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New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry Message Board › Religious right wing in New York City

Religious right wing in New York City

Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 94
I'm trying to put together some web info about the activities of the religious right wing here in New York City. I just now did a little quick web research this morning. Unfortunately, all the info that has come up so far is rather old, though I'm sure the religious right wing been active around here more recently. I would appreciate it very much if others here could post URL's of any more up-to-date info they may happen to come across. Here's what I found this morning:

Published in The Nation, reprinted from the Voice, April 6, 1993
How the Christian Right Is Building From Below To Take Over From Above
By Greg Goldin

At the bottom of this page I found the following:



"Only 15 per cent of registered voters vote in City Council races, and elections are usually decided by only 3 percent," the Coalition's area director, Reverend Terry Twerell, told us. He said the Christian Coalition will distribute 500,000 voter guides to conservative local churches in time for the school board race. They also plan to use voter ID, a method in which voters answer a phone or written survey about their views and are later reminded to vote only if their views echo the Christian Coalition's: a voter-ID form distributed at the meeting asks people to check whether they would favor a law in New York that "grants minority status to homosexuals."

One look at the mostly female crowd conformed my impression that Gotham's conservative christians dress far less con­servatively than their counterparts in Vir­ginia, Colorado, and Texas. Many of the young women wore jeans or tight stretch pants, with glittery costume-jewel-be­decked T-shirts. One babe in a Rush Limbaugh tee even affected a quasi-grunge look with a flannel shirt tied in back. The guys, in sweatshirts, jeans, and 'staches, could have passed for undercover cops or '70s gay male clones.

As if custom-tailoring his message for New York's more diverse electorate, ­Twerell showed us an artfully "moderate" video interview in which Coalition executive director Ralph Reed says the Coalition believes in "pluralism and tolerance."

Reed even claims that Pat Robertson supports equal rights for women (though he doesn't explain why Robertson campaigned last year against Iowa's ERA, with that famous letter reminding voters that feminists kill their children and become lesbians).

Nuts-and-bolts organizing tips came next. "We have wonderful IRS lawyers who can explain to your pastor what he can and cannot say and still keep tax-deductible status," Twerell enthused. "He can't say, `Our Susie is running for school aboard and you should vote for her,' but he can say, `Our Susie's running for school board, let's all pray for her!"'

The most unwittingly humorous moment of the meeting came when Twerell told the half-white, half-Latino audience that "We need to be bilingual. We'll have voter guides in Spanish as well as english." In Vista, Cali­fornia, the Christian Coalition ran a slate of school board candidates who campaigned (and won) on an anti Latino, anti bilingual education platform.

Also I found the following pages containing some info pertaining to NYC school board elections back in the 1990's (or, in one case, in the year 2000):

Fighting For God and the Right Wing
Sunday, Jun. 24, 2001 By LAURENCE I. BARRETT­

containing the following about Ralph Reed:

Reed struggled to practice diversity, conservative style. When he opened a Washington lobbying office, he appointed a Jew, Marshall Wittmann, to head it. In last spring's New York City school board elections, Reed attracted some Hispanic and African-American activists and got cooperation from the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Christian Coalition also advertised its participation.

Another article:

The Growth of the Religious Right
A paper submitted in partial requirement for the Master of Arts degree in Political Science at Western Illinois University, 1993. Revised Nov 95
Part I, "Magnitude and Strategy" is here.­

Commenting on the Right's entry into the New York City school board elections, Chip Berlet, an analyst for Political Research Associates, a non-profit research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says, "This is all part of a well-coordinated national campaign by a dozen televangelists and large, conservative get involved at the local level."29 Many pastors and other local leaders have come on board. Churches often act as political education forums. The Christian Coalition printed voter guides for the '92 elections that were used as bulletin inserts in 60,000 churches.30 The voter guides listed the voting record of local candidates on key issues to the Right. Political activity is being baptized into mainstream legitimacy.

I also found the following:

Right-wing conspiracy continues: new grand jury to investigate Clinton
By David Walsh
19 August 2000
World Socialist Website­

which contains the following about Robert Ray:

Ray, once a registered Democrat and now an independent, has a right-wing history of his own. In 1993 he ran as a candidate for school board in Brooklyn, New York on the so-called Children's Slate, a coalition of Christian fundamentalists, backed by Pat Robertson, and right-wing Catholics, organized on a platform of hostility to gay rights and a school curriculum that advocated tolerance of gays and other minorities.

If anyone else here comes across any other info about the religious right wing here in NYC, I would appreciate it very much if you could post it here.

Diane Vera

P.S. I subsequently found plenty of info, some of which can be found further down in this thread, below.

See also the following threads:

Gay marriage -- we still don't have it, even here in liberal New York!

Roman Catholic Church's attitudes toward gays

William Donohue and the Catholic League

Religious right wing distortions of social science research
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 95
Well, I found some more up-to-date info about the religious right wing here in New York City.

One major religious right wing group that is based right here in NYC is the misleadingly named Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, headed by William Donohue, with an office at 750 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Here are some blog entries about it on Talk to Action:

The Catholic Right, Part IV:
William Donohue And The Politics Of The Catholic League
By Frank Cocozzelli
Sun Jun 04, 2006

The Catholic Right, Part Six:
Has Anyone Seen Bill?
By Frank Cocozzelli
Sun Jun 25, 2006

I've started a separate thread about him here:

William Donohue and the Catholic League
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 96
More about the Catholic religious right wing, in NYC and elsewhere:

Here's a page containing a story about a lawsuit by the Catholic League against the New York City Department of Education in 2002. (They lost.)

Jews On First!
Cultural Intimidation by the Religious Right

See the section near the bottom titled "Disingenuous Claims of Victimization: the NYC Nativity Scene Suit."

Here's a story about the Catholic religious right wing in general:

An Emerging New Catholic Right

This story is in:

Public Eye Spring 2002
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 97
Here's a story about religious right wing activism at the United Nations. This sort of thing, obviously, could impact the entire world.

The Christian Right Nears Major Victory at the United Nations
By Jennifer Butler

(It's not clear when the above article was published, but, judging by the footnotes, it was apparently written in 2002 or possibly 2003.)
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 98
Here in New York City, the religious right wing isn't nearly as powerful as it is elsewhere in the country. Here in New York also, the religious right wing isn't predominatnly evangelical Protestant Christian. It seems to consist primarily of (1) conservative and tradtionalist Catholics and (2) ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Here are some stories about religious right wing Jews.

First, some stories about Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York protesting against, among other things, Gay Pride marches in Jerusalem:

Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews Protest Outside 'Israeli' Consulate in NYC
(mostly against the very existence of the state of Israel, but also against Gay Pride events in Jerusalem)­

World Pride's Jerusalem plans sparks outrage
(mentions American Rabbi Yehuda Levin, a New Yorker who founded the U.S.-based Jews for Morality)

Below are some more stories about Rabbi Yehuda Levin:

Rabbi Yehuda Levin And Jerusalem's Gay Pride March
June 28, 2006

Leading U.S. Rabbi calls for New International Ecumenism in Defense of Morality
By Gudrun Schultz
(About Levin's desire for an alliance with Catholic, evangelical Protestant, and even Muslim religious right wingers. On a Catholic religious right wing website.)

Jews for Morality
(Levin's own website)

More about Gay Pride marches in Jerusalem:

Israel?s Ultra-Orthodox Threaten Gay Pride Marchers
By Ed Koch­

And here's an article about the varying attitudes toward gays among Orthodox Jews:

Trembling Before G-d
From Taboo to Sabbath Table Talk,
by Rabbi Steve Greenberg
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 99
Below is an article which contains a paragraph about a SUCCESSFUL religious right wing campaign in New York City (yes, even here!) back in the early 1990's:

The "Religious Right" Expands
Fred Barnes, November/December 1995
The Orthodox Alliance
By Fred Barnes

The relevant paragraph says:

The first public campaign by evangelical Protestants, Catholics, and Jews was in the New York City school board races in 1993. The issue was the "Rainbow Curriculum" that taught details about homosexuals and their lifestyle to grade school kids. The leader was Mary Cummings, a Queens Catholic who'd fought the curriculum in her school district. Reed dispatched a Christian Coalition organizer. Lapin provided help. Christian Coalition voter guides were passed out at Catholic parishes. And religious conservatives won roughly half the local school board seats.

I have not yet found any online articles containing updates about subsequent school board elections.

It's NOT true that the above episode is the first instance of religious right wing cooperation between evangelical Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. If I recall correctly, Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority had plenty of Catholics and Jews in it, though it was predominantly evangelical Protestant. Also, before Jerry Falwell came along in the 1970's, much of what there was of a religious right wing was dominated by Catholics. For example, back then the anti-abortion movement was predominantly Catholic. Phyllis Schafly was very active back then too, and she's Catholic if I'm not mistaken. Also, way back in the 1960's there was an anti-porn group called Morality in Media which was led by a Catholic, Father Morton A. Hill, and which also had some Jews and Protestants in prominent positions too, if I recall correctly.

In fact, according to the following article (and others I recall reading a while back), the major Protestant religious right wing leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson got involved in politics BECAUSE they had been persuaded to do so by right wing Catholics such as Richard A. Viguerie and Paul Weyrich.

Catholics and the religious right - Watch on the Right
by John M. Swomley
Humanist, March-April, 1996

Thus, it can be argued that the religious right wing was founded by Catholics, NOT by evangelicals, although it came to be dominated by evangelicals after Falwell was recruited to put a Protestant face on the movement and thereby expand it way beyond its earlier predominantly Catholic base.

For some other aspects of the history of the religious right wing, see the following article (which, in my opinion, underestimates the role of Catholics):

Perfect Enemies
The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s
By John Gallagher and Chris Bull

Diane Vera
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 100
Here in New York, there are lots and lots of Pentecostal churches, especially in the poorer neighborhoods. I wonder how many of them are involved in religious right wing activism.

The oldest and largest Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God, urges its members to be involved in anti-gay activism, judging by the following article in its official publication:

Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools
By John W. Kennedy

Note: I certainly do NOT endorse the views expressed in the above article. I'm listing it only as evidence that the Assemblies of God denomination officially encourages religious right wing activism.

And here is an article about the Apostolic Congress, a self-described "theocratic" religious right wing organization associated with the United Pentecostal Church:

The Apostolic Congress

Contains links to other articles about the Apostolic Congress too. The above article is on a website which denounces the United Pentecostal Church as "spiritually abusive."
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 101
Because the religious right wing hasn't been very successful here, a lot of New Yorkers are in denial about its very existence. Alas, it most certainly does exist here.

I just now found the website of an anti-gay religious political advocacy group that was active here in NYC as recently as 2004.

City Covenant Coalition

City Covenant Coalition is a Coalition of "acension gift" ministers and ministries that come together in covenant to transform cities and impact the nations with the "gospel of the Kingdom of God."

Further down on the page is another reference to "Ascension gift ministries." I'm not sure what those are. Sounds sort of Pentecostal-ish, I would guess.

On the following page:

Traditional Marriage Renewal Day Press Statement

Some allied organizations are mentioned:

My name is Joseph Mattera and I am the director of City Covenant Coalition, a network of ministers and ministries that is coordinating this Traditional Marriage Renewal Sunday, alongside other denominations, networks and ministers. These include CONLICO, The Church of God in Christ, Radio WWDJ/WMCA, Radio Vision Christiana, Concerts of Prayer, the New Jersey Faith alliance and many others. These ministries represent thousands of churches from all over the Tri-state area with a Christian voting block that numbers in the tens of thousands!

and here is a collecttion of news articles about them:

Media Coverage

Diane Vera
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 102
Here are two other relevant pages I looked at tonight:

First, a 1993 article on what were then the increasingly authoritarian and conservative tendencies within the Catholic Church itself:

Catholicism's new cold war: the church militant lurches rightward
(The Political Power of the Catholic Church)
by Gerry O'Sullivan
The Humanist, 9/1/1993

Second, a page containing some of the history of religion in general here in New York City:

Chapter 1 of
New York Glory: Religions in the City
Edited by Tony Carnes, Anna Karpathakis
NYU Press, 2001

Diane Vera
Group Organizer
New York, NY
Post #: 106
Here's a story about New Jersey's Roman Catholic Bishops showing their opposition to gay marriage:

New Jersey Catholics Pray for Traditional Marriage
WNYC, NY - Feb 25, 2007­

Diane Vera
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