Facing South

Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public school religious activists (updated)

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This week, North Carolina election officials announced they were investigating an anonymous flier targeting five candidates in the contentious race for Wake County school board. Wake County School Flier.pngAs WRAL News reported, the flier features pictures of NAACP leaders Ben Jealous and Rev. William Barber -- staunch opponents of the school system's decision to end its socioeconomic diversity policy -- followed by attacks on Democratic-backed candidates:

Under the heading "INDOCTRINATION," the flier calls candidates Susan Evans, Kevin Hill, Christine Kushner, Jim Martin and Keith Sutton "radicals" and "liberal allies" of Jealous and Barber and accuses them of supporting forced busing, social engineering and quota systems in student assignment.

The flier explicitly calls for voters to take action on Election Day, stating "We MUST vote to keep these five radicals away from our children."

That led candidate Martin to file a complaint with the N.C. State Board of Elections on Sept. 13, because the flier would need to be reported as a campaign expenditure if it cost more than $100 to produce and distribute. The school board elections will be held October 11.

As of this writing, officials had yet to identify the source of fliers. But Facing South has found they may be linked to fundamentalist activists who believe Christians should completely abandon public schools.

The distinctive header at the top of the Wake County flier is identical to the name and images used by "IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America," a documentary film scheduled to be released in October 2011.

Although the film isn't finished, the trailer on a promotional website features a parade of speakers who openly call public schools - all public schools - variously a "pagan society" and "criminal enterprise" that are "stealing our children" and "should be ground to a halt." Watch the trailer here:

On the list of the film's "sponsors," the top entry is Exodus Mandate, an anti-public school group based in South Carolina that is unequivocal about its mission:

Exodus Mandate Project is a Christian ministry to encourage and assist Christian families to leave government schools for the Promised Land of Christian schools or home schooling. It is our hope that this fresh obedience in educating our children according to Biblical mandates will prove to be the key for revival in our families, churches and nation.

Other leading sponsors include the Christian Liberty Academy School System, Robinson Curriculum and Wisdom's Gate Ministries, which sell curricula and other materials for Christian right home-schooling - and stand to directly benefit from the film's agenda.

"IndoctriNation" has a strong North Carolina connection: One of the two lead producers is Joaquin Fernandez, a "veteran producer/director of documentaries, television commercials, and educational and marketing videos" who lives east of Raleigh, N.C.

The IndoctriNation Facebook page also features pictures of interns working at the film's "editing headquarters in N.C."

Both Fernandez and his co-producer, Scottish-born Colin Gunn, have strong ties to the religious right. Fernandez's bio lists him as a "media consultant" for Exodus Mandate, which recently issued an "emergency call to ministries, churches, pastors and families to a massive exodus of Christians from public schools."

With his brother Euan, Gunn runs Gunn Productions LLC, whose recent videos include "Shaky Town: The Gospel Truth about Homosexuality and the 'Tolerant' City of San Francisco," and "The Monstrous Regiment of Women," which "goes all out to demolish the feminist worldview."

Last fall, Fernandez and Gunn finished a promotional tour that began in Texas and ended in Wake Forest, N.C.

Fernandez, for his part, sees IndoctriNation's agenda to be in line with the conservative forces battling over Wake County's schools. On the blog Called2Action, Raleigh religious right leader Steve Noble -- a fierce advocate for the Republican school board candidates in Wake County - asked his readers "Should Christians pull their students out of government schools?"

Noble answered: "I say yes." After a contentious series of comments, Fernandez closed out the thread by inviting readers to a screening of IndoctriNation in Raleigh: "Come out and watch the film with some of the cast and crew."

UPDATE 9/19: Facing South contacted IndoctriNation producer Joaquin Fernandez about the fliers. Mr. Fernandez emailed a response, in which he said:

We did not have anything to do with the flier and don't know who took the image, I assume, from our film's website - they did so without our knowledge or permission.

The N.C. State Board of Elections has yet to identify the source of the fliers. According to news reports, the fliers appeared online as a Facebook post by someone using the identity "Rino Hunter." "Rino" refers to "Republican In Name Only," a phrase used by conservative activists to describe GOP politicians they view as too moderate.

The "Rino Hunter" account has since been deleted, but a cached history shows the person using that identity posted several times on the Facebook page of the Greater Garner Republican Club and was a fan of the Club's page.

Whoever ends up being responsible, it seems clear they were, at the very least, influenced by the IndoctriNation documentary and its critique of public schools.

There are other connections between the Wake County elections and the Christian right anti-public school movement. For example, Ron Margiotta, the school board chair, was an early adviser of Called2Action, whose leader Steve Noble advocates Christians fleeing public schools.

Which raises the question: Why are people who see little value in public schools seeking leadership positions in these institutions?

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re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

Could you explain to me what is controversial about calling a leftist a leftist? What is controversial about objecting to forcing students to ride all over the district in busses rather than just fixing the schools.
You can read my full response at
http://ncguns.blogspot.com/2011/09/campaign-finance-laws-are-video.html
Language warning.

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

Nice job,Chris -- thanks for getting to the root of those hateful fliers. I have two comments: 1) Anyone who attacks people like that is anything but a Christian; shame on them. 2) A basic, fundamental principle of our country is separation of church and state. If people want to practice their religious beliefs in private or at their private schools, fine, but they have absolutely no right to ram their religion down our throats when it comes to government and PUBLIC schools. Keep religion out of the schools, and that includes keeping it off the school board and out of school board elections.

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

I agree, Katy! This religious right's pushing of their radical agenda is nuts and hurting our entire country. Keep your religion to yourself and let the rest of us progress to keep up with the REAL world. These radicals are dangerous and need to be stopped before they ruin America completely.

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

why are scottish nationals coming over here to abolish our public institutions? Deport em for treason. Let them try their luck with the queen instead!

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

Went to this website, NC Guns. What a whackjob! This person is in outer space and hostile to everyone for no real reason.

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

OK Mr. Call Em Leftists - It's a matter of democracy. This is AMERICA - America is democratic. America is inclusive. America is supposed to be a shining example of our highest aspirations - not our deepest fears. I am what you would probably consider a leftists sir, but in reality I'm not. I'm an educated professional in the liberal northeast who can handle a boatload of criticle thinking. This means I can hold complex ideas in my head. I am not weak minded and therefore need to cling to fear based religious ideas to explain a mysterious and complicated world to myself. I embrace science, evolution, culture, and want to learn and improve on the world I live in. I am not afraid of other religions, skin color, ideas or customs. I embrace them. I celebrate them. I also believe in a higher power - God. But I would never presume to believe I know what God knows or wants - get humble dude. Neither should you. Buck up and learn to live in the human race. As John Lennon said - It's up to you. Yeah you.

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

Hey Sean, are really that stupid? So you really think all this hate group is doing is "calling a leftist a leftist"? Please! What they are doing is far worse. And you think the answer is to "just fix the schools"??? Seriously, if it was that simple don't you think they would have been fixed by now? No, it's racists like the current board that won't allow the school to be "just fixed" Think a little deeper my friend, oh, I guess you can't really do that since you let others do your thinking for you. That's why Rush calls you "ditto heads". All you're supposed to do is say ditto! good job.

re: Controversial NC election fliers linked to anti-public schoo

Anon: Keep in mind that the Democrats have had complete control of the school district for pretty much the last 50 years. If it's screwed up, it's not hard to see who's to blame. Don't listen to Rush, don't have the time. But even I know that "Ditto" started off when one caller didn't want to take the time to say "Love you, love your show, long time listener, first time caller" and just said "dittos on what the guy said before, now my question is..." If you're going to try to make insults it is helpful if you happen to know what the hell you're talking about. If you don't, you risk looking like a total fool.
Maria? What are you saying? I see a bunch of adjectives, but no real thoughts. I'm sure that every time you look in the mirror you see a lovely, educated, concerned, person. Unfortunately the rest of us see a hidebound fool. You simply parrot the garbage you learned in school rather than engage in any real "criticle" thinking. America may be all the things you say it is, but what does that have to do with what I said? Or are we just supposed to presume that anyone who isn't a nice leftist like you is opposed to America? Care to try to make that argument? Just like they told you in school, show your work.
I am especially impressed with how you are able to reject "fear based religions" while embracing other religions. Basically all you have said with your silly diatribe is that you hate Christianity and love anything other than that, especially if Christians don't. Or you think that Christians don't. You embrace other skin colors, cultures and customs. But have you actually lived among them? Have you ever left the warm embrace of whatever liberal eastern ghetto you grew up in, were educated in, and now live in? Have you ever ventured forth and seen the world as it really is? I can live in your world. I can live in my world. And I have had a great time visiting people of other cultures and skin colors. I can get along pretty much anywhere. Even down here in what you think of as the benighted South.
And wafranklin? Doubt you read much more than the one post I linked above. Care to show some examples of how I am hostile to everyone?