Christian Coalition of America
Christian Coalition of America Logo
|Founder(s)||Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson|
|Type||non-profit 501(c)4 organization|
The Christian Coalition of America (CCA), a 501(c)(4) organization, is the successor to the original Christian Coalition created in 1989 by religious broadcaster and former presidential candidate Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson, and is a US Christian advocacy group, which includes Christian fundamentalists, neo-evangelicals and conservative charismatics. While labeling itself  as the Christian Coalition, the organization represents certain viewpoints among numbers of Christians in the United States, but Christians with other beliefs disagree with the organization's ideas. The CCA's values are consistent with those of the Christian right.
Early Years 
Following a well-funded but failed bid for the U.S. presidency in 1988, religious broadcaster and political commentator Pat Robertson used the remainder of his campaign resources to jump-start the creation of a voter mobilization effort dubbed the Christian Coalition. Americans for Robertson accumulated a mailing list of several million conservative Christians interested in politics. This mailing list formed the foundation for the new organization.
The coalition had four original directors, including Robertson himself, Robertson's son, Gordon Robertson, Dick Weinhold, head of the Texas organization, and Billy McCormack, pastor of the University Worship Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. McCormack had headed the Louisiana division of Americans for Robertson in 1988 and was also the vice president of the coalition.
After its founding, the CCA allowed a grace period to operate as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization before the IRS made its final determination. Forty-nine state chapters were also created as independent corporations within their states, including the Christian Coalition of Texas. A handful, including the Christian Coalition of Texas, successfully obtained non-profit status as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, while the national group's application remained pending and unresolved.
Voter guides 
In 1990, the national Christian Coalition, Inc., headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia, began producing non-partisan voter guides which it distributed to conservative Christian churches. Complaints that the voter guides were actually partisan led to the denial of the Christian Coalition, Inc.'s tax-exempt status in 1999. Later that same year, the Coalition prevailed in its five year defense of lawsuit brought by the Federal Election Commission.
Ralph Reed, a University of Georgia Ph.D. candidate and hotel waiter whom Robertson had met at an inaugural dinner for George H. W. Bush in January 1989, took control of day-to-day operations of the coalition in 1989 as its founding executive director. He remained in the post until August 1997 when he left to enter partisan political consulting, founding his new firm Century Strategies, based near Atlanta, Georgia.
Political involvement 
Robertson served as the organization's president from its founding until June 1997, when President Reagan's Cabinet Secretary Donald P. Hodel was named president of the CCA, and former U. S. Representative Randy Tate (R-WA) was named executive director. Upon announcement of Hodel becoming president of the CCA, he expressed a desire to serve the grassroots activists that made up the Coalition: "...I am here. Not only because I felt God's call on me but that I knew of God's call on you."
Washington insider and president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, an old Reed ally, said of the appointments: "What you've got is Reagan and Gingrich. Hodel is a Reagan Republican and Tate is a Gingrich Republican."
After a disagreement with Robertson, Hodel left in January 1999 and Tate soon followed. Robertson re-assumed the presidency, and later turned it and the chairmanship over to the group's Executive Vice President and former State Chairman of South Carolina, Roberta Combs, when he officially left the Coalition in late 2001.
Recent Years 
In 2000, the Coalition moved from its long-standing base of operations in Chesapeake, Virginia, to a large office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.. Combs is the current president and CEO of the Christian Coalition of America. She is a founding state director and has been the only woman on the board of directors for the Christian Coalition of America in its history. Since then, Combs installed members of her family as high-ranking officials in the group, including her own daughter Michele Ammons and her son-in-law Tracy Ammons. Michele Ammons would later divorce Tracy Ammons in ugly divorce proceedings, which led to Tracy's departure.
Roberta Combs canceled a direct-mail fund-raising campaign run by fund-raiser Bill Sidebottom of Interact Response Communications aimed at fighting child pornography after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The cancellation of the campaign in the middle of its run led to nearly a dozen lawsuits by creditors and the bankruptcy of its fund-raising company. Without a fund-raising company supporting it, the Christian Coalition went into sharp decline financially.
In March, 2001, the Christian Coalition of America was sued by its African-American employees, alleging racial discrimination by Roberta Combs, U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The District Court issued an injunction against the Christian Coalition and the case was later settled with money paid to the African-American plaintiffs.
In November 2002, Roberta Combs down-sized the staff and moved the organization's offices from Washington, D.C., to a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina, in a building reportedly owned by one of her late husband's many family trusts. Once, the Christian Coalition organized a dozen lobbyists in Washington, but now the only remnant of the Coalition near the Capitol is a single employee who works from his home in Frederick, Maryland. The Christian Coalition was later sued for $1,890 by the moving company it used to transport itself to South Carolina, Reese & Sons Enterprises of Maryland, because the Christian Coalition failed to pay its moving company in full. The Christian Coalition lost in court in Richmond, Virginia, and finally paid the movers.
In addition, the Christian Coalition's longtime law firm, Huff, Poole & Mahoney PC of Virginia Beach, said it was owed $69,729. Global Direct, a fundraising firm in Oklahoma, sued for $87,000 in expenses.
In the years since Robertson and Reed left the group, the Coalition's influence has greatly declined under Combs. The Coalition saw a loss in revenue from a high of $26.5 million in 1996 to $1.3 million in 2004. The organization's 2004 income tax return, (which for non-profits is made publicly available), showed the Christian Coalition to be technically bankrupt, with debts exceeding income and a negative net worth. The once prosperous group now owes more than $2 million in debt and is now under siege by lawsuits from creditors and is also struggling to hold on to state chapters.
In 2005, the Coalition finally concluded a settlement agreement with the Internal Revenue Service, ending its long-running battle with that agency regarding its tax exempt status. As a result, the IRS has now recognized the Coalition as a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, the first time in the agency's history that it has granted a letter of exemption to a group that stated in its application that it would distribute voter guides directly in churches. The consent decree enforces limitations on the terminology that may be used in the Coalition's voter guides.
In late 2005, the Washington Post reported that the Christian Coalition was unable to pay its office postage bill to Pitney Bowes, and that the Christian Coalition had not paid its new lawyers in Virginia Beach and that the law firm had also sued the Christian Coalition for its legal bills. Attempts to collect the law firm's fees in Virginia and South Carolina returned no funds of the Christian Coalition at various banks.
In March 2006, the Christian Coalition of Iowa renamed itself the Iowa Christian Alliance. In splitting from the national group, the Iowa Christian Alliance cited "the current problems facing the Christian Coalition of America" in announcing that it had no ties to the national organization. In August 2006, the Christian Coalition of Alabama split from the national group. It later renamed itself Christian Action Alabama.
In November 2006, the president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America resigned his post, citing a difference in philosophy over which issues the conservative Christian organization should embrace. Rev. Joel C. Hunter, currently the senior pastor of the Northland Church in Longwood, Florida, was to assume the presidency in January. But Hunter said the Coalition's leaders resisted his calls to expand their issue base, saying the organization wouldn't allow him to expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. Hunter also said he wanted to focus on rebuilding the Coalition's once powerful grassroots, an appeal he says board members rejected. "After initial willingness to consider these changes, the board of the CCA decided, 'that is fine, but that is not who we are,'" Hunter said. Combs still remains as the Coalition's president.
- Joel D. Vaughan, "The Rise and Fall of the Christian Coalition," Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009.
- Don Hodel speech, Christian Coalition Road to Victory '97, Atlanta, GA, September 13, 1997.
- "Christian Coalition Of America". USA Today.
- "Pulpits and Politics: The Role of Religion in Elections, September 27, 2004". justicetalking.org. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "We've Come a Long Way, Baby, in Race Relations, March 16, 2008". demo.openlogicsys.com. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "RS Denies Christian Coalition Tax-Exempt Status". The Washington Post. June 12, 1999.
- Vaughan, p. 177.
- E. J. Dionne, "The Religious Right Loses Its Most Skilled Tactician," (Norfolk) Virginian Pilot, April 24, 1997.
- Vaughan, p. 125.
- Peter Baker and Laurie Goodstein, "Christian Coalition Rearranges Top Posts," Washington Post, June 12, 1997.
- Baker and Goodstein.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Washington's Power 25," FORTUNE, December 8, 1997, pp. 144-158.
- Ralph Z. Hallow, "Christian Coalition President Resigns," Washington Times, February 10, 1999.
- Vaughan, pp. 151 - 163.
- "Christian Coalition fights bitter lawsuit after divorce". The Washington Times. December 2, 2004. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- Cooperman, Alan; Edsall, Thomas B. (April 10, 2006). "Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- Sizemore, Bill (October 8, 2005). "Once-powerful group teeters on insolvency". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- See Washington Post, "10 Blacks Allege Bias at Christian Coalition," March 31, 2001.
- Cooperman, Alan; Thomas B. Edsall (2006-04-10). "Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
- Cooperman, Alan; Edsall, Thomas B. (April 10, 2006). "Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows". The Washington Post.
- Banerjee, Neela (November 28, 2006). "Pastor Chosen to Lead Christian Coalition Steps Down in Dispute Over Agenda". The New York Times.