Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Ohio and the Christian Right


This Talk To Action article goes into the "Patriot Pastors" and the history of the involvement of Dominionist Christians with the political Right:

Ohio, Blackwell & the Christian Right Part II
Recently, the Ohio Restoration Project announced plans to mobilize conservative Christian voters towards the 2006 elections. The principal beneficiary appears to be Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell who is running for the Republican nomination for governor. (I referred to this in passing in Part I, which described Blackwell's involvement in a dominionist seminar at Cedarville University on June 17th.) The story has been widely reported, including by the New York Times, and much blogged, for example by Bruce Prescott at Talk to Action.

But there was one part of the Ohio Restoration Project action plan that was strikingly familiar to me. It incorporates a feature of two pivotal events in the development of the contemporary Christian Right -- the Washington for Jesus rallies held on the mall in Washington, DC in the 1980s. Interestingly too, they may very well also follow the model of abuse of non-profit tax-exempt organizations that accompanied these events.

The Ohio Restoration Project is a carefully planned campaign to maximize conservative Christian voter participation in the 2006 elections. The project will among other things engage people through a series of "pastor policy briefings" for large numbers of leaders and followers in the largest cities in Ohio, coupled with advertising featuring comments from Ken Blackwell. And they want to recruit some 2,000 "Patriot Pastors" to lead the way. They also intend to ensure that Christian Right voter guides from any of several groups (Christian Coalition, American Family Association, etc. are in widespread use. They aim for 4 million. Of course some of this would have happened anyway, but they are providing an organizing focus that will not only ensure mere distribution, but generate interest and enthusiasm. There are plans to build e-mail lists, host "non-partisan" voter registration drives in churches, all of these activities are intended to build a political network that will influence the 2006 elections and beyond, and seize control of Republican party organizations in every county in the state.

As the New York Times reported, "In a manifesto that is being circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, which is called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year."

"The initial goal is to elect Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a conservative Republican, governor in 2006. The group hopes to build grass-roots organizations in Ohio's 88 counties and take control of local Republican organizations."

This represents a new, and possibly dynamic wave of energy and organizing. Its got a well thought out plan, that build on existing models, including the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and more. Far from being an original, out of the blue scheme, it shrewdly and knowledgably builds on and applies, Christian Right organizing models of the past generation.

There's much more on the site. We must understand the history and the drive and the plans of the Dominionists in order to defeat their attempt to take over the country. Reading articles like this one, as well as books like "Eternal Hostility" will get us educated and help us understand what makes this movement tick in order to thwart it. Here's some history:

Washington for Jesus, held in the spring of 1980 in the run up to the fall elections, was originally billed as a "prayer rally" -- but controversy erupted when a political declaration which was to be released at the supposedly apolitical event, leaked to the press. The declaration, drafted by rally leaders, including Pat Robertson, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, and Demos Shakarian of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International, claimed, among other things, that "unbridled sexuality, humanism and Satanism are taught [in the schools] at public expense" and "our currency has been debased... and our armed forces weakened." The manifesto also called for "laws, statutes, and ordinances that are in harmony with God's word." Some, seeking prayer not politics, dropped out. In the name of unity, the declaration was dropped as well.

Nevertheless, Bill Bright called the event "the single most important day in the history of the United States since the Declaration of Independence." Rally coordinator Ted Panteleo said "I think President Reagan was elected as a result of what happened up there."

Soon after the WFJ rally for "Godly government," the non-profit Freedom Council was organized by Pat Robertson, who provided cash, mailing lists and office space at the headquarters of his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN.) Ted Panteleo, the founding director... said in 1982 that they were organizing in every congressional district toward "a Christian president, and a Christian government."

So, they've been growing this movement for 25 years. They've achieved part of their goals- a Christian president- and are working hard to make that 'Christian government' a reality.

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