Family Research Council decries government spending while affiliates take in millions

Family Research Council decries government spending while affiliates take in millions

Correction, August 22, 4:00 p.m.: This article originally included Rocky Mountain Family Council as an FRC affiliate. RMFC is an independent organization not affiliated with FRC. The story has been updated to reflect this.

The Family Research Council, a religious-right outfit some watchdog organizations have called an anti-gay hate group, has recently become quite vocal in its opposition to government spending and has called for drastic cuts to social programs. But a survey by The American Independent shows that FRC’s state-based affiliates, called family policy councils, have raked in nearly $6 million in state and federal funds over the last five years to work on their own social programming goals.

In the run-up to the debt ceiling vote earlier this month, FRC president Tony Perkins penned a column urging cuts to government spending.

“It is easy to lose sight of the spiritual and moral implications of our current debt crisis,” Perkins wrote. “Christians must stand up against an immoral political regime which indebts us to such foreign powers as the anti-Christian Communist Chinese. Our leaders must cut spending, cut the debt, and end fiscal obligations to oppressive regimes.”

The group opposes an increase in tax revenues, especially allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. The group has repeatedly decried “government waste.” And earlier this week in a “memo the movement,” the group launched an effort to pressure the “Super Committee,” a group of Congress members charged with reducing the federal deficit to cut programs instead of enacting “job-killing tax increases.”

But the group’s affiliates have raked in government funds for controversial programs such as abstinence-only until marriage and healthy-marriage initiatives over the past decade, state and federal records show.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee received $10,000 from the state of Tennessee to host anti-pornography workshop in 2008. FACT supports cutting government spending. They also insinuate that the poor should pay more. “It seems to me that a major problem in Washington is that right at 50 percent of Americans no longer pay federal taxes,” wrote the group’s head David Fowler.

“Sexually oriented businesses often prey upon urban communities and those located along interstate routes and major state highways, especially where there are few zoning restrictions,” the group said on the event invite. “Adult businesses are now pursuing their agenda through their own state association and have a lobbyist promoting their interests at the state Capitol. This is not an ‘industry’ your community can afford to ignore.”

The Georgia Family Council has received about $165,000 a year from the Georgia Department of Human Services as part of a healthy-marriage initiative. The initiative is funded through a five-year, $960,000 grant from the federal Administration on Children and Families to the state of Georgia. The grant began in 2005 and ran through June of this year.

The organization acknowledges some good from government programs, but its president Randy Hicks notes in a recent blog post, “Big government may also hinder compassionate collaboration at the community level when its ubiquitous, taxpayer-funded programs role into town and crowd out private charitable organizations who are working to meet, not just material needs, but often emotional and spiritual needs as well.”

The Oklahoma Family Policy Council, which closed in March of this year for lack of funds, took in $100,000 a year through 2008 beginning as recently as 2005.

The American Independent News Network has also previously identified government funding for family policy councils in Indiana, Iowa and South Carolina.

The Indiana Family Institute received $50,000 from the Administration for Children and Families in 2005.

The Iowa Family Policy Center is part of the FAMiLY Leader, a group that has become heavily involved in the Republican presidential race. The group received $3 million in federal funding between 2004 and 2011. The FAMiLY Leader asked presidential candidates to sign a pledge that included a “commitment to downsizing government.”

The Palmetto Family Council in South Carolina received $1.2 million between 2008 and 2010 as part of the Community-Based Abstinence Education Program through the Administration of Children and Families.

Some state affiliates gain access to state and federal funds more indirectly, as well.

The Wisconsin Family Council, now called Wisconsin Family Action, partnered with the Foundation for a Great Marriage under a healthy-marriage initiative grant in the late-2000s.

“We recently worked with Foundation for a Great Marriage to kick off a ‘Think Marriage’ campaign by mailing to nearly 90,000 Wisconsin households a ‘Marriage Myth-Buster Guide,’” wrote the group’s Julaine Appling. “This 14-page publication busts 5 common marriage myths to smithereens, based on solid social-science research—research that continues to show that God’s plan for marriage and family is the very best plan for all of us. The challenge is for each of us to become, as the guide says, a Marriage Champion! The ‘Marriage Myth-Buster Guides’ are especially useful because they can be used with so many audiences. Wisconsin Family Council has already received numerous requests from pastors who want to use it in their churches, public-school teachers who want to use it in their classrooms, and just last week we had an individual contact us about using it in a crisis pregnancy center.”

Foundation for a Great Marriage has also been blogging in support of WFC, particularly around an anti-gay marriage amendment in the state.

Both groups were part of a lobbying campaignin 2005 to get $200 million from the federal government for marriage initiatives. The Foundation for a Great Marriage got $5.5 million in federal marriage grants between 2006 and 2010. While Wisconsin Family Action benefited from government funds, it calls for cuts to programs in Wisconsin.

The Center for Arizona Policy received a $210,000 settlement with the state of Arizona in 2009. The state settled on an abortion-related case where some abortion clinic regulations enacted by the state were ruled constitutional and others ruled unconstitutional. CAP was allowed to recoup “operating expenditures, insurance and related charges, and gross proceeds and payments to attorneys.”