June convocation of Christian Right leaders against President Obama
Brian Kaylor of Ethics Daily has been reporting on private meetings of Christian Right leaders that they use to plan strategy. In a two-part series called "Behind Closed Doors," he describes a major convocation in Dallas this past June, convened by Southern Baptist minister and longtime Christian Right leader James Robison.
Part 1 of that pair of articles, Conservative Christian Group Plots Political Revival 06/22/2011, gives a helpful list of some of the leaders in attendance. Like other political groups, the leaders and participants are continually in flux, so we need solid reporting to keep up with them:
According to a list obtained by EthicsDaily.com, among the attendees at the meeting were several Southern Baptist leaders: Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas who recently suggested on Fox News that Obama was a Muslim; Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Richard Lee, pastor and the editor of the controversial The American Patriot's Bible; and former North American Mission Board head Bob Reccord, who now heads the semi-secretive group the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and son of the late founder of the Moral Majority, was scheduled to attend but couldn't make it.
Also attending the meeting were: Jacob Aranza, a minister who in the 1980s helped popularize the theory that rock ’n’ roll music included backmasked messages promoting drug use and sex; Vonette Bright, widow of Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, who played a key role in conservative religious-political efforts that birthed the so-called "Religious Right"; Jerry Boykin, a former Pentagon official rebuked for violating policies by speaking in churches in uniform; Jim Garlow, chairman of Newt Gingrich's organization, Renewing American Leadership; Ruth Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham; Harry Jackson, a politically active conservative pastor; David Lane, who has led several efforts to politically mobilize pastors; Ron Luce of Teen Mania Ministries; former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob McEwen; Rod Parsley, a controversial megachurch pastor who endorsed John McCain in 2008 before being rejected by McCain; Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference; and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association.
Also attending the meeting was Rabbi Daniel Lapin, whom Robison described to EthicsDaily.com as someone who is "convinced that Christians hold the hope for stability on earth." Lapin, who has been heavily involved in various Republican efforts, was part of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's financing work that landed Abramoff in prison. [my emphasis]
That "backmasking" paranoia was one of the most idiotic Christian Right fads I can remember.
"Along with many national and church leaders, I'm seeking to know what must be done in order to effectively deal with present-day challenges," Robison wrote. "We must hold fast to moral principles and also make wise decisions concerning fiscal policies and practices."
Robison then listed his conservative agenda for candidates to meet, including being pro-life, pro-Israel, against same-sex marriage, for smaller government and reducing government spending, for a strong defense to fight "Radical Islam," for the free market, and against "excessive, foolish taxation."
This is a reminder of how futile it is to expect a major split between the Christian Right and corporate interests in the Republican Party, or between Main Street and Wall Street factions, as it's sometimes expressed. Low taxes and light regulations for the rich are just as much Christian moral principles for them as shaming the sluts who gets pregnant without being married preserving the lives of innocent unborn children.
Robison's first blog post following the gathering dealt with issues of spiritual renewal and politics.
"Active participation is both a privilege and responsibility to choose wise leaders who will support sound policy and legislation in order for good government to become a reality," Robison wrote. "Now is the time to fall on our knees before God and then stand on our feet before men. We must demonstrate the power of God's transforming grace. All legitimate concerns and painful issues must be addressed with prayer, love and compassion. When we stand tall for His truth, we will see the transformation of people leading to the restoration of sound principles."
Robison said, "It is time to pray, then take action with boldness and love as we call all men to return to the rock-solid foundation of God's truth. Keep in mind, our economic challenges will not be corrected until we address moral decay. We should remember what President Reagan said: 'If America ceases to be a nation under God, we will be a nation gone under.'"