For years, religion lobbyists have been quietly knocking on doors around the nation’s capital, informing the people who run the country where churches and synagogues stand on various issues. With only occasional exceptions, though, Washington’s religion lobby has wielded little political clout: legislators listen politely, but, as many of the religion lobbyists themselves wistfully acknowledge, that’s about all most of them do.
This is not so, however, in the case of the newest religious lobbying force in town—the Christian allies of the political New Right. Backed by prominent television preachers and with links to both New Right political organizations and conservative members of Congress, several Christian “profamily, promorality” groups have popped into public view this year, and the political establishment—from President Jimmy Carter down—is taking note.
The new groups have Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical origins, but they are inclusivist in their political strategy, eager to recruit anyone from Mormons to Roman Catholics who will help them win their objectives. They have declared war on immorality in America’s social life, on “secular humanism” in the schools and elsewhere, and on government intrusion in Christian education and other church affairs. One notable victory: Congress, under heavy pressure mustered mostly by the Christian groups and their allies, shackled the Internal Revenue Service, preventing the agency from applying new tests aimed at determining whether religious and other private schools practice racial discrimination in enrollment (see Oct. 5 issue, p. 58).
The Christian political activists have drawn a bead on legislation and legislators alike, and they intend to carry the fight into the uttermost ...1
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