lead us to Lansing. But for me that’s not what it was about.

It was, first and fundamentally, for me about being obedient to that which I’m called to do. And I want to assure you that we will finish well, we will finish strong, and if it leads to Lansing, and I believe there is a very good possibility that it will, that I want to serve with distinction and honor, that will bring not just praise to me, but that will bring the kind of perception from others about what someone can do, what a Christian can do, when given the opportunity to stand and to lead. So, we’re just going to go out there and do it.

[emphasis added]

Dick DeVos is telling the admiring faithful that he is simply showing “obedience” to the call of God to run for Governor. He is setting out to carry out what the CTV would consider “what a Christian can do.” By this use of Christian with the CTVers it is clearly understood that these are ultra-conservative, radical beliefs that if left to flourish would alter the tone of the state. This excursion into the secular state with fierce “Christian” intent bodes poorly for all other citizens, who do not hold parallel views or may not be of the Christian faith at all, but Muslim or Buddhist.

Betsy & Dick support the Foundation for Traditional Values, a political/churchy organization of which the SSI is only one arm. They also support the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, under its many guises an evolutionary history; it remains the kept mistress of the Republican Far Right. Dick is the favored son of the Heritage Foundation and Council for National Policy, and radical religious right figures like the D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministry. These more political-than-religious organizationspour damning vituperation on various groups or segments of society for private religious and political purposes.

There are many connections between Betsy and the Amway empire that are pro “ChristiansTM only,” and contrary to the true history of religious freedom and tolerance in American life.

Those who study and examine politicized, corporate Christians, like the DeVoses, feel queasiness and great uncertainty about the audacity and effrontery of their control of the National or State Republican establishments–when they so boldly attempts to marry their narrow Christian gospel interpretations to politics.

For example, from an ob servation by J.B.S. Haldane on Slate “Remarks from the Fray”:

“…I often wonder if those who do claim to speak on God’s behalf consider the awesome responsibility of the task they undertake. I mean awesome in the traditional sense–it is a tremendous undertaking not to be assailed lightly or flippantly and those same scriptures are equally clear on the disposition of those who speak falsely, even if sincerely.It should make one tremble. Jesus reserved his harshest condemnation for the Pharisees, the Herodians and the Sadducees precisely because they claimed such expertise–the true knowledge of God’s teachings and their actions did not live up to this claim. The hypocrisy of this was enough to drive even Jesus to anger.”

The Republican Party has fashioned its message and ideology in a crafty way so as to convey and demand hegemony based on a set of stated objectives that amount to a religious testing of its entire base. The central theme of this movement is best put: The only way to Jesus is through conscious and loyal subservience to the will of the Republican apparatus. Only the GOP has a leadership that is “truly Christian”. In some locales the GOP leadership is almost exclusively made up of only “strong convictions” far right, traditionally white, upper middleclass and wealthy celebrity Christians, like Dick and Betsy DeVos.

Parsing of the meaning of “Christian” is a dangerous and malignant force in the current public square. It has led to fierce divisions between “ChristianTM” believers, and alienation from other Judeo-Christian believers and religious American citizens practicing different religions–not always endorsed by many within the GOP. What of those who have been silenced? Self-anointed “Christian” Republicans have developed a smug sense of moral high ground that has sheltered and protected a breed of low-life partisans (Cunningham, DeLay & Abramhoff), greedy corporatists and destructive policymaking (unprovoked war). What it creates is a hot house for corruption and moral hypocrisy.

The Michigan Republican party cannot shake off its FTV/CTV ideological chains, therefore it must grovel in wrongheaded policy and divisiveness which, even now, are tainting the public square with a devolution of civic commitment–troubling trends unknown in Lansing a generation ago.

Michigan Republicans supinely await their marching orders on various legislative initiatives, many officeholders holding their noises, and fearing “to the bone” what will be the wrath of a newly elected, ideological new governor, Dick DeVos–who is a pro-politick, strong FTV/CTV maven.

Interestingly, even John Engler, Cyclopes pol that he was, could not control the aggressive activities of the Amway faction, led by Betsy, when it came to the sectarian voucher movement. Engler sincerely wanted the voucher, but could not risk the divisiveness that such a campaign stirred; the DeVoses voucher effort destroyed his ticket out of Michigan to some national level job. Many others in Republican ranks have fallen or will fall into line with Dick & Company’s attempted hostile takeover of all the branches of Michigan’s government.

Christians of conscience and civic-minded citizens alike should fear the hidden DeVos Doctrine which includes educational apartheid that the Amway/DeVos vouchers would create, the increased disparities between the rich and poor created by massive new cuts to property and income taxes, the harvesting of public funds by cronies and like-minded business interests, major cuts in social and state services serving the least among us, and other elements of a radical right social agenda that Dick & Betsy DeVos have promoted and propagated for years and years, and now threaten to unleash directly on the working families and citizens of Michigan in their “45 day” ascent to power.

What are these groups the Foundation for Traditional Values and the Citizens for Traditional Values? Why should voters care?

The Foundation for Traditional Values is the heart and soul of the DeVos Doctrine and the DeVos campaign. The political campaigners of Citizens for Traditional Values describe themselves in the following manner:

As you know, this nation was founded on Biblical principles largely by Christian men and women. Those ideals are under attack in our generation and must be promoted and defended in the marketplace of ideas. CTV exists to work on behalf of Michigan families such as yours to preserve those traditional and conservative values in Michigan…[link to more content]For over 15 years, Citizens for Traditional Values (CTV) has worked in Michigan to preserve, defend and promote the traditional conservative values of life, faith and family. In addition, one of CTV’s main tenets is the advancement of educational freedom, including home schooling. For the past 10 years CTV has been facilitating high level meetings between key legislators and state-wide home school leaders– including INCH’s Dennis Smith–with very positive results.

CTV’s History & Vision As you know, this nation was founded on Biblical principles largely by Christian men and women. Those ideals are under attack in our generation and must be promoted and defended in the marketplace of ideas.

CTV exists to work on behalf of Michigan families such as yours to preserve those traditional and conservative values in Michigan. We seek to be a voice for your values by working closely with lawmakers in Lansing through monitoring & advocating on critical legislative issues. We also work to mobilize grassroots networks throughout Michigan to add their voices to the debate through supporting good public policy initiatives.

[emphasis added]

This CTV effort amounts to a branding of the name Christian as “ChristiansTM“. It bears a specialized meaning and is highly exclusive of other believers in traditions or having beliefs outside their acceptance. CTV is one of the Christian Dominionist / Reconstructionist groups. Citizens for Traditional Values and the Foundation for Traditional Values are one and the same organically.

They have been active in endorsing, recruiting and promoting the candidacies of like-minded Michigan individuals who solidly believe that there is and never was a historic separation of church and state in the United States and that certain moralistic objectives are first and foremost in any decision as to a candidates for whom to vote.

More specifically, CTV has a systematic set of narrow and binding beliefs that they promote and expect those candidates and officeholders, who seek and accept their endorsement, to put into law. It never bothers these crusaders that using the police and coercive powers of the state to enforce morals and mores of a minority is totally out of bounds from a historic and “providential constitution” perspective. They are on a special “mission from God” to change government.

Russ Bellant, veteran watchman of the religious right in the US, describes the Citizens for Traditional Values and the Foundation for Traditional Values in comprehensive and informative book “The Religious Right in Michigan Politics”:

Citizens for Traditional Values (CTV) is a political action group related to tax-exempt Foundation for Traditional Values (FTV) education group. They are headed by James Muffet and operates out of an office just north of Lansing. The FTV was incorporated on August 1991 as the “Michigan Freedom Education Committee”. Several months later it adopted its current name. Its original officers were Muffet, Terry Applegate and Guy Richardson.The CTV was formed from the “Michigan Committee for Freedom“, a statewide political group established by Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign. It was renamed in January 1992. CTV is the most secretive of the Religious Right groups in this state, and perhaps the most extreme. One of its supporters, Greg Cross, wrote in a “Free Congress Foundation” newsletter that CTV’s “strategy was not to grab media attention, but to work `under the radar‘ and help elect a new Republican, pro-family majority in the State House.” [emphasis added]

Who is this Rev. James Muffet character?
Bellant describes Muffet for the uninformed:

Muffet believes a low profile helps their electoral effectiveness. It also helps obscure Muffet’s own background, which might alarm some church allies. While a student, Muffet says he “was captured by the eastern humanistic thought and the drug/protest culture that has pervaded many of American universities and campuses.” Muffet says he had “a dramatic conversion to Christianity” after which he became active in campus ministries.

In 1984, Muffet says he “encountered an incredible group called the Providence Foundation.” Thereafter he became their mid-west director. Muffet fails to mention, however, that he was a leader of a shepherding/discipleship cult, Maranatha, and the Providence Foundation was established by Maranatha [full name is Maranatha Christian Church] to foster and promote dominion theology.

(break)

Maranatha was headed for many years by Robert Weiner, a member of the Council for National Policy.

(break)

He told members that. “We are the instrument that God is going to use,” and assertion shepherding leaders use to convince members they are the “Elect.” “We’ve got to take over the sciences, the arts, every area has to come under our dominion.

A Maranatha publication, in an outline history of the group, says that in the fall of 1983, “God births the vision for the Providence Foundation. Many begin to be trained as Christian scholars and statesmen to properly lead our nation.

[emphasis added]

The Maranatha Christian Church is another one of those you-have-to-be-joking religious cults on par with the Moonies. In addition to the cult trackers, Wikipedia describes the Maranatha movement:

Under the influences of the Shepherding movement, the organization soon developed clear authoritarian characteristics. Pastors exercised strict control over members’ lives. Members were not allowed to date. Instead, campus pastors frequently arranged marriages. Pastors kept records of financial contributions, and those who didn’t give enough were said to have a “spirit of stinginess.” Disobeying a pastor was considered the same as disobeying God.Maranatha’s rapid growth brought it increased scrutiny from former members, including several pastors, and university officials. Many former members, including several former pastors, suffered nervous breakdowns when they tried to leave. Other members complained that the organization’s tactics were very cultlike. In their view, Maranatha was a Christianized version of the numerous cults that frequently recruited college students in the 1970s and early 1980s, such as the Unification Church and the Hare Krishnas. The controversy reached a fever pitch in 1982, when the University of Waterloo in Canada expelled its Maranatha chapter after one member sexually maimed himself after receiving a “revelation” regarding sins in his past life.

[emphasis added]

Jimmy Muffet and the FTV/CTV/SSI continue to hold these “training and educational” events today, as indicated by a recent Student Statesmanship Institute (SSI) flyer.

Read more about the SSI and an updated profile of Dick DeVos by veteran researcher and author Russ Bellant.

From “Pews to Polls” and Other FTV/CTV Activities
The Role of the Citizens for Traditional Values and the Foundation for Traditional Values serves as pet projects of Dick & Betsy DeVos. The DeVoses have underwritten and promoted this group for years with good outcomes in their chosen objectives, often hidden, agendas. Betsy even bragged in August 1998 that well over half of the delegates seated at a Michigan GOP Convention were there precisely because of the recruiting efforts of the Foundation for Traditional Values.

Much of the very narrow expected late night victory anticipated by DeVos strategist, John Truscott, on election day is believed to be outcome of get out the vote efforts by CTV. the Dick DeVos and strategists anticipate the narrow margin will come from directly from this group and a handful of others similar religious and ideological organizations that share the intense and highly religiously motivated angst and energy of these like-minded activists.

Make no mistake, these folks will turn out. They will willingly work the polls and get-out-the-vote efforts in their churches and organizations. They will attempt to turn out every last “values voter” for Dick DeVos and other candidates identified and promoted by CTV, Focus on the Family, Michigan Christian Radio, the Family Research Council, the Word of God movement, the American Family Association, the Michigan Decency Council, the Conservative Values Campaign, and a host of lesser religiously motivated organizations and ministries networked together for DeVos. A significant number of the more than 29,000 homeschoolers’ parents statewide, many of whom cocoon away from the secular world, will be in this effort. The DeVoses, and particularly Betsy, who was also a home schooler using a nanny, has made a direct appeal for support from them.

Democrats and independents that are largely unaware of this effort and network will be baffled and bewildered by the results. However, if the word leaks out about this major effort the tide could turn. If those hoping to have moderate and progressive legislation and administration of Michigan’s agencies, courts and appointments in the next four years –they had best be ready to respond to these tactics and to offset this campaign which is hiding in the catacombs.

Right from the Start a DeVos Dominated Connection
Beyond being major funders of both the FTV and CTV, Dick & Betsy DeVos and other members of the extended Devos family, as well as a long list of Michigan Republicans holding DeVos and CTV’s radical religious conservative views were there from the start.

Bellant writes:

“Since the 1992 election, Muffet has also been raising money and training people in the theo-political history of the United States. His Foundation for Traditional Values has been holding all-day classes titles “The Greatest Story Never Told“, which train church members in the idea that the US was founded and begun as a Christian Nation, but was derailed and must be put back on track. The method of correction, of course, is political action.

(break)

The efforts of FTV are attempting to displace modernism with a dogma of confronting social thought. Among the sources of funds to support Muffet’s efforts are annual fundraisers. The first such event was held in August, 1993, in Grand Rapids and Dearborn. Nearly 600 attended the Grand Rapids event, and over 250 were present in Dearborn. The featured speaker was D. James Kennedy.

The Grand Rapids event was coordinated by Kent Vanderwood and Bill Swets, both board members of the FTV. The honorary chair was Betsy DeVos.

[emphasis added]

As pointed out in a previous posting The DeVos Doctrine: Mission ala D. James Kennedy:

D. James Kennedy is a close personal associate and spiritual advisor to of several members of the DeVos family. Amway/DeVoses have provided tens of millions to the funding of Coral Ridge Ministries. The DeVoses have also funded other associated organizations. Kennedy was the very first speaker at the Foundation of Traditional Values (FTV), as pointed out by the President James E. Muffet, who received a Coral Ridge scholarship and training, “By the grace of God, Dr. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries agreed to be the First Annual Banquet speaker for FTV in 1993, and this became the catalyst that helped launch the organization.”

The FTV, CTV and DeVos family have a long history of collaboration, and sponsoring other events that took place during the John Engler era:

In November, 1994, FTV did a fundraiser at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel featuring Peter Marshall, a Reconstructionist writer from Massachusetts. The program was geared to “commemorating Gov. John Engler’s first Christian Heritage Week proclamation, which `encourages Americans to affirm our nation’s spiritual roots and to enlist prayer for local, state and national leaders.'” According to the program invitation.(break)

Platinum Sponsors” of the event included Achievers Employment of Grandville and Windquest Group, owned by Dick and Betsy DeVos. Rich DeVos also made a $5,000 contribution to the dinner. [emphasis added]

Read more about Michigan “theo-cons” and an impressive list of FTV/CTV Michigan Republican participants.

The Conservative Cycle or Circle: It’s Economics, Politics and Profiteering
Again, returning to the The Doctrine of Dick DeVos: Mission ala D. James Kennedy:

Organizations like the FTV and CTV are now part of a growing conservative political industry in America. These quasi-Christian organizations are less about charity and caring about the least among us and other Christian values, as they are about political power and control for the few. Such DeVos family activities leverage a hybrid business / political / economic model which uses a full cycle of creating, supporting, funding and leveraging of these “Christians values” based organizations to obtain political power and promote personal profit.These religious associations also provide cover and support for their Amway business methods, which are perennially under legal scrutiny and highly mistrusted by the general public.

In a nutshell, the “full cycle” which Dick and Betsy and others like them use goes like this: 1) Largely tax deductible “donations” are made to political organizing “foundations” and activities, 2) Political candidates and campaigns are recruited, targeted and funded, 3) Public policy and legislation is created (portions of which are focused on “hot button” issues like abortion, gay marriage, flag burning, etc.) which redirect public funds and tax dollars to “faith-based” organizations and privately held businesses, 4) Key individuals with investments in education, healthcare, financial institutions, real estate, insurance, consulting and other services leverage these freed “public funds” to provide revenue to their own interests or promote tax-exempt status or tax breaks, and 5) Some fraction of the profits is then again “donated” back to their own “foundations” and the cycle begins anew.

Conservative profiteers, like Dick DeVos have only one true objective: the harvesting of public funding and tax revenues from governments and tax programs, as well as related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) they pretend to hate. These organizations are not primarily formed to promote their religious views and agenda, which are secondary goals; they are formed to sustain and maintain a constant flow of public funds from public projects and programs to support their own enterprises and projects for personal power and profit.

Back to the Basics: FTV/CTV Church-Pew Campaigning
This is how the CTV describes itself:

Our [Citizens for Traditional Values] “Pews to the Polls” grassroots network conducts church-based voter registration, voter information and voter mobilization programs to promote increasing turnout in election years. In addition, we conduct Candidate and grassroots training programs, and through our Political Action Committee, we make candidate endorsements and distribute Key Comparison Voter Guides in critical races.

Campaigning by the CTV, Focus on the Family and other associated religious right political groups starts in the spring at “Citizen Sunday” events normally held of the same day across a target region or state. At “Citizen Sundays” church members are registered to vote, briefed on campaigns season events and encouraged to join campaigns. Church directories and membership lists are converted to voter lists. On Christian and Family Radio networks, the CTV is even now calling for volunteers to pass out voter guides at churches across Michigan.

The focal point of the CTV campaign being used by Dick DeVos and other Republican candidates is their faux “non-partisan” voter guides that they pass out in target churches and district just prior to an election. So far in 2006, CTV “Voter Guides” have been collected for Kalamazoo (pages one and two), Muskegon (pages one and two) and Oakland (single page) and other counties. More areas are being published and posted on their website, as well as on the Michigan Family Forum associated websites.

The efforts of the CTV are critical for a “DeVos win” and other groups’ scare flyers are being sent to church lists in order to get out the vote. Much of the real attack materials crafted by operatives like Matthew Dowd, the Carl Rove trained campaign advisor helping Dick DeVos, will never be seen by the general public until after an election is over and they have done their work behind closed church doors. This is just the process, which has been used previously, not just against Democratic opponents, both also Republicans, most notably in 2000 against John McCain in South Carolina in the Republican presidential primary. The players from 2000 are right here in Michigan, right now.

Use these links to view a library of Citizens for Traditional Values materials and Focus on the Family materials being used in Michigan, and view the FTV’s very interesting Form 990’s for years 2002, 2003 and 2004 .

God is a Republican?
Even though many of these church-going, law-abiding believers know and understand that it is improper to bring the church into the nuts and bolts of electioneering, they will hold their noses and allow organizers and campaigns to use the church directory, Church facilities, and even the pulpit to pitch the chosen candidates of their choice. CTV representatives are told all this is acceptable, even if these activities often defy federal election laws governing such activities. The motivation is highly spiritual and very emotional. Viewing the society as decadent and immoral the old rules and laws are here simply ignored for “higher” purposes.

The CBS 60 Minutes story in October of 2006 featured a segment that showed the shocking disregard big-time politicians have shown the patriarchs of the Religious Right… they are the butt of sophomoric White House jokes and ridicule from the upper levels of the Republican Party and presidential staffers. How sad that the religious are so used and abused because of their fervent beliefs marrying them blindly to a particular political party. This crass political abuse of faith is a terrible insult to those whose beliefs are pure and deeply held, they desire better.

In an editorial by Dennis Smith, Executive Director of Information Network for Christian Homes (INCH.org) originally appeared in the fall of 2002, but has been reposted to the INCH/CTV web site with the title “Do You Know Where Your Party Stands?” – just a couple clips:

“On the serious side, though, I do hope you take the elections seriously. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll begin to focus on where the candidates — and their party — stand on the issues that are important to you.””Politics is about power, and the party in the majority has the power. On both the federal and state level, both houses of the legislature are relatively evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. But whichever party has the most seats in each house gets the majority of seats and the chairmanship of each committee, as well as the speaker’s position. That means the party in the majority sets the agenda.”

Let’s say you normally vote Republican because you are conservative on most issues. But this time around you’re going to vote for the Democrat on the ticket either because you know the candidate personally or because of their gender, race, ethnicity, or some other reason. If that person wins, the unintended consequence is that you’ve helped provide his or her party one more seat toward becoming the majority party. Like it or not, you don’t just vote for a candidate, you vote to put a party in the majority. While you may like the individual, he or she is inexorably linked to their party. They must vote the party line on most issues if they hope to gain any prominence and be successful in politics.

So, when you consider the candidates running for office this November, it’s not only important to know where the candidate stands on the issues, it’s equally important to know where his or her party stands on the issues. Where do the party’s [SIC] stand on the big issues?”

Does that sound a little too much like partisan politics? I suppose it is. But I make the distinction, not because I’m a staunch Republican, but because I’m a Christian. And as a Christian, I am probably more conservative than most Republicans.”

“I suspect my views will infuriate some and find a nod of agreement from others. What I hope you will understand is that the political process is a party process. When you vote, you vote for more than a candidate, you vote for the candidate’s party too. I encourage you to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming election, and in every election thereafter. But as you cast your vote for your candidate, be sure you know where your candidates’ party stands.” [emphasis added]

Michigan voters are not well informed as to the so-called social issues which DeVos espouses and will aggressively pursue if elected. The family ties of Dick and Betsy DeVos to Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, and the enforcer — James Dobson are strong and mutual. Tens of thousands of DeVos family dollars have gone into the coffers of these groups: The Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, and Focus on the Family.

Political/religious groups which these men represent have allowed them to become powerbrokers with enormous influence and power. As we are coming to learn, they are subject to the same conflicts and money entanglements as other politicians–who hold forth no special dispensation in matters of morals and faith. The connections between Dobson and Reed– in particular–are soiled and sullied by their involvement with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramhoff and Indian tribes/casino scandals. The DeVoses are involved with all three of these men and DeVos money is associated in with their efforts — given a religious/moralistic coating.

The “Gorilla Glue” Abortion and Gay Marriage
Since Pro-Life became become the Gorilla Glue of the “moral values” voting segment of religious conservatism, other litmus testing standards have worked their way into the “magic formula” for energizing and provoking the religiously conservative base. It is this base which the Republicans have come to depend upon so entirely.

In this important Michigan election, the economy, manufacturing, the environment, the quality of public education, high technology development, and even health care rate a far distant second, at best, in the thinking and vote/deciding of many “values voters” whose ballot will be decided not upon critical and fundamental civic issues like jobs, education and the economy, but upon other specific interpretations of “higher values” surrounding abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, pornography, the teaching of ID/Creationism, and similar issues having corollary value in their strident and narrow belief systems.

Preying on Foes and even some of the Faithful “Below the Radar”
The volatile mix of holy water and the muckrakers’ mud is being mixed in righteous zeal behind the church doors of many a Michigan church.

The church-pew campaign opposing Jennifer Granholm is being organized and sanctioned in various evangelical, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist and other scattered churches such as the Vineyard Movement and select Michigan mega churches. Radical Right Catholics are also involved.

Dick DeVos may never have to sponsor or fund one word of these cutting edges negative and ad hominem attacks on Governor Granholm. Surprisingly the mud slinging will be well out of sight; in the churches, that’s where the real hardball sleaze will be mixed and flung.

Safe from public scrutiny and from open criticism, the various ingredients of hard-hitting accusations, gossip and lying; will be carried out by certain organized church-based political groups. They will be the vehicles for getting the ” dirty the word” out to the faithful–and most importantly doing the vital work of ginning up the base for a big turnout for DeVos.

On a national level the prime example is how Matthew Dowd, advisor to the George W. Bush 2000 campaign in South Carolina, now advisor to Dick DeVos, pro bono or otherwise.

We know some of the groups and who leads them: 1) Focus on the Family, James Dobson, 2) American Family Association, Lou Sheldon, 3) The Social Conservative Campaign, Eric Moore, 4) Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, 5) Foundation for Traditional Values aka Citizens for Traditional Values, James Muffet, 6) The Word of God, Tom Monahon and vast assortment of others that operate in Michigan.

This is how it works. As far back as 1990 Michigan Family Forum began the process, again returning to the writings of Russ Bellant:

“From its founding in 1990 until 1995, over 1,000 church-based `Community Impact Committees,’ spurred and modeled by MFF, were created in Michigan churches. Demonstrating its political savvy, the MFF changed the geographical representation of the Community Impact Committees in 1995 so that they corresponded to the legislative districts in the state. MFF also effectively taps and directs religious activities through its Prayer Network, which organizes prayers for pubic officials and urges members to contact them to evangelize and to notify them of their prayers. Also organized by legislative districts and headed by `prayer captains,’ these so-called `prayer warriors‘ or `prayer partners‘ develop a personal relationship with their legislators, and become conversant in public affairs. Meanwhile, the MFF’s Capitol News Bureau produces news for distribution to Christian radio stations in the state.”

Using voter guides, church directories, questionnaires and surveys, sign up sheets, tables in the vestibules, and all manner of other methods, these fervent activists have a perfect place to disseminate their chosen forms of campaign information–much of it meant to inflame and energize the faithful, to get out the vote.

Rationalizing and Radicalizing the Republican Ranks
In the words of a long-time Michigan Republican and friend of Bill Milliken:

“In America we have a two party system, that’s just a fact. But it is not acceptable that one of those parties, sadly my own party, the GOP should continue to move in a fascist direction becoming a party of intolerant religious zealots used unashamedly by selfish, greedy, corporate captains who dominate and control our government and its institutions.”

How effective is this kind of political action inside the doors of the church? Note the challenger Tim Walberg and his fiery campaign to unseat Joe Schwartz, US Congressman from Michigan’s 7th District. A significant part of Walberg’s margin is involved in powerful vestments of churchly politics. Walberg himself is deeply involved in the Foundation for Traditional Values mechanisms, goals, and thinking.The taking down of Schwartz, largely funded by the corporate right special interest group the “Club for Growth” who threw hundreds of thousands of dollars against the GOP “moderate”, started with CTV events promoting his radical right opponent, Tim Walberg, like the one held by CTV on July 18, 2006 at West Windsor United Brethren. Then, just prior to the GOP primary CTV “non-partisan” voter guides instructing their followers not to vote for Schwartz were distributed that reinforced to the “faithful” which Republican was the “Christian Choice”, or as Muffet’s flyer states, “He’s [Walberg] a man who will uphold Godly values!.”

Morphing Dick DeVos away from his Base and Radical Right Past
Mounting a Bible-based blitzkrieg, the DeVos handlers and a more that accommodating Michigan print press (many of whom are now finally and publicly have gone alone dutifully ignoring and sheltering DeVos from expoisure on his radical and hard right moral stands) have set out to remold Dick DeVos’ religious history. Much like the Faith-related factors draw voters’ attention Saturday, October 14, 2006 By Charles Honey, Grand Rapids Press Religion Editor:

“Even so, some political pundits are concerned the candidates are ignoring faith-related issues by focusing too intently on the economy. About the only faith issues to have hit the headlines so far, and then only briefly, have had to do with teaching intelligent design in public school science classes and using embryonic stem cells in research.(break)

Strong convictions DeVos grew up in the Christian Reformed Church and attends nondenominational mega-church Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, according to spokesman John Truscott.

(break)

When asked about his faith, DeVos declines to describe himself as a “religious conservative” or a “cultural conservative.” Rather, he is a “practical conservative” who sees and respects the “bright line in this country between faith and politics,” DeVos said recently. “I certainly respect that line.”

The candidate credits his strong faith as being the result of growing up in a home where his parents “even in the most private moments were completely consistent in what they believe.” DeVos says that religious faith for him is “very important and it is very personal.”

“It’s something that guides and informs me,” he said. “But I also respect others who have differing faith perspectives or none.”

[empahsis added]

What? You have got to be kidding Dick. Did your dad hear you say that? We know what Rich DeVos’ religious foundations are, and Betsy certainly has made her ascorbic views very well known.

Next in line was Chris Meehan from the Kalamazoo Gazette, in his piece “Granholm, DeVos keep faith out of race” on October 14, 2006:

DeVos a `practical conservative’ DeVos grew up in the Christian Reformed Church and now attends a non-denominational mega-church outside of Grand Rapids.DeVos declines to describe himself as a “religious conservative” or a “cultural conservative,” even though his views on a range of issues, such as stem cell research, would place him in that camp. Rather, he says he is a “practical conservative” who sees and respects the “bright line in this country between faith and politics, “DeVos recently told a Gazette News Service reporter. “I certainly respect that line.”

In other words, DeVos would honor the separation between church and state. In a televised debate this week, the candidate said that as a private citizen, he supports school vouchers to help pay for faith-based schools. But as governor, he said he would not push that agenda.

[emphasis added]

Wait a second…
The facts revealed in DeVos’s long record sustain a different thread. Dick’s CTV doesn’t believe in or support separation of church and state. While Dick makes a very qualified answer about vouchers, he is at this very same time (currently) working through his organization, All Children Matter, headquartered between DeVos buildings in Grand Rapids, promoting and funding an on-going, multi-state voucher effort. Despite all of the DeVos statements to the contrary, Dick is not leveling with the voters on these issues. DeVos is as actively duplicitous in this regard as he has been on answering questions on his past failures or on his real agenda.

Playing Their Last Cards Right… Far Right
This is the public’s critical opportunity to consider and weigh the “faith card” being played in this election. When the Foundation for Traditional Values concludes its get-out-the-vote calling and efforts, and the Michigan Family Forum completes its distribution of thousands of voter guides inside the churches, Right to Life will plant all those yard signs and as they carry out the plan designed to put Dick DeVos over the top, the die will be cast. If the vote is close and the undecided votes clearly indicate it is, these efforts are the last line of defense for Dick DeVos. While ordinary, traditional campaigns continue to operate under the old rules, believing the standard efforts are enough, these religiously motivated workers will efficiently carry out “The Plan.”

If the citizens are content to allow the governance and administration of this state to fall farther into the hands of these moralizing present-day Puritans, these celebrity, corporate Christians, then they will leave the results to fate between now and the election and witness a DeVos defeat.

The real shock will be the speed and efficiency with which Dick DeVos and ilk will use to implement a second, more radical phase of the Engleresque Revolution. The face and quality of life for Michigan will be harshly altered under such a regime. Key to all of this is the role of the CTV/FTV network that Dick and Betsy have so carefully put in place.

The bottom line is this: Stop Dick & Betsy DeVos now in Michigan, or face them later across the whole country when Dick runs for President.

Fighting for democracy and civic betterment are not a spectator sports, lean to your oar, consider carefully your own convictions, and communicate with others as they consider their votes; and if you are so motivated, craft your letter to the editor, create campaign content ignored by the media/editors, and campaign by going to canvas, call and contribute.

And this be Our Motto: “Don’t Give Up the State!

“…I think it’s important to point out that if you’re an ideologue, denial is an essential part of your political being – whichever side. If you’re an ideologue, you’ve got your mind made up, so when an inconvenient fact pops up, you have to be in denial. It has to be a less significant fact.””…the commitment to equal opportunity, shared responsibility, and an inclusive community – [these are] the basic building blocks of the common good”

Ideological, divisive, demonizing, distracting politics – they may be very good for an election, particularly when people feel unsettled and insecure, but they don’t do much to advance the common good.”

— President Clinton at Georgetown University on October 18, 2006 in remarks marking the15th Anniversary of the New Covenant Addresses as part of the Center for American Progress’s conference, “Securing the Common Good: A Vision for America”

[emphasis added, and clips taken in order as they appear in the transcript]

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