Conservative religious groups merge; new home is Lynnwood

OLYMPIA — Two groups working to strengthen the voice and power of social and religious conservatives are uniting under one flag in Lynnwood.

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, based in Lynn­wood, is absorbing the Washington Family Foundation of Spokane to form a single association intent on getting conservatives out to vote and turning their values into legislation.

“We have never felt Washington is another Massachusetts,” said Larry Stickney, of Arlington, who is executive director of the Family Policy Institute.

“Washington, outside of what you see from the Space Needle, is filled with independent and traditional voters,” he said. “We want to wake up what we think is this silent majority.”

Matt Shea, founder and leader of the Washington Family Foundation, said the merger will “bring more unity to the Christian and conservative community.

“I would hope this will enable us to have a stronger voice in defending and promoting traditional values and traditional families,” Shea said.

The foundation’s office in Spokane will serve as the organization’s Eastern Washington base. Stickney said he will hire a full-time person to work there.

Lynnwood’s Family Policy Institute of Washington started last year and is affiliated with Focus on the Family, founded by James Dobson. It operates independent of Dobson’s group but can tap its mailing list of supporters and donors among other resources.

The institute is also affiliated with the Family Research Council and Alliance Defense Fund, two other national organizations engaged in promoting the causes of social and religious conservatism.

For the most part, the Family Policy Institute only began to emerge into the public eye when Stickney took the helm after leaving his job as legislative aide to Snohomish County Councilman John Koster.

Stickney said the group’s agenda centers on fighting for the protection of life, preservation of traditional marriage and defense of religious freedom. They’ve issued strong statements condemning actions of the Legislature, including its approval of domestic partnerships and the state’s curriculum for sex education instruction.

Behind Stickney is a board of directors, who include savvy political figures such as founding members Pastor Joe Fuiten of Cedar Park Church in Bothell and home builder Larry Sund­quist of Lynnwood.

Now joining them from the Washington Family Foundation will be Shea, an attorney who is running for state representative this year, and Glenn Dobbs, a former state lawmaker.

Stickney said the nonprofit runs on a roughly $400,000 budget financed through private fundraising. Next month, two well-known conservatives are coming to Washington to help raise money.

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who ran for president this year, and Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, will headline events in Seattle and Spokane.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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