Spring 2003, Vol. 6, No. 1

Table of Contents
Spring 2003

Quick Links:
Articles in this issue

In the South:
The GOP Gets Religion

What Christian Right?

The Undetected Tide

Church Notes

The New Governing Party

The Bible in Memphis

The Decalogue in Montgomery


A World of Hurt

James in the Box

O Brother, Who Art Thou?


What Would Jesus Drive?


In the South:
   Church Notes

Below are excerpts from a series of recent e-mails from a woman in suburban Atlanta about the political activities in her middle-sized Southern Baptist Church. She is strongly opposed to such activities.

 The old saw is “You can’t take politics out of politics.”  But it has happened—politics have been taken out of politics and put into our churches. In north DeKalb County where I live, as well as in Gwinnett and other areas, the churches have become political  powerbrokers under the rule of Ralph Reed and the “Christian” coalition.

* * *

The “in crowd” at my church is all Republican and regularly encourage others in the church to attend the Christian Coalition meetings and rallies. They also ask for volunteers to help them in the election campaigns of Republican candidates. The Deacons and Pastor invite Republican candidates to come speak at our church, but never invite Democrats.

* * *

In all meals or meetings in the Church Fellowship Hall, whenever talk turns to politics and current affairs, the Church leaders always point out that the Republican Party is the one that represents “Christian values” and “Christian people” should always support them. During the Clinton presidency, there were 8 years of demonizing him and all things Democratic. If I ever spoke up in defense of a Democratic politician, I was talked down and sometimes actually yelled at by red-faced Deacons saying that the Democrats are the work of the devil. Whenever I tried to point out church is not the appropriate place for secular politics, I’ve also been pooh-poohed.

* * *

[M]any politically unsophisticated Christians allow themselves to be told how to vote by “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”…It is now commonly accepted in the Christian community that the Republican Party is the Christian political party…Because I am a Democrat, I have actually been pulled aside by fellow church members and told I’d better not let people in my church know that! 

* * *

Sunday morning before an election day, the so-called Christian Coalition’s Voter Guide is distributed in the vestibule of my church (and hundreds of other churches across the state). The preacher always makes an announcement about it and exhorts everyone to be sure to pick one up as they leave the sanctuary. There is always a stack of these “voter guides” (which amount to Republican tickets) left in the vestibule, easily available to voters when they come to vote on Tuesday.

* * *

The Republican political activities continue year-round, no matter whether an election year or not. For an example…a so-called “Families & Freedom Rally” was held at Mt. Vernon Baptist [January 25, 2003]. This was a fundraiser for “little people” at a cost of $20 per head. The program consisted of all Republican elected officials…The Mt. Vernon Baptist Church is used for many of the “Christian Coalition” meetings; it is a huge church (about 3,000 members I believe) and has plenty of room to accommodate these sorts of Republican political rallies. Although the U.S. Constitution calls for separation of church and state, the Georgia Republican Party actually uses church properties (as evidenced by this recent event) and calls on so-called Christians to join them and be used as operatives for the Republican Party.  My own church actually sent a church van to carry people to this event, as they do for most of these things.

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My church is just one of the many who send delegations to the political confabs held at Mt. Paran Baptist Church primarily for this part of the state, with other “magnet” churches for such meetings in other parts of Georgia.

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To protect their religious tax-exempt status, the politicized churches do not speak openly with academic people, and especially not with journalists!! The political leaders in church are usually hesitant to speak freely even with fellow church members until they feel you share their beliefs. Open church comments are normally guarded, e.g., “Be sure to pick up the voter’s guides in the vestibule as you leave” or “See John Doe for information about the Christian Coalition meeting next week.”

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