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Crusade for a Christian Nation
A lthough not nearly as well- known or flamboyant as the Rev. Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, who was recently inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Hall of Fame, has created a media and ministerial empire that is packing a powerful political punch.
The senior minister of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and the president of Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM), Dr. Kennedy’s media outreach began in 1974 with radio. These days, his media empire reaches millions of people around the world—with programs such as “Truths That Transform,” which was named the NRB’s Best Radio Teaching Program for 2004, the “Kennedy Commentary,” a daily 90-second radio feature, and the “Coral Ridge Hour,” NRB’s 2003 Television Program of the Year.
The NRB is the world’s largest association of Christian communicators, with over 1,700 member organizations. According to Dr. Frank Wright, the current president of the NRB, Kennedy was being honored in recognition of his “invaluable contributions to the field of Christian communications, all the while exhibiting the highest standards of conduct and evidence of faithfulness in Christ.” Wright was formerly the executive director of Kennedy’s Washington, DC- based Center for Christian Statesmanship and had worked with CRM for more than 20 years.
In early February, Coral Ridge Ministries held its 10th annual political training event, the Reclaiming America For Christ conference, sponsored by the Ministries’ Center for Reclaiming America. “America can be returned to moral and spiritual sanity,” Dr. Kennedy said in a pre-conference press release. “But that will only happen as Christians return to the public square—something already happening in the last 25 years to great effect. This conference will enlist new recruits and recharge those already engaged in the great task of reclaiming this nation for Christ.”
“As culturally concerned Christians, we were energized by last year’s battles to defend marriage and vote like-minded public servants into local and national office,” said Dr. Gary Cass, Center for Reclaiming America executive director.
Speakers at the two-day conference included some of the major movers and shakers on the Christian right:
- Christian historian David Barton, the head of WallBuilders
- Columnist David Limbaugh, author of the bestselling book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity
- Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
- Dr. Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee
- Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association
- Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund
- Wendell Bird, constitutional attorney and author of The Origin of Species Revisited
- Recording artist and “former homosexual” Stephen Bennett
- Dr. Daniel Dreisbach, author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State
- Dr. Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America
In 1995, Kennedy established the Washington, DC-based D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship (www.statesman.org), in order to offer spiritual counsel to members of Congress and their staffs. Among the Center’s projects is The Statesmanship Institute, a weekly program “for Christians in government” to give them “the tools to integrate biblical principles with your calling to public service” which offers:
- A Capitol Hill Bible Studies for staff on Capitol Hill
- A monthly series of lunches called Politics & Principle which “features a modern-day Christian Statesman who shares from a personal perspective, the challenges of living out Christian faith in today’s political environment”
- The Distinguished Christian Statesman Award, which “recognizes one outstanding public leader” each year—last year’s recipient was Representative John Hostettler (R-IN). (Previous winners include Kay Cole James, a longtime Christian right activist and currently the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Majority Whip Tom DeLay [R-TX], and Judge Roy Moore.)
Recently, a Center press release pointed out that Bill O’Reilly, the host of the Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor,” had been surprised to discover that the ten- year-old operation existed. O’Reilly then mentioned it on his program, claiming that he was interested in finding out “which political leaders had been influenced by the Gospel message the Center proclaims.”
“Dr. D. James Kennedy’s multidimensional empire is a direct challenge to mainstream Christianity,” said Frederick Clarkson, a veteran journalist that has been following and writing about right-wing movements for more than 20 years. “Kennedy was one of the leaders of a schism that created the conservative Presbyterian Church in America 30 years ago,” Clarkson told Media Transparency in an email interview.
Although he may not be as well known as other Christian right leaders, Kennedy has been involved in multiple projects with his radical right colleagues. He was a member of the first board of directors of the Moral Majority. He also served on the initial executive board of the Coalition for Religious Freedom (CRF), an organization established by Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church while Rev. Moon was in prison in 1984. According to Sara Diamond, “the organization was financed primarily by the Unification Church, which gave an initial donation of $500,000.” The CRF’s executive board included Jerry Falwell, James Robison, Rex Humbard, Jimmy Swaggart, Kennedy, and Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the wildly popular Left Behind series of books” ( Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right , South End Press, 1989).
Kennedy, along with more than 30 Christian groups, was involved in the founding and funding of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), an organization formed to pursue “religious liberty” and family preservation” lawsuits. In her 1996 book, Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times (Common Courage Press), Diamond wrote, “The ADF represents a serious escalation in the Christian Right’s legal action project.”
According to a People For The American Way’s Right Wing Watch report on the organization, the ADF’s major activities include:
- Defend[ing] family values and working against the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)
- Strategiz[ing] and coordinate[ing] with [likeminded] lawyers all over the United States
- Working with over 400 lawyers, more than 125 right-wing organizations, and many ministries
- Arguing high profile cases before the Supreme Court, including Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network
- Vigorous nationwide advocacy against same-sex marriage
- Training and recruiting conservative legal teams
- Defending the right of Christians to share the gospel in workplaces and public schools, claiming that any efforts to curb such proselytizing are anti-Christian
What distinguishes Kennedy from the more colorful, media-genic, and ubiquitous religious right figures is that, “Kennedy has shepherded his flock in a more orderly, and Presbyterian style into the Christian Right,” Clarkson pointed out. “For many years, Kennedy did a fundraising cruise called The Bible Boat to the Caribbean in the winter.
“In 1994 this was replaced with the annual Reclaiming America for Christ conference. This was his first foray into forming his own political network. Extending his operations to Washington, DC, through The Center for Christian Statesmanship appears to be a logical outgrowth of this process.”
Kennedy is also founder of Evangelism Explosion, a lay witness training program through which the ministry claims that 4.5 million people came to Christ last year. Kennedy launched Evangelism Explosion International in 1967.
According to a profile of Kennedy in the Institute for First Amendment Studies’ Freedom Writer, the program is “a sophisticated 13-week training seminar in discipleship.” EE training “is the most intense evangelism training in the world. It is used by hundreds of conservative Christian churches across the country, and has made inroads into every single country in the world.”
In an April 1999 article on the website of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Rob Boston argued that Kennedy didn’t believe in the concept of the separation of church and state: “Kennedy’s 1994 book, Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search of Its Soul , is riddled with attacks on the constitutional principle.
“Among other things, Kennedy calls church-state separation ‘diabolical,’ a ‘false doctrine’ and ‘a lie propagated by Thomas Jefferson.’ Kennedy also lapses into red-baiting, writing, ‘This phrase does not appear in the United States Constitution at all, but in Article 52 of the Constitution of the Soviet Union—now the Soviet disunion. Defunct, because they tried to get rid of God.’ A 1996 Kennedy tome, The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail: The Attack On Christianity And What You Need To Know To Combat It , coauthored with Jerry Newcombe, calls the wall of separation a ‘great deception [that] has been used to destroy much of the religious freedom and liberty this country has enjoyed since its inception’.”
Addressing the more than 900 attendees at the recently concluded Reclaiming America for Christ conference, Kennedy pointed out that there was a “crack in the Jericho wall of naturalistic evolution. I’m sure some of us will be around when the walls come tumbling down.” Kennedy went on to say that “Communistic evolution, according to the Senate committee that examined it, is responsible for 135 million deaths in peacetime. There’s no religion that has a tiny fraction of that many deaths on its conscience.”
Kennedy is not going to rest on his laurels. The Center for Reclaiming America’s Dr. Gary Cass recently unveiled four new ambitious initiatives intended to expand the impact of its work. The initiatives include: the establishment of Liberty’s Voice, a lobbying office in Washington; developing the Strategic Institute, a think tank that will “add intellectual muscle” to the Center’s pro-family efforts; launching the National Grassroots Alliance, an initiative to boost the Center’s grassroots network of 400,000 evangelicals up to one million; and Reclaiming America’s Media, to better communicate the Center’s message.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.