From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 04 May 1996 20:51:52


                 by United Methodist News Service 
WASHINGTON--"No more misrepresentation" was one of the calls issued here 
Sept. 8 by the Interfaith Alliance, a group of mainstream Christian and 
Jewish leaders, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State. 
    The challenge was directed toward the Christian Coalition, a group 
founded by tele-evangelist Pat Robertson, who ran for the U.S. presidency 
in 1988. 
    As a parade of Republican party hopefuls addressed the Christian 
Coalition's annual "road to victory" gathering nearby, the Rev. Herbert D. 
Valentine, chair of the Interfaith Alliance board and a former moderator of 
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), spoke to media representatives. 
    "Victory for whom and at what cost?" he asked. 
    Valentine said the Alliance was formed in 1994 to speak out against 
Robertson and other leaders of the radical religious right, who "demonize" 
people presumptuous enough to criticize the Coalition's sectarian 
prescriptions for America's future. 
    "Our report illustrates that while Ralph Reed smiles for the cameras, 
 ... Pat Robertson continues to be the radical leader behind the scenes who 
controls what is going on," said Valentine in presenting "Warning: Hazards 
Ahead," a report on the political and policy agendas of the Christian 
    The Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, general secretary of the National Council 
of Churches (NCC) and a founding member of the Alliance, described the 
Interfaith Alliance as an organization that represents the broad middle. 
The NCC includes mostly mainstream denominations, including the United 
Methodist Church [and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)]. 
    "Religious voices of reason are going to begin to be heard in this 
land," she assured reporters from television, radio and print media in a 
small but crowded upper room at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, diagonally 
across the street from the hotel where the Christian Coalition gathered. 
    The Alliance will advocate a way of life that would allow all people to 
live in dignity and decency, free from poverty and discrimination, because 
Alliance members believe this is required of faithful people, Campbell 
    Campbell said the prophet Isaiah's description of God's hope for the 
human community does not include "children going hungry in an affluent 
country, young people without the guarantee of free quality education, old 
people discarded, religion imposed and not chosen." 
    However, she warned, many of the proposals before the current Congress, 
supported and promoted by the Christian Coalition, would have a 
particularly harsh effect on poor children, the elderly and families. 
    Campbell said a report by the Alliance and Americans United for 
Separation of Church and State illustrates that the Christian Coalition has 
had great influence on political candidates. 
    "There are far more religious Americans who profoundly disagree with 
Pat Robertson's vision for America than those who agree," Campbell assured 
candidates for public office. "We are finding our voice. We will work 
diligently to make those voices heard on election day." 
    The Rev. Wilfred Allen-Faiella, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church of 
Gulph Mills, recounted experiences with intolerant and anti-Semitic 
statements by radical Christians in her area. "Christianity is now more and 
more being used by some as a means to exclude others," she said, explaining 
that she finds this contrary to her understanding of God, who is "all 
    The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for 
Separation of Church and State, said the Christian Coalition's road to 
victory is "a dead end for American democracy." 
    Lynn, a lawyer and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, 
declared, "If Congress is reckless enough to enact the Christian 
Coalition's demands into law, Americans will have fewer freedoms, not more 
freedoms; families will be weakened, not strengthened; government will be 
more intrusive, not less intrusive." 
    He asserted that the 48-page report shows how the Christian Coalition 
is attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of Americans. 
    The Christian Coalition is the creation of and is still controlled by 
television preacher Pat Robertson, who "holds a laundry list of views that 
are outlandish and intolerant," Lynn declared.  Included in this list, Lynn 
said, is a statement by Robertson that Episcopalians and Methodists are 
representatives of the Antichrist in America. 
    "For the first time in American history, one major political party is 
in danger of selling its soul to a pressure group bent on writing a 
narrowly sectarian version of morality into law," he maintained, referring 
to the Republican Party. 
    Despite a record of divisiveness and demagoguery, Lynn continued, the 
Christian Coalition now apparently calls the shots for a major political 
party. "That is an extremely unhealthy state of affairs," he said. 
    Lynn continued that the gathering of the Christian Coalition across the 
street had very little to do with family values or Christianity, but 
instead was the first Republican presidential caucus for the 1996 election. 
    "Neither Senator [Robert] Dole nor Senator [Phil] Gramm apparently has 
the backbone to stand up to the raw political threat of the Christian 
Coalition," Lynn said. 
    Rather than wanting political candidates to heal divisions, he accused, 
the Christian Coalition seems to demand the dismantling of American 
institutions and the alienation of nonfundamentalist Christians and people 
of other faiths. 
    Lynn also pointed to a third major premise of the report: how the 
coalition uses its $25 million budget to enact its extremist legislative 
    "The Christian Coalition skirts the tax and election laws to achieve 
its goals," Lynn said, citing the report. He said the Coalition uses its 
money to endorse political candidates by issuing slanted voters' guides, to 
pressure candidates to buckle under to its demands and to launch smear 
campaigns against candidates who oppose it. 
    He urged "every responsible public figure to repudiate this dangerous 
organization before it does lasting damage to this country's legacy of 
religious freedom, its legacy of tolerance and its legacy of diversity." 
                              # # # 
NOTE: Quantities of the 48-page report are limited to the media at this 
time, but an executive summary is available free from the Interfaith 
Alliance, 1511 K St. NW, Suite 738, Washington, DC 20005. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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