Council for National Policy

Source Wikipedia
Date 2020-05-23
Curator Dr. Victoria A. Stuart, Ph.D.
Summary Very powerful, ultra-secretive, pro-Christian anti-LGBTQ+, racist ... organization.
Key points
Editorial practice Refer here
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Name Council for National Policy
Abbreviation CNP
Founded 1981
Founder Southern Baptist pastor Tim Francis LaHaye  (then the head of the Moral Majority)
Co-founder Paul Michael Weyrich
Type 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public policy think tank
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Executive Director Bob McEwen
Description Wealthy, ultra-secretive right-wing political influencer group.
  • Strengthening the Conservative Movement
  • Leading the Conservative Movement
Affiliations Council for National Policy Action (CNP Action), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and political arm of the Council for National Policy
Associations neoconservative Christian right


The Council for National Policy (CNP) is an umbrella organization and networking group for conservative and Republican activists in the United States. The CNP was launched in 1981 during the Reagan administration by Tim Francis LaHaye and other right-wing conservative Christians, to "bring more focus and force to conservative advocacy"

The CNP has been described by The New York Times as "a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country," who meet three times yearly behind closed doors at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference.

The Nation has called the CNP a secretive organization that "networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy". The organization has been described as a "pluto-theocracy".

Membership & Meetings

Marc J. Ambinder of ABC News said about the Council for National Policy: "The group [Council for National Policy] wants to be the conservative version of the Council on Foreign Relations." The CNP was founded in 1981. Among its founding members were: Tim Francis LaHaye  [then the head of the Moral Majority],  Nelson Bunker HuntT. Cullen Davis,  William Cies,  Howard Phillips, and Paul Michael Weyrich.

Members of the CNP have included:

  • General John Singlaub,

  • shipping magnate J. Peter Grace,

  • Edwin J. Feulner Jr of The Heritage Foundation,

  • Rev. Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network,

  • Jerry Falwell,

  • U.S. Senator Trent Lott,

  • Southern Baptist Convention activists and retired Texas Court of Appeals Judge Paul Pressler,

  • lawyer and paleoconservative activist Michael Peroutka,

  • Reverend Paige Patterson,

  • Senator Don Nickles,

  • former United States Attorneys General Edwin Meese III and John Ashcroft,

  • gun-rights activist Larry Pratt,

  • Col. Oliver North,

  • Steve Bannon,

  • Kellyanne Conway,

  • philanthropist Elsa Prince (mother of Blackwater founder and former CEO Erik Prince and Trump Administration Secretary of Education Betsy Devos),

  • Leonard Leo,

  • Virginia "Ginni" Lamp Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), and

  • former California State Assemblyman Steve Baldwin.

  • Membership in the Council for National Policy is by invitation only. The Council for National Policy's membership list is considered "strictly confidential." Guests may attend "only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee." Members are instructed not to refer to the Council for National Policy by name to protect against leaks. The New York Times political writer David D. Kirkpatrick suggested that the Council for National Policy's secrecy since its founding was intended to insulate the CNP "from what its members considered the liberal bias of the news media."

    CNP's meetings are closed to the general public, reportedly to allow for a free-flowing exchange of ideas. The Council for National Policy meets three times per year. This policy is said to be similar to the long-held policy of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which the CNP has at times been compared. CNP's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status was revoked by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 1992 on grounds that the CNP was not an organization run for the public benefit. The Council for National Policy successfully challenged this ruling in federal court. A quarterly journal aimed at educating the public, promised in the wake of this incident, has not substantially materialized. The Council for National Policy has a website that contains many policy speeches from past gatherings (covering the years from 2013 up to the present).

    While those involved in the Council for National Policy are almost entirely from the United States, their organizations and influence cover the globe, both religiously and politically. Members include corporate executives, legislators former high ranking government officers, leaders of 'think tanks' dedicated to molding society and those whom many view as "Christian leadership."

    In May 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a leaked (redacted) copy of the CNP Membership Directory for 2014,

    ... which among other revelations provided a redacted copy of the 2014 CNP Membership Directory (pdf, 194 pp)  [local copy (pdf)].

    Note particularly the following subsections from that SPLC page [The Council for National Policy: Behind the Curtain].

  • Update: 2020-09 Council for National Policy  Membership Directory  [local copy  |  source: [, 2021-12-07] ALEC Is Enabling Anti-LGBTQ Hate, links to Council for National Policy Membership Directory, September 2020]

  • CNP: Hardliners

  • This subsection was added by
  • The Council for National Policy (CNP) is a body that mixes large numbers of ostensibly mainstream conservatives with far-right and extremist ideologues, mostly from the far fringes of the religious right. What follows is a list of 18 of the hardest-line CNP members and links to information about them and their groups, when available, published in the past by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Groups designated by the SPLC as hate groups are marked with an asterisk (*).

  • * Family Research Council, Washington, D.C. Tony Perkins, CNP Vice President.

  • * Family Research Council, Washington, D.C. Kenneth Blackwell, CNP Executive Committee.

  • * Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute  [now: Center for Family and Human Rights; anti-LGBTQ+ hate group], Washington, D.C., and New York, N.Y. Austin Ruse, CNP member.

  • * Liberty Counsel  [anti-LGBTQ+ hate group], Orlando, Fla. Mathew "Mat" Staver, CNP Board of Governors.

  • * American Family Association  [anti-LGBTQ+ hate group], Tupelo, Miss. Tim Wildmon, CNP member.

  • * Pacific Justice Institute, Sacramento, Calif. Brad Dacus, CNP member.

  • * Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, Ariz. Alan Sears, CNP Board of Governors.

  • * Alliance Defending Freedom, Scottsdale, Ariz. Benjamin Bull, CNP member.

  • National Organization for Marriage  [anti-LGBTQ+ hate group], Washington, D.C. Brian Brown, CNP Board of Governors, Gold Circle.

  • Eagle Forum, Alton, Ill. Phyllis Schlafly, CNP Executive Committee, CNP Action Inc.

  • WorldNetDaily, Washington, D.C. Jerome Robert Corsi, CNP Board of Governors.

  • Institute on the Constitution, Pasadena, Md. Michael Peroutka, CNP Board of Governors.

  • Gun Owners of America, Springfield, Va. Tim Macy, CNP Board of Governors.

  • Hope Christian Church, Beltsville, Md. Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., CNP member.

  • American Values, Merrifield, Va. Gary Bauer, CNP Board of Governors, Gold Circle.

  • Operation Rescue, Wichita, Kan. Troy Newman, CNP member.

  • Summit Ministries, Manitou Springs, Colo. David Noebel (retired), CNP member.

  • * Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C. Frank J. Gaffney Jr., CNP member.

  • CNP: Rules & Regulations

  • This subsection was added by
  • In order to allow "open, uninhibited remarks" from its speakers, CNP members must adhere to strict rules regarding their thrice-yearly meetings. A memorandum from former executive director and 2014 Executive Committee member Morton C. Blackwell lists the rules.

  • Special guests may attend only with advance unanimous approval of the Executive Committee.

  • The solicitation of funds on a one-to-one basis is prohibited at meetings.

  • Council meetings are closed to the media and the general public. The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting.

  • Speakers' remarks at Council meetings are off the record and not for circulation later, except with special permission.

  • Members and guests are requested to keep in their personal possession their registration packets and other materials distributed at the meeting.

  • Our membership list is strictly confidential and should not be shared outside the Council.

  • Fundraising from the list is also prohibited.

  • CNP members are asked to avoid organizing and attending formal meetings of other groups or organizations in the same city before, during or immediately after a Council meeting.

    An undated (presumably older: likely <2003) CNP Membership list is available on the web; for example:

  •  (sporadically indexed 2003-2019 on the Internet Archive).

  •  (also indexed 2019-2020 on the Internet Archive).

  • The membership content from the latter website -- which is free of redactions and includes detailed biographical notes on most of the included Members -- is available here (local copy).

    Additional web searches reveal additional sites and discussion regarding the Council for National Policy and its members.

  • Council for National Policy: Unofficial Information Page

  • Trump Regime is under the influence of the notorious Council for National Policy

  • Conferences & Political Plans

    Leading members of the CNP voted in a meeting at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, on September 29, 2007, to consider launching a third party candidate if the 2008 Republican nominee were pro-choice. (The candidacy of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who held liberal opinions on social issues such as abortion, gay rights and gun ownership, had disturbed the Christian right.) The CNP's statement read, "If the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate, we will consider running a third-party candidate." Attending the meeting were notable social conservatives, including James DobsonRichard ViguerieTony Perkins, and Morton C. Blackwell.

    The Council for National Policy (CNP) has membership links to the Committee for the Free World (CFW), whose many other members included, among others, some members of the Unification Church of the United States, some Republican leaders, and counter-revolutionaries in Latin America, particularly during the 1980s. Midge Decter served as Executive Director of its Committee.

    Other CNP Members included Jeane KirkpatrickLeszek KołakowskiIrving KristolMelvin J. LaskySeymour M. LipsetDonald RumsfeldTom Stoppard, and George WillEugene V. Rostow, then serving as Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Ronald Reagan, was a speaker at a CFW event on Poland.

    CNP's membership also overlaps significantly with that of the Arlington Group, a coalition of conservative Christian organizations which spearheaded ballot initiatives banning gay marriage in thirty-two states in the 2000s; and with the second, third and fourth iterations of the Committee on the Present Danger.

    In his June 1997 speech at a CNP meeting in Montreal, Quebec, then President of the National Citizens' CoalitionStephen Harper - who later served as the Prime Minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015 - said that the American "conservative movement" was a light and an inspiration to Canada and across the world."

    In 1999, a speech given to the CNP by Republican candidate George W. Bush is credited with helping him gain the support of conservatives in his successful bid for the United States Presidency in 2000. The content of the speech has never been released by the CNP or by Bush.

    In February 2007, the Council for National Policy planned to be involved in the 2008 presidential election campaign and actively sought candidate that would represent their views. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney spoke at a four-day conference that the Council for National Policy held in Salt Lake City, Utah during the last week of September 2007. The Council for National Policy scheduled a conference in late October 2007; other than Rudy Giuliani, most Republican presidential candidates pledged to appear.

    On May 18, 2018 House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, gave a speech to the Council for National Policy in which he asserted that the American political climate was "increasingly belittling Christian conservatives for their beliefs" and forcing Christians "'out of the public square.'"

    On August 21, 2020, President Trump attended a CNP meeting where he gave a speech.

    In a October 14, 2020 Washington Post article, which described the CNP as a "little-known group that has served for decades as a hub for a nationwide network of conservative activists and the donors who support them", one of the attendees of the August 2020 meeting in Arlington, warned of plans by Democrats to "steal this election". He said that, "if they get away with that, what happens? Democracy is finished because they usher in totalitarianism."


    The Council for National Policy (CNP) was founded in 1981 by Southern Baptist pastor Tim Francis LaHaye, author of "The Battle for the Mind" (1980) and the "Left Behind" series of books. Other early participants have included the following individuals.

  • W. Cleon Skousen, a theologian within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and founder of the Freemen Institute;

  • Paul Michael Weyrich;

  • Phyllis Schlafly  [see also Eagle Forum];

  • Robert Grant;

  • Howard Phillips, a former Republican affiliated with the Constitution Party;

  • Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail specialist; and

  • Morton C. Blackwell, a Louisiana and Virginia activist who is considered a specialist on the rules of the Republican Party.

  • The Council for National Policy's first Executive Director was Woody Jenkins; later, Morton Blackwell and Bob Reccord served in this role.

    Council for National Policy Presidents have included the following individuals.

  • Nelson Bunker Hunt of Dallas;

  • Amway co-founder Richard DeVos of Michigan;

  • Pat Robertson of Virginia Beach;

  • retired Judge Paul Pressler of Houston;

  • former Reagan Cabinet secretaries Edwin Meese III and Donald Hodel;

  • former Reagan advisor and President of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute   Kenneth Cribb;

  • Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and

  • Stuart Epperson, the current President (as of 2014) of the CNP and the Founder of the Salem Media Group.

  • Funding

  • This subsection was added by
  • The Council for National Policy is funded (in part) by the Bradley Foundation -- see, e.g., [2020-07-15]  Bradley Foundation Bankrolled Right-Wing Reopen Effort Despite Rising Coronavirus Cases.  The political pressure generated by the lobbying and litigation efforts of Bradley-funded groups and President Trump led many states to prematurely roll back stay-at-home safety measures and reopen businesses.

  • Mentioned at the end of Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing (under "Billionaire Funding;" paraphrased here for clarity):  "... the National Philanthropic Trust is an institutional donor to the Council for National Policy Action (CNP Action)."

  • Affiliations

  • This subsection was added by
  • Council for National Policy Action (CNP Action)

  • [2020-05-23] Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing.

  • Mentions:

    Associations With Hate, Intolerance

  • This subsection was added by
  • [2020-07-16]  American Legislative Exchange Council Backs Trump on Confederate Monuments, Policing.  ALEC's decision to align itself with a racist and divisive president marks a dramatic return to the Council for National Policy's earlier support for racist policies, and comes at a time when 90 percent of Black Americans disapprove of Trump's response to the murder of George Floyd.

  • [2020-05-23]  Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing

  • Although not listed in the Wikipedia article for the Council for National Policy, closeted homosexual Terry Dolan was a member of the Board of Governors os the Council for National Policy.

  • Uncloaking the Secrecy Shrouding the Council for National Policy

  • This subsection was added by
  • It is difficult to find information regarding the Leadership and Membership of the Council for National Policy (CNP). The Internet Archive for the CNP, for example shows a multi-year gap (2003-2008 inclusive), with the meagre few 2001-2002 entries reporting "Directory Listing Denied: This Virtual Directory does not allow contents to be listed." errors, and more recent (2009-) entries merely presenting copies of the publicly available website,

    While sites like SourceWatch  [local copy (html, captured 2020-09-17)]  provide some degree of information on the CNP, note my red flag regarding SourceWatch.

    More reliable sources of information on CNP include The Southern Poverty Law Center and their HateWatch blog, that monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right. While HateWatch lacks a dedicated webpage for the secretive Council for National Policy, keyword searches reveal relevant material. While SPLC's in situ search is adequate, Google searches, e.g. "Council for National Policy" or hatewatch "Council for National Policy" arguably offers a superior interface to that content, as the SPLC-provided search results often do not mention "Council for National Policy." -- additionally ("Tools") allowing you to limit search results to specific date ranges, or a "verbatim" (explicitly matching) search.

    Additional Reading

  • [📌 pinned article] [, 2022-03-11] Revealed: New Leaders of Council for National Policy Set Extremist Agenda.

  • [📌 pinned article] [, 2020-11-02] Council for National Policy Membership Directory, September 2020  |  local copy

  • [, 2021-10-04] ALEC Leaders Boast About Anti-Abortion, Anti-Trans Bills.

  • [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2021-05-27] Shadowy Right-Wing Strategy Group Embraces Islamophobic Figures, Policies, Presents Challenge to Democracy. Islamophobia has a presence within the Council for National Policy, a secretive and influential right-wing coalition, according to leaked documents reviewed by Hatewatch.

  • [Washington Post, 2020-10-14] Videos show closed-door sessions of leading conservative activists: 'Be not afraid of the accusations that you're a voter suppressor'.  |  local copy

  • [book] (Anne Nelson, 2019) Shadow network: Media, money, and the secret hub of the radical right. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-63557-319-0  |  OCLC 1126560275  |  publisher  |

  • [, 2019-11-11]  Briefly Noted Book Reviews.  "The Lost Art of Scripture," "Shadow Network," "The Revisioners," and "The Book of Daniel."

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