Religious Right Pivotal in 2000 Elections
Analysts say that religious conservatives were pivotal in electing George W. Bush and the GOP House majority in the November, 2000 election. "It wouldn't be fair to say they're in the driver's seat but they're in the car, and grabbing the steering wheel from time to time," says Steve Bene, research coordinator with Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Furman University political scientist James Guth says that organizations like the Christian Coalition appear to be declining only because the movement now is so important within the Republican Party. "You don't need pressure from the outside when you're on the inside." (Associated Press 11/15/00)
However, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson is confident of the influence of his group. Robertson says he will urge Bush to reverse all executive orders issued under the Clinton administration and impose the ones that conservatives support. "I think conservatives will be very pleased with [Bush]," Robertson said. "This is why I've given him an enormous amount of slack to play to the center so much and go after independent votes." (New York Times 12/15/00)
Focus on the Family Officials Involved in Scandals
Several employees of Focus on the Family, the nation's largest religious right group, have been involved in controversies in recent months.
In September, John Paulk, a self-avowed "cured" homosexual who campaigns for homosexuals to abandon their "sinful" ways, was involved in a scuffle after he was video-taped in a well-known gay bar in Washington, DC. A Focus on the Family spokesperson says that Paulk only entered to use the retroom and did not know that it was a gay bar. However, patrons say that he bought drinks and stayed for 40 minutes during a drag show. (Associated Press 9/22/00)
In October, top Focus official Mike Trout quit after admitting to an extramarital affair. Trout said he had no choice but to resign from the group, which stresses the sanctity of marriage. "I'm greatly saddened," said Trout, who has been married for 31 years. "I worked at Focus on the Family because I believed in what we were doing." (Associated Press 10/17/00)
In December, Steven Wilsey was convicted of sexually molesting another Focus employee's son. Wilsey, a youth counselor who offered to mentor the eight-year-old, was arrested when the boy came home with bruises in the groin area after an overnight stay at Wilsey's house. (Associated Press 12/21/00)
Creationism Center Opens in East Troy
Timber-lee Christian Center has added a creation science showcase to its nature center in East Troy. The 14,000 square foot facility includes a "Creation Walk" of six rooms dedicated to the six days of creation. An informational brochure states that "students will have the opportunity to learn true science and be led to doubt the world's theories currently offered in public instruction." An estimated 12,000 students visit the center annually, including many from Waukesha public schools. (Christian Courier 11/00)
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