Grand Rapids Press Interviews Rich DeVos, who Generally Proves that he is an Anti-Gay Jerk

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As part of its three days of coverage on Amway and its 50th anniversary, the Grand Rapids Press published an interview today with co-founder Richard DeVos (he co-founded the company with Jay Van Andel. Here at MediaMouse.org, we’ve long been critical of Richard DeVos, looking at his political activism, his “charitable” contributions, and his role in funding the religious right.

In the interview, DeVos basically proved everything that we have been saying all along. His comments are awful–he basically says he is right to be against gay marriage (although he claims to have gay friends, so that must mean it’s OK) and that he can do whatever the heck he wants with his money.

Usually I try to shy away from just quoting extensively from The Grand Rapids Press, but there really isn’t much to be said. DeVos proves himself to be a completely awful human being.

Here’s his thoughts on gay marriage:

Q: You gave $100,000 to the effort to defeat the recognition of gay marriage in Florida. Why did you choose to put money behind that cause?

A: Because I believe in it. That’s just a sacred issue of respecting marriage. It was not an anti-gay thing.

I have been hung in effigy by the gay community for a long time, from when I was on President Reagan’s first AIDS commission.

Q: How does that tie in with the gay marriage issue?

A: From that point on, that’s when they were hanging me in effigy because I wasn’t sympathetic to all of their requests for special treatment. Because at that time it was always somebody else’s fault. And I said, “You are responsible for your actions, too, you know. Conduct yourself properly,” which is a pretty solid Christian principle. You’ve got to take responsibility for your actions. It went from there to a series of requests for special treatment.

I would say, “I understand who you are. I accept who you are. Live your life. I will respect you. But don’t keep asking for favors.” Don’t ask for a concession on the marriage issue, which is not vital to them, in my opinion. They’ve made it a vital issue because they want to.

Q: Is there a solution? A compromise you would support?

A: Call it something else. Call it anything you want to. But marriage is a sacred document, OK? A sacred sacrament in the church and in the world. Don’t mess with it.

Go do something else. I deal with a lot of wonderful gay people. I hire a lot of them. I use a lot of them. I respect them. They’re terrific. I am good friends with them. But you live your life the way you want to live and I’ll live mine and I won’t stick my nose in yours. But don’t keep trying to change things. That’s all.

Q: Do you think it’s a winnable fight, long term?

A: For them? They’ve won a lot of fights. They’re a tough bunch. They keep asking for concessions all their lives. I don’t put anything past their ability to adjust things to their way on some equality basis. That’s all fine until you start dealing with sacred issues.

And on his wealth:

Q: There were a lot of people who thought: “Well, here’s a billionaire and he went over to England and bought a heart.” The average person who is in his 70s would not be able to afford to do that and may not have been able to have that same opportunity.

A: That’s true.

Q: How do you respond to those people? How does that make you feel?

A: I guess my quick reaction, my cute reaction, is: “That’s the benefit of making money, isn’t it? That’s the benefit of being industrious.”

I look at that as the hand of God. What happened in my case, there’s no other explanation for it. There are too many little things that occurred.

I’ve always been greedy. But never to the point where I corrupted the system. The normal desire to make money is always there. But it was never so powerful in the building of the business that it overcame those things.

Unfortunately, this really only touches the surface. DeVos has been a huge benefactor to the religious right and many of its key institutions over the years. He was instrumental in developing the modern conservative infrastructure and has given considerable money to Republican candidates and the party as a whole.

He isn’t simply a guy who “made it” and is spreading his money around–he’s actively pursuing a specific ideological agenda. Sure, he might give some money that benefits some in this community, but even those contributions have ideological underpinnings (for example, contributions to Christian schools).

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Local and Michigan Headlines: Amway 50th Anniversary; Michigan Politicians on Twitter

Here are what we think are some of the more important stories to come out of Grand Rapids and Michigan in the past 24 hours:

  • And, things wrap themselves up in a neat little package – Michigan Liberal has perhaps the last word on the controversy surrounding Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and his canceled speech in Grand Rapids. When the Kent County GOP canceled it over Huntsman’s stance in support of civil unions, the DeVos family stepped in. It turns out that there may have been a practical reason for that–Huntsman was being consider to be Ambassador to China, a country where Amway has aggressively expanded in recent years.
  • Rep. Scripps and House Dems Introduce Health Care Package – The Michigan House Democratic Caucus has introduced a health care reform package that allegedly will guarantee access to health care by requiring insurance companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions, reign in costs, ban unfair market practices, and insurance every child in Michigan by expanding the MiChild program. I’m not sure that this will do all that much to help cover all of the uninsured people in Michigan, but we’ll have to see.
  • Spurning Coal, Manistee Rides the Windspire – After rejecting a coal plant five years ago, Manistee is now a part of Michigan’s renewable energy future. Mariah Power is manufacturing its Windspire home wind turbine in the city.
  • Detroit juries losing color – In Wayne County, African-Americans are 42% of the population, yet they made up only 27% of the jury pool in 2004–that number has since fallen. Michigan Citizen has a great exploration of the issue.
  • Appeals court to hear Pinkney defense – This Michigan Citizen article is a good summary of the case of Reverend Edward Pinkney. Pinkney is a Benton Harbor community organizer who was convicted in 2007 on trumped-up charges of voter fraud. Pinkney has an upcoming court day here in Grand Rapids and supporters are invited to attend.
  • Hoekstra co-sponsors “Christian heritage” resolution – Representative Pete Hoekstra has taken a break from supporting torture in order to co-sponsor a resolution celebrating the United States’ so-called “Christian heritage” in Congress. It’s hardly a pressing issue and numerous historians have shown the resolution to be severely flawed.
  • Stabenow parties like it’s 1989 – Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has joined with conservative Republican Senators to sponsor a resolution that seeks a federal amendment to ban flag burning. This has come up numerous times since the Supreme Court overturned state-level bans on the practice in 1989.
  • Amway celebrates golden anniversary with deep local roots and a global reach – This is the start of the Grand Rapids Press’ coverage of Amway’s 50th anniversary. As expected, this series will be full of a lot of hype with three days of major stories on the company. Surprisingly, this first article does focus a lot of attention on various lawsuits that the company has been a part of over the years–although the overall tone is positive. There was nothing in the article on how the fortunes made by Amway founders Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos have been used to support conservative politics or how they have sought to use their money to influence public policy.
  • Twitter takes flight with lawmakers – The Detroit Free Press looks at politicians in Michigan who are using Twitter and how they use it. I suppose this is a good time to plug the MediaMouse.org Twitter account @mediamouse.

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments.

Local/Michigan Headlines: Charter Schools Not Meeting Expectations; West Michigan School Districts Making Cuts

This is the first installment of a new daily feature on MediaMouse.org that will highlight interesting local and statewide news stories published elsewhere. If we missed anything worth noting, please feel free to post links in the comments section.

Prominent Republican Calls on Voorhees to Resign or be Fired – West Michigan Rising highlights a letter from former Kent County Republican Party/Committee Chairman Bob Eleveld who criticized current Chair Joanne Voorhees for deciding to cancel a planned speech by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman over his support for civil unions.

Thad McCotter Cosponsors Resolution to Declare 2010 the Year of the Bible – Michigan Liberal reports that Congressman Thaddeus McCotter from the eastside of Michigan has signed on as a co-sponsor for legislation that encourages President Obama to declare 2010 “The Year of the Bible.”

West Michigan school districts confront red ink totaling $58 millionThe Grand Rapids Press reports that school districts across West Michigan are being forced to make major cuts. In some cases, the only thing saving them from even worse cuts is money from President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill.

DeVoses find common ground with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. – After Kent County Republican Party Chair Joanne Voorhees cancelled an appearance by Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Dick and Betsy DeVos stepped in to host an appearance by Huntsman in Grand Rapids. Many wondered why they would do that, given their families history of anti-gay politics (Betsy’s mother Elsa Prince has been a major contributor to bills restricting same-sex marriage). However, the Grand Rapids Press reports that Huntsman has been a major supporter of the DeVoses favor issue–giving parents vouchers to send their students to private schools.

Michigan charter schools fall short – An analysis by the Detroit Free Press has found that while charter schools offer “a wealth of choices for parents” they do not have higher test scores that other schools, nor have they spurred improvements in the state’s public schools. Both are common arguments made by charter school supporters.

Richard and Helen DeVos Give $10 Million to Christian Schools; Media Ignores Ideological Goal

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Yesterday, a $10 million dollar donation to Grand Rapids Christian Schools from Richard and Helen DeVos made it onto the front-page of the Grand Rapids Press.

The story was covered in other Grand Rapids media as well, with WZZM 13, WOOD TV 8, and WXMI 17 all reporting on the donation.

The coverage was similar across the four media outlets. It focused on the generosity of the DeVos gift with little else of substance. The Grand Rapids Press cited Grand Rapids Christian Schools Superintendent Tom DeJonge who said that the donation was “absolutely astounding” and “incredibly generous.” WOOD TV reported that the DeVos family “was not seeking any personal glory.”

By focusing exclusively on the “altruism” and “philanthropy” of the donation, the local media missed an opportunity to address a much bigger story–how the DeVos family has used its vast fortune to undermine and delegitimize public education. Over the years, Richard and Helen DeVos have given millions of dollars to private schools and political efforts aimed at increasing state support for private schools. Their family–particularly Dick and Betsy DeVos–have also been active in this effort.

While it may be true that the two were “not seeking personal glory,” their donation is certainly motivated by a specific ideological goal. This is rarely mentioned in the media, instead we are told to see the DeVoses as simply generous and selfless billionaires. However, how they have used their money–from supporting Christian schools to Republican politicians–clearly shows that they have specific political goals.

Ehlers Discloses Portrait Donors

Vern Ehlers Has Partially Disclosed Donors To His Congressional Portrait

Over the weekend, the Grand Rapids Press reported that Representative Vern Ehlers provided them with a list of donors that he had previously refused to disclose. Ehlers is currently raising the funds to pay for a portrait of Ehlers that will be hung in a committee room in the U.S. Capitol.

However, while the Grand Rapids Press praised this “disclosure”, Ehlers has still not fully disclosed the donors. He is still refusing to release the amounts that donors have contributed–saying only that the maximum contribution was $5,000–and has not posted the list on his website, instead providing it only to The Grand Rapids Press, a media outlet that has long supported Ehlers.

According to the Press, the donors include:

  • Verizon
  • Dan and Pam DeVos
  • Richard and Helen DeVos
  • Doug and Maria DeVos
  • Terri Lynn Land
  • Fred and Lena Meijer
  • Norma and Lewis Van Kuiken
  • The Secchia Family Foundation
  • The Frey Foundation
  • Steelcase

Many of these folks are long-time supporters of Vern Ehlers according to OpenSecrets.org. Pam and Dan DeVos have given over $20,000 to Ehlers, Richard and Helen DeVos have given over $19,000, and Norma and Lewis Van Kuiken over $7,000.

Ehlers has said that he should not be criticized, saying “Instead of criticizing me, folks should be saying, ‘He’s doing it the way it should be done, with folks back home raising money for him.”

However, the portrait is being funded by the wealthy, white folks that have traditionally supported him and benefited from the policies that he has supported in Congress.

Top Michigan PACs Raised $41.4 Million in 2008 Election Cycle

Michigan PACs Raised $41.4 Million In 2008

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reported today that while Michigan’s economy is in serious trouble, “the money-in-politics sector” continues to be robust.

In the 2008 election cycle, the top 150 political action committees (PACs) in Michigan raised over $41.4 million to influence legislation and elections. While the number is down 20.3% compared to the $51.9 million raised in the 2006 election cycle (which had a more state races), the amount raised is up 23.9% over the 2004 election cycle.

Michigan’s biggest PAC was once again the liberal Coalition for Progress. The PAC raised $4.2 million (91% of it came from Kalamazoo businessman John Stryker) and made contributions supporting Democrats in twelve House races.

The state’s political leaders–Governor Jennifer Granholm, Speaker Andy Dillon, Senator Mike Bishop, and Attorney Mike Cox–all raised considerable sums of money for their leadership PACs.

The Great Lakes Education Project–a PAC closely associated with West Michigan’s DeVos family–raised $451,000. $350,000 of that money came from the DeVos family.

Ehlers has High Hopes for Rescheduled Bush Fundraiser

Republican congressional Representative Vern Ehlers hopes that a fundraiser featuring President George W. Bush will be rescheduled and that it will attract a significant number of wealthy donors.

A Republican fundraiser planned for tomorrow at the Ada home of Dick DeVos has been canceled so that the the guest of honor–President George W. Bush–can stay in Washington DC to work on the economic crisis.

However, according to The Grand Rapids Press, the event will likely be rescheduled for some time in October. The article cites Representative Vern Ehlers who says that “We have commitments from everyone involved the he will come out later.” The Press article points out that at a recent “major donor” fundraiser in Cleveland, Bush netted $500,000 for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee. Ehlers is quoted saying, “It would be nice if we did that in Grand Rapids” and the Press reports that Ehlers is confident that West Michigan’s wealthy will come out for the event.

Day Two of the West Michigan Regional Policy Summit

Day two of the West Michigan Regional Policy Summit was pretty much like the first–continued advocacy of a business-driven policy agenda for the state of Michigan.

Day two of the West Michigan Regional Policy Summit began with a panel discussion with representatives from colleges and universities (Read about day 1). Participating on the panel were Thomas Haas, president of Grand Valley State University (GVSU), David Eisler, president of Ferris State/Kendall College, Timothy Nelson, president of Northwestern Michigan College, and Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran, president of Kalamazoo College. The panel was presented with a series of questions with no time allotted for audience questions.

The first question posed to the panel asked what role higher education plays in contributing to the future and changing economy of Michigan? Some of the panelists said that their schools actively recruit international students so that they can diversify their student body to provide greater global opportunities for their economic partner. David Eisler with Ferris State said their students are “learning video gaming design, online identity protection, and health care education as their main contributors to the new global economy.” Timothy Nelson with Northwestern Michigan College said that their tech center contributes greatly to the global economy. Their campus is also the founder of the economic development corporation in Traverse City and that he will chair their area Chamber of Commerce beginning this January. Thomas Haas with GVSU said that he sees his role as being one of a facilitator of training for people to be prepared for the new economy. He went on to say that there needs to be more of an investment in higher education if we are to provide skilled workers for the future economy.

Next, the panel addressed ways to get business more connected to students. Eisler stressed more internships, even paid internships that could lead to ongoing employment. Nelson said that Northwestern has internship dynamics built into their curriculum; particularly in the healthcare area and that all their departments have a business advisory board to better interact with the business community. Haas believes that business and higher education have to work hard to attract and retain students to stay and work in West Michigan. Wilson-Oyelaran shared a story about a previous position she held in North Carolina. When the economy was hit hard, they invited the business community and foundation community to solicit input on future educational programs, which resulted in creating a biotech department. She emphasized the needs for constant partnering between business and higher education.

The panelists also addressed the issue of diversifying their student bodies and whether that was relevant to the future work force. The president of Northwestern Michigan said they do a great deal of international recruiting and hosting programs to inform the student body on global diversity. GVSU president Haas said, “diversity is an intellectual and business asset.” Wilson-Oyelaran said that the higher education community needs to make their schools more affordable for people who are not able to find financial support for college, which is a reality for many minority students. She suggested that corporate scholarships are also key to creating opportunities for minority students but did not cite any examples of companies that currently do this. Again, the emphasis was on the business/university partnership, but did not honestly address the racial disparities in college enrollment, an issue that made the news for GVSU recently.

The second morning session focused on healthcare’s role in the new Michigan economy. Dan Loepp, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan facilitated the discussion around healthcare and the economy. It is relevant to note that in terms of influencing public policy, which was woven into the entire summit, Blue Cross Blue Shield is the 8th largest lobbyist group in Michigan according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. It has spent over $400,00 in the past two years. Blue Cross Blue Shield is also the third largest contributor to candidates at the state level in Michigan, with a total $272,670 so far. Loepp made it clear that healthcare is central to the economic vitality for the future of West Michigan.

The panelists consisted of CEOs from Spectrum Health, Metro Health, Mercy Health Partners, and the VanAndel Institute. Rick Breon with Spectrum Health said that they have added more than 2,500 employees over the past 5 years. He said that one of their concerns is the underfunding of Medicaid and that the other major policy issue is term limits for state legislators, which has been a roadblock to changing Medicaid policy. Roger Spoelman with Mercy Health Partners said that training and funding for training future workers is their key concern, which he believes is a policy issue. David VanAndel with the VanAndel Institute spoke next and said that the FDA is a huge barrier to their ability to bring new drugs to the market. “We could deliver new medicines in months, but the regulatory system sometimes makes it a year or more and costs millions of dollars before we are able to bring them to the market.” At the state level, VanAndel said, the tax structure will play a key role in the future of healthcare.

Next the panelists were asked if they were “Czar for a day” what would they like to see happen? Metro Health CEO Mike Faas said that he would like to see more emphasis on training in primary care instead of specialized training. The Spectrum CEO said that we need to increase the supply of healthcare staff. David VanAndel said that about half of their staff are foreign nationals and he feels that we need to do more to train our own. “We are decades away from that, so we need some immigration reform, since our Institute is having difficulty in getting and retaining foreign nationals.”

When asked whether or not the healthcare system is broken, some responded with the need to put more emphasis on prevention and keeping people out of emergency rooms. One of the panelists actually suggested that “we might need a single payer system,” but that was quickly attacked by the Spectrum CEO who said, “we can’t turn it over to the government. The country is not ready for a Clinton-style change. It doesn’t matter which candidate you support, we simply can not make an easy transition to such a system.” This was an interesting comment on two levels. First, the Clinton healthcare proposal of the 1990s was nothing near a single payer plan, since Clinton did not want to take on the HMOs. Second, the two major party candidates are not advocating any significant changes to the current business managed healthcare system. Only the Green Party candidate supports a serious structural change to the current healthcare system.

Several other questions focused on training and retaining health care professionals; so some of the conversation was focused on specific approaches that the healthcare entites take, which had little impact on policy. VanAndel compared the healthcare sector to the lumber barons of years ago. He said, “the infrastructure that is now being put in place will bring the economic growth we want. It is definitely defining the region.”

The last question posed to the group had to do with what they thought about the insurance industry and whether or not it needs to change. Some of the panelists had mildly critical comments about the health insurance industry, but Rick Breon with Spectrum simply said, “Insurance companies are just middle men who move money around.” Others said that instead of criticizing the insurance companies we need to promote healthier lifestyles and get people to take responsibility of their own health. Unfortunately, this kind of comment does not take into account the role that the foods systems work. If one looks at the role that junk food marketers play in targeting kids (http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education/junk-food/commercial-alert-responds-to-ftc-study-on-junk-food-marketing-to-kids) with their unhealthy products, it would shed light on external forces that contribute significantly to poor health in this country.

The luncheon talk featured Awmay co-founder Richard DeVos. DeVos was introduced by the head of the philanthropy department at GVSU, (http://www.gvsu.edu/jcp/) Dorothy Johnson. DeVos was asked to address the issue of leadership. He began by saying he didn’t think of himself as a leader, just someone who was trying to make a difference. Then DeVos discussed what he thought were characteristics of a good leader and used Michael Gorbachov as an example of someone who “had the courage to move from communism to capitalism.”

The number one thing, DeVos said, was for a leader to “set the tone, no matter where they are.” He then went on to slam Governor Granholm for not attending the summit. He also criticized the governor for “never acknowledging Amway as contributing positively to the state.” DeVos then went on to say that “growth will come from us, not from some outside business that will bring us jobs.” He also said that we have to get our teachers to start telling our students that starting and running businesses are an honorable thing.” He also felt that universities need to teach more students how to create businesses, since the jobs will come from those who live here. He only mentioned business leaders from Michigan, but not the role that workers played in Michigan’s history.

Next DeVos spoke about the importance of being a good communicator. At Amway, they hold employee meeting every month so that “employees would know what was going on.” Those who attend are rotated so that everyone would have an opportunity to speak, even though DeVos omitted the fact that workers at Amway do not have the right to organize. He said that workers who come to work for 13 weeks without missing a day, they get rewarded one day off. Amway doesn’t pay people on days they are sick, since “how could they know people were really sick.”

DeVos also said that leaders are also builders that find ways to make things better. “Leaders don’t sit around bitching all the time.” He then talked about the construction that Amway has done in downtown Grand Rapids. DeVos also acknowledged the medical and furniture companies in this town, particularly the creation of Spectrum. Lastly, DeVos said that leaders figure out how to “enrich the lives of others.” “You wouldn’t have Millennium Park without Peter Sechia… The young people in the community need to learn from these leaders… I learned from Bill Siedman when he went off to the Ford Administration who said that it is important to get involved in politics. So ever since I have been involved in politics, both Jay and I.” DeVos did not provide any details of that political involvement, which has been significant and is worth investigating.

The last part of the day consisted of a short video that featured Ford CEO William Ford and David Brandon, CEO of Domino’s Pizza on the importance East/West collaboration. William Ford summed up the importance of the statewide effort by saying “Michigan is open for business.” Once the video was shown the summit organizers facilitated an electronic voting process where participants voted on sever major policy issues, with the top five being the ones that will be sent to policy makers. The seven topics being voted on were Governance, Future of Michigan’s Work Force, Education, Healthcare, Attraction and Retention of Talent, and Manufacturing and Design for the Future.

The voting showed that the majority people were in favor of restructuring state government by eliminating term limits, making Michigan a “Right to Work” state, aligning Michigan’s educational curriculum to the needs of the business community, reducing healthcare costs, providing incentives for medical research and development, enhancing the state’s investment in a transportation system, and streamlining the state regulatory environment. Of these priorities, the two that received the highest percentage of votes were eliminating the Michigan Business tax and creating a “Right to Work” policy for the state.

It will be useful for readers to pay attention over the next several months to see what kind of impact this policy summit will have in Lansing. MediaMouse.org will try to keep you up to date as these policy proposals unfold.

Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation Funding the Religious Right

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation has been a major funder of the religious right and the larger rightwing movement at the national level. We’ve updated the Foundation’s listing of grants in our Far Right in West Michigan database, read this article to find out some of the organizations that they have supported recently.

As part of our ongoing maintenance of our Far Right in West Michigan database, Mediamouse.org updated grant records for the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. The foundation and the DeVos family have been significant funders of the religious right since its beginnings in the 1970s. The grant data that we added is for 2005 and includes grants to the following entities:

* The American Enterprise Institute, an influential pro-business rightwing think-tank, received $10,000.

* The Acton Institute, an economic right think-tank here in Grand Rapids, received $25,000.

* Campus Crusade for Christ received $25,000.

* Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, the church of the late D. James Kennedy, received $1.8 million from the foundation.

* The Council for National Policy, a secretive organization that coordinates activities by the religious right and the larger rightwing movement, received $30,000.

* The Federalist Society, a conservative legal entity, received $25,000.

* Focus on the Family received $500,000.

* The Michigan-based Foundation for Traditional Values received $10,000.

* Gospel Communications International out of Muskegon, Michigan received $2.2 million.

* The Heritage Foundation, a prominent and individual rightwing think-tank, received $600,000.

* The Intercollegiate Studies Institute received $225,000.

* The Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy received $35,000.

* The rightwing media watchdog known as the Media Research Center received $100,000.

* The Pregnancy Resource Center, an anti-abortion organization in Grand Rapids, received $50,000.

* Prison Fellowship Ministries, headed by Watergate felon Chuck Colson, received $1 million.

* The US English Foundation received $25,000.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation is one of the wealthiest conservative foundations in the United States.

Christian Right Reverend Funded by DeVos Dies

Today an influential member of the religious right–D. James Kennedy–died. Kennedy has been a longtime benefactor of the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation which has given Kennedy over $7 million to Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Church since 1998 to promote his conservative worldview.

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Reverend D. James Kennedy, a Christian broadcaster and leader of a mega-church in Orlando, Florida died today at the age of 76. D. James Kennedy played a critical role in the development of the religious right, both through his promotion of a far right Christian worldview at his Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church as well as in his founding of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, and the Center for Christian Statesmanship. Kennedy was also involved in the movement as a founding board member for the Moral Majority and a longtime member of the Council for National Policy.

Throughout his career, Kennedy was heavily funded by Amway co-founder Richard DeVos and his wife Helen via the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. According to Media Mouse’s Far Right in West Michigan database, the Grand Rapids based Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation gave $2.87 million dollars to Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church from 2002 to 2004. Media Transparency, another entity tracking the philanthropy of the conservative right, reports that Richard and Helen DeVos gave the church more than $7 million from 1998 to 2004.

Kennedy was an advocate of a religious and political worldview that was similar to that of the DeVos family. Kennedy attacked the usual religious right targets–gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, those who are pro-choice, evolution, and the alleged “secularists” who sought to “remove God” from America. Following his retirement earlier this year, People for the American Way profiled Kennedy and outlined his role in the religious right. Not only did Kennedy occupy an important role in terms of mobilizing the movement’s members at the grassroots level, but Kennedy also moved the movement’s theology further to the right. Over the years, numerous articles have explained how Kennedy attacked the idea of separation of church and state. His repeated claims that the United States is a “Christian Nation” coupled with his associations with the Dominionist movement have led many to conclude that Kennedy was a Christian Reconstructionist. The Christian Reconstructionist movement seeks to institute a conservative version of “Christian law” to govern the United States in what would essentially be a theocracy.

A sampling of quotes by D. James Kennedy from his 1994 book Character & Destiny: A Nation in Search of its Soul are reprinted below:

“Christians did not start the culture war but…we are going to end it. That is a fact, and the Bible assures us of victory.”

“Not all the educators in our public schools and universities are deliberately deceitful, not all of them want to destroy this nation, but many do. The major teachers’ unions certainly do.”

“But the fact is, the United States of America was conceived and brought forth by Christians, and history tells us that story in no uncertain terms…Anyone who reads about the values upon which this nation was founded understands perfectly well that this was, from the start, a Christian nation.”

“Just a few years ago, there were as many as ten thousand Communist professors in American universities. The average person never saw any of them, and many would doubt the truth of that statistic. But I can assure you it is true.”

“Modern secularists and agnostics do not want to admit that the Christian religion is true, because that would mean that they are sinners; and they have no intention of giving up their right to sin.”

“Teachers in many of our public schools have acceded to the policies of the liberal teachers’ unions to make sure that students from kindergarten through high school will be stripped of any sense of moral or ethical absolutes. Right and wrong are non-issues in our public schools.”

“Every new advance and every step taken by science confirm not evolution but the Genesis account of creation. Yet evolution still continues to be taught as fact…Thus, the honorable place that had been given to human beings by God is surreptitiously aborted, and they are dragged down into the slime.”

“If we are committed and involved in taking back the nation for Christian moral values, and if we are willing to risk the scorn of the secular media and the bureaucracy that stand against us, there is no doubt we can witness the dismantling of not just the Berlin Wall but the even more diabolical ‘wall of separation’ that has led to increasing secularization, godlessness, immorality, and corruption in our country.”

“God forbid that we who were born into the blessings of a Christian America should let our patrimony slip like sand through our fingers and leave to our children the bleached bones of a godless secular society. But whatever the outcome, one thing is certain: God has called us to engage the enemy in this culture war. That is our challenge today.”

“This is our land. This is our world. This is our heritage, and with God’s help, we shall reclaim this nation for Jesus Christ. And no power on earth can stop us.”

“How much more forcefully can I say it? The time has come, and it is long overdue, when Christians and conservatives and all men and women who believe in the birthright of freedom must rise up and reclaim America for Jesus Christ.”