Stung by defeats during the 2012 election cycle, Religious Right groups are gearing up for a renewed thrust in 2014.
The American Renewal Project plans to target 12 states prior to the 2014 election, reported David Brody, chief political correspondent for TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
Brody said that the group “will be organizing pastor policy briefings and voter registration drives across this country in 12 key states during the 2014 election cycle. It’s their latest attempt to restore America to its Judeo-Christian heritage.”
The states targeted are: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Nevada, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. Several of those states will have Senate races in 2014.
A series of “Pastors and Pews” events are scheduled this year and next. Brody reported that the first one will take place in Des Moines in May and will involve more than 400 pastors. Invited speakers include several possible Republican presidential contenders, among them U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul as well as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Additional speakers include U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts and “Christian nation” propagandist David Barton of WallBuilders.
The American Renewal Project was founded by David Lane, whom Brody described as “an influential evangelical Christian who operates below the radar with no desire to be recognized for his efforts.” It is run under the sponsorship of the American Family Association, a large Religious Right group based in Tupelo, Miss.
Brody added, “Lane believes it’s time to remove politicians from office who have led America down this immoral and unsustainable broken path.”
Despite his alleged interest in keeping a low profile, Lane spoke with Brody.
Said Lane, “If the key to maintaining sustainable freedom is righteousness – the same virtue that produced freedom – what is the greatest threat to freedom? Unrighteousness. America has left God.”
Lane also granted an interview to The Washington Post recently, during which he warned the Republican Party not to step away from its opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples.
If the GOP starts to favor marriage equality, Lane said, “it will lead quickly to the collapse of the Republican Party.”
“The debate is good,” Lane said. “We need to decide whether we are a Christian nation or a pagan nation and get on with it. The glory of a nation lies in its righteousness.”
Brody also quoted former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Lane’s church-based politicking.
“We’re in a fight over the very nature of America,” said Gingrich. “David has had a remarkable impact. I think his role is to mobilize pastors and get them to understand their legal rights and get them to understand that as citizens they have a significant role to play with their congregation.” (Gingrich has remained popular with some fundamentalist Christian leaders despite his three marriages and a history of adultery.)
Lane has been involved in Religious Right politics for over 20 years, working behind the scenes with an array of movement leaders including the late TV preacher Jerry Falwell Sr.