Faith, Values and the Christian Right in Ohio
Tanya Erzen printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Mar 31, 2006 at 07:30:29 AM EST
Last weekend Jim Wallis, the head of Sojourners and Russell Johnson , the pastor of Fairfield Christian Church and the founder of the Ohio Restoration Project engaged in a town hall meeting in the Capital Theatre in Columbus, Ohio.  The theme for the event was "faith and values" although the introductory speaker accidentally introduced the event as about "race and values."   Across the street at the capital building, thousands of people rallied for immigrant rights. Wallis and Johnson endeavored to participate in a civil dialogue about how, as evangelicals, both of them could hold such radically different ideas about faith, poverty, war, and family.

The idea behind Russell Johnson's Ohio Restoration Project is that Ohio is "the heart of it all" in terms of the ascendancy of a Christian Right agenda.

The ORP is linked to the national network of Patriot Pastors and supported by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council http://www.frc.org. Perkins endorses the goals of the ORP, and he has spoken at Fairfield Christian Church, "I encourage every minister of the Gospel to stand with Pastor Johnson as Patriot Pastors in this exciting new venture." Some of the issues the Ohio Restoration Project proposes to confront include:
Is the Biblical definition of marriage going to be exchanged for deviant political correctness?

Can anything be done to stop the harvesting of body parts of unborn children through partial birth abortion?

Will tax-funded universities continue their secular jihad against professors of faith?

Will Bible-believing ministers be prosecuted under "hate crimes" for teaching the Scriptural truth that homosexual behavior is against God's design?

Should public schools practice academic freedom in teaching evidences for both evolution and intelligent design?

How long will Ohio's families be burdened by excessive taxes and government waste?

Last week, Lorie Johnson wrote about the Christian Right's use of metaphors of war and victimization. . The Ohio Restoration Movement employs this long-standing strategy to argue that they are embattled and besieged by a secular culture and engaged in spiritual warfare to take back America for Christian values.

Pastor Russell Johnson writes,

"From our country's classrooms to our court houses... the forces of darkness have opposed every public expression of allegiance to God.  The arteries of our culture have been infected with the toxin of dogmatic secularism which have sought to deny America's Godly heritage and undermine her God-given potential."

At the town hall forum, Wallis reiterated that eradicating poverty should be an evangelical value, and asked Johnson why, if he cared so much about families, the Ohio Restoration Project was not lobbying Walmart for better wages and health insurance.   In response, Johnson presented anecdotes about individual instances of kindness and charity, and he returned again and again to the issue of what he called, "taxation without representation."  Johnson argued that excessive government waste and taxes forced upon citizens were exacerbating economic inequalities.  His cure for poverty included funneling tax money to churches to help with addiction, poverty, and education.

This debate represents a core idea behind the Christian Right's idea of faith-based politics: a vision of charity instead of economic justice.   Instead of supporting policies that might contribute to job security and the economic viability of working families, Russell Johnson envisions a network of churches like his own functioning as mini welfare states with benefits for some.   When that fails, Johnson proposes that we can address social problems as individual issues of religious conviction.  As he put it, "Pray because only god heals homes.  Only divine love sustains marriage."  Churches like Fairfield Christian provide the material conditions for community and social services like daycare, English classes, schools, and medical clinics. The same people who partake of these services become a potential constituency for the Ohio Restoration Project's conservative Christian political agenda.

Those of us who attended the Wallis/Russell town hall meeting received a slick brochure covered in red, white, and blue images of the flag and the cross. The folder included a voter guide with the names and affiliations of school board officials who are currently supportive of intelligent design. The existence of local Christian Right networks like the Ohio Restoration Project also has immediate ramifications for political organizing at the state and national level.   The goal of the Ohio Restoration Project is to build an infrastructure of committed conservative Christian voters who they can mobilize around state and national issues.

The Ohio Restoration Project connects the 88 counties in the state of Ohio through e-prayer networks from which they train volunteers and register voters.  The project claims to have over 900 conservative Catholic, Pentecostal and Evangelical churches on its mailing list.  Russell Johnson also collaborates closely with Phil Burress, the president of Citizens for Community Values , the local Focus on the Family Family   Policy Council for Ohio.  A designated Patriot Pastor has several goals: to recruit 100 people who can respond to political alerts around state political issues, and to register 300 new "value voters" in time for the fall 2006 elections.  These "Minutemen Volunteers" will subsequently organize congregations and neighborhoods.

The motto of the Ohio Restoration Project is to "Pray, Serve, and Engage," but the more immediate goal is to elect Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell as governor of Ohio in 2006.  Blackwell, a conservative Republican and evangelical Christian served as co-chair for the Bush/Cheney presidential campaign in 2004, and personally spearheaded the campaign for Issue 1, the Ohio Defense of Marriage Act, which passed during the 2004 elections.  Before the 2004 elections, Blackwell appeared in 60-second radio ads stating, "Ohio families are stronger with a wife and a husband," and "Our children do better with a mother and a father. That's just common sense." The ads were paid for by Phil Burress and Citizens for Community Values.

Scholars and activists have since documented Blackwell's deliberate campaign to disenfranchise Ohio voters in the 2004 election through the removal of ballot machines, intimidation at polling stations, and the use of archaic voting rules.  As Secretary of State, he will oversee his own campaign for governor.   Through the Ohio Restoration Project, Blackwell has the endorsement of a network of Christian Right leaders and organizations at the state and national level.  Recently, a coalition of progressive Catholic, Protestant and Jewish organizations called "We Believe" has organized to oppose the rise of Christian Right organizations like the Ohio Restoration Project.   However, the institutional structures and affiliations created through local Christian Right activism as of yet seem to have no liberal or left counterpart.




Display:

WWW Talk To Action


How The Election of Trump Made My Life Easier
I might be one of a select few who didn't vote for Donald but would have to say Trump's election made my life easier...I......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
The Bakke Plot To "Infiltrate" Secular Institutions
Back in 2012-2014 I did a lot of writing and research on The Gathering, the yearly meeting of elite evangelical right philanthropists who collectively......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
The Term "Alt-Right" is All Right
There is a misguided effort underway to not use the term "alt-right."  The effort, currently led by the Center for American Progress, claims that......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Getting the Low Down on Dominionism
A refresher on dominionism will probably come in handy over the next little while. -- FC I am pleased to report that the task......
By Frederick Clarkson (10 comments)
The New Kochs: Anthology of DeVos Support, Funding of School Privatization and Religious Right
This post from 2-14 will be a helpful resource in the days ahead. -- FC Mother Jones' January/February issue includes an article titled "Meet......
By Rachel Tabachnick (1 comment)
Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
This post about the long term strategy for privatizing the public schools takes on fresh importance in light of the nomination of Betsy DeVos......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (18 comments)
Did God Engineer Trump's Win?
Political analysts have postulated a number of theories to explain the victory of Donald J. Trump in the presidential election: Hillary Clinton failed to......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Some thoughts for a Sunday post-election reflection:
Emancipation, Reconstruction, Redemption, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow The struggles of the Civil Rights Movement took us two steps forward Now the "Second......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)
On The Ridiculous Charge Of Clinton Anti-Catholicism
Julian Assange has been busy lately trying to sabotage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency. As part of his vendetta, he has......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
From Russia Without Love
It was less than two years ago but it now seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote about how Russia appeared to be......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Northwest Arkansas, A Hotbed for Anti-Semitism
Three organizations in Northwest Arkansas are deeply interwoven into the most rabid Anti-Semitic teachings in the nation.  Gerald Smith, buried at the base of......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
Joseph Cella is Back - Taking the Opposite Tack from Pope Francis
Joseph J. Cella has had a change of heart since he joined with those conservative Catholic activists who signed a declaration during the Republican......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
Radcliffe Sucker Punched by Right-Wing Propagandists
The prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard College will host a panel on Monday, Oct 17, titled "Righting the Record: Conservatism and......
By Chip Berlet (2 comments)
Celebrating Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is the venerable annual celebration of the right to read and the highlighting of efforts by cultural vigilantes of various sorts......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)

"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (4 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (0 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (4 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (0 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (4 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (1 comment)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (11 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.