My fellow editorialists in the state have had a field day lambasting the Christian Coalition for their most recent transgressions. They have castigated them for extreme hypocrisy.

Their most recent escapade reveals that they are probably more coalition than they are Christian. In a recent special election they gave new meaning to the commandment against bearing false witness. The Christian Coalition was involved with a scheme to blatantly distort the truth about a candidate’s position in order to influence the election.

A three term Democratic Legislator, who was also an educator and Methodist minister, had suffered from cancer for several years and he finally succumbed to the dreaded disease late last year. On his death bed he asked his wife to run for the remaining two years of his term. After her husband’s death, the special election was called and she became the Democratic nominee. In the final days of the campaign, so that she could not respond to the attack, the Christian Coalition in conjunction with a right wing Republican group sent out a brochure to every voter in the district alleging that the she was in favor of gay marriage. It was a bold distortion and fabrication. The lady, like 95% of all Alabamians, is opposed to gay marriage. The Republican candidate won and the widow of a Methodist minister was left trying to explain to her friends and neighbors that she is not in favor of gay marriage.

This deceitful, mean spirited, and cowardly campaign tactic comes on the heels of last year’s revelation that the Christian Coalition was the recipient of illicit out of state gambling money to fund their operations. The Christian Coalition has fought for years to keep private their finances. As a result of the Coalition’s attempt to hide their financial chicanery, as well as their clandestine and overt non Christian activities, the Legislature is moving quickly to revise the state’s campaign disclosure laws to require the Christian Coalition to reveal their contributors the same as all other groups.

The receipt of gambling money was not the Coalition’s first money laundering scheme. They were used as a conduit for groups opposed to Republican Governor Bob Riley’s 2003 tax proposal. Riley’s proposed amendment was a totally altruistic Robin Hood approach which would have taxed the rich and given to the poor. The Christian Coalition sold out their name and endorsement to the rich land barons for a few pieces of gold in true Judas like fashion. The sad irony in this scenario is that the rank and file of the religious right are your more economically depressed and less educated Alabamians who would have benefited most from Riley’s plan. The affluent have traditionally exploited these poor whites by using divisive social wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion to divert them from economic issues. Race was used for years, now they use homosexuality.

The Coalition’s glaring hypocrisy has made them today’s version of the Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus warned about and drove from the temple. If Jesus were here today, I do not think he would have advocated or condoned distorting an unsuspecting widow’s position on gay marriage in order to win an election any more than He would have condoned taking illicit gambling money while calling yourself a Christian group opposing gambling. Furthermore I suspect that Jesus, whose mission on earth was to feed the hungry and heal the sick, would have been on the side of poor Alabamians in 2003’s tax vote that would have taxed the wealthiest Alabamians in order to help feed, heal and educate the poorest in our state.

These actions, by a group calling themselves Christian, have led to a loss of credibility. In recent weeks the bill to require the Christian Coalition to reveal their finances has passed the Senate overwhelmingly. Also, when one of the Coalition’s leaders testified during a House committee meeting he was met by irreverence and derision and openly mocked by the committee for hypocrisy. The sun may be setting on the present day Christian Coalition. Maybe they should be referred to as the Old Christian Coalition because their actions are more akin to the Old Testament theology of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” A New Testament based New Christian Coalition should arise striving to emulate Jesus, one that espouses “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Have a Happy Easter.