Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Concerned Women for America

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Print Friendly

Concerned Women for America (CWA) is a right-wing Christian advocacy group and lobbying outfit based in Washington, DC. With over half a million members, the group bills itself as “the nation's largest public policy women's organization" and boasts "a rich 30-year history of helping members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy."[1] Through grassroots mobilization, publications, and legislative pressure, CWA pushes right-wing viewpoints on social, economic, and foreign policy issues. Affiliated organizations include the Beverly LaHaye Institute, CWA’s “think tank” arm; the CWA Legislative Action Committee, its lobbying arm; and the Concerned Women PAC, which supports political candidates directly.

CWA was founded in San Diego in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye, a social conservative activist and spouse of Moral Majority cofounder Tim LaHaye. LaHaye—who fashioned CWA as a Christian conservative counterweight to left-leaning feminist groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW)—has said that she decided to launch CWA after seeing an interview in which NOW founder Betty Friedan “claimed to speak for the women of America.” According to CWA’s website, LaHaye was “stirred to action” because she “knew the feminists’ anti-God, anti-family rhetoric did not represent her beliefs, nor those of the vast majority of women.”[2]

The group has pushed a plethora of Christian right causes over the years, including criminalizing abortion, banning same-sex marriage, and rolling back sex education for students.  Its work on these issues has at times taken on an international dimension. For example, CWA attracted controversy in 2013 and 2014 for seeming to offer its support for antigay legislation in Russia[3] and for criticizing President Obama’s characterization of the notorious Ugandan “kill the gays” bill as an abuse of “human rights.” (Although the group declined to endorse the Ugandan bill itself, executive director Janice Shaw Crouse saved her vitriol for Obama, writing, “Claiming that homosexuality is a ‘human right’ is an affront—even a mockery—of those Judeo-Christian values that have been the foundation of virtually all Western civilizations across time and cultures.”)[4]

CWA works on array of issues besides traditional social concerns. For instance, among its seven “core issues” is “support for Israel” (the others are “sanctity of life,” “defense of family,” “education,” “religious liberty,” “national sovereignty,” and “sexual exploitation”).[5]

Although CWA is putatively focused on the United States, “support for Israel” has been an official “core issue” since May 2013, when its board of directors unanimously voted to count the “threat of global terrorism and the movement in the Middle East to squelch the nation of Israel” and purported “increased anti-Israel sentiment within our government” among its key concerns. “The biggest catalyst” for the Israel vote, CWA CEO Penny Nance told neoconservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, was that “our Founder, Beverly LaHaye, wanted to codify it in our core values. We have always been supportive but this is more formal.” Mentioning that she had been to Israel recently herself, Nance added, “I now know how absolutely essential support from the U.S. is to the continued existence of Israel and how essential Israel is to stability of the entire region.” Rubin, who dubbed the decades-old CWA “a strong new player in the pro-Israel community,” gushed that CWA’s announcement was “further proof that to be recognized as a conservative leader and to get electoral support from the right these days, Israel is a litmus test.”[6]

As part of its “pro-Israel” advocacy, CWA backed efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran while international negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program were underway. “As the administration works to achieve a final agreement we must continue the pressure,” Penny Young Nance wrote in a letter distributed on Capitol Hill by CWA's lobbying arm, adding that the group “reserves the right to include all floor votes in our annual scorecard.”[7] Critics said the sanctions—which were introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez and vigorously backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—were actually designed to sink the negotiations altogether. (Despite CWA’s support for Kirk’s sanctions bill, it hasn’t always enjoyed warm relations with the strongly “pro-Israel” senator. After Kirk withdrew his sponsorship for a 2014 CWA event on Capitol Hill under pressure from gay rights groups, for example, the group issued an action alert accusing the senator of squelching free speech to appease “the pro-homosexual, bisexual, and transgender lobby.")[8] CWA has also sent delegations to AIPAC’s annual policy conferences.[9]

CWA has attracted criticism for publishing anti-Islamic materials. According to Think Progress’ Matt Duss, CWA publications have characterized Islam as “a military strategy and a political and socio-economic system” rather than a religion. Duss noted that in several jurisdictions, CWA has lent its organizational weight to support anti-sharia legislation developed by anti-Islamic activist David Yerushalmi.[10] “CWA has eagerly read straight from the Islamophobia playbook, relying on the work of Andrew McCarthy, Frank Gaffney, Nonie Darwish, Robert Spencer, and others,” added The Daily Beast’s Sarah Posner. “But its focus on a biblical mandate leads it to even more alarming levels of Islamophobia, portraying Islam as being in a cosmic conflict with Christianity.” Posner noted that a CWA action alert had urged President Obama to be “pro-Israel” rather than “pro-Islam,” and that an article on CWA’s website had falsely alleged that Obama “avoids traditional Biblical holidays and events, but regularly recognizes major Muslim holidays.”[11]

Although CWA does not reveal its funding sources, it claims over half a million members and states that any monetary contribution automatically establishes membership.[12] The group’s 2012 Form 990 filing reported over $6 million in contributions for CWA proper,[13] while a separate 2012 filing reported over $8 million in contributions for CWA’s lobbying arm.[14]

 

Share RightWeb

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources


[1] Concerned Women for America, “About Us,” http://www.cwfa.org/about/.



[2] Concerned Women for America, “Our History,” http://www.cwfa.org/about/our-history/.



[3] Peter Montgomery, “Religious Right Leaders Defend Russia's Anti-Gay Law,” Right Wing Watch, November 15, 2013, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/religious-right-leaders-defend-russia-s-anti-gay-law.



[4] Bryan Tashman, “CWA: How Dare Obama Criticize Uganda's Anti-Gay Law,” February 27, 2014, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/cwa-how-dare-obama-criticize-ugandas-anti-gay-law.



[5] Concerned Women for America, “Our Issues,” http://www.cwfa.org/about/issues/



[6] Jennifer Rubin, “A strong new player in the pro-Israel community,” Washington Post “Right Turn” blog, June 5, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/06/05/a-strong-new-player-in-the-pro-israel-community/.



[7] Penny Young Nance, CWA Legislative Action Committee letter on Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act, January 2014, http://www.cwfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/CWALAC_Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Iran-Act.pdf.



[8] Concerned Women for America, “Senator Kirk Needs to Hear from You Today,” November 19, 2013, http://www.cwfa.org/take-actionsenator-kirk-needs-to-hear-from-you-today/



[9] Concerned Women for America, “Mr. President, Israel Matters,” March 25, 2013, http://www.cwfa.org/mr-president-israel-matters/



[10] Matt Duss, “Women’s Group Adopting Pro-Israel Agenda Has A History Of Anti-Islam Activism,” Think Progress, June 10, 2013, http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/06/10/2125361/cwfa-israel-anti-islam/



[11] Sarah Posner, “WaPo Blogger Welcomes Evangelical Islamophobes to the Pro-Israel Tent,” The Daily Beast, June 10, 2013, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/10/wapo-blogger-welcomes-evangelical-islamophobes-to-the-pro-israel-tent.html.



[12] Concerned Women for America, “Give Now,” http://www.cwfa.org/take-action/give-now/.



[13] Guidestar.org, 2012 Form 990 for Concerned Women for America, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2013/953/580/2013-953580834-09beb2bf-9.pdf.



[14] Guidestar.org, 2012 Form 990 for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2013/953/370/2013-953370744-09c5caea-9O.pdf


Share RightWeb

Concerned Women for America Résumé


Contact Information



Concerned Women for America

1015 Fifteenth St. NW, Suite 1100

Washington, DC 20005

Phone: (202) 488-7000

http://www.cwfa.org/





Founded



1979





Mission Statement



“The mission of the CWA is to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens—first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society—thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.”





Board of Trustees (as of 2012)

  • Beverly LaHaye, Founder and Chairman

  • Penny Nance, CEO/President

  • Tanya Ditty

  • Susi Barlow

  • Anne Ball

  • Sharron LaHaye

  • Barrie Lyons

  • Janne Myrdal

  • Lori Scheck

  • Norma Seifert

  • Angel Voggenreiter

  • Lee LaHaye

  • Cherie Short

  • Geoff Putnam




Staff (as of 2014)

  • Penny Nance, CEO/President

  • Janice Shaw Crouse, Executive Director & Senior Fellow

  • Kenda Barlett, Executive Director

  • Mario Diaz, Counsel

  • Shari Rendall, Director of House Legislation

  • Alison Howard, Communications Director

  • Alexandria Paolozzi, Senate Legislative Director

  • Caroline Biggs, Young Women for America Coordinator

Related:

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

The Trump administration appears to have been surprised by this breach among its friends in the critical Gulf strategic area. But it is difficult to envision an effective U.S. role in rebuilding this Humpty-Dumpty.


Print Friendly

A recent vote in the European Parliament shows how President Trump’s relentless hostility to Iran is likely to isolate Washington more than Tehran.


Print Friendly

The head of the Institute for Science and International Security—aka “the Good ISIS”—recently demonstrated again his penchant for using sloppy analysis as a basis for politically explosive charges about Iran, in this case using a faulty translation from Persian to misleadingly question whether Tehran is “mass producing advanced gas centrifuges.”


Print Friendly

Trump has exhibited a general preference for authoritarians over democrats, and that preference already has had impact on his foreign policy. Such an inclination has no more to do with realism than does a general preference for democrats over authoritarians.


Print Friendly

The President went to the region as a deal maker and a salesman for American weapon manufacturing. He talked about Islam, terrorism, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without the benefit of expert advice in any of these areas. After great showmanship in Riyadh, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, he and his family left the region without much to show for or to benefit the people of that war-torn region.


Print Friendly

Although the Comey memo scandal may well turn out to be what brings Trump down, this breach of trust may have had more lasting effect than any of Trump’s other numerous misadventures. It was an unprecedented betrayal of Israel’s confidence. Ironically, Trump has now done what even Barack Obama’s biggest detractors never accused him of: seriously compromised Israel’s security relationship with the United States.


Print Friendly

Congress and the public acquiesce in another military intervention or a sharp escalation of one of the U.S. wars already under way, perhaps it’s time to finally consider the true costs of war, American-style — in lives lost, dollars spent, and opportunities squandered. It’s a reasonable bet that never in history has a society spent more on war and gotten less bang for its copious bucks.


RightWeb
share