Free Congress Foundation

The Free Congress Foundation, founded by conservative activist Paul Weyrich in 1977, is a major organization in the new right. It formed out of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, which Weyrich and conservative beer magnate Joseph Coors formed in 1974 after another Weyrich founded organization, The Heritage Foundation, strayed from the far right on which Weyrich is firmly situated. In its promotional literature, the Free Congress Foundation cites a number of issues that it pioneered in the new right including “defense of the traditional family” in the 1970s, helping Christians to “organize politically in defense of their beliefs” in the 1970s, beginning a “judicial reform” project in 1982 to combat “activist judges,” and developing a “cultural conservativism” project in the mid-1980s to defend “our traditional, Judeo-Christian, Western culture.” Much of the Free Congress Foundation’s influence owes its success to the fact that Paul Weyrich is a tireless organizer who has dedicated himself to building the right and is currently working to define what he calls “next conservativism” to launch a new era of the conservative movement comparable to what they did for the movement in the 1970s. In addition to the Free Congress Foundation and the Heritage Foundation, Weyrich also formed the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Dedicating itself to “the culture war”, Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation has often been at the forefront of the Conservative movement. It was one of the early groups organizing anti-gay campaigns as a means to building political power. John D. Beckett of the anti-gay Intercessors for America (source) was a board member at the Free Congress Foundation while the organization also published the books by the anti-gay authors Paul Cameron and Father Enrique Rueda. Weyrich was among the first to make opposition to abortion a litmus test for conservative candidates and, with the assistance of Richard Viguerie, used opposition to abortion as an issue to raise millions of dollars used to build up the New Right. In the 1980s, the Free Congress Foundation supported the Contras in Central America, Pinochet in Chile, and Islamic fundamentalists (source). The organization has published numerous anti-Islamic essays since 9/11.

The Free Congress Foundation has connections with racist elements of the far right. Weyrich is an opponent of civil rights and opposes affirmative action, with Russ Bellant writing in The Religious Right in Michigan Politics that Weyrich once said that housing and race sensitive quotas are “culturally destructive.” In 1976, Weyrich attempted to take over the remnants of George Wallace’s American Independent Party that had gained attention in 1968 after he ran a racist campaign for president. While failing to take over the American Independent Party, which was largely a union of Ku Klux Klan, John Birch Society, and Liberty Lobby elements, some in the Free Congress Foundation maintained views that were not that far from what could be found in the more overtly racist elements of the right. In 1999, William S. Lind of the Free Congress Foundation asserted that the South losing the Civil War was a blow to western culture writing that “The real damage to race relations in the South came not from slavery, but from Reconstruction, which would not have occurred if the South had won.” He went on to state that had that happened “at least part of North America would still stand for Western culture, Christianity and an appreciation of the differences between ladies and gentlemen,” but with the South’s loss “official American state ideology” became the federally imposed “cultural Marxism of Political Correctness.” Lind also addressed a holocaust denial conference and has advocated a Free Congress Foundation theory that a group of German philosophers known as the Frankfurt School devised a cultural form of “Marxism” that is aimed at the “destruction of Western culture.” This theory has been taken up by the racist Council of Conservative Citizens who distribute a video produced by the Free Congress Foundation explaining the “destructive” impact of the Frankfurt School. Another one of Weyrich’s close associates at the Free Congress Foundation, Hungarian-American Laszlo Pasztor, is a convicted Nazi sympathizer who was active in the 1940s in the Hungarian Arrow Cross when it was collaborating with the Nazis (source). Board member Charles Moser is an editorial advisor to Ukrainian Quarterly which once ran an article praising the Nazi Waffen SS and Ukranian collaboration against the Bolsheviks (source) while Weyrich has ties to neo-fascist and racist groups including the Nazi Northern League and the World Anti-Communist League via British eugenicist Roger Pearson.

West Michigan People Tied to the Free Congress Foundation