Christian Coalition prepares to take US citizens to school

WASHINGTON: The Christian Coalition, lately besieged by debt and

racially charged lawsuits, will try to revive its fortunes - and support

President Bush's agenda - this summer when it debuts its "activist

schools" throughout the country.

The schools are dedicated to teaching grassroots organizing skills to

conservative Americans. Beginning in Oregon this July, the program will

train community pro-family activists on how to be most effective in

local, state and federal elections. The schools will be held in 24 "key

states" throughout the US over the next year.

The schools will largely concern themselves with mobilizing local

support for pro-life and pro-family conservative judges, as well as

protecting religious freedom on the local level. A statement released by

the coalition cites the newly Democratic-controlled Senate as the

impetus for beginning the training.

The group has been the subject of some negative press so far this year,

much of it stemming from two racially charged lawsuits and reports that

it is operating with dollars 2 million in debt.

Ten African-American employees filed a lawsuit in February claiming

executive director Roberta Combs forbade them from using the front door

or the office kitchen because they were "too talkative." A Caucasian

employee then filed a suit alleging he was fired after refusing Combs'

demands to spy on African-American employees.

Both suits have yielded a spate of negative press across the country and

particularly in Washington. The Washington Post, Roll Call, The Hill and

even the conservative Washington Times have made mention of the

organization's debt and loss of political clout following the 1997

departure of executive director Ralph Reed.

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