Analysis of Bias
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This article will analyze portions of the public record of Pat Robertson, President of the Christian Coalition with regards to all six forms of bias, namely linguistic, stereotyping, imbalance, unreality and fragmentation. Examples of bias will be extracted from books, newspapers, ADL reports, editorials, magazines, newsletters, etc. General areas of bias will include: anti-Semitism, politics, separation of church and state, tolerance, the justice system and treatment of women. Most of the source material compilation was done by the Interfaith Alliance, an organizations whose goal is "...provide people of faith and others of good will with a platform from which to make their voices heard. Together we are affirming the important role religion has played in American public life and speaking out against those use religion as a weapon to attack their opponents and who willfully pit people against each other for personal or political gain. Together we are rejecting the politics of division, promoting reconciliation, and facilitating greater participation in public life by all Americans."

Since 1988, Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition has become a major force in American politics. To reinforce this point, on July 30, 1996 the Federal Election Commission filed suit against the Christian Coalition for its failure to register and report as a political action committee in violation of United States Code Sections 433 and 434. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) stated that "the Christian Coalition has every right to be involved in the political process as citizens and voters. In so doing, however, they must still play by the same rules as everyone else.

Pat Robertson's Public Record (all quotations from Pat Robertson unless otherwise noted)

Anti-Semitism

bullet The New World Order, (1991), p.17; "Communism was the brainchild of German-Jewish intellectuals."
bullet Petersburg Times, June 26, 1994; Bailey Smith, a founding father of Robertson's Christian Coalition, once told 15,000 people at a Religious Roundtable briefing in Dallas, "With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew."

Separation of Church and State

bullet The State, Columbia, South Carolina, Nov. 14, 1993; "They have kept us in submission because they have talked about separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the Constitution. It's a lie of the left, and we're not going to take it anymore."
bullet The 700 Club, Dec. 30, 1981; "The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society."

Tolerance

bullet The New World Order, (1991) p.227 ; "How can there be peace when drunkards, drug dealers, communists, atheists, New Age, worshipers of Satan, secular humanists, oppressive dictators, greedy moneychangers, revolutionary assassins, adulterers, and homosexuals are on top?"
bullet New York Magazine, August 18, 1986; "It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into [our] institutions [today] are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation."
bullet The 700 Club, January 14, 1991; "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them"
bullet The 700 Club, 1992; "When lawlessness is abroad in the land, the same thing will happen here that happened in Nazi Germany. Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals -- the two things seem to go together."

Women

bullet The Washington Post, August 23, 1993; "(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
bullet Federal News Service, Sept. 11, 1992, quoting a Robertson newsletter; "I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."
bullet The 700 Club, May 22, 1986; "Why are so many marriages falling apart? Why is the divorce rate so high? ...Why is there such a tragedy in marriage?...Now the basic answer to the basic [problem of marriages today is a question of leadership. The wife actually makes the husband the head of the household and she looks to him and she says 'now you pray, and I'm going to pray for you that the Lord will speak to you."
bullet The State-Record, Columbia, SC, June 28, 1992; "(Robertson) chastised women legislators who support no-fault divorce laws that he says encourage men to split. 'Any woman who votes for no-fault divorce is like a turkey voting for Thanksgiving,' Robertson said, paraphrasing a conservative commentator."

Politics

bullet "Pat Robertson's Perspective," April - May 1992; "The strategy against the American radical left should be the same as General Douglas MacArthur employed against the Japanese in the Pacific . . . bypass their strongholds, then surround them, isolate them bombard them, then blast the individuals out of their power bunkers with hand-to-hand combat. The battle for Iwo Jima was not pleasant, but our troops won it. The battle to regain the soul of America won't be pleasant either, but we will win it."
bullet The Los Angeles Times, reprinted in The Religious Right: The Assault of Tolerance & Pluralism in America, produced by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); "It's like guerrilla warfare....It's better to move quietly, with stealth, under cover of night. You've got two choices: You can wear cammies and shimmy along on your belly or you can put on a red coat and stand up for everyone to see. It comes down to whether you want to be the British army in the Revolutionary War or the Viet Cong. History tells us which tactic is more effective".

The Justice System

bullet The New World Order (1991), p. 231; "The potential savings in the national budgets from the elimination of police, criminal courts, standing armies, pollution control agencies, drug enforcement, and many poverty programs is almost beyond calculation."
bullet The 700 Club, Oct. 2, 1990; "The courts are merely a ruse, if you will, for humanist, atheistic educators to beat up on Christians."
bullet The Washington Post editorial board, June 27, 1986; "I am bound by the laws of the United States and all 50 states...I am not bound by any case or any court to which I myself am not a party...I don't think the Congress of the United States is subservient to the courts...They can ignore a Supreme Court ruling if they so choose."

 

Summary and How To Compensate for the Above Biases in the Classroom

First the Facts…

The focus of this paper is on Pat Robertson and the organization he is President and Founder of, the Christian Coalition. In understanding the Christian Coalition one must first understand the backgrounds of most of its members. First, its members are mostly white evangelical Christians. The group has recently, under Executive Director Ralph Reed attempted to extend its reach to Jews. However the Coalition effectively excluded observant Jews from participation in its annual Road to Victory political convention in Washington, DC, by scheduling the event for September 13-15, 1996. Obviously ignoring that September 13th marks the beginning of the holiest days of the Jewish year, which start with Rosh Hashanah and conclude with Yom Kippur. These days are supposed to be devoted to prayer, solemn festivities, and rest from work. Recently the group has tried to reach out to Hispanic groups with little success.

The majority of Coalition members have a rather idealized vision of America. For example., Mike Ebert, published in the Coalition publication, Christian American, the following:

Summer has never completely arrived for me until I celebrate the Fourth of July. It's a holiday with so much tradition and excitement. And it's the one that's truly American through and through. As a child growing up in Ohio, I remember lining up along my home town's main street, watching a seemingly endless line of marching bands, fire engines, clowns and war veterans stream by. Everything was shiny, big and loud. One year, my sister and I decorated our bikes and our little brother's wagon and we all walked in the parade together. Another time I joined my Little League baseball team in the procession. In the afternoon came a big meal - maybe even a picnic - with hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and all-you-could-eat corn-on-the-cob. We didn't care how much butter or salt we were piling on. But the biggest event of the day didn't come until the end. As soon as it was dark we pulled lawn chairs to the back yard and fixed our eyes on the sky. When the fireworks finally erupted it seemed as though they would land right in our yard, though they were being launched at least a half-mile away at the county fairground.My childhood Fourth of July reflected exactly what I thought about America. It was big, happy and on the rise.

This view of America and the fourth is obviously idealized and though it may represent his selective memories, it clearly ignores the perspectives of thousands of Black and Hispanic youths that daily experience subtle and not so subtle forms of discrimination and hatred and whose parents struggle to simply keep them alive and under one roof.

Further, the Christian Coalition by no means represents the views of the majority of Christians in this country. For Example, Unitarian Universalists urge their members to confront the Radical Religious Right at every opportunity. At their annual General Assembly conference in July, delegates voted to support a resolution calling for its members to use everything from voting to aligning themselves with interfaith coalitions in order to target groups that "subvert the open democratic process." Many Catholic and other non-Evangelical Christian groups actively oppose the Christian Coalition and the religious right in general. The Interfaith Alliance (mentioned earlier) is organizing chapters across the country to counter the Christian Coalition, their efforts range from active voter education and mobilization to outreach to other groups and government lobbying.

In Christian Coalition itself is a large and powerful political organization with chapters throughout the world. The Federal Election Commission's complaint against the Coalition found that "the Christian Coalition's ultimate goal, like that of a political party is to obtain control of the levers of government so that it may then put into operation its policies and philosophies. The Coalition's public statements, written materials, and actual election-related activities all demonstrate that its major purpose is to influence federal elections." The FEC relied, in part, on the recruitment and training videotape produced by the Christian Coalition in 1990, "America At A Crossroads," in which Pat Robertson described the political purposes and the election-related goals of the Christian Coalition when he stated, "I believe that the Christian Coalition will be the most powerful political force in America by the end of this decade," and then proceeded to explain point by point how this goal would be reached.

There ultimate future vision of America might be found in founder Pat Robertson's view of Zambia. Zambian President Frederick Chiluba is a Robertson associate who, in 1991, officially declared the country a 'Christian nation,' and followed this up by changing some of the nation's laws to reflect the new Christian status. Robertson hailed this action while interviewing Chiluba during a taped segment that aired during the April 25, 1995, edition of 'The 700 Club' and lamented the fact that no such declaration can occur in the United States. "Your country is a standard for not only Africa but the rest of the world,' gushed Robertson. Since Chiluba took office all public schools have become saturated with fundamentalist Christianity - Muslims and Hindus were told that they would have to build their own schools; state-run radio and television has been taken over by Christian fundamentalist religious programming; all abortion was outlawed - police shut down every clinic and many doctors and staffers were attacked and beaten; an anti-pornography crusade was launched, and fundamentalist ministers and missionaries were given license to work with the police to publicly burn any material deemed obscene. The country is now swarming with fundamentalist Christian missionaries, many of them affiliated with the radical Christian Reconstructionist movement...[which] Under their plan, the harsh legal code outlined in the Old Testament would be the basis for U.S. law."

Yet despite all of the above, the aims of the Coalition can sometimes appear to quite moderate. According to Pat Robertson, "I founded the Christian Coalition as a pro-family citizen action organization to impact public policy on a local, state, and national level, to teach Christians effective citizenship, and to promote Christian values in government." Yet how does this last statement square with his pattern of public statements and writings that stretch over many years. Finally, how does Mr. Robertson's statements (past and present) square with the new Executive Director Rex Reed's avowed desire to "reach out" to minority groups.

The questions posed in the last paragraph would be the center piece of my curricular approach to examining Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition. The overall approach would be to:

bulletStudy or briefly examine the personal history of Mr. Robertson. I would ask the students to consider or speculate on what might have been the major formative influences in his life that shaped his religious, political and social beliefs.
bulletStudy or briefly examine how and why the Christian Coalition was formed and who comprises the organization today.
bulletI would then examine the public words and writings of Mr. Robertson as outlined above. I would ask students to analyze his remarks in the context of his personal background, the background's of other members of the Coalition and finally their (the student's) personal perspectives and views.
bulletI would ask the class to assess, for example the political influence of the Coalition in the Republican party and ask them to examine the tactics the Coalition is using to become a major political force.
bulletIn light of (4), I would ask the class to state reasons why the Coalition might want itself to be perceived as a more moderate force in order to attract a larger and more influential following.
bulletI would ask the class to explore reasons why hundreds of thousands of people might belong to the Coalition yet either not support or be aware of many of Mr. Robertson's views.

I would implement these activities through a variety of means, including various readings on bias and bigotry, large group/organizational dynamics, anti-Semitism, abnormal personalities, political lobbying, etc. Role playing, research reports, outside speakers, and large and small group discussions might all be used.

In conclusion, the only counter I know for bias and bigotry is the truth. My purpose would be to present many of the statements and facts I have outlined above and then encourage students to think of how such beliefs have and can shape the world they live in. I would ask them to reexamine their own thinking for similar types of bias, examine their own formative influences and suggest ways they can constructively and democratically channel their beliefs into positive change that benefits society.

 

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