Eagle Forum of Alabama VP Elaine Little recently gave a presentation on the history of Eagle Forum of Alabama that provided a glimpse of how the Lord had used our volunteers since 1972 to influence public policy in Alabama and beyond. It started me to think.
What if Phyllis Schlafly had never lived? Bringing it home to Alabama, what if Phyllis Schlafly had not written her “What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?” which motivated us to organize the state to stop the so-called Equal Rights Amendment in the AL legislature? What if she had not encouraged us to expand our sights to other threats on the stability of the family and the nation? What if so many had not responded? What if Eagle Forum of Alabama had not stood tall on issue after issue?
But Alabama is just a microcosm of the impact Eagle Forum has made in state after state across the nation and collectively at the national level. Without Phyllis’s dedication to Biblically based principles, including the sanctity of life and the natural family, the Constitution, national sovereignty, economic stability and opportunity, and sound education practices and on and on, where would our nation be?
How could one person have provided leadership on such a broad front? From Stop ERA days she began on her knees and tirelessly addressed ERA for 10 years. With her uncanny ability to predict future cutting edge issues, (she was the Mother of the Pro-Family Movement before other leaders saw the need for such a movement); she mastered each issue herself; framed the debate; articulated the issue herself clearly, succinctly and reliably; and taught the volunteer leaders she recruited by example and by training them to similarly advocate effectively in their spheres of influence. She established Eagle Forum as a volunteer run organization. There may be more prominent organizations than Eagle Forum, but I wonder if any can honestly claim more impact on more conservative fronts over a longer period of time?!
The uniquely talented, “industrious” (as she termed herself), and gracious Phyllis Schlafly is a legend unto herself. George Gilder in 1994 said it well: “When the histories of this era are seriously written, Phyllis Schlafly will take her place among the tiny number of leaders who made a decisive and permanent difference. She changed the political landscape of her country.” (Men and Marriage) In 2004 Eagle Forum of Alabama identified 16 major American History textbooks that were up for adoption that year in which Phyllis Schlafly’s mark on American History was acknowledged.
However, she intended Eagle Forum to be her lasting legacy. She said her writings were intentionally not copyrighted so that they could be widely shared. She repeatedly told her volunteer leaders, “The only way you can quit is if you find me someone to appoint in your place.” She not only instructed her volunteers, but she applauded and rewarded them with her praise and encouragement. She expressed her confidence in them and her support and love for them over and over and over. She considered debate within her group to be healthy and helpful and did not expect everyone to walk lockstep. She encouraged constructive discussions.
What if – Eagle Forum volunteers continue to be demonized instead of uplifted, intimidated instead of encouraged? NO organization dependent on volunteer leadership can be functional with this kind of tyrannical behavior at the top! It will wither and die. What if dissenters continue to call names and spread slander rather than engage in rational, direct discussion? Such vilification began the week of April 3, 2015, and has continued virtually unabated. If this continues, then Phyllis Schlafly’s legacy will simply be a thing of the past – for the history books.
But what if Eagle Forum’s culture of mutual love and respect is restored under competent, honorable leadership like Phyllis provided all the years she was President? Then Phyllis Schlafly’s legacy will not die. Her legacy will begin again, God willing, on the backs of its faithful volunteers to impact America for future generations. And Phyllis will smile from Heaven knowing our hearts and seeing our accomplishments – until we meet again.