John Birch Society

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John Birch Society,

ultraconservative, anti-Communist organization in the United States. It was founded in Dec., 1958, by manufacturer Robert Welch, headquartered in Belmont, Mass., and named after John Birch, an American missionary and intelligence officer killed by Communists in China (Aug., 1945). Its membership peaked in the mid-1960s at between 60,000 and 100,000. The most prominent of the extreme right-wing groups active in the United States, the society was founded to fight subversive Communism within the United States. Its other objectives have included the abolition of the graduated income tax, the repeal of social security legislation, the impeachment of various high government officials, the end to busing for the purpose of school integration, the end to U.S. membership in the United Nations, cancellation of U.S.-Soviet summit talks, and the nullification of the treaty that turned over the Panama Canal to Panama. In his book, The Politician, Welch charged to the effect that Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles had actively aided the so-called Communist conspiracy. The society has also contended that an elite international cabal—the U.S. branch of which supposedly includes the Council on Foreign Relations, for many years led by David Rockefeller—was seeking to establish a world tyranny. In 1989 the Society moved its headquarters to Appleton, Wis.

Bibliography

See R. Welch, The Blue Book of the John Birch Society (repr. 1995); R. Vahan, The Truth about the John Birch Society (1962); J. A. Broyles, The John Birch Society (1964); B. R. Epstein and A. Foster, Radical Right (1967); D. J. Mulloy, The World of the John Birch Society (2014); T. Lautz, John Birch: A Life (2016).

John Birch Society

Although they once had some influence on the American scene, the John Birch Society couldn’t refrain from labeling anyone who disagreed with them a Communist or a member of the New World Order—even U.S. presidents.

The John Birch Society (JBS) was founded in 1958 in Indianapolis by Robert Welch Jr., a retired candy manufacturer from Belmont, Massachusetts, who believed in restoring to contemporary America the values and principles first stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. The society was named after John Birch, a World War II intelligence officer and Baptist missionary who was killed in 1945 in China by members of the Communist Party. The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, the “bible” of the JBS, was a virtual transcript of Welch’s two-day presentation at the meeting that gave birth to the society, its goal, and its motto: “Less government, more responsibility, and with God’s help, a better world.”

Welch advocated fighting Communism by employing one of the Communists’ favorite tactics, infiltrating other groups. He asked members to join everything from the PTA to local political groups, spread the word of conservatism and anti-Communism in those groups, and work earnestly to take control of them. Another JBS strategy that Welch recommended was to organize massive letter-writing campaigns to sway the attitudes of politicians and advertisers. Welch also warned that the real nature of the United Nations was to begin building a New World Order, a One World Government, and he urged all JBS members to hound their elected representatives to abolish U.S. membership in the organization.

By 1961 the JBS claimed to have hundreds of chapters across the United States with over 100,000 members. Their warning that the Illuminati and the New World Order secret societies formed an unbroken link from the French Revolution to the rise of Marxism was nothing new or original, but their claims that top government officials were dedicated Communist agents began to wear out their welcome among Republicans—especially when they accused President Dwight D. Eisenhower of being an agent of the Communist conspiracy. Among others named as Communist conspirators were former presidents Harry S. Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The conservative writer William F. Buckley Jr., who had been a friend and ally of Welch, termed such accusations “paranoid and idiotic.”

JBS influence on American politics peaked in 1964 during the campaign of Republican Barry Goldwater for president of the United States. John Birch members and friends published several widely distributed books that simultaneously promoted conspiracy theories and support for Goldwater. None Dare Call It Treason, by John A. Stormer, warned about decay in the public schools and the advance of Communism throughout the world; it sold over 7 million copies. A Choice, Not an Echo, by Phyllis Schlafly, worried about the Republican Party’s being controlled by elitists and Bilderbergers. The Gravediggers, coauthored by Schlafly and retired rear admiral Chester Ward, revealed that U.S. military strategy had paved the way for Communist conquest of the world.

Goldwater lost the presidential election to incumbent Lyndon Baines Johnson. In evaluating the campaign, many JBS members realized that less emphasis on conspiracies and the Communist threat might have made for a more successful fight, and they left the society to form the nucleus of the “New Right.”

At the time of Welch’s death in 1983, the Birch Society’s influence and membership had greatly declined. However, active members claimed that President George H. W. Bush’s involvement with the United Nations in the Gulf War and his call for a New World Order had validated their warnings about Illuminati at the highest level in U.S. government.

G. Vance Smith is the current president and CEO of the John Birch Society, presently headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin.

John Birch Society

ultra-conservative, anti-Communist U.S. organization founded in 1958. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1421]
See: Bigotry

John Birch Society

ultraconservative, anti-Communist organization. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1421]

John Birch Society

rabid right-wing group ideologically similar to the Ku Klux Klan. [Am. Hist.: Van Doren, 576]
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