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Traditional Values Coalition

The Traditional Values Coalition (a.k.a. TVC) is a Christian Right organization that represents, by its estimate, over 43,000 Christian churches throughout the United States of America. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., its belief is in Bible-based traditional values as "[a] moral code and behavior based upon the Old and New Testaments." The group considers traditional values to include a belief "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that the Lord has given us a rule book to live by: The Bible" and a commitment to "living, as far as it is possible, by the moral precepts taught by Jesus Christ and by the whole counsel of God as revealed in the Bible." TVC is known mostly for its opposition to homosexuality, although it has become vocal on issues regarding non-white, "anti-cultural" immigration.

The organization was founded by the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon who is the current chairman. His daughter Andrea Sheldon Lafferty is the executive director.

Traditional Values Defined

In some ways, the aims of the group are those of a wider movement. Beyond this, it does not provide formal position statements but outlines the traditional values it is fighting for as follows:

  1. Right to Life (against abortion of unborn fetuses and euthanasia in terminally ill patients)
  2. Sexual fidelity in marriage and abstinence before marriage
  3. Opposition to homosexuality and other "deviant sexual behaviors" (see below)
  4. Opposition to pornography
  5. Patriotism (supporting national boundaries, the Armed Forces, political participation, free enterprise, limited government, low taxes, personal responsibility, and Christian America as the New Israel of God's Covenant to His People)
  6. Freedom of religion
  7. Addictive Behaviors (with opposition to gambling, the legalization of addictive drugs, alcohol, and smoking)

The group then explains in paragraphs titled "Discrimination and Tolerance" and "Love and Hate" how it aims to deal with accusations that its activities are based on hatred of those not following their beliefs. Without stating what action should be taken, they maintain that "Individuals may be free to pursue such behaviors as sodomy, but we will not and cannot tolerate these behaviors". Reflecting this, their stances against the practice of homosexuality and the LGBT rights movement are somewhat more confrontational than those of many groups with similar views. There are a number of smaller groups that take a harder line, most notably Westboro Baptist Church, which the TVC has criticised for many years, likening it to a false flag operation. The gap between the TVC and other groups on the Right was described by Winnie Stachelberg of the pro-gay Human Rights Campaign as follows: "They’re out there every day supporting discrimination against gay people on nearly every issue, and you don’t see that so much from other groups. The Coalition took this as a compliment. By comparison, Jerry Falwell stated in his later years "Civil rights for all Americans...gay, straight, et cetera, is not a liberal or a conservative value. It’s an American value that I would think that we pretty much all agree on.

In its rhetoric, the TVC will sometimes suggest that homosexuals pose a threat of child molestation; they "have long sought unrestricted access to children for recruitment purposes, as well being more willing than others on the right to use the word sodomy in reference to gay men. Historically, the group has called for "Cities of refuge" to keep AIDS patients from infecting the general population.

Religion

The TVC has issued statements attacking Congressional Representatives Pete Stark (a California Atheist/Unitarian) and Keith Ellison (a Minnesota Muslim) for their non-Christian religious beliefs. Lafferty's response to a Gallup poll suggesting a tilt in public opinion towards gay rights was "Jesus didn’t ask for a ‘show of hands’ at the Sermon on the Mount. We, his [omission of capital in reference to Jesus the TVC's own] followers, should not ask America to vote on which of his teachings they choose to obey.

Conspiracy claims

The organization often engages in sensationalized right-wing rhetoric.

In a 2005 posting on the TVC website, Sheldon wrote:

A dangerous Marxist/Leftist/Homosexual/Islamic coalition has formed – and we’d better be willing to fight it with everything in our power. These people are playing for keeps. Their hero, Mao Tse Tung is estimated to have murdered upwards of 60 million people during his reign of terror in China. Do we think we can escape such persecution if we refuse to fight for what is right?

The quote refers to an advertisement run in the New York Times in support of same-sex marriage, in which the TVC "cherry picked" signatories including the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), ACT UP (New York City), Queers for Economic Justice, the Islamic Circle of America and Imam Tabib Abdur-Rashid of the Islamic Brotherhood mosque in New York as "proof" of a conspiracy against the TVC's organizaion.

Soon after this episode, the Southern Poverty Law Center decided to list the TVC as a hate group.

On the conservative "Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan Program", Sheldon's modus operandi was likened to a "protection racket" .

Christian Seniors Association

The TVC operates a subsidiary under the name of “Christian Seniors Association”, under the leadership of James Lafferty, the husband of Andrea Sheldon Lafferty. This group aims to provide a non-liberal alternative to the AARP. It has attracted some attention for distributing financial appeals designed to be confused with census material.

Link to Jack Abramoff Scandals

Chairman Lou Sheldon was an associate of Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist jailed for influence peddling. Sheldon worked with Abramoff to lobby members of the US Congress to kill the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. Abramoff directed his client, eLottery, to direct $25,000 in payments to Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition.

TVC has also been linked to the Mariana Islands worker abuse scandal. The organization was used by Abramoff to pay for the trip of at least one member of Congress to visit the island, then-Congressman Bob Schaffer. The Denver Post reported that the TVC paid the $13,000 travel bill for the trip, organized by Abramoff's lobbying firm.

Abramoff's lobbying team would prepare questions and "factual backup" for friendly lawmakers. Trips to the island for congressmen and staff would be a key tool to "build permanent friends," the memo said.
The congressional junkets to the Mariana Islands were designed to build support in Congress among Republican lawmakers to block labor and immigration reforms at the islands, which had been found to harbor worker abuse and forced abortions among immigrant workers. The trips involved hotel stays and parasailing trips.

External links

References

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