The Family Research Council (FRC) is the Washington, D.C., beachhead of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family (FOF). Founded by Dobson in 1983, FRC is legally separate from FOF, but the two groups acknowledge they are “spiritually one.”
FRC’s public profile increased dramatically with the decline of the Christian Coalition. FRC annually hosts a “Values Voter Summit,” an event attended by thousands that is nearly identical to the “Road to Victory” conferences the Christian Coalition used to sponsor. While it claims to be non-partisan, the group is well connected with the Republican leadership in the nation’s capital and asks GOP lawmakers to speak at its events. GOP presidential contenders often attend as well.
Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana state legislator, is FRC president. He took the job after an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2002. During the run-up to the race, Perkins sparked controversy when he agreed to address the Council of Conservative Citizens, an outgrowth of an old racist group called the White Citizens Council. (In the primary, he received only 10 percent of the vote.) The Nation has reported that in 1996, Perkins, then managing a U.S. Senate campaign for Woody Jenkins, paid $82,000 for a mailing list owned by white supremacist David Duke.
Under Perkins’ tutelage, FRC has become more aggressive in attacking same-sex marriage and gay rights generally. The group also opposes legal abortion, frequently assails public education and lambastes “judicial activism.”
And like other Religious Right groups, it sometimes ventures into unexpected territory. For example, Perkins has attacked Earth Day as “a calculated attack on the sanctity of human life,” and joined other Religious Right groups in opposing stimulus spending and health-care reform.
The FRC now has a 501(c)(4) “action” arm – FRC Action – as well as a political action committee – FRC Action PAC – to give money to candidates.
Perkins Quote: “We have broken our covenant with God, and if we want our courts to get it right, you and I must get it right by returning to covenant with Almighty God. Are you ready to return to a covenantal relationship with God where there is no other God over America but Jesus Christ?” (Speech to “The Call” prayer rally, Washington, D.C., Aug. 16, 2008)