Report of the Month

The Other Jackson
Point Man for the Wedge Strategy: Harry Jackson is the Face of the Religious Right’s Outreach to African American Christians

By Peter Montgomery, People For the American Way Foundation, Washington, D.C., 2009.

The African-American minister Harry Jackson was embraced as a rising star among leaders of the Christian Right in 2004 when he proclaimed that God told him to help reelect George W. Bush. While he tones down his rhetoric to sound reasonable to the mainstream press, he uses warlike imagery in his talks to gatherings of White evangelicals, writes Peter Montgomery, the author of this report.

Outside of the mainstream media’s eye, Jackson charges that prochoice and pro-gay rights advocates will tear apart the family, attack the structure and livelihood of religion and the church, and eventually bring down the entire country due to their Satanic influences.

Montgomery tracks Jackson’s efforts to bridge the gap between White and Black Christian evangelicals – a goal shared by his lead champion Tony Perkins, director of the Family Research Council, with whom Jackson authored a book. Decrying abortion as “black genocide,” Jackson appeared in an election season ad with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece Alveda King, calling on African Americans not to vote based on race. He urges evangelicals to join the campaign to defund Planned Parenthood because “they’ve put out a hit on all children, but they’ve set up themselves to put out a hit on Black and Hispanic babies especially. It’s time that we take them out.”

Although he failed to rally African-American churchgoers to oppose Obama’s presidential candidacy, he “took part in conference calls designed to rally conservative pastors to support Proposition 8 in California,” which overturned the legalization of gay marriage. Yet it is difficult to track how influential he is among African American churchgoers beyond members of his Maryland church.

As a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, he urged the dismissal of its vice president Richard Cizik based on his politics, and he participates in the Arlington Group, an insider leadership circle that includes James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Perkins and others.  Environmentalist concerns over global warming suggests God isn’t in charge, he wrote in Personal Faith, Public Policy, his book with Perkins. In the book, he also supported denying citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented parents. Montgomery also tracks his latest campaign against federal hate crimes legislation that covers attacks on gays, which Jackson called “an all-out assault against Christians.” – Kris Coombs and Abby Scher

Other Reports in Review

Making Green Jobs Good Jobs
High Road or Low Road? Job Quality in the New Green Economy

By Philip Mattera, et. al. Good Jobs First, Washington, D.C., February 3, 2009. (PDF)

Washington is abuzz with ideas to jumpstart the economy, while investing in “green jobs” that might lessen the damage we do to our environment. President Obama’s stimulus bill included funding for green jobs. But green jobs are not always well-paying jobs, according to this report, so any investment – for instance, in manufacturing components for wind and solar energy, modernizing the energy grid, green construction and weather proofing buildings, mass transit, and recycling – should be tied to good wages and not directed toward union-busting firms currently operating in the sector.

State and local governments have promoted good jobs by requiring green businesses receiving development subsidies to follow labor standards. The federal government uses “prevailing wage” rules, which can be effective in well-paying (though not low-wage) sectors. These practices should become standard, but should also be enforced. The study found that cities dilute labor standards under pressure while continuing to offer subsidies. In one example, “wind blade maker TPI Composites recently took over a former Maytag appliance factory in Newton, Iowa where workers had been paid about $19 an hour. In 2007, TPI was given $2 million by the state with a requirement that it pay its workers only $13.47 an hour. The company sought additional public funds in 2008 from the Iowa Economic Development Board, which agreed to waive pay requirements that would have raised wages closer to Maytag rates.”

Localities also give money to union busting firms like Clipper Windpower, which won more than $3 million in subsidies for its turbine plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The company hired anti-union consultants after workers contacted the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in January 2008 and more than 70 percent signed cards calling for a union. In the end, the workers voted against the union.

Since much of the “green” economic sector relies on government funding, the government can have a huge impact by making labor standards comprehensive, and giving them teeth by “clawing back” funding from companies that fail to follow the rules.

Racial Profiling at the Border
Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home

Muslim Advocates, April 20, 2009, San Francisco, Calif. (PDF)

This report is not the first time Muslim Advocates has challenged the interrogation, searches, and seizures of information on cell phones and laptops from Muslim Americans traveling back into the country. The New York Times wrote an editorial decrying the practice in July 2008, after the group’s director Ferhana Khera shared cases in testimony to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and civil rights, where she once served as counsel.

The impact of this report, documenting racial profiling and privacy intrusions targeting Muslim Americans coming home, was even more dramatic. Within weeks of its release, Khera’s former “boss” on the subcommittee, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold  of Wisconsin, won a commitment from  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to  review how border and customs police screen people they perceive to be Muslim American, and look into cases where Muslim citizens said they were harassed while traveling. 
Among the dozens of cases documented in the report: Yasir Qadhi, a Yale graduate student with whom U.S. counterterrorism officials have consulted about his research on violent religious movements, was stopped several times by border agents who asked about the content of his lectures, the mosques where he worships, and his circle of acquaintances. They also copied data off his cell phone.

Border agents have the power to search any laptop or phone even without cause for suspicion. They, along with national security agents, are the only police allowed freely to use racial profiling under U.S. Department of Justice guidelines dating to 2003.

Racial and ethnic profiling leads to the equivalent of unwarranted searches and seizures, violations of citizens’ Constitutional right to reenter the country unimpeded, and a waste of government resources and time from false leads. This racial profiling generates streams of data that, in the controversial intelligence framework of “mosaic theory” embraced by investigators, is fed into databases so that agents can “connect the dots” and identify national security threats. As Khera asks in the report's preface, “What is the U.S. government doing with the information being seized and amassed? … Where is the oversight and accountability to protect innocent Americans?” Napolitano committed to undertaking the investigation within 45 days and report back to Congress.

LGB Poverty Revealed
Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community

By Randy Albelda, M.V. Lee Badgett, Alyssa Schneebaum and Gary J. Gates, The Williams Institute of UCLA, March 2009. (PDF)

While the media and pop culture love to paint the image of the well-off, well dressed, well educated, well-spoken gay man, this study, the first of poverty among lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) Americans, finds the stereotype to be downright false. Looking at three sets of data – the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the 2003 & 2005 California Health Interview Surveys (CHIS), and the 2000 Census – they discovered that LGB adults and LGB same-sex couples are just as likely, if not more so, to live in poverty as other adults living in the United States.

The various data sets suggest different findings. Using the National Survey of Family Growth, the researchers found that 24 percent of lesbians and bisexual women from 18 to 44 years old are poor, compared with only 19 percent of heterosexual women. At 15 percent, gay men and bisexual men have poverty rates equal to those of heterosexual men (13 percent) in the NSFG. The researchers encountered familiar data: African-American LGB couples are statistically poorer than White couples, as are LGB couples living in rural areas. But children of same-sex parents are twice as likely to be impoverished as children of different-sex parents.

The researchers link these higher poverty rates to discrimination both in the workplace and in access to affordable health insurance, and government health and retirement benefits that require couples to be married. LGB people shunned by their families are also left without an important safety net.

Texas Sex Ed
Just Say Don’t Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools

Dr. David Wiley and Dr. Kelly Wilson with Ryan Valentine, Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, Austin, Texas, February 2009. (PDF)

Texas is the flagship state for abstinence education in high schools; a decade ago the state required school sex ed classes to promote abstinence over other options. But Texas students are more sexually active, and less likely to use a condom, than American students as a whole. This report takes a closer look at sex ed classes in 96 percent of Texas middle and high schools in 990 districts, discovering that more than 94 percent don’t offer any information beyond abstinence. Only 4 percent teach how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, modes of contraception, and “responsible pregnancy.”

They found that courses used wrong information – for instance, on the failure rate of condoms – and descriptions of sex as dirty and shameful to discourage sexual activity. They also found teachers using negative gender stereotypes and anti-gay statements, and drawing on religious instruction and Bible study.

They also found that more than 80 percent of the School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs), which supposedly offer a forum for community input on sexuality education, ignored the issue.

Summer 2009
Vol. 24, No. 2 :


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