While Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, and John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel can draw audiences to their anti-Muslim diatribes, they lack sustained bonds with a right-wing grassroots movement. Longtime Christian right-wing groups such as the Eagle Forum fill the void.
Founded by Phyllis Schlafly, the Eagle Forum gained prominence by helping to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and 1980s. The Eagle Forum, which caters mostly to the home-school movement and to women who identify as social values activists, touts its legacy of protesting feminist values. Eagle Forum is increasingly entwining itself with the Islamophobia network by partnering with Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America and Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy to push anti-Muslim issues, particularly anti-Sharia hysteria.
Eagle Forum has sought to stir up hysteria about American charter schools having been taken control of by Muslim groups, namely the Turkey-originated Gülen Movement. At a 2011 conference organized by the Constitutional Coalition, in St. Louis, Missouri, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, and others in the network revealed a new supposed threat: Muslim Gülen schools, which they claim would educate children through the lens of Islam and teach them to “hate Americans.” Worse, the speakers alleged that President Obama’s support for charter school reforms was a back-door strategy for using taxpayer money to fund the schools. Of course, Gülen schools are nothing of the sort. They are the product of moderate Turkish Muslim educators who want “a blend of religious faith and largely western curriculum.”
The Texas Eagle Forum has called for banning Muslims from serving in the military, working in the federal government, or running for political office. The Tennessee Eagle Forum chapter works closely with the Tennessee Freedom Coalition, created by Lou Ann Zelenik in March 2011. Zelenik galvanized anti-Muslim hysteria in 2010 by leading the protest of the proposed Islamic center in Murfreesboro during her failed campaign for the Sixth District Republican congressional nomination.