What is Eagle Forum?
Eagle Forum is a lobby group founded by Phyllis Schlafly whose representatives have been involved in anti-Muslim legislative efforts in several states, and spreading anti-Muslim sentiments through its advocacy efforts.
Eagle Forum hosts an annual conference titled “Eagle Council,” which the organization claims is one of the oldest grassroots training events in America. The event known for featuring anti-Muslim figures, including Pamela Geller, former U.S. Rep Peter King (R-NY), and Charlie Kirk.
In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported speakers and attendees at Eagle Council had “traded conspiracies and myths that vilified Muslims, immigrants, refugees and LGBT people.” Amongst the speakers were anti-Muslim figures David Horowitz, Steve Bannon, and Babette Francis. In one event at the conference titled “Islam: The Political Enemy,” Francis compared Islam to Nazism and suggested Muslims should convert to Christianity.
Key members of Eagle Forum have gone on record to promote their anti-Muslim views and spread conspiracy theories about the American Muslim community.
While speaking at a Texas Patriots Tea Party meeting in April 2014, then Texas Eagle Forum President Cathie Adams said: “If a Muslim is telling you something, you really don’t know if it’s the truth or a lie.” During the speech, Adams also indicated Muslims were required by their religion to be hospitable, but “walk out of their home and you can be shot in the back.”
In 2013, Adams gave a speech alleging that anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is a stealth Muslim. “As you see,” Adams told the audience, “he has a beard and he is showing signs of converting to Islam, himself. He has married a Muslim woman.”
In a 2012 newsletter, the Forum noted, “Sharia law is becoming part of the American landscape as Christianity is being systematically removed. Christian students are being told they cannot pray at school activities or even pray in front of American institutions, while public school students adopt Muslim names, pray on prayer rugs and celebrate Ramadan under a state-mandated curriculum.”
Eagle Forum Environmental Chairman Pat Carlson testified in support of and endorsed Texas’s anti-Islam bill. Carlson calls Sharia and Islam “a threat to America”. Tennessee Eagle Forum President Bobbie Patray gave Tennessee’s anti-sharia bill to legislators, that proposed bill would have made adherence to sharia punishable by fifteen years,
The Eagle Forum and their allies at ACT! For America demanded that school textbooks be revised for what they deemed accuracy, insisting on less factually accurate and more Islamophobic classroom materials.
In the April 2012 edition of their monthly newspaper, Education Reporter, the Eagle Forum reprinted ACT! For America’s list of reasons that “textbooks promote Islamist agenda[s]”. The list included fearmongered claims about Islam’s reference in school textbooks, such as:
- “The doctrine of jihad is omitted, incorrectly defined, inaccurately described, or understated.”
- “Faulty description of women’s rights under Islam: The oppressive and discriminatory nature of Sharia law with respect to women is omitted, mischaracterized, or understated.”
- “Treatment of Islamism as though it has no origins within classical Islam and Islam’s Holy Books.”
- “Omission of the fact that Islamic Jihadists target Americans not only for their support of Israel but also for what they consider the ‘decadent nature’ of Western way of life that threatens the spread of Islam throughout the world.”
The Tennessee chapter of the Eagle Forum drafted a bill to limit the number of legal immigrants a charter school can hire. The Putting Tennessee First Act “comes amid worries from some groups about the involvement of Islamic organizations in running charter schools elsewhere in the country, although there are no such schools in Tennessee.”
Eagle Forum’s influence extends to its association with other actors of the U.S Islamophobia Network. According to Center for American Progress, Eagle Forum has partnered with Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and Brigette Gabriel’s ACT for America in spreading ‘anti-Sharia hysteria’ in the United States.
In addition, Eagle Forum’s influence is derived from its placement in the broader right-wing movement. As the Center for American Progress reported, “While Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, and John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel can draw audiences to their anti-Muslim diatribes, they lack sustained bonds with a right-wing grassroots movement. Longtime Christian right-wing groups such as the Eagle Forum fill the void.”