Faith and Freedom Coalition

Reed and Palin Team Up in VA

Ralph Reed was in Virginia this past weekend with the state chapter of his Faith and Freedom Coalition mobilizing conseravtive voters heading into tomorrow's election:

Check out these cool pictures and video of Virginia Faith and Freedom chairman Steve Martin and VFFC president Jack Rohrer, accompanied by national Faith and Freedom chair Ralph Reed and dozens of volunteers participating in the Virginia Grassroots Blitz Team, this Saturday, October 31. Literally hundreds of members of the Faith and Freedom Grassroots Blitz Team poured into neighborhoods and precincts throughout Virginia, including in Prince William, Spotsylvania, Chesterfield, Hanover, and the city of Lynchburg.

Faith and Freedom volunteers passed out specialized Halloween door hangers telling voters “Don’t be tricked, Stand up for your values. Vote Tuesday, November 3rd.” These get-out-the-vote door hangers also featured a voter guide displaying the positions of the candidates for Governor on key issues. Some of the issues that this year’s voter guide highlighted were taxes, environmentally sensitive offshore oil drilling, spending, transportation, marriage, and the right to life.

On a related note, Sarah Palin is featured in a new robo-calls being funded by Reed's VA state affiliate, as Greg Sargent reports

A local affiliate of NBC has the audio of the call, which was paid for by a conservative group called the “Freedom Coalition.”

The script makes no mention of McDonnell:

“Virginia, hello, this is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote to share our principles. The eyes of America will be on Virginia and make no mistake about it, every vote counts. So don’t take anything for granted, vote your values on Tuesday, and urge your friends and family to vote, too.”

 

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Is Sarah Palin demanding $100,000 to speak to conservatives in Iowa?  Her spokesperson denies it.
  • Dirty tricks in the NY-23 election.
  • The Hill: Bonner & Associates "knew several days ahead of a critical House climate change vote that letters it sent to members claiming local nonprofit groups opposed the bill were fake."
  • Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition gets active in Virginia.
  • FRC goes after Gingrich: Newt’s Big Tent Seems to Attract A Lot of Clowns.
  • Finally, from the Buffalo News: "Political observers across New York are asking today whether Erie County Executive Chris Collins has irreparably damaged his prospects for statewide office after he compared Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Adolf Hitler and an Antichrist during a Saturday speech in Buffalo."

$25 Worth of Faxes Will End Obama's Presidency!

Ralph Reed is back with his Faith and Freedom Coalition and their first order of business, according to this recent email, is ending Barack Obama's presidency once and for all with a flurry of faxes, warning that if Obama is not stopped, he's going to personally deny you access to live-saving healthcare and turn this nation into a socialist nightmare.  So it is up to you and your $24.95 to "save freedom in America":

My name is Ralph Reed. I am the Chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition -- a new organization dedicated to lifting high the values that made America great. We are mobilizing millions of Americans to OPPOSE and DEFEAT President Obama's far-left agenda for America.

MISSION #1 right now: Defeat "Obamacare."

Over the next 3 days we are aiming to bury Congress with hundreds of thousands of FaxGrams of Protest against "Obamacare."

If we can do that, I believe we have a very real chance to shock Congress with the intensity of public opposition to having government take over your health care . . . and have "Obamacare" declared DOA -- Dead on Arrival.

If we succeed at this, President Obama's disastrous Presidency will be in real jeopardy -- as he will be an immediate "lame duck."

...

The point is we must apply massive and overwhelming public pressure on Congress to REJECT "Obamacare" -- no matter how they try to dress it up, repackage it, or rebrand it as something other than what it is -- Socialized Medicine.

You and I know that "Obamacare" really has nothing to do with fixing America's health care system.

It's all about government bureaucrats seizing control of your life in a scheme so frightening it could only have been dreamed up by the radical left.

What better way to seize control over your life than seizing control over the decision as to whether you or your loved ones receive life-saving medical treatment or not?

Do you think radicals like Van Jones and other far-left activists will burrow their way into the federal health care bureaucracy, rewarding their friends while people like you end up in the back of the line?

...

And that's why Faith & Freedom Coalition has launched this Emergency Campaign to bury Congress with hundreds of thousands of FaxGrams over the next 3 days.

Our goal: To shock Congress into abandoning "Obamacare" (which will also effectively end the Obama Presidency and save freedom in America).

...

We can deliver "FaxGrams" in your name to your Congressman and two U.S. Senators for $24.95 -- which also gives us a few extra-dollars to work with so we can reach many more Americans with FaxGram Authorization Requests like this one.

How Many Coalitions Does The Religious Right Need?

Over the last several months, we've been chronicling the seemingly endless emergence of new Religious Right groups and coalitions. 

In recent months we've witnessed the arrival of the American Principles Project and the Faith and Freedom Institute, which was followed by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, while Newt Gingrich was unveiling his Renewing American Leadership effort, and Lou Engle was announcing his Call to Action.  And then a bunch of Religious Right leaders came together under the banner of the Freedom Federation, but apparently the Freedom Federation wasn't enough because now there is something Conservative Action Project which has been sending out "memos for the [conservative] movement" on a regular basis [PDF]:

The Conservative Action Project, chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, is designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together on behalf of common goals. Participation is extended to leaders of groups representing all major elements of the conservative movement—economic, social and national security.

The Conservative Action Project doesn't seem to have a fixed membership, though the memos usually carry the names of people like Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer of American Values, among others.

To date, the coalition has issued memos demanding that heathcare legislation contain lawsuit reform and doesn't include coverage for abortion, one blasting President Obama for supposedly carrying out an "apology and appeasement tour," one decrying the "culture of corruption," and a new memo "requiring that legislation be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration by the House."

This new group seems to have some sort of link to the Center for National Policy, considering that the contact info listed on this memo uses the email address: @cfnpaction.org. The Council for National Policy's URL is cfnp.org, and it has an affiliated c4 known as CNP Action.

Ralph Reed Is Back In Business

Earlier this year, Ralph Reed announced the formation of his Christian Coalition, Version 2.0, known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Reed vowed that this iteration wouldn't be "your daddy's Christian Coalition," and that it would be "more brown, more black, more female, and younger" than the first version ... also, hipper and even more strident.

Since it's launch, it hasn't made much, if any, national news, but that is in keeping with Reed's style of political guerilla warfare and so it is no surprise that he's been hard at work building up a nationwide infrastructure.

Starting with the Faith and Freedom Rally efforts, Reed has been slowly picking up state affiliates and making inroads in states like Iowa:

FFC Chairman Ralph Reed was the guest speaker at the 9th Annual Friends of the Family Banquet hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition/Iowa Christian Alliance. ICCF is one of Faith and Freedoms newest state affiliates formed in August when the existing Iowa Christian Alliance Board voted to affiliate with the national Faith and Freedom Coalition. Other speakers who addressed the over 750 attendees included, Steve Scheffler, IFFC President, Representative Steve King, Senator Chuck Grassley, and David Barton of Wallbuilders.

Reed and the FFC are also setting up shop in Florida, where they plan on opening chapters in every country in order to play a key role in the Republican Gubernatorial primary:

Florida is the largest of a half-dozen states where the Faith and Freedom Coalition now has chapters, which some have dubbed a 2.0 version of the Christian Coalition, intended to draw younger, Internet-savvy social conservatives.

“Our goal within Florida is to open a chapter in every county and mobilize social conservatives,” said Jack St. Martin, chief operating officer of Reed’s coalition. “We plan to make a difference in many elections in Florida.”

The organization plans to be involved in state legislative races along with statewide campaigns in Florida next year, including the competitive U.S. Senate Republican primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio, St. Martin said.

Along with grassroots organizing, the Faith and Freedom Coalition is forming a federal political action committee to pour cash into campaigns across the nation, including Florida.

Bill Stephens, executive director of the state’s Christian Coalition, is joining the Florida affiliate as its leader.

“We think there are a lot of social conservatives who have stayed at home in Florida the past two election cycles because they didn’t like what they heard or saw from the candidates,” Stephens said. “We hope to change that next year.”

The new organization was created last weekend at the Florida Christian Coalition’s 20th anniversary “God and Country” celebration in Orlando. Speaking at the event was Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who condemned President Obama’s health care initiative as “something like what the Nazis’ did.”

Right Wing Leftovers

  • The LA Times takes a look at the "personhood" efforts, which is now coming to Missouri as well.
  • Al Mohler declares that "liberal theology is taking God's name in vain."
  • Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition is now setting up state-based affiliates, with its first one getting off the ground in Florida.
  • Why is it that the more right-wing someone is, the more they seem to love Mike Huckabee?
  • Finally, the Pacific Justice Institute has filed suit against a school district over it anti-bullying efforts, claiming it is really a effort to indoctrinate school children into the gay lifestyle.

Hannity, Voight, and North Join Reed For Faith and Freedom Rally

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

More than 1,000 people gathered in Gwinnett County Saturday to wear red, white and blue and listen to Fox News commentator Sean Hannity and conservative organizer Ralph Reed.

The crowd waved flags, prayed and sang “I’m proud to be an American.”

Reed spoke about his new grassroots Faith and Freedom Coalition, which he launched this summer to organize conservatives to get out the vote in 2010. He encouraged the crowd to each call 25 friends to create local chapters.

It’s something of a comeback for Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, who has kept a low profile on the political scene after losing a bid in the 2006 primary to be Georgia’s Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

But Reed worked the crowd into a cheering frenzy when he explained that while he’s not perfect, God called him anyway.

“God doesn’t call perfect people,” Reed said, to a huge, “Amen!” from the crowd. “He calls humble and contrite people.”

Reed spoke against President Barack Obama’s health care plan, the economic stimulus package and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all three of which elicited strong boos from the crowd.

“We are going to stop the Obama agenda dead in its tracks,” Reed said.

Many in the crowd, including Reed, planned to attend Hannity’s sold-out Freedom Concert at the Arena at Gwinnett Center afterward. The concert series raises money for children whose parents died in military service.

The meeting at the Atlanta Marriott Gwinnett Place was a combination political rally, old-time revival and celebrity entertainment.

In addition to Hannity and Reed, speakers included Lt. Col. Oliver North, actor Jon Voight and six Republican candidates for governor.

Videos clips of the event via YouTube:

Sean Hannity

Jon Voight

Oliver North

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Tomorrow the Florida Republican Party will hold its Drive The Discussion event featuring Bruce Jenner, Carrie Prejean, and Jonathan Krohn. Can't you just feel the excitement?
  • AP: A federal judge upheld part of a South Dakota law that requires women to be told abortion ends a human life, but struck down disclosures that the procedure increases the likelihood of suicide and that they have an existing relationship with the fetus.
  • Gary Bauer: Republicans have been handed a great opportunity to appeal to the Vocal Majority of Americans upset over the Democrats’ fixation on government-run health care. Now they must embrace it.
  • The Susan B. Anthony List says that last night it "engaged over 160,000 pro-life Americans in a national teleconference called 'Keeping the Faith with the Unborn' aimed at encouraging citizens "to take action by calling and sending letters to Congress to make their voice heard in the debate over health care reform."
  • Ralph Reed fills in for Dan Gilgoff by simply reposting a post from his own Faith and Freedom Coalition blog.
  • I find it ironic that Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel says that "People are frustrated — they don't want to be lied to" regarding healthcare reform considering that he and his organization are spreading "pants-on-fire" lies regarding healthcare reform.
  • Finally, starting Monday, we are going to make some minor changes to the way we produce content for this blog by starting to post shorter items linking to things of interest as we find them in an effort to generate more content to supplement our current output.  We think it is be an improvement, and hopefully you will too.

Back From Vacation Leftovers

I just got back after a week off which means a) I have no idea what is going on and b) I have (literally) thousands of blog posts, news articles, and right-wing websites to go through in order to catch up. As such, I figured I'd just throw up a quick post highlighting some of the bits of information I'm coming across in this process in order to get back in the swing of things:

  • Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, has been hospitalized for meningitis.
  • Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition seems to be getting off to a fast start, with Reed headlining events in Iowa, Virginia, and Florida.
  • Tom DeLay will be a contestant on the new season of "Dancing With The Stars."
  • The White House has reportedly pulled the plug on its flag@whitehouse.gov email address that was being used to try and debunk "fishy" information about healthcare reform thanks to right-wing caterwauling.
  • The Des Moines Register reports that the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority has suspended a bus driver after she refused to drive a bus with an Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers ad on its side because it went against her Christian faith.
  • Operation Rescue says it has "received written confirmation from the Nebraska Attorney General's office that a request for a comprehensive investigation into late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart's abortion business."
  • LifeNews reported on the passing of conservative columnist Robert Novak with an article carrying this odd headline: "Pro-Life Syndicated Columnist Bob Novak Dies, Enjoyed Writing Against Abortion."
  • Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge has a book coming out in which he claims that he was "pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."
  • Finally, Rep. Michele Bachmann tells WorldNetDaily that she "will not seek a higher office if God is not calling me to do it" ... but says that if God tells her to run for President, then she will.

Ralph Reed: TEA Party Activist

Ralph Reed has made it clear over the last several weeks that his new organization, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is "not your daddy's Christian Coalition" by which he means that this new effort will be young, hipper, more tech-savvy, and also more strident.

He's also made clear that much of its focus will be on economic issues, while still maintaining the traditional Religious Right positions on social issues.

And to kick things off on the economic front, Reed spoke at a TEA Party rally last week in Georgia:

"Barack Obama rushed through a stimulus package - $787 billion," [Reed] said, "almost 85 percent of which is pork and waste and bureaucracy."

He said the president's explanation of why "we had to have it right then ... was that if we didn't have it, unemployment would go over 8 percent."

But the jobless rate now is "heading toward 10 percent," Reed said.

He said Obama vowed that the plan would create 4 million jobs. Instead, Reed added, 2.6 million have been lost.

"He was only off by 6.6 million," Reed said.

Drawing cheers for himself and jeers for Obama, Reed also lambasted the president's budget, energy policy and health care proposals.

Reed praised the Tea Party movement, which drew nearly 1,500 people to a similar event at the plaza on April 15, the federal income tax filing deadline.

"These tea parties ... across the country are scaring the White House to death," he said. "... We are putting on our work boots and we're going to take our country back to the principles on which it was founded."

From a quick look at the photos from the rally accompanying the article, it doesn't look like Reed's audience was particularly young, hip, or tech-savvy ... but hey, he's got to start somewhere.

And presumably things will pick-up later this month when Sean Hannity joins Reed for his organization's "Freedom Rally":

Ralph Reed's Key To Success: Be More Strident

Just yesterday I wrote a post explaining that, thanks to the recent announcement that he was heading a new Religious Right organization known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed appeared to be "succeeding in resurrecting his reputation and re-establishing himself as a bona fide leader of the Religious Right."

And, despite the fact that this new effort currently consists entirely of Reed, one adviser, one actual employee, and a bare-bones website, I think it is safe to say that the "Ralph Reed Redemption Tour" is officially underway now that he is getting long profiles written up by the Associated Press:

Ralph Reed was once a powerful force in Republican politics, able to marshal millions of religious conservatives to the polls while leading the Christian Coalition.

Then his political career took a tumble in 2006 when he was clobbered by a lesser-known opponent in the Republican primary for Georgia lieutenant governor, leading some to conclude Reed's days as an influential GOP figure were over.

But Reed is searching for a dose of redemption. He's launched a new venture that supporters hope will bolster a Republican Party struggling to find its footing after the 2008 election and a recent string of embarrassing scandals.

"I don't view it as a comeback," Reed said in a recent interview. "I view it as something I've always done — trying to be part of the solution and trying to build at the grass roots (level)."

The startup, known as the Faith and Freedom Coalition, is little more than a Web site, but Reed hopes to turn it into a strident new force that uses social media to capture a broader, younger and more diverse audience.

Perhaps most telling, the man who helped cement religious conservatives into a solid GOP voting bloc said he won't focus his group on social issues, but rather the economic crisis.

"This is not the Christian Coalition redux," Reed said. "It's a much broader attempt. Our primary focus is jobs, the economy, taxes, creating economic opportunity. That's the number one issue in the country right now."

Other than a lukewarm statement from Roberta Combs, current president of the Christian Coalition, saying "there is always room for more people who want to start organizations," the article doesn't really contain any particularly new or revealing information, with the exception of this key quote:

Reed said his organization is looking to be more inclusive by reaching out to Jews, Hispanics, blacks and any other group receptive to a fiscal conservative message.

"It's going to look different from the vehicles we have now. It's going to be younger, it's going to be more strident," he said. "It's going to be principled but less ideologically reflexive. And it's going to have a broader issues agenda."

How exciting. A “broader” and "more strident" version of the Christian Coalition? I can't wait to see how that turns out.

The Religious Right's Last Hope: Hipness

Despite the fact that it has only been a few weeks since Ralph Reed announced the formation of his new Faith and Freedom Coalition and that the effort appears to consist entirely of a bare-bones website, he is getting lots of attention and is seemingly succeeding in resurrecting his reputation and re-establishing himself as a bona fide leader of the Religious Right.

Today, Reed was interviewed by Newsmax where he gave his thoughts on Sonia Sotomayor, the Obama administration, and the 2012 GOP presidential primary, as well as explaining just what role his new Faith and Freedom Coalition will play in it all:

"It is a coalition of grassroots citizens, conservatives — both fiscal and social conservatives — people of faith, and others who are concerned about the direction of our country," Reed said.

"Look at what's happening in Washington today, with the overreach on healthcare, rationing healthcare, dramatically raising taxes, crushing small business, the cap-and-tax energy plan, the failed stimulus package, liberal judicial nominees, a weakening of our defense, sending signals in my view of timidity in prosecuting the war on terrorism.

"The Faith and Freedom Coalition is designed not only to oppose the Obama agenda in Washington, but to offer conservative constructive alternatives.

"We need to get this economy moving again. We need to create jobs. We believe the way to do that is lower taxes, limited government, fiscal discipline, stronger families, and the growth of small business."

Reed said one priority of the Faith and Freedom Coalition is to bring younger people into the conservative ranks. The organization intends to have a strong presence on college campuses, and to employ Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites that young people use to communicate.

"We need to be hipper, more technology savvy," he said. "This is where the culture is going and we need to be there if we're going to compete."

He also said the coalition plans to have chapters in every key county in the country, in all 50 states, and virtual chapters on line.

Newsmax also has the nine minute audio of the interview posted as well, which I am not embedding here because it annoyingly starts automatically playing as soon as it loads.

Though Reed continues to insist that "this isn't your daddy's Christian Coalition," I have to say that the more I hear about it, the more it sounds exactly like the Christian Coalition, only with the addition of social networking.

So I am going to make a bold prediction: spreading the age-old Religious Right agenda on Twitter and Facebook is not going to make it any "hipper."

Unity Through Redundancy

Is it just me or does it seem like every other week there is a new Religious Right organization launched in order to save America from its descent into godlessly immoral socialism?

In March we saw that birth of The Faith and Freedom Institute, founded to "lead America back to the knowledge of God in order to save the nation from the judgment of God."

That was followed by Newt Gingrich's Renewing American Leadership effort, which has ties to David Barton and Don Wildmon, and is designed to bring together economic conservatives and social conservatives for the common good.

Those were followed by the creation of the American Principles Project, led by Robert P. George, the Princeton professor who is also Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, which proclaimed itself the vehicle through which "millions of American voices raised in unison in defense of political liberty and economic freedom, the sanctity of human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, and the sovereignty and security of our nation" would be turned into political action.

These efforts continued in June, with Lou Engle's Call to Action, which aims to "redefine voting" for the next generation as a "prophetic act" and train them that they don't vote Democrat or Republican but vote "moral absolute truths," creating a mass army of young, motivated Christian voters who will pledge never to vote for a candidate who is not anti-choice, thereby creating a "spiritual revolution [and] training a generation to seize technology and turn the tide."

That was then followed by The Faith and Freedom Coalition, through which Ralph Reed aims to reclaim the Religious Right's former glory by starting launching an organization "committed to educating, equipping, and mobilizing people of faith and like-minded individuals to be effective citizens. Together we will influence public policy and enact legislation that strengthens families, promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, lowers the tax burden on small business and families, and requires government to tighten its belt and live within its means."

Just a week after Reed's effort was made public, a coalition of Religious Right groups announced the formation of The Freedom Federation, an effort to re-brand the movement and over its "image problem"  while remaining "committed to defending and extending core values expressed in the Declaration of American Values, the organization's founding document. These include the right to life, the institution of marriage, parental rights, religious liberty, an environment free of pornography and indecency, the right to property, freedom from excessive taxation, and national sovereignty."

With six news Religious Right groups formed in the last several months, all with very similar missions, you'd think there wouldn't really be much room left for any more new groups to form ... but you'd be wrong:

Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., former spokesperson and a top leader for the Christian Coalition, has launched a new organization -- S.T.A.N.D. [Staying True to America's National Destiny] -- to unify Christians and other conservatives around social and economic issues. However, Bishop Jackson is taking a different approach. "We are mainly interested in impacting the culture," says the Bishop. "Political victories can be reversed, but cultural change is lasting."

Their first major initiative is to make January "AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH". Says Bishop Jackson, "One of the reasons we lack unity in America is that the Judeo-Christian heritage and values which our Founding Fathers bequeathed us are under attack. Our heritage is lied about, suppressed and ignored in the push toward secularism and relativism. It is being done in Universities, public schools and even by President Obama."

STAND's American History Month will celebrate the nobility of American history and our Founders and rebut the lie that America is born of racism, exploitation and capitalistic greed. American History Month will highlight the heroic sacrifice, bold initiative, pioneering spirit, selfless cooperation and faith in God that made America possible. STAND believes that this President is denigrating America's contribution to the world, denying the role of Christianity in our country, and falsely claiming that Islam is a major contributor to America's success. "What history books is the President reading?" asks Jackson.

STAND considers Obama to be symptomatic of the ideological and anti-Christian bias in the teaching of American history. Bishop Jackson asks, "How many people know that one of our war cries during the Revolutionary War was 'No King but Jesus'? Precious few, and apparently not the President."

STAND is also opposing Obama's healthcare reform, which it calls "a veiled government takeover of healthcare." Bishop Jackson argues, "If the government takes over healthcare, everything will be rationed except abortion. The conscience objection will be eliminated, and abortion will increase like a plague upon the land." STAND wants to end abortion in America. It is also against Cap & Trade as "an insane burden" on an already crippled economy. Its members are contacting their Senators to make their sentiments known on these issues.

Interestingly, the need to unite the Right has been the one constant theme of every new group that has emerged and, for several of them, it is their central mission and reason for existing.

But the fact that different people keep launching entirely separate groups - all with the same purpose - suggests that their individual efforts to bring unity to the movement do not seem to be working particularly well.

Ralph Reed: The Religious Right's Steve Jobs

When it was first reported last month that Ralph Reed was forming a new organization called The Faith and Freedom Coalition, Reed wanted it made clear that "this is not your daddy's Christian Coalition."

He vowed that this effort would be "more brown, more black, more female, and younger" and all-around hipper with a greater focus on using "third wave" technology to mobilize activists.

In shot, Reed sees himself as the Steve Jobs of the Religious Right, called in to turn around the movement that floundered after he left:

The party needs what he delivered in the 1990s, but with a 21st century update.

“Even though I’ve been doing other things, this is kind of like Steve Jobs returning to Apple,” Reed said.

When Jobs left the company he founded, Apple foundered. After he returned, Apple grew into an iconic firm that has captured the public’s attention in ways that all other tech firms wish to emulate.

“You have to reinvent it,” Reed said. “It’s the political analogue to the iPod and the iPhone. It would be cool. It would be transformative. It would transform our politics and bring younger people to our ranks. All of those are critical imperatives.”

...

[T]he Faith and Freedom Coalition was not, he said, his idea. After John McCain was beaten in 2008, Reed said, he started getting phone calls from close friends, “saying we really haven’t had anything that in an effective, focused way was energizing and turning out to the polls in large numbers conservatives and people of faith since you left" ... Still, Reed said, he wasn’t terribly interested.

“That was not on my list of things to do,” he said. “I’d been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”

But the more he thought about it, the more he agreed that “something needed to be done.”

Where the old Christian Coalition’s greatest asset was arguably the millions of voter guides handed out in churches across the country, the new Coalition will use the Internet as its information dissemination tool.

Attracting younger voters and activists, Reed knows, takes a robust Web-based campaign that uses the new gadgets and social networks that dominate young people’s lives.

But it also takes a hook, a rallying cry, a reason for being. In the 1990s, the Christian Coalition had that and more in the persona and presidency of Bill Clinton.

While Obama has not offered the same wedge that Clinton did —- no sex scandals, for example —- Reed is confident the lightning rod is there.

“This is the most far-reaching and extremist agenda being advanced across multiple fronts in a smaller amount of time than I’ve seen in my career,” Reed said.

From the very moment this effort was announced, it was Reed's name that made it news ... but now Reed is insisting that it is really not about him at all: 

Still, Reed said, this is not about him. And it’s not a comeback or a return to prominence.

“I don’t think it signifies anything for me,” Reed said. “I’ve become an elder statesman at 48, but I’m still doing what I was doing at 20.”

Reed said he’s less interested in being “the face of the movement,” and more in finding and training the next generation of conservative leaders, volunteers and activists.

Of course, if Reed is trying to stay out of the limelight, it might be helpful is he wasn't granting interviews in which he compares himself to Steve Jobs and declares that he is the only one capable of rebuilding the movement.

But it makes sense that Reed would not want to be "the face of the movement" given that he is inextricably linked [PDF] to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  

It's going to take some deft maneuvering for the man who exploited the Religious Right movement he helped to create for the benefit of Abramoff's client's gambling interests to now resurrect that very movement.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Right Starts A New Group

Despite all of the predictions that the Religious Right was on its deathbed, they sure do seem to be extremely active of late.

Of course, they don't seem to have any new ideas or desire to change their agenda in any way, but in last few months have seen a flurry of new groups popping up designed to fill some unseen void that has been apparently responsible for their current predicament.

In the last few months we seen the arrival of the Faith and Freedom Institute, which was followed by Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, while Newt Gingrich was unveiling his Renewing American Leadership effort, and Lou Engle was announcing his Call to Action.

And now we come to find out via Pam that pretty much every Religious Right group has joined together under the umbrella of something called The Freedom Federation, incuding Renewing American Leadership and Call to Action, which were just recently created - so now you have two new groups created specifically to fill this void joining a new coalition effort ... designed to fill this very same void:

Press Conference to discuss the formation of the Freedom Federation and its purpose.

The Freedom Federation is a new and unique federation of some of the largest multi-ethnic and transgenerational faith-based organizations in the country committed to plan, strategize, and work together on common interests within the Judeo-Christian tradition to mobilize their grassroots constituencies and to communicate faith and values to the religious, social, cultural, and policymaking institutions.

-- American Association of Christian Counselors
-- American Family Association
-- Americans for Prosperity
-- Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND)
-- Campaign for Working Families
-- Catholic Online
-- Concerned Women for America
-- Conservative Action Project
-- Eagle Forum
-- Exodus International
-- Faith and Action
-- Family Research Council
-- High Impact Leadership
-- Liberty Alliance Action
-- Liberty Counsel
-- Liberty University
-- Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN)
-- Marc Nuttle
-- Morning Star Ministries
-- National Clergy Council
-- National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
-- Renewing American Leadership
-- Strang Communications
-- Teen Mania
-- The Call to Action
-- Traditional Values Coalition
-- Vision America

Wow - did they put this coalition together by going through our list of right-wing organizations and simply inviting all the groups and individuals we write about most frequently to join?  Sorry,  Christian Anti-Defamation Commission  - if only we had written about you a few more times, maybe you would have been deemed worthy of inclusion in this ground-breaking new effort by the Religious Right ... to do whatever it is this new organization is going to do.

Honestly, what purpose can this possibly serve?  Are the Council for National Policy and the Arlington Group somehow lacking and so these groups decided that what they really needed was yet another coalition to carry out the same work?

Anyway, this effort seems to be organized by Rick Scarborough ... or at least he is the first to send out a press release trying to take credit for it:

Today, representatives of some of America's largest faith-based groups gathered in the nation's capital to announce that they will organize and mobilize their grassroots constituencies in a common cause.

At the National Press Club, Vision America President Pastor Rick Scarborough joined other conservative leaders, including Mat Staver, dean of Liberty University Law School and the Federation's convener, to formally announce the formation of the Freedom Federation.

The Federation encompasses individuals of different races, faiths and backgrounds who are committed to the preservation of freedom and American values, founded on the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Freedom Federation is not a separate organization, but an association of like-minded national organizations with large and unique religious and political constituencies.

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Scarborough commented: "These organizations represent some of the nation's largest constituencies of youth, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, pastors and churches, who are uniting to defend a tradition increasingly under attack."

The Freedom Federation is committed to defending and extending core values expressed in the Declaration of American Values, the organization's founding document. These include the right to life, the institution of marriage, parental rights, religious liberty, an environment free of pornography and indecency, the right to property, freedom from excessive taxation, and national sovereignty. The statement is posted on the Vision America website at www.visionamerica.us.

And here is their Declaration of American Values, which they vow to protect with their lives:

We the people of the United States of America, at this crucial time in history, do hereby affirm the core consensus values which form the basis of America’s greatness, that all men and women from every race and ethnicity are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We adhere to the rule of law embodied in the Constitution of the United States and to the principles of liberty on which America was founded. In order to maintain the blessings of liberty and justice for ourselves and our posterity, and recognizing that personal responsibility is the basis of our self-governing Nation, we declare our allegiance –

1. To secure the sanctity of human life by affirming the dignity of and right to life for the disabled, the ill, the aged, the poor, the disadvantaged, and for the unborn from the moment of conception. Every person is made in the image of God, and it is the responsibility and duty of all individuals and communities of faith to extend the hand of loving compassion to care for those in poverty and distress.

2. To secure our national interest in the institution of marriage and family by embracing the union of one man and one woman as the sole form of legitimate marriage and the proper basis of family.

3. To secure the fundamental rights of parents to the care, custody, and control of their children regarding their upbringing and education.

4. To secure the free exercise of religion for all people, including the freedom to acknowledge God through our public institutions and other modes of public expression and the freedom of religious conscience without coercion by penalty or force of law.

5. To secure the moral dignity of each person, acknowledging that obscenity, pornography, and indecency debase our communities, harm our families, and undermine morality and respect. Therefore, we promote enactment and enforcement of laws to protect decency and morality.

6. To secure the right to own, possess and manage private property without arbitrary interference from government, while acknowledging the necessity of maintaining a proper and balanced care and stewardship of the environment and natural resources for the health and safety of our families.

7. To secure the individual right to own, possess, and use firearms as central to the preservation of peace and liberty.

8. To secure a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches within both state and federal governments, so that no one branch – particularly the judiciary – usurps the authority of the other two, and to maintain the constitutional principles of federalism which divide power between the state and federal governments.

9. To secure our national sovereignty and domestic tranquility by maintaining a strong military; establishing and maintaining secure national borders; participating in international and diplomatic affairs without ceding authority to foreign powers that diminish or interfere with our unalienable rights; and being mindful of our history as a nation of immigrants, promoting immigration policies that observe the rule of law and are just, fair, swift, and foster national unity.

10. To secure a system of fair taxes that are not punitive against the institution of marriage or family and are not progressive in nature, and within a limited government framework, to encourage economic opportunity, free enterprise, and free market competition.

We hereby pledge our Names, our Lives and our Sacred Honor to this Declaration of American Values.

Norquist Giddy About Reed's New Venture

Yesterday in writing about Ralph Reed's triumphant return with his Faith and Freedom Coalition, we noted that his reputation has been badly tarnished by his close ties to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. 

One other figure who played a key role in Ambramoff and Reed's business dealings was Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, who often served as a conduit through which Abramoff funneled the money gambling interests ponied up to fund Reed's anti-gambling work among the Religious Right.

As such, it is rather hilarious to see Norquist gushing about Reed's new endeavor:

One veteran conservative leader who's got a pretty good track record himself thinks this is just what the conservative movement needed.

"This is going to be big," said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

It's almost as if Norquist is salivating at the idea of being able to partner with Reed once again in hopes of cashing in, just as he did the last time around:

Reed, who left the Christian Coalition in 1997 to found a political consultancy, said he was counting on Abramoff "to help me with some contacts."

As it turned out, Abramoff needed them too. In 2000 Alabama was considering establishing a state lottery, which would compete with the casino business of the Mississippi band of Choctaws, an Abramoff client. Norquist and Reed were well positioned to help.

"ATR was opposed to a government-run lottery for the same reason we're opposed to government-run steel mills," Norquist told TIME. Reed publicly opposed gambling. It wouldn't do to have casino owners directly funding an antigambling campaign.

So Abramoff arranged for the Choctaws to give ATR $1.15 million in installments. Norquist agreed to pass the money on to the Alabama Christian Coalition and another Alabama antigambling group, both of which Reed was mobilizing for the fight against the lottery. Reed knew the real source of the money was the casino-rich Choctaws. The antigambling groups say they didn't.

On February 7, 2000, Abramoff warned Reed that the initial payment for antilottery radio spots and mailings would be less than Reed thought. "I need to give Grover something for helping, so the first transfer will be a bit lighter," Abramoff wrote.

The transfer was apparently lighter than even Abramoff expected. In a note to himself on February 22, Abramoff wrote, "Grover kept another $25K!"

Norquist says he had permission. He says a Choctaw representative -- he can't remember who -- instructed him on two occasions to keep $25,000 of the money for his group.

If Reed is trying to re-establish himself as a trustworthy player on the Right, it probably doesn’t help to have Norquist gleefully rubbing his hands together in the background.

Christian Coalition 2.0, Or The Triumphant Return of Ralph Reed

Literally, just yesterday as I was doing my right-wing monitoring, I thought to myself "you know who's name I never see any more?  Ralph Reed."

And for good reason, given his deep ties to Jack Abramoff.  Actually, the last time he made any news was when he was forced to skip a fund-raiser with John McCain last year thanks to the fact that he has been permanently tainted by his association with Abramoff.

But, as Dan Gilgoff reports, Reed is now back with a new organization called The Faith and Freedom Coalition:

Ralph Reed, the Republican operative who built the Christian Coalition into a potent political force in the 1990s by mobilizing evangelicals and other religious conservatives and who did similar work to help George W. Bush win two presidential elections, is quietly launching a group aimed at using the Web to mobilize a new generation of values voters. In addition to targeting the GOP's traditional faith-based allies—white evangelicals and observant Catholics—the group, called the Faith and Freedom Coalition, will reach out to Democratic-leaning constituencies, including Hispanics, blacks, young people, and women.

"This is not your daddy's Christian Coalition," Reed said in an interview Monday. "It's got to be more brown, more black, more female, and younger. It's critical that we open the door wide and let them know if they share our values and believe in the principles of faith and marriage and family, they're welcome."

"There's a whole rising generation of young leaders in the faith community, and rather than nab the publicity I did at Christian Coalition, I want to cultivate and train that rising generation," Reed said. "One question is, who is our future Barack Obama, doing local organizing just like he was in the 1990s?"

The Faith and Freedom Coalition has been quietly active for a few weeks but has attracted no news media notice so far. Reed said that was intentional: "We're less focused on the pyrotechnics than on being a strong grass-roots presence all the way down to the precinct level, which has always been my emphasis."

The idea for the new group, which is still hashing out an organizational blueprint, was born just after Election Day 2008, when exit polls showed that Obama made gains among traditionally Republican religious constituencies, including evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and frequent churchgoers. "Since I left the Christian Coalition, we haven't had an engine designed to turn out this large part of the vote," Reed said. "After the election, people said that I ought to consider doing something about it."

Of course, the Christian Coalition was the engine that turned out "values voters," but it faltered under Reed's control. When he finally jumped ship to launch his own consulting and PR operation and "start humping in corporate accounts,” the organization all but collapsed.

Gilgoff reports that this new effort also features Gary Marx - who happens to be a long-time associate of Reed's and the current Executive Director of the Judicial Confirmation Network - and that, for now, the organization is operating out of his Century Strategies office in Atlanta:

Reed is serving as chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and says he has filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service to register it as a 501(c)(4), a tax-free designation that permits lobbying and certain political activities. Gary Marx, Reed's deputy at the 2004 Bush campaign and Mitt Romney's conservative outreach director in 2008, will help advise the group. Jack St. Martin, a former top Republican National Committee staffer, is running day-to-day operations.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition plans to launch state and local chapters, as the Christian Coalition did, but is exploring the idea of organizing as much via "virtual chapters" that would operate online with the help of social networking technology. "The Internet's first wave was E-mail, and the next wave was social networking, which Obama perfected," Reed said. "There's going to be a third wave, which we're still developing."

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Headquartered in the offices of Reed's consulting firm, Century Strategies, near Atlanta, the group plans to open a Washington office but says it will keep its staff small. St. Martin is currently the only full-time employee. "We don't want the huge overhead of a centralized group," says St. Martin, who worked at the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. "We'll have a few generals, but at the end of the day, we're going to emphasize putting boots on the ground out in the field."

Everything about this effort is pure Ralph Reed. From the focus on grassroots mobilization to his use of military language, it sounds like Reed is breaking out his Christian Coalition era playbook and seeking to recapture his former glory, even going so far as to dust off his efforts to reach out to minority groups, which, as I explained in a report [PDF] I wrote about him several years back that chronicled his rise from the College Republicans through his Abramoff-related downfall, is exactly what he tried and failed to do during his last days with the Christian Coalition:

In 1996, in an attempt to reach out to religious African American voters and bring them into the right wing movement, Reed announced that the Coalition was going to raise one million dollars to help rebuild black churches in the South that had been destroyed in a series of fire bombings. What had initially been planned as a one-day fundraising event ended up taking seven months. Similarly, Reed announced in 1997 the creation of the Samaritan Project, “A bold plan to break the color line and bridge the gap that separates white evangelicals and Roman Catholics from their Latino and African American brothers and sisters.” Reed pledged that the Coalition would raise $10 million for inner city churches, but less than a year later the project was abandoned after raising less than $50,000.

The simple point needs to be made that Reed, the man once dubbed "the Right Hand of God," had been seening his star dim even before he left the Christian Coalition and that the influence and power he had accumulated over the years all but evaporated when his efforts to exploit his Religious Right allies for Jack Abramoff's business purposes were finally revealed, culminating in his failed campaign to secure the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor in Georgia.

But, as we pointed out in our report: "Reed is still young and American politics is full of redemption stories. No doubt Reed is already writing his."

And with the announcement of this new effort, it looks like that is exactly what he is undertaking now.

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Faith and Freedom Coalition Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Monday 08/13/2012, 10:25am
Conservative leaders hailed Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan, the far-right congressman, to be his running mate, emphasizing his opposition to LGBT and reproductive rights. Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance said that besides his one-time vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, she is excited “to pull back out my t-shirt from 2008 that says ‘Our VP is hotter than your VP!’” Paul Ryan is a great choice. He has one little blip in that he voted for ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) a long time ago but voted right on the marriage... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 06/15/2012, 1:40pm
Earlier this year, Glenn Beck interviewed televangelist James Robison about the dangers of Glee, which Robison said was being used by “the Enemy” to “bring us down.” Today at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s summit in Washington D.C., Beck said that not only is Glee sending a “horrifying” message to children but that he will create his own “Oedipus project” to “push back” against Glee’s supposedly harmful cultural impact. Watch: It was a year ago I was watching the show Glee with my wife and we watched it like this... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 06/15/2012, 1:11pm
Most of the speakers and panels at today's Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing were disappointingly dull, but Ralph Reed wisely scheduled Glenn Beck to close out the afternoon program by delivering just the sort of tear-filled, impassioned speech that only Glenn Beck can provide.  During his speech, Beck declared repeatedly that "I have seen the finger of God" and assured the audience that miracles are coming ... but only if we turn back to God , warning that if we don't God "is going to withdraw his protection" over this nation:  MORE >
Brian Tashman, Friday 06/15/2012, 9:55am
Jim Martin of the pro-corporate, Koch Brothers-funded 60 Plus Association, which claims to be the conservative alternative to the AARP, told attendees at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Washington D.C. summit today that if lying was a crime, President Obama would be in jail. “Candidate Obama said we won’t deal with lobbyists, we’ll be open, we’ll be out front, we’ll be transparent,” Martin said in reference to the negotiations over the health care reform law. “Look, if lying were a federal or criminal offense, then the President of the United... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 06/14/2012, 2:53pm
Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition kicked off its 2012 conference with a splashy show of the Reed’s political muscle in the form of three U.S. Senators.  Rob Portman of Ohio, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida all delivered speeches that reflect Reed’s goal for 2012 and beyond: merging the messages and organizing energies of the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right movements to elect conservative Republicans. “American exceptionalism” was a major theme of the day – defined generally as America being uniquely blessed by... MORE >
Josh Glasstetter, Friday 03/30/2012, 2:51pm
Tomorrow morning in Waukesha, WI, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, among others (Gov. Scott Walker is listed as an invited speaker), will rally with corrupt former lobbyist Ralph Reed and the state chapter of his Faith & Freedom Coalition, which Reed created to rehabilitate his image in the wake of his deep involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Here are the event details: It is our distinct pleasure to invite you to the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Presidential Kick-Off, sponsored by the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom Coalition, to be held at the Country Springs Hotel on... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 03/08/2012, 12:50pm
Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) is out on bail after he was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay was also subject to an investigation over his links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In fact, DeLay played a central role in the Abramoff scandal on the illegal use of Indian gambling money. Another member of the Abramoff’s crooked scheme was Religious Right activist Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. Abramoff stealthily financed Reed’s anti-gambling organization in Alabama with money from casinos in... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 02/24/2012, 2:41pm
There are few political operatives active today that are as ruthless and cynical as Ralph Reed. Reed is, after all, the man who infamously declared that he specializes in "guerrilla warfare," and bragged "I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag."  Reed also knowingly took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to manipulate and mobilize his Religious Right allies to fight gambling expansions in order to protect Abramoff's client's gambling interests.  Reed even had some of the money... MORE >