Concerned Women for America

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Concerned Women for America
Concerned Women for America.png
Concerned Women for America's logo
Formation 1979
250,000 to 750,000
CEO and President
Penny Young Nance

Concerned Women for America (CWA) is a social conservative non-profit women's activist group in the United States. Headquartered in Washington D.C.,[1] the CWA is heavily involved in many social and political movements, through which it aims to support and incorporate Christian ideology.[2] Although the group is primarily led by women for women,[3] it welcomes men who support its beliefs and efforts as well.[1]

The group was founded in San Diego, California in 1979 by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Timothy LaHaye, an evangelical Christian minister and the author of the Left Behind series.[4][5] Recognized as a 501(c)(3) public policy women’s organization, the CWA aims to develop more "responsible citizens" through the promotion of Christian ideologies within society and politics.[2]

The CWA identifies itself as an amalgam of "policy experts and...activists[s]" whose anti-feminist approach to politics[3] bolsters its mission to "protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens."[2]

Book produced in 1998 by Tim and Beverly LaHaye addressing their socially conservative views on sex, marriage, and family


Organized in reaction to the National Organization for Women[6][7] (as well as other prominent "gendered shifts of the 1960s"[8]) and the rising discussion of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the late 1970s, the CWA set out to "fight policies that it believe[d] [to] disrupt traditional gender roles and norms."[3] Fueling its formation, an interview between Barbara Walters and Betty Friedan, a prominent feminist activist gained public attention in 1978 regarding women's issues.[6] In the interview, Friedan claimed to speak as a women's group for American women. Beverly LaHaye did not believe that Betty Friedan was speaking for the majority of women because feminist views were, according to LaHaye, anti-God and anti-family.[9] In regards to the interview, LaHaye stated that she was convinced Friedan’s goal was a "misguided attempt to dismantle the bedrock of American culture: the family,"[10] and that she believed Christian women were not included in discussions of women's rights. In this regard, the "concern" that the CWA had behind the name of the group was in response to the worries that feminism would "ruin" America.[11] In response, she conducted a rally in a local auditorium, thus marking the origination of CWA.[10]

The CWA began with local prayer chapters mobilized around issues such as the ERA and legalized abortion. [12] In 1987, the CWA relocated from San Diego, CA to Washington, DC. [12] At that time, the CWA formally established a national office and a national presence.


At its core, the CWA identifies itself as an organization in opposition of feminism and the various movements supported therein; desiring to speak for evangelical women who feel that the national feminist movement does not support their interests,[3] the CWA has taken strong conservative stances on several highly debated matters. As such, the CWA has clearly publicly stated its opposition to issues such as abortion, sex education, same-sex marriage,[13][14] euthanasia,[1] embryonic stem cell research, needle exchange programs,[15] pornography,[3] cloning, drug abuse, secular education, gambling,[7] or any other efforts which "intervene with natural human life."[1] The organization's stance on contraception is not as clear, however, for member's opinions on this topic vary widely. The only definite statement the CWA has put forth in regards to contraception is that its stance, as a whole, is ambiguous, but that "many Catholic women follow the church’s teaching on the use of contraceptives."[16] Believing that the Bible has set an "unmistakable standard...[of] right and wrong," and arguing that modern humanity has deviated from such religiously based morality,[17] the CWA primary focuses on promoting its conservative, Christian-based ideology through seven "core issues",[17] as listed below:

1. Sanctity of Life[edit]

The CWA is a pro-life organization.[18] The CWA wants to inform the public of the harm that abortion has on men, women and their families.[19] The CWA supports crisis pregnancy centers and post-abortion counseling services.

2. Defense of the Family[edit]

Popularly recognized as a supporter of traditional gender roles,[3] the CWA publicly defends the ideologies of the "traditional family" (heterosexual family)[8] and traditional sexual division of labor.[20] For these reasons, it is unsurprising that the CWA was an active and vocal supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act[1] (prior to its being deemed unconstitutional), for, at the time of its enactment, the DOMA declared homosexual marriages to be illegal, thus supporting the CWA's ideals of both heterosexuality and marriage. Furthering this mantra, the CWA believes it is a Christian's duty to start a family, explaining their general disapproval of those who do not wish to have children.[8] More specifically, these familial ideals tie into the CWA's understanding of women and motherhood; as expressed by founder, Beverly LaHaye, women have a "natural" desire to be mothers, leading to the organization's encouragement of stay-at-home motherhood.[3]

The CWA opposed the 1988 Act for Better Child Care (H.R. 3660), which would have provided government-sponsored child care for families in which both parents are working.[21]

3. Education[edit]

Being a Christian organization, Concerned Women for America is known to promote religious teachings in schools. In 1983, this desire for a combination of religious and typical educational teachings was concretely displayed through a lawsuit, known today as Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education, which arose between parents who were members of the CWA and a local Tennessee school board.[7]

4. Religious Liberty[edit]

CWA supports teaching intelligent design in public schools and advocates school prayer, saying in a 1988 book titled America: To Pray or Not To Pray?, that since the Engel v. Vitale Supreme Court case of 1962 outlawed government-directed prayer, morality has declined in public schools and in society in general.[22] In 1983, CWA helped the plaintiff in the case Mozert v. Hawkins County School Board, a district-court case in which the plaintiff argued it is unconstitutional for public schools to require reading material that conflicts with the religious values of parents.[23][24]

Appearing on Fox News, CWA CEO Penny Nance was critical of Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx's call for a National Day of Reason in addition to the National Day of Prayer.[25]

5. National Sovereignty[edit]

The CWA opposed CEDAW.

6. Sexual Exploitation[edit]

Many of the depictions of the issues with pornography as associated with Concerned Women for America, are more in line with family values. The CWA sees a problem with men becoming addicted to pornography and women being unable to compete with the ideal woman in pornography.[26]

7. Support for Israel[edit]

On 8 May 2013 CWA's board of directors voted unanimously to include support for Israel as part of its core mission. CWA says it will support "laws and policies that strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S." and "Policies enacted by our State Department, Department of Defense and others that encourage the development of our relationship with Israel.” Penny Nancy said that support from CWA's founder, Beverly LaHaye, was the biggest driver behind the group formalizing its support for Israel.[27]



Executive Director[edit]

  • Kenda Bartlett, Executive Director 2012–present

Legal Counsel[edit]

  • Mario Diaz, Esq.

Working through the Media[edit]

In the late 1990s, the CWA garnered a great deal of its public support by way of its midday broadcasts on KFAX, a San Francisco-based Christian radio station.[34] These broadcasts often featured Beverly LaHaye Live, a popular talk-show segment which spoke about the CWA's mission, morals, and aspirations for society.[34] Today, the CWA continues to produce a daily radio show, however it is now entitled Concerned Women Today, and focuses primarily on calling members and other listeners to action by encouraging them to "lobby senators".[1][34]

Concerned Women for America also puts forth a monthly magazine called Family Voice, which chronicles their current events as well as ways in which members can become more involved with the organization.[1]

Beverly LaHaye Institute[edit]

The Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI) is the research arm of Concerned Women for America.[35]

BLI filed an amicus brief in January 2014 in Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby. Most of the amicus briefs in the Hobby Lobby case focused on religious freedom issues. BLI's brief had a unique focus on rebutting the government's argument that the birth control mandate imposed by Affordable Care Act would improve women's health and prevent unintended pregnancies. The BLI brief rejected a clear-cut notion of "intended" and "unintended" pregnancies. BLI argued that the government's evidence, based mostly on a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, did not prove the birth control mandate would increase use rates for birth control or that unintended pregnancies harm women's health. The brief also argued against the government's claim that the mandate promotes "gender equity."[36]

Culture and Family Institute[edit]

The Culture and Family Institute is one (of two) of the CWA's research facilities.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Barnes, Rebecca (209). "Concerned Women for America". Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. 1: 157–8 – via SAGE Knowlegde. 
  2. ^ a b c "About Us | Concerned Women for America". Retrieved 2016-12-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Schreiber, Ronnee (2008). Righting Feminism: Conservative Women & American Politics. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 38, 49, 50, 54, 57, 81–4. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ronnee Schreiber, 'Pro-Women, Pro-Palin, Antifeminist: Conservative Women and Conservative Movement Politics', in Crisis of Conservatism? The Republican Party, the Conservative Movement, & American Politics After Bush, Gillian Peele, Joel D. Aberbach (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199764020, 2011, p. 133
  6. ^ a b Gardiner, S., "Concerned Women for America: A Case Study", Feminism and Women's Studies, 28 August 2006. Online as of 19 April 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d Carper, James (2015). "Concerned Women for America" – via Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 
  8. ^ a b c Smith, Leslie Dorrough (2014). Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 29–31 – via Google Books Online. 
  9. ^ "Our History | Concerned Women for America". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  10. ^ a b Beverly LaHaye marks three decades of promoting traditional values through CWA Archived September 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Christian, 20 December 09. Retrieved: 14 September 2013.
  11. ^ Smith, Leslie Dorrough (2014). Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-933750-7 – via Print. 
  12. ^ a b Schreiber, Ronnee. "Injecting a Woman's Voice: Conservative Women's Organizations, Gender Consciousness, and the Expression of Women's Policy Preferences". Sex Roles. 47 (7-8): 331–342. doi:10.1023/A:1021479030885. ISSN 0360-0025. 
  13. ^ "Defense of Family". Retrieved 2015-01-04. 
  14. ^ "Core Issues: Biblical Foundations". Retrieved 2015-01-04. 
  15. ^ Concerned Women for America of Illinois. "Drug Needles: Bad Policy, Bad Results" (PDF). 
  16. ^ Nance, Penny (4 October 2013). "There is no war on women". Politico. Washington, DC. 
  17. ^ a b "Our Issues | Concerned Women for America". Retrieved 2016-12-06. 
  18. ^ Schreiber, Ronnee (2008). Righting Feminism: Conservative Women & American Politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-19-533181-3 – via print. 
  19. ^ Smith, Leslie Dorrough (2014). Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-19-933750-7 – via Print. 
  20. ^ Marshall, Susan E. (1991-05-01). "Who Speaks for American Women? The Future of Antifeminism". The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 515 (1): 50–62. doi:10.1177/0002716291515001005. ISSN 0002-7162. 
  21. ^ Hunter 1991, p. 188
  22. ^ Hunter 1991, pp. 203–204, 368
  23. ^ Hunter 1991, p. 270
  24. ^ Suber, Peter, ed. "Mozert v. Hawkins City Board of Education". Earlham College. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  25. ^ Daily Mail Reporter (2013-05-03). "Right-wing womens' group says Obama's transportation nominee's National Day of Reason is 'an example of the type of thinking that led to the Holocaust'". UK Online. 
  26. ^ mantilla, karla (1997-01-01). "Workshop: Women and the Religious Right". Off Our Backs. 27 (8): 7–7. 
  27. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (5 June 2013). "A strong new player in the pro-Israel community". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. 
  28. ^ Pate, Carmen. "Carmen Pate". LinkedIn. 
  29. ^ "Wright named president of Concerned Women for America". Baptist Press. 2006-02-01. Retrieved 2013-11-09. The Christian conservative group Concerned Women for America announced Wendy Wright as its new president Jan. 30. [...] Concerned Women for America's board of trustees selected Wright Jan. 26.
  30. ^ "Welcome Penny Young Nance as CWA's New CEO!". Concerned Women for America. 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2013-11-09. Concerned Women for America (CWA) has started off 2010 with the exciting addition of Penny Young Nance as Chief Executive Officer. 
  31. ^ "Our Experts". Concerned Women for America. Retrieved 2014-05-04. Penny Young Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), is a recognized national authority on cultural, children’s, and women’s issues. 
  32. ^ "Our Experts | Concerned Women for America". Retrieved 2016-12-06. 
  33. ^ Concerned Women for America Fact Check.Org, October 2010. Retrieved: 14 September 2013.
  34. ^ a b c Diamond, Sara Rose (1998). Not By Politics Alone. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 21–2 – via Google Books Online. 
  35. ^ [1]
  36. ^ Nazzworth, Napp (31 January 2013). "'Obamacare' Birth Control Mandate Does Not Promote Women's Health, Conservative Women's Group Argues". The Christian Post. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 


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