National Center for Constitutional Studies

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The National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS) is a conservative, religious-themed constitutionalist organization, founded by Latter-Day Saint political writer Cleon Skousen.[1] It was formerly known as The Freemen Institute.[2]

According to the NCCS, the founding of the United States was a divine miracle.[1] As such, the NCCS worldview and program are based on two major pillars: (1) understanding the divine guidance that has allowed the United States to thrive and (2) rejecting the tyrannical and sinful nature of the modern U.S. federal government.

On any given Saturday, several of nearly twenty "Making of America" NCCS lecturers are giving seminars across the United States.[1]

History[edit]

The center had its origins when in 1967 Skousen, a professor at Brigham Young University, organized an off-campus institute for constitutional studies. In 1971, this was formerly christened as The Freemen Institute. It was later given its current name and its headquarters moved to Washington, D.C.[3]

The center ran conferences in the 1980s and 1990s through a non-profit it controlled called "The Making of America Conferences, Inc." Board members of this non-profit included Skousen, William H. Doughty, Donald N. Sills, and Glenn Kimber. Impeached Arizona governor Evan Mecham was also a regular donor to the center.[4]

In the early 1990s, an effort to build a conservative community in Southern Utah to house the center collapsed amid the developer's unfulfilled promises.[5]

Leadership[edit]

The current CEO and chairman of the board is Zeldon Nelson [6] Previous chairmen were:

The Making of America controversy[edit]

In 1987, controversy erupted in California over the NCCS-published and Cleon Skousen-authored textbook The Making of America. The book quoted a 1934 essay on slavery by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Fred Albert Shannon that described black children as "pickaninnies"; another section stated that life for white Southerners was "a nightmare" due to "the constant fear of slave rebellion", and claimed that white slave owners were "the worst victims of slavery".[14] The state's bicentennial commission had approved the sale of the book as a fundraising device to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the United States Constitution.

Gary K. Hart and Willie Brown demanded that then-Governor George Deukmejian fire the three members of the Bicentennial Commission who had cast "yes" votes on the sale of the book. The controversy was resolved after the commission issued an apology, stating that it had made a "serious error in judgment" by approving the sale of the book.[14][15] However, the book was the most requested textbook on American history in the newly freed Poland, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.[citation needed]

Contemporary allies and popularity[edit]

The NCCS has found a number of new organizational allies among Constitutionalist groups such as the John Birch Society, the Eagle Forum, and the Oath Keepers.[1] Additionally, in the media, the NCCS has found a powerful voice in the form of Glenn Beck, who is a Mormon himself and used his Fox News platform to advocate for NCCS books and ideas.[1] Through Beck's sustained and energetic advocacy, once-forgotten NCCS tracts such as The 5,000 Year Leap have become unlikely bestsellers.[1]

Although the NCCS has been touring the country and propagating its message for nearly four decades, its has never been in greater demand than in 2010.[1] Since the rise of the Tea Party Movement, the all-volunteer NCCS has experienced exploding interest from Tea Party-affiliated groups such as the 9.12 Project and the Tea Party Patriots.

Publications[edit]

  • The Roots of America
  • The Miracle of America
  • The Making of America
  • The 5,000 Year Leap
  • The Real Thomas Jefferson
  • The Real George Washington
  • The Real Benjamin Franklin

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Fringe Mormon Group Makes Myths with Glenn Beck’s Help by Alexander Zaitchik, Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Spring 2011, Issue Number: 141
  2. ^ W. Cleon Skousen, Founder of the National Center for Constitutional Studies, dies at age 92.
  3. ^ Aho, James Alfred (1995). The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-295-97494-X. 
  4. ^ Watkins, Ronald J. (1990). High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Term and Trials of Former Governor Evan Mecham. New York: Morrow. p. 97. ISBN 0-688-09051-6. 
  5. ^ "Cleon Skousen setting up library." March 24, 2002. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  6. ^ NCCS web site
  7. ^ "Skousen Stepping Down as President of Institute." September 17, 1989. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Backers Tried in Vain to Recover Losses." July 26, 1994. Accessed 20 May 2009
  9. ^ "Followers Want `Rural Aristocracy'." July 24, 1994. Accessed 20 May 2009
  10. ^ "W. Jordan election key to ending 'war'?" October 31, 1999. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  11. ^ "GOP Primary in District 2 Conjures Up the '90 Race." August 1, 1992. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  12. ^ "3rd District: Karl Snow and John Harmer Complain That Mudslinging Has Obscured Their Stances on the Issues." September 9, 1990. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  13. ^ "Seminar on Constitution Saturday in S.L." August 21, 1998. Accessed 20 May 2009.
  14. ^ a b Bishop, Katherine (1987-02-16). "BICENTENNIAL PANEL IN CALIFORNIA ASSAILED OVER 'RACIST' TEXTBOOK". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  15. ^ Ingram, Carl (1987-02-07). "Probe Ordered in State Panel's Sale of 'Racist' Book". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 

External links[edit]