Washington, DC — With almost 4,000 in attendance, this year's National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) January 30th through February 1st conference in Washington DC set a near-record. The NRB conference is the single-most representative organization of the imposing conservative Christian radio and television broadcast industry. (There are 1,566 religious radio stations, and 274 religious TV stations in the U.S.) Anyone who is anyone in the Religious Right makes the annual pilgrimage. Hundreds of broadcast ministries, and companies selling products to the industry, operate booths at NRB.
The fast-growing Keystone Inspiration Network (TV), of Red Lion, Pennsylvania, returned again this year. Picked up in about 120 cities, this "family" network carries Pat Robertson's "700 Club," Jerry Falwell's "Old Time Gospel Hour," Morris Cerullo, James Robison, Benny Hinn, and the controversial Pete Peters. Peters, pastor of the LaPorte (Colorado) Church of Christ, publishes and distributes the anti-Semitic book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He is also the author of an anti-Semitic booklet, The Real Hate Group, and Death Penalty for Homosexuals Is Prescribed in the Bible. Peters attended NRB, spending much of his time at the Keystone Inspiration Network booth.
Some have questioned the presence of a rabid anti-Semite on a so-called "Christian" station. The Rev. Clyde Campbell, Keystone's comptroller, told The Freedom Writer, "Some people have questioned Peters' presence on Keystone," but said that the station previews his programs for anything distasteful.
"Peters is a minister of the gospel and he does a good job," Campbell said. "Pete says he loves the Jews," Campbell continued. "The only thing I have against Pete Peters," Campbell said, "is the continual harping on the Old Testament. I think his attitude on killing homosexuals or lesbians is unloving. Jesus provides a better way." Campbell also said that he questioned Peters' viewpoint on prostitution. "I think that stoning prostitutes and their customers is off-base." Knowledge of this would please another ministry carried by Keystone, that of Jimmy Swaggart.
In contrast to recent years, the 1994 conference's political overtones were subdued. This may be attributed to the "Conference on Reclaiming America," held just days before at the Rev. D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Many of the more than 2,000 in attendance at Kennedy's political conference flew directly to Washington, DC for the NRB convention.
Usually, the president of the United States addresses the NRB gathering. This year was an exception, as explained in a statement released by the NRB Executive Committee. "In recent years, it has been the decision of the NRB leadership to invite the President of the United States to address the annual convention. This has always been a nonpartisan choice, with both Republican and Democratic Presidents participating. However, for the '94 convention it was the decision of the Executive Committee that no invitation will be extended.
"As believers, we are admonished to pray for those in authority, and commit ourselves fervently to that task. However, we cannot give a platform to a leader who so aggressively supports and puts forth policies and positions which are blatantly contrary to scriptural views."
About a dozen of the NRB's board of directors are also members of the secretive Council for National Policy. They include James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Tim LaHaye.