Some 17 years ago, the Rev. Pat Robertson founded the Christian Coalition of America and worked with Ralph Reed to make it a powerful Republican political force. At the same time Republican strategists targeted fundamentalist, Pentecostal and evangelical churches to expand the base of the party. In fact the Coalition website says that it is the largest and most active "conservative grassroots political organization in America." It claims to offer "people of faith the vehicle to be actively involved in shaping their government…" It’s an organization which has been the poster child for the religious political right in this country. It has been a formidable political force regarding the election of George W. Bush as well as getting candidates elected. It’s present president, Roberta Combs, says one of her great honors "was when Pastor Billy McCormack introduced me at the 2000 National Convention…" It’s reported that in 2004 forty eight out of fifty one Republicans voted with the Coalition 100% of the time. Former Senator Zell Miller had a 100% score card even though he pretended to be a Democrat.
The most troubling aspect of this and other conservative religious groups is their dedication to the idea that separation of church and state is evil and un American. They have had success in packing the courts and rigging the rules to accomplish their religious and political agenda. Many believe that religion should be permitted in public school classrooms, public meetings and in governmental activities. They see America as a Christian nation and the idea of separation of church and state as anti-religious, unbiblical and un American. Their mission to accomplish their agenda through the Republican party has had the support of other organized religions. The Roman Catholic Church and other main line religious groups were vocal, in many parts of the country, about supporting candidates who had the right moral view point about things such as abortion and same sex marriage as well as denying communion to candidates who didn’t.
However, now the Washington Post has reported that the Coalition is some $2 million dollars in debt and it’s membership splintered as well as declining. The paper reports that the decline began when Robertson and Reed went on to other things. The paper says Robertson resigned as it’s president in 2001 after defending China’s one child policy which shocked and offended the conservatives. Reed left to become a Republican political consultant, but whose reputation has been tarnished by ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In the meantime, its reported that the annual budget has shrunk from $26 million to $1 million according to the Post.
In addition, the media has just reported that the president elect of the Christian Coalition of America has resigned before taking office. The Rev Joel Hunter is quoted as saying he was resigning because he could not get the group to broaden it’s agenda beyond opposing abortion and same sex marriage. He says had hoped to add to the agenda issues such as poverty and saving the environment because "These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about." He is quoted as saying the group is unwilling "to part with it’s partisan, Republican roots." So he was resigning the office. Coalition members have, in fact, complained their agenda is too liberal. Issues such as capital punishment, poverty, global warming, Aids and famine don’t appear to be in their area of concern as followers of Jesus. Abortion and same sex marriage seem to be their interpretation of the primary Christian issues. Historically, it seems to me, issues of sex – birth control, condoms for Aids prevention, same sex marriage – have dominated Christian concerns over history while other important teachings are largely ignored in comparison.