Christian Coalition of America

Founder and former President: Rev. Pat Robertson
President: Dr. Joel C. Hunter was announced as President in October 2006 to replace Roberta Combs
Founded: 1989
Membership: Claimed nearly 2 million members at the height of its influence, but other data suggested 300,000-400,000 members.
Directors or Trustees as of 2004: Dr. Billy McCormack; Drew McKissick; Roberta Combs, Chair
Finances: In 1999, the Christian Coalition was stripped of its 501(c)(3) non-profit status for violating various IRS rules that govern non-profits. Contributions to the group have dropped from a record of $26.5 million in 1996 to their 2004 revenue, which was $1,321,774. The CC is now a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization supported through member dues.
State chapters: As many as 30 chapters were listed on their website, though those lists have since been removed. Several state chapters have dropped their affiliation in 2006.
Publications: The coalition creates and distributes voter guides during primaries and elections in every state. They also have action alerts and newsletters via e-mail on state and federal legislation.
Affiliated Groups: Pat Robertson also created the 700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network, American Center for Law and Justice, and Regent University, which awards graduate and law degrees and offers a bachelor degree completion program. Two CC projects that are no longer associated with the group are the Samaritan Project and the Catholic Alliance. The Christian Coalition launched the Catholic Alliance in an attempt to boost its membership among pro-family, anti-choice Catholics. The Samaritan Project was the Christian Coalition's vehicle for outreach to African Americans.

Read the latest news on the Christian Coalition on the group's Right Wing Watch index page

Principal Issues

The Christian Coalition (CC) has two central goals: to control the agenda of the Republican party by working from the grassroots up; and to train and elect pro-family, Christian candidates to public office. The group has had considerable success in both areas, and their impact in state and national elections can be detected through their work during primaries and ability to mobilize Christian conservative voters. The CC describes itself as "the largest and most active conservative grassroots political organization in America."

Activities

  • In recent years, the Coalition has fallen on hard times. IRS records show that the Christian Coalition's red ink climbing. Its debts exceeded its assets by $983,000 in 2001, $1.3 million in 2002, $2 million in 2003 and $2.28 million at the end of 2004. Some of the most active and influential chapters, such as the Christian Coalition of Iowa, have cut ties with the national organization. [source]
  • In 2000, the Christian Coalition launched what they claim was their biggest election year campaign ever, distributing 70 million voter guides to their members and conservative churches in every state. Robertson is given credit for throwing his support behind Bush very early in his candidacy, and helping Bush gain the support of the Religious Right. The coalition is credited with assisting Bush with winning the South Carolina presidential primary through their strong get-out-the-vote activities. During the 2000 election Pat Robertson taped a telephone message criticizing presidential candidate John McCain on the eve of the February Michigan primary.
  • The coalition is a major lobbying force on Capitol Hill and has many strong ties to Congress.
  • The Christian Coalition's annual conference, "Road to Victory," speakers list reads like a veritable who's who in right-wing and mainstream conservative circles. In 2000 their list of speakers included: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Rev. Jerry Falwell, RNC chairman Jim Nicholson, and then-presidential candidate George W. Bush via videotape.
  • The Christian Coalition's principal "contribution" to electoral politics is the distribution of election-eve voters guides. Nominally nonpartisan but plainly directive, the guides outline the candidates' positions on a variety of issues. The Coalition's descriptions, however, are often manipulative. They describe a supporter of the National Endowment for the Arts, for example, as a proponent of "tax-funded obscene art." Many candidates refuse to respond to the questionnaires for fear of distortion, however the group filled it in for them by reviewing voting records. These "non-partisan" voter guides eventually led to the group losing its tax-exempt status. The Federal Election Commission charged that the Christian Coalition endorsed Republican candidates with its voter guides in the 1990 and 1992 elections, and illegally coordinated its activities with the Bush reelection campaign.

History

  • The Christian Coalition's initial approach to elections, popularly known as "stealth" tactics, has three essential parts: targeting low-profile elections that normally attract few voters, focusing get-out-the-vote efforts on certain conservative churches, and instructing the candidates to hide their views from the public by avoiding public appearances and refusing to fill out questionnaires. In 1992, Ralph Reed told a Coalition gathering, "The first strategy, and in many ways the most important strategy, for evangelicals is secrecy."
  • The Coalition's strategy first attracted national attention in 1990, when a coalition of right-wing groups led by the Christian Coalition helped candidates in San Diego win 60 of 90 races for a variety of offices, such as school and hospital boards.
  • Reed boasted of their early success with a few choice comments that helped make him famous. "[S]tealth was a big factor in San Diego's success," he said. "But that's just good strategy. It's like guerrilla warfare. If you reveal your location, all it does is allow your opponent to improve his artillery bearings. It's better to move quietly, with stealth, under cover of night." Continuing, "I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night." Later, under intense pressure, Reed renounced his covert tactics and now denies the group ever used them.

Recent problems

  • The Christian Coalition has undergone several changes in leadership since the departure of Executive Director Ralph Reed [see PFAW's report on Reed] in September of 1997. It has also suffered a severe decline in donations, from $26.5 million in 1996 to an estimated $3 million in 2000. As a result of this steep loss in revenue, the group has reorganized by cutting staff and dropping its minority outreach program, the Samaritan Project. Another recent stumbling block for the Christian Coalition has been a series of racial discrimination lawsuits by their employees.
  • In February of 2001, ten black employees filed a racial discrimination suit against the organization. Alleging that they were treated with Jim Crow-style segregationist rules, the black employees also stated in their lawsuit that the Christian Coalition's director was "uncomfortable" when the black employees joined company-sponsored prayer sessions and eventually stopped inviting them. In March, two more black employees and a white employee filed discrimination charges against the organization. The white employee claims he was fired by the evangelical organization when he refused the director's request to spy on the black employees who had filed the lawsuit.
  • In December 2001, Pat Robertson stepped down as the President of the Christian Coalition. Robertson said it was because he wanted to spend more time on his ministry work.
  • In March 2004 a law firm that has worked for the CC since 1989 asked a judge to garnish the assets of the group for $75,000 in unpaid legal fees.

Quotes from Pat Robertson

On women's equality: "I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."— The 700 Club, 01/08/92

Referring to the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson had this to say; "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."— The 700 Club, 08/22/05

" [The people in the United States] have allowed rampant secularism and occult, etc. to be broadcast on television. We have permitted somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 million unborn babies to be slaughtered in our society. We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye and said we're going to legislate you out of the schools. We're going to take your commandments from off the courthouse steps in various states. We're not going to let little children read the commandments of God. We're not going to let the Bible be read, no prayer in our schools. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. And, then we say "why does this happen?" Well, why its happening is that God Almighty is lifting his protection from us. And once that protection is gone, we all are vulnerable because we're a free society, and we're vulnerable. We lay naked before these terrorists who have infiltrated our country. There's probably tens of thousands of them in America right now. They've been raising money. They've been preaching their hate and overseas they've been spewing out venom against the United States for years. All over the Arab world, there is venom being poured out into people's ears and minds against America. And, the only thing that's going to sustain us is the power of the Almighty God."— 700 Club, 09/13/01

"The worse thing in the world for somebody who is a person of color, black, African American, whatever term is in vogue these days to hold grudges and say well 100 years ago my ancestors were in slavery, and therefore I hate you. That doesn't fly. And to live in the past is the most numbing experience because what it does is sap your energy for the future. And, what everybody's got to do is to say before God I'm going to ask God to bring forgiveness into my life. And, I am just totally against these leaders who stir up the divisions and the hatred. You've seen it - talking about all these offenses and things that happened. And, they're doing it for publicity. They're doing it to raise money. They're doing it to get a following so they'll be elected to some office, and so forth. That's wrong. To play on the hatred of people for your own personal gain is abhorrent, and there are many people who do that."— 700 Club, 02/06/01

"The concept that one God, "Thou shall have no other gods before me", will somehow upset a Hindu, that's tough luck! America was founded as a Christian nation. Our institutions presuppose the existence of a Supreme Being, a Being after the Bible. And we as Americans believe in the god of the Bible. And the fact that somebody comes with what amounts to an alien religion to these shores doesn't mean that we're going to give up all of our cherished religious beliefs to accommodate a few people who happen to believe in something else. You just can't do that. And that's been the thing that's been pushed over and over again. Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, said as I read the constitution, it's very clear. It says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It says nothing of about a school district letting book covers be passed out"— 700 Club, 10/05/00

Pat responds to the question "Certain denominations are beginning to accept homosexual behavior in the church. Do you feel that it is for benefit, political gain or social acceptance?" sent in by a 700 Club viewer. His response was, ""I think that we have a pressure in our society right now called political correctness where it is not appropriate any longer to criticize anybody for their religion, their lifestyle, their race, their creed, their color, national origin, disabilities, or anything. You can't criticize anybody for anything. And so, if somebody has a quote lifestyle, that's their thing, and if somebody said, 'I'll make it with a duck', well, you know, who are you to criticize them. Well that isn't what the Bible says. The Bible has standards, and the standard makes it very clear that the acceptance of homosexuality in a society is the last stage after God has given a people up."… "How can a church open their arms and say 'You keep on with the lifestyle.'"— 700 Club, 10/17/00

"In the Old Testament and the New Testament boys and girls didn't make decisions like this, they were betrothed by their parents. We've got a couple here at Regent University whose parents arranged the marriage and they're very, very happy. I honestly think if we went back to that kind of thing you'd have a whole lot less problems — It'll help. I think it would cut down the divorce rate."— 700 Club, 0214/00

"We want...as soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996."— Denver Post, 10/26/92

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."— Pat Robertson direct mail, Summer 1992

"I believe that during the next couple of years there will be a fierce struggle between the militant leftists, secular humanists, and atheists who have dominated the power centers of American culture for the past 50 years and the Evangelical Christians, pro-family Roman Catholics, and their conservative allies. The radical left will lose its hold, and by the end of this decade control of the major institutions of society will be firmly in the hands of those who share a pro-family, religious, traditional value perspective."— Pat Robertson's Perspective, July-August/1991


Updated: September 2006
 

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