The Christian Action Network, a Religious Right group based in Forest, Va., today announced plans to place ads in the New York media suggesting that First Lady and New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today said the action is a typically sleazy move by the group and its president, Martin Mawyer, a former employee of the Rev. Jerry Falwell's now-defunct Moral Majority.
"The Christian Action Network's rhetoric is so extreme and far out that people may be tempted to dismiss the entire organization as a joke," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "But there's nothing funny about hate-mongering.
"Religious groups should elevate political discourse, not drag it down into the gutter," concluded Lynn, an ordained minister as well as an attorney. "I call on all responsible Christian leaders to condemn this organization's vitriol and smear tactics."
Americans United, a church-state watchdog group, has monitored CAN since Mawyer founded it 11 years ago. Lynn charged that Mawyer's fund-raising letters to supporters encourage hatred of homosexuals and regularly make outrageous claims about gay people, the United Nations, public education and other targets. Some examples include:
* A January 2000 mailing asserting that CAN faces "voluntary bankruptcy" and may soon go out of business. The letter begged for $20 gifts and insisted that "the sheriff may come in any day and SIEZE our equipment, desks, phones and even chairs."
* A March 2000 letter written by Mawyer's wife, Bonnie, blasted Disney for allowing gay groups to visit Disney World. The letter asserts, "Now I have learned that the radical, perverted homosexuals and lesbians are already promoting their '2000 Disney Gay Day' -- with Disney's help! And they are timing it to occur in June -- right when children out of school will be flocking to Disney-owned parks! This proves the true intent of these homosexuals: they are after our children!!"
* A February 2000 mailing soliciting support to help conservatives keep control of Congress. The letter read in part, "I am not ready to give this great nation over to one-world government extremists...radical, disease-carrying homosexuals...or anti-family lesbian feminists...or hate-mongering atheists who despise our religious beliefs...or the ACLU who would deny us our free speech rights...or anti-American U.N. globalists!"
* A September 1998 letter which sought to raise funds from CAN supporters because Mawyer had been in an accident on Virginia's "Interstate 29" (there is no such road in the state) two years earlier. Mawyer claimed the organization's van was damaged and was trying to raise funds for a new one.
CAN's Mawyer appears to be following closely in the footsteps of Falwell, who helped Mawyer get his start. Falwell too has engaged in ethically dubious activities, including selling a videotape charging President Bill Clinton with involvement in the drug trade and arranging murders.
"With this un-Christian and frankly sleazy stunt, Mawyer has managed to match his old boss Jerry Falwell," said AU's Lynn. "That's no easy accomplishment."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in1947, the organization represents some 60,000 members, as well as chapters and affiliated entities in all 50 states.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.