The Freedom Writer has devoted much space to the rebirth of the Religious Right. The Christian right has a blueprint for grassroots political organizing. Back in 1980, the Rev. Tim LaHaye laid out a plan to defeat the humanists who, in his paranoid opinion, "control America." In his book, The Battle for the Mind, LaHaye outlined a grassroots campaign to Christianize America through the newly formed Moral Majority. While his book is still available in Christian book stores, the demise of the Moral Majority has rendered much of it obsolete.
As a direct result of the Rev. Pat Robertson's 1988 bid for the presidency, the Christian Coalition has picked up where the Moral Majority left off. A 1990 book, The Blue Book for Grassroots Politics, by Charles R. Phillips, has replaced LaHaye's p olitical primer. Published by Oliver Nelson, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, it is available through bookstores for $9.95.
Although there is nothing new in this book, its importance is that it is being used successfully in Christian grassroots campaigns across the country. Billed as a guide which offers "practical step-by-step how-to strategies for building an effective polit ical network for electing candidates," it is an easy-to-follow handbook.
The preface includes a brief, important overview of the history of the religious right, beginning with the "Jesus movement" of the l96Os. Then it swings into the arguments for Christian activism. Not surprisingly, it states, "Unknown to many Americans, a religion of humanism prevails within our political system. A battle is raging between humanistic forces and the Christian religious community. Humanism prevails because we have allowed it to prevail."
In the section "Secular Humanism vs. Judeo-Christian Values," Phillips launches a diatribe against humanism. He seems to think that secular humanism is inextricably linked to free sex, incest, and bestiality, and, naturally, opposes anything that "neglect s the Judeo-Christian moral values of chastity."
Christian Reconstructionist thought is introduced, almost subtly, in a section called "Sodomy (Homosexuality and Lesbianism)." While Phillips urges his readers to "shun" those who "choose to embrace a homosexual or lesbian lifestyle," he also quotes Levit icus 20:13, "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them."
In the "Abortion" section, Phillips makes clear his position that abortion is murder. He also makes a reference to Genesis 9:6, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
This book isn't dangerous only because of its extreme positions. The danger lies in the clear instructions on how Christian activists can win elections — from the local level on up. It also correctly points out that many senators were first elected to fil l a school board or town council seat.
The Blue Book for Grassroots Politics tells how to use nonprofit organizations for political action; how to form and mobilize a political action committee (PAC); how to form a pastors' coalition; how to develop effective campaign strategy; and how to get out the Christian vote on election day. Phillips strongly urges activists to employ the latest in technology, including computers and automatic phone dialers.
Because of its receptiveness to the Christian right, this book places emphasis upon Republican Party politics. "The Republican party," says Phillips, "is the logical choice for Christian participation in this decade." Now, a word of warning to those who say, "Good! Let the Republicans have the fanatics!" Phillips makes it c lear that the Democrats are also a target. (In New York State the Christian Coalition is working within the Democratic party.) In The Battle for the Mind, Tim LaHaye looks forward to the day when there will be two born again Christian candidates — a Republican and a Democrat — running for any given office.
It is important for Americans who believe in democracy to become involved in the political process. One Texas group, the Texas Federation of Traditional Republicans, is confronting the Christian right on its own turf. The group solidly backs the principle of separation of church and state. It is opposed to the use of religious institutions for partisan political purposes, and the use and manipulation of individuals in the name of religion for any political purpose.
Those who desire to counter the Christian right should go to the local bookstore and order a copy of The Blue Book of Grass Roots Politics. It not only tells us what we can expect from the religious right in this decade, it offers us practical step s as well.