Family Research Council
The Family Research Council is a nonprofit public policy and research organization that “promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.” The group is a prominent organization in the Christian Right movement and focuses on promoting and advocating socially conservative policies.
While it claims to simply be advocating for family values, FRC has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center stating that “The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as ‘the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,’ but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians.”
FRC was founded in 1983 by evangelical Christian James Dobson as an offshoot of his other conservative Christian organization, Focus on the Family. Dobson, who has been described as America’s most influential evangelical leader, first gained fame as the author of Christian self-help books, such as Dare to Discipline, which “tried to rehabilitate the practice of spanking.”
FRC released a report titled “Homosexuality Is Not a Civil Right” arguing that “homosexual behavior” is “clearly voluntary,” and accusing LGBT activists of trying to “hitch their caboose to the ‘civil rights’ train.” It has claimed that the “gay lifestyle” leads to child sexual abuse and called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act the “Crossdresser Protection Act.” The organization is opposed to both civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples, and promotes “sexual reorientation therapy” (or “conversion therapy”) for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. It has opposed efforts to ban the practice from being used on minors.
FRC supports banning abortion without exception, including in cases of rape, has pushed for personhood laws, and called the 1972 Supreme Court ruling allowing unmarried people to possess contraception “a decision that gravely wounded marriage and set the nation on a course of gradual debilitation.” It has also lobbied against the possibility of classifying abortion as preventive service, because fertility “shouldn’t be placed in the same category as other types of medical care.” The group also supports abstinence only sex education, and opposes the HPV vaccine being required in schools or being provided on an opt-out basis.
Along with abortion and gay rights, FRC opposes protections for transgender people, and the use of embryonic stem cells. It also claims that Christians are the “most frequent target” of “bigotry against people of faith.”
FRC has a history of controversial leadership. James Dobson accused President Obama of being the “most committed pro-abortion president in our history,” and of supporting infanticide. He also stated that the “the biggest Holocaust in world history came out of the Supreme Court” with the Roe v. Wade decision.
Tony Perkins, the current president of FRC has accused Democrats of waging a “campaign against orthodox religious views,” advocated for an amendment to the constitution to ban gay marriage, and called same-sex unions partnerships “as counterfeit as a five-legged dog.” Along with his conservative Christian activism, Perkins has spoken at an event held by the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, “America’s premier white supremacist organization,” and paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 to use his mailing list while he was the campaign manager for a right-wing Senate candidate in Louisiana. Perkins has also accused Muslims who take the teachings of Islam literally of perpetrating “great evil,” and recently warned that young Americans who have joined ISIS were sucked into such an evil venture because “atheizers” have driven out Christian values out of schools and left only “the violent nihilism of the hip-hop gang banger music” and “the appalling phenomenon of teens ‘sexting’” in their place.
FRC also uses its legislative arm, FRC Action, to lobby directly for socially conservative policies. The group lobbies legislators directly and scores them on issues important to the organization. FRC Action included the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act as a scored bill and urged lawmakers to vote against it, stating that “the real abuse” would be the bill’s waste of taxpayer dollars. Reality star Josh Duggar, known for being on the show “19 Kids and Counting” about a conservative Christian family, was named executive director of FRC Action in 2013, but resigned in 2015 after reports surfaced that multiple allegations of child molestation had been brought against him.
FRC has clashed with more the moderate wing of the Republican Party. In a 2013 email to supporters Tony Perkins urged supporters to withhold contributions to the GOP, after a RNC report suggested Republicans reconsider their stance on same-sex marriage. The email read, “Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don’t send them a dime of your hard-earned money…Instead of trying to appease millennials, Republicans should try educating them on why marriage matters.”
In 2013, the most recent year for which financial information is available, FRC took in over $12.9 million in contributions and grants, and spent more than $13.8 million on its operations. The Conservative Transparency database has identified more than $6.5 million of the group’s contributions since 1992. Since 2006, it has received major donations from the National Christian Foundation, a secretive organization often used as conduit to funnel money to other conservative charities, the James and Joan Lindsey Family Foundation the Thirteen Foundation, run by Farris Wilks, a major backer of Religious Right organizations, and Donors Capital Fund, a conservative donor-advised fund.