Christian Coalition

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Christian Coalition

The Christian Coalition is a nonprofit organization that serves as a powerful lobby for politically conservative causes. Under federal tax law, the organization is permitted to lobby for political issues but cannot endorse political candidates. The Christian Coalition has primarily sought the support of born-again evangelical Christians, but since 1996 it has attempted to build alliances with Roman Catholics, members of the Greek Orthodox Church, and Jews.

The Christian Coalition was founded in 1989 by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. Robertson, who unsuccessfully sought the 1988 Republican Party presidential nomination, decided to create an organization of evangelical Christians that would exert influence over the party. The coalition's central goals have been to gain working control of the Republican Party through grassroots organizing and to elect Christian candidates to office. The coalition soon became a potent political force. By 1997, it claimed control of several Republican state central committees and had elected to public office numerous Christian Coalition members and other candidates it endorsed. Prior to the congressional elections of 2002, the Christian Coalition distributed 70 million voter guides throughout the 50 states, an effort that has been credited with helping the Republican Party gain control of Congress.

The Christian Coalition has focused on family and moral issues. It strongly opposes legalized Abortion, and in 1998 it began an effort to require all endorsed Republican candidates to oppose partial-birth abortions. The coalition has also campaigned against gay rights, and through its legal arm, the American Center for Law and Justice, it has filed many church-state lawsuits.

Robertson, who served as president until 1997, appears on the 700 Club, a television program that, as of July of 2003, is watched by 1 million viewers each week. Robertson has characterized politics as a struggle pitting militant leftists, secular humanists, and atheists against conservative, evangelical Christians. The success of the coalition's grassroots organizing, however, can be attributed to Ralph Reed, who served as executive director until 1997. Reed encouraged coalition members to run for school boards, city councils, and legislatures without revealing their affiliation. This strategy also proved effective within the Republican Party.

The Christian Coalition has over 1,500 chapters in the United States with over one million members. The coalition's staff is headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia; it also maintains a legislative office in Washington, D.C. With a budget of more than $27 million, the coalition has the resources to mount nationwide campaigns on public policy issues. The organization also actively lobbies Congress on numerous issues, sponsors grassroots training schools across the United States, and organizes activists around the country who are involved in federal and local politics.

The election of george w. bush as president in 2000 and the gain of Republican seats in both the House and Senate in 2002 gave increased clout to the Christian Coalition's already vigorous advocacy. In early 2003, the Christian Coalition lobbied for the confirmation of Miguel Estrada, an Hispanic lawyer, to be a judge on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the coalition, his confirmation was "being blocked by those who would subject judicial nominees to a liberal litmus test." The organization also supported a ban on partial-birth abortions and the cloning of humans. In addition, the Christian Coalition voiced strong support for President Bush as the United States was poised on the brink of war with Iraq.

Further readings

American Center for Law and Justice. Available online at <> (accessed June 17, 2003).

Christian Coalition. Available online at <> (accessed June 17, 2003).

References in periodicals archive ?
The Christian Coalition responded by forming a new Alabama chapter.
Boston-based black evangelical minister Eugene Rivers, for instance, openly accused the Christian Coalition of being a "racist organization" in USA Today "because of its nearly all-white membership and what he called its 'failure' to reach out to black churches.
Those who score high with the Christian Coalition almost invariably score low with LCV.
Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, said the three-hour seminar would reveal "the true nature of Islam" and feature "many different opinions" about links between Islam and terrorism.
While most liberal groups like SEICUS focused on advocacy and public health, the Christian Coalition established thousands of local chapters nationwide, where activists endorsed school board candidates who opposed sex education, distributed voter guides, and even provided legal advice for pastors who wished to stump for candidates without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
Robertson's remarks seriously damage his claims that the Christian Coalition is a nonpolitical religious organization.
The initiation of the Catholic Alliance," he says, "offers an opportunity for Catholics to discuss critical issues with the Alliance leaders and with the Christian Coalition.
While the Christian Coalition has a head start, Planned Parenthood Federation has vowed to counterattack with a $10 million multimedia ad campaign, of which approximately 40% will be set aside for newspaper ads.
In trying to broaden its appeal, the Christian Coalition risks alienating its base.
In 2002, he was even named a "Lifetime Champion of Family Values" by the Christian Coalition.