A soldier in God’s army has gone to her eternal reward. Phyllis Schlafly, conservative Catholic activist, founder of Eagle Forum, and long-time opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, died September 5 at the age of 92.
I remember first learning of Schlafly’s work in, oh, maybe 1972. My mother shared with me an article from the Detroit Free Press; and there was a black-and-white photo of Phyllis, pretty with her hair pulled back into a soft bun and wearing a classic suit, a leader of the New Right standing in opposition of the Equal Rights Amendment. She warned that the ERA would, as the Washington Post explained in announcing her death this week, “open the door to gay marriage, abortion, the military draft for women, co-ed bathrooms and the end of labor laws that barred women from dangerous workplaces.”
Years later when I worked for Legatus, the organization of Catholic CEOs, I met Phyllis Schlafly in person and got to see firsthand her indomitable spirit. Phyllis served on Legatus’ international board, where she worked tirelessly to advance the organization’s mission to “study, live and spread the Faith.” She had a winning smile, and she was still pretty and still dedicated to the common good.
Through her 3-Minute Daily Commentaries on the radio, through her monthly newsletter The Phyllis Schlafly Report, through her regular column at the Eagle Forum, and through public appearances and media interviews, Schlafly equipped Americans with insights and solutions on a wide variety of issues that affect the family, community and nation.
Just five days before her death from cancer, Phyllis published her last column, titled “Setback for the Transgender Agenda.” She wrote about the federal government’s push to get rid of the “gender binary” by enforcing transgender bathrooms in schools, and even more—by requiring that schools permit students who self-identify as “transgender” to bunk with students of the gender they “identify” with, even if it’s the opposite sex. “But in a last-minute reprieve worthy of an old Western movie,” Schlafly wrote,
“…a federal judge in Texas has just called a halt to the new transgender rules. Judge Reed O’Connor of the federal district court in Wichita Falls, Texas, ruled in the late evening of Sunday, August 1, that the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter was not a valid regulation and that schools across the country are free to ignore it.”
In a statement from Eagle Forum, the conservative organization she founded, her colleagues eulogized their leader:
An iconic American leader whose love for America was surpassed only by her love of God and her family, Phyllis Schlafly, an indomitable pro-family grassroots advocate and organizer, was 92 years old. Mrs. Schlafly was preceded in death by her beloved husband Fred and is survived by six children along with 16 grand and 3 great grandchildren.
Phyllis Schlafly spent an astounding 70 years in public service of her fellow Americans. Her focus from her earliest days until her final ones was protecting the family, which she understood as the building block of life. She recognized America as the greatest political embodiment of those values. From military superiority and defense to immigration and trade; from unborn life to the nuclear family and parenthood, Phyllis Schlafly was a courageous and articulate voice for common sense and traditional values. She authored 27 books and thousands of articles. She spoke tens of thousands of times across the United States.
Her joy in life was evident to all through her smile and wit.
Phyllis has left an indelible imprint on American society. May she now enjoy the home prepared for her by the Father.
Image: Gage Skidmore