Religious Right’s Convention – Dallas, 1992
Listening to America
Produced, Directed and reported by Gail Pellett
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Production Company: Public Affairs Television, Inc.
Presented by: WNET/Thirteen - New York
Aired on: PBS     Date: 1992

Pat Buchanan & Rev. Jerry Falwell

This 17 minute verite documentary was part of Bill Moyer’s “Listening to America” – a weekly public affairs and documentary series — tracking and analyzing the 1992 presidential campaign between incumbent President George Bush, Sr.  and  Governor Bill Clinton.

Immediately following the ’92 Republican Convention in Houston, the Religious Roundtable hosted a convention for all the movers and shakers of the Religious Right in Dallas.  Although billed as informational not political, the speeches and appearance by Bush himself, proved otherwise.  Many of the folks who wrote the platform at the Republican Convention were the driving forces in the Religious Right movement who then spoke at this large event in Dallas.

The major enemies to be confronted at this convention were homosexuality, abortion and the liberal secular media.  Speakers included Phyllis Schafly of the Eagle Forum dedicated to a pro-family and anti-abortion platform.  (Pro-family in those days as it often is now meant anti-homosexuality).

Phyllis Schafly

Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association,warned the convention audience that the liberal secular media was the major enemy to be fought in this battle.

In a speech entitled “Armaggedon in the Arteries” Rev. Gene Antonio of the Federation for the Advancement of Compassion and Truth was pointedly concerned with warning people about the homosexual movement.  “They are a Gestapo who will break the back of all our churches.  If you don’t do homosexual marriages, if you don’t serve them, if you don’t allow them to become ministers, they will sue you and break your backs.”  He blasted the “pro-sodomy lobby” dismayed by the spread of AIDS as a sign of the dangers of homosexuality.

Other speakers included Lt. Oliver North and Pat Buchanan.  “The Barbarians are already inside the gates,” yelled Buchanan.  “The visigoths and vandals are pillaging our cities by expanding head start ad food stamp programs…We must take back our cities, our country, our culture.”

Rev E. B. Hill

Re. E.V. Hill of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles claimed that while Communism had been defeated abroad, it was only alive in America and “we ought to kill it here.”  Hill designated “the pubic sector news media as the Number One enemy.”

In roaming the convention floor I interviewed people working at various booths.  A woman in one booth who spoke of the importance of family values couldn’t define what family values were when asked.  However, other convention attendants were clear and concise in their positions.  One man claimed “We’re taking back some of the ground that was lost.”  What was lost, he argued, was taking prayer out of public schools, which he blamed for lower SAT scores and the failing school system.

Finally, the President incumbent appeared, George Bush, Sr.  “Hey this is  non-political gathering so I won’t say anything political.” Then proceeded to talk about the need to strengthen our moral foundation and point out that the other party left “God” out of their platform.

Act-up Protest outside convention

Woven around the interviews and speeches inside are shots of an AIDS Act-up demonstration outside, arguments between ministers over tolerance and interpretations of scripture and graffiti:  We are All God’s Family & God is Love.

 

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