News and opinions on the situation in Venezuela
Analysis of the Christian right and the AFA’s Letter on Venezuela Zack Krasuk
AFA: its roots, political power, bigotry and its long term goals
February 3rd, 2006
Before we can begin analyzing a recent letter written by the American Family Association regarding the ongoing political process in Venezuela, it is important to thoroughly explain the roots, ideology and political power of the AFA and what their long term goals are. The American Family Association is a fundamentalist Christian, politically conservative, anti-abortion, openly homophobic organization in the United States. The organization has also expressed anti-semitic statements in the past. The AFA’s headquarters is located in Tupelo, Mississippi and was founded in 1977 by Rev. Donald Wildom as the National Federation for Decency.
The AFA has long been opposed by conservative Constitutionalists and moderate republicans because of the organization’s goal of implementing false Christian doctrine within the seat of government; the AFA’s version of Christianity is in essence hateful, hence it is a false version of Christianity. The AFA has also called for strict government control of the means of communication (TV, radio, newspapers) in the US, bringing forth the scorn of most Americans, even those in the spectrum of conservative politics. It is no secret that much of the AFA’s political ideology follows the same line as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations and other hate crime groups in the US based on false Christianity and intolerance. Amongst their goals is also the criminalization of alcohol, pornography (even “softcore” porn), marihuana, violence on TV, gambling, speaking against Christianity, cheating, lying, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality and a plethora of other things considered “vices” by the American Family Association. With these facts in mind, it is no surprising therefore that the AFA’s Agape Press stated publicly after the Hurricane Katrina that the disaster occurred as “God’s mercy” since it “wiped out rampant sin”. Never mind that 1417 people died due to the Katrina Hurricane, the vast majority of them poor blacks. Never mind that most of them didn’t have cars to flee the city in time and public transportation was shut down before they could escape. Never mind that the US government’s help came later than that of Citgo corporation and when it did, it was in the form of body bags, soldiers (many of them brought from Iraq) fully armed and ready to kill and last but not least, morticians. It was “those sinful New Orleans people” that brought God’s wrath upon them, it was their own fault: that was the kernel of the AFA’s message to the nation regarding the Katrina Disaster.
Similarly, the Rev. Rob Schenck of the AFA said in January 2006 that those who prayed for trapped miners in West Virginia had no real faith in God because they turned to God only in time of need. Activism of the AFA includes: letter-writing campaigns at promoting the religious right; boycotting Nike for “promoting a back door move to legalize homosexual marriage”; boycotting Ford Motor Company for “promoting homosexual lifestyles”; boycotting Proctor and Gamble for “promoting homosexuality in Cincinnati”; boycotting Abercrombie and Fitch for “the use of softcore pornography in some catalogs” (in fact, there was no pornography involved, since all the people shown had their private parts covered); boycotting Kmart for “selling of adult-related music CD’s, etc. The AFA went as far as attacking Target for not using the word “Christmas” in their advertising and even attacking the movie “Shark Tale” for “brainwashing kids into accepting gay rights”. Clearly the groups extreme preoccupation with homosexuality is quite disturbing.
However, the AFA is not just a small band of obscure fanatics. Their political power is vast in the US. In 1987 they were able to persuade the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to issue a warning against Howard Stern when he began working on an American Family Radio network. They even pressured the FCC to give them an FM license in 1991 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Today their anti-semitic and homophobic message is spread through 20 states through their radio. Art has also been a victim of the AFA’s political pressure on the US government. During the 90's the Senate was persuaded by the AFA to cut funding by 45,000 dollars to the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art because some art was deemed “blasphemous” by the American Family Association. They also have sued city governments. In 2004 the AFA filed suit to prevent the city of Seattle from recognizing same-sex marriages.
So we can see a recurring trend: the AFA’s goal to influence as a religious organization the politics of the United States and in the long run create a government based upon Christian fundamentalist dogma.
The AFA and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition.
The AFA also counts with the support of the Christian Coalition, founded by Rev. Pat Robertson. This organization, like the AFA is part of what is called the Radical Religious Right of the United States and was a bi-product of Pat Robertson’s failed attempted at reaching the presidency in 1988. Although well-funded, he was never able to persuade the American public of changing the US government into a Christian fundamentalist theocracy. With the remainder of the campaign money he received he founded the Christian Coalition. On the Christian Coalition’s website, they make no attempt at hiding their goal of using their influence to change the US government according to their political ideals. They state: “The Christian Coalition of America offers people of faith the vehicle to be actively involved in shaping their government – from the Country Courthouse to the halls of Congress.” Interestingly, the Christian Coalition and Pat Robertson are strongly in favor of Zionism whereas the AFA isn’t; their links are tied together by an equally strong hatred against homosexuals, socialism, alternative religions to Christianity, people of color and anything that they may consider a “vice”. Robertson, possessing a confused mix of stances, has received awards from the Zionist Organization of America for his support of Zionism and his hate against Palestinians yet at the same time he blames most of the world’s problems on “Jewish Bankers”.
Pat Robertson: is he really whom he claims to be?
It is interesting to note that although Pat Robertson preaches constantly about morality to Americans, his actions speak the contrary. Paul Bosman Junior, a veteran who served with Robertson during the early 50's, stated that Robertson was extremely promiscuous and had frequent sexual encounters with prostitutes. Bosman also said that Robertson repeatedly sexually harassed a cleaning girl in the army. Paul McCloskey, a US politician who was a member of the House of Representatives and who was a member of the Marine Corps stated that Pat Robertson’s record that he fought in the Korean War was a lie. It was revealed by McCloskey that Robertson spent most of his time in an office in Japan and was a “liquor officer” responsible for keeping the officer’s clubs supplied with liquor. There is evidence that suggests that Robertson didn’t take part in combat operations due to his father’s intervention. His father had been a conservative democratic Senator from the South.
Robertson also repeatedly expressed his support for ex-Liberian dictator Charles Taylor in 2003. Pat Robertson gave out emotional and morally-filled speeches regarding Liberia and in support of the dictator yet failed to mention that he has an investment of 8 million dollars in a Liberian gold mine. At the time Robertson stated his support for Taylor the UN had indicted the former Liberian leader for war crimes. Robertson made similar remarks during the 90's praising one of the most bloodthirsty leaders of modern history who was backed by successive US governments for decades: Mobutu Sese Seko in the former Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo today). Again, Robertson keeps forgetting to mention in his moralist speeches about his investments in gold and diamond mines in those African countries.
Women’s rights are also attacked by Robertson and the Christian right. On February 28, 2004 Pat Robertson stated “God’s pattern is for men to be the leaders, both in the church and in the family… Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.”
In 1985 Robertson, claiming to have a direct link to God said he could make Hurricane Gloria turn away. The hurricane missed Virginia Beach but instead continued up the coast and slammed into Long Island and New England, causing a billion dollars in damage. In 1995 he again claimed to have magical powers and stated that he would make Hurricane Felix go away using Jesus’s name. The hurricane didn’t go away and it killed 8 people in North Carolina and New Jersey. The list of events like these is endless and Robertson continues to use the name of Jesus and God for his own personal gain amongst the naive who continuously support the Christian Coalition through generous donations.
The Bush-Robertson connection.
The current US administration headed by George Walker Bush has close ties to both the AFA and the Christian Coalition. Pat Robertson is a close friend of Bush and frequently visits the President at his Crawford Ranch in Texas. On August 1st of 2005, Bush voiced strong support for the so-called “intelligent design theory” which states that God created man in an intricate and intelligent manner-an idea that has been proven wrong by the Theory of Evolution more than 100 years ago. Bush stated “both sides ought to be properly taught” so that “people can understand what the debate is about”. For the resounding majority of members of the scientific community this statement made by Bush is an insult. Even Bush’s top science adviser stated to the New York Times: “evolution is the cornerstone of biology” and “intelligent design is not a scientific concept”. These statements were repeated by the National Science Teachers Association, the National Center for Science Education and the American Geophysical Union. The religious right on the other hand, which keeps close ties with the current US administration, has happily embraced Bush’s remarks. So in essence, the religious right has obtained a political hold of the US government strong enough to make the country go back in time, 80 years back. Literally. Last time there was a debate at a national level regarding the validity of the Theory of Evolution it happened in 1925 during the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee.
Robertson stated in 1993 in his address to the American Center for Law and Justice: “there is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore.” Obviously Mr. Robertson hasn’t taken the time to even read the US constitution. Keep in mind at all times: Pat Robertson is the man whom the current President of the US keeps as close friend and even finds as a source of inspiration. In 2004 for some strange reason, Pat Robertson was over confident that George Bush would win the election at a point in time when no one really knew who would win. Here is an excerpt of what he said during the “700 Club television program”: “I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe that I’m hearing from the Lord it’s going to be like a blowout election of 2004… It doesn’t make any difference what he (Bush) does, good or bad. God picks him up because he’s a man of prayer and God’s blessing him.” God blesses Bush? Or Diebold Corporation does? Incidentally, the CEO of Diebold Corporation, the company in charge of tallying the votes in Ohio during the 2004 elections is also a good buddy of the President.
It is beyond a doubt now proven that both the AFA and the Christian Coalition have shaped government policies on a continuous, non-stop basis since their inception. Let us now remember Thomas Jefferson’s statement regarding the participation of religious groups in government politics: “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa.” Let us also remember a statement done by Adolf Hitler, a man who truly did support right wing Christianity’s inclusion into the government: “The national government … will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality”.
Thou shalt not lie: except if you’re Pat Robertson.
Both Bush and Robertson hate the democratically-elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez. On August 22, 2005 Robertson stated in his 700 Club program that Chávez should be assassinated because according to Robertson, Chávez was creating a “launching pad for communist infiltration”. The Venezuelan government asked the US government to condemn Robertson’s remarks yet the White House gave no response. This of course was no surprise. Bush and Cheney had supported an illegal, fascist coup that had tried to kill Chávez on April 11th 2002. It is known that CIA and US military personnel were with the coup leaders during that day, amongst them US Lieutenant Colonel James Rodgers and Colonel Ronald McCammon. 2 American warships were in Venezuelan waters during the coup and an airplane piloted by Americans was stationed in Orchilla Island, ready to take Chávez out of Venezuela. 3 days later, on the 14th of April, the coup fell apart and Chávez came back to power due to the masses that poured into the streets in his support as well as the decisive action of a sector of the army that supported Chávez as well. Weeks after Robertson did his comments, he denied ever having made those remarks even though CNN had video evidence proving the opposite. To this day Robertson claims he never did those remarks. It is to be noted that the video was shown to Mr. Robertson himself and yet he continues to deny a fact. Obviously “thou shalt not lie” is not a part of Mr. Robertson’s repertoire. As recently as December 2005, Álvaro Uribe, the current President of Colombia, publicly denounced a meeting in Santa Marta, Colombia, done by a US military officer with some members of the Venezuelan military who had done the failed coup attempt against Chávez in 2002 and some members of the Colombian military. It is the author’s guess that the US officer and the South American fascists met to talk about the weather or about the latest Britney Spears album.
For those of you who are surprised because the US government tried to overthrow a democratically elected government, don’t be. In fact it’s become a tradition. A few names of the democratically elected Presidents that have been overthrown and/or murdered by the CIA and US government in various parts of the world: Arbenz in Guatemala, Lumumba in Congo, Allende in Chile, Aristide in Haiti, Sanchez de Losada in Bolivia and the list goes on and on. By now the reader should understand the the US government speaks continuously of democracy and freedom yet does remarkably the opposite when it comes to its foreign policy.
The AFA letter on Venezuela.
In late January 2006 the AFA published an article through its press attacking Venezuela. The article was titled “Venezuelan Dictator Vows to Bring Down US Government. Send an email to Chávez and to CITGO that you will not be shopping at a Citgo station.” To begin with, Chávez is a President elected by the people of Venezuela in 1998 and ratified in a referendum in 2004 by the majority of Venezuelans. Hence the term “dictator” is erroneous.
The article goes on to say that the Venezuelan government is the sole owner of CITGO. That in itself is not entirely true. The company is owned by stockholders, a large portion of them being Americans; the company is subsidized by the Venezuelan government through Petróleos de Venezuela, which is CITGO’s parent company. CITGO’s refining network is among the safest, most environmentally sound and sophisticated in the US and is also the largest with a capacity to refine over 1.1 million barrels of oil per day and producing 140 million barrels of gasoline per year. CITGO gives jobs to thousands of American workers in refineries in Lake Charles, Corpus Christi, Lemont, and the LYONDELL-CITGO refinery.
The American Family Association’s article goes on to say that Chávez wants to take down the US Empire. True. Chávez was quiet clear when he stated that it was up to the American people to do that. He specifically stated in numerous speeches that the world’s fate depended on the American people and their willingness to fight in a peaceful and organized manner the current regime that has gotten a hold of the White House since 2001. It should be noted that before George Walker Bush got to power, the US and Venezuela had positive and confrontation-free relations. Clinton spoke with Chávez personally in Washington DC on one occasion and bilateral relations were perfectly normal between the two nations. Since Clinton left office, George Bush’s goal towards Venezuela has been to get rid of Chávez. US intervention in this country has been not only blunt but also obscene: the CIA has not even tried hard to conceal its presence. It has given support to paramilitary right wing death squads and fascist terrorists in the border with Colombia (in direct contradiction with the “War on Terror”), it has used the National Endowment for Democracy as a tool to funnel illegal funding into creating discontent in Venezuela and sabotaging production and last but not least it has been involved in repeated attempts to assassinate President Chávez. One of those attempts involved an anti-tank weapon in the city of Caracas and another attempt involved a shoulder fired anti-air weapon intended to blow up the President while his airplane was in flight.
With so much “loving friendliness” and rhetoric regarding “freedom” and “democracy” displayed by the US government it is not surprising that Chávez wishes the American people the best in trying to remove an incredibly criminal and cynical regime from the White House.
Do note: one of Chávez’s sins in the eyes of Bush is that Chávez gave women equal protection under the law, decreased inflation dramatically, increased the per capita GDP in 2004 to 4075$ (2nd largest in South America after Chile), gave the poor training so that they wouldn’t have to beg from the government, made Venezuela the fastest growing economy in South America (with a whopping 17% growth in 2004), tried to end the Civil War in Colombia by persuading the ELN to enter the peace process, opened up diplomatic relations with Cuba and in 2005 freed Venezuela of illiteracy through an aggressive reading and literacy campaign. Boy is Chávez “evil”! No wonder most Americans who come to Venezuela state that they wish he would be their President too! Some more examples of how “evil” Chávez is: output in Venezuela’s manufacturing capacity increased by 10% in 2005, an increase of 22% was observed in total surface farmed in Venezuela, an increase of 9% in the GDP of 2005 (one of the highest in South America), a decrease in inflation from 15% to 9% in 2005, bringing free health care to everyone and vastly increasing funding for schools and universities as well as the creation of day cares so that single moms can go to work without worrying what to do with their children.
The AFA’s article goes on to say that Chávez is pushing a communist revolution and implying that it has the complicity of Fidel Castro. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chávez in many of his speeches has said that Venezuela’s political process was NOT of Marxist character. Chávez has vowed to abide by a Participatory Democracy, where people vote on any major decision making that is done in the country. Such a system is far more democratic than the US representative system, since in the US the only “democracy” left to people is casting their vote on who will do the decisions for them. In Venezuela on the other hand, people are having more and more ability to take part in decision-making. If one opens any of the right-wing anti-Chávez newspapers in Caracas one will notice the following: there is simply an excess of personal freedom in Venezuela. People in the right wing newspaper editorials have cussed at Chávez’s mom, his family, his children and himself. Not a single time was their freedom restricted in any way, even when the editorials were done with extreme poor taste and lack of imagination. Similarly, TV and radio as well as opposition rallies and assemblies are permitted. Some have gone even as far as threatening the President physically on TV and they were not even fined. You can only imagine what would happen to the fellow in the US who dares threatening the President physically. Chances are that person would not remain free for long in the US.
The AFA’s rant further states that CITGO sends money back to Chávez to help him bring down the US government and hence it calls for a boycott of CITGO. Remember the boycott of Abercombie and Fitch called upon by the AFA because according to them, the lingerie-clad women and men were “softcore pornography”? Well this seems equally preposterous. CITGO’s funds were actually used to help Americans during the Hurricane Katrina Disaster. Together with the Venezuelan Consulate in Houston, people in Louisianna received blankets, food, water and shelter, long before George W. Bush figured out on whether sending aid to the disaster victims was ok or not.
Now this fundamentalist, homophobic and anti-women organization called the American Family Association wants the American people to send emails to Chávez and CITGO telling them that they will boycott CITGO products through their petition at www.afa.net/Petitions/TakeAction.asp?id=182 and through Chávez’s email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What will we do? Simple. Spread the truth about the AFA, about Pat Robertson, about the Christian Coalition and about their blatant hypocrisy and how they have continuously taken the American people for fools and gotten away with it. It is now time to fight back and send an equal petition the other way around: asking for legal action to be taken against the AFA for getting involved in government decision-making when the Constitution explicitly forbids religious organizations of doing that and asking for the impeachment of George Walker Bush for fomenting terrorism, instability and sabotage against another western democracy. In addition to this we have to let the AFA and the US government know how the American public feels. The AFA can be reached at www.afa.net/contact.asp and the Bush administration can be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.