The day after former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed lost the Republican primary for Georgia lieutenant governor amidst Abramoff-related charges of corruption and hypocrisy, the Christian Coalition of Ohio severed ties with the national group, renaming itself the Ohio Christian Alliance. The realignment is just the latest event in years of decline for the Christian Coalition, founded by Pat Robertson in 1989 and influential in the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. The national group’s budget has sunk from $26 million in 1996 to $1 million, and finds itself $2 million in debt with creditors bringing lawsuits against it. The Iowa chapter split off in March, saying, “We believe, our board believes, any Christian organization has an obligation to pay its debts in a timely fashion.”
Steve Scheffler, president of the newly-christened Iowa Christian Alliance, told The Washington Times that the CC of America no longer has grassroots support — and he cites the national group’s support for a tax reform measure in Alabama, championed by a Republican governor but opposed by the state chapter. “When a faith-based group can’t get it right on a tax increase, how do you motivate the base?” wondered Scheffler.
Such an unabashed synthesis of “faith-based” issues and an issue like taxes may serve the now-independent Ohio Christian Alliance well in a state that has seen the rise of such groups–such as the “Patriot Pastors” of Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson–whose agendas seem fortuitously suited to the Republican platform.
For her part, CC of America President Roberta Combs responded, “We’re not $2 million in debt. A lot of debt has been paid off. We have a budget of more than $1 million now, and we’re still here.”