In Alabama, Religious-Right Factions Come Together and Break Apart

Among the handful of Christian Coalition chapters that parted ways with their national affiliate, the Alabama chapter has had the most acrimonious divorce. Not only did the old chapter – now called Christian Action Alabama – publicly disagree over a gambling measure with the replacement chapter, the two were embroiled in a lawsuit. Randy Brinson’s newly-formed Christian Coalition of Alabama claimed John Giles and Christian Action Alabama had absconded with Christian Coalition assets.

Now, Brinson and CC of Alabama are prepared to let bygones be bygones. “We dropped the lawsuit because basically we were getting such bad press out of it,” he explained.

It’s been said that bad press is better than no press, however, and it may be a while before we hear from either faction again. While Brinson’s still trying to get the new CC of Alabama – which then-rival Giles had called “one man and a name” – off the ground, the old group appears to be moribund. Giles, who used to be its president and full-time lobbyist, found a job in the private sector, and says Christian Action Alabama will be “in an idle position” for the time being.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion activists are bringing another factional dispute to the state.

Operation Rescue/Operation Save America joined a few other small groups in attacking James Dobson in May for his support of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban.” As part of its anti-abortion event in Birmingham this week, OR/OSA placed an ad in the local newspaper reviving their spat with Dobson, accusing the national religious-right leader of being a “moral relativist.”

While the group has toned down its militancy since Operation Rescue’s clinic-blockading days under Randall Terry, OR/OSA is still having trouble making friends as it protests in front of churches.

Their giant graphic posters of aborted fetuses were not well-received, said Rebecca Tibbs, who attends Metro Church of God.

“We just came away thinking, `We’re on your side, but this is not the way we choose to do it,'” said Tibbs. “I would never join up with them. People with small children were very disappointed. The pictures were not necessary. People were shocked and appalled.”

Although the protesters were invited to Alabama by Doers of the Word Church in East Birmingham, which has hosted rallies, few other churches have been visible in support of the abortion protests.

[OR/OSA’s Rev. Flip] Benham said that most of the nearly 200 people protesting this week were from outside Alabama.

Operation Save America activists blowing shofars
Dueling shofars in Alabama. Photo from Operation Save America.