February 2014 Church & State | People & Events

Leaders of the nation’s top Religious Right groups are joining forces with the goal of increasing their influence for the upcoming November elections.

The move comes in the wake of setbacks on some of the Religious Right’s signature issues like same-sex marriage and at a time when polls show large numbers of young people rejecting aspects of the fundamentalist agenda.

Politico reported in early January that the leaders of more than two dozen Religious Right groups met in a type of super-council at a hotel in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Ty­sons Corner, Va., to strategize. The formation of a new Religious Right super PAC was just one option discussed at the confab, but the general plan is basic: raise a lot of money.

This event was sponsored by the Council for National Policy, a secretive cabal of far-right groups that seeks to sculpt the Religious Right into a unified bloc. Although the event was not open to the media, Politico did some digging and reported that 25 organizations participated in the summit, among them Gary Bauer’s American Values,  Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Americans United for Life, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.

Representatives of various Tea Party groups and organizations affiliated with the Koch Brothers, millionaire businessmen who fund various far-right causes, were also on hand.

“There are enough people out there that are pro-life and pro-family that have the resources to fund political efforts on those issues, and for a variety of reasons they just haven’t stepped up and so we have to do a better job of getting them to step up,” Bauer told Politico.

Bauer added that the leaders of Religious Right groups now realize “that we’ve been behind the curve and that we need to do a better job of strategic fundraising and working together in order to get more traction on these issues.”

But Bauer and other Religious Right leaders may be headed for a showdown with the well-heeled business wing of the Republican Party. The business arm is pouring lots of money into the 2014 elections in the hopes of giving the GOP enough of a boost to take control of the U.S. Senate, and members of that faction have expressed interest in downplaying divisive social issues.

Members of the party’s business faction have vowed that this year they will outspend and outflank social conservatives with the aim of keeping unelectable candidates like Dela­ware’s Christine O’Donnell off state ballots.

Scott Reed of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce went so far recently as to say that there can be “no fools on our ticket,” this year, a comment that was interpreted as a slap at O’Donnell, Sharon Angle of Nevada and other Religious Right-backed candidates who lost Senate races.

Bauer, Ralph Reed and other Religious Right leaders insist that the business faction doesn’t truly represent the GOP’s base.

In a “Wall of Separation” blog post, AU Communications Director Rob Boston noted that while the GOP is clearly headed for a ballot-box showdown, it would be dangerous to assume that the Religious Right can’t triumph.

“These groups may be outspent by the business wing, but they have considerable influence and support among the rank-and-file party voters, which is no small thing,” Boston wrote. “After all, these are the people who usually turn out for primary elections.”