Will the Real Numbers for Organizations Led by Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Please Stand-Up?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 04:20:12 PM EST
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez has had a remarkable career. The talented, charismatic preacher has been much sought after by both Democratic Party and Republican leaders. He is on the boards of leading evangelical institutions, including the National Association of Evangelicals, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Christianity Today magazine. He has been the subject of uncritical profiles in major media and he is sometimes invited to the White House.  

His involvement in the New Apostolic Reformation and related controversies has been much discussed here at Talk to Action.  

But this post is about something else.

Depending on which of his recent bios one reads, Rodriguez claims to serve and represent some some 15 or 16 million people and advocate for forty million Hispanic Christians via the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference the impressive-sounding organization of which he is the founder and president.  He is also the co-pastor (with his wife, Eva) of New Season Christian Worship Center, a small church in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, California.

But his prominent public profile not withstanding, hard evidence of a vast followership is hard to find.  So let's consider one visible measure of his followership -- his footprint on Twitter and Facebook.

As of this writing, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has only 1030 Likes on Facebook and 3,204 followers on Twitter.   This Twitter feed serves both NHCLC and Rodriguez himself.  NHCLC maintains an additional and currently active Twitter feed under its other name Hispanic Evangelical Association, with 303 followers.

New Season Christian Worship Center has 42 followers on Twitter, and 1,816 Likes on Facebook. The number of "Likes" might seem pretty good for a small church until we consider that Rodriguez also claims on the church web site to be "providing oversight and leadership to over 34,200 churches in all 50 states and Puerto Rico."

(Curiously, Rodriguez claims that the NHCLC represents the identical number of churches in this recent press release.)

It is possible, of course, that the followership of Rev. Rodriguez does not happen to be active on social media.  Participation on social media does vary greatly among constituents of organizations large and small, religious and otherwise.  Nevertheless, the discrepancy between the number of people and churches Rodriguez claims to represent, and the number of people who follow NHCLC and New Season Christian Worship Center is so great, I don't think this can be easily explained.  

There is also no explanation I can find of where the numbers of Rodriquez followership comes from, let alone how rigorously the numbers are derived.

Whatever we may say about the leadership and followership of Rev. Rodriguez, he directly states on his Linked-In profile what he clearly would like everyone to believe:  "By God's Grace, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez stands today as America's voice for Hispanic Christianity."

Reminds me of The Catholic League, which sends out endless press releases, all of them written by and quoting the organization's ONLY APPARENT MEMBER -- and also its "President" -- Bill Donohue.

by Jafsie on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 06:48:59 PM EST

Well. Anyone can claim anything. However, your review of his following surely indicates that he is not the foundational character he claims. The Dems need to get over courting such people anyway. It's like all unrequited love - the pain outweighs the benefits. Rodriguez and his ilk get off on being courted, and the very fact otherwise intelligent people would accept his self-reported "ministry" figures and following is really pathetic. They will NEVER give the Dems the love, and jerking the party minions around just makes them giggle while giving them MORE power to spread their pernicious word. Hey Dems - you don't pay ANY attention to the mainline and progressive people who ARE your natural constituents. Start talking with Protestants, Jews, Muslims and most Catholics as well as any others who believe in justice, see a role for government in upholding that justice, and you'll do a whole lot better. OK - we ARE the folks who obey the laws and don't pump for candidates, but we do the heavy lifting on smoothing the ground on issues and bringing out people on moral concerns that you put into play as our national and state policies. Know who your friends are. You may think we all will just knee jerk vote for you, but it's not true. We won't go GOP for sure - but we need to hear you, understand you, and be certain we're not better off going Peace & Freedom or Green. You have a lot of work to do with US before you go sidling up to someone as slimy as Rodriguez. We will be true while he's fickle. Put your time and energies where they count. That would be with us.

by Churchlady on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 06:25:18 PM EST

have the numbers he claims to represent, but that does not really matter. He is representative of two highly prized groups- hispanics and evangelicals. That is all he really needs to have clout.  Politics and elections are all about numbers, and the evangelical/fundamentalist groups have them. The old mainline Protestants do not. In 2008 less than 8% of the population belonged to the old liberal leaning mainline Protestant churches. The most recent polls show that there are almost twice as many non-believers as mainline Protestants, and of course, non-believers are at the bottom of the barrel in terms of political clout. In 1922 a minister named Harry Emerson Fosdick gave a sermon entitited "Shall the Fundamentalists Win?"  In the world of government and politics today, it certainly appears that they already have.

by BGBlade on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 11:26:03 AM EST
Interesting that your approach to discussion is to try to invalidate the work of many of us on this site, and perhaps the site itself.  

We have been writing here for several years about the important national role played by Rev. Rodriguez; how he brings a creeping religious rightism into the Democratic Party; how he is actively anti-environmental; anti-Islam; anti-abortion; anti-gay rights; how he has played a leadership role in a major dominionist movement in the US and the world.  

That said, there is certainly an increasing evangelical demographic, and within that, a Pentecostal demographic, as well as an ever larger Hispanic demographic trend in the U.S. Apparently a secular trend as well.  But none of that means that evangelicals or Hispanics of any religious or non-religious point of view has to accept Rodriguez as "representative,"  This post is about how unrepresentative he actually may be.


by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 01:28:33 PM EST

@ BGBLade

If Rodriguez doesn't have a sizable following, which his social media numbers clearly indicate that he does not, then he has no legitimate claim to be representative of hispanics in particular or evangelicals in general.

The rest of your post ... about the drift from mainline to evangelical fundamentalist churches is a strawman argument. It simply has no bearing on the legitimacy of Rodriguez's self-promoting claims.

by PastorJennifer on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:56:02 AM EST

for repeated affronts to the letter and spirit of the TOS and site guidelines that shape what we are trying to do and how we are trying to do it.

We generally prefer not to make a big public deal out of these things. That would be a hijacking of our own site. We prefer not to dwell on such distractions. But occasionally it is necessary to let people know that there is indeed sometimes action behind the scenes, and that we do try to live up to our standards, albeit imperfectly, in our all volunteer effort.

In this instance, we had a repeat troll. The next time, the troll will be banned on sight.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:19:47 PM EST

This so called leader of Hispanics is just an anti-marriage rights homophobe. I like your article but I found out through a quick search that the Dean of Liberty University's Law School Matt Staver claims they have over 40,000 member churches. Is this true? Do you think these two organizations are conspiring?

by Jaypride on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 11:42:49 PM EST
are are standard tool of the Religious Right.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:36:59 AM EST
yeah like the Million Moms trying to bully JC Penney into dropping Ellen Degeneris... At best their numbers turn out to be around 30,000! They are truly laughable in their self-agrandisement.

by PastorJennifer on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 04:25:12 PM EST

I feel qualified to speak for myself on some topics but not all. I have met people with PhDs, LLDs, JDs, DSCs, and autodidacts who were as well informed and not one of them would say they spoke for anyone other than themselves. As soon as someone says "I speak for ... name a group ... " you have been told you are being lied to. I have yet to find an exception. "I speak on behalf of ..." can be challenged and possibly verified but that statement is not the same as the earlier one. In a democracy we each must speak. In a republic some speak. in any other political mess only a few speak and they have no ears for our voices.

by DeadZone on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 03:25:54 AM EST

Sun rises in east. Preacher, self-appointed pundit, and/or wannabe politician claims "leadership" or "spokesperson" status without doing the years of hard work to build an actual organization of size. No ideology or political party or religious group is free of overly self-important people. My favorite aphorism about politics: "Politics is show biz for ugly people." (ugly = non-Hollywood grade appearance)

by NancyP on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:12:02 PM EST

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