A flood of recent news stories have reported efforts to create a new coalitionan "independent political force"of religious conservatives. Coordinated by longtime conservative strategist Paul Weyrich, the leading players are James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council. Their major attacks are aimed at the Republican congressional leadership, who Dobson says "have shamefully refused to address the moral issues on which they campaigned."
The public attacks have gone so far as to threaten a revolt from the Republican Party, with Bauer considering a run for the presidency and Dobson proclaiming, "I will do everything in my power to tell evangelical and pro-life Christians" of the "moral and philosophical collapse of Republican leadership" unless his agenda is passed.
The agenda they are demanding of Congress is defined by Dobson as the key "pro-moral" issues. It includes passage of "school prayer" and "school choice" legislation, opposition to abortion and rights for gays and lesbians, defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts, and censoring pornography on the Internet. Following several confrontational meetings with Dobson, Republican leaders have promised a series of votes on these issues before the fall elections.
Conspicuously absent from this agenda is any legislation affecting those living in poverty or addressing issues of racial justice. In the past year, religious conservatives have vowed that they understood the importance of a Christian commitment to overcoming poverty and racism. Despite these proclamations, those concerns are nowhere to be seen.
The new heads of the Christian Coalition, Randy Tate and Donald Hodel, are central to the developing new coalition. One year after its highly publicized formation of the "Samaritan Project," a set of proposals aimed at poverty and outreach to African Americans, the Coalition has unceremoniously dumped the entire project.