IFAS | Freedom Writer | September 1994 | update.html

Rob Schenck launches church

Anti-abortion activist Rob Schenck is starting "an activist congregation" in Washington, DC. His newly formed church, the National Community Church, begins regular Sunday services at the Washington Court Hotel in mid-September.

Schenck, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, says the purpose of his church is to keep the national media infored on "the ways in which certain public policies violate biblical principles." The establishment of the church in the nation's capital is part of a two-pronged project called "Operation Save Our Nation." The other part of the project is aimed at evangelizing congressional staffers. "Very often," said Schenck, "it's the young staffers who make policy, the elected officials merely give their imprimatur."

Schenck and Operation Rescue's Randall Terry were arrested in 1992 when they tried to shove a fetus in the face of Bill Clinton during the Democratic National Convention in New York.

Paul Schenck joins ACLJ

Paul Schenck, Rob's twin brother, has left his New Covenant Tabernacle church in Buffalo, New York, to join Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) as vice president. Both brothers converted from Judaism to Christianity at a revival service twenty years ago and then went into the ministry together. With Paul in Virginia Beach and Rob in Washington, it will be the first time in 12 years the 35-year-old brothers have not worked together. The ACLJ is TV evangelist Pat Robertson's answer to the ACLU. It is headed by Jay Sekulow, also a convert from Judaism to Christianity.

Promise Keepers explodes

Promise Keepers, the Christian group formed in 1991 by Bill McCartney, head football coach at the University of Colorado, is probably the largest men's organization in America. Promise Keepers' rallies attract tens of thousands of conservative Christian men. A May rally in Anaheim, California, attracted 52,800 men, while a Denver rally drew 62,000 men.

Ostensibly formed to deepen "commitment to Christ" and "reclaim traditional leadership roles," Promise Keepers has the potential to become a major political force. In fact, Randy Phillips, the group's president, acknowledges that political involvment is possible. Next year, 75,000 pastors and leaders will meet in Colorado to plan a rally that will try to bring one million men to the White House steps in 1998 "to send a clear message about returning our country to family values."

Hello Dolly, so long Jay

Jay Grimstead, director of the Coalition on Revival (COR), has apparently been forced to take a leave of absence. In a June 1994 letter he said that the members of the COR board "have rearranged my life," and that he "gladly submitted to their consensus wisdom."

Calvin Beisner, writing his own letter on behalf of COR's board, said Jay Grimstead "desperately needs a rest," as he has carried most of the burden for COR on his shoulders for the past decade. "That heavy burden has shown its toll." So, in agreement with Grimstead's doctor, the board decided that Grimstead should take a year off.

If, in a year, the Coalition on Revival revives itself, the group will focus on disseminating COR documents and position papers. They include "42 Articles of the Essentials of a Christian World View," "Manifesto for the Christian Church," "Articles of Affirmation and Denial on the Kingdom of God," plus 17 documents on specific spheres such as law, government, education economics, the arts, and business.

Grimstead said in his letter that he planned to brush up on his jazz during the year-long sabbatical. In an attempt to reach Grimstead at COR, The Freedom Writer encountered a tape of Louis Armstrong's rendition of "Hello, Dolly."

American Christian Party is born

Declaring that the separation between church and state has brought ruin to America, a California college teacher recently started the American Christian Party (ACP).

"With God's help," says Jolly F. Griggs, "the American Christian Party will fulfill the political mission of God's people, the church." The ACP is organ-ized in 17 states, and has central committees set up in seven California counties. Membership in the new party costs $17.76, or "any amount the Lord leads you to."

The ACP's platform is based upon the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, and the Bible. Griggs is a faculty member of Ventura College, in Ventura, California. One of the aims of his group to abolish the separation between church and state. Griggs thinks his political group should have tax exemption as well as political influence.

Focus on Mel White

About 100 people attended a mid-July prayer vigil in support of gay rights in front of the sprawling Focus on the Family compound in Colorado Springs. Mel White, a gay Dallas-based pastor, prayed and fasted for a week in front of the mega-ministry's headquarters.

White, a former ghost writer for evangelical luminaries, said his sit-in was to "protest the lies and distortions" about gay people perpetrated by Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family played an important role in the top-secret anti-gay conference attended by 35 national groups in May.

Focus vice president Paul Hetrick said, "Our position on the issue of homosexuality is clear...and is not going to change simply because Rev. White decides to fast. We feel our position is based on the Judeo-Christian ethic that has been here for 5,000 years."

Road to Victory IV

This year's Road to Victory political training conference promises to be the biggest and scariest yet. Road to Victory is the Christian Coalition's annual conference of delegates from almost 1,000 chapters across the United States. The September 16th and 17th conference at the Washington Hilton will feature Pat Robertson, presidential aspirants Dan Quayle and Bill Bennett, Beverly LaHaye, Phyllis Schlafly, Senator Jesse Helms, D. James Kennedy, and a host of others.

Workshops and seminar topics include Christian voter education, health-care reform, organizing a precinct, outcome-based education, coalitions with Catholics, and influencing legislation. Promotional literature states: "The 1994 elections are upon us. Learn how you can turn out the largest pro-family vote in history. Experience a weekend that will change the face of America." As in the past three years, the Institute for First Amendment Studies will provide first-hand coverage of the conference. Stay tuned.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.