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Eagle Forum

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Eagle Forum

Acronym/Code: Eagle

Updated: 6/89

Categories:Political, Education, Service

Background: The Eagle Forum was founded in 1972 in Alton, IL by Phyllis Schlafly, an attorney who has been admitted to the bar in Illinois, Missouri, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Supreme Court. (16) It isa membership group which in its 1988 brochure claims to have 80,000 members organized into state chapters. (1,5,16) It has a very conservative philosophy and actively advocates traditional family and educational values, a strong national defense, and private enterprise. (1,3,4) It was praised by former President Ronald Reagan for setting .".. a high standard of volunteer participation in the political and legislative process." He praised its members for making "such enormous individual efforts in finding and electing good candidates to office from the courthouse to the White House, and especially in the Senate and Congress. God bless all of you," he continued "for your dedication to God, Family, and Country."(16)

It has education, national defense, and social security committees and operates the Parents Advisory Center. (1,6) The Forum publishes the Phyllis Schlafly Report and a 4-page monthly newsletter "The Education Reporter." It operates Eagle Forum Radio which produces "Radio LIVE" with Phyllis Schlafly, another version of the Phyllis Schlafly Report. (6)

Funding: Grants of $25,000 were received from the John M. Olin Fdn in 1985 and 1986. The former supported work on the Parent Leave issue and the 1986 funding was given to support educational programs on comparable worth. (7,8) Annual membership fees begin at $15 and move up in increments to $100 and a lifetime membership can be had for $1,000. A subscription to the Education Reporter is $25 per year. Other funds are generated by the sale of the Schlafly report, a number of her books, an Eagle Forum pin, and a wide choice of videos on the forum’s issues. (16)

Activities: The group’s original project was to stop the Equal Rights Amendment from passing the required number of state legislatures. For this purpose it established the Stop Equal Rights Amendment Political Action Committee (also known as Stop ERA). Overtly, the group’s rationale for opposition to the ERA is that it is inconsistent with the rights of women, families and individuals, but it also has a secondary purpose–educating the public about "ERA’s hidden agenda–gay rights and abortion."(1) The PAC was very active during the initial ERA thrust prior to 1982 and again in 1986 when it concentrated its efforts on defeating ERA in the Vermont elections. It is currently inactive. (1)

The Forum also claims successful campaigns in preserving women’s exemption from the military draft and combat duty, preserving the dependent wife’s and widow’s benefits in Social Security, defeating the attempt to make child care a federal function rather than a family responsibility, achieving federal and state legislation to eliminate child pornography, and exposing and defeating the "anti-family" and feminist goals of the Commission on International Women’s Year and the White House Conference on Families. (16)

The group has a lengthy action agenda which includes ongoing opposition to the ERA, a tax credit for every child to give parents freedom of choice on childcare and end discrimination against "mother care," an end to the "unfair tax discrimination against the traditional family" in the current tax code, a strong national defense emphasizing the need for SDI, clean cable television legislation, and stronger parent and pupil rights in education. (16) The forum was a participating organization in the 1986 Conservative Political Action Conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union, Young Americans for Freedom, Human Events and National Review. (9)

The Phyllis Schlafly Report radio show is in its sixth year and in its literature says it is aired on 250 Christian radio stations of the USA Radio Network. (6) The written version of the report is issued monthly and comes with membership in the Forum. Reports cover the topics of education, national defense, economics, feminism, politics, and the U.S. Constitution and constitutional issues. Annually, the forum bestows a "Fulltime Homemaker Award."(1)

The group has used the Hatch Amendment of the General Education Act as a tool to bring public education curricula in line with its agenda. (4,5) Anne Lewis in her article notes that the Forum’s use of the Hatch amendment "has spawned such a gargantuan raid on the integrity of a free public school education that even its sponsor, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has called for the ‘rule of common sense’."(5) The group has drawn the fire of many critics. In the words of one,"Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, a New Right organization based in her hometown of Alton, Illinois, will provide you with a form letter which you may use as a tool to intimidate local school officials… it provides a laundry list for frightened parents who believe the public schools are turning their children into sexually savvy, proleft, antireligious sybarites."(4) The Schlafly interpretation of the Hatch Act gives parents the right to excuse children from classroom activities that involve: alcohol and drug education, topics related to globalism, discussions of organic evolution, death education–including abortion and suicide–curricula on nuclear issues, discussions on Eastern mysticism, education on human sexuality, discussions on parenting or attitudes towards parents, and any assignments or projects involving personal journals, autobiographies, talkins or other techniques of self-disclosure. (4,5,)

Another timely project was the "Freedom Fighter Friendship Kit," a package prepared for the Nicaraguan contras in December 1985. Among other things, the kit included a Spanish-language Bible, a toothbrush, some aspirin, water purification tablets, Life Savers, Doublemint gum, Mentholatum, a small sewing kit, a pocket comb, shaving cream, disposable razors and an aluminum mirror. Schlafly said of the kits,"It’s just a little pouch with a couple of medical and nutritional items–a few little things that can help the freedom fighters over a difficult period… The Russians are probably supplying the Sandinistas with even better kits."(10) When completed, the kits were sent to the Phoenix headquarters of the United States Council for World Freedom, an organization headed by General John Singlaub (ret). (10)

Government Connections: Rosemary Thomson of the Eagle Forum was named director of the Reagan administration’s Women’s Equity Action Council in the Department of Education. (11) Phyllis Schlafly was appointed by President Reagan to be a member of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. (17)

Private Connections: The Free Congress Foundation, founded and headed by Paul Weyrich, has trained Eagle Forum workers for campaigns opposing abortion and labor unions. (12) Phyllis Schlafly was one of the founding members of the Council for National Policy, the New Right version of the Council on Foreign Relations. (11) Schlafly sometimes writes for the Washington Inquirer. (13) Schlafly’s husband, Fred, serves on the board of directors of the United States Council for World Freedom. (14)

U.S. Address: Headquarters: Box 618, Alton, IL 62002; Washington, DC office: 316 Pennsylvania Ave. , S. E. , Suite 203, Washington, DC 62003.

Principals: Phyllis Schlafly, pres; Tottie Ellis, vice pres; Caroline Moore, legislative director, Cindee Leavitt, manager. (1,2,16)

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