IFAS | Freedom Writer | September 1996 | question.html

Is Jack Kemp a member of the Religious Right?

Former Congressman Jack Kemp, the Republican candidate for vice president, and his wife are self-professed born-again Christians. This fact, however, does not necessarily indicate radicalism.

The "Religious Right" is a movement, not an organization. Organizations come and go, but movements outlast organizations. This is why we must not let our guard down when organizations collapse, a mistake many made with the demise of the Moral Majority in the late 1980s. When the Christian Coalition ultimately fails, or when Focus on the Family folds, the movement will continue under other umbrellas. As a movement, the radical Religious Right does not have members, it has individuals who support, in varying degrees, the movement's goals.

When asked, "How can you be a Christian and be involved in politics?," Kemp responded, "How can you be a Christian and not be involved in politics?" Kemp believes that God is the author of the Constitution.

In the eyes of many, Kemp made his mark as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bush. In that position, he championed the cause of minorities, immigrants, and the poor. Kemp also encourages an exchange between Christians and Jews, and voiced his concern about the plight of Soviet Jews.

Kemp is strongly antiabortion. In 1983, he told the American Coalition for Traditional Values, "Abortion on demand is wrong. It is always wrong. It must be stopped."

In interviews, Kemp has indicated that he supports the Republican call for a constitutional amendment banning abortion. "My premise is that both the mother the woman and the child the unborn should have constitutional protections for life and freedom."

Kemp's position on gay rights is contradictory. "I believe in civil liberties for homosexuals," he said. "I guess I'd have to draw the line at letting them teach in schools." He added, "I think a school board should have the right to choose what type of example we have for our children in public schools."

In 1993, Kemp told the Christian Coalition that he favors taxpayer support [vouchers] for private religious schools. Kemp also supports a constitutional amendment allowing organized prayer in public schools. In 1985, while praising Congress for passing the Equal Access Act, he said, "We need to go beyond [the Equal Access Act]... under a future president there will be voluntary prayer in our schools in the United States of America."

Several organizations list Jack Kemp as a member or supporter. He is an active member in the secretive Council for National Policy. USA Today (8/9/96), in collaboration with the Institute for First Amendment Studies, reported on that group's closed-door meeting in San Diego on August 9-10, 1996. Kemp is an endorser of the Republican National Coalition for Life, an antiabortion group headed by Phyllis Schlafly, and is associated with the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institute.

Jack Kemp is a man shaped by his faith and a man who acts upon his beliefs. Like any candidate, Kemp must be assessed not by his religion, but by his stand on the issues.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.