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.