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The Christian Coalition of America, originally called the Christian Coalition, Inc., is a US Christian advocacy group, which includes Christian fundamentalists, evangelicals, neo-evangelicals and charismatics. Its membership equals 2.5 million supporters.

The Christian Coalition was founded by Rev. Pat Robertson, who served as the organization's president from its founding until February 2001. The current president is Roberta Combs. Its current supporters number 2,500,000. Since Mrs. Combs has taken the Presidency, the CCA has continued to be a powerful force in American politics. They distributed over 100,000,000 voter guides during her tenure.[1]

While labeling itself as the Christian Coalition, the organization represents certain viewpoints among numbers of Christians in the United States, but Christians with other beliefs disagree with the organization's ideas. The CCA's values are consistent with those of the Christian right.

Contents

Rise

Following a well-funded but failed bid for the U.S. presidency in 1988, religious broadcaster and political commentator Pat Robertson used the remains of his campaign machinery to jump-start the creation of a voter mobilization effort dubbed the Christian Coalition. Americans for Robertson accumulated a mailing list of several million conservative Christians interested in politics. This mailing list formed the foundation for the new organization.

However, despite public announcements that excitement among evangelical and Christian right voters prompted the creation of the Christian Coalition, the incorporation records of the State of Virginia reveal that the Christian Coalition, Inc. was actually incorporated on April 30, 1987, with the paperwork filed earlier, and with planning having begun before that. Thus the Christian Coalition was actually planned long before Pat Robertson's run for President began. Robertson's candidacy appears to have been planned from the start for launching the Christian Coalition.[citation needed]

Ralph Reed, a University of Georgia Ph.D. candidate and hotel waiter, whom Robertson had met at an inaugural dinner for George H.W. Bush in January, 1989, took control of day-to-day operations of the Coalition in 1989. From 1989 through 1997, the Christian Coalition wielded sizeable influence, largely in the form of the charismatic and persuasive public face of Ralph Reed, who became a commanding public voice in the news media. The perception if not the reality that Christian Coalition activists controlled local Party machinery in many locations and could reliably turn out large blocs of votes for Religious Right candidates caused many Republican and Democrat politicians at local levels to either vote as the Christian Coalition urged or else struggle with explaining their votes. The fear of being listed on Voter Guides as casting anti-Christian votes prompted politicians in moderate to conservative districts to carefully consider the positions urged by the Christian Coalition.

After its founding, it was granted a grace period to operate as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization before the IRS made its final determination. Forty-nine state chapters were also created as independent corporations within their states, including the Christian Coalition of Texas. A handful, including the Christian Coalition of Texas successfully obtained non-profit status as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, while the national group's application remained pending and unresolved.

In 1990, the national Christian Coalition, Inc., headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, began producing "non-partisan" voter guides which it distributed to conservative Christian churches, with 40 million being distributed in the 1992 and 1996 presidential election years. Under the leadership of Reed and Robertson, the Coalition quickly became the most prominent voice in the conservative Christian movement, landing Reed on the cover of Time in May, 1994, its influence culminating with an effort to support the election of a conservative Christian to the presidency in 1996 or 2000.

Complaints that the voter guides were actually partisan led to the denial of the Christian Coalition, Inc.'s tax-exempt status in 1999. The Christian Coalition, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the IRS after which the IRS backed down for most of the years in question, holding out only on 1992. However, instead of pursuing legal action, Pat Robertson renamed the Christian Coalition of Texas, Inc. as the Christian Coalition of America, Inc., since the Texas chapter already enjoyed tax exempt status, and transferred the trademark and all operations to the Texas-based corporation.[citation needed]

Decline

After its tax-exempt status was denied, CCA was able to turn all of its attention to politics. In 2000 the coalition moved from its long-standing base of operations in the Chesapeake Bay area to an office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

In 2005, the Coalition concluded a settlement agreement with the Internal Revenue Service, ending its long-running battle with that agency regarding its tax exempt status.[2] As a result, the IRS has now recognized the Coalition as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, the first time in the Agency's history that it has granted a letter of exemption to a group that stated in its application that it would distribute voter guides directly in churches. The consent decree enforces limitations on the terminology that may be used in the Coalition's "voter guides".[2]

The Christian Coalition of America has a very strong presence on Capitol Hill and has replaced many state chairmen throughout the country with new state chairmen. The Christian Coalition of America distributed 70,000,000 voter guides in 2000 and millions of voter guides in 2004 and 2008.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ David John Marley. Pat Robertson: An American Life. ISBN 978-0742552951.
  2. ^ a b Cooperman, Alan; Thomas B. Edsall (2006-04-10). "Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/09/AR2006040901063.html. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 

External links

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