by Max Brantley
Oh, yeah, you know bloggers are rushing to dig up Sen. John Ensign's words to cram down the mouth of the latest family values hypocrite caught with his pants down. Crooks and Liars found an example:
“Marriage recognizes the ideal of a father and mother living together to raise their children,” Ensign said. “Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation. Marriage, as a social institution, predates every other institution on which ordered society in America has relied."
He has also been active in the Promise Keepers organization and excoriated Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal.
UPDATE: Call it a harmonic convergence. Today of all days -- with another paragon of professed virtue outed -- the University of Arkansas has announced that the papers of Billy James Hargis, the famous fallen Tulsa evangelist, are now open for review in the UA's special collections department.
UA NEWS RELEASE
Hargis Papers Document Birth of Religious Right
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Researchers studying the history of political and religious ideologies will get a fresh look at the origins of the Religious Right through studying the papers of conservative Tulsa minister Billy James Hargis. The Hargis papers were recently processed and opened for research at the special collections department of the University of Arkansas Libraries in Fayetteville.
The significance of Hargis’s work was his pairing of religion with politics. He established the Christian Crusade Against Communism in 1950, waging his battle through writings, public appearances, and television and radio programs. Over the course of his career, he accumulated meticulously compiled files on a variety of subjects. These materials document both the mid-twentieth century climate in which the modern conservative movement formed and Hargis’s role in defining Communism as a threat to America and Christianity, a belief central to the Religious Right movement that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s.
From 1953 to 1958 Hargis directed the International Council of Christian Churches’ Bibles by Balloons Project, which launched scriptures tied to balloons into Communist countries. Hargis advocated support for the white regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa in the belief that the anti-apartheid movement was a subterfuge for spreading Communist rule to Africa. By the early 1960s he produced programs that ran on 250 television and 500 radio stations, and he founded the American Christian College in Tulsa in 1971. He authored more than 100 books, as well as countless articles for the Christian Crusade Weekly newspaper.
Hargis was an ultraconservative minister and a lightning rod for controversy. In addition to his anti-Communist views, he was a supporter of racial segregation and reputedly held anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic views. In the early 1960s the Internal Revenue Service determined that his work was political in nature and stripped his organization of its tax exempt status. Comments Hargis made in 1964 caused an opposing journalist to demand equal time; denied this, the journalist filed suit, leading to the Supreme Court case Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969), which affirmed the Fairness Doctrine.
In 1968 Hargis launched an attack on sex education programs, only to be accused in 1974 of having sexual relations with both male and female students at his college. This controversy resulted in his writing an autobiography, My Great Mistake (1985), in which he denied the allegations. These controversies, along with poor health and the effects of aging, eventually caused the decline of his ministry.
After acquiring the research and correspondence files of Allen Zoll and the National Council for American Education in 1961, Hargis owned a well-organized trove upon which to build the Christian Crusade’s research. The NCAE was an anti-Communist watchdog organization that compiled files on alleged “reds” in educational institutions and then agitated for their dismissal.
In addition to materials related to the McCarthy era, the Hargis papers include files related to the battle between fundamentalist and liberal churches. Hargis’s opposition to desegregation on the basis that it was a “Communist conspiracy” is well documented in the papers, which also contain materials pertaining to radical student groups and the black nationalist movement.
The Hargis papers include approximately 300 newspaper titles from both sides of the political spectrum, including titles with fundamentalist Christian, anti-labor, patriotic, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist viewpoints, as well as titles with ecumenical, anti-war, pro-labor, socialist, Communist, radical student and black nationalist viewpoints. The collection contains an almost complete run from November 1958 to May 1973 of the New York-based Communist newspaper The Worker and its successor title The Daily World.
Special Collections Department Head Tom W. Dillard observed, “The Hargis Papers will be a goldmine for students of American politics. They document the emergence of the religious right and the role that Billy James Hargis played in it. The collection contains a large number of fringe publications that often fail to make their way into libraries and archives. Researchers will find many gems in this collection.”
Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and a series of heart attacks, Hargis died in Tulsa on November 27, 2004. The Hargis Papers were processed by Todd E. Lewis.