Sunday, September 26, 2004

Falwell says evangelicals control GOP, Bush's fate

From the San Diego Union-Tribute

The Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday that evangelical Christians, after nearly 25 years of increasing political activism, now control the Republican Party and the fate of President Bush in the November election.

"The Republican Party does not have the head count to elect a president without the support of religious conservatives," Falwell said at an election training conference of the Christian Coalition.

Falwell said evangelical Christians are now "by far the largest constituency" within the Republican Party, their route to dominance beginning in 1979 with his founding of the Moral Majority, a precursor to the Christian Coalition.

"I tell my Republican friends who are always talking about the 'big tent,' I say make it as big as you want to, but if the candidate running for president is not pro-life, pro-family . . . you're not going to win," he said.

"Big tent" was coined by the late Lee Atwater as chairman of the Republican National Committee after the 1988 presidential election to summarize his view that the party should expand beyond its conservative base to include moderates.

Falwell expressed confidence in a Bush victory over Democratic Sen. John Kerry, adding, "You cannot be a sincere, committed born-again believer who takes the Bible seriously and vote for a pro-choice, anti-family candidate."

Falwell was among roughly a dozen speakers at the Christian Coalition workshop, which was held in a Senate auditorium, a courtesy arranged by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority whip, the No. 2 Republican position in the Senate. The speakers included:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said Bush's re-election is critical because "the next president is going to appoint two, perhaps four, Supreme Court justices," making it possible to reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling.

The Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, who, in announcing a $1 million campaign to mobilize church-going voters, likened politicians who support abortion rights to people who support terrorism.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who said "preachers must be free to speak out" in favor of anti-abortion office-seekers because liberals are attempting to "eliminate the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this country was founded."

The "Road to Victory 2004" conference ends today at a Washington hotel with several hundred Christian activists attending training sessions for registering new voters and getting those voters to the polls on Election Day.

Thanks to Linda who found this article.