Back room deal.Closed-door strategy meetings and political paybacks are hardly rare occurrences in Washington, D.C. But a meeting about the future of the Constitution between a TV preacher and the Speaker of the House of Representatives happens infrequently.
Unusual or not, less than two weeks after the House Judiciary Committee Judiciary Committee may refer to:
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times report, Gingrich agreed to move on several of Robertson's key concerns, hoping to stem the growing discontent among the Republican Party's fundamentalist wing. Gingrich said he would press for passage of the Istook Amendment, elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
Independent agency of the U.S. government that supports the creation, dissemination, and performance of the arts. It was created by the U.S. and approval of voucher-style tax deferrals for private religious school tuition.
A Republican Party insider told the Times, "Gingrich made a commitment to involve party leaders in promoting these issues heavily, and to bring all three pieces of legislation to votes in the House before the November elections."
The Robertson-Gingrich deal makes all the more certain a showdown in the House over the church-state separation provisions of the First Amendment, and it's probably coming soon. A floor vote on the Istook Amendment (H.J. Res. 78), which would effectively erase church-state separation from the Bill of Rights, is expected late this month or early June. Meanwhile, groups on both sides of the constitutional divide are marshaling their forces for the collision.
On the Religious Right side, Robertson is a major player. The controversial religious broadcaster has crusaded for years for removal of the wall of separation between church and state. Robertson helped elect the majority-Republican Congress in 1994 and now he wants passage of the Istook Amendment as a payback.
The Christian Coalition is reportedly planning a multi-million dollar publicity campaign for the Istook Amendment, including television ads in the congressional districts of specific targeted members. Arne Owens, a spokesperson for the Coalition, told the news media, "We will pull out all the stops once this goes to a floor vote."
During the Coalition's "Road to Victory" Conference in Atlanta last fall, Robertson told state lieutenants that the Istook Amendment is a top priority and said the Coalition will use all of its political power to get the measure passed. Speaking in a closed-door session, Robertson said of the Republican leadership in Congress, "We just tell these guys, 'Look, we put you in power in 1994, and we want you to deliver. We're tired of temporizing. Don't give us all this stuff about you've got a different agenda. This is your agenda. This is what you're going to do this year. And we're going to hold your feet to the fire while you do it.'"
The successful March meeting with Gingrich, which was also attended by former Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed Ralph Reed may refer to:
Robertson isn't the only religious broadcaster holding congressional representatives' feet to the fire. Less than 24 hours after the Gingrich-Robertson meeting, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.) and Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-Tex.) met privately with James Dobson James Clayton "Jim" Dobson, Ph.D. (born April 21, 1936 in Shreveport, Louisiana) is the chairman of the board of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization he founded in 1977. , president of Focus on the Family, and Dobson ally Gary Bauer Gary L. Bauer (born May 4 1946, Covington, Kentucky) is a conservative American politician notable for his ties to several evangelical Christian groups and campaigns. In 1973, Bauer received a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University. , head of the Family Research Council. Both Dobson and Bauer have been aggressive in their support of the Istook Amendment, and both have also been harshly critical of the GOP congressional leadership for delays in implementation of the Religious Right agenda.
Talk like this may be making Gingrich and Armey nervous enough to start catering to the wishes of their ideological cohorts. With that in mind, they may think the Istook Amendment may be just what the Religious Right ordered.
The amendment, approved by the House Judiciary Committee on March 4, reads, "To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: Neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion, but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed. Neither the United States nor any State shall require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, prescribe school prayers, discriminate against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion."
Critics say the measure would force taxpayers to support sectarian schools and other ministries, allow coercive prayer and religious instruction in public schools and permit sectarian symbols at government buildings.
The Istook Amendment could have been rushed onto the floor for a full House vote immediately after committee action, but the vote was postponed temporarily. Concerned that they would fall far short of the necessary two-thirds of the House, congressional leaders decided to delay the vote to create some momentum for the amendment. Predictably, the Religious Right rallied behind the effort.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, in his Falwell Fax to fundamentalist allies nationwide, urged like-minded pastors to "do their part." "Members of Congress...must receive a strong outpouring of support for the long-awaited Religious Freedom Amendment, which would restore voluntary school prayer and protect religious expression in schools and other places," Falwell said.
TV preacher and Religious Right hardliner Noun 1. hardliner - a conservative who is uncompromising
conservative, conservativist - a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas
hardliner n → partidario/a de la línea dura D. James Kennedy Dennis James Kennedy, (November 3 1930 – September 5 2007) was an American televangelist and founder of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was senior pastor from 1960 until his death in 2007. of Coral Ridge Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., called the Istook Amendment a necessity.
"Liberals have been re-interpreting the U.S. Constitution so radically over the past 30 years that practically everything reflecting biblical morality is now supposedly unconstitutional,'" Kennedy said. "We should not even have to deal with such foolishness in America. It is time to put this nonsense to a halt by going to the root of the problem....We must make Congress feel the full force of our united convictions on this issue, and we must do it immediately!"
Meanwhile, 56 religious and civil liberties groups from across the ideological spectrum have created the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, a broad array of organizations united in opposition to the Istook Amendment.
The coalition includes the National Council of Churches, an umbrella group of Protestant and Orthodox denominations, as well as individual Christian groups such as the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church United Methodist Church, in the United States, religious body formed by the union in 1968 of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church (see Methodism). and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is the governing organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is located in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The General Conference is overseen by an executive committee, headed by a President. . Islamic groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council
B’nai B’rith organization which fights anti-Semitism. [Am. Hist.: Wigoder, 33]
See : Anti-Semitism .
Educational organizations including the National Education Association and the National Association of Elementary School Principals are part of the coalition. So are civil liberties and civil rights groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United or AU for short) is a religious freedom advocacy group in the United States which promotes the separation of church and state, a legal doctrine seen by the AU as being enshrined in the Establishment and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), civil-rights organization founded in 1957 by Martin Luther King, Jr., and headed by him until his assassination in 1968. .
Opponents of -the amendment are cautiously optimistic that the Istook Amendment lacks the votes in Congress it needs. Yet they remain concerned that the Religious Right has the finances and political clout in Congress to apply serious pressure, especially in an election year.
"Now is the time to remind members of the House to defeat this disastrous constitutional amendment," said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn Reverend Barry W. Lynn (born 1948 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) has been the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992. . "We need to keep up the pressure to defeat this dangerous proposal."