Crackpot Central

Why Must We Take the Family Research Council Seriously?

What goes on at the Values Voter Summit after the cameras have left.

The FRC, which sponsors the Values Voter Summit that took place in Washington over the past weekend, is a big, big player in conservative politics. Tony Perkins, its leader, has a lot of power in the GOP, appears on television as a serious person, and so on.

So in that context, I think it's worth noting what goes on at those conclaves when they think no one is watching. They hosted Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann and the other big names last Friday. Then, on Saturday, after the mult-boxes had all been safely packed away and the media weren't looking, out they came.

Alternet's Zaid Jilani was watching, and here's a bit of what he saw. Jerry Boykin, the retired lieutenant general and Christian jihadist who now works at FRC, basically called for World War III. An "ex-Muslin convert" named Kamal Saleem issued a different warning:

During the question-and-answer session, a number of attendees wanted to know more about how Muslims were supposedly infiltrating the U.S. government.

Saleem alleged that a U.N. treaty that Obama was working to enforce to replace the constitution with sharia law. Under this new, purportedly Obama-enforced regime, "churches and synagogues will go down underground because now you'll have to submit your sermons to the government." The consequences of an Obama re-election, he said, would be to "lose this nation.”

All right, this is crackpot stuff. But according to the Serious Men and Women of Washington, the FRC is not a crackpot outfit. Can you imagine if the Center for American Progress, say, or Jim Wallis's group featured a speaker who alleged that Romney had a secret plan to convert everyone to Mormonism and force Christians to reject all they'd been taught and embrace Joseph Smith's teachings? I know I said last week I generally steer clear of analogies, but this one is pretty precise.

Except that neither CAP nor Wallis would ever dream of doing such a thing in a jillion years. And not because it would be politically unwise and they'd get their heads lopped off--but because it would just be a plainly nutty and deeply offensive thing to do. And, sure, they'd know that it would erode or destroy their credibility.

But FRC can do this and still be accorded respect. Why? Because we just take it as a given and accept that the right wing is full of nativist and reactionary and racist cranks. And this, remember, is a religious organization.