Is the religious right out to get Bill Clinton?

Author:Boston, Rob
 
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Defending her husband against charges that he had an affair with a White House intern and then told her to lie about it, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted on NBC's "Today" show Jan. 27 that a "right-wing conspiracy" is out to discredit Bill Clinton and bring down his presidency.

"Conspiracy" is a strong word. But there is no doubt that a well organized, well funded array of groups has worked to savage Clinton's presidency from the day he was first sworn in. These groups, many of which are tied to the Religious Right or run by far-right, fundamentalist Christian activists, dislike Clinton because of Iris stands on issues like abortion, gay rights and school prayer. They publish a wealth of books, magazines, newsletters and other materials, have released numerous videos and maintain a visible presence on the Internet.

Many of the charges these organization fling at Clinton are unsubstantiated, and others are so far out that they have the ring of conspiracy theories. Among them, these groups have accused Clinton of crimes ranging from murder to drug abuse, and nearly everything in between. Many of them work together and share information. If there is anything like a "conspiracy" against Clinton, this is it.

On Feb. 4 a number of far-right organizations held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington to demand Clinton's impeachment. Two men aligned with Christian Reconstructionism were featured speakers at the event - Howard Phillips of the U.S. Taxpayers Party and Herb Titus, former dean of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School.

Reconstructionists embrace theocracy, calling for all U.S. law to be based on the legal code of the Old Testament. They advocate the death penalty for a number of religious "crimes," including adultery, witchcraft, persistent juvenile delinquency, "unchastity," blasphemy and worshipping "false gods." The U.S. Taxpayers Party is the closest thing the Reconstructionists have to a political outlet, and Phillips and Titus ran as the party's candidates for president and vice president in 1996, after the party tried unsuccessfully to woo Pat Buchanan to be its standard-bearer.

Phillips and Titus were jollied at their Coalition for a Congressional Impeachment Inquiry event by representatives from some of the most extreme far-right groups in the country. Most of the organizations participating, with the possible exception of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, are obscure. Yet the...

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