Phyllis Schlafly's impact on my life has been stretched over several decades beginning when my husband was Episcopal chaplain at Southern Methodist University. Several law professors at the SMU Law School which was just across the street from Canterbury House asked my young husband if he would help sponsor Phyllis as a speaker as well as introduce her. Perhaps he was very brave but he also had no qualms about doing so and thought it quite strange and even funny that none of the professors, even the more conservative ones, were willing to risk being linked to her and her outspoken viewpoint.
Dallas was a conservative city and it was there that I realized something was missing from my years in Princeton, New Jersey growing up a the daughter of the Commissioner of Education and then graduating from an Ivy League Women's College. It made a lasting impression on me that Phyllis was considered a liability on a university campus and it made me even more interested in understanding why. I was helped along by a gift subscription to Hilman Events and by meeting another great conservative Christian leader, Fred Schwarz.
I had older friends who attended Eagle Forum meetings when I was primarily focused on taking care of babies and toddlers. When I finally accepted an invitation to a meeting I was given the wrong address! When we moved to Tennessee I started taking the Schlafly report and began my intensive journey to complete my education on conservative issues - something I would sorely need on the next campus, the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Like most campuses today it was left-leaning and intensely vocal that way, and without much opposition. Once again my husband became the principal contender for conservative positions on campus and was he good at it! He had been President of Whig Club at Princeton and a gifted debater. I became one too although not in an official capacity. It was at this point that I began to study the incredibly detailed research provided on critical issues in the Schlafly Report and to pass out copies as I saw opportunities. No thing gave me better "talking points" than Phyllis' research.
As the Chaplain's wife I was decidedly unpopular once my conservative views became known. My husband and I helped, among other things. to bring Bernard Nathanson's film, The Silent Scream, to the attention of the student body a.t a time when feminists were screaming for their rights to abolition throughout the nine months of pregnancy. I was working to put and end to under age drinking and drug use on a very complacent campus and to keep God and Christmas in the parish church pre-school (unbelievable as it may seem). We seemed to face every social issue on the planet and were constantly under attack.
We lived on campus so I faced the daily realities of radical feminism and the pressure involved in embracing that ideal. Like most Jvy League women I was the product of that philosophy, I went through a period of time when our children were young when I felt guilty for not being out in the world and using my college degree in a more visible way. Phyllis' clear understand ing that women can have everything but not necessarily all at the same time, was s a voice of sanity in an era of gender confusion. So I became a devotee of hers in more ways than one, as a mother, and now as a grandmother, as a homeschool mother, as a voice in educational matters including death education, school to work, and more recently No Child Left Behind, and Core Curriculum. I am still working to spread information and to be a voice where there needs to be one.
We have recently won two difficult court cases defend ing our Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights involving a search of our home by deputies without warrants. This involved the sidestepping of interstate child custody laws and has been resolved successfully in the best interests of the children involved. We were urged by many not to challenge the police in our state but we are glad we did. The relief is immense. We are very active in the Right to Life movement.
l cannot express enough the deep appreciation l have for the courageous example of Phyllis Schlafly. I am certain that she has in so many ways been my favorite mentor,
With Love and admiration,
Martha Millsaps, Tennessee