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The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Wallets Behind the Right Wing


Chances are if a person is present in online political spheres enough, they may have come across Prager “University,” and their five-minute videos, ostensibly taking a conservative tact on issues. Whether through ads on an Instagram feed, TikToks, or youtube, they’re an ever-present part of online politics. In their 2020 annual report, they flaunt that they receive over one billion views on YouTube a year, and two-thirds of their viewers use the things they learned from PragerU’s videos in ideological discussions. This organization has some serious swaying power. It would be a shame if they were soulless hacks paid by billionaire brothers to get right-wing talking points in as many places as possible.

Firstly, while PragerU is a 501(C) nonprofit, they are not a university. Despite Dennis Prager himself signing off saying so for every video he is in. Speaking of, Dennis  Prager is not a university professor, he’s a talk radio host. He started in 1999 at KRLA, a conservative Christian station in LA, and has been there for nearly 25 years.

If this sounds like a shoddy qualification for a university professor, look at some of the other people they bring on to speak. Their older videos often featured academics with a conservative, and contentious, outlook on social issues. They eventually shifted to featuring conservative media personalities, mainly from the online right, folks like Steven Crowder, Jordan Peterson, and Candice Owens. Their more recent products include PragerU kids, teaching “American values” to kids.

Speaking of those values, Mr. Prager has a very interesting history with them. In one piece, he argues that “Judaism has done civilization a service by forcing the male sexual genie into the marital bottle,” as if men are simply incapable of self-control when they’re randy. Other PragerU videos promote “Judeao-Christian Values,” and advocate against “secularist persecution” of religious people. This ranges from the Fox News standard “War on Christmas” to videos like “The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians,” about how the Muslim-dominated middle east is the real religious persecutors, and it’s extremely justified to be afraid of being erased. It’s important to note that this is simply because Christianity has the most people as believers, and statistically speaking, they’re the most likely to experience religious persecution globally due to that.

In all of these videos, they talk about the “left” a lot. Now, when you’re talking about the left, there are a lot of niches that you can occupy, from center-left all the way to Anarcho-communist. PragerU has always consistently failed to acknowledge this nuance, painting the left as censorious curmudgeons without care for America, traditional family values, or even children. A consistent feature of their argumentation is that the left is coming for your freedom, and you can stop this by living a life of “Judeao-Christian values.” This is a blatant appeal to emotion, arguing that the left is scary and bad instead of actually deconstructing what the left says. They often combine this with straw-man arguments, saying the left says something that is patently insane instead of targeting what this “left” actually says. Lastly, they often cherry-pick their facts. This was prevalent with the earliest PragerU videos. 

In their piece titled “Why did the Democratic South Become Republican?” they pull all of these stops in the first minute and a half. Presenter Carol Swain poisons the well by immediately suggesting that it’s simply insane that two political parties can switch. She completely waltzes over the fact that it wasn’t Richard Nixon who came up with the idea of the Southern strategy, it was Barry Goldwater. Their animations show images of Klan members and Black Americans in Bondage, being freed by the Republican politician.

If this sounds like propaganda, that’s because it is. PragerU is like Fox News but with a far more adept and well-funded social media marketing team. 40% of their revenue goes into advertising themselves across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, getting themselves plastered all over the place, according to their form 990 they file with the IRS every year to maintain their nonprofit status.

Dennis Prager was also paid $30,000 to give two 30-minute appearances at a youth education conference in Hungary, which at the time was under the thumb of the authoritarian Viktor Orbán. Mr. Prager has also spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) multiple times, which held an event at the Center for Fundamental Rights in Hungary, which is effectively a pseudo-sociology branch of Orbán’s media landscape.

So if this guy and his organization are so out there, and their arguments are so incoherent, who is backing them? Who would support this scatological smear on US political discourse?

Enter Farris and Dan Wilks, two Fracking billionaire brothers who have some SERIOUS opinions. While PragerU is a nonprofit and is currently funded by donations, the Wilks brothers gave them the initial seed money to start the organization in 2009.

Farris Wilks is both a billionaire and a pastor. Videos of his sermons are available on youtube. In one of these videos, you may notice the comments are filled with a lot of angry people from Idaho. You see, the Wilks have bought up a lot of previously public land in Idaho, particularly in Boise national forest, which some presume is being done to expand their Fracking operation. In doing so, they have blocked off access to public trails, roads, and hunting grounds, which have been used by Idahoans for generations. Public trails are a particularly hot topic in Idaho, as there remains debate about whether the brothers have a right to block these trails that run through their property, or if the trails can still be used by the public. 

The actual content of the sermons is quite revealing as well. In his sermon on legacy, he says, “The family is in distress these days,” a position he shares with Dennis Prager. He goes on to say that men have been “Marginalized.” He uses sitcoms as an example, claiming that men are often the butt of the joke in these shows. He uses this to say that people will “Destroy families by destroying men.” This argument has an unsurprising amount in common with PragerU’s religious undertones.

In addition, during his service, Wilks cites a certain study done about the influence of fathers on legacy and descendants. The study compared the descendants of Max Jukes, a supposed “non-believer,” with the descendants of Jonathan Edwards, a famous American theologian.   Max Jukes allegedly didn’t have a single decedent who “made a significant contribution to society,” and it was claimed that the “notorious” Jukes family cost the state of New York $1,002,000. When talking about the non-believer’s descendants, he talks about lives of “outright debauchery” “prostitution,” “convicted criminals,” “habitual thieves,” “alcoholics,” “victims of impurity,” etc. He cites a book called “the legacy” for providing this information, and says that a lot of what he said during the sermon came from that book.

Wilks says that you won’t find a Wikipedia page on Max Jukes. That is true, we couldn’t find one. There is an interesting Wikipedia page on the Jukes family, though, saying that the family and their descendants throughout time were used as evidence in support of the virtue that comes from a religious lifestyle. Oh, and also eugenics.


You see, the Jukes family has long been used as an argument by those who support eugenics as proof of criminal behavior being passed down through the bloodline. Supposed studies of the Jukes were seen as justification to use forced sterilization to remove people like the Jukes from the gene pool. The thing is, the studies of the Jukes family are completely false and inaccurate. Data was intentionally withheld to push a political agenda, and the study was conducted in a very inaccurate and non-professional way, even by the standards of the time. It turns out that Max Jukes, or if you go by his real name Max Keyser (yeah they didn’t even get the name right), had many descendants that contributed significantly to society, and many of the people in the studies weren’t even related. 

So this guy is using the misinterpretation of a study popular with those who argue for ethnic cleansing to justify his belief in the righteousness of a religious life over a secular one. Don’t worry, it gets so much worse.

In the same sermon, Wilks claims that the reason why the world is “so full of angry men” is because “their fathers do not discipline them and instruct them in the ways of Yahweh (God).” He says the reason why our country is “going downhill so fast” is because men aren’t leading their families in the right way. He then talks about stable households, and how in order to have this you must truly love your spouse. His language in this part is standard for any sermon, specifically stating “love between a man and his wife,” subtly implying homophobia. In other sermons he has espoused anti-gay and anti-trans talking points, saying homosexuality is “a perversion tantamount to bestiality, pedophilia, and incest.” In another direct quote, Wilks states “A male on male or female on female is against nature. So this lifestyle is a predatory lifestyle in that they need your children and straight people having kids to fulfill their sexual habits. They want your children.”

Farris Wilks also has some…let’s just say problematic views of women. Here’s another direct quote: “Men, do not be afraid to take your rightful place as leader and provider for your family. You were given that place by Yahweh the highest, so don’t relinquish that easily. That is your place. Women, I will speak to you as well, and let your husband lead and support him in his leadership…You know men are very simple, It doesn’t take much to make us happy. Mostly your (speaking to women) respect and support is usually what it takes. Wives, I would like to ask that you pray for us. Even us that are not your husband, pray for men.”

Lastly, Farris Wilks believes that climate change is the will of god. In another of his sermons, he says “If [God] wants the polar caps to remain in place, then he will leave them there.”

All of these beliefs coordinate directly with PragerU’s talking points. Climate denial is a rare, but nonetheless present topic, and they say that it isn’t that big of a deal. Obviously, the Wilks’ thoughts on the traditional family are skeletal in Prager’s beliefs. Man, Woman, and 2 and a half kids, and of course it’s being destroyed by the “radical left.” Throughout the sermon, there are themes of both men needing to be in charge, and men being impulsive and uncontrollable, just like Mr. Prager’s “Genie” quote.

PragerU is not the only media apparatus the Wilks provided the initial funding. The Daily Wire, which features Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles, Matt Walsh, among others is basically PragerU without the University trappings. All the same talking points. All the same family values. The Wilks fund many other nonprofit activist organizations as well, mostly dedicated to anti-abortion causes. The line between political opinion and corruption becomes very blurry when you wipe yourself with Ben Franklins.

The next time there’s a well-produced, high-budget video with a shining face telling you about how climate change is out of our control, the secularist left is using homosexuality to erode religious liberty, or “inner city culture” is the real thing holding back Black America (yes, this is a real topic PragerU made a video on), take a step back, look at their sources, and you may find that they’re getting paid a lot of money to say that.

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About the Contributor
Eri Spitznas, Staff
(They/Them) I’m Eri, Senior in High school, fresh face at the Kilt. Sometimes a subject isn’t as well served by a news piece as much as a bold argument in editorial form, and oh boy do I serve well. I also serve as the Co-President of the Hazen Gays, Lesbians, Or Whatever (GLOW) Club.
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