Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jesus doesn't reclaim here anymore

More contractions

It probably benefits my mental health to stay away from the website of Coral Ridge Ministries, but it sometimes means that I miss significant developments at this bastion of right-wing Christian activism. While noting recently that Coral Ridge had abandoned its daily radio program with northern California's biggest Christian broadcaster, I overlooked a much bigger change in the ministry's fortunes: Coral Ridge has shut down its Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.

The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ was D. James Kennedy's special project to “re-Christianize” the United States. The Center's most visible activity was its gigantic annual conference in Fort Lauderdale every January. This year's event featured such exemplary Christians as Ann Coulter, who was shilling her book Godless. Each CRA conference has celebrated the selection by its D.C.-based Center for Christian Statesmanship of a political extremist to designate as Distinguished Christian Statesman of the Year. If you know that previous recipients include John Ashcroft, Tom DeLay, and Roy Moore, you know all you need to know about the CRA and its D.C. subsidiary.

Why did the CRA have to die? As I mentioned in my previous post on the fortunes of Coral Ridge, its huge rebuilding project has been like a hungry vampire at the throat of its finances. It was reported that the organization was $6.5 million short of its budgetary requirements. Recent evidence of retrenchment suggests the reported shortfall is not all simply fundraising hype. With Kennedy himself sidelined by illness, Coral Ridge has lost its most effective huckster and is struggling onward with Kennedy's underlings. They've had to make some difficult decisions:
Center Closed to Make Way for Expanded Media Ministry

The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ was closed on April 26. This unanimous action by the members of the Board of Coral Ridge Ministries—each one a close friend or associate of Dr. D. James Kennedy, who continues to recover from a cardiac arrest suffered in December—came after a lengthy period of review. It was taken as part of a larger ministry restructuring designed to redirect Coral Ridge Ministries back to its core mission—doing media ministry.

We at Coral Ridge Ministries have now embraced a very aggressive goal to expand our media audience tenfold over the next five years—from three million to 30 million people by 2012. To reach that goal, we will need to be focused laser-like on the production of print, audio, and video programming for use on television, radio, the Internet, and other new media channels.

It is this requirement for single-minded ministry that led to the hard decision to close the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ.

The decision to close the Center was also made for practical reasons. While it provided wonderful ministry to the culture, it took significant resources to operate. Because we have a duty as stewards to use the financial resources entrusted to us in the most effective way possible, the often sacrificial gifts we receive will now be put to use where Coral Ridge Ministries sees the largest opportunity for impact.
While the CRA is gone, plans are reported for a big 2008 Coral Ridge conference “in the spirit of Reclaiming America for Christ.” We can all be giddy at the thought that not all is lost. I presume the replacement conference is contingent on the success of this year's big shekel drive.

By the way, you need not fear that the passing of the CRA will signal an end to the annual selection of a Distinguished Christian Statesman of the Year. The Center for Christian Statesmanship has been reconstituted under the aegis of Coral Ridge Ministries' Evangelism Explosion. A new name will continue to be added to the roster of religious extremists every year.

We appreciate their taking the trouble to tell us who to watch out for.

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