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He's No Ted Kennedy

Pro-life groups celebrate Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts and rally against a Planned Parenthood center in Houston.

Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about over the last week.

Massachusetts' Right Turn

Political advocacy groups stayed up late Tuesday night to see that the unbelievable had actually occurred—a Republican had filled the Senate vacancy left by the death of Senator Edward Kennedy.

The replacement was painfully ironic for Democrats. Kennedy was a long-time advocate for universal health care, and the election of Scott Brown gives Republicans the one additional vote needed to block Democrat health care legislation.

As the dust settled, Christian advocacy groups interpreted the results.

"This election had nothing to do with Scott Brown or Martha Coakley," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council (FRC). "It was about our President, who stepped into the Oval Office 365 days ago and made a hard-Left turn so fast that it gave Americans whiplash."

Traditional Values Coalition executive director Andrea Lafferty turned the rhetoric against Obama even higher, saying the campaign "was about Obama's nationalized health care plan, his dishonesty, and all of the liberal shenanigans going on in the House and Senate."

The Liberty Counsel said in a statement that it was not Obama's election that was the revolution; it was this win in Massachusetts that was the real "shot heard round the world."

"The tax and spend, big government, anti-life agenda has been pushed back. ObamaCare has been derailed," said the Liberty Counsel statement. The group predicted that if liberals in Congress don't heed this revolution, they will lose badly in the 2010 general elections.

Chuck Colson of BreakPoint said the key issue was "a paramount moral issue" of over-spending and out of control debt.

"The huge turnout yesterday in Massachusetts expressed citizen alarm that Congress is spending us deeper and deeper into debt, and there's no end in sight," he said. "The Senate race in liberal Massachusetts has citizens saying, 'Enough! We're tired of the government trying to cram its radical—and expensive—plans down our throats.'"

Colson recommends the proposal by Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, in which a blue-ribbon panel would propose changes to Congress, which would then get a straight up-or-down vote on the proposals. 

Ashley Home, a policy analyst for Focus on the Family Action, gave one of the more colorful analogies to explain the election. "It's like that guy who keeps asking you for a date," she said of the Democratic party's persistent push to pass its agenda. "You keep turning him down politely, until you finally have to just play your mean card and slap him so he'll stop asking. The Massachusetts election result was that slap."

Though conservative groups consistently described Brown as a conservative, he is not a poster boy for the Christian Right. Pro-choice on most abortion questions, Brown was a pragmatic choice for conservatives.

Tom Minnery, senior vice president Focus on the Family Action, said that Brown received support from pro-life groups who were "very astute, very political" because they recognized that even though he was not on their side on all issues, his victory would mean no federal funding of abortions.

FRC's Perkins agreed. "Social conservatives held back criticism of Brown's social views—and, in some cases, openly supported him—because they believe a Brown win fulfills a short term goal of blocking President Obama's abominable health bill," he said. "Of course, the Republican Establishment would like us to believe that Scott Brown's moderate platform on life and marriage is a recipe for conservative success in 2010."

Protesting Houston's Abortion Center

On Martin Luther King Day, thousands protested Planned Parenthood's new facility in Houston. Organized by The Call to Conscience, the rally included representatives from Concerned Women for America (CWA), FRC, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ELRC), American Family Association (AFA), and other advocacy groups.

Themes from the civil rights movement and the pro-life movement were woven together. The center is located in an area with a high minority population. CWA reported that the crowd chanted, "Black, brown, and white! We are pro-life!"

Bryan Fischer of the AFA wrote that he "was greatly encouraged to join with pro-life Hispanics and African-Americans on Martin Luther King's birthday to proclaim that every baby in the womb deserves to be a part of Rev. King's dream, and to have the chance at life that our Founders knew is a God-given right. You can't honor Rev. King's memory and legacy by killing the very people he gave his life for."

FRC's Ken Blackwell and Tony Perkins attended the rally. "The event was focused on praying that Houston's eyes—and the eyes of the entire nation—would be open to the real agenda of the abortion industry," Perkins said. "Unless we stop the health care bill, Planned Parenthood stands to tighten its grip on the culture of death that's responsible for projects like Houston's abortion super center."

ELRC's Richard Land called for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic research. "Death has invaded the nursery and the retirement home too, making young and old alike the victims of biological bigotry," Land said. "We must oppose the barbaric, lethal combination of technical expertise and spiritual ignorance that would deny that there is a spirit in man."

Odds and Ends

The American Center for Law and Justice celebrated the withdrawal of Erroll Southers from consideration as head of the Transportation and Safety Administration. According to the ACLJ, "Southers viewed pro-life Christians and our support of Israel as a bigger threat to national security than Al Qaeda. And that's not all—there are also disturbing reports that the nominee thinks America itself is to blame for terrorists attacks."

• Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association defended statements by a Dutch politician who has been charged with hate crime violations because he called for a stop to Muslim immigration, the deportation of jihadists, and a ban on the Qur'an. Fischer says his own views are similar. "I have called for a cessation of Muslim immigration into the U.S., a ban on Muslims serving in the U.S. military, and aggressive profiling of Muslim males who want to fly to or in the United States. Will I be the next to be prosecuted for committing a 'hate crime'?" he asked.

• Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week. Stewart appears on the latest cover of Sojourners magazine, and is discussed at length in Wallis's new book. Wallis explained that Stewart "asked questions nobody else was asking—at least not on television. How did we move from wealth resulting from real work to wealth coming from the 'game' of the casino gamblers of Wall Street?"

• Also from Sojourners: Justin Fung discussed this week's ABC story on a weapons manufacturer that inscribed citations to Bible verses on gun-sights it made for the U.S. military. Fung wrote on Sojourners' God's Politics blog, "It's absolutely mind-boggling to me that carved onto weapons of war are words of truth and peace—words from a man who embodied and heralded a kingdom characterized by peace, and from a man who announced an alternative to empire and spoke of faith, hope, joy, gentleness, goodness, and peace. How in the heck do these things go together?" On Thursday, the company announced that it would cease the practice.

Prison Fellowship awarded this year's William Wilberforce prize to former Congressman Tony Hall (D-OH). Hall also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture during President George W. Bush's administration. Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley explained that Tony Hall's "overriding passion has focused on the poor and hungry of the world, victimized not only by natural disasters such as famine, but also by political corruption and oppression."

Tobin Grant is an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and director of the Tracking American Evangelical Politics project.

Related Elsewhere:

Earlier Political Advocacy Trackers are available on our site. Christianity Today also follows political developments on the politics blog.

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