The Anti-Choice Indoctrination of “Patriot Camp”


Patriot Camp. It sounds so sweet and 1776, like little children wearing powdered wigs and chopping down cherry trees, right? But as GQ Magazine shows us, there is more to being a patriot than sewing flags and singing “America the Beautiful.” No, it’s also about preparing elementary school children to be opposed to “government handouts” and abortion rights.

It’s not shocking that a camp financially supported by right-wing media personality Glenn Beck is basically creating new tiny foot-soldiers to fight the scourge of liberalism, despite claiming a non-partisan nature. But the anti-choice indoctrination reporter Lauren Bans witnessed was so over the top, even grown up camp participants seemed a little taken aback.

The bans recounts a visit from a man who says he runs a local crisis pregnancy center who, after reading the young children “Horton Hears a Who” then tells them, “when you vote, only vote for candidates who only support the U.S. Constitution, who support the Declaration of Independence and the right to life, like we do.”  It’s a direct electoral call that the author, who tries to remain as open-minded as she can, just can’t ignore.

I get it. I do. But still, there’s a line. And Mr. McMinn just pole-vaulted over it. When he hands off the mike, I confront [camp director Deborah Seneca]. “It’s a value debate,” she protests. “I’ll bet you a hundred million dollars that there may be some in the Democratic Party that are pro-choice and some that are pro-life.” I argue that that’s beside the point: A man she invited to speak just told about fifty-five prepubescents to vote pro-life. (Bob McCloskey, for one, also thinks the presentation was not kosher: “I didn’t agree with him saying that in front of kids,” he told me afterward.) “I’m not interested in the politics,” Deb continues. “I didn’t know he was going to say that. But you heard what he said about the Declaration of Independence. He talks about the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s part of our founding documents. They should know what’s in there. They need to believe it.”

The speaker was actually Bryce McMinn, the Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, a branch of the National Right to Life organization, a Republican activist as well as the executive director of Morning Star Pregnancy Services.

How successful was McMinn in his speech? According to Bans, by the end of the camp, little patriots were drawing pictures of bloody fetuses as art projects.

That should make an interesting “how I spent my summer vacation” essay.

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