The Politics of Serving Mammon and God

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 30, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

What would happen if evangelical Christian voters decided politics was too corrupt, and decided to back away from whole-hearted support of Republican candidates? If that happened, what would the impact be on the political influence of the leaders of major, conservative Christian “values” organizations–the ones responsible for marshalling these same grassroots workers to support for Republican candidates? I guess this explains their silence on the Ralph Reed scandal. Serving God to stamp out homosexuality requires a compromise on Mammon. Especially when it comes to Republican high rollers.

Thanks to Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition, we have been handed a wonderful opportunity. Every time Dobson from Focus on the Family opens his mouth on gays, ask him what he has to say about the fact he and his followers were used by Ralph Reed and associates to make money for gambling casinos. What does he have to say about this dubious use of Christian morality in politics? We can ask the same question to Gary Bauer, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly and Donald Wildmon, all of whom went along–or were easily duped–by Ralph Reed to use their influence and organizations to help him and his friends make a lot of money from the gambling industry.

A Senate report released in June documented more than $5.3 million in payments to Ralph Reed from an operation run by corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of the Indian tribe casinos who were his clients. The report found Ralph Reed’s involvement with Jack Abramoff began in 1998 when he sent him an email message saying he was “done with electoral politics” and “I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.” Jack Abramoff needed support in helping his casino clients to fend off competition from other Indian tribes. He turned to Ralph Reed to provide political muscle through his Christian grassroots network.

Century Strategies, Ralph Reed’s Georgia-based consulting firm, set up “anti-gambling” coalitions in Alabama, Louisiana and Texas to oppose proposed new casinos (and in one case to shut down an existing one). He convinced dozens of influenial pastors in those states, including some of the biggest names on the evangelical right, to moblize their flocks in a series of successful anti-casino campaigns. The front groups Ralph Reed established, with upright names like “Citizens Against Legalized Gambling,” organized religious rallies, sent out mass mailings decrying the evils of wagering, and flooded legislators and state officials with thousands of calls from concerned Christians.

In a June op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former GOP House minority leader, Bob Irvin, blasted Reed: “His M.O. is to tell evangelical Christians that his cause of the moment, for which he has been hired, is their religious duty. Irvin fumed, “As an evangelical myself, I resent Christianity being used simply to help Reed’s business.”

Other evangelical leaders and allies are also taking their gobs of mud in the Abramoff scandal. Anti-gay crusader Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition and Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition, both allegedly took money from Abramoff client eLottery to help defeat a federal ban on Internet gambling.

In one of his last campaign advertisements, Ralph Reed stated: “I’ve always worked for what we believe in: faith, family and freedom. That’s why the liberal media has attacked me. Because I’ve stood for you and our conservative values.”

Can I have an “Amen” from the bobble heads?

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