Friday, June 03, 2011

Presidential Hopefuls At Ralph Reed Event Signal Troubling Power Of Religious Right | Americans United

Presidential Hopefuls At Ralph Reed Event Signal Troubling Power Of Religious Right | Americans United

The Religious Right has too much influence in American public life as the speaker line-up at a Ralph Reed event this week demonstrates, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

An array of presidential hopefuls and major congressional leaders is scheduled to appear at Reed’s “Faith & Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing” June 3 and 4 in Washington, D.C.

Reed is the former head of the Christian Coalition, a religious-political group founded by TV preacher Pat Robertson. Today, Reed is a political consultant and head of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, an organization supposedly dedicated to “educating, equipping, and mobilizing people of faith and like-minded individuals.” He has also made efforts to lure the Tea Party into an alliance with the Religious Right.

“I don’t think Ralph Reed has anyone fooled,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “He wants to forge fundamentalist churches and church members into a disciplined voting bloc and force political candidates to kneel before it.

“This kind of mixture of religion and politics is a grave danger to American public life,” said Lynn, who has monitored the Religious Right for some 25 years. “It is a sad day when our politicians start preaching and our preachers start politicking.”

Concluded Lynn, “I wish all the candidates would have the courage to stand up and say – as John F. Kennedy did in 1960 – ‘I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.’ Today, the Religious Right’s power is such that a statement like Kennedy’s is almost unthinkable. As a matter of fact, candidates are more likely to give their personal profession of faith.”

A recent Americans United survey of the top Religious Right ministries and groups in America revealed a tax-exempt fundamentalist empire with an annual income approaching one billion dollars.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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