Syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas rarely shies away from far-right rhetoric, but the former Moral Majority staffer seemed almost pleased that one religious-right group was closing up shop. On the shuttering of the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, operated by ailing televangelist D. James Kennedy, Thomas wrote:
Brian Fisher, executive vice president of Coral Ridge Ministries, told the Miami Herald, ”We believe that by streamlining the operations we will be able to return to our core focus.” One hopes that will be preaching the unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ, unencumbered by the allures of the political kingdoms of this world, because that is where the greatest power lies to transform lives and ultimately nations. It does not lie in the Republican Party, with which Kennedy’s organization was almost exclusively associated. …
Nearly 30 years after religious conservatives decided to re-enter the political arena – after abandoning it as ”dirty” and leading to compromise – what do they have to show for it? The country remains sharply divided and the reconciling message they used to preach has been obscured by the crass pursuit of the golden ring of political power. In the end, they got neither the power nor the Kingdom; only the glory, and even that is now fading as these older leaders pass from the scene. This is not to say there is no role for conservative Christians in the civic life of their nation. There is. But Christians must first understand that the issues they most care about – abortion, same-sex marriage and cultural rot – are not caused by bad politics, but are matters of the heart and soul. …
Too many conservative Christians have focused on the ”seen” rather than the ”unseen,” thinking appearances at the White House or on ”Meet the Press” are evidence they are making a difference. And too much attention has been paid to individual personalities, rather than to the One these preachers had originally been called to exalt.
In a way, Thomas and D. James Kennedy have come full circle. After Thomas published a book outlining the same criticisms of the Religious Right in 1999, Kennedy uninvited him from the Reclaiming America for Christ conference, insisting, “I’m fighting for God and for truth and for morality and for decency. When we quit doing these things we might as well lay down and die.”
In an interview with the Rutherford Institute in 2002, Thomas commented on the argument “that the goal should be to reclaim America for Christ” – the name of Kennedy’s conference and group – “and, in effect, have the Christians take over”:
Well, it was never the Christians’ country to begin with. I personally don’t want it to be a Christian nation for the same reason that I don’t want the federal government aiding the church. I think Bush’s whole faith-based initiative thing is one of the biggest camel noses in the tent that I have seen in my life. I wasn’t aware that God declared bankruptcy under Chapter 11. There is no mandate or expectation in Scripture that the state should fund the work of the things of God. I think that is extremely dangerous.