A day or two ago I heard, on NPR, a report about evangelicals taking up environmentalism. Nice! I said to myself. If indeed this can be taken as a genuine change in attitude from the biblical dominance of man over nature.
A comment at MyDD reminds me of Sarah Posner's essay -- about a month ago at Gadflyer -- which was noted in these pages. Chris Bowers had posted a couple of days ago at MyDD a report from the meeting of the National Association of Evangelicals. Bowers' post prompted a response from "Grey Lion," who links to Posner's article about the Council for National Policy, a pretty well hidden force behind rightwing, well... dominance over America.
The activities of the CNP should give all of us pause as we take full measure of the evangelical support for, say, environmentalism. Skepticism is in order. Posner writes:
Most Americans – even many self-professed political junkies – probably have never heard of CNP or would confuse it with countless other groups with similarly unremarkable names (including the Center for National Policy, a liberal group). But conservative activists would know what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has referred to as "the heart of a great conservative movement that helped to make America strong and prosperous in the 20th century – and is now helping to ensure she remains free and secure in the 21st century," or what Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence has called "the most influential gathering of conservatives in America." But because CNP has been so successful at maintaining its secrecy – flouting the law for more than two decades – it has managed to obscure the depth of its reach in conservative political organizations, political fundraising, the conservative media, and even the Bush administration itself.
Posner untangles the relationships among conservative funders of Bush, church groups, and covert political activities -- all these from an organization with a tax exemption which requires that the organization observe certain rules which, of course, they disregard.
CNP operated since its inception – and continues to operate today – in direct contravention of these legal requirements. CNP's membership is by invitation only. Unlike most other tax-exempt educational organizations, an ordinary person cannot just write a check and join, attend a forum, or purchase a publication. Its meetings – which consist of speeches, panel discussions, workshops and meals – are open only to members and special invited guests. CNP prohibits attendees from discussing the content of meetings publicly. The media are prohibited from attending. CNP does not disseminate any written materials to non-members. In other words, you won't see one of its meetings televised, and you can't order a book, journal or pamphlet from CNP. The IRS cited all these reasons when it revoked CNP's tax-exempt status in 1992.
CNP is not merely excluding outsiders from neighborhood bridge games. The prominence and power of its members – and their political clout within the Bush administration – require, more urgently, the openness of its activities. But CNP has laughed in the face of the IRS and the American public's right to know for more than 20 years, a period during which the radical right has aimed – and largely succeeded – in hijacking the Republican Party.
Of course, "while the mainstream media is asleep at the switch, CNP members' access to conservative media outlets enable them to collaborate and disseminate their propaganda."
Sarah Posner's article, as "Grey Lion" writes at MyDD, needs to read by all of us and kept for reference even as we weigh our our responses to initiatives from the Right and from the evangelicals.
Stay skeptical. Stay very skeptical!