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Monday, March 11, 2024

Society for American Civic Renewal

Josh Kovensky at TPM:

A secret, men-only right-wing society with members in influential positions around the country is on a crusade: to recruit a Christian government that will form after the right achieves regime change in the United States, potentially via a “national divorce.”

It sounds like the stuff of fantasy, but it’s real. The group is called the Society for American Civic Renewal (the acronym is pronounced “sacker” by its members). It is open to new recruits, provided you meet a few criteria: you are male, a “trinitarian” Christian, heterosexual, an “un-hyphenated American,” and can answer questions about Trump, the Republican Party, and Christian Nationalism in the right way. One chapter leader wrote to a prospective member that the group aimed to “secure a future for Christian families.”

TPM first began reporting on SACR in January. Though the group’s membership rolls are secret, some of its activities are out in the open. It maintains a website, all in crimson, in which it advertises its “mark,” and calls on members to rebuild the “frontier-conquering spirit of America.”

An early reporting breakthrough came when we were able to identify a Boise State University professor and Claremont official named Scott Yenor as a possible member of SACR because he appeared on incorporation papers for the group’s Boise lodge. Yenor is a character in his own right, attracting public attention for a November 2021 blow-up when he suggested that elite professions like law and medicine stop recruiting women into their ranks.

Because Boise State is a public university, TPM was able to obtain via public records requests in January and February a trove of Yenor’s office emails that mention SACR. The trove included internal SACR correspondence, documents, and other materials from when the group was first being conceived in late 2020, was founded the following year, and began to grow.

The trove reveals SACR’s core mission: to create a mini-state within a state, composed entirely of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian men. It’s explicitly patriarchal, demanding that group members assume a dominant role at home, and celebrates the use of force and existence of authority. Amid all the hearkening back to the founding fathers, America’s first principles, and patriotism, there are few mentions of democracy in the materials TPM reviewed.

Using the Yenor email trove as a starting point, TPM was able to confirm that Yenor is a SACR member, to identify other members of SACR, including prominent people like the president of the Claremont Institute, and to map other chapters of SACR around the country and locate incorporation papers for them, which yielded the identities of other potential SACR members.