Saturday, October 23, 2004

'America For Jesus' Rally Pushes Religious Right Agenda

Rally Organizers Want Government To Establish Fundamentalist 'Christian Nation,' Watchdog Groups Asserts

A collection of Religious Right groups is hosting an "America For Jesus Rally" in the nation's capital today to advance a radical agenda and attack church-state separation, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The rally, a project of Virginia pastor John Gimenez and far-right group called American Veterans in Domestic Defense, has been portrayed as merely an opportunity to pray for the nation.

There's much more behind the event, Americans United says. The group notes that rally organizer Gimenez is a Religious Right stalwart and opponent of church-state separation.

"Far from promoting 'pro-family' values, these groups are rallying for an officially Christian nation, a theocracy," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "They have contempt for our First Amendment and separation of church and state and seek a government that will promote their rigid theological views."

Gimenez, a longtime associate of TV preacher Pat Robertson, leads a mega-church in Virginia Beach called The Rock Church. He promoted the rally at the Christian Coalition's "Road To Victory" conference in Washington, D.C., last month, proclaiming that "the righteous" must defeat their enemies for America to survive.

"It is right in your face now on the internet, on the e-mails, everywhere you go," he declared. "You see it in the judicial systems, everywhere. The Old Testament, it tells us in the Book of Numbers that we are to drive out the enemies, not sit down and negotiate."

The rally will also feature a display of the two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments monument that former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore had installed in the rotunda of the state's Judicial Building. A federal court in 2003 ordered that the monument be removed from public display, citing separation of church and state.

Jim Cabaniss, director of the veterans' group, got Moore's blessing earlier this year to put the monument on a flatbed truck and tour the country. In a press release announcing the tour, Cabaniss griped that "federal authorities" had angered Americans by ordering the monument's removal.

The website of Cabaniss' group contains a "domestic enemies" list, which includes the "Biased Liberal, Socialist News Media," "The Failed Judicial System," "Socialist Members of Congress" and "The Unsafe, Undisciplined Education System."

"The organizers of this event are standing up for religious and political extremism, not American values," Lynn said.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in the safeguarding religious freedom.


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