From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
REPORT BY TWO GROUPS CHALLENGES HONESTY,
04 May 1996 20:51:52
95325 REPORT BY TWO GROUPS CHALLENGES HONESTY,
CHRISTIANITY OF CHRISTIAN COALITION
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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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