Remember the Clarion Fund and its DVD, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against The West”? The DVD — and the fund’s murky background — caused an uproar when Clarion spread 28 million copies of the disk throughout battleground states, all in the name of attracting media attention.
Now the DVD has a new distributor, a California-based publication called The Judeo-Christian View. Where Clarion’s roots traced back to Israel, the View connects to significant figures in the conservative Christian political movement. It pulls “Obsession” closer to being precisely what the Clarion Fund has insisted it is not: a political message delivered at the peak of a presidential campaign.
The View says it mailed “Obsession” and other materials, discussing Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s views on abortion, homosexuality and other issues, to more than 325,000 clergy earlier this month. Its conclusion is that Obama’s views are “at odds with the ancient Biblical faiths.”
The View’s general publisher is O’Neal Dozier, once a linebacker for the New York Jets and Chicago Bears, now pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, FL. The publisher is Gary L. Cass, who’s also head of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, where the homepage currently offers “7 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is Not A Christian.”
Dozier is active at the crossroads of religion and Republican politics, meeting with President Bush four times in 2005, in delegations of African-American clergy. When Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, was governor of Florida, he appointed Dozier to one of several state panels that recommended judicial nominees. But he removed Dozier in 2006, after the pastor called Islam a “cult” during a radio interview and judicial candidates said he asked them inappropriate questions. Republican Charlie Crist, who followed Bush as governor, initially put Dozier on his campaign’s Strengthening Florida’s Families advisory group, but then dismissed him after the “cult” comment and some other remarks.
Dozier earlier was involved in Freedom Watch, a group set up by Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman (and not to be confused with Freedom’s Watch, a well-funded conservative group active in this year’s campaigns).
Cass said he, not Dozier, is the proprietor of The Judeo-Christian View. He told us the big mailing was done this month “to take advantage of interest in the political season to launch” the publication.
And to deepen the mystery over how “Obsession” is distributed, Cass was vague as to how his publication acquired DVDs for the mailing. He said they came from Clarion but declined to say if they were purchased or contributed. Referring to Clarion, he said, “Let’s just say we have a good working relationship with them.”
Cass’s Christian Anti-Defamation Commission claims an advisory board with some stars of the Christian Right: Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition; Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association; and Steve Baldwin, executive director of the Council for National Policy, a little-known but well-placed umbrella group for funding and policy on the religious right.
The Judeo-Christian View mailing includes “Obsession,” a second video presentation and two documents. The video is a sermon titled “Same-Sex Marriage and Child Sacrifice” (Dozier’s term for late-term abortions) and discusses Obama’s views in detail. It also briefly mentions McCain.
There’s a “mild” version of the video sermon —
— and an “adult graphic version,” which you can find here.
The documents are essentially text versions of the video sermon. One says of Obama, “We contend that on these paramount issues of natural marriage, family and children, his policies are at odds with the 4,000-year-old, Judeo-Christian view; instead, they would move America further down the low road toward paganism….” They also say that by accepting homosexuality, an Obama presidency would inflame Islamic radicals, who would hate America even more for condoning homosexual relationships.
And just in case, the packet includes clickable links to Web pages that guide a religious leader through the tax code limits on political speech by tax-exempt religious organizations.
For Michael Mumme, a United Methodist pastor in Woodsboro, TX, the “polemical” and partisan content of the mailing was a big turn-off.
“In a sermon it just wouldn’t fly, in a mainline denomination, to refer to either political candidate and their views,” Mumme told us. “It could happen in certain churches. But most of the time, regardless of who wins the election, Christians need to be advocating on behalf of ‘the least of these’ whether it’s a Democratic administration or a Republican one.”
Cass said reaction to the mailing has been mixed. If it has an impact, that will be evident this Sunday, with the last regular church services before Election Day.
—Peter Overby and Will Evans
This originally appeared on The Secret Money Project Blog, a joint project of CIR and National Public Radio tracking the hidden cash in the 2008 election.