Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Radical Right Training Kids to Fight in Culture War

Fighting to end the separation of church and state, fighting gay rights and abortion rights are just a few of the things rightwingers in East Tennessee are training children for in a group called Generation Joshua.

While Generation Joshua bills itself as "designed for Christian youth between the ages of 11 and 19 who want to become a force in the civic and political arenas," the group seems to primariliy target Christian homeschoolers.

Generation Joshua's website says the goal is to "ignite a vision in young people to help America return to her Judeo-Christian foundations." With 31 chapters in the nation, the East Tennessee chapter is the largest.

After looking at some of the photos on the rightwing website, it becomes obvious that these kids are also being used as free labor for Republican candidates.

East Tennessee teens mix politics with prayer

Bill Waldrep can't vote yet, and he can't run for political office, but at 14 he's leading one of the most influential groups of young people in the country. They're called Generation Joshua. School aged kids who meet once a month to learn about civics and politics

"Unfortunately lots of adults today aren't involved in politics and if we can get kids our age interested and involved and give them the information they need now, then hopefully as adults they'll continue to be involved," Waldrep says.

Generation Joshua started as an online civics education program for home-schooled students. Now, there are 31 clubs like the one in Knox County nationwide. It runs a lot like student government. There's the cabinet with 14 year old Waldrep as President, and Vice-President Joshua McDonald who, at 11, is the youngest Generation Joshua member.

There is also a secretary, treasurer, a media representative, and committees very similar to Congress. So far Knox County has the largest Generation Joshua club in the country. With 50 members, every student gets a hands on approach to politics.

"We actively encourage our students in projects that involve contacting their legislatures about issues that are important to us," Parent Coordinator Staci Proctor says.

President Bill Waldrep says his group is against abortion and same sex marriage. As a faith based organization, Generation Joshua promotes conservative viewpoints. 16 year old Kaity Proctor is taking a stand against separation of church and state.

"We took the church out of the state, but you've still got that thing of our founding fathers were Christians and they put God in the government and the way things have gone now, it's just gone almost," Kaity says.