Katherine Stewart, author of a book about the religious right, wrote a powerful article today in the New York Times about Betsy DeVos’ ties to the fundamentalist strain of Christianity. Her book is titled The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. This is the time when everyone should read Stewart’s book to learn what DeVos has in store for our children.

 

Begin with the article today:

 

At the rightmost edge of the Christian conservative movement, there are those who dream of turning the United States into a Christian republic subject to “biblical laws.” In the unlikely figure of Donald J. Trump, they hope to have found their greatest champion yet. He wasn’t “our preferred candidate,” the Christian nationalist David Barton said in June, but he could be “God’s candidate.”

 

His first candidate for Education Secretary was Jerry Falwell, Jr., according to Falwell.

 

His second choice was billionaire Betsy DeVos.

 

Betsy DeVos stands at the intersection of two family fortunes that helped to build the Christian right. In 1983, her father, Edgar Prince, who made his money in the auto parts business, contributed to the creation of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremist because of its anti-L.G.B.T. language.

 

Her father-in-law, Richard DeVos Sr., the co-founder of Amway, a company built on “multilevel marketing” or what critics call pyramid selling, has been funding groups and causes on the economic and religious right since the 1970s.

 

Ms. DeVos is a chip off the old block. At a 2001 gathering of conservative Christian philanthropists, she singled out education reform as a way to “advance God’s kingdom.” In an interview, she and her husband, Richard DeVos Jr., said that school choice would lead to “greater kingdom gain.”

 

And so the family tradition continues, funding the religious right through a network of family foundations — among others, the couple’s own, as well as the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, on whose board Ms. DeVos has served along with her brother, Erik Prince, founder of the military contractor Blackwater. According to Conservative Transparency, a liberal watchdog that tracks donor funding through tax filings, these organizations have funded conservative groups including: the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal juggernaut of the religious right; the Colorado-based Christian ministry Focus on the Family; and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Like other advocates of school voucher programs, Ms. DeVos presents her plans as a way to improve public education and give families more choice. But the family foundations’ money supports a far more expansive effort.

 

The evangelical pastor and broadcaster D. James Kennedy, whose Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is a beneficiary of DeVos largess, said in a 1986 sermon that children in public education were being “brainwashed in Godless secularism.” More recently, in 2005, he told followers to “exercise godly dominion” over “every aspect and institution of human society,” including the government.

 

Jerry Falwell Sr. outlined the goal in his 1979 book “America Can Be Saved!” He said he hoped to see the day when there wouldn’t be “any public schools — the churches will have taken them over and Christians will be running them….”

 

Mr. Trump’s senior strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, may not appear to be a religious warrior, but he shares the vision of a threatened Christendom.
“I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian West, is in a crisis,” he said at a conference in 2014. This was “a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.”

 

What is distinctive about the Christian right’s response to this perceived crisis is its apocalyptic conviction that extreme measures are needed. There is nothing conservative about this agenda; it is radical. Gutting public education will be just the beginning.

 

Will the Republican-controlled Senate confirm this religious warrior as Secretary of Education? Very likely, as the DeVos family has been a major donor of the Republican party, and Betsy DeVos was head of the Michigan Republican party. Does the Republican party want to advance the agenda of the Christian right? Does it want to privatize and Christianize public school funding? We will soon enough find out.

 

Meanwhile, here is what you can do to raise your voice: Send an email to your senators urging them to vote against her confirmation.

 

Even more important, call and visit their district offices and the offices of your Congressperson. Experienced Congressional staff advise that personal phone calls matter a lot. Personal visits matter even more. If you can’t show up at your representatives’ offices, call them.

 

Tell them to vote against DeVos. Don’t let Betsy DeVos privatize our schools and shower government funding on religious schools.

 

Defend  public education and the principle of separation of church and state.