When the Christian Coalition held its first rally in Orlando in 1989, the organization boasted 5,000 members and the rally drew 600 supporters. Today, little more than six years after its inception, the coalition numbers 1.6 million members and supporters, includes 2,000 local chapters, and distributes 33 million voter guides. In his book Active Faith, founder Ralph Reed writes that the Christian Coalition is a "middle class, highly educated suburban phenomenon of baby-boomers with children who are motivated by their concerns about family" and has "normalized a religious impulse that has heretofore been treated as abnormal."
But others in the Christian community might interject: That depends upon what you mean by "normalize" and "impulse." Tony Campolo, professor of sociology at Eastern College (St. Davids, Penn.), has said that "the people who make up this group represent only a minority of the Christian community." To counter the perception that the coalition is the sole voice for the believing community in the political arena, Campolo, along with other colleagues who do not identify themselves as part of the Religious Right, launched in late 1995 an organization known as the Call for Renewal. The Call mounted its campaign both to dissent publicly from the coalition's policies and perceived allegiances and to develop "a new way" for Christians to engage in politics.
Despite both of these activist impulses, Charles Colson, one-time political insider and leading Christian voice on things cultural and political, expresses concern that the day may be fast approaching when Christians, Left or Right, might not have a voice in the political conversation at all. He ...
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