Council for National Policy

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Council for National Policy

Some conspiracy theorists say that the ultrasecret Council for National Policy is the right-wing conservative version of the Bilderbergers.

When U.S. Senate majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) received the Thomas Jefferson Award from the Council for National Policy (CNP) in August 2004, the media was not invited. In fact, one of the cardinal rules of the CNP is that the media should never know, before or after an event, who participates in its programs. The membership of the CNP is kept so confidential that guests can attend only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee, and the group’s leaders are so secretive that members cannot refer to them by name even in emails.

In October 1999 George W. Bush addressed the CNP. Due to the group’s policy of strictest secrecy, Bush’s campaign leaders refused to release the full text of his remarks. Other speakers whose words were meant only for CNP members have included Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

Just prior to the Republican convention in New York City in 2004, the New York Times reported that several Bush administration representatives spoke at a CNP meeting. Also scheduled to speak were Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Assistant Attorney General Alexander Acosta, and Dan Senor, an aide to Paul Bremer, presidential envoy to Iraq.

Just who are the Council for National Policy and why are they so powerful? In 1981, right-wing leaders were encouraged by Ronald Reagan’s election to the U.S. presidency and decided that they must somehow capitalize on the administration’s popularity. Tim LaHaye, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher and author, president of Family Life Seminars; Richard Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser; Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation; and about fifty other far-right conservatives met at Viguerie’s McLean, Virginia, home to plan strategies by which they might maximize the power and influence of the ultraconservative movement. The Council for National Policy was fashioned out of that meeting as a tax-exempt organization for conservatives who were concerned about the social/religious issues of abortion, gay rights, and school prayer.

Back in 1981 the CNP was far less secretive in declaring its goals and its potential power when it united the theocratic religious right with the low-tax, antigovernment segment of the Republican Party. Congressman Woody Jenkins of Louisiana, the CNP’s first executive director, told Newsweek that “one day before the end of this century the Council will be so influential that no President, regardless of party or philosophy, will be able to ignore us or our concerns or shut us out of the highest levels of government.”

During the 1980s and 1990s some very influential right-wing and conservative leaders were affiliated with the CNP. Among those attracted to the movement have been televange-lists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson; antifeminist crusader Phyllis Schlafly; right-wing talk show host Oliver North; North Carolina Republican senator Jesse Helms; former House majority leader Dick Armey; Attorney General John Ashcroft; Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Beverly LaHaye (wife of Tim LaHaye), founder of Concerned Women for America; and Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.

Today the CNP continues to be made up of powerful members of the religious right who strive to turn the United States to their conservative agenda. Interestingly, this “Christian” organization has definite ties to Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s openly anti-Christian movement, to the controversial and cultic Church of Scientology, to the ultraright John Birch Society, and to the intelligence community. Donald P. Hodel, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, is the current president of CNP; T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., vice president, was a domestic policy adviser to President Reagan. Among CNP’s current members are James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association; Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform; and Stuart W. Epperson, owner of a chain of Christian radio stations.

The goals of the CNP remain the same as those set forth in 1981:

  • Scale back the size of the federal government.
  • Restructure the United States in a Christian fundamentalist image.
  • Pass censorship laws against popular culture.
  • Vote liberals and progressives out of office.
  • Bring back prayer into the public schools.
  • Fund private Christian schools with tax money.
  • Prevent gays from achieving full civil rights.
  • Make abortion illegal.
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