An irony about the conservative Illinois Family Institute's promotion of family values is that virtually none of the group's e-mails could be shared around a family dinner table.
They're packed with sex and violence.
"Sexual intercourse" "Alternative' sexual behaviors" "Masturbation" "Slaughtering the innocent unborn babies" are the topics covered in its most recent e-mail about a new sex ed law.
Their e-mail should come with a warning label in the subject line: "No Children Under 17".
One reason the lobbying group's incendiary rhetoric merits notice is that they embed other Springfield advocates and lawmakers into their messages, creating a guilt by association. Second, they screw up the facts about bills.
At the end of September, the Illinois Family Institute's chief, David Smith, who organized an event in Decatur to attack a new sex education law, House Bill 2675, that takes effects on January 1, and who included allies Scott Phelps from the Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership and Bob Gilligan of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, slathered his explication about the law with sexual language.
"These leaders offered their perspectives on the recently passed law which forces obscene sexual ideas on the school children of Illinois," Smith wrote in an October 4 e-mail to supporters.
Smith also "thanked" State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Champaign) and State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Effingham) for "encouraging us in this effort".
Smith went on to detail the "obscene sexual ideas".
"Children as young as eleven years old will be required to define sexual orientation using so-called 'correct' terminology, such as 'heterosexual, gay, and lesbian.' Masturbation would be taught as normal and that everyone does it, with step-by-step instruction. Not just the biology of sexual reproduction would be presented, but explicit details of sexual intercourse. Slightly older children would be 'educated' on how to use condoms, obtain contraceptives or even an abortion without parental consent or knowledge, and would be encouraged to experiment with 'alternative' sexual behaviors."
Asked whether the Catholic Conference of Illinois shared the view and explication of the new law, a spokesperson dodged the question and presented a more sanitized, family-friendly response about the law.
"The Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI) opposed House Bill 2675, commonly known as the Comprehensive Sex Ed bill," replied CCI communications director Mary Massingdale to The Insider in a statement. "CCI believes that local school districts, controlled by the community's parents, are best equipped to make decisions about curriculum. House Bill 2675 interferes with that right and demands sex education include an approach we believe reduces the importance and value of abstinence until marriage."
Specifically asked if the Catholic Conference of Illinois agrees with the Illinois Family Institute's claim that "masturbation" would be taught with "step-by-step instruction", Massingdale pointedly declined to confirm or contradict Smith's interpretation of the bill in order not to antagonize their ally.
"The statement that I sent you stands on its own," Massingdale wrote in an e-mail.
One of the bill's legislative sponsors had no such reticence in responding to the Illinois Family Institute's sexually charged, factually challenged description of the bill.
"Their relentless focus on anatomy strikes me as odd," State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago). "I know as a mother of three sons that kids learn their values at home. School is a place for facts and accuracy."
Cassidy also dismissed Smith's explanation of the bill.
"The bill does not contain anything even remotely resembling what they're quoting here," Cassidy said. "In that law, only school districts that choose to provide sex ed will be required to ensure that the curriculum is evidence based, inclusive of medically accurate information, remains focused on abstinence and only applies to grades 6-12. In all cases, parents may choose to keep their children out of such instruction."
Smith himself also hinted that their message might not be ready for prime time in the news media, citing a truncated WAND-TV report of the group's event.
"I'm always pleased when the media covers our message, even if only a small amount of the truth we present to the public makes it into the story," Smith wrote.
WAND-TV provided a bill description similar to Cassidy's and kept their distance the Illinois Family Institute's graphic rhetoric.
And keeping some distance from Smith would seem to be a good idea.