Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addressed Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition this afternoon in Washington, D.C. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, issued the following statement:
Here’s what the country doesn’t need right now: another zealot aiming to mobilize right-wing pastors to become a force in electoral politics.
Yet that’s what the country is getting.
The Internal Revue Service indicated earlier this year that it has the proper mechanism in place to investigate houses of worship that break the law by engaging in partisan politicking. But recent comments by the tax agency’s top official indicate there’s still some confusion about this issue.
As the November elections approach, it seems a second-tier advocacy group run by a disgraced Religious Right icon is gearing up to make a major impact.
Politico reported this week that Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition (FFC) is planning an all-out blitz in states like Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Louisiana and North Carolina in the hope that Republicans and can take control of the U.S. Senate.
Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we’ll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right?
These are challenging times for the Religious Right. The movement seems to be rapidly losing ground on one of its signature issues, same-sex marriage, and polls show large numbers of young people recoiling from the theocratic agenda of ultra-conservative fundamentalists.
So these groups must be ready to pack up their tents and go home, right?
When the Religious Right started to become a prominent force in American politics in the late 1970s, its advocates had a major impact on the country’s largest Protestant denomination: the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Younger readers may be surprised to read that the SBC, which claims 16 million members, used to be fairly moderate on social issues. It strongly supported the separation of church and state, citing historical Baptist leaders like John Leland and Isaac Backus.
On Saturday, I received a letter from my old acquaintance Ralph Reed.
Reed, you might recall, ran TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition throughout the 1990s. After leaving the group, he started a political consulting firm that became mired in the Jack Abramoff casino lobbying scandal. He also tried unsuccessfully to launch a political career and even wrote some political potboilers.
None of these ventures gave Reed the payoff he wanted, so he came slinking back to the Religious Right. A few years ago, he formed a group called the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
The role of the Religious Right in the Republican Party and national political life is under a lot of scrutiny these days.
Everyone from Ralph Reed and Richard Land to Billy Graham and Tony Perkins did everything in their considerable power to steer the election to Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates, and they failed miserably. These folks even lost a string of referenda on issues such as taxpayer funding of religion, reproductive rights and marriage equality.
Like a lot of you, I got way too many political calls in the lead-up to the election. In fact, I stopped answering the phone.