Christian Right (For Kids!)

You’ve seen those studies which show how Generation Next (ages 18-25) is becoming less religious, more tolerant, and less Republican?

Some students in Connecticut are disturbed by that. They want to buck the trend.

They are the next generation of the Christian Right:

Like its parent organization, the youth group — known as iFIC [Family Institute of Connecticut], an obvious play for the iPod generation — rejects abortion and same-sex marriage and supports home-schooling and sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Its members, largely Catholics or evangelical Christians, view public policy through the prism of their faith.

“We’re not ashamed of what we believe in,” said Michael Ruminsky, a 23-year-old from Hartford who will leave for seminary in August to begin his journey toward ordination as a Catholic priest.

Leah Thomas (below) is the Executive Director of iFIC.

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… “There’s a silent majority out there,” said Leah Thomas, the group’s 23-year-old executive director. “They think maybe theirs is the only voice.”

Thomas, a graduate of Trinity College who now works in the Catholic campus ministry at the University of Hartford, has a soft voice and a gentle demeanor. “I’m an introvert,” she said.

But she speaks loudly when she feels the need. She was part of a pro-life student group at Trinity that published an alternative brochure for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. The brochures put out by the liberal women’s center on campus made no mention of adoption or post-abortion counseling services, both of which she viewed as grave omissions.

What’s the goal of the group?

… [Family Institute Executive Director Peter] Wolfgang envisions the day iFIC chapters will be as commonplace in Connecticut high schools as gay-straight alliances are today. “Right now, they’re years ahead of us,” he said of well-established politically progressive groups.

Swaying public opinion and building a generation of conservative leaders is the long-term goal. “It’s about the future of the pro-family, pro-life cause in Connecticut,” Wolfgang said, “and where this cause will be not just tomorrow but for the next 20 to 50 years.”

I don’t think the group will be that successful. Any group which preaches intolerance (whether based in religion or otherwise) never gains much traction in high schools. Most students are smart enough to stay away from groups like that. iFIC affiliates can exist in public schools, to be sure, but groups like that rarely gain as much traction as more inclusive, tolerant groups.

Also, when the passionate founder of these groups graduates, I predict many of these clubs will just die off.

That said, why does reading about this group disturb me so much…?

(via The Invisible Pink Unicorn)

  • http://blog.chungyc.org/ Yoo

    Am I the only person who finds it odd that the executive director of a “family values” group is a woman, where similar groups are incidentally of the sort that “want women to be in their place”? (Even their holy book says something similar …)

  • Ron in Houston

    What bothers me are the ties between religion and politics. That’s the danger to me.

  • Shane

    “and where this cause will be not just tomorrow but for the next 20 to 50 years.”

    They already had the last 2000+ years, and I think that was quite enough.

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    Mmmm, she’s hot.

    And what kind of megalomanic brain damage do they have to have to think they are part of the “silent majority”????

  • Desert Son

    Interesting that Wolfgang is noted as saying “they’re ahead of us,” meaning gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender support groups in schools. Specifically antithetical in language. Instead of trying to found the organization as one of community working together, he uses the language of opposition. No surprise, I guess.

    As an aside, I hope that’s not a mixed fabric blouse she’s wearing in that photograph. I’d hate to think such a devout god-fearing woman is not following the strict tenets of biblical proscription on textiles.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    “We’re not ashamed of what we believe in,” said Michael Ruminsky, a 23-year-old from Hartford who will leave for seminary in August to begin his journey toward ordination as a Catholic priest.

    Interesting choice of words. One would think this would go without saying if their political position really were virtuous.

    I doubt this group will get much traction, though. It’s only noteworthy because it’s so incongruous. See The Religious Right vs. Young People.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.com GDad

    Also, when the passionate founder of these groups graduates, I predict many of these clubs will just die off.

    That said, why does reading about this group disturb me so much…?

    I imagine it’s because you’re seeing people intentionally, and with eyes wide open, moving backwards to superstition and fear. It’s hard to have a firm belief in humanity’s enormous potential when there are so many counterexamples.

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com arkonbey

    … “There’s a silent majority out there,” said Leah Thomas, the group’s 23-year-old executive director. “They think maybe theirs is the only voice.”

    Since when are fundies silent?

  • Adam

    WTF? That is the problem with politics. Religious Right? D**N that makes me mad.

    I was just watching Ron Paul’s speech from this last weekend and he talks about the separation of church and state and how ones religion is irrelevant to defending the Constitution.

    By combining fundamentalist christian beliefs with an America that is already upset with the current GOP administration, they are setting themselves up for failure. (Thank god)

    Separation of Church and State, Separation of Powers…Go Ron Paul! Go Bob Barr! Go LP!

    I am glad that other groups are more ahead of them and not surprised at all that they aim to challenge those groups.

    C.L. Hanson, Thanks for the link!
    Adam

  • Gabriel

    Didn’t reagan use the term “silent majority”? It sounds very familiar, very ’80′s. Whenever I read about these groups I think of Carl Sagan and his book The Demon Haunted World. These groups worship darkness and ignorance and are terrified by light and knowledge.

  • Richard Wade

    Didn’t reagan use the term “silent majority”? It sounds very familiar, very ’80’s.

    Actually, Richard Nixon coined the phrase in a speech on November 3, 1969, referring to what he claimed was the majority of Americans who still supported the war in Viet Nam. He was trying to equate apathy with consent.

    The phrase is the political equivalent of believing in an invisible, inaudible power that is on your side in spite of the lack of supporting evidence or the presence of contradicting evidence. This is something that the Christian Right is fond of doing.

  • Vincent

    And what kind of megalomanic brain damage do they have to have to think they are part of the “silent majority”????

    Nobody with a fringe idea wants to think they are a nutjob. It’s expected that such a person will prefer to think “Most people agree with me but are just silent”. It’s a powerful delusion.

  • Gabriel

    Richard,

    Thank you. I knew the phrase was familiar but couldn’t place it.

    Gabriel

  • False Prophet

    Yeah, they want to claim they are the “silent majority” and an oppressed minority at the same time. If you were looking for an easy example of doublethink…

    Desert Son, Catholics don’t give a damn about mixed fabrics. Catholics only consult portions of the Old Testament to justify specific points of doctrine or to “prove” the New Testament. Few OT laws that are not reiterated in the NT are upheld by the RC Church: e.g., the OT lays out what the acceptable grounds for divorce are, while Jesus specifically forbids any divorce in the NT, thus the RCC adopts the latter. Whereas homosexuality is condemned in Leviticus and by St. Paul equally, and thus becomes doctrine.

    [Incidentally, there are less than half a dozen Bible passages that could be construed as condemning homosexuality, but well over 100 addressing helping the poor and condemning the rich, especially the corrupt or those who exploit others. But where is the priority of many good Christians--gay marriage or Enron?]

    You can condemn the RCC for a lot of looney things, but taking Scripture literally isn’t one of them. This lets the Pope decide in the mid-19th century that abortion is a grave sin, when there is no Scriptural support for this view (not without twisting the intent of the passages beyond recognition, anyway). Even the Fathers of the Early Church couldn’t reach a consensus, but the nice thing about arbitrarily declaring yourself “infallible” is the ability to make stuff up.

  • EKM

    And Nixon also gave us the Southern Strategy, and therefore probably also gave us the Religious Right and the polarization we have today.

  • TheDeadEye

    Mmmm, she’s hot.

    And a virgin. :D

    Too bad she’s ten eggs short of a dozen.

  • Stephanie

    iFIC?

    They’ve already shot themselves in the foot what with that sounding like l33t for creating fiction…
    I’m sure kids are snickering about it already.

  • laterose

    I can’t say I’m surprised. When I was in high school, about five years ago, there was a similar group. Sadly it’s probably not new or going away.

    Am I the only person who finds it odd that the executive director of a “family values” group is a woman, where similar groups are incidentally of the sort that “want women to be in their place”? (Even their holy book says something similar …)

    It’s amazing how many women make their careers out of telling women not to have careers…

  • Wes

    I was just watching Ron Paul’s speech from this last weekend and he talks about the separation of church and state and how ones religion is irrelevant to defending the Constitution.

    By combining fundamentalist christian beliefs with an America that is already upset with the current GOP administration, they are setting themselves up for failure. (Thank god)

    Separation of Church and State, Separation of Powers…Go Ron Paul! Go Bob Barr! Go LP!

    Ron Paul tailors his message to whomever happens to be listening. When he’s pandering to the reconstructionists posing as libertarians over at Lew Rockwell’s joint, he completely changes his stance on separation of church and state. Here he is mindlessly parroting all the lies and distorted talking points the religious right has been spreading for years:

    The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html

    Note the completely and utterly ludicrous lie that the Constitution is “replete with references to God”—God is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. And from his House of Representatives Website:

    Congressman Ron Paul today condemned a federal appeals court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance cannot be recited in schools because it contains the phrase “one nation under God.”

    “The judges who made this unfortunate ruling simply do not understand the First amendment,” Paul stated. “It does not bar religious expression in public settings or anywhere else. In fact, it expressly prohibits federal interference in the free expression of religion. Far from mandating strict secularism in schools, it instead bars the federal government from prohibiting the Pledge of Allegiance, school prayer, or any other religious expression. The politicians and judges pushing the removal of religion from public life are violating the First amendment, not upholding it.”

    “The tired assertion of a separation of church and state has no historical or constitutional basis,” Paul continued. “Neither the language of the Constitution itself nor the legislative history reveals any mention of such separation. In fact, the authors of the First amendment- Fisher Ames and Elbridge Gerry- and the rest of the founders routinely referred to “Almighty God” in our founding documents. It is only in the last 50 years that the federal courts have perverted the meaning of the amendment and sought to unlawfully restrict religious expression. We cannot continue to permit our Constitution and our rich religious institutions to be degraded by profound misinterpretations of the Bill of Rights.”

    Paul previously introduced “The First Amendment Restoration Act” to reassert true First amendment religious freedoms and end the kind of judicial overreach exhibited today. The bill becomes especially timely now, as it clarifies that federal courts have no jurisdiction whatsoever over matters of religious freedom. It also restores real religious freedom by making it clear that the federal government cannot forbid mention of religion, the Ten Commandments, or reference to God in both public and private life.

    Paul also supports teaching creationism in schools. I’d give a link to that but then this comment will be held up in moderation.

  • http://http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Ron Paul … I used to like him. Now … ugh. Just ugh.

    Orcinus has a good post on the sort of things he likes to talk about.

    I think the name’s wrong. I’d like to change it to the “international Family Union for Christian Knowledge.” I bet it’d get a lot more college-age members. Especially with Leah at the head … I mean on top … I mean …

  • http://http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    By the way–when did 18-to-25-year-olds become “kids”?

  • Desert Son

    False Prophet,

    Desert Son, Catholics don’t give a damn about mixed fabrics.

    I know. I was trying, not very well, to make the point you elucidated, about relative prevalence of scripture prohibitions and subsequent adoptions, or lack thereof, by scripture supporters. The comment was meant to convey the commentary.

    Anyway, thanks for the clarification.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • http://ghosts.ofminnesota.blogspot.com Ghost of Minnesota

    Reclaiming the word “family” from these wackaloons should be a priority action item. I know this may come as a surprise to some, but non-Christians have families too.

  • Miko

    Can’t say I mind too much.

    For example:

    She was part of a pro-life student group at Trinity that published an alternative brochure for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. The brochures put out by the liberal women’s center on campus made no mention of adoption or post-abortion counseling services, both of which she viewed as grave omissions.

    If accurate, I’d say they’re in the right here (that other options should be mentioned; not that their options are the ‘best’ ones). Interestingly enough, their pamphlet seems to talk about post-abortion issues and so apparently discusses options which the group itself may disagree with (unless they’re doing it in a poisoning-the-well “if you have an abortion, you’ll need to see a shrink” kind of way), for which I wholeheartedly congratulate them.

    As for the larger issues, they’re going to lose politically no matter what their group does and we can always hope that they’ll grow out of their bigotry as they grow older. Another plus is that forming a group like that would force them to continually put their tacit positions into words, which will surely help some percentage of their member base to realize how terrible these beliefs are.

  • Xeonicus

    Reclaiming the word “family” from these wackaloons should be a priority action item. I know this may come as a surprise to some, but non-Christians have families too.

    I thought the same thing when I read this. They say they’re pro-life and pro-family as if they have a monopoly on such things. I know by pro-life they really mean they take a hard-line stance against abortion for everyone, but to me I can’t help but think that the only difference between them and me is that I don’t opt to shove my personal ethics down everyone elses throat. It’s as if by virtue of my lack of faith I’m automatically gay, unable to commit, a sex maniac, a murderer, and an anarchist.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    I like what False Prophet said:

    “Yeah, they want to claim they are the “silent majority” and an oppressed minority at the same time. If you were looking for an easy example of doublethink…”

    When they are being persecuted, they are a minority. When a law gets passed they pushed for, they are a majority. Which is it?

    Groups like this scare me. A lot.

  • http://www.acosmopolitan.blogspot.com Anatoly

    I think what’s truly disturbing is that their executive director is hot.

    It really breaks my heart that such beauty is wasted on faith.

  • cipher

    By the way–when did 18-to-25-year-olds become “kids”?

    They are kids. Sociologists now regard adolescence as extending until at least the age of thirty. Judging by most of the young people I meet today, I agree completely.

    why does reading about this group disturb me so much…?

    Could it be her smug, condescending expression as she stares off prophetically into the horizon? The idea that at 23, she thinks she has it all figured out?

    Nixon also gave us the Southern Strategy, and therefore probably also gave us the Religious Right and the polarization we have today.

    Nixon was bigoted and delusional, but the roots of the tragedy that is the South go back to the founding of this nation. There has always been a North/South, urban/rural, industrial/agrarian rivalry. The Civil War and, especially, Reconstruction made it much worse. And, ironically, LBJ largely sealed the deal with civil rights legislation. As he signed one bill into law, he said (supposedly, but I think Bill Moyers claims to have been present) “We’ve just handed the South to the Republican Party for the foreseeable future.”

    We’re completely screwed – and we deserve to be. I don’t hold out much hope for the future of civilization, but, in any case, America is finished as a world power. Start learning Chinese, boys and girls.