Conservatives Accuse Watchdog Group of 'Christianophobia'

Monisha Bansal | Staff Writer | Friday, October 06, 2006

Conservatives Accuse Watchdog Group of 'Christianophobia'

( - A liberal government watchdog group has asked the Secret Service to release its records of prominent conservative Christian leaders' visits to the White House, but one of those leaders called the request "an act of Christianophobia."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Wednesday. The group said in the request that the records are "likely to contribute to the public's understanding of the influence that conservative Christian leaders have, or attempt to have, on the president in the exercise of his authority."

The Secret Service has 20 business days to respond to the request for records pertaining to James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Louis Sheldon and Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Don Wildmon of American Family Association, and Jerry Falwell of Liberty University.

"These are people that are publicly identifiable as leaders of what I would call the Christian right, and we are interested to know the extent of influence that they may have had on the president and his policies," Anne Weismann, chief counsel for CREW, told Cybercast News Service.

"It's one thing to know that people have influence and have support of the president, but I don't know that that answers the question about the degree to which they have access and influence to the president and his staff on a day-to-day basis," Weismann added.

But Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, told Cybercast News Service that she questioned CREW's motives in not seeking information about other religious groups who visit the White House, calling it "an act of Christianophobia."

Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, said CREW is "targeting people who represent millions and millions of Christians, and this is clearly an attempt to harass and to intimidate."

"They don't want Christians to turn out and vote," she said. "What they really want us to do is turn in our voter ID cards and just say, 'Hey, we're not going to show up at the polls.'

"I think this will only anger the millions of people these people represent," said Lafferty.

She noted that it is not unusual for the nine people listed in the FOIA request to visit the White House.

"Clearly, the White House communicates with a number of us on a weekly basis on a variety of issues," Lafferty told Cybercast News Service.

Lafferty said she and other conservative Christian leaders represent "a constituency that put the president in the White House. The president has a lot of people that he listens to - he cares about every citizen - but our folks are the heart and soul of the Republican Party right now."

Lafferty added that CREW is a "front group" funded in part by billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros.

"Obviously, everyone on the list is considered a threat," she said. "Anyone who is a threat, Soros and his people go after.

"Soros is a very wealthy, manipulative, evil person who is trying to direct the outcome of this election, and he is going after Christians," Lafferty said.

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