Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Christian Coalition Flounders

The Washington Post had an article today about the shrinking influence, membership and budget of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson’s political wing that at one point controlled more than half of the state Republican party committees in the nation.

The once-mighty Christian Coalition, founded 17 years ago by the Rev. Pat Robertson as the political fundraising and lobbying engine of the Christian right, is more than $2 million in debt, beset by creditors’ lawsuits and struggling to hold on to some of its state chapters.

In March, one of its most effective chapters, the Christian Coalition of Iowa, cut ties with the national organization and reincorporated itself as the Iowa Christian Alliance, saying it “found it impossible to continue to carry a name that in any way associated us with this national organization.”

“The credibility is just not there like it once was,” said Stephen L. Scheffler, president of the Iowa affiliate since 2000. “The budget has shrunk from $26 million to $1 million. There’s a trail of debt. . . . We believe, our board believes, any Christian organization has an obligation to pay its debts in a timely fashion.”

The article does note, however, that they are still included in frequent policy meetings with the White House and with conservative leaders. The decline began to happen when Ralph Reed left to form his own political consulting firm. He’s now running for assistant governor in Georgia and floundering badly due to his close ties to Jack Abramoff. It’s easy to cackle with glee at the death throes of this group, but let’s not kid ourselves: their decline in influence has been matched by the increased market share (and yes, that is exactly what it is, a share of the market for the financial donations of millions of followers) of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and other religious right groups.

In light of a string of embarrassing statements by Pat Robertson, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever regain the political power he once had. I guess he’ll have to sell a few more age-defying pancakes to keep the money flowing in.


  1. #1 Reed A. Cartwright
    April 10, 2006

    “lieutenant governor” not “assistant governor”

    Even without Abramoff, Ralph Reed has been criticized for being too much of a beltway insider to serve Georgia.

    I figured that Ralph Reed was doomed when it came out that he selling his christian influence to the highest bidder, e.g. “For a few million dollars, I can ensure that the christian rubes vote your company’s way.”

  2. #2 tacitus
    April 10, 2006

    Hmm. Why doesn’t ol’ Pat sinmply write them a check for a few million? After all, he made his millions off the backs of all those conservative fundamentalists who have sent him many ill-afforded donations over the years. I would have thought it a more worthy cause for him to support than racehorses and West African dictators…

  3. #3 Ken Brown
    April 10, 2006

    In light of a string of embarrassing statements by Pat Robertson, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever regain the political power he once had.

    One can only hope…

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    April 10, 2006

    Good lord, did I really write “assistant governor”? Yikes

  5. #5 Pieter B
    April 10, 2006

    When I first saw the headline on this entry I started thinking of the loaves and the fishes. It’s been that kind of day.

    Now that I’m here, where else but on the wackaloon right would the departure of Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed from an organization decrease its credibility?

  6. #6 386sx
    April 10, 2006

    I guess he’ll have to sell a few more age-defying pancakes to keep the money flowing in.

    That, and tricking hapless victims into believing Jesus wants them to send Pat lots of money. The typical line those guys use is that the person sending in the cash will be blessed with a 10000% return on their investment via miraculous intervention. Once I saw some televangelist or other (I think it might have been Marilyn Hickey, but lots of them probably use a similar line) say that if you’re poor then you can’t afford not to send them money because the poor people are the ones who need divine intervention the most.

    “lieutenant governor” not “assistant governor”

    Same difference.

  7. #7 tacitus
    April 10, 2006

    It’s depressing how many people fall for the 100-fold blessing con. I mean, all you need to do is think for one moment. If it really worked then all those ministries would need to do is use it themselves and become filthy rich in no time at all.

    The sad thing is that they prey upon people’s desperation and greed. It’s no accident that they target the less educated and less affluent, and that makes their tactics even more despicable.

  8. #8 wheatdogg
    April 10, 2006

    Do you mean flounders, as in 1. To make clumsy attempts to move or regain one’s balance. 2. To move or act clumsily and in confusion.


    founders, as in 1. To sink below the surface of the water: The ship struck a reef and foundered. 2. To cave in; sink: The platform swayed and then foundered. 3. To fail utterly; collapse: a marriage that soon foundered. 4. To stumble, especially to stumble and go lame. Used of horses. — American Heritage Dictionary

    I’d go with the second one, matey.

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