Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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From American's United for the Seperation of Church and State:

Dead Center: Florida TV Preacher’s Right-Wing Political Unit Folds

Dead Center: Florida TV Preacher’s Right-Wing Political Unit Folds
April 30th 2007
By Rob Boston

There was always a certain arrogance about TV preacher D. James Kennedy’s right-wing lobbying group called the Center for Reclaiming America.

It’s that term “reclaiming” that sticks in the craw. To hear Kennedy tell it, America was once the property of certain types of far-right Christians. The country was taken from them, and they have a duty to “reclaim” it.

Oh, really? Where in our Constitution does it imply this? It’s not in the First Amendment, which bars all laws “respecting an establishment of religion” and guarantees religious freedom to all. It’s not in Article VI, which bans religious qualification for federal office.

No, the idea of an America officially for and of ultra-conservative fundamentalists is a modern-day myth, carefully crafted and promoted by people with an extreme political agenda steeped in religion. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing less of it soon. Last week, Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries abruptly announced that it would close the Center for Reclaiming America in south Florida. An allied office in Washington, D.C., the Center for Christian Statesmanship, will also shut down.

Although never a national figure along the lines of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, Kennedy, an ultra-conservative Presbyterian minister based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., oversees a ministry that brings in nearly $40 million annually. It issues a steady stream of books, DVDs, pamphlets and other materials attacking church-state separation, gay rights, evolution and other Religious Right targets.

According to Kennedy, church-state separation is a “myth,” and America was founded to be a “Christian nation.” Over the years, I attended a few of his “Reclaiming America for Christ” national conferences. I found them to be a disturbing mix of fundamentalist triumphalism and ultra-right wing politics. (The future of those conferences is now is doubt. For information on the most recent gathering, see the report by Adele Stan in the April 2007 Church & State.)

The Center worked hard to court influential far-right Republicans. In July of 2001, then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay addressed a Capitol Hill gathering sponsored by the Center for Christian Statesmanship and attacked the separation of church and state.

DeLay praised President George W. Bush’s “faith-based” initiative, asserting it is a good way of “standing up and rebuking this notion of separation of church and state that has been imposed upon us over the last 40 or 50 years.”

He added, “You see, I don’t believe there is a separation of church and state. I think the Constitution is very clear. We have the right and the freedom to exercise our religion no matter what it is anywhere we choose to do it. We have an opportunity to once again get back into the public arena.”

Collectively, Kennedy’s groups have always been something of a second-tier operation. (Kennedy is himself in poor health these days, having suffered a serious heart attack late last year.) The decision to close the Center for Reclaiming America, while welcome, doesn’t spell the end for the Religious Right. Coral Ridge will continue to pump out anti-separationist propaganda, while groups like the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and others continue to pursue their radical agendas to merge religion and government.

No one at Americans United will lament the passing of the Center for Reclaiming America. One less voice for extremism is good news. But at the same time, we remain aware of a troubling fact: People determined to find an outlet for their religious intolerance, people who insist that everyone abide by a narrow set of “faith-based” laws, people who don’t appreciate the genius of our Founders in crafting the separation of church and state, will have no trouble finding another outlet for their point of view.

You can syndicate the American's United blog here on LJ: [info]audotorg. This is an organization that's definitely worth a financial contribution or two as the theocrats wage their never ending jihad against secular governance.

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