Christian Coalition

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Christian Coalition of America
Founded 1989, by Pat Robertson

The Christian Coalition is an American political interest group that focuses on promoting and strengthening Christianity and family values in American politics and culture. The organization was founded after its founder Rev. Pat Robertson's failed Republican Presidential nomination during the 1988 elections.[1] Originally named the Christian Coalition, Inc., it was renamed to Christian Coalition of America after a legal battle with the Internal Revenue Service. As a "grass roots" organization it has distributed information to citizens and lobbied for issues that concern Christians. It had tremendous success from its founding to the late 1990s. It is considered an organization that reflects the views of the Christian Right.[2]

History

Founding

The Founding of the Christian Coalition can be traced back to the 1988 Republican presidential primaries. During the primaries Rev. Pat Robertson had failed to gain the nomination from the Republican party. After his defeat Robertson still had a large following of Christians and funds from his campaign. Robertson created the Christian Coalition, Inc a conservative Christian organization with an ambitious agenda. The organization was to bring issues concerning "people of faith"[3] to legislators. Pat Robertson would become its first president and he selected Ralph Reed to be its executive director.

Ralph E. Reed as Executive Director (1989-1997)

Under the leadership of Ralph Reed the Christian Coalition was able to reach the height of its power. His charisma and persuasion attracted membership from the Christian right, thus increasing membership. The Coalition exerted its influence over southern politics and local politics, where there was a large concentration of its membership. The Christian Coalition was able to influence both legislation and the election of candidates with similar Christian ideals. The Christian Coalition claimed to have helped the Republicans gain a majority on both the House and the Senate for the 104th United States Congress.

In 1996 the Coalition began its decline and would eventually lose much of the influence and membership it had gained. The Chief Financial Officer Judy Leibert accused Reed of allowing his friend and golfing buddy access to the direct mailing list. This resulted in Leibert receiving a severance package to drop the charges, it included $80,000 yearly salary, and $25,000 to cover the legal expenses. This also resulted in the resignation of Reed in April of 1997.The coalition was also accused of violating campaign finance laws for the congressional and presidential elections, this resulted in their loss of their tax except status.

The Decline of the Christian Coalition (1997-)

Current objectives and activities

Their Mission

  1. Represent the pro-family point of view before local councils, school boards, state legislatures and[4]
  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
  5. Protest anti-Christian bigotry and defend the rights of people of faith

2009 Christian Coalition Legislative Agenda for the 111th congress

The group has stated its objectives as:[5]

  1. Preventing Passage of the Freedom of Choice Act [6]The "Freedom of Choice Act" affects federal laws that concerning abortion. This act will loosen abortion laws an issue that a family valued based organization such as the Christian Coalition would strongly oppose.
  2. Oppose Liberal Judicial Nominees The Coalition strongly believes that the Constitution is to be interpreted as the Founding Fathers intended it to be. Introduction of Liberal judges will leave their ideological footprint on the constitution.
  3. Protect the Defense of Marriage ActThis act prevents same sex couples to be recognized at a federal level as married. The elimination of this act will also force states to recognize same sex marriage performed in states in which it is already legal. The Christian Coalition strongly believes in traditional Marriage between a male and female.
  4. Oppose any Re-introduction of the Fairness Doctrine The "Fairness Doctrine" will force all television and radio stations to have equal liberal and conservative programming. This can have a profound effect on radio and television stations that consider themselves conservative. This Doctrine can ultimately make conservatives lose an outlet in the media.
  5. Oppose Expansion of human embryonic stem cell researchThe Christian Coalition believes that Human Embryonic Stem Cell research is immoral, and that sufficient advancements in its research have already been made. The coalition strongly believes that continuing research or much worse expanding research is immoral and unnecessary
  6. Energy Independence and Reform Due to the rise in prices in energy, an issue that has severally affected the economy, the coalition calls for energy independence. By encouraging new technologies that can be produced nationally will eliminate the dependence on foreign energy. The coalition believes that like any good investment portfolio the country has to invest in several different forms of energy production.
  7. Defend the 2001 Tax Cuts The Christian Coalition supported the 2001 Tax Cuts introduced by President George W. Bush. The Tax Cuts will expire in 2010 unless they are renewed. The coalition strongly believes that during these hard economic times these cuts are necessary to help the economy.
  8. Oppose Nationalization of Health Care The coalition believes that the nationalizing health care will only create another bureaucracy within the nation.
  9. Protecting Religious Programming The Christian Coalition would like to make politicians aware of religious program during a time when broadcasting standards are being revised. This is an effort to prevent the loss of Christian programs and channels.
  10. Prevent Discrimination on the Internet by Passing Net Neutrality With the saturation of internet the industry that provides these services will soon divide services by "fast track" and "slow track". Internet web pages that will not be able to pay a fee will be considered "slow track" pages. In a rapid transforming technological world this would put certain pages in a competitive disadvantage.
  11. Ending religious discrimination against Christians in the militaryThe Christian Coalition will help protect the rights of Christians within the military and prevent discrimination.

The Christian Coalition currently has a campaign for each of its objectives. As an organization it makes petitions, facilitates communication with representatives, disseminates information by petitions or emails, and lobbies in an effort to further its goals.

Organizational structure

Its national president is Roberta Combs.

The Christian Coalition is a grassroots organization with local chapters across the U.S., which deal with local as well as national issues.

The coalition has a pastor’s council in which spiritual leaders can band together and defend their religious views. This allows for the coalition to have influence on those who seek guidance from these religious leaders. The Coalition also has Church liaisons that registers voters and disseminates public information at local churches.

Public perception and controversies

The public perception of the Christian Coalition is that the interest group is representative of the Christian right. At times it has been accused of being intolerant to homosexuals because of their stance against same-sex marriage.

The coalition had a long fought battle with the Internal Revenue Service concerning it being granted a 501(c)(4) status, which does not permit tax-deductible contributions but exempts the organization from taxes and allows certain political activity. This ended in 2005 with the organization being granted the status. In 1996 the Federal Elections Commission accused the coalition of violating campaign finance laws during the 1992, 1994, 1996 Congressional elections and the 1992 Presidential elections. As a result the coalition lost its tax-exempt status, but regained it in 2005 with a settlement agreement.

References