Founded in 1990, the Discovery Institute is billed as a non-profit “educational foundation and think-tank. The Institute has long been a tool of the Christian ultra-right-wingers. It was initially established as a branch of the Hudson Institute by Bruce Kerry Chapman and his pal George Gilder.
Chapman is a WashingtonState politician who served as Director of the Census Bureau at the pleasure of Ronald Regan, as well as an Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna. He is a major proponent of Intelligent Design and that is truly what the Institute is all about.
Gilder, on the other hand, is more than a one-trick pony. A major contributor to Forbes, Wired, the National Review, and the Wall Street Journal, Gilder is a critic of feminism and governmental welfare policies claiming that they “eroded the “sexual constitution” that socialized men as fathers and providers.”If that isn’t enough, Gilder’s racist and discriminatory opinions against people of other cultures speak volumes about the Institute’s true leanings. He describes both African and Native American cultures as “destructive cultures”, “tragic failures” and “virtual social suicide”, and upholding Native American or African cultures is a “terrible perversion.”
In his own words:
“Indian culture didn’t fail because it was virtuous. It failed because it was a corrupt and unsuccessful culture. These tribal cultures they [multiculturalists] are trying to import from Africa are tragic failures, too. To uphold these destructive cultures that have been virtual social suicide for the people who live in them is a terrible perversion.”
Additionally, Gilder is a major opponent of secular public education.
“Religion is primary. Unless a culture is aspiring toward the good, the true, and the beautiful, and wants the good and the true, really worships God, it readily worships Satan. If we turn away from God, our culture becomes dominated by “Real Crime Stories” and rap music and other spew… When the culture becomes corrupt, then the businesses that serve the culture also become corrupt… Secular culture is in general corrupt, and degraded, and depraved. Because I don’t believe in secular culture, I think parochial schools are the only real schools”
And…if one were to buy into Gilder’s warped and demented thought process we would believe that poor people are spoiled and suffering from moral decay:
“What the poor really need is morals…The official poor in America have higher incomes and purchasing power than the middle class in the United States in 1955 or the middle class in Japan today. The so-called “poor” are ruined by the overflow of American prosperity. What they need is Christian teaching from the churches…The poverty line in a rich country like the United States is a meaningless standard. We have no poverty problem strictly speaking, we have a desperate problem of family breakdown and moral decay.”
While the Discovery Institute claims to be a “secular organization,” it is clear that their claim is patently untrue. It is equally as clear that the Institute has a decidedly Christian agenda, is funded largely by the Christian far-right, and that it fosters nothing less than a Christian worldview. Through its’ public statements, publications and presentations it is obvious that the purpose of the group is to promote a Christian ideology. Americans United for Separation of Church and State seems to agree:
“Though the Discovery Institute describes itself as a think tank ‘specializing in national and international affairs,’ the group’s real purpose is to undercut church-state separation and turn public schools into religious indoctrination centers.”
For the past two decades the Institute has been surrounded in controversy. According to a Wikipedia article, one such controversy involved the schism within the Episcopalian church over the ordination of homosexuals:
“One controversy erupted when it was made public in the online journal Salon that, in the summer of 2000, Discovery Institute President Chapman advised a breakaway faction of Episcopalians opposed to the ordination of gays on how to fund their desired schism from the mainline denomination, and suggested that funds from multi-millionaire and institute board member Howard Ahmanson, who was also a fellow Episcopalian, might be available for this task. In a memo Chapman sent to fellow dissident Episcopalians, he stated that for their campaign to succeed fund-raising was critical, but “is going to be affected greatly by whether we have a clear, compelling forward strategy” and “the Ahmansons are only going to be available to us if we have such a strategy and I think it would be wise to involve them directly in settling on it….”
Well connected and well funded, the Discovery Institute is but one of many think-tanks who are stealthily pushing forward with an agenda of right-wing dogma and dominionism. They are powerful forces in the halls of government and in winning the minds of unsuspecting and gullible Americans. It is imperative that we know who these people are, what their goals are, and how to combat their message.
For a list of the most prominent of these members – click here.