Right Hand?

TimeWatch Editoral
November 23, 2016

On May 15, 1995 TIME magazine published an incredibly significant Edition. The title that filled the cover was “The Right Hand Of God.” The subtitle boldly stated “Meet Ralph Reed, 33. His Christian Coalition is on a crusade to take over U.S. politics, and its working.” The actual cover story was located on page 28 and was entitled “The Gospel According to Ralph,” authored by Jeffrey Birnbaum. It also carries a subtitle; “Reed’s burgeoning Christian Coalition evokes zeal and fear as it mobilizes to dominate the political center.” On page 30 of TIME magazine’s May 15, 1995 edition is found the following.

the right hand of God

“Not long ago the Christian Right was dismissed as a group of pasty-faced zealots, let by divisive Televangelists like Jerry Falwell who helped yank the Republican Party so far to the right that moderates were frightened away. But Reed has emerged as the movement’s fresh face, the choir boy to the rescue, a born again Christian was a fine sense of the secular mechanics of American Politics. His message, emphasizing such broadly themes as support for tax cuts, has helped make the Christian Coalition one of the most powerful grassroots organizations in American politics. Its 1.6 million active supporters and $25 million annual budget, up from 500,000 activists and a $14.8 million budget just two years ago hold a virtual veto on the Republican nominee for President, and will exert an extraordinary influence over who will occupy the oval office beginning in 1997. In fact, Reed’s success represents the most thorough penetration of the secular world f American politics by an essentially religious organization in this century.” Jeffrey Birnbaum, “The Gospel According to Ralph,” TIME magazine, May 15, 1995, page 30

Now of course, we are here talking about an assessment made in the year 1995. Also, notice the desire on the part of the Religious Right to “exert an extraordinary influence over who will occupy the oval office.” The objective therefore is clear. The control of congress and the White House was extremely important, if the ultimate objective of the Coalition was to be achieved. As a demonstration of the strategic effectiveness of the Christian Coalition, in the 1994 U.S. midterm elections, the Republicans has a net gain of 52 seats in the House of Representatives, and nine seats in the senate. Listen to how Jeffrey Birnbaum continues his article.

“As executive director of the Christian Coalition, Reed is master of a much more powerful and effective machine than any Presidential Candidate. By mobilizing eager volunteers down to the precinct and local church level, and handing out 33 million voter guides, often in church pews, the Coalition is credited with providing the winning margin for perhaps half of the Republican 52 seat gain in the House and a sizable portion of their 9 seat pickup in the Senate.” Jeffrey Birnbaum, “The Gospel According to Ralph,” TIME magazine, May 15, 1995, page 30

But that was by no means all that they accomplished. They were also able to lay out important items on the Republican platform. They proposed a Constitutional Amendment that would allow for “religious expression.” They also proposed the use of religious symbols in public places; A $30 million to fund and experiment in “School Choice” and a federal ban on late term abortions. If some of these 1995 items sound familiar, it is because the agenda has not changed today. What was amazing back then is the fact that,

“That the Religious Right could virtually dictate an important part of the Congressional Agenda was unimaginable when the modern movement began in 1979. Back then such conservatives like Paul Weyrich and Richard Viguerie helped Jerry Falwell set us the Moral Majority. Their idea was mobilize white evangelicals in the south and Border States, many of whom had once supported Jimmy Carter, against Washington’s perceived intrusiveness.” Jeffrey Birnbaum, “The Gospel According to Ralph,” TIME magazine, May 15, 1995, page 30

The similarity of the plans expressed in the above paragraph is amazingly similar to the objectives of the 2016 Presidential Election. This desire to mobilize white evangelicals in the south and Border States in 1979 was effectively implemented in 2016. Clearly then, the plans were not new and have not changed. But Ralph Reed’s driving influence lost its steam in the year 2006. However his fall was short lived; as Sikivu Hutchinson says in her published article June 11, 2011 entitled “Return of the ‘Right Hand of God.’”

“Once dubbed the “Right Hand of God,” by Time Magazine, the godfather of Christian fascism has blazed back onto the national scene after his double dealings with disgraced lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff led to a high profile fall from grace in 2006. Reed has reemerged at an especially crucial juncture for the Religious Right.  In 2008 and 2009 mainstream pundits from Newsweek to James Carville sounded the death knell of Christian fundamentalist activism, declaring it to have been eclipsed by the Tea Party’s “populist” message of jobs, lower taxes, and small government. Yet the Religious Right’s influence never waned, it was merely reconstituted. It fired the debate over the U.S.’ status as a “Christian Nation,” fueled the birther movement, and brokered key anti-abortion legislation nationwide. It was further exemplified by the nexus of Old Testament justice and morality, American national identity, global capitalism and imperialism.” Sikivu Hutchinson , “Return of the ‘Right Hand of God.’”The L.A. Progressive Website, June 11, 2011

But there are certain elements that have created the tension that exists. There is a chaotic mixture of uncertainty that has invaded the Land once Free and the Home of the Scared.

“When the Christian Coalition ruled in the ‘80s and ‘90s it was at the height of a national backlash against affirmative action. Racial animus over downsized jobs fueled the rise of the so-called angry white male. It was not a coincidence that white economic discontent and the perceived loss of white social status drove the Christian Coalition’s Reagan-Bush brokered push for theocracy. Culture war battles over school vouchers, prayer, abortion, and anti-sodomy laws were only the frontline of an agenda squarely focused on dismantling social welfare. Then as now, the perception that white males had lost ground informed the backlash against civil rights in general and women’s right to self-determination in particular.” Sikivu Hutchinson, “Return of the ‘Right Hand of God.’”The L.A. Progressive Website, June 11, 2011

Now the fear is shared. Each element produced by a different perception. C. H. Spurgeon expresses it best. "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow... but only empties today of its strength."

Cameron A. Bowen

Who's Online

We have 63 guests and no members online