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Lou Sheldon’s Sleazy Fund-Raising Mail

Lou Sheldon’s Sleazy Fund-Raising Mail

One of the most appalling things about the Religious Right is the way its leaders constantly lecture the country on the need for “traditional values” and “morals” – and then proceed to engage in all manner of sleazy activities.

Consider the case of the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coa­lition (TVC). One of Sheldon’s side projects is something called the Christian Seniors Association, a group that purports to “protect” Social Security. The organization’s nominal executive director is Jim Lafferty, husband of Sheldon’s daughter Andrea.

A mailing from this group ended up in the hands of a longtime Americans United member, who sent it to our national office. “U.S. Taxpayer Census” it blares across the top. It even comes with a “Census Document” number and warnings stating, “Do Not Tamper. Reply Within 5 days.”

The mailing is clearly designed to look like a government document. But this document has nothing to do with the Census Bureau or any arm of the federal government. On the back page, in tiny type, the truth is buried: The Christian Seniors Association is a division of TVC.

“All contributions,” it notes, “are combined to help pay Traditional Values Coalition expenses, which are necessary before Traditional Values Coali­tion may engage in its other important activities.”

Translation: Any money seniors donate to “save” Social Security will actually pay for Sheldon’s crude gay-bashing, his relentless assaults on the church-state wall and his efforts to usher in a theocratic government according to his narrow interpretation of the Christian scriptures.

It looked like Sheldon had hit bottom a few years ago when, while posing as a foe of legalized gambling, he accepted donations from casinos. After that, Sheldon even accepted money from lobbyist Jack Abramoff to help a firm called eLottery get around federal laws de­signed to crack down on internet-based gambling. When a targeted piece of legislation failed in Congress, an Abramoff employee wrote of seeing “lucky Louie out front hi-fiving with some lobbyists.”

Remarkably, Sheldon has managed to out-sleaze that stunt with a new scheme that seeks to persuade seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes, to turn over money to “save” Social Security when Sheldon and the other members of his family who run his non-profit enterprises have no intention of doing anything other than pushing the same, tired Religious Right agenda.

It’s bad enough that Sheldon poses as a guardian of “traditional values” and “morality” and attacks those of us who defend church-state separation as amoral radicals while he oversees this operation. What’s worse is that he gets away with it.