When young, charismatic Christian publisher Jason Christy was tapped two years ago to lead the powerful Christian Coalition, the group's leaders praised him for his ability "to inspire and encourage people of faith to action." But Christy's business dealings — both before and after his one-month affiliation with the Coalition — instead have inspired former customers and co-workers to file lawsuits charging Christy with defrauding their Christian businesses.

Christy, 36, who apparently had no previous public-policy experience, persuaded the Christian Coalition in 2005 to place him in one of the most visible and powerful positions in evangelical life. But before the coalition's leaders officially turned over the reins of their 1.2 million-member national lobbying group, they learned of a trail of legal and financial problems that has followed Christy from coast to coast.

Former associates and customers of Christy's many business ventures — mostly Christian magazines — say he cheated them out of money and threatened them. At least 10 of them have filed lawsuits, Associated Baptist Press has learned, and others have gotten court-issued restraining or protection orders against the Scottsdale, Ariz., businessman.

Christy says all the allegations are false. He and his supporters say "enemies" are spreading lies about him because of soured business relationships. But critics say Christy is a scam artist preying on trusting Christians.

Christy now publishes The Church Report, supposedly a conservative, national print magazine and web site. He has appeared as an analyst on CNN and spoken at megachurches like Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. He hob-nobs with some of the evangelical elite and still has relationships ...

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