Beverly LaHaye, Soldier of the Christian Right, Dies at 94

Beverly LaHaye, a pastor’s wife whose recoil from 1970s feminism led her to build an organization advancing conservative views of the family, Concerned Women for America, which became a pillar of the Christian right, waging battles against abortion, gay rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, died on Sunday in hospice in El Cajon, Calif., near San Diego. She was 94.

Concerned Women for America, which Mrs. LaHaye founded in 1979, announced her death in a statement.

In the 1980s, Mrs. LaHaye ran an office in Washington of more than 25 employees, including lawyers and lobbyists. She urged Congress to send military aid to the right-wing contras of Nicaragua; rallied her members to barrage the television networks to protest condom commercials; and testified in the Senate for President Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominees Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork.

President Reagan appeared at Concerned Women of America’s 1987 convention, as Judge Bork’s nomination was facing fierce liberal opposition. He was greeted by signs stating, “All Ladies Want Bork.” (The Senate rejected him.)

“In just a few short years,” the president told Mrs. LaHaye’s crowd, “you’ve become the largest politically active women’s group in the nation.” He called Mrs. LaHaye “one of the powerhouses on the political scene today.”

She had arrived just two years earlier, moving her headquarters to Washington from California “to be closer to the center of action,” she told The Arizona Republic in 1984.

At a news conference announcing her arrival, Mrs. LaHaye said that conservative women who turned to the Bible for guidance on women’s role in the family and society — and not to the writings of Betty Friedan and other feminists — now had a public voice. “This is our message: The feminists do not speak for all women in America, and C.W.A. is here in Washington to end the monopoly of feminists who claim to speak for all women,” she said.

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