Concerned Women for America is a conservative Christian political action group active in the United States. The group was founded in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Christian Coalition co-founder Timothy LaHaye, as a response to activities by the National Organization for Women and a 1978 Barbara Walters interview with noted feminist Betty Friedan. Concerned Women for America says of itself:
We are the nation's largest public policy women's organization with a rich 28-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy. We help people focus on six core issues, which we have determined need Biblical principles most and where we can have the greatest impact.
CWA does not publish membership numbers, but external estimates range between 250,000 and 750,000, depending upon how membership is defined. As of 2006, the circulation of its free bimonthly newsletter, Family Voice, was estimated to be approximately 200,000 copies.
Concerned Women for America's major areas of political activity in recent years have consisted of opposition to LGBT political causes
(especially recognition of same-sex unions
), promoting anti-abortion
law, supporting embryonic stem-cell
research bans, and working against human trafficking.
Concerned Women for America's political advocacy efforts are based on its six "core issues," which they see as Biblically-based and supported by scripture. These are:
- Family - "CWA believes that marriage consists of one man and one woman. We seek to protect and support the Biblical design of marriage and the gift of children."
- Sanctity of Human Life - "CWA supports the protection of all innocent human life from conception until natural death. This includes the consequences resulting from abortion."
- Education - "CWA supports reform of public education by returning authority to parents."
- Pornography - "CWA endeavors to fight all pornography and obscenity."
- Religious Liberty - "CWA supports the God-given rights of individuals in the United States and other nations to pray, worship and express their beliefs without fear of discrimination or persecution."
- National Sovereignty - "CWA believes that neither the United Nations nor any other international organization should have authority over the United States in any area. We also believe the United States has the right and duty to protect and secure our national borders."
Opposition to LGBT rights
Concerned Women for America oppose any legal recognition many forms of LGBT rights
. This includes civil unions or domestic partnership between same-sex individuals
, calling all of these "counterfeit marriage that will be used "to take control and to have the force of law to legitimise their disordered, unnatural behaviors.
This opposition has also lead them to oppose hate crime legislation that includes sexual orientation, referring to such laws as "weapons against... people who might oppose the homosexual agenda, such as Christians preaching on the street, even Christians preaching from the pulpit around the world.
Opposition to Abortion' rights
Concerned Women for America oppose Feminism
and the Equal Rights Amendment
. Concerned Women for America oppose abortion
in all cases, except to save the life of the mother. Health exemptions are considered "deceptive" and not supported.
They also oppose emergency contraception, including after cases of rape, asserting that ECP is actually an abortifacient by redefining pregnancy to begin at conception, not implantation of the zygote. CWA assert that most forms of birth control - and all forms of hormonal birth control - are actually abortifacients, triggering chemical abortions.
Abstinence-only sex education
Concerned Women for America support only sexual education
which teaches abstinence
, and oppose all other forms.
Promotion of Christianity
Concerned Women for America support official prayer in public schools, and the teaching of intelligent design
as a science.
Censorship and the media
Concerned Women for America oppose pornography
, obscenity, and media indecency, including on satellite radio, and satellite and cable television. CWA support "a la carte" cable and satellite television purchasing plans, allowing individuals to purchase access to individual channels, rather than in programming packages.
Concerned Women for America oppose human trafficking in all forms, particularly of women for sexual purposes.
Concerned Women for America also oppose embryonic stem-cell research, describing it as "deadly" and the destruction of "embryonic human beings.
Christian values and philosophy
Its mission statement is: "The mission of 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."
The CWA Statement of Faith is as follows:
- We believe the Bible to be the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God and the final authority on faith and practice.
- We believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose bodily from the dead on the third day and ascended into Heaven from where He will come again to receive all believers unto Himself.
- We believe all men are fallen creations of Adam's race and in need of salvation by grace through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- We believe it is our duty to serve God to the best of our ability and to pray for a moral and spiritual revival that will return this nation to the traditional values upon which it was founded.
Controversy and criticism
Sex education accusations
In a Special Report broadcast on Fox News Channel on 31 December 2007, CWA President Wendy Wright made the following claim regarding proponents of comprehensive sexual education:
"In fact they want to encourage that because they benefit when kids end up having sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies and then they lead them into having abortions. So you have to look at the financial motives behind those who are promoting comprehensive sex ed."
Opposition to mandating cervical cancer vaccination
CWA is heavily active in opposing mandating vaccination against HPV
, the virus
which can lead to cervical cancer
, since Gardasil
, the vaccine, was released. Instead, CWA is suggesting that because there are questions about the long term effect of the vaccine, parents, not the government should be making this decision. The Center for Disease Control has withdrawn their call for mandating the HPV vaccine, as has Merck, who recently ceased lobbying efforts in state legislatures. CWA does not object to the vaccine itself, but is objecting to any mandate. CWA does advocate abstinence before marriage as the best way to fight contracting viruses like HPV. However, it is still very possible that a woman could be abstinent until marriage and still contract this disease through the past sexual contact of her husband. It is for this reason, CWA does not object to the vaccine, but instead advocates it being made available.
CWA asserts that homosexuality is against the Christian idea of God's wishes for sexuality, describing homosexual behavior as "disordered," "unnatural," and "immoral. CWA has been a consistent opponent of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. Recent initiatives sponsored by CWA have placed emphasis on opposing programs geared towards LGBT teenagers
on the basis that such programs "promote homosexuality, as well as opposing anti-bullying programs which explicitly mention sexual minority youth, stating that "the radical homosexual lobby has done a masterful job of infiltrating our government schools to gain control of the minds of America’s youth. Their propaganda tactics are time-tested. With liberal school officials in tow, they brazenly circumvent and abuse parental authority to use good-hearted but misguided children as pawns to further their deceptive agenda. CWA supports their position by saying that homosexuals do not suffer from a history of discrimination, that reports of bias crimes against LGBT people are typically fabricated, and that such protections would violate the religious liberties of Christians.
Abstinence-only sex education
Critics state that the strong abstinence-only stances taken up by CWA based upon Christian principles have not been more effective than those of secular democracies of Western Europe in terms of preventing unwise teenage sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases among teenage segments of the population.
On August 22, 2006 CWA announced that they "strongly believe" hotel porn is prosecutable, and have issued an "urgent appeal" to the Department of Justice to "immediately investigate" two leading in-room adult movie distributors.
In a joint effort with thirteen other groups, it released an ad which stated "DOJ and FBI should immediately investigate whether 'adult' videos being sold in hotels by OnCommand and LodgeNet violate long-established Federal and State laws regarding distribution of obscene material. ... Adult hardcore pornography can tragically lead to sex crimes against women and children. ... Yet sex videos are available in millions of U.S. hotel rooms which we strongly believe are prosecutable.
According to the California Attorney General, Concerned Women for America has an extremely low profit margin from the fundraising companies it hired. Over the course of nine years (1997-2006), CWA hired fundraisers to conduct California or nationwide a total of 24 times. These fundraisers generated a total of $14,719,708 in gross income, but CWA only received $975,396, or 6.6%. This is considered extremely low in fundraising circles. One company, MDS Communications Corporation carried out 16 fundraisers for CWA raising $10,063,901 but only paid CWA $140,863, or 1.4%.
- Beverly LaHaye, Founder and Chairwoman, wife and co-author with Tim LaHaye, a best-selling author
- Wendy Wright, President, a frequent guest on national and international media discussing moral, social and political issues
- Lee LaHaye, Chief Financial Officer
- Matt Barber, Director of Cultural and Social Policy
- Martha W. Kleder, writer and policy analyst