American Freedom Coalition
Last updated: February 28, 1989
Published by the International Relations Center / Interhemispheric Resource Center.
Updated: 3/89, BS
Background: The American Freedom Coalition, or AFC, is a political education and lobbying group which was founded in April 1987. Calling itself a "supra-coalition," the group claimed some 300,000 members in all 50 states by February 1988. (13,37)
The AFC represents an attempt to unite political conservatives and conservative religious groups and individuals behind a common campaign to preserve and promote what it describes as "traditional values." Among the values promoted by the AFC are a strong defense, opposition to abortion and pornography, anticommunism, religious freedom but with an emphasis on including "moral and religious standards" in government and other social institutions, the right to own property, and minimal governmental interference in the marketplace. (34,37) Its promotional literature says that the AFC acts as a "catalyst to unite a vast array of groups, activists, churches, and community organizations in cooperative and effective action. (3,37) According to AFC president Robert Grant, the AFC was formed because of the "inability of the `Christian Right’ to achieve its agenda" because of its "fragmentation and its failure to build coalitions with its philosophical allies from other communities…"(13)
The AFC is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization which produces educational materials on political issues; conducts workshops and seminars; promotes citizen participation in the political process; generates media coverage through well-placed speakers, articles, and Op-Ed pieces; and conducts lobbying campaigns on public policy. (3,11,37) It produces the American Freedom Journal, a monthly newspaper. Among recent contributors to the Journal have been former Reagan aide Patrick Buchanan, former Attorney General Ed Meese, the American Enterprise Institute’s Ben Wattenberg, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick. (20
The AFC frames foreign policy issues in East-West terms. In Central America, for example, it called on its backers to support "the cause to stop the spread of Soviet conquest of Central America; not appease it as many in Congress would… . If we abandon the Freedom fighters to slaughter by the communists in Central America–communists from Cuba, North Korea, East Germany and elsewhere–nothing will stop the Soviet-backed conquest of this vital area at America’s very doorstep."(1) As an outgrowth of this analysis, the AFC calls for support of "freedom fighters," in countries such as Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Angola, Poland, and Estonia. (18) In terms of U.S. foreign policy, the AFC believes the United States should–in the words of Steven Trevino–"take the lead for the Free World with regards to improving the human condition."(21)
At the leadership levels in both the national office and state chapters, the American Freedom Coalition is closely tied to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. The Washington Post (March 30, 1988) has even described the AFC as a "Moonsponsored lobbying group."(34) The links between the two entities are so extensive that they will be discussed here in the Background section as well as in Private Connections.
AFC President Robert Grant has said that he hoped to "recruit a broad base" from his contacts with CAUSA, a political arm of the Unification Church. (13) Grant has said that he solicited Phillip Sanchez, president of CAUSA USA, and Bo Hi Pak, president of CAUSA Intl, for support for AFC. Sanchez and Pak agreed to help AFC by leaving time on CAUSA program agendas for AFC board members to describe the organization and seek new members. They also allowed AFC access to the names of participants in previous CAUSA conferences, and granted the services of one CAUSA staff member per state to do outreach to CAUSA "graduates" and encourage them to join AFC. The two CAUSA leaders also granted the services of several CAUSA members to help in the Washington DC office of the AFC. (13)
According to Grant, state AFC chapters are headed by the state directors of Christian Voice and the American Constitution Committee (ACC), a CAUSA project. (13) Grant, founder and chairman of the evangelical lobby Christian Voice, said the AFC has about 65 CAUSA/ACC employees across the United States. Current and former members of the American Freedom Coalition have said that the majority of AFC administrative officers-including the executive director, administrative director, and publications editor–are members of the Unification Church and have been principals in CAUSA and ACC. (13) In a December 1987 Knight-Ridder article, Grant said that CAUSA could veto AFC state board members. (34)
In order to more effectively conduct its operations, the AFC decided in late 1988 to institute its five national task forces at the local level. The five task forces are: Education, World Freedom, Economic Justice, Religious Freedom, and Environmental. (20) The local task forces will then act to influence policy and public opinion through various avenues. At the congressional district level, for instance, the World Freedom Task Force will act in three different areas: Legislative Action Teams, Media Outreach, and Citizen Education Outreach and Training. (21) Such activities are designed, according to Steve Trevino, to increase "citizen-activist political pressure" on Congress. (21)
Funding: According to an article in Newsweek, the AFC received contributions of over a million dollars in 1987. (22)
Activities: The American Freedom Coalition carries out a number of political projects nationwide. The group’s activities include lobbying Congress, conducting citizen lobbying and political action training seminars, and producing legislative alerts to monitor activities of elected representatives. (20)
Among its most prominent activities recently have been its fundraising efforts on behalf of former National Security Council aide, Oliver North. One special project of the American Freedom Coalition is its "Emergency Project to Support Colonel North’s Freedom Fight in Central America." The group put together a television special on North entitled "Fight for Freedom."(1) It also hoped to mobilize popular support for North’s cause in order to create pressure on President Reagan to pardon North. (1,20) Between October 1987 and April 1988, the group had purchased air time in 180 television markets to air its pro-North video. During that time it also collected some 600,000 signatures supporting North. (23) In one of its petitions to President Reagan for a North pardon, the AFC argued that the former National Security Council aide was "under attack from soft-on-communism politicians in Congress. (36)
The AFC prints and distributes "Candidate Comparison Reports" to identify the positions taken on various issues by candidates for political office. (11,24) Preceding the 1988 presidential and congressional elections, the AFC distributed 26
million of these Candidate Scorecards in all 50 states. It also printed and distributed more than 732,000 40-page voters Guides. (20) If the New Mexico chapter’s candidate reports are representative, AFC candidate comparisons often phrase issues provocatively. For example, in the New Mexico AFC’s comparison of Michael Dukakis and George Bush for the 1988 presidential election, Dukakis was said to support (and Bush oppose) "furloughs for convicted murderers" and "special rights for homosexuals." The positions of the candidates were reversed on the Strategic Defense Initiative, described as "S. D. I. (Defense against nuclear attack)."(25)
At both the national and state levels, the AFC has conducted campaigns to renew funding for the Nicaraguan contras. (11) In 1988, the AFC conducted 487 "grassroots empowerment seminars," reaching more than 9000 participants. (20)
Government Connections: The following AFC national officers are former members of Congress: Richard Ichord, Bob Wilson, Billy Lee Evans, Walter H. Judd, John LeBoutillier, Eldon Rudd, and Roger H. Zion. (1) Carl T. Curtis is a retired U.S. Senator. (1) Daniel Graham is former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. (26) Joseph Churba is a former senior policy adviser to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. (26) Phillip Sanchez is a former U.S. ambassador to Honduras and Colombia. (42)
The following is a brief summary of John Singlaub’s military and intelligence activities. Singlaub was an officer in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. He was CIA deputy chief in South Korea during the Korean War, also acting as a battalion commander. He served for two years in Vietnam during the 1960s. At that time, he was commander of the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force, known as MACSOG. In that role, he was one of the commanders of Operation Phoenix, although he denies having had a part in that operation’s infamous assassination and counterterror programs. In 1978, as chief of staff of the United Nations Command in South Korea, he publicly condemned the decision of President Jimmy Carter to reduce the number of U.S. troops in the country. He was then forced to retire.
In 1984, Singlaub headed a Pentagon panel called to make recommendations on conducting military activities in Central America. The panel’s report urged the U.S. to emphasize nonconventional, counterinsurgency warfare strategies. (5,26) Under the Reagan administration, Singlaub received assistance and guidance from White House and National Security Council officials for his contra-supply activities. He identified former National Security Council aide Oliver North as his liaison to the White House. (26)
The New Mexico AFC sponsors a "Traditional Values Speakers Bureau." Its featured speaker on Central America is Col. Dick Lawrence, USAF (ret. ). From 1979 to 1982, Lawrence was the Director of Intelligence for the U.S. Southern Command in Paanama. Before his retirement in 1983, he was Director of Central American Affairs in the office of the Secretary of Defense. After retiring, Lawrence joined the Kissinger Commission as a national security adviser. (11) Francis (Frank) Ortiz is also a speaker with the New Mexico AFC. He was the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina during the earlier 1980s. He served in various diplomatic posts for the State Department in Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala (1979-1981), Peru, and Panama. (48) Gordon Sumner, also with the New Mexico AFC, was chairman and principal adviser to the Presidential Bipartisan Commission on Central America, known as the Kissinger Commission. He is the former chair of the Inter-American Defense Board. (5)
Private Connections: Robert Grant is founder and president of Christian Voice, the largest evangelical Christian lobby in Washington, DC He is also chairman of the board of the Coalition for Religious Freedom and president of American Christian Cause. In addition, Grant is cohost of the national television program, Let Freedom Ring. (3) The Christian Voice PAC, the Moral Government Fund, set up Christians for Reagan to promote Ronald Reagan’s 1980 bid for the presidency. (39,40,41) Gary Jarmin is/was legislative director of Christian Voice and national field director of the American Coalition for Tradition Values. (38)
Alton Ochsner is/was head of the Caribbean Commission (5).
Ochsner, Robert Grant, John LeBoutillier, J. A. Parker, Cleon Skousen, John Singlaub, Carter Wrenn, Daniel Graham, Richard Viguerie, and Mildred Jefferson were (and may still be) on the board of governors of the Council for National Policy. (5,12) Jefferson is/was on the advisory board of Western Goals Foundation, a domestic intelligence-gathering operation. (46) Brent Bozell III, chair of the Media Research Center, heads the Conservative Victory Committee. (1,6) Bozell also is/was president of the Natl Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). (7)
Like Grant, Donald Sills is associated with the Coalition for Religious Freedom. (1) Sills is president of the group. Joseph Paige and Cleon Skousen are members of the Coalition’s executive committee. (47) The Coalition for Religious Freedom has reportedly received $500,000 from Sun Myung Moon sources. (6)
Eldon Rudd, former Congressman from Arizona, is a fundamentalist and an ex-FBI agent. (8) Rudd is also a member of the U.S. Council for World Freedom (USCWF), as are John Singlaub, Daniel Graham, John LeBoutillier, and J. A. Parker. The USCWF is the current U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League. (5,26)
Singlaub is the head of that organization, and Graham is its vice-chairman. Graham and Singlaub have also been (and may still be) co-chairmen of the Coalition for Peace through Strength, a project of the American Security Council. (5,26) Singlaub is a member of the Natl Defense Council Foundation and former president of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). He is also a member of Refugee Relief Intl, Inc., a relief group set up by the Omega Group, publishers of Soldier of Fortune magazine. (5,26) In addition, he has served on the advisory board of Western Goals. (26,46) Singlaub is an adviser to the Council for Inter-American Security (CIS) as well. He has also served on the CIS national speakers bureau. (26,30,31) Singlaub has supported the activities of the Conservative Caucus, including participating in a seminar on defense strategy sponsored by the group in 1983. (26) Singlaub set up the Institute for Regional and International Studies, a private training organization for Salvadoran police forces and the Nicaraguan contras. (5,26)
Daniel Graham is director of the defense lobby High Frontier. (1,5) Graham is a member of WACL and a former member of the advisory board of CAUSA USA. (5,9,42) Other members of the CAUSA advisory board are Phillip Sanchez, Joseph Paige, and Joseph Churba. (5,9,42) Sanchez is president of CAUSA USA. (1,42) Mormon church leader Cleon Skousen is also a member of CAUSA. (5) Skousen is also associated with the National Center for Constitutional Studies. (1) Churba is president of the International Security Council, a CAUSA project. (1,26) He is/was director of the Center for International Security. (26) Joseph Paige is executive vice president of the Shaw Divinity School. (1)
Ben Armstrong is executive director of the National Religious Broadcasters. (10) William Keyes is chair of Black PAC. Tom Ellis is an attorney with Maupin, Taylor, Ellis, and Adams. J. A. Parker is president of the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education. John E. Blumer is special projects consultant of the American Defense Institute. Mildred Jefferson is president of the Right to Life Crusade. Steven Trevino is director of operations for the U.S. Global Strategy Council. Carter Wrenn is affiliated with the National Congressional Club. Michael Thompson is head of Thompson Communications. (1)
Walter Judd is a member of the intl committee of reference of New Life 2000,
a global evangelism project of Campus Crusade for Christ. (14) Judd was also a member of the American Council for World Freedom (ACWF). During the 1970s, the ACWF was the U.S. branch of the World Anti-Communist League. (26) Judd is on the natl committee of the Council for the Defense of Freedom and has served on the seminar faculty for the Christian AntiCommunism Crusade. (27,28,29). J. A. Parker is on the board of directors of the Council for the Defense of Freedom as well. (27) Parker was also a member of the ACWF and returned to join that organization’s descendant, the U.S. Council for World Freedom (USCWF), when it was revitalized in the 1980s. He is/was on the board of directors of the USCWF. (26) Parker headed Blacks for Reagan 1984, a project funded by the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). Parker has also attended CAUSA conferences. In 1983, he was a speaker at a CAUSAsponsored seminar in Honduras which focused on the evils of communism. (26) John LeBoutillier attended the 1984 conference of the World Anti-Communist League in San Diego. (26)
The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1957. (3)
Richard Viguerie is best known for his RAVCO operations, a conservative direct mail fundraising empire. He also founded the Conservative Digest magazine and served as its publisher for 10 years. (3) Shortly after Richard Viguerie joined the board of the American Freedom Coalition, a Moon-related company bought the building which houses his headquarters. (22)
The American Freedom Coalition has provided financial and other assistance to the Nicaraguan contra-support work of Christian Emergency Relief Team (CERT) International. In one such effort, the AFC attempted to get television appearances on morning talk shows for a Miskito Indian who worked with CERT. (15) The AFC also gave money to CERT, an evangelical relief assistance organization which has been taking over CAUSA’s humanitarian aid work in Honduras. (15,16)
In California, the AFC and Christian Voice co-sponsor a monthly "California Leadership Forum." In South Carolina, the Vietnam Institute and AFC jointly sponsored a benefit for Oliver North. (20)
The U.S. Global Strategy Council, headed by Steven Trevino, has ties to the Unification Church and CAUSA through Arnaud de Borchgrave and retired Gen. David Woellner. (26) De Borchgrave is editor of the Washington Times, a newspaper owned by the Unification Church. Woellner is (or was) president of CAUSA World Services. (26)
Singlaub, Parker, and Graham have been participants in seminars and/or conferences sponsored by the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN). Graham has served on its honorary committees in the United States. The ABN is an organization composed and supportive of Eastern European Nazi collaborators. (26)
The Rev. James Bevel is a former member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1985, he was Chicago Republican Party head. (43) He has been a speaker at CAUSA conferences and at lectures organized by the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP). CARP is a Moon organizaion aimed at university students. In February 1988,
Bevel was invited to the University of New Mexico by the local CARP branch."We’ll get communism and humanism out of the schools," Bevel told the group at the university,"and the niggers and crackers that don’t like it can go to Cuba or somewhere." The AFC had sponsored Bevel for a talk the previous evening. (43)
New Mexico AFC: The affiliations of certain of the principals of the New Mexico branch of the AFC (AFC-NM) are summarized below. Mark Boitano, is state coordinator of the American Constitution Committee, a CAUSA project. (11,13,15,17) Boitano is a leader in the Unification Church in Albuquerque. (43) Ky Dinh is affiliated with the Vietnamese Association. Stan Gourd is director of the Albuquerque Rescue Mission. (17) Phil Schultz is president of the N. M. Christian Home Educators. He is also state director for Christian Voice. (11,17) Donna Zeman is also affiliated with Christian Voice. (17) Hassan Alief, one of the speakers for the MA AFC’s speakers bureau, is active with the Committee for a Free Afghanistan. (11)
Gordon Sumner is chair of the Council for Inter-American Security and was co-author of the 1980 CIS report,"A New Inter-American Policy for the Eighties."(44,45) In September 1988, the AFC-NM helped promote and organize a fundraising dinner for Oliver North. The event was sponsored by the Oliver North Defense Fund, an ad hoc organization headed by former New Mexico state senator Mickey Barnett. Local activist Greg Shade was a principal organizer of the event. (33,35) Francis (Frank) V. Ortiz, a member of the speakers bureau of AFC-NM, is a member of the Knights of Malta. (48)
Misc: The Rev. Moon has said that he wants to form a "Christian political party" that would encompass all religious groups. (22) Members of the American Freedom Coalition like civil-rights veterans Ralph Abernathy and James Bevel have become champions for Moon and his followers. Abernathy, for instance, has compared criticisms of Moon to injustices suffered by blacks in the United States. Bevel has handed out flyers asking "Are the Moonies our new niggers?"(20)
According to an Albuquerque freelance reporter, James Bevel had a severe nervous breakdown in the mid-1970s. Some people attributed that breakdown to the pressure put on Bevel by the CIA due to his civil rights work. When he came out of treatment, his political affiliations had shifted to the rightwing. (32)
Comments: A February 1988 article in Newsweek says that Richard Viguerie has resigned from the AFC board but retains the organization as a client. However, in a conversation with a member of the AFC in September l989, the Resource Center was told that Viguerie was still on the group’s board of advisors. (4,22)
U.S. Address: 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 850, Washinton, DC, 20004-2505 (202-393-1333).
Principals: Board of Directors: Hon. Richard H. Ichord, chair; Hon. Bob Wilson, co-chair; Robert G. Grant, pres; Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, vice-pres. Natl Advisory Board: Ben Armstrong, Ambassador Jose Maria Chaves, Hon. Carl T. Curtis, Don Defore, Hon. Donald J. Devine, Tom Ellis, Hon. Billy Lee Evans, Hon. Walter H. Judd, William Keyes, Hon. John LeBoutillier, Alton Ochsner Jr. , J. A. (Jay) Parker, Hon. Eldon Rudd, Hon. Roger H. Zion, Richard Viguerie, secretary. Natl Policy Board includes: Rev. James L. Bevel, John E. Blumer, Dr. Joseph Churba, L. Brent Bozell III, Wendy Flint, Education Task Force dir. ; Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham, Mildred Jefferson, Dr. Joseph Paige, Phillip Sanchez, Donald Sills, Religious Task Force dir; Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, Dr. Cleon Skousen, Michael W. Thompson, Steven A. F. Trevino, World Freedom Task Force dir. ; Carter Wrenn. (1,3,4,20) Gary Jarmin, political dir. (19) Dan Fefferman, editor of American Freedom Journal. (18) Michael Beard, natl field coordinator; Gerald Leighton, Economic Justice Task Force dir. ; Merrill Sikorski, Environmental Task Force dir. (20)
AFC New Mexico: Joseph G. Wood, pres. (17) Board of Advisors: Mark Boitano, exec dir. (11,17,24) Phil Schultz, educ consultant and lobbyist. (11,17) Nick Blea, Mrs. Jimmie Davis, Ky Dinh, Rev. Stan Gourd, Everett A. Greer, Langdon Harrison, Bill High, John Melton, James L. Mitchell, Marek Osinski, Ernest Paxson Jr. , Dwight Payton, Irvin Schlenker, Wray Simmons, Paul Smith, Lt. Gen. Gordon Sumner (USA-ret. ), A. A."Web" Webster Jr. , Donna Zeman. (17)
Sources:1."Emergency Project to Support Colonel North’s Freedom Fight in Central America," flyer, undated but circa Fall l987.
2. Bryan Burrough and Dianna Solis, Wall Street Journal, June l4, l985.
A Promise for Their Future, American Freedom Coalition mini-brochure, l987.
4. Phone conversation with natl AFC, Sep 9, l988.
5. The New Right Humanitarians, The Resource Center, l986.
6. Group Research Report, vol 26, #l0, Dec l987.
7. Council for Inter-American Security newsletter, West Watch, July l987.
8. Jim Wallis and Wes Michaelson,"The Plan to Save America: A Disclosure of an Alarming Political Initiative by the Evangelical Far Right," Sojourners, Apr l976.
9. Phone conversation with natl CAUSA office, Sep 9, l988.
10. NRB "Communicating Christ to the Nations," program guide to the Natl Religious Broadcasters annual conventions, Jan 31-Feb 4, l987.
11."A Traditional Values Speakers Bureau," AFC New Mexico brochure, undated but circa Feb 1989.
12. Council for National Policy officers list, 1982-1983.
13. Kim A. Lawton,"Unification Church Ties Haunt New Coalition," Christianity Today, Feb 5, 1988.
14. NRB (Natl Religious Broadcasters) 89 Convention News, Feb 1, 1989.
15. Phone conversation with Daniel Junas, Feb 5, 1988.
16. Phone conversation with Daniel Junas, May 6, 1988.
17. Fundraising letter from Joseph G. Wood, AFC New Mexico, Feb 1, 1989.
18. Richard Ichord and Bob Wilson, with Dan Fefferman,"The Parties and the New President," American Freedom Journal, Dec 1988/Jan 1989.
19. Gary Jarmin,"What Bush’s Victory Means to America," American Freedom Journal, Dec 1988/Jan 1989.
20. American Freedom Journal, Dec 1988/Jan 1989.
21. Steven Trevino,"The Next Four Years," American Freedom Journal, Dec 1988/Jan 1989.
22."Rev. Moon’s Political Moves," Newsweek, Feb 12, l988.
23. Leslie Phillips,"Ollie North Now Gets His Day(s) in Court," USA Today, Apr 12, 1988.
24. Letter from Mark Boitano, Nov 3, 1988.
25."Candidate Comparison Report," New Mexico AFC, circa Nov 1988.
26. Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, Inside the League: The Shocking Expose of How Terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American Death Squads Have Infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League (New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co. , 1986).
27. Letter from Ian MacKenzie, Council for the Defense of Freedom, Dec 7, 1988.
28. Letter from Peter Brock, Oct 8, 1988.
29."What Is the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade?" booklet, 1977.
30."Not Wanted: The CIS Gang," Contra Watch, Apr 87.
31. West Watch, Council for Inter-American Security newsletter, May 1986.
32. Phone conversation with Jesse Young, Oct 24, 1988.
33. Interview with Phil Schultz, Sep 10, 1988.
34. Phone conversation with Wes McCune, Group Research Inc. , Sep 9, 1988.
35. Letter from Langdon Harrison, Aug 9, 1988.
36. AFC "Emergency Reply Form" from the TV Special on Col. North, undated.
37. A Promise for Their Future, AFC full-size brochure, Sep 1987.
38. William Bole, "The Christian Right Eyes the Republican Party," Interchange Report, Winter-Spring 1985.
39. Margaret Ann Latus, "Mobilizing Christians for Political Action: Campaigning with God on Your Side," in David G. Bromley and Anson Shupe, eds. , New Christian Politics (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1984).
40. Samuel S. Hill and Dennis E. Owen, The New Religious Political Right in America (Nashville TN: Parthenon Press, 1982).
41. Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War on America’s Freedoms in Religion, Politics and Our Private Lives (New York, NY: Delta, 1984).
42. CAUSA USA Report, Sep 1986.
43. Jessamyn Young, "Unification Church Promotes `Educational Reform’ and Contra Aid," Center News (Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice), April 1988.
44. Committee of Santa Fe, A New Inter-American Policy for the Eighties (Washington, DC : Council for Inter-American Security, 1980).
45. Committee of Santa Fe, Santa Fe II: A Strategy for Latin America in the Nineties (Washington, DC : Council for InterAmerican Security, 1988).
46. Elton Manzione, "The Private Spy Agency," The National Reporter, Summer 1985.
47. Coalition for Religious Freedom brochure, 1986.
48. Francoise Hervet, "Knights of Darkness: The Sovereign Military Order of Malta," Covert Action Information Bulletin, #25, Winter 1986.