A group of prominent Religious Right leaders has joined forces with the aim of removing President Barack Obama from the White House in 2012.
Members of various Religious Right organizations and far-right religious denominations and ministries met in Dallas in September to plot strategy. The event came to light thanks to a report published by Ethicsdaily.com, a website run by the Baptist Center for Ethics in Nashville – a moderate outfit not tied to the fundamentalist-dominated Southern Baptist Convention.
Brian Kaylor, an Ethicsdaily.com contributing editor, reported that “about 40 conservative Christian leaders” attended the Sept. 8-9 confab. The event, Kaylor wrote, was convened by James Robison, a Texas-based TV preacher who was prominent in conservative politics in the 1980s. (Robison has also served as a spiritual adviser to George W. Bush.)
Several officials of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) attended, among them Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
A number of mega-church pastors were also there, along with: Johnnie Moore, a vice president at Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University; Doug Napier, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund; Maggie Gallagher, a columnist and crusader against same-sex marriage; Jim Garlow, chairman of Newt Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership; Gene Mills, executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and Jay Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.
Attendees have remained mum about the meeting. Kaylor contacted a number of participants, but none would talk to him about the gathering. Earlier this year, however, Robison, who frequently attacks Obama on his blog, talked on the record about the September meeting and compared it to a successful effort to oust President Jimmy Carter three decades ago.
Many conservative Christian leaders voted for Carter, an evangelical Christian, in 1976. But they soon soured on him and by 1980 were looking for a new political leader. They lined up behind Ronald Reagan.
Thanks in part to their support, Reagan went on to win election in 1980, and the modern Religious Right learned what it could do when it flexed some political muscle.
Robison is hoping history repeats itself.
“I am presently more deeply concerned than I was during Carter’s administration,” Robison wrote on one blog post. “The circle of counsel around our current President is not just disappointing, it’s absolutely shocking.”
In an item posted after the meeting, Robison wrote, “We pray that the ship of state will make the necessary course adjustment to avoid the obvious and hidden dangers that can and will bring about catastrophic consequences if we do not turn in the right direction toward unshakeable truth and safe harbor. Every attendee expressed deep personal concern for the assault on faith, family and freedom.”
It is unclear exactly what these religious leaders – most of whom head tax-exempt ministries or churches – are going to do to defeat Obama. Americans United notes that if they plan to mobilize churches around a candidate to replace the president, serious tax issues would be raised.