Thursday, October 06, 2005

Republican leader tied to controversial religious group

(Published in the October 6, 2005 issue of The Courier.)

Republican leader tied to controversial religious group


During last year's Monmouth County Freeholder race, Republicans had a bone to pick with Democrats after a derogatory comment about women made by one of the Democrat candidates years earlier, was made public.

Republican Freeholder candidates in 2004, Amy Handlin and Rob Clifton, and their campaign manager, Dan Gallic (formerly the executive director of the Monmouth County Republican Organization), gained political traction when they revealed that Democrat candidate Steve Morlino made a joke during a Howell Township Council meeting stating that some women "should be muzzled."

"If my opponent is threatened by intelligent women who speak their minds, he'll have a tough time working with the people of this county," Clifton said at the time.

What Republicans kept in their closets, however, was Gallic's connection with a religious group that has been sharply criticized for its own views of women, as well as statements by former members likening the group to "a cult."

The People of Hope, located in Plainfield, is a Catholic charismatic covenant community that was founded by Gallic's father, Bob Gallic, and a handful of others in 1977. However, the People of Hope is not recognized by Catholic Church as a lay organization, according to Jim Goodness, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark.

"There was a time (in 1991 when the community appealed to the Archdiocese of Newark for official recognition) when Archbishop Theodore McCarrick (now Cardinal Archbishop of Washington) had expressed reservations about the organization," Goodness said. "They were not in communion with the archdiocese. There were some concerns as to whether or not this was truly a Catholic organization."

According to Goodness, the Catholic Church now allows priests to say mass for the People of Hope, but the organization is still in no way recognized as a lay Catholic community.

Gallic's involvement with the People of Hope first became news in the political sphere during state Sen. Anthony Bucco's 2003 re-election campaign against challenger Blair MacInnes. Gallic served as Bucco's campaign manager.

According to MacInnes, Gallic was quoted in a local Morristown newspaper as saying, "The only thing that makes [MacInnes] legitimate is her husband and her husband's money."

MacInnes's campaign charged that the comments were sexist and called attention to Gallic's involvement with and leading role in the People of Hope.

"Koinonia Academy [in Plainfield], the school run by the People of Hope, has been accused of teaching female students classes in 'active submission' and discouraging female students from attending college," an October 16, 2003 release from MacInnes's campaign stated.

The above release also states: "Former members of the group reported to the Bergen Record that: husband[s] and wives are encouraged to go out only on 'prescribed date nights'; teenagers are prohibited from dating without approval from group leaders; older women are told not to wear pants or makeup; two women who left the group described a husband who wrote out his wife's daily schedule in 15-minute intervals."

A former member, who contacted The Courier but declined to allow his name to appear in print for fear of retaliation, confirmed the specifics issued by MacInnes's campaign. The source also confirmed that women in the group were taught to be subservient to men.

Many members left the group in the early 1990s following McCarrick expressing concerns about the community.

A family member of one such individual created a web site [] billed as "The Hope Awareness Center." The Courier has been in contact with the web site's creator but is withholding the person's name because of fears expressed by former members who are no longer supportive of the organization's teachings.

The site details several aspects of "cult-like" control exhibited by the organization.

"It is important to note that many members of these communities are good and faithful people who are trying to do the right thing but are living in a deceptive environment," the family member writes on the site. "These groups are considered totalitarian and high demand organizations with rules and regulations that enslave many people and take away their own independent thinking and thought processes."

Among the issues the Hope Awareness Center details is a 1985 state and federal investigation into tax records to determine whether or not Bob Gallic misused funds to purchase land that his and other high-ranking community members' homes were later built on. The investigation did not yield any charges.

Also included on the web site is a 'letter to the editor' that appeared in Fidelity Magazine, a now-defunct Christian publication, according to the Hope Awareness Center. The name is withheld by the Hope Awareness Center, though archives of Fidelity Magazine are available for purchase.

An excerpt from the letter reads:

"The following briefly examines each control I experienced…in the Hope pastoral system. Behavior control was accomplished by the structuring, regulation and discipline of a member's physical reality. Hope members schedule their week with the discernment of a pastoral leader…

"Thought control has only one goal: to transform the thought mechanisms of a person to be 'one with the group.'… As recently as June 23, 1991, at a general gathering of the community a senior head coordinator decided that it is a sin of deception and unity to read material that is critical of covenant communities and Hope.

"Emotional control uses fear as an effective way to keep members committed to the group. Very often many were prayed with to be delivered from fears the group in its own way instilled them. By the false creation of fears…and enemies, and making those enemies seem imminent (Islam, Communism, etc.), the community imposed an unconscious fear to leaving the confines of the group…

"Sharing and relating is controlled…Women getting together was also controlled. After all, women had to be protected from gossip or complaining. The general observation is that most women have superficial relationships and are missing a particular bond and support that women need with each other."

Not all former members felt harmed by their experiences in the People of Hope or thought the group espoused beliefs that were sexist.

"I always felt that the Hope community did a better job of respecting women's dignity and uniqueness and their giftedness better than any group outside them. My own experience led me to be a far better spouse," Michael J. Donnelly wrote in an e-mail.

In another e-mail Donnelly stated, "The aspects of community life which have led people to judge it as 'cultish' are its seeking to find and live a common life of morality and supportiveness toward each other…I would call the People of Hope a non-ordained religious family which seeks to serve God in a dedicated and committed way."

Gallic's perspective

While the former members of the People of Hope that The Courier spoke with said otherwise, Gallic denied he was ever a leader of the religious community and said he is not currently a member.

When asked if his father founded the People of Hope, Gallic said, "I believe he did."

Gallic, a resident of Warren Township in Somerset County, who ran unsuccessfully in 2003 for an Assembly seat left vacant by state Sen. Tom Kean, did acknowledge that he attended the Koinonia Academy.

Gallic, whose one-year tenure as Monmouth County Republican Director ended in August, said his views do not matter in the campaigns and organizations he works for.

"I didn't know Monmouth County from a hole in the wall. I didn't know who [Monmouth County Republican Chair] Fred Niemann was [before August 2004]," Gallic said.

While Gallic is no longer the executive director of the Monmouth County Republican Party (and no one has been selected to replace him as of yet), he said he does serve as a political consultant for the county organization and acknowledged serving as Handlin's and Clifton's campaign manager last year.

"I'm not the executive director of the Monmouth County Republican Party. I'm nothing. I resigned in August. I'm just a consultant. My views do not get put into anything. If and when I'm elected to public office, that's when my views will matter," Gallic said. "As for anyone who wants to attack me personally, my only response is that my grandfather was Jewish and I have an uncle who is Puerto Rican."

MacInnes, a Morristown resident, recalled the 2003 campaign and Gallic's campaigning style in particular as turning very ugly.

"I had a very contentious relationship with Dan Gallic. I think he and the People of Hope have a Medieval notion about women," MacInnes said, noting that she believed some of his comments about her revealed him to have a misogynistic view of women.

"I found Gallic to really be a right-wing ideologue. I would think that the Monmouth County Republicans would have enough on their plate without having to defend Gallic's position on the role of women in politics," MacInnes said. "New Jersey is 43rd out of 50th states in terms of the number of women in elected office. Whereas many people, including myself, would like to see that change, I think Mr. Gallic is happy to see that number stay as it is."

Niemann did not respond to questions about why Gallic was selected as executive director or what his role was or is in the Monmouth County Republican Organization.

With reporting by Jim Purcell


"I didn't know Monmouth County from a hole in the wall. I didn't know who [Monmouth County Republican Chair] Fred Niemann was [before August 2004]," Gallic said.

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At 9:03 PM, Blogger Romulus Augustus said...

Mr. Gallic has now completely severed ties to the Monmouth County GOP as of the publication of this article. He will no longer be serving in a consulting role.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger The Big Professor said...

Attacking a man because of his religious beliefs. Wow. That's pretty low.
Ms. Corley, you may feel that you are serving the cause of progressivism with your article, but trust me you're not. You are playing right into the hands of the right wingers who paint all of us with the same broad brush of atheism and overall anti-religion.
So what if this man belongs to some little known Roman Catholic splinter group. So what!
Were he Amish would you have written the same story? Or a Chassidic Jew? Both sects, one ostensibly Christian like the so-called People of Hope, the other Jewish, advocate similar views of male dominance, close-knit communities, etc. Are they cults? And how about Islam, arguably a cult in anyone's book. Had he been Daniyullah al-Galiq instead of Dan Gallic would you still have run this piece? And would he have met with your approval were he, say, a Unitarian Universalist or atheist?
What would you propose be done, Ms. Corley? Ban cults? Can't ban them outright, but if their activities cross the line of illegality, Law Enforcement will step in. Ban religions that border on cultishness? Where do you draw that line? Find the People of Hope compound and have federal agents lay siege to it, then torch it like Waco and incinerate all occupants, men, women and children? Or, like in pre-revolutionary times, establish a religious test for potential officeholders? Expand that to political party staffers? What?
I am not familiar with your newspaper, but it seems that this editor of yours harbors a hateful grudge against the Republicans of your area. Fine. Take this as advice from one progressive to another that attacking your opponents' religious belief system or lack thereof is just dirty pool.
Finally, you contradict yourself. While castigating Gallic for suppressing women, you also castigate him for promoting this Amy Handlin, who would appear to be rather progressive, at least as Republicans go. From what I've read she would appear to be more of a Rockefeller than a Goldwater Republican; and if at 23 you don't know who they were, Google their names or ask your editor. So is he pro-woman or anti-woman? Which is he? You can't have it both ways.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Jackie Corley said...

Well, that's a mouthful.

The stories I was told by the former members of the group I spoke to were quite troublesome, in my opinion. And, in fact, I kept out most of the more shocking details out of print.

And no, I'm not a "liberal atheist." I was raised Catholic.

Our paper isn't anti-Republican. In fact, I did what I consider a non-controversial and friendly background piece on Sean Kean and Steve Corodemus last week, and I will be writing a non-controversial background piece on Lillian Burry next week.

I respect most of the Republican and Democrat leaders I come across.

It's not my place to dictate what should be done with "cults" or alleged "cults." It is only my place as a reporter to inform.

When a religious belief system becomes the backbone of a party instead of guiding that party's sensibilities, as the Founding Fathers intended, the public has every right to know and can assess the information as they see fit.

Of course, if you don't care for the information our newspaper is putting out to the public you can use the power of the purse and proudly snap yours shut and not purchase it.

My best,
Jackie Corley

At 4:43 AM, Blogger Jackie Corley said...

More importantly, I think any group or organization that seems to espouse the subjugation of women should not be free from criticism simply because the group or organization is religious in nature.

As campaign manager for Ms. Handlin and Mr. Clifton, Mr. Gallic very effectively made use of Mr. Morlino's "women should be muzzled" comment.

The following is his statement to a local newspaper, The Independent:

"Gallic said the information used in the mailed fliers and newspaper advertisements was taken from official minutes of the meeting at which Morlino made the remark. He defended using the remark and said it was a 'peek at his [Morlino’s] soul.'

"Gallic said the fact that Morlino made the remark because he was angered by the heckling he was receiving from two women attending the meeting was telling and 'not a trivial point.'

"'It was not all that long ago that women were not allowed to own property, let alone vote,' Gallic said, adding that Morlino’s remark 'goes back to a very deep-seated belief in some people that women can’t handle public affairs.'"

At 5:43 PM, Blogger Cygnus said...

Having been in a similar "community" myself, I can attest to a lot of what you mentioned in your post (which I only now found, along with the referenced site by ex-members). I escaped the Lamb of God in Baltimore in 1991 after being involved for 14 years.

I take it that Gallic is related to POH founder Bob Gallic.


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