Are there fundamentalist activists out there who promote what they call the “radical homosexual agenda?” It doesn’t seem to fit, but a survey released recently by the fundamentalist activist organization Concerned Women for America raises some puzzling questions.
The organization claims to be the largest public policy women’s organization in the United States. Its founder, Beverly LaHaye, tells the story of the day she decided to start her own fundamentalist women’s organization. She was watching Betty Friedan on TV with her husband, the prolific fundamentalist author Tim LaHaye. It was the late 1970s, and Friedan promised to keep working until American had embraced “humanist” values. LaHaye remembers jumping up and exclaiming, “Well, Betty, I’m going to spend the rest of my life seeing that American doesn’t become a humanist nation.”
The organization that resulted from that resolution has become a leading voice in favor of traditionalist family structures, Biblical values in the public square, and other fundamentalist causes. CWA now claims 500,000 members who have joined LaHaye’s fight for the values of fundamentalist women. One of the most influential has been Michele Bachmann, who attributed her start in conservative politics to the influence of LaHaye and CWA.
So when this leading fundamentalist women’s activist organization released the results of a poll of its members recently, it is not surprising that overwhelming majorities of CWA’s members oppose what they call the “homosexual agenda” in public schools. What is surprising is that there are a significant minority of CWA members who seem either ambivalent or even supportive of homosexuality as part of public-school curriculum.
For instance, consider this question. The CWA claimed to have “uncovered proof that children in grades as early as kindergarten are being taught that cross-dressing is an acceptable practice and may be encouraged.” The CWA asked its membership what kind of impact this would have on children. Not surprisingly, 84.6% of CWA thought this would have a negative effect on kids. But here’s the stumper: 6.2% of CWA members answered that this would have a positive effect.
Here’s another example: the CWA asserted, “The overriding interest of the radical homosexual agenda is to change the moral character of our young people and the moral landscape of our nation through the schools.” When the CWA asked its members what effect this “radical homosexual agenda” will have “on our nation and the next generation leading it,” almost all CWA members (91.4%) said “negative.” No surprise there. But again, a puzzling 5.2% of CWA members answered that the “homosexual agenda” will have a positive impact!
What are we to make of these results? Is it possible that roughly 1 in 20 CWA members–for a total of roughly 25,000 nationwide–support the homosexual agenda in public schools? Who think that teaching cross-dressing to kindergarteners is a good thing? That just doesn’t seem possible. After all, the CWA’s self-declared reason for existing is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policies.”
But then how are we to understand these survey results? A few possibilities spring to mind. The first is that this survey is simply fake. The CWA could have simply added in a few minority voices to make their survey results seem more credible. They might have wanted to project an image as a diverse organization. But such a fake seems far too obvious. After all, who could believe that a full 5% of CWA members think that “sexual activity between minors and adults” will have a positive impact on children? I wouldn’t think that 5%–or even 0.01%–of the American public as a whole could support such things.
Could it be that some CWA respondents did not understand the questions they were being asked? They might have thought that they were being asked different questions, such as, ‘do you think a fight against cross-dressing curriculum will have a positive impact?’
The most difficult of all to believe is that there are a sizeable minority of CWA members who support what the CWA calls the “radical homosexual agenda” in public schools. That would confound our understanding of what fundamentalists want in American culture, politics, and education.