After what we saw last weekend in Washington at the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, it’s possible that Ralph Reed’s coalition might just tank.
The event gave off the same vibes as last year’s Republican primary contests, which some pundits unkindly referred to as a “freak show.” Many of the same characters showed up: Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Herman Cain and Rick Perry, along with Pat Robertson, Reince Priebus and Grover Norquist. And there were a couple of new faces who I bet would prefer to distance themselves from that group: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had the good sense not to show up.
There was one new face, however, who stole the show; someone who would have done last year’s contests proud and promises to be a star in some future round of Republican primaries. That would be the Virginia GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor, Bishop E.W. Jackson.
Jackson, an African American, is the founder of Exodus Faith Ministries and STAND (Staying True to America’s National Destiny).
Jackson is puzzled as to why black Christian voters support President Obama. In an article written for the Washington Times, he asked, “How have [the Democrats] managed to hold on to black Christians in spite of an agenda worthy of the Antichrist?”
It’s time for progressives to get out the popcorn.
CPAC is coming! Prepare your battleships, patriots. On March 14, the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference descends upon innocent Americans in order to spread the goodness of Dick Morris, movies sponsored by Citizens United and the liberty of fracking. Woo hoo!
But once again, there’s trouble in paradise, because once again, CPAC gave GOProud the boot. They invited Wayne La Pierre this year (along with Ralph Reed and conspiracy theorist Ben Shapiro) and last year, they had white supremacist John Derbyshire, but gays are too divisive.
Last year, GOPRoud was “kicked out” of CPAC because they are gay, according to GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia. The gay conservatives are told they can come as individual registrants this year, but no booth. No seat at the figurative and literal table. Why? Because the loudest voices in the conservative movement don’t want RINOs; aka, no compromising just for a big tent. So, gay Republicans, you’re out.
To wit, the twitter wars:
Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham, has added his opinion as to why Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election to President Obama. Unlike claims of voter fraud or voter intimidation coming from Fox News and their analysts, Graham’s reasoning has little to do with President Obama or the Democrats in America.
“We’ve turned our backs on God,” Graham told CBN’s David Brody on Friday morning.
Graham believes the biggest problem with the United States is secularism. He points to President Obama’s support of marriage equality as a key reason America is on a slope towards complete secularism.
Graham voiced his support for Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority Coalition in years past. He pointed to the work of Ralph Reed and other religious groups in spreading the word on how important it is for evangelicals to vote.
“The vast majority of evangelicals did not go to the polls,’ Graham alleged during the interview.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s own national polling stands at odds with Graham’s view. Evangelicals comprised 27 percent of the overall electorate with 78 percent of evangelicals voting for Mitt Romney. Ralph Reed is the President of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
In a statement last week, Reed claimed as many evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 as had voted for former President George W. Bush in 2004.
Conservative Christian activist Ralph Reed is marshalling his forces in Ohio as the battleground state takes center stage in final week of the presidential race.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Atlanta-based organization Reed launched in 2009 to mobilize voters of faith around the country, is placing more than one million voter guides in 5,300 Ohio churches and plans to complete the effort on the final Sunday before Election Day.
Dropping literature in churches is just one element of a robust closing drive in Ohio to raise evangelical and Catholic awareness of the ‘cultural issues’ at stake in the campaign, Reed told CNN in a phone interview.
‘It’s a major push,’ Reed said of the Ohio effort. ‘We’re all in.’
Faith and Freedom ‘Strike Force’ volunteers and paid callers will unleash a get-out-the-vote phone blitz beginning Tuesday, a week before Election Day, he said.
If you’re a political junkie you might be following a story out of Florida centering on a man named Nathan Sproul. Sproul stands accused of engaging in voter registration fraud.
The other day a reporter from Florida called to ask me some questions about Sproul. I was surprised to hear from her because I didn’t think I knew anything about him, other than what I had read in the papers.
But it turns out I do. I had to rack my brain a bit, but it did come back to me. Back in 1995, Americans United had a run-in with Sproul while several of us were attending a meeting of the Christian Coalition in Washington, D.C.
Although it’s pretty much a shell of an organization today, the Christian Coalition in the mid-1990s was a Religious Right powerhouse. Backed by the fortune of TV preacher Pat Robertson, the Coalition’s budget reached $22 million in some years. It had a network of chapters nationwide, and its activists had taken over the Republican Party in many states.
Sproul at the time was serving as field director of the Arizona branch of the Christian Coalition. He gave a talk about how to infiltrate local units of the GOP - in itself an interesting thing for a supposedly “non-partisan” group to do.
Sproul’s major recommendation was that people be less than honest about their ties. In an October 1995 Church & State article (sorry - it’s not online), I reported that Sproul “urged attendees to become precinct committee chairs in the Republican Party but not to let anyone know the Christian Coalition is behind the move.” The idea was to build a presence in the GOP, get sent to the national convention and help pick the party’s presidential nominee.
Another speaker at that same session went on and on about how important it is to pose as a moderate - going so far as to recommend that you not sit near people perceived to be far right - so as to more effectively infiltrate the local party unit. (Once you’re in a position of power, of course, you can be as kooky right as you want to be.)
This is a pattern I’ve noticed from years of attending Religious Right meetings: There’s a lot of deceit. People are told to hide what they’re really about or to use stealthy techniques to infiltrate political groups.
In 2006, a speaker at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit outlined a plan to influence elections based almost entirely on deceit. Connie Marshner recommended calling people listed in church directories and finding out how they intend to vote by posing as a pollster. On election day, only those who indicated that they will vote for the favored candidate get a call back reminding them to vote. Marshner recommended people say they are calling from “ABC Polls.”
When someone in the audience asked what they should say if the person they called asked if they were working for a candidate, she recommended not being honest.
“Just say I’m collecting information about the candidates,” Marshner said. When others in the audience indicated some unease with the ethics of the plan, Marshner said it was time to move on.
One of the things that bothers me most about the leadership of the Religious Right is their smug arrogance. They loudly proclaim that their embrace of fundamentalism provides them with a superior platform for morality - the implication being that the rest of us have fallen short of their lofty position. They brag about their faith’s moral system and cast aspersions on those of us who have chosen a different spiritual or non-spiritual path.
They are so quick to judge others - yet what are their own ethics like?
They endorse an “end-justifies-the-means” theory of politics and engage in slash-and-burn forms of character assassination.
They embrace people like Newt Gingrich and actually charge a serial adulterer with the task of lecturing the nation on the need for “traditional marriage.”
They align with Ralph Reed, whose ethics are for sale to the highest bidder.
They attack gay people and drive parents from their gay children - and have the audacity to call it “pro-family.”
They urge pastors to ignore the law and politicize their churches by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The more I read about Sproul’s troubles in Florida, the less surprised I am that he’s having difficulty. Maybe if he hadn’t spent so many years working for the Religious Right, the man might have a proper moral foundation.
The religious right faction of the GOP never tires of selling fear and loathing. They persistently pimp paranoia and bile because if there’s not an ultimate evil and we aren’t all doomed, why the hell would you do what they say? Since we are in one of those tail wags the dog periods where the Tea party Evangelists and Paleolibertarian Galtiopaths are setting 100 percent of the GOP agenda, let me tell you what you should really fear.
You should fear the anti science crowd taking over congress and the courts - if you wanted to really stultify the economy and place us far behind our competitors that would be your first step. You would put superstition in charge of science and environmental policy. If you put medieval mindsets in charge of women’s health, then we will return the whole country to the red state problem of excessive out of wedlock teen pregnancy and excessive abortion and excessive infant mortality. Finally, if we allow people who believe their fundamentalist faith’s apocalyptic visions too deeply to set our foreign policy then we will war without end because war debt is the best debt to saddle future generations with since there won’t be future generations in their views.
So here we have the latest fear bomb from Ralph Reed, he goes Godwin against our President and then labels him communist. The religious right can’t decide whether Obama is Hitler, Stalin, or Muslim, but they just know that he must be one or more of those… oh, and they want you to send them money…. or else…
A mailer blasted out by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit group spending millions of dollars to mobilize evangelical voters this November to help Mitt Romney’s campaign, compares President Barack Obama’s policies to the threat posed by Nazi Germany and Japan during World War II. It also says that Obama has “Communist beliefs.” A copy of this so-called “Voter Registration Confirmation Survey” was obtained by Mother Jones after it was sent to the home of a registered Republican voter.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition is the brainchild of Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition who was once hailed as “the right hand of God” and who is now tasked with getting out the evangelical vote for Romney. In the mid-2000s, Reed was ensnared in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Reed was a longtime friend of Abramoff’s, and he took payments from Abramoff to lobby against certain American Indian casinos. Reed once ran a religious-themed anti-gambling campaign at the behest of an Abramoff-connected Native American tribe to try to prevent another tribe from opening a competitor casino. His current efforts for Romney are something of a political rehabilitation for Reed.
Reed is Romney’s best hope for rallying evangelical voters. The religious right is a sizable voting bloc: 26 percent of the electorate in 2008. Reed was credited with propelling the evangelical vote in the 2004 for George W. Bush and helping Bush beat Democratic Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). And Romney needs Reed’s kind of help. During the GOP primary, evangelicals tended to prefer Romney’s opponents Newt Gingrich and especially Rick Santorum, and over the summer, enthusiasm among evangelicals for Romney was noticeably lacking.
Making up half of Republican primary voters, evangelicals appear to be turning out to support Rick Santorum’s resurgent campaign in record numbers and are increasingly influencing the shape of the party.
Perhaps just as important, conservative Christians are increasing their crucial financial support and volunteer hours as Santorum tries to keep his momentum heading into Tuesday’s (March 20) Illinois primary.
According to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, headed by longtime evangelical political activist Ralph Reed, evangelical Christians account for just over 50 percent of the turnout so far in the Republican primaries, the highest rate ever and a significant increase over the 44 percent evangelical voting rate in 2008.
Whether the conservative right would be satisfied with anything less than a prophetic president who divines the will of God by Urim and Thummim remains to be seen, but indicative of the mood in conservative right circles was the lukewarm reaction of the audience at the Conference to the emphasis on economic issues by some of the candidates. The audience, it seemed, wanted to hear the candidates speak more on their commitment to core conservative religious and cultural issues. There was palpable silence when Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi urged the conference audience to accept whoever emerges as Republican nominee even if they disagree with him on certain religious cultural issues.
In the forefront of Republican contenders seeking to be crowned God’s anointed were former Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty, a former Catholic turned Evangelical who quoted profusely from the bible, and stated his support for the cardinal religious-cultural issues that the Christian right holds dear–protecting the unborn, support for traditional marriage, turning the nation back to God. Michele Bachmann also spared no efforts in pandering to evangelical biases. She told her audience that she was in favor of home-schooling, making her case by reference to her five children whom she said were all home-schooled. She did not forget to tell the audience that she raised up 23 other children as foster mother. Bachmann said a prayer after her speech, and pronounced a blessing in favor of Obama whom she had criticized during her speech.
Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty are among a long list of presidential hopefuls attending the Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing this weekend in Washington, D.C.
The conference is organized by Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and controversial religious right leader. In addition to Reed, Bachmann and Pawlenty will be sharing the stage with a number of controversial figures from the anti-abortion rights and anti-gay rights movements.
Reed led the Christian Coalition in the 1990s and stepped down as a scandal inside the organization was brewing. He then ran for the office of lieutenant governor in Georgia, but his ties to Jack Abramoff’s gambling scandal created huge hurdles for Reed and he lost the election.
Tom Schenk of Faith & Action will give Friday evening’s prayer. In 1992, Schenk was arrested after he threw a fetus at then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton. He has repeatedly questioned President Barack Obama’s Christian faith.
Speaking just before Bachmann will be Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an anti–gay rights groups recently listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The SPLC has criticized Perkins for his past connections to white supremacy groups and his use of false data to impugn gays and lesbians.