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Submitted by admin on 6 December, 1997 - 03:38
Christian seeks to influence presidential election
CHRISTIAN COALITION founder and Chairman Pat Robertson has admitted he plans to control the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, according to a Church-State watchdog group. In a speech that raises serious legal questions, Robertson appeared to contradict the Christian Coalition's oft-repeated claims not to be a political organisation. He told a closed-door session of Coalition state leaders that he will recommend a Republican presidential candidate in private correspondence and then tell Coalition leaders to unite behind the candiate.
The speech made on 13 September 1997 at a breakfast meeting during the Coalition Road to Victory conference in Atlanta, was recorded and made public by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Robertson boasted: "I told the Coalition President, Don Hodel, when he joined us, "My dear friend, I want to hold out to you the possibility of selecting the next president of the United States, because I think that's what we have in this organisation". 'The televangelist and 1988 presidential candidate also outlined a precinct-based political strategy for electing federal, state, and local officials.
Robertson plans to use his political power to impose his extremist religious agenda on the United States. During the speech he called separation of church and state 'a distortion of what the framers of the Constitution intended'. He cited U.S. Representative Ernest Istook's so-called Religious Freedom Amendment as a major Coalition goal. Constitutional experts believe that the amendment would effectively destroy church-state separation.
Calling for the Republican leadership in Congress to submit to the Christian Coalition's agenda, Robertson said, "We're tired of temporising. Don't give us all this stuff about you've got a different agenda. This is what you're going to do this year. And we're going to hold your feet to the fire while you do it.'"
Following the release of the tape of the talk, Americans United's Executive Director, Reverend, Barry Lynn, called for the Internal Revenue Service to remove the Christian Coalition's provisional tax-exempt status. Groups with this status may not endorse candidates or engage in political campaigning as their primary activities. The Coalition has already been sued by the Federal Election Commission for coordinating its activities with Republican candidates for office in 1990, 1992 and 1994 and failing to report its expenditures.
In June, two long-time Republican politicians were appointed to head the Christian Coalition. One-term Republican Congressman Randy Tate became executive director, replacing Ralph Reed. The new President of the Coalition, Donald Hodel, is best known for his role in the Reagan administration as head of the Energy and Interior departments.