Faith and Freedom Coalition

Beck, Barton, Six Degrees, and Seven Mountains

When I received email alerts yesterday from Wallbuilders, Renewing American Leadership, and the Faith and Freedom Coalition announcing that their respective leaders - David Barton, Jim Garlow, and Ralph Reed - were all going to appear on Glenn Beck last night, I knew something remarkable was going on.

As it turned out, these men with also joined by several other Religious Right leaders, including NOM's Robert George and John Hagee (John Hagee!?):

The discussion went pretty much as you would expect it would when a bunch of Religious Right leaders who are convinced that America was, is, and ought to always be a Christian nation team up with a far-right conspiracy nut ... so it is not really worth covering.

Instead, I want to use this to further explore something I mentioned last week in my "The Religious Right and Six Degrees of Dominionism" post: though not every person who shares a stage with a controversial figure can be said to share that figure's views, those who either invite such figures to participate in their events or else themselves agree to appear at events hosted by such figures are offering, on some level, their validation of such views. 

In the case of last night's Beck program, it would be unfair to say that Robert George shares the radical views of John Hagee just because they shared the stage; but it is fair to say that Beck does, at least in part, or else he would never have invited Hagee on to participate in this panel.  By the same token, by appearing on Beck's program, George is signaling that he is entirely comfortable using that venue as an outlet through which he is eager to share his own views with an audience who shares Beck's views.

Which brings me to my main point: two of the men featured on Beck's program last night also appeared at Convergence 09:

Perhaps you recall our posts about Convergence 2010, where Janet Porter prayed for control over the media and Cindy Jacobs discussed her personal interactions with Jesus and conducted faith healings and Harry Jackson was declared to be a "modern day Martin Luther King" and Jim Garlow explained how he brought in Lou Engle to lead spiritual warriors in fasting and prayer to pass Proposition 8.

Well, Convergence 09 also featured Jacobs, Jackson, and Garlow plus several other prophetic intercessors like Dutch Sheets, Chuck Pierce, and Seven Mountains leader Lance Wallnau ... as well as David Barton.

According to the schedule, Barton spoke for three hours, but unfortunately I have not been able to find any video of his speech ... but he clearly was there:

And I did manage to track down this email announcement from Generals International announcing the conference - note especially the militant language and central role that spiritual warfare was to play in the event:

Mike and I would like to invite you to gather together with us and intercessors from across the world to raise up a prayer army to both awaken and reform this nation.

One does not have to be prophetic to realize that we are at one of the most serious junctures of history our nation has ever known. Some are even suggesting that the United States as it stands is in the balance. Critical times require us as intercessors and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to rally for troop training. We need a new generation of Generals to arise and war for the soul of our nation!

With this in mind, we know that we cannot pray the way we have in the past season. We need new prayers for a new day. Every army has to come aside for training and equipping. They need to learn how to work with spiritual intelligence and use their weapons of warfare.

We have often said that if we want to see what we have never seen, we have to do what we have never done. This also means that if we want to see this nation not lose her destiny, then we are going to have to fight to ensure that we become the city set on a hill our forebearers fought for!

With this passion in our hearts, we are calling you to come and prepare for battle in what we are calling Convergence ‘09: Raise Up An Army! We have brought together one of the finest teams of equippers we could find to help us mobilize to change the nation, including David Barton, Dutch Sheets, Lance Wallnau, Chuck Pierce, Harry Jackson, Jim Garlow, Cheryl Sacks, Jim Hennesy, Klaus Kuehn, Mike Jacobs and Cindy Jacobs.

Again, I have been uable to find any of the video from the conference, but I did find these "action shots" of Jacobs performing some sort of faith healing on stage:

Now, I will admit that I have been following Barton's work closely for quite some time now and have never heard him talk about Dominionism or the Seven Mountains Mandate.  But I also had no idea that he associated with Dominionists like Jacobs and company either. 

Barton is currently traveling the East Coast with Jim Garlow on their Next Great Awakening Tour and Garlow clearly has deep ties to Jacobs and Engle and Seven Mountains theology.

As I have said, there is a danger in playing "six degrees" with some of these connections ... but it is also completely fair to point out these connections, especially since they seem to be playing a bigger and bigger role within the "mainstream" of the Religious Right as a movement.

The Return of James Robison?

It was just yesterday that I wrote a post about Mike Huckabee's ties to James Robison, a now rather obscure figure who, back in the 1980s, was a powerful Religious Right leader. 

In that post, I noted that Robison was still active and had recently had Jim Garlow on his program. Shortly after that post went up, some glitch on Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition website caused an old post to show up in my RSS reader and lo and behold it was video from last year of Reed appearing on Robison's show to pitch the need for his new organization on the grounds that "democracy doesn't really work at all unless there's a citizenry animated by a moral code that derives from their faith in God."

For his part, Robison stated his conviction that the Constitution was written so as to be in "harmony with Biblical truth" and Judeo-Christian ethic, while warning that the country was "racing toward Marxism" and complaining that "the most discriminated against people on the planet are Christians today."

The clip below is the second part of the interview - you can see Part I here:

I realize that I can't declare that James Robison is attempting making a return to prominence among the Religious Right based on three pretty random appearances by him on this blog in the last week ... but it is still kind of odd that I'm mentioning him for the third time in one week after having written about him only one time in the last four years. 

Reed's "Christian Coalition 2.0" Launches Annual Convention

It was just one year ago that Ralph Reed announced the formation of his Faith and Freedom Coalition, a more hip, more strident "21st Century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids, married with MoveOn.org, with a sprinkling of the NRA."

And slowly Reed has been working to build it into a brand new right-wing powerhouse, teaming up with leaders like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann and Richard Land and Rick Santorum while setting up affiliates in several states in order to train "Tea Partiers, home schoolers and other conservatives to give them the tools they need to identify, educate and turn out conservative voters in their area."

When Reed decided not to run for Congress earlier this year, he explained that it was because he believes that "electing 50 to 100 men and women of character and conservative beliefs to Congress and statewide office over the next two election cycles is a more efficacious way to advance the conservative agenda than seeking public office myself in 2010."

It is becoming increasingly clear that Reed is intent on recovering whatever influence and prestige he may have lost due to this close ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff [PDF] by turning his Faith and Freedom Coalition into a right-wing powerhouse and recapturing his glory days with the Christian Coalition ...and that is why the FFC will be hosting its very own right-wing conference in Washington DC this fall: 

Your Faith & Freedom Coalition is growing by leaps and bounds. We now have more than 300,000 members within 50 states. We have state affiliates up and running in 20 states despite the fact that we have been in operation for only six months. And, just this last week we helped elect conservatives in New Jersey and California who are going to stand up to the liberal agenda. Conservatives across the country recognize that only a grassroots organization like FFC can harness the anti-Obama sentiment boiling in our country and channel it to stop this dangerous administration.

I’d like to invite you today to our first ever Citizen Action Leadership Summit being held in Washington, DC September 9-11 at the famed Mayflower Hotel. We’ll be bringing together activists, donors and famous conservative speakers for three days of training, networking and strategy sessions. We’ve invited a who’s who of special guest speakers, which includes:

Sarah Palin

Newt Gingrich

Karl Rove

Jeb Bush

And many others.

Please visit our website today to make reservations for this historic conservative gathering.

Interestingly, this Citizen Action Leadership Summit is being just one week before the Values Voter Summit, the annual gathering of social conservatives hosted by FRC, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, American Values and others. 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The Illinois Family Institute "needs to raise $80,000 to survive the summer."
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann received the 2010 Conservative Leadership Award from the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
  • An interesting look at the ties between Jay Sekulow, Deacon Keith Fournier, Rob and Paul Schenck, and the American Center for Law and Justice.
  • Maggie Gallagher is not happy with the way the Prop 8 trial appears to be going.
  • Janne Myrdal, State Director for CWA of North Dakota, is honored to be "one of those prayer warriors who provide [Sarah Palin's] prayer shield."
  • Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition is busy training "Tea Partiers, home schoolers and other conservatives to give them the tools they need to turn out the identify, educate and turn out conservative voters in their area."
  • Sadly, Pat Robertson is refusing to make a comment on the large statue of Jesus that was struck by lightening and destroyed. 

Ralph Reed Back in the Right's Good Graces

I think it is safe to assume that Ralph Reed's underhanded work exploiting his Religious Right allies for the benefit of Jack Abramoff's clients' gambling interests has been completely forgiven by various leaders of the very movement he sought to exploit.  

In recent weeks, Reed has used his Faith and Freedom Coalition to host meetings that included the likes of Richard Land and Rep. Marsha Blackburn and rub shoulders with Rep. Michele Bachmann, as he travels the country presenting his plans to gain control of House, Senate, and state legislatures though his new, more strident "Christian Coalition on steroids".

And this effort appears to be chugging along, as he was just in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Missouri where he picked up the support of Phyllis Schlafly, Rick Santorum, and Sen. Jim Talent: 

Be Very Afraid

No good can possibly come of this:

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Ralph Reed

Give Ralph Reed $500,000 And He'll Take Control of Iowa

A few weeks back when Ralph Reed announced that he was not going to be running for Congress, he explained that the decision was rooted in his desire to build up his Faith and Freedom Coalition so that he could "put 50 to 100 people like me in the U.S. Senate, Congress and state houses."

As we noted at the time, one of Reed's main focuses was on the state of Iowa, which he promised he could re-take for conservatives if he could raise a half-million dollars.

OneIowa has now posted footage of Reed laying out his plans while speaking at the Iowa Christian Alliance's recent fundraiser:

The Resurrection of Ralph Reed

Religion Dispatches' Sarah Posner has a really good article on Ralph Reed and his miraculous resurrection through his Faith and Freedom Coalition which contains a lot of useful information, a lot of which I was totally unaware of, like the fact that Tim Phillips, which whom Reed c0-founded Century Strategies after leaving the Christian Coalition, is now the president of Tea Party activist firm Americans for Prosperity and that Reed's new organization is apparently cannibalizing his previous organization to create his new organization:

Reed’s FFC is essentially a retread of the Christian Coalition which, under Reed’s leadership, was investigated by Congress, the Federal Election Commission, and ultimately (after Reed’s departure) had its tax-exempt status denied over its engagement in electoral politicking. But Reed, who has managed to survive the Christian Coalition meltdown, his two-timing of evangelicals through his business association with Abramoff, and his 2006 loss in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Georgia, is sifting the remnants of the Christian Coalition infrastructure to build FFC.

O'Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, and a Christian Coalition of Florida board member, said that the board voted last year to “come under the umbrella of” the FFC. For an organization that was low on funds, said Dozier, it was “a great opportunity that we felt we couldn’t pass up.”

Now Dozier also serves on the FFC board, and says that the affiliation brings “more fundraising capabilities. With Faith and Freedom and with Ralph being known as he is, we can get more conservatives involved and coming to functions that we have in order to raise funds,” both locally and nationally. “It costs a lot of money to print voter guides,” he chuckled.

Also rather amazing is the fact that nobody in the movement is particularly concerned about Reed's Jack Abramoff-related double-dealings:

Yet Reed continues to elicit effusive praise from fellow evangelicals. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody claims FFC “is indeed poised to be a major player in the 2010 and 2012 elections.” About Reed’s association with Abramoff, [Iowa Christian Alliance president Steve] Scheffler told RD, “if you look at the whole explanation it was a nonissue, it was the press that made something out of nothing that was there.” He added that Iowa activists were “excited” that Reed was the master of ceremonies for the Iowa Christian Alliance’s fundraiser this week, at which Rick Santorum was the keynote speaker.

Cindy Costa, the Republican National Committeewoman for South Carolina and former Christian Coalition activist, told RD that Reed is a “fine gentleman” and “helpful to the conservative movement.” After an FFC organizing event in Tennessee last week, Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the FFC “one of the most important forces for sound public policy in America in the coming years.” And GOP operative Chip Saltsman, forced to pull out of the race for Republican National Committee chair last year after he distributed a “Barack the Magic Negro” CD, added that FFC “has already been effective in identifying and turning out conservative voters and we’re pleased to bring it to Tennessee.”

But rest assured that even though Reed might be seeking to tie his current activism to the Tea Party movement, he isn't abandoning his Religious Right foundation:

Reed went on to claim that not running the country on a Judeo-Christian moral code is actually contrary to democracy. “So really, when you really get right down to it, James,” he said, “democracy doesn’t really work at all unless there is a citizenry animated by a moral code that derives from their faith in God. That’s what makes the whole thing work because otherwise, the government has to tell everybody what to do.”

I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Ralph Reed: I Could Have Been a Contender

It is too bad that Ralph Reed decided not to run for Congress because, given his views, style, ego, and past, it would have made for a never-ending steam of blog posts.

As it is, we'll have to settle for writing posts about his decison not to run, which he discussed yesterday with Denny Schaffer with WGKA (920AM) and explained that his focus at the moment is on building his Faith and Freedom Coalition which he claims is adding one new state affiliate per week and one thousand new members a day and is "growing faster than the Christian Coalition was growing in the 90s." 

Reed stated that, come November, when people conservative victories rolling across this nation like a wave, they'll know he made the right decision to focus on the Faith and Freedom Coalition, pointing to the massive impact the group claims to have had in both Virginia and New Jersey, claiming to have reached more than one million voters through "largest and most ambitious conservative get-out-the-vote effort in the modern history of either state," resulting in an eight-point increase in turnout among born-again Christians and a seven-point increase among conservative voters.

But still, Reed is sure that had he run and won, he would "have been an impact player in Congress":

"I realized that I couldn’t do both. I had to decide. I was either going to help put 50 to 100 people like me in the U.S. Senate, Congress and state houses, or I was going to spend the next eight or nine months focusing solely on me. I ultimately decided the country was more important than me having a congressional seat.”

...

"It would be pretty exciting if I could be part of a freshman class that was back in the majority in the House. Had I done that, and had I won, I think I could have been an impact player in Congress.” 

Ralph Reed Will Not Run for Congress

It looks like Ralph Reed has decided not to run for Congress in order to focus on growing the influence of this Faith and Freedom Coalition:

Dear Friend:

I wanted you to be among the first to know of my decision regarding running for Congress in the Seventh District of Georgia. The following statement will be released to the public shortly but I wanted you to have it first:

"After much thought and prayer, I have decided not to be a candidate for Congress in Georgia's Seventh district in 2010. I believe I can best advance conservative principles by continuing to serve as CEO of Century Strategies, LLC, and founding chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Century's voter contact subsidiary and grassroots team will be involved in a number of races in 2010. FFC is growing rapidly, with over 150,000 members and supporters already, currently adding one new state chapter a week and 1,000 new members a day.

In 2010 and 2012, FFC will register an estimated one million new faith-based voters and make tens of millions of voter contacts in what may be the largest conservative get-out-the-vote effort in modern political history. These nationwide efforts offer a much better prospect for changing the direction of the country than winning a Congressional race myself. In the end, I concluded I cannot run for Congress and carry out the plans I have for Century Strategies and Faith and Freedom Coalition at the same time. I had to make a choice. I believe electing 50 to 100 men and women of character and conservative beliefs to Congress and statewide office over the next two election cycles is a more efficacious way to advance the conservative agenda than seeking public office myself in 2010.

Should that door open in the future, perhaps I will arrive at a different decision, but I know this is the right decision at this time for me and the Reed family. Jo Anne and I have been deeply moved and encouraged by the expressions of support we have received from so many. We are proud to call Georgia our home and we look forward to continuing to be involved in the civic life of our state and the nation. God bless you as we work together for an historic victory in 2010."

Actually, it seemed pretty clear that Reed was going to pass on running for office after he showed up in Iowa yesterday and vowed that, with a half-million dollars, his Faith and Freedom Coalition would help conservatives completely take over the state:

Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition and a veteran Republican strategist, told a Des Moines crowd Tuesday night that he was helping establish an Iowa-based Christian political organization, and if he could raise $500,000, Hawkeye State politics would be changed for the better.

With that money, Reed said his organization — the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition — can promise results like the nation saw in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as the U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts. Reed said the national version of his organization was highly involved in those campaigns, each of which saw Republican victories on Election Night.

“We need to raise about a half a million dollars to execute that program,” he said. “The program that I just described to you that made history in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, if you want to see it happen in Iowa we need to raise a half a million dollars.”

Reed, who was speaking at an Iowa Christian Alliance event, then instructed staff to pass buckets around for people to donate money, promising that any funds raised Tuesday night will be matched by his national organization.

“Tonight, when you give, we’re not a PAC and we’re not a candidate,” he said. “Therefore, there is no limit to what you give here tonight.”

...

“We’re not going to leave the express advocacy during an election to the radical left, MoveOn.org and labor unions anymore,” he said. “We’re going to do it, and we’re going to get people who share our values elected to office, from governor all the way down to the statehouse and school boards all across the state of Iowa.”

The Unsinkable Ralph Reed

While Ralph Reed may be contemplating running for Congress in his home state of Georgia, his work with the Faith and Freedom Coalition continues to move forward around the country. 

Yesterday, he was in Tennessee plotting strategy with the likes of Richard Land and Rep. Marsha Blackburn:

FFC Chairman Ralph Reed held an organizational meeting with key grassroots visionaries, pastors, and former and current elected officials in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 1st to launch the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Tennessee. Everyone left the meeting energized about the great promise and potential of the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Tennessee

“I believe that the Faith and Freedom Coalition is going to be one of the most important forces for sound public policy in America in the coming years,” said Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I’m excited that the Faith and Freedom Coalition has come to Tennessee. It will help concerned Tennesseans to give voice to their convictions in the public policy arena.”

“In its short existence, The Faith and Freedom Coalition has already been effective in identifying and turning out conservative voters and we’re pleased to bring it to Tennessee,” said Chip Saltsman, former Chairman of the Republican Party of Tennessee. “With the help of our grassroots team here, Faith and Freedom will be a force in Tennessee conservative politics for a long time to come.”

Apparently Reed's deep ties to Jack Abramoff's corruption hasn't undermined his political standing in any way among conservative activists and members of Congress.  Amazing.

It's especially amazing that Land would join with Reed in this effort, considering that Land believes that "gambling is a violation of two, possibly three of the 10 commandments," while Reed took tens of thousands of dollars to dupe his former Religious Right allies into supporting efforts that would benefit Abramoff's clients' gambling interests.

Rep. Ralph Reed?

When I saw reports last week that Rep. John Linder had announced his retirement that listed Ralph Reed as among those who might be potentially considering running to fill his seat, I dismissed them as fundamentally absurd.  

And, of course, every time I do that, I turn out to be wrong, as David Brody reports:

Sources close to Ralph Reed tell The Brody File that the former Executive Director of the Christian Coalition is “seriously” considering running for Congress in Georgia. According to one well-placed source, Reed has talked to key grassroots leaders and local elected officials in Gwinnett county and other parts of the district, but has not made a decision yet.

18 year veteran Congressman Rep. John Linder announced over the weekend that he's retiring. This seat is in a big time Republican district in the Atlanta suburbs. Reed would be positioned well.

It'll be interesting to see what Reed does. His grassroots Faith and Freedom Coalition is taking off but it's kind of hard to pass up this opportunity considering openings like this don't happen often.

Back in 2006, Reed lost his bid to win the GOP primary for Lieutenant Governor thanks to his deep ties to Jack Abramoff's corruption [PDF]. But apparently, he's convinced himself that voters have either forgotten about that or forgiven him for it ... at least enough "seriously" consider making another run for public office.

Meet The Oath Keepers

Justine Sharrock has a long article on The Oath Keepers in the latest issue of Mother Jones that notes the organization's ties to Tea Party and 9/12 activists and, by extension, figures like Ralph Reed, groups like the Eagle Forum, and members of Congress: 

Founded last April by Yale-educated lawyer and ex-Ron Paul aide Stewart Rhodes, the group has established itself as a hub in the sprawling anti-Obama movement that includes Tea Partiers, Birthers, and 912ers. Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, and Pat Buchanan have all sung its praises, and in December, a grassroots summit it helped organize drew such prominent guests as representatives Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, both Georgia Republicans.

There are scores of patriot groups, but what makes Oath Keepers unique is that its core membership consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. At regular ceremonies in every state, members reaffirm their official oaths of service, pledging to protect the Constitution—but then they go a step further, vowing to disobey "unconstitutional" orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government.

...

It was while volunteering for Ron Paul's doomed presidential bid that Rhodes decided to abandon electoral politics in favor of grassroots organizing. As an undergrad, he had been fascinated by the notion that if German soldiers and police had refused to follow orders, Hitler could have been stopped. Then, in early 2008, SWAT received a letter from a retired colonel declaring that "the Constitution and our Bill of Rights are gravely endangered" and that service members, veterans, and police "is where they will be saved, if they are to be saved at all!"

Rhodes responded with a breathless column starring a despotic president, "Hitlery" Clinton, in her "Chairman Mao signature pantsuit." Would readers, he asked, obey orders from this "dominatrix-in-chief" to hold militia members as enemy combatants, disarm citizens, and shoot all resisters? If "a police state comes to America, it will ultimately be by your hands," he warned. You had better "resolve to not let it happen on your watch." He set up an Oath Keepers blog, asking soldiers and veterans to post testimonials. Word spread. Military officers offered assistance. A Marine Corps veteran invited Rhodes to speak at a local Tea Party event. Paul campaigners provided strategic advice. And by the time Rhodes arrived in Lexington to speak at a rally staged by a pro-militia group, a movement was afoot.

...

Rhodes has become a darling of right-wing pundits. In a column last October, Pat Buchanan predicted that "Brother Rhodes is headed for cable stardom." Glenn Beck has cited the group as a "phenomenal" example of the "patriot revival movement," while Lou Dobbs declared that its platform "should give solace and comfort to the left in this country." Conspiracy-radio king Alex Jones even put an Oath Keepers segment, including footage of the Lexington speech, on his hit DVD Fall of the Republic. "I can't stress enough how much your organization is scaring the globalists," he told Rhodes on his show.

...

On the conference's final day, National 912 Project chairman Patrick Jenkins stepped up to talk about the National Liberty Unity Summits his group was organizing in cooperation with Oath Keepers. They would provide a chance, he said, for patriots to forge a common agenda and a plan to carry it out. At the first summit, in December, attendees included representatives of groups from FairTax Nation to the Constitution Party to Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. On hand were Ralph Reed Jr. (former director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and recent founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition), Larry Pratt (head of Gun Owners of America), and Tim Cox (founder of Get Out of Our House, an organization praised on Fox News for its goal of replacing business-as-usual incumbents with "ordinary folks"). Most notable were representatives Broun and Gingrey, who according to summit organizer Nighta Davis have expressed willingness to introduce legislation crafted by summit attendees. (So, Davis says, have Steve King [R-Iowa] and Michele Bachmann [R-Minn.]. None of the representatives agreed to comment for this story.)

As they say, read the whole thing.

Ralph Reed's Religious Right Tea Party Will Be The "Christian Coalition on Steroids"

I've made no secret of the fact that I am amazed to see Ralph Reed continue to be hailed as some sort of political guru despite the fact that his own political aspirations came utterly unglued due to his close ties to Jack Abramoff and his related record of exploiting the very group he claimed to represent.

Case in point: his recent appearance on "The Brody File", the new half-hour TV program from CBN's David Brody, where Reed explains that GOP losses in 2008 convinced him of the need for a "21st Century version of the Christian Coalition on steroids, married with MoveOn.org, with a sprinkling of the NRA" and led him to create his Faith and Freedom Coalition. 

He goes on to report that the recent Citizens United decision will allow them to play an even more direct role in upcoming elections, and that the organization has 100,000 members and activists and 15 state chapters and predicts that it "will be a major force for good" and become a "permanent fixture on the American political landscape."

Reed's mission is to harness grassroots energy by merging the fiscal conservative agenda with the social conservative agenda ... which is pretty much the mission of every other Religious Right group already in existence. Please, try and name one socially conservative group that does not also support the standard fiscal conservative agenda.

Reed's real focus seems to be on merging Christian conservatives and Tea Party activists, as he reports that he has several Tea Party organizers who are also active in his Faith and Freedom Coalition, that he is personal friends with several national Tea Party leaders, and that he has personally participated in several high-profile Tea Party events. 

Reed says that a significant number of Tea Party activists are also social conservatives and that what the entire movement is really concerned about is "moral issues":

Ralph Reed's Slow, Sad Decline

Once upon a time, Ralph Reed was known as "The Right Hand of God," a man whose political genius was unmatched and whose power and influence was unquestioned. 

Then he left the Christian Coalition to strike out on his own, only to see his former organization collapse and his own political aspirations go up in smoke thanks to his deep ties to corruption [PDF].

But he's still around and active in right-wing politics via his Faith and Freedom Coalition, from where he continues to dispense pathetically cliched political analysis such as this about Sarah Palin ... or, as he calls her, "The Palinator":

This may be Palin’s unique strength. She understands the fiscal and values agendas of conservatism are reinforcing, not mutually exclusive. A nation that relies on God and family for its strength does not seek to expand the federal government to meet every need. Fiscal responsibility and small government are not merely economic principles, they speak to the moral character of a people that believes government has an important but limited function. In this sense, Palin is a fusionist who weaves the various strands of conservatism into a coherent whole.

This is why Palin can act as a bridge between Tea Party activists and the Republican Party and have credibility with both. For now the media is fascinated with whether she will run in 2012. They hope she does, if only because it will make for the most interesting political story since the Obama-Hillary rumble in the 2008 Democratic primaries. That decision is probably a year away. Meanwhile, the MSM is missing the bigger story, at least in the short-term: Palin, who they tried to drive out of respectable political discourse, is re-energizing the grassroots of a Republican Party that they dismissed as dead. Their attacks against her—and the values she symbolizes—not only backfired, they are now working in her and the GOP’s favor.

What ultimately drives the media crazy is they know instinctively they are co-conspirators in her rise. From the Katie Couric interview to the over-the-top attacks by the likes of Shrum, by overplaying their hand they made Palin a bigger force than they ever intended. Had they simply been fair to Palin when she ran for vice president and treated her with decency, she would not be viewed now by so many grassroots conservatives as a victim of irrational elitist hatred. As much as John McCain in selecting her as his running mate in 2008, the MSM made her a force, and she is proving she can use that platform very effectively indeed.

Apparently, providing expert conservative analysis now consists primarily of regurgitating nonsensical right-wing fantasies about how Sarah Palin "is a fusionist who weaves the various strands of conservatism into a coherent whole" who symbolizes everything great about America and will rise of to save this nation.

Amazing.

Things The Religious Right Opposes

It never fails to amaze me the types of state-level legislation that local chapters of Religious Right organizations will mobilize to defeat - things like a $10 tax on marriage licenses to fund domestic violence shelters

A bill that would have made a $10 donation to domestic violence shelters automatic when people apply for a marriage license failed in a House committee vote Monday, after the measure was opposed by the Utah Eagle Forum.

...

Utah Eagle Forum Vice President Dalane England called Johnson's proposal "an undue burden on marriage."

But that is nothing compared to this report on the fact that Religious Right groups are mobilizing in Georgia to fight a bill that seeks to offer young sex trafficking victims therapy instead of prosecuting them as prostitutes: 

A state lawmaker and hundreds of child advocates are calling for young girls to be treated as victims and not criminalized as prostitutes.

Sen. Renee Unterman is proposing a bill that would set the minimum age at 16 for prosecuting sex-for-hire ... Unterman says the bill does not decriminalize prostitution but aims to make people aware that young children are not responsible for sexual acts and need rehabilitation and therapy, not jail time.

...

But conservative and Christian groups banned together to oppose the bill. They say it would lead to more prostitution.

"All we would do is be inviting into our state pedophiles and panderers looking for children," says former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer, now president of Eagle Forum of Georgia.

She says correction can also turn a child around and that discipline should not be removed when it comes to children engaging in illegal activity.

For the record, it's not just the Eagle Forum which thinks that the state should be prosecuting 10 year-old sex trade victims because failure to do so would be akin to decriminalization and a boon to pedophiles - so do the Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Georgia Baptist Convention.

The Alice-in-Wonderland Universe of Ralph Reed

Am I the only one who finds it absolutely amazing that Ralph Reed, a man who saw his own political candidacy was ruined by his deep ties [PDF] to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff and who is still so radioactive that John McCain could not be seen with him, is somehow still dispensing political advice on television, at tea parties, and in campaigns with his new Faith and Freedom Coalition?

I mean, a right-wing activist who can't even get himself elected thanks to his own ties to corrupt lobbyists probably shouldn't be telling Democrats how to respond to Scott Brown's victory ... but he is anyway

When millions of average Americans poured into the streets to protest Obama’s out-of-control spending at “tea parties” beginning last April, the White House and its liberal allies denounced these protesters as “astroturf,” “tea-baggers,” “evil,” and even compared them to Nazis. House Majoirty Leader and FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey organized opposition to Obama’s policies, so White House allies pressured his DC law/lobbying firm to dump him. I saw Dick at a rally opposing Democratic health care reform the weekend it happened, and he joked: “They made a big mistake. Now I can spend all my time fighting them.”

With each defeat and setback, the Obama political team and the Democrats engaged in spin, finger-pointing, leaks to an adoring press corps, all the while ignoring the warning signs. As late as yesterday, while the Democratic establishment hung black crepe and mourned the impending loss of “the Kennedy seat,” a Democratic official was telling Politico with a straight face that Organizing for America—Obama’s campaign political operation now housed at the DNC—“is a winner” in Massachusetts, “that’s clear, win or lose.” Win or lose? Only in Alice-in-Wonderland universe in which the Obama political team lives is someone who suffers an historic defeat proclaimed a winner. So I suppose Obama should have gotten a gold medal for flying all the way to Copenhagen on bended knee before the IOC, even if Chicago did lose the Olympics.

Is the Obama team still in denial? One wonders. Does Obama have the capacity to listen to the voters, call an audible, and adjust his policies and trim his ambitions? I doubt it. Obama has always struck me as a committed liberal, a true believer, and he will try to salvage health care and get whatever extreme policies he can passed before the 2010 elections. If other Democrats watch their careers go up in smoke and suffer the loss of their offices as a result, so be it. We shall see ... But after last night, Obama is not looking like a political savior anymore. In fact, he looks like the kiss of death. Massachusetts was opening volley of the 2010 elections, and Democrats are bracing for more defeats of historic proportions.

Only in Alice-in-Wonderland universe can a man whose own ties to rampant corruption have utterly destroyed his own political aspirations still make a living dispensing political advice to others.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Not surprisingly, right-wing groups are not happy with Sen. Ben Nelson or the Senate's health care bill.
  • On a related note, Mike Huckabee headlined a hastily organized anti-health care reform rally in Nebraska where he compared Sen. Nelson to Judas.
  • Ralph Reed has big plans for his Faith and Freedom Coalition as he launches its Georgia chapter.
  • Dick Cheney has been named Human Events' "Conservative of the Year." What an honor.
  • On a similar note, I can't wait to find out who will win Peter LaBarbera's "Gay Grinch of the Year Award."
  • Finally, anti-choice groups are outraged that activist Lila Rose was supposedly "attacked" by a Planned Parenthood, though said "attack" seems to have consisted of having anti-choice literature knocked out of her hand.

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The National Organization For Marriage declares war after the DC Council passes marriage equality legislation while Bishop Harry Jackson says they have an "airtight legal case" for getting the issue put to a vote.
  • The Tulsa Word remembers Oral Roberts, who passed away today at the age of 91.
  • Janet Porter is trying to get a movie made about herself.  Seriously.
  • Mat Staver says that the custody fight between Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller is nothing more than an effort to claim a "political trophy [for] the homosexual agenda."
  • Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition announces that it is launching a "campaign to defeat [the] health care bill in U.S. Senate."
  • Finally, the Christian Defense Coalition held a "pray-in" at Senator Robert Casey's office this afternoon to let him know that he "cannot make the claim that [he is] pro-life" if he votes for cloture on the healthcare reform legislation.

Ralph Reed Is Back In Business

Yesterday we noted that Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition has been extremely active in mobilizing conservative voters ahead of Virginia's election and had even gotten Sarah Palin to record a robocall on its behalf.

Today, via the Brody File, we find out that Reed has also gotten Mike Huckabee to do the same:

We told you yesterday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recorded a phone message encouraging Virginians to get out and vote on Tuesday.

Now, we have learned that a conservative group affiliated with former Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed asked both Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to make calls to nearly 700,000 voters in Virginia.

The Huckabee calls were made Saturday and the Palin calls were made Sunday and today.

You can hear the Huckabee calls here:

Hello, this is Mike Huckabee and I'm calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote for the candidates who reflect your values. Virginia, and America, are at a crossroads. The future of our nation is at stake, and on the issue of taxes and spending, the sanctity of life, and marriage, there are very clear choices.  Be an informed and educated voter and be sure and vote your values this Tuesday.  Thank You. Paid for by the Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition.

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Faith and Freedom Coalition Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 11/07/2012, 1:20pm
The Religious Right took a drubbing at the polls yesterday as voters rejected not only Mitt Romney but also some of the most extreme Republican candidates, even those in races that should have been easy Republican victories. Like other conservatives, many Religious Right activists predicted a big victory for Romney and Republicans in the U.S. Senate based on five myths they hold about the electorate: Myth #1: Americans want a ‘True Conservative’ The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody called the results a “nightmare for the GOP” and a “colossal... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 11/05/2012, 6:48pm
Trudy Ring @ The Advocate: Signorile Apologizes for Suicide Comment to Romney Voter. Alex Seitz-Wald @ Salon: Bachmann stands by Muslim witch hunt. Evan McMorris-Santoro @ TPM: Linda McMahon Doorhanger: Vote For Obama … And Me. Zeke Miller @ BuzzFeed: Ryan Warns Evangelicals: Obama Threatens “Judeo-Christian Values.” Amanda Marcotte @ RH Reality Check: Charmaine Yoest Tries to Give the War on Women a Pleasant Face. Towleroad: 'Boston Globe' Knocks Down Anti-Gay Lie. Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk To Action: What Jewish Voters Should Know... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 10/26/2012, 5:41pm
Sahil Kapur @TPM: Conservative Scholars Bullish That A Romney Supreme Court Could Reverse Longstanding Liberal Jurisprudence. Zeke Miller @ BuzzFeed: Romney Surrogate: Colin Powell Endorsed Obama Because He's Black. Michelangelo Signorile @ Huffington Post: Romney: 'Some Gays Are Actually Having Children. It's Not Right on Paper. It's Not Right in Fact.' Jeremy Hooper: NOM responds to 'worthy of death' pastor; jumps on the 'mischaracterized' bandwagon. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: Ralph Reed, lost in translation. MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 10/25/2012, 11:37am
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold a town hall teleconference with Ralph Reed, the disgraced former head of the Christian Coalition who is making a political comeback with a conservative voter turnout project called the Faith and Freedom Coalition. That group is sending voters flyers warning that reelecting Obama would allow the president to “complete America’s destruction.” They also compare Obama’s policies to the threat posed to America by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. For all Paul Ryan’s talk about values, it’s worth... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 10/02/2012, 5:35pm
Paul @ PFAW Blog: Scott Brown Names Scalia as his Favorite Justice. Amanda Terkel @ Huffington Post: Susan B. Anthony List Launches Super PAC With $500,000 Ad Buy In Swing States. Andy Kroll @ Mother Jones: Ralph Reed's Group: An Obama Victory Means "He Can Complete America's Destruction." Eric Kleefeld @ TPM: Democrat Targets West’s Military Career In Brutal TV Ad. Timothy Johnson @ Media Matters: NRA's "Massive Obama Conspiracy": This Is Sparta! Edition. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 09/27/2012, 5:34pm
Adele Stan @ AlterNet: 3 Big Lies in Religious-Right 'Voter Guide' Hitting 13 Million Cell Phones. Simon Maloy @ Media Matters: Jennifer Rubin: Obama's Terrorism Record Worse Than Bush's (9-11 Doesn't Count). Jeremy Hooper: Conservs (like Matt Barber) trying to pass off Obama '08 rally as a Romney '12 event. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: A topic Akin should try to avoid. Rosie Gray @ BuzzFeed: Catholic League Responds To Controversial Artwork With Obama Bobblehead And Fake Feces. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 09/25/2012, 5:35pm
Miranda @ PFAW Blog: Romney Says Teachers’ Unions Shouldn’t Be Able to Contribute to Campaigns, But Corporations OK. Jeremy Hooper @ NOM Exposed: Rep. Bachmann using NOM’s mailing lists for re-election campaign. Towleroad: Newark Archbishop Tells Pro-Gay Catholics They Should Refrain from Taking Communion, Urges Voters to Defend Marriage. Andrew J. Bacevich @ Salon: Is Jerry Boykin the new McCarthy? Rosie Gray @ BuzzFeed: Scott Brown Supporters Mock Elizabeth Warren With Native American Stereotypes. Annie-Rose Strasser @... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Monday 08/27/2012, 1:51pm
[Right Wing Watch’s Peter Montgomery is covering the RNC for Alternet with Adele M. Stan] It was to have been the day before the commencement of the Republican National Convention, but the hand of divine providence swept in, batting a storm called Isaac toward the site where the G.O.P. is to gather, delaying the convening for at least a day. But that didn't stop leaders of the Republican right wing from hosting no fewer than four events meant to rally the faithful to turn out the vote for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose name was barely mentioned from any of the four podiums.... MORE >