Christian Coalition Uses Stealth, Churches (June/July 1995)

The Christian Coalition believes that a godless society is not a civil society. They believe that “America no longer sees its founding faith with clarity. The rewriting of history and the blurring of past events through modern-day liberalism has eroded the link between our historical roots and our present-day political atmosphere. One link at a time, little by little, the lessons of the past are being forgotten. One link at a time, little by little, [people of faith] must rebuild the faith and integrity of the foundation of government that once upheld the morality and spirituality of our political system.”

It is widely held within the group that “unless something is done to reverse this trend, the new century will present even greater threats to people of all faiths. Unless Christians and their allies begin to act on their convictions, increased infringements will be imminent.”

The CC was created in 1989. Its five-fold mission is to:

  1. Represent the “pro-family” point of view before local councils, state legislatures, and Congress;
  2. Speak out in the public arena and in the media;
  3. Train leaders for effective social and political action;
  4. Inform “pro-family” voters about timely issues and legislation; and
  5. Protest “antiChristian” bigotry and defend the rights of people of faith.

Each state has its own corporate entity. The Coalition has 49 state affiliates, excluding Utah, where Christians refuse to work with Mormons in a coalition effort. The CC does, however, encourage members to avoid theological issues, as it is not a religious organization, but “a religious people focused on a secular task.”

The Coalition has established a grassroots organization where the national office provides the philosophy and tactics and the local chapters do the legwork. The national office supplies handbooks and manuals that describe in great detail how to set up chapters, conduct telephone surveys, register people to vote who sympathize with the CC, create a “Civic Concerns Ministry” within churches, get elected to local party positions, distribute voter guides, publish newsletters, and so on.

The neighborhood organization deals with the political precinct, what the CC calls “the bedrock of our political system.” The Neighborhood Coordinator is responsible for voter education, voter registration, voter identification, lobbying, and get-out-the-vote efforts in the neighborhood. By telephone or door-to-door canvassing, neighborhood volunteers determine “pro-family” voters, using a CC Voter Identification Script. The Script is to be followed strictly, questioning people about their views on tax increases, sex education and abortion while never divulging the name of the group behind the survey.

Church Liaisons work closely with Neighborhood Coordinators and serve as the links between the CC chapter and places of worship. Liaisons are encouraged to start a Civic Concerns Ministry in their church “to keep members of the church informed on issues that will affect them and their families.” The Liaison is asked to tell the pastor that the Ministry “is perfectly legal under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It will not endorse political candidates or parties, nor will it engage in direct lobbying.” In fact, the CC claims never to print anything that cannot be placed in a church.

Church liaisons were responsible for the controversial distribution of voter guides in churches before the 1994 elections. The CC hopes to triple the number of voter guides distributed to voters before the next national election.

Though high profile politicians like Newt Gingrich and Pat Robertson are directly involved in the CC, the organization’s real power lies at the grassroots level. Winning gubernatorial, state assembly, mayoral, aldermanic, judicial, and school board elections are key to the group’s success. And they do win. For example, the CC takes complete responsibility for the election of David Beasley as governor of South Carolina. Before the CC became involved in his campaign, he held an estimated 2% of the vote. The CC endorsed Beasley, who won more than 60% of the vote at election time. D.J. Gribbin, National Field Director of the CC, asserts, “David Beasley didn’t win because he was a wonderful candidate, but because the Christian Coalition was behind him.”

Unlike other grassroots organizations, however, the CC has unique advantages. The Coalition uses the bible, the inspiration of millions of Christians across the country, as the basis for political action. It’s the same old story; passages of the bible are interpreted to advance the agenda of the interpreters. CC leaders go so far as to say that you are not only a bad citizen if you don’t vote, but you are a bad Christian in the eyes of God. Who do you vote for? You vote for the person that the CC favors in the voter guide, handed to you on your way out of church on the Sunday before the Tuesday election.

The other advantage of the CC is purely logistic. Every conservative city, town, or country church is a potential branch office of the CC, and every parishioner is a potential vote. It’s almost as if the physical structure of this organization is firmly established, and the “branch offices” are just waiting for instructions. These stealth tactics, in conjunction with the successful introduction of a religious agenda in the political arena, have enabled the Christian Coalition to become a threatening factor in the American political landscape.–Amy Cox

Freedom From Religion Foundation