'Aren't You Barry Lynn?': Face to Face with the Christian Coalition

By Lynn, Barry W. | Church & State, November 2004 | Go to article overview

'Aren't You Barry Lynn?': Face to Face with the Christian Coalition


Lynn, Barry W., Church & State


The Christian Coalition, the political group founded by TV preacher Pat Robertson, used to meet in Washington, D.C., every year. I never missed a meeting.

These days the Coalition only gets together during election years. Instead of meeting in a large downtown hotel this year, attendees gathered in a room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Most speakers were members of Congress.

I like to spend time with the Coalition members and really see the group from the inside, so I rode a bus with them over to Dirksen from the hotel where most attendees stayed.

A young man sat down next to me, did a double take and said, "Wait, aren't you Barry Lynn?"

I 'fessed up, and he pulled out a small camera. Before he could even ask, I said, "And yes, you can have somebody take our picture together." He handed the camera to a journalist across the aisle and loudly proclaimed to the other bus riders, "I'm having my picture taken with Barry Lynn!"

My seatmate explained that he was a student at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and was interested in a political career. We chatted about my views of Falwell and a couple of church-state issues. As we departed the bus about 15 minutes later he said, "You know, you're a much nicer guy than I had been led to believe." I thanked him and told him not to believe everything he heard.

Another fellow reminded me that he had intervened some years ago when an Oregon Christian Coalition official had gotten in my face in a rather aggressive way. This gentleman had defused the matter with the suggestion that "Christ-like" behavior was called for.

Then came the speeches. Coalition President Roberta Combs made it clear before most of the members of Congress arrived for their presentations that "we are the ones who put them here...," which sounded somewhat ominous. Each member had clearly been invited for the purpose of speaking specifically about some pet project as well as to effusively sing the praises of the Coalition, President George W. Bush and God, usually in that order.

U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado talked about the need to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to outlaw same-gender unions. During a question-and-answer period, she seemed perturbed when one attendee asked whether "our leaders" understood that the main reason to pass this amendment to the Constitution was to heed the words of Leviticus 18:22, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind."

Musgrave explained that she was not elected as a preacher and opined that arguments against same-sex marriage should be framed in non-religious terms. This is a common Religious Right strategy: pretending that their proposals, which are obviously designed to write religious views into law, aren't really religious. …

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