The Christian of Coalition of Alabama has jumped ship and left the Christian Coalition of America. John Giles, who serves as Alabama President, claimed the Alabama political organization left because the national group was moving “to the left.” The state organization, which is up to its ears in Alabama politics, has been tainted by its connections to Ralph Reed and gambling money. I suspect that had to be on John’s mind when the decision to distance themselves from the mothership was reached.
Interestingly, a lawsuit with the Internal Revenue Service was settled by the national group last year. The settlement allowed the Christian Coalition to maintain its tax-exempt status and keep publishing voter guides. However, the terms of the settlement required the voter guides to meet specific guidelines. Under those guidelines, state affiliates had to submit their candidate surveys to the national organization for review and approval before publishing them in a voter guide. Following the guidelines and maintaining the tax-exempt status is critical for getting the voter guides distributed in churches. The national organization apparently learned that the Alabama group had distributed a political questionnaire without submitting it to the national organization for review. If you haven’t read the questions asked of candidates who will be on the ballot this fall, you should. It’s as political as anything you will ever read.
John told the news media outlets on August 23rd that the relationship between the state affiliate and national organization began to “deteriorate” in 2003 when the national group “endorsed Governor Riley’s $1.2 billion tax plan.” He also claimed that there was a dispute over the national organization addressing environmental and economic issues. Believe it or not, one problem was that the national group wanted to increase the minimum wage. It would appear to me that minimum wage should be a Christian issue just as should the excessive cost of gasoline and obscene profits made by companies like Exxon.
I really believe that the real reason for the split was the receipt by the Alabama group of the Choctaw Indian tribe money. If I remember correctly the tribe gave $850,000 to a group and that group sent it on to the Christian Coalition of Alabama. Considering the defeat of Ralph Reed in Georgia, with corruption being a major issue in his race, I don’t guess I could blame John and his group from “cutting and running.” It’s hard to justify dealing with the likes of Ralph Reed, who was closely tied to Jack Abramoff, and have the label Christian attached to your political group.
The Christian Coalition claimed that the tribe’s money didn’t violate its policy against taking money from gambling interests because the group didn’t know the origin of the money. That is sort of hard to believe, but maybe it’s true. If the group is taking in so much money that $850,000 in one payment can get lost in the shuffle, the Coalition must be doing pretty well financially. The best way to clear the air is for the organization to disclose the sources of its funding, the amounts received, and how they spent it. That would be the right thing to do.
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