November 2007 Church & State | People & Events

Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to Utah in late September to address a closed-door meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP).

Cheney’s speech, like all of the events at the Salt Lake City gathering, was closed to the media. The meeting was heavily guarded, and reporters were kept out. Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert later told the Salt Lake Tribune that Cheney talked mostly about the need to continue the war in Iraq.

The CNP is an umbrella group of far-right organizations, some secular and some representing the Religious Right. Speakers at the recent event included Jonathan Falwell, Falwell attorney Mathew Staver and longtime anti-feminist crusader Phyllis Schlafly.

Reported the Tribune, “Members are told not to discuss the group, reveal the topics discussed in the closed-door meetings or even say whether or not they are members of the organization.”

Despite the secrecy, the Tribune managed to obtain a copy of the meeting agenda. It included panels on private school vouchers, anti-abortion activism and issues relating to religion in public schools.

Mitt Romney, presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, also addres­sed the event. An attendee said Rom­ney talked most about “family values” issues.

“He put an exclamation point behind the importance of the family,” Richard Wirthlin, a former Reagan-era official, told the Tribune. “I think he might have picked up some support in there.”

In other Religious Right news:

 Anti-abortion leader Randall Terry is trying to make a comeback. Terry, known for his aggressive tactics aimed at shutting down abortion clinics, founded Operation Rescue 20 years ago. Formerly a fundamentalist Protestant, he converted to Catholicism in 2005.

The National Catholic Register reported that Terry has assembled a new staff and plans to tour 20 states over 10 weeks in a motor home, giving speeches and spurring activism.

“We are going to revive street-level activism but integrate it with political action as well as utilizing the new generation of media to persuade young people’s hearts,” Terry said. “Our actions must be commensurate with the beliefs we profess. If we believe this to be murder, are we doing something about it?”

Terry fell off the radar screen after he left his wife for a younger woman in 2000. The church he was attending at the time censured him, and Terry lost support. In 2002, Terry tried unsuccessfully to launch a career as a country and western singer. He ran unsuccessfully for the Florida legislature in 2006, losing two-to-one in the Republican primary to a candidate who was accused of frequenting strip clubs and taking donations from club owners.

The Christian Coalition of Florida has given an 84.6 percent approval rating to a Florida legislator who was arrested for soliciting prostitution.

Rep. Bob Allen, a Republican representing Merritt Island, was arrested in a park restroom in Titusville after he allegedly offered an undercover police officer money in exchange for being allowed to perform a sex act.

An editorial in the Lakeland Ledger asserted that the Christian Coalition stacked its scorecard with votes related to gambling. As a result, many state representatives who normally agree with the Religious Right on social issues received poor grades.