Faith and Freedom Coalition

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.


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

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."


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

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 >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 01/26/2012, 12:20pm
On a conference call last night with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Mitt Romney laced into President Obama, arguing that he is leading an “assault on life,” an “assault on religion” and an “assault on marriage” as part of a larger “assault on American values.” With Gingrich quickly moving up the polls in Florida with the support of more conservative, evangelical voters, Romney used the conference call to pick up the same rhetoric used by unsuccessful candidates like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann and dish out red meat to... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 01/18/2012, 1:44pm
Remember that “game-changing” endorsement of Rick Santorum by a group of evangelical leaders desperate to deny the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney?  As Brian reports, there wasn’t really that much of a consensus in Texas.  And it certainly didn’t make it to South Carolina, where Romney, Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Perry all paraded before a gathering convened by Ralph Reed’s “Faith and Freedom Coalition” just hours before the latest debate.  All had their fans in the crowd, and Gingrich seemed to have more, or at... MORE >