IFAS | Freedom Writer | August 1996 | update.html

Religious Right update

Churches and politics

Colorado Springs, Colorado Focus on the Family has published a useful and reliable guide concerning the dos and don'ts of partisan political activities for churches. The guide was written by John Eldrege, director of social research at Focus on the Family.

In the information sheet entitled "Political and Legislative Guidelines for Churches and Pastors," Eldrege describes these limitations and how they apply:

To receive a free copy of the complete guide, call Focus on the Family at 1-800-232-6459 and ask for the "Political and Legislative Guidelines for Pastors and Churches." When they ask, tell them you read about the guide in Freedom Writer.

Politically active Christians

Washington, DC Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) recently sent out a fundraising letter promoting the Coalition of Politically Active Christians (COPAC), a political action committee.

"You elected me and 72 other freshman House members in November of '94," Stockman wrote. "Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan warned us during his speech at the 1992 Republican Convention of the impending 'Culture War.' Well, it's here in full force, with Bill Clinton heading the liberal, homosexual, pro-death agenda! We must urge the Republican Party to stand fast."

Stockman urged recipients of the letter to help keep the right-wingers in the Republican Party. He wrote that Christians are the only group not having a political action committee representing their interests. "There is no better organization in a better position than COPAC to stand behind the 73 freshman House members..."

COPAC was started in 1986 by Charles R. Phillips, an early Christian Right organizer. He built a "Judeo-Christian voter databank" encompassing 150,000 Texas families to help elect conservative Christians to various state and local offices. Phillips works for conservative Christians as a political consultant. Most recently, he worked as a strategist and consultant for Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes.

Phillips wrote The Blue Book for Grassroots Politics (Oliver Nelson, 1990), in which he presents "proven, election-winning strategies for supporters of traditional values candidates." Many of the strategies of the Christian Coalition are found in the book, including that group's infiltration of the Republican Party.

"Third-party politics in America," Phillips writes, "is not truly in the interest of the Christian. If Christians would start a third party, demographic projections indicate that the voter bloc would never be large enough to win major elections.

"The Republican Party is not without problems. However, it is the logical choice for Christian participation in this decade...If we concentrate our efforts in the Republican Party, our effectiveness will be increased...This conservative-Christian coalition can and will dominate Republican Party politics for years to come."

Update your Rolodex

Dallas, Texas The following item appeared in Steve Blow's column in the Dallas Morning News on July 10, 1996.

"You know it's time to update your Rolodex when...

"I called antiabortion crusader Flip Benham last week and got a surprising recorded message. 'You have reached Sex for Men,' purred a sultry-voiced woman.

"'This is Kitty,' she moaned. 'I'm kind of [more moaning, a little groaning], tied up, at the moment. But please [MUCH MOANING, MUCH GROANING], oh, please, try your call back.'

"Isn't life funny? Operation Rescue's old 'infoline' number now belongs to a phone-sex service. It seems their old number happened to spell out 'SEX-4-MEN.'"

Freedom Writer called the number in the 214 area code and tried to talk to Kitty, but she was still "tied up."

Freedom from religion

Phoenix, Arizona The Rev. Richard Jackson sums up everything he knows about "religious freedom" in just seven words: "Religion and liberty can never exist together." Jackson, pastor of the North Phoenix Baptist Church, said that religion inevitably results in a list of d os and don'ts and is "the common thread that gets woven into a rope of bondage."

"Religion never has and never shall bring true freedom," he said. hen reduced to a religion, Jackson said, Christianity brings bondage just like every other religion.

At one point in history, Jackson said, the United States was "well on its way to following the disastrous footsteps of other nations which had distorted Christianity into a state church."

"That did not happen in no small part because there were some folks called Baptists who insisted upon and celebrated faith and freedom and demanded the same for others." Jackson said it can be argued that the U.S. Constitution is the "most significant document in human literature outside the Holy Scriptures itself."

He said he disagrees with those who say the First Amendment protects freedom of religion but not freedom from religion. "I believe that the First Amendment gives us both," he said.

"I believe that the First Amendment makes us free to be under the bondage of religion if we so choose," he added, "and I will stand for that freedom. But, on the other hand, I believe that the First Amendment makes me free from religion. (Source: Cooperative Baptist Fellowship News, Spring 1996)

Quote of the month

Washington, DC The Rev. Jerry Falwell was one of the keynote speakers at the April 29, 1996 Washington for Jesus Rally. He reportedly received thunderous applause when he announced to the crowd, "Our children must be told that America is a Christian nation." (Source: Charisma, July 1996)

Prophecy program pulled

Pasadena, California The Worldwide Church of God (WCG) was founded in 1934 by the late Herbert W. Armstrong. Armstrong, who liked to mingle with world leaders, died in 1986. For years, evangelicals considered the WCG a false cult because of its unorthodox teachings presented through its Plain Truth magazine and "The World Tomorrow" television program.

Today the church is headed by Joseph Tkach, Jr., who has come "face-to-face with historical misrepresentations" and false teachings. For instance, "The World Tomorrow," like Pat Robertson still does on his "700 Club" program on The Family Channel, purported to interpret current events through Bible prophecy. This year, in an unprecedented move, the WCG has discontinued "The World Tomorrow" because of inaccuracies.

Unitarians confront radical right

Indianapolis, Indiana Unitarian Universalists are urging their members to confront the Radical Religious Right at every opportunity. At their annual General Assembly conference here in July, delegates voted to support a resolution calling for its members to use everything from voting to aligning themselves with interfaith coalitions in order to target groups that "subvert the open democratic process."

The resolution urged member congregations "to educate themselves about the full agenda of organizations seeking a radically right wing reshaping of American society," noting that "various organizations in the United States combine a fundamentalist theology with a radically right wing political ideology," and "have allied themselves in recent years to undertake a campaign aimed at gaining control of our public schools, political parties, and government structures."

It also asked members to work "individually and in coalition with other groups to make every effort to identify, expose and challenge radical right groups and the tactics they employ."

Earlier this year, the Institute for First Amendment Studies mailed an educational packet to 1,040 Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships. The packet contained the video "Onward Christian Soldiers," the Freedom Writer, and a user's guide prepared by the Rev. Meg Riley. The project was funded by the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program.

LaHaye associate convicted of sex abuse

Lansdale, Pennsylvania The Rev. Steve Aiken, president of YouthQuest, was convicted in June of corrupting the morals of two teen-age girls who accused him of sexual molestation while he was counseling them. Rev. Aiken will be sentenced in about a month.

YouthQuest "is a full service teen mission...which not only attempts to meet the spiritual needs of teenagers, but works hard to meet their physical and emotional needs as well." According to YouthQuest literature, its counseling services are directed at drugs and alcohol, suicide prevention, crisis pregnancy help, and peer pressure alternatives.

In 1994, Beverly LaHaye gave the keynote address at the first annual YouthQuest fundraising banquet. LaHaye, who heads the 600,000 member conservative Christian women's political group, Concerned Women for America, is one of the YouthQuest's honorary board members. Aiken credits her for helping the group get started.

Aiken is appealing his conviction. Meanwhile, the minister, a former police officer, will continue part-time body guard work for right wing political candidates, such as Oliver North.

Stealth and deception

Washington, DC A July 8, 1996 Associated Press story titled "Critics question Christian group's nonprofit status," reported on Florida Christian Coalition director Dr. Max Karrer's workshop at the 1993 "Road to Victory" conference, a story first published in the April 1994 Freedom Writer. In the workshop, Karrer explained the Christian Coalition's political tactics.

"As an example of how this works," he said, "we had a legislative race where we had a female Jewish lawyer liberal, feminist endorsed by NOW, who had knocked out three years ago a pro-life Christian. We didn't know what we were doing they poured NARAL money in and managed to beat him by 200 votes. And it was all because we didn't know what we were doing.

"By this time she was the darling of the Democrats in the Florida legislature. They gave her all the choice committee assignments; they had bigger and better plans for her, and so on. And we had a fellow who was running for his first political office named Jim Fuller who jumped into the race.

"This time we had our Christian voter database. We had our church liaison committees. We had our voter guides going. And we could quietly we were not allowed to give them away, so we charged him five dollars but we printed labels for him of the Christian voters, which enabled him to put out directed mailings to the Christian voter, that he would not necessarily do to the general public.

"To make a long story short, he beat her 65% to 35% it was a landslide. And they didn't know what hit them, because you want to talk about stealth campaigns it was quietly done, and they didn't realize they were in trouble, until it was too late. This also convinced the state Republican Party that they better deal with the Christian Coalition, at least in Duvall County, because every candidate we got behind won in Duvall in the '92 elections. This was the method we used."

This, in addition to numerous other accounts, creates a cloud of suspicion over the alleged nonpartisan activities of the tax-exempt Christian Coalition.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.