Oldspeak


A Vision of Victory: An interview with Phyllis Schlafly



By John W. Whitehead
April 08, 2003

Facing great odds, Phyllis Schlafly took on the forces (namely, the feminist movement) behind the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s (it was eventually defeated in the early '80s) and has been a role model for conservative women ever since. More Pat Buchanan than Pat Robertson, she has trained her astute eye on social and political issues for over four decades. Along with her organization Eagle Forum, Schlafly has continued, through a syndicated column and public appearances, to offer her opinion on a whole range of topics—from affordable college education to illegal immigration to the privacy invasions of the Patriot Act and of course a woman’s role in society. Currently on a speaking tour to publicize a collection of her essays called Feminist Fantasies as well as challenge the newest effort to pass the ERA, Schlafly took a break to speak with John W. Whitehead by telephone.

oldSpeak: You’ve had an amazing career in social activism. Many argue that you single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Obviously, you and other conservatives have made headway in terms of implementing your agenda. Are you surprised you have been effective?

Phyllis Schlafly: No, I’m not surprised. I’ve been effective because I have been studying the political process for a long time. This great process of self-government that our founding fathers left us enables grass-roots citizens to organize in groups and affect public policy and elect good candidates. Other countries don’t have these volunteer grass-roots organizations that are available to us. We made good use of it. In defeating the Equal Rights Amendment, we were able to outwit and out-maneuver the entire political and media establishment.

Why do you think you were successful in doing that?

We understand how the process works. We understand how to lobby our state legislators, how to present our case and how to go to the hearings and argue and refute the opposition.

Have those who oppose you learned that now?

They learned a lot from us. You learn a lot from defeat, and we beat them. But just remember that, when we started, the other side had three presidents of the United States, all the governors, all the first ladies, 99% of the media, big powerful women’s organizations and a lot of money.

There are some leading conservatives now, however, who argue that the entire right wing/ conservative movement has been a failure. Cal Thomas, for example, argues that the conservative agenda has failed.

There is a lot of truth in what Cal Thomas says, but just think how it would be if we hadn’t organized the pro-family movement. We elected Ronald Reagan, and that was a big surprise. It was a tremendous thing for our country. Reagan was elected through combining the fiscal conservatives who had really originated the modern conservative movement with the Goldwater Campaign. Then combined with the social conservatives out of the various churches, this is what elected Ronald Reagan. Reagan didn’t do everything we wanted or everything right. Nothing in this world is perfect. But it was a tremendous turnaround for our country.

What do you mean by turnaround?

Well, prior to Reagan, the conservatives really had no vision of victory. They thought they were involved in a holding action against inevitable socialism and totalitarianism. Reagan gave us a vision of the shining city on the hill in America. He cut taxes dramatically, which determines whether you have big government or a small government. That was a great thing for our country.

If conservatives have been successful, how do you explain eight years of Bill Clinton?

That is difficult to explain. I think part of it is bad leadership. Unfortunately, we allowed people in leadership positions who did not carry our message.

Are you talking about the senior George Bush?

Yes, the senior George Bush, Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich. I would put them all in that class.

So they failed to carry the vision forward?

That’s right. They could not advance the conservative cause. They were not good candidates. In fact, the senior George Bush spent four years trying to disassociate himself from Ronald Reagan, and he finally succeeded.

And got beat in the next election.

Yes, that’s right. And that’s how we got Bill Clinton. But another factor is the cultural changes that have taken place in this country.

Do you think Clinton was a better President than George Bush senior?

Oh, no. I couldn’t say that at all.

Equal?

No. I think Clinton was a terrible president. I think he’s an embarrassment to our country.

The economic times seemed to do well under Clinton. And we are doing very poorly economically right now under George W. Bush. Don’t you think people vote their pocketbooks?

I think they do.

Is this going to hurt George junior?

Presidents don’t have a whole lot to say about prosperity or the economy. Government cannot create prosperity. There are a lot of other factors that determine whether there are good times or bad times.

You have a lot to say about stay-at-home moms, which is one of your focus points. Many women, however, don’t aspire to stay at home. Besides, given today’s economic situation, most women cannot afford to stay at home. Don’t you think that the large majority of young women today either aspire or feel entitled to be financially independent, sexually liberated and so on?

No, I don’t think the majority of them do. But many of them do, and you can blame that directly on the feminist movement. That’s what I emphasize in my new book Feminist Fantasies. The feminist movement has had a disastrous impact on our entire culture—on marriage, on motherhood, on the family and on children. They’ve taught young women that there is more fulfillment in being in the work force and reporting to a boss than reporting to a husband. If you look at…

Should women report to their husbands?

Well, naturally. You have to get along in the household.

So you don’t believe in the 50-50 marriage partnership idea?

Marriage has to be like 70-70 in order for it to work. The feminist movement has spent 30 years putting down the role of stay-at-home moms and trying to tell young women that only someone who is mentally disabled would pick that for a career. You should see the textbook used in the sociology courses in college. They paint marriage as a dreary life for a woman. In Feminist Fantasies I show how a lot of the women who followed that line 20 years ago regretted it. When they got past 40, they realized that life had passed them by. And they’re very bitter about it. They tend to blame society, but they made their choices. And the feminist movement told them a lot of lies.

But the feminists claim they have all these victories. They won the abortion issue. They’ve integrated the workforce. Women now have prominent positions in the workplace and in the military. So they say they’ve been victorious.

But they don’t tell you how many women are unhappy. They don’t tell you how many are making themselves dependent on government handouts because they don’t have a husband in the home.

Do you believe the feminist movement is somewhat elitist? For instance, when they talk about their successes, aren’t they really talking about the so-called white collar women? Are they really worried about the women with three children who aren’t in professional positions?

No, they don’t care.

Why do you think the feminist "fantasy," as you call it in your new book—to be liberated from home, husband and family—is such a bad thing? Isn’t it the same fantasy that men enjoy—to sow their wild oats and work at trying to be somebody while they’re young and to put off the responsibility of having a family for as long as possible? Shouldn’t women have the same freedom as men to spend their youth as they see fit?

Sure, but they pay a bigger price for it.

Why is that?

One of the fantasies is that the feminists are trying to repeal human nature. They pay a bigger price because…

What do you mean by repeal human nature?

The feminists are trying to tell women that there is really no difference between them and men. Just as men can be promiscuous, women can, too, and go for one night stands without consequences. But there are consequences. The women have the suffering of the abortion. They suffer more with the social diseases. They have a biological clock. There is a new book out by some feminist who thinks she has made a scientific discovery—that is, that women in their 40s are less fertile than women in their 20s and it’s more difficult to have a baby. And you find a lot of them crying for babies. They said they have a big hunger now. So yes, those choices are out there. But I urge young women to look ahead and see if they want to have a lonely old age or do they want to have what I have, which is the joy of 14 beautiful grandchildren.

You’ve said that the feminist goal is "eradicate from our culture everything that is masculine and remake us into a gender neutral society." You point out all the insidious ways the movement has tried to manipulate society, including advocating gender neutral language and infiltrating the military and so on. If this is true, what do you think is the motivation behind all of it?

The motivation is they’ve convinced themselves that any difference between men and women is oppression and that women in the United States are an oppressed minority. This is such a lie. American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the earth.

Why is that?

Just travel around the rest of the world and see what it’s like. We are so far ahead of whatever is in second place that there isn’t any comparison. Women have all these choices. You can make them, but you’ve got to live with the consequences of your choice. And now the feminists are trying to eliminate everything masculine. You see this in so many ways. You see it in the way they’re trying to feminize the military. You see it in the grade schools where the latest fad is to eliminate recess and to build new school buildings without playgrounds. This is a direct attack on the little boys who need to get out on the playground and wrestle with each other so they can come in and learn something. They’re trying to make little boys behave like little girls.

Do you think the feminists are misguided? Are they mentally unstable? Are they evil? What’s behind the idea that we have to eradicate gender differences and turn men into something they’re not?

It’s a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude toward life.

Where does the chip come from?

It was developed by a very clear technique called the consciousness-raising session. They get a bunch of women together and exchange horror stories about how badly some man has treated them. Grievances are like flowers. If you water them, they will grow. And little grievances grow into big grievances. That means they begin to think of themselves as victims. They begin to feel that somebody owes them something and it is up to them to change all these acts of oppression. Then they make their own problems a societal problem, and they think that all men are illustrative of the ones they may have had a bad experience with. They just picked the wrong guys, that’s all. There are some slobs out there, but there are a lot of wonderful men who are working hard to support their wives and families. And if the woman picks the wrong man, that’s not society’s problem. That’s her problem.

So, in effect, men are like demons.

Yes. They believe and convince themselves that all men are that way. Ann Coulter, who wrote the foreword to Feminist Fantasies, liked the chapter about the men who are slobs. She said, "I always wondered why these feminists thought men were slobs, and now I realize why. It’s because the liberal men they know are slobs." But that’s not true of all men. I know a lot of wonderful men.

My wife thinks I’m a slob sometimes.

Those are passing phases.

If you could sum up the role of women in society, what would that be?

I think every woman can choose whatever she wants to be. There are some women who really want to be career women and are very successful at it. In fact, we have several in the present administration. Elizabeth Dole is a clear example of this. The feminists never talk about these women. This simply proves that they are not for women’s achievement. They’re for changing society to comport with their narrow chip-on-the-shoulder view. But that type of success usually comes without having children. And that’s a choice women make. Personally, I think it’s more fun to have children.

There are leading evangelicals and conservatives who pose homosexuality as the basic threat to the American family. Do you agree with this? Does homosexuality have a negative effect on the traditional family?

Certainly, it has a negative effect. We see their growing political power, which is very threatening. I’m reminded of a saying that if only one side is shooting, the other side will be dead. You have to fault the Christian churches for not realizing the growing political power of the gay movement. The gay movement is trying to legitimize every type of sex that does not involve commitment to marriage and family.

One thing I see missing from Christians is compassion. The condemnation from evangelical Christianity is usually very, very harsh. How do you feel about that?

You’re right. Most of them are approaching the argument with a lot of bitterness in their hearts, and you can see it. The men sometimes do a better job of concealing their hate than the women. With the feminists, you can see it in their faces.

Don’t you think the church should be more compassionate and reach out to gays?

I’m in favor of being compassionate, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them change our laws. I think society is entitled to recognize marriage as an institution that involves one man and one woman.

On one of the talk shows recently, an individual posed the question, "Wouldn’t it be better for a child to be placed with a nice gay couple rather than to be in an orphanage?"

Some of our most successful businessmen in the country today grew up in orphanages. They were well treated, and they learned discipline. They learned right or wrong, and they have wonderful careers.

So you don’t think gays could be a proper role model in any instance for children?

There are a lot of very fine upstanding gays who are good citizens and all that. I am not making a decision for individual people. But when it comes to a societal policy, I think there are not enough babies for adoption to go around. I think a preference should be given to families with a mother and father who have a lifetime commitment.

We’re likely to see the National Organization of Women and other women’s groups protesting at the Augusta National. Tiger Woods, a Master’s champion, could not have played at Augusta National 25 years ago because it was for white men only. Now the Augusta private club is for men altogether, regardless of color. Why shouldn’t Annika Sorenstam or other top women in golf have the opportunity to play in the Masters and be part of the boy’s club?

Women do play on the golf course. What they are asking for is membership in the club, and membership is not even open to all men. It’s only open to men who can put up $50,000. So what we’re talking about is trying to get a couple of rich women in the men’s club. This shows you that the feminist movement has little to argue about today and is reduced to trivial pursuits. I belong to a couple of all-women clubs, and I don’t have any problems with men having an all-men’s club.

You won’t let me join your club?

No, I won’t.

Even if I can pay?

This is part of our First Amendment rights, freedom of association. Don’t you believe in the First Amendment?

Of course, I do. You know that. But back to my question. If I can pay to join your club, you still won’t let me in?

No. The Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts’ freedom of association to make their own rules. And I think that is part of the First Amendment.

You told Pat Buchanan recently that feminists are "vicious" and they want to "get rid of the sports that women can’t compete in." Do you think that is what’s driving Title IX activists in college athletics?

Absolutely. The feminists and the Clinton Administration invented some bureaucratic regulations that have forced colleges to abolish 171 wrestling teams. What good does it do for women to abolish wrestling teams?

Colleges have also dropped hundreds of swimming teams, gymnastics, golf and even some football teams. The wrestling team bothers me because it proves that it has nothing to do with money because it is one of the cheapest sports. All they need is a mat to wrestle on and yet they forced the colleges to abolish these teams. Even the colleges where the alumni said they would raise the money to support the team, it was just abolished. Period. This shows the maliciousness of the feminists who really want to get rid of everything masculine.

They hate men?

That’s not what Title IX is for, but that is what they’re using it for.

Why do they hate men?

I suppose maybe some of them had a bad experience. But some of them…

Do you think it is taught in the schools?

It is certainly taught in the colleges. And it is more and more getting into the schools. They try to change the language in trying to prevent us from using gender specific pronouns like "he" and "she." At one law school, the feminists are in such control that they say that when you write a law review article, you are supposed to use the female pronoun unless you are talking about a criminal defendant.

The Equal Rights Amendment was reintroduced into the House recently. The congressmen who brought the Bill had a new ERA argument—that is, they are using income disparity as the key point.

This is a Ted Kennedy promotion. They’ve introduced that in Congress every year since we buried it in 1982, and it has never gone anywhere.

The argument is that female doctors don’t make as much as male doctors or lawyers, etc. Is that a valid argument?

It’s not a valid argument because those differentials occur because women choose the lesser paying professions like dermatology and pediatrics, as opposed to surgery. It’s also because it is clearly proven that women doctors do not see as many patients per week as male doctors. These are clear gender differences. I don’t believe that everybody should be paid the same. I believe in equal pay for equal work.

Apart from your support of American troops in the conflict with Iraq, do you believe the war against Saddam Hussein is well advised?

Is well advised?

Yes.

I’m very worried about it. We’re all praying that it is going to be quick and easy and that Saddam’s troops will surrender immediately. But I don’t know. I think it’s a risky undertaking.

Why do you think it’s risky?

Because we could be bogged down and become involved in a lot of very nasty fighting. I’m worried that the United States may have to occupy that country for the next 50 years, much like we did the European countries. I don’t think that is our mission in the world.

Do you think we could be into another Vietnam?

I don’t think the fighting will last that long. But it might last long enough to really put a black eye on everything.

What do you think of Europe’s reaction to America’s involvement in Iraq, which has been very negative? The European edition of Time magazine online conducted a poll and asked, "What country is the biggest threat to world peace in 2003?" Of those polled, 6% said Iraq, another 6% said North Korea and 88% said the United States.

I think this just shows you that countries are going to make their decisions based on what they perceive as their own national interest. Don’t expect any gratitude for all we have done for them. I think we should make our decisions based on our national interests.

Do you think the Iraqi conflict poses a long-term problem because of all the anti-Americanism, in particular, anti-George Bush?

It’s not good. But there are many factors involved here. For example, France in particular is scared to death of the Muslim population they have inside their country. They don’t want to have retaliations from them.

The Rutherford Institute represented Lt. Col. Martha McSally, the Air Force pilot who fought the forced wearing of the abaya in Saudi Arabia. It was a humiliating, strange situation for this top gun Air Force pilot. As I understand it, you’re against women in combat. Martha is over there now and is a fighter pilot presently on the frontlines in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Do you think she should be over there? Should women should be in combat situations like that at all? Is there a place for women in combat?

There is a fine place for women in the military. I have a lot of friends who served in the Wax and Waves in World War II. Combat, however, is not one of the places they should be. No, I don’t think women should be fighter pilots.

Supposedly there are studies which indicate that women can actually fly the planes better than men simply because of the way women are made. This would be a gender difference. If that’s true and they are actually better fighter pilots, would that be one exception to the rule?

No. I don’t think that’s true. There was a reconnaissance plane that went down over China two years ago when a Chinese plane bumped into an American plane and disabled it and it had to be brought down. There is absolutely no way a woman pilot could have brought that plane down safely. So sure, women can fly planes. But being in combat and being in an emergency situation like that is a different thing. That pilot in the China situation said it took every piece of strength he had in his body to bring that plane down safely. I think it’s humiliating for our country to send our young women out to fight Saddam Hussein. What kind of a country have we come to?

It can be argued that George W. Bush was elected president with the help of the conservative, evangelical right. How do you think he has performed as president?

He’s done a lot of good things. I think he has performed well. The tax cut and the way he has stood by that has been very important. But I think he needs to listen to the grass roots on such issues as the border security problem. I think the way our government let these creeps in our country who hate us and want to kill us is just an outrage.

Are you talking about the 9/11 terrorists?

I’m talking about the 9/11 terrorists. They should never have been allowed into this country. I’m talking about Lee Malvo who was caught, fingerprinted and then let loose on our society. Then he went across the country and killed ten people and terrorized Washington, D.C. for three weeks. He was an illegal alien who should have been deported immediately. He came in as a stowaway.

Concerning your argument for strong border security, what do you think of the recent mass registration of foreign visitors lined up for hours outside federal buildings waiting for their turn to be fingerprinted? Should we be rounding up people who aren’t American citizens for no reason at all, or should they be given basic constitutional rights?

They certainly should not have the constitutional rights of American citizens. We should draw a bright line of different treatment between citizens and aliens. And the aliens, who are not citizens, should carry a smart ID card that shows when their visas expire so we can arrange that they do leave when their visas expire.

Why shouldn’t Americans carry a smart ID card?

Some people do want it, but I am fighting that all the way. I don’t want law-abiding American citizens to be treated as though they’re law breakers.

With the smart ID card, you’re presumed guilty until proven innocent. Thus, the burden of proof is reversed.

The problem is at the border. They keep letting these people in. The Immigration Naturalization Service was headed until very recently by a man who believes in open borders. He did not believe in closing the border.

Back in the early 1970s, John Lennon, the ex-Beatle, was undergoing deportation proceedings by the American government because of a marijuana cigarette charge against him in Great Britain, which, by the way, turned out to be bogus. In an interview, he said, "Why are you trying to throw me out because the Statue of Liberty said come?" There has always been this policy of welcoming the lowly immigrant. As the Statue of Liberty says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore."

The Statue of Liberty was not built to invite immigrants. It was built as a tribute to American freedom.

This is what I’m getting at. America has always been a country where the poor could go to flee from terrorism or bad government. Should we close our borders down? What do you advocate? Who do we let into the country?

Well, we shouldn’t let in a million illegals every year. We want immigrants who want to be Americans, who want to learn English and respect our Constitution as a rule of law. If you come here illegally or overstay your visa illegally, you obviously have shown that you have no respect for the rule of law.

What about the poor Mexicans and Hispanics who escape across the border to come to the land of the free?

There are 6 billion people out there.

Let me finish this. They don’t really know what their rights are. They’re just trying to get to a better place from a really bad place, whatever it might be. How do you stop that? Do we want the military guarding our borders? How do we stop all these people from coming into this country?

Ronald Reagan said a country without borders is not a country. The Constitution gives a duty to the federal government to protect the states against invasion. If we have troops guarding the borders over in Iraq and elsewhere, we ought to be guarding our own borders.

You’ve criticized the Bush Administration’s pursuit of secrecy. You’ve gone so far as to accuse Bush of being "Clinton-like" in that regard.

I don’t think I would make that terrible accusation.

In an article on your website entitled "Secrecy is a Losing Ploy," you write: "Not many people want to be accused of acting like Bill Clinton. When campaign rival John McCain compared George W. Bush to Clinton in a South Carolina television attack ad, the Bush campaign cried foul. Vice President Dick Cheney’s pursuit of secrecy, unfortunately, revives unflattering comparisons." Be that as it may, do you think the executive branch of our government has become too powerful under the present Bush Administration?

Yes, I do. The Bush Administration obviously believes in big government and the increase in power and money in the hands of the government. I think this is extremely unfortunate.

Recently, some members of Eagle Forum were detained in airports because their names turned up on a government no-fly list. It seems that Eagle Forum is being lumped together with activist organizations such as Ralph Nader’s Green Party, Greenpeace, Earth First and Amnesty International and targeted for special searches and possible detention at airports. Privacy is an important issue to you. How do you feel about the government’s assault on our civil liberties since 9/11 with the passage of the USA Patriot Act and initiatives like the Total Information Awareness Program?

I don’t have any problem with what they’re doing with these creeps at Guantanamo. In fact, they’re giving them their special diet and probably treating them better than they have ever been treated in their entire lives.

What do you think about Eagle Forum being detained in airports?

I didn’t hear about that.

The information comes from an article entitled "Grounded: The Government’s Air Passenger Blacklist" on AlterNet.org by Dave Lindorff. Supposedly you’re on a list with Green Party, Greenpeace, Earth First and Amnesty International. Let’s say that’s true. Does it shock you?

It would shock me, and I just question if it is true. I don’t believe in treating law-abiding Americans as though they were potential criminals.

What about the USA Patriot Act? How do you come down on that massive piece of invasive legislation?

I think there are problems with it, but nobody really knows how it’s playing out. I do think the government should go after these potential terrorists. There are 70,000 people--aliens who have been ordered deported who the government can’t find--I think they ought to go out and find them. But again, the real problem is at the border. Unless the government takes steps to keep out people who hate us, we’re in real trouble. Under the Ted Kennedy visa lottery, 50,000 people from nonwestern countries are let into this country every year. This includes all the countries that sponsor terrorism.

Do you remember the Bush Administration’s TIPS program, which would allow your meter reader, cable guy and the like to spy on you and report you to the U.S. Justice Department?

They did drop the program.

That’s because groups such as The Rutherford Institute all got out there and screamed about it. I was on a number of radio and television shows, complaining about TIPS. What I’m trying to get at is what the motivation is behind such programs. Is the government panicking? Is it a power grab? What’s going on?

There used to be an old saying in World War II that when in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. I think the Bush Administration feels compelled to do something. It’s like the harassment we have when we travel on airlines. There are a number of times I’ve undergone extensive inspections. At the same time, they won’t do profiling of the types of people who are apt to hijack a plane. There is absolutely no possibility that somebody who looks like me is going to hijack an airplane. I feel the government should engage in profiling of the types of people who might do that. I also feel that they should have one line for citizens and one line for aliens, just like they do when you come into the country after you’ve traveled abroad. When you present your passport, there’s one line for people who have the native country passports and another line for others.

But what about American citizens who happen to be brown in color who object to being pulled out of line? Many of them believe they’re being treating unequally, and they’re American citizens.

Surveys show that blacks are in favor of profiling. They don’t want to be confused with the types of people who are coming in to blow up the World Trade Center.

Let’s say you have an Arab-American who’s lived in this country all his life. He’s just as patriotic as you are and just as concerned. Should he be pulled out of line instead of you?

I recently read a column by Joe Farah of World Net Daily. He’s an Arab American. He’s perfectly law-abiding. He points out how he has never been pulled out of line for inspection. But in the same line he will see the grandmothers in wheelchairs and young mothers carrying babies pulled out for inspection. He thinks the system is ridiculous.

Do you think we’re in danger of turning into a police state in this country?

We are not close, but what worries me are the databases. When George Orwell wrote his book 1984, he believed the totalitarian state would come by means of a television in everybody’s home, where Big Brother could watch what you were doing.

It’s a great book.

Technology has greatly advanced since Orwell wrote that book. The database is capable of storing all the information on us. I do not think the government should have access to that type of information.

Well, they do.

The government is building it as we speak. Pretty soon the government will be able to combine all the databases. The Internal Revenue Service database, the Social Security database, the Education Department database, the travel database and so on will become one huge mega-database. That’s when the government will have a complete life history of all of us. I don’t think the government should have that kind of information.

We’re moving into an electronic police state, so as to speak?

It’s a great worry.

You have referred to the Declaration of Independence as America’s greatest religious document. It looks like you’re drawing a line in the sand. Some people worry about the church/state question involved in the religious references in the Declaration. You say that schools should be required to teach the Declaration. Does that include the religious focus?

Schools certainly should teach the Declaration of Independence.

But what about the religious focus? It has a really strong religious base.

It does. It mentions God five times.

Yes, God is the Creator of all human rights.

The supreme law giver, the supreme judge and our patron and protector.

Separationist groups are jumping up and down, saying that teaching the religious emphasis is unconstitutional.

They’re saying that the Declaration is unconstitutional? Well, get lost. It is our great document, and children should know our history. I guess that’s why some schools are not teaching the founding period as part of their history class.

In this instance, we’re losing our historical roots. The Declaration of Independence is our founding document. It is very religious. But there is also the recurring controversy in various parts of the country with cases involving the Ten Commandments in the schools. Do you think it’s appropriate for the Ten Commandments to be posted in so-called secular public schools?

I certainly do. The judges who declared the Ten Commandments unconstitutional because it’s a Christian document are so ignorant you could hardly believe it.

I thought it was a Jewish document.

I thought it was, too. But the judge didn’t know it.

Many Christians now say that this country did not really have a Christian beginning. How do you respond to that?

All the founders of our country were Christians. Every single one of them was a Christian. I don’t know where we got that. They were of different denominations. They lived in a time when most of the states had state religions and required everybody to support the established religion in the state. James Madison was a Baptist and didn’t want to pay taxes to support the Episcopal Church, but that’s as far as it went. They were all Christians.

Well, most were members of a church.

They were all members of some church, and there is no way they were anti-religious or anti-Christian.

How do you stand on President Bush’s Faith Based Initiative program?

I am very lukewarm about it.

Why?

I don’t think it’s a good idea for the government to be giving money to private organizations.

Why is that?

The only part of that program I think might be helpful is the one dealing with prison ministries. Anything our government can do for the poorest people in prison would probably be a help. But I think there are too many problems that come along with the Initiative when it goes to other organizations. For example, if the churches have to comply with our equal opportunity laws and can’t discriminate against homosexuals or atheists, I think it is not going to be a good situation.

A camel’s nose inside the tent kind of argument?

That’s right.

I was surprised that Pat Robertson, who had opposed the Bush Administration’s Faith Based Initiative Program, was awarded $500,000. I thought the money was going to small groups that didn’t have any money. Now these big groups are getting it.

It’s a problem.

You are a role model for many women across the country, both young and old. What advice do you have for women today? How should they be living their lives?

There are many choices out there for young women. And you have to ask yourself whether you want to model your life on the women who let life pass them by and who spend their lives thinking they were victims and that men are the enemy. Or do you want to have a happy life with a successful marriage and 14 lovely grandchildren. The choices are out there.

DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN OLDSPEAK ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF THE RUTHERFORD INSTITUTE.