From the Miami Herald:
In a sanctuary decked with red, white and blue banners, hundreds of Christian activists will gather at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale starting today to rally around a common goal: claiming America for Christ.
These lobbyists for Jesus want more than souls. For two days, rising stars on the religious right will promote prayer in schools, a ban on gay marriage, an end to abortion and abolition of tax rules preventing pastors from endorsing candidates.
But in a year that has delivered arguable victories to Christian conservatives — including two Supreme Court appointments — some leaders on the Christian right say they now face an unexpected challenge: keeping their base motivated for what’s shaping up to be a long, difficult and expensive fight.
This year, only about 700 people registered for the conference. “In ’05, we had just come off the ’04 values voter phenomenon. People in our movement were encouraged and there was a lot of momentum coming in,” Cass said. “I think we’re running a bit behind.”
In Florida, Christian activists lagged in their efforts to sponsor a 2006 statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and are shooting for 2008.
The movement also took a blow last year during the Terri Schiavo controversy, when courts upheld a decision to remove the vegetative woman’s feeding tube despite Christian activists’ intense lobbying efforts for congressional intervention.
Nationally, Christian conservatives lost a critical ally on pro-life issues when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist supported embryonic stem cell research. They lost a legal battle over the teaching of intelligent design in Pennsylvania. And Bush has been silent lately on a federal pro-marriage amendment.
The alliance between Christian conservatives and the Republican Party likely will endure as long as Republicans mirror social conservatives’ views on gay marriage and abortion, said John Green, professor of political science at the University of Akron in Ohio and an expert on evangelical voting behavior.
D. James Kennedy is basically Fred Phelps with money and a shoeshine, and he’s comfortably in bed with the GOP.
But I wouldn’t mind showing up at this rally. Anybody know where I can get my hands on a herd of cranky skunks?