Tension is forming between formerly-allied right-wing Christian fundamentalists and the Republican Party. Christian conservatives are threatening to drop their support of the Republican Party because of Party politicians’ less than ardent stance on abortion, school prayer and homosexuality. James Dobson, head of the fundamentalist Focus on the Family group, has said that he is going to leave the Republican Party so that he can tell “evangelical and pro-life Christians [of the] moral and philosophical collapse of the Republican leadership.”
Paul Weyrich, head of the conservative Christian Free Congress Foundation, organized a meeting of 15 leaders of conservative organizations in an effort to create endorsement procedures for a Republican presidential candidate in the primaries. Weyrich’s group has already said that it will not support House Speaker Newt Gingrich (GA) or Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.), because neither has shown a strong commitment to extreme-right-wing values.
Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, was present at a meeting between Dobson and House Majority Whip Tom Delay (Tex.). The Council ran anti-abortion ads in an effort to aid Tom Bordonaro in the California House seat race against Lois Capps. Delay berated Bauer for running the ads and said that they were a “strategic error” in Santa Barbara, where 58 percent of the voters are pro-choice.
Strife between the Christian right and Republican politicians is also apparent in many conservative groups’ opposition to Sen. McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Says (R-Conn.) and Rep. Meehan’s (D-Mass.) proposed campaign finance reform laws. Groups including the National Rifle Association, the Christian Coalition, and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) are working to defeat the bill.
The proposed reform legislation would: prohibit advertising that uses a candidate’s name or likeness by an independent advocacy group within 60 days of an election, ban unlimited donations to political parties known as soft money, and require almost complete disclosure of campaign fund sources.
NRLC’s legislative director said, “We certainly couldn’t let legislation go forward that would cripple our ability to communicate on right-to-life issues simply because some of the sponsors have anti-abortion records.” The NRLC issued a statement later that said the proposed reform “could cripple the pro-life movement in the United States.”
Senator McCain, who is known for his anti-abortion views and otherwise close relationship with the NRLC, said the group was “increasingly less interested in the cause they were organized to defend and more interested in the pursuit of political power for its own sake.”