IFAS | Freedom Writer | February 1994 | update.html

Religious Right update

Religious Right hits Canada

Canadian conservative Christians are flexing their political muscle through the six-year-old Reform Party. On October 25, 1993, under the leadership of evangelical Preston Manning, the Reform Party seemingly came out of nowhere and grabbed 52 out of 295 seats in Canada's House of Commons. Manning is the son of Ernest Manning, a nationally known Canadian radio preacher. "Our time has come!," cry some members of the Canadian Religious Right. Stay tuned.

Wildmon locked in protest

Because some of the cops use raw street language, and occasionally appear on camera completely out of uniform, the Rev. Donald Wildmon continues to protest ABC's "N.Y.P.D. Blue." Meanwhile, the Fairfax, Virginia-based group, Viewers for Quality TV, voted "N.Y.P.D. Blue" the best show on television. This gripping pro-family show realistically portrays the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, and fights stereotyping and bigotry.

Grimstead eyes Colorado Springs

Jay Grimstead, president of the California-based Coalition On Revival, told The Freedom Writer that he hopes to move the organization to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the spring of 1994. "On August first," he added, "we plan to open the doors of Kingdom College." According to Grimstead, "Kingdom College is to be a radically different activist training school for would-be 'world changers.' Kingdom College will furnish a ready-made spiritual army of activists, and with it we can help create a new generation of leaders who are able to break out of the present status quo, security-oriented way of advancing the Kingdom of God."

Robertson, Porteous tangle

Once again, Pat Robertson and Skipp Porteous clashed while airing their differing points of view. This time it was on the nationally syndicated Michael Jackson show, from KABC radio in Los Angeles, on November 15, 1993. When Porteous accused Robertson's Christian Coalition of supporting candidates, in an apparent violation of IRS regulations, Robertson responded, "We CAN support candidates if we so desire." He continued, "Finding quality candidates and getting them elected, I think that's about as American as mom and apple pie." Robertson then accused Porteous of "making a crusade against the Christian Coalition," and said, "What I'm seeing all over the country is anti-Christian bigotry, and frankly, I don't like it." Jackson responded with, "I must tell you, I'm here at this particular station for 27 years. I haven't seen any anti-Christian bigotry."

Speaking of bigotry . . .

Christian Identity preacher, Pastor Pete Peters, of the LaPorte Church of Christ in LaPorte, Colorado, continues to expand his nation-wide television ministry. Author of Death Penalty for Homosexuals Is Prescribed in the Bible, Peters appears three times a week via satellite on the Keystone Inspirational Network, as well as 25 cable outlets. Christians embracing Christian Identity believe that Anglo-Saxons are the true Israel of the Bible. Sometimes called Christian Patriots, this racist, anti-Semitic group is growing, and has followers in almost every state.

Todd launches Senate campaign

Saying "We need to have a rebirth in America of Christian values, and it just as well might start in Massachusetts," Gary W. Todd has mounted a campaign to challenge Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy in 1994. Todd is regional sales manager for a group of New England Christian radio stations run by Blount Communications. A staunch supporter of "school choice," Todd is working with consultants from the Christian Coalition. They include Marilyn Scola, the Massachusetts Christian Coalition's state director, and Clay Mankemeyer, the Christian Coalition Northeast regional director. However, Todd is not a card-carrying member of the Christian Coalition. According to Todd, Mankemeyer advised him not to join the Christian Coalition, as it could adversely affect his campaign.

Focus on the Family rakes in $90 million

With almost 80 national conservative Christian ministries headquartered in Colorado Springs, Focus on the Family is by far the largest. Headed by Dr. James Dobson, the group's 1992 budget totaled $90 million. Last fall, the ministry dedicated its newly constructed New Age temple-like, 215,000 square-foot Administration Building. Next door is its 150,000 square-foot Distribution Center, which mails out 13,000 packages a day to listeners who respond to Dobson's 800 number, broadcast daily on about 1,200 radio stations. While Focus on the Family pretends to be apolitical, its popular Community Impact Seminars actively recruit "soldiers to win the civil war of values." These political action seminars typically attracting between 400 and 600 people are held in fundamentalist churches across the country.

Christians dominate

To "give Christians a voice in their government again" is a constant theme of Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition. On December 7, 1993, Skipp Porteous addressed an assembly of pro-choice state Senators and Representatives in Concord, New Hampshire. To see if Christians currently have a voice in government, Porteous, using a show of hands, conducted an informal survey of the legislators attending the meeting 85% identified themselves as Christians.

Case to watch in Mississippi

If Religious Right agitators have their way, the Jackson, Mississippi Wingfield High School flap will be the next big prayer-in-school case. In November, principal Bishop Knox allowed morning prayers to be read over the school's P.A. system, after students voted 490 to 96 for it. When the superintendent fired Knox for his unconstitutional action, hundreds of students walked out. Now, the issue is being exploited by Gov. Kirk Fordice, who once referred to America as "a Christian nation," and by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, of the American Family Association, and Pat Robertson, who both sent lawyers to defend the principal and the students. Watch this case.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.