Christian Coalition Survival Questioned
The Associated Press
NORFOLK - The Christian Coalition was once an influential force in U.S. politics, helping Republicans to control the House of Representatives in 1994 and championing conservative causes. But without Pat Robertson as president, some observers are questioning whether the group he founded can survive. Robertson says he's confident it will and few can imagine the American political landscape without conservative Christians.
When it comes to the Christian Coalition itself, there have already been signs its influence is on the wane: Membership has ebbed in recent years, analysts say, and. the. Organization has been forced to endure legal fights, staff conflicts and key departures. "Quiet frankly, the Christian Coalition is on its last legs," said Mark Rozell, a professor of politics at Catholic University in Washington. "The bottom line is, I don't see anyone with his (Robertson's} national profile, his ability to raise money, his ability to organize, to save the Christian Coalition from extinction."
Stephen Medvic, a professor of political science at Old Dominion University, said the coalition has achieved many of its goals and may have outlived its usefulness. "A lot of Republicans in Congress do believe a lot of what the Christian Coalition believes," he said. "In some sense, there is a ceiling on these things."
Yet John Green, director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, cautioned against writing off the Christian Coalition too quickly. The impact of Robertson's departure depends on whether he withdraws his financial backing and influence, or simply plays a more behind-the-scenes role. Green said And Robertson has becomes such a controversial figure that his movement may benefit from some new faces, he added.
In announcing his resignation on Dec. 5, Robertson said that, at age 71, he wants to concentrate on his ministry. He said he's done with politics, except for commenting on public affairs on "The 700 Club" the flagship program of his Christian Broadcasting Network. "I think this is for me a change of direction," he said in an interview from CBN headquarters in. Virginia Beach, "I'm concerned about the public affairs of the nation and will always be, but my active participation has come to an end as a member of the Christian Coalition."
The board's election of Roberta Combs as the new president-she had been executive vice president since late 1999 - leaves the Coalition in capable hands, he said.
Religion and History
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