The Family Research Council (FRC), based in Washington, DC, is one of the Christian Right’s most influential voices on Capitol Hill. The organization, along with its legislative affiliate, FRC Action, focuses on advancing “faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview.” They do so through lobbying efforts, media work, leadership training programs, and high-profile conferences.
Under the leadership of Tony Perkins, who took over as FRC’s president in 2003, the organization has grown in terms of both size and influence. In 2015, FRC had a revenue of about 15.4 million and net assets of about 4 million.
FRC’s primary targets include reproductive justice and LGBTQ people. FRC falsely equates homosexuality with pedophilia, and it has distributed pamphlets and materials claiming that homosexuals are much more likely than the general population to molest children. Like Focus on the Family, FRC has opposed programs and policies designed to address anti-LGBTQ bullying in schools, and FRC advocates for so-called “conversion therapy.” Perkins has actually suggested that the higher rates of suicide among LGBTQ youth are the fault of the “homosexual movement and their allies in the media and the educational establishment” for not letting them be cured of their same-sex attraction.
While its political work is limited mainly to the United States, it does attempt to influence U.S. foreign policy on LGBTQ rights and reproductive health. In 2010, for example, FRC lobbied against a resolution in the U.S. Congress denouncing Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In 2012, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that “gay rights are human rights,” and President Barack Obama instructed U.S. embassies to make protections for LGBTQ people a factor in evaluating U.S. aid, Perkins denounced the administration for “using our tax dollars to push a radical social agenda … into other countries.”
FRC is unsurprisingly a major supporter of the Trump administration. Trump spoke at both the 2017 and 2018 Values Voter Summit, FRC’s annual conference and one of the Christian Right’s most significant political gatherings of the year. Perkins sits on the president’s ad hoc evangelical advisory board, and serves as a critical bridge between the Trump administration and evangelicals, regularly goes to battle on his behalf by doling out “mulligans” for his “personal failings.”.
As part of its effort to mobilize constituents and supporters, FRC runs a program called Watchmen on the Wall, which claims to have nearly 25,000 pastors in its network. The program claims to be “championing pastors to transform America.” Many of these pastors coordinate Culture Impact Teams (CITs) in their congregations. These are church-based groups designed to cross denominational lines and “serve as the command center for the Church’s efforts to engage the culture.” There are currently more than 5,000 CITs around the country working in collaboration under FRC’s leadership to advance Far Right policies at the local, state, and national level and increase Christian domination of U.S. political, cultural, and social institutions.
Particularly under President Trump, FRC is one of the most prominent and powerful groups threatening LGBTQ and women’s rights.
For more details, see American Culture Warriors in Africa: A Guide to the Exporters of Homophobia and Sexism.