Under Cover of Night
Joan Bokaer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 07:24:20 AM EST
This entry is the last of a four-part series on Taking Over the Republican Party.

The day the Moral Majority disbanded, following a whopping defeat for Pat Robertson in the '88 Republican primary, I walked away from it all. Phew. I could relax. It wasn't until President Clinton's impeachment did I realize how much control the Christian Right had gained in the U.S. House of Representatives. Only five Republicans voted against the impeachment. Surely there were more than five moderates.

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Left:Congressional scorecards from organizations such as the Christian Coalition, Family Research Council, and Eagle Forum also illustrate the strength of dominionists in Congress. Click here to view Senate Congressional scorecards from those three organizations as compared to the League of Conservation Voters, a consortium of environmental groups. Right: U.S. House of Representatives votes on HR 2123, "[ the bill ] allows religious discrimination in Head Start hiring, which is a serious blow to both religious liberty and civil rights." [ courtesy of TheocracyWatch ]
In the nineteen eighties I joined almost every major organization of the Christian Right. As a supporter of ACTV (American Coalition for Traditional Values) I received letters from Tim LaHaye ranting against the greatest evil in the world - secular humanism. LaHaye had formed a network of 110,000 "Bible-believing" churches to coordinate political activities.

As a member of Concerned Women for America (CWA) I received regular "prayer and lobby" newsletters telling me which bills to pray for and whom to lobby. There were no "prayer breakfasts" in my neighborhood, but I did receive personal letters from Beverly LaHaye, head of CWA.

Falwell's ministry sent me a small book called Nuclear War And The Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I still use it as a reference. I received mailings from Campus Crusade for Christ and Christian Embassies. But the day the Moral Majority disbanded, following a whopping defeat for Pat Robertson in the '88 Republican primary, I walked away from it all. Phew. I could relax.

It wasn't until President Clinton's impeachment did I realize how much control the Christian Right had gained in the U.S. House of Representatives. Only five Republicans voted against the impeachment. Surely there were more than five moderates.

After the Supreme Court anointed George Bush in 2000, I tried to understand what had happened to our Democracy. I spent most of a year sorting through thousands of articles, but it wasn't until someone gave me a compilation of articles produced by the now defunct Institute for First Amendment Studies did I get the full picture of how the Christian Coalition had taken working control of the Republican Party. Many of the articles for that handbook were written by Fred Clarkson whom I grew to admire enormously.

So I have put together some of the highlights of those articles to give a picture of how the Christian Coalition actually took working control of the Republican Party in the early nineties.  This entry is the last of a four-part series on Taking Over the Republican Party. The previous entries are:

The Woman in A Mink Coat,
While We Were Sleeping,
Angels on A Pinhead

Stealth and Voter Apathy

Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed taught their candidates to run stealth campaigns. Stay out of the limelight, don't campaign, refuse to debate, and avoid publicity. "It's like guerrilla warfare," Reed told The Los Angeles Times:

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 ...

As the candidates stayed below the "radar screen," the Christian Coalition campaigned in sympathetic churches, distributing voter guides and using church directories for get-out-the-vote phone banks. Some 33 million guides were handed out in 1992, 40 million in 1994, and 70 million in 2000 to support Bush. Reed, who stepped down as executive director of the Christian Coalition in 1997 to become a political consultant, has continued to work through churches. The The New York Times reported on Reed's activities as a regional director of the Bush '04 Presidential campaign:
The Bush campaign sent Mr. Reed to recruit pastors at the annual meeting of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. According to campaign memorandums, it has asked "people of faith team leaders" to help identify thousands of "friendly congregations" around the country. It asked religious outreach volunteers to petition their pastors to hold voter registration drives, and to speak on behalf of the campaign to Bible studies and church groups.
The campaign has asked volunteers to send in copies of congregational directories for comparison with voter registration rolls - a move some conservative religious leaders have denounced as a violation of the privacy of the church and its members.

A Void of Leadership

The apathy of other Americans can become a blessing and advantage to Christians who choose to get involved and fill the void of leadership.

This quote comes from America's Providential History, a popular textbook in Christian schools and the Christian homeschool movement. It teaches history from a dominionist perspective. The book was published in 1989, one year before Robertson published The Millenium in which he wrote:

With the apathy that exists today, a small, well-organized minority can influence the selection of candidates to an astonishing degree.

The Fifteen Percent Solution by Greg Goldin, 1993:

The formula they've concocted has been called the "15 per cent solution" by the Christian Coalition. Even in a well attended presidential election, only 15 per cent of eligible voters determine the outcome. Here's the simple math: about 60 per cent of the qualified electorate is registered, and only half of them vote. Half again of that 30 per cent determines the outcome, hence the all powerful 15 percent.
"We don't have to worry about convincing a majority of Americans to agree with us," Guy Rodgers, the Christian Coalition's national field director declared at the 1991 Road to victory conference. Most of them are staying home and watching Falcon Crest."

Where Do We Go from Here?

Overwhelmed by financial troubles and poor leadership, Christian Coalition is in serious decline, perhaps on its deathbed. But the candidates it got elected to the U.S. Congress are still there, many in leadership positions. And other organizations such as the Family Research Council and James Dobson's Focus on the Family have considerable political influence.

Ignorance of the theocratic Right - their tactics and goals - has enabled good people to unknowingly vote for candidates who are attempting to impose a narrow understanding of Scripture on the rest of the country. The mainstream media, including the liberal media, has been slow to catch on.  Talk To Action is focusing attention on dominionism in a new way that has the potential to fill a dangerous information void.

I also suggest we pay close attention to the state of Ohio. There is too much silence surrounding the activities in that strategically located state. The Ohio Restoration Project was founded to identify and train thousands of "Patriot Pastors" to get out the conservative religious vote next year.  
Ohio has been the focus of serious election irregularities, and is home to a rising star of the theocratic right: the Reverend Rod Parsley who said:

Americans must be 'Christocrats" -- citizens of both their country and the Kingdom of God. And that is not a democracy; that is a theocracy. That means God is in control, and you are not."

One of the stated goals of the Ohio Restoration Project is to get Ohio's Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, elected Governor in 2006. Blackwell has authored a plan for "Civic Renewal" that is featured on Ohio's official government web site. Katherine Yurica calls this document:
... a Dominionist document: a religious treatise in secular terms, but dominionist to the core. It's a brilliant little package to get millions of evangelical Christians and their friends to accept authoritarian government without even a whisper of protest.

In the nineteen nineties Christian Coalition candidates slipped in under cover. Let's not sit back in silence and watch Ohio be taken over by dominionists. I suggest this blog shine a powerful spotlight on that state.


[ed: Joan Bokaer's four part series is:
The Woman in A Mink Coat,
While We Were Sleeping,
Angels on A Pinhead
Under Cover Of Night

Is even more disturbing than the TheocracyWatch graph on the US Senate voting patterns.

I deployed that TheocracyWatch graph quite heavily last year ( with appropriate attribution and links ) on Metafilter.com, the Daily Kos, and elsewhere to try to break through the cognitive dissonance of denial surrounding the march of theocracy in American government.

But, the new graph on HR 2123 is very striking : those voting for HR 2123 explicitly endorsed theocracy.

No wriggle room. Votes for HR 2123 were votes for a theocratic Christian state.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 07:09:47 PM EST

This is a tiny, off-topic point, but: Compare the Christian Coalition and TheoWatch scorecards.  Notice how the CC says 'Democrat' where the TW says (like most speakers of English) 'Democratic'?

This usage is almost always a giveaway that the person speaking or writing is a partisan, hardcore Republican. Occasionally other people, sometimes even loyal Dems, will slip into this form -- the result of hearing it repeatedly on the radio, in speeches, etc.

I strongly encourage you to be alert for the usage in news articles.  Because it's ungrammatical, it violates style guides -- but slips through if copy editors and editors aren't vigilant.  Respond; write to the ombudsman and/or editors if you see it, and keep a sharp eye out for other articles by the same writer.  Chances are very good that their bias affects the reporting.

by Nell on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 08:04:35 PM EST

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