Feds asked to investigate Mainstream Coalition
August 3, 2004
CSA has asked the Justice Department to examine the activities of the Kansas City-based Mainstream Coalition, which claims on its website to have more than 100 volunteers “monitoring” sermons and worship services at targeted churches, including several Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist congregations.
CSA Executive Director James Lafferty said July 28 that he had delievered letters to Ashcroft and to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division asking that federal agents be dispatched to Missouri and Kansas to observe the coalition’s activities against churches there.
“Churches in those states are being strong-armed and pushed around because of their beliefs,” Lafferty said. “We want those religious citizens to get the protection they are promised in the Constitution. It is time somebody pushed back at the liberal bullies.
“This is harassment, pure and simple,” he continued. “Churches in Kansas and Missouri which oppose homosexual marriage go to the top of the coalition’s target list for some ‘monitoring.’
“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment still covers Kansas and Missouri. Church people there should be able to worship freely and according to their beliefs without this group’s heavy-handed monitors taking down their names and staring at them.”
Coalition leaders said they are not harassing churches, but rather want to help them avoid running into conflict with Internal Revenue Service regulations that might jeopardize their tax-exempt status.
But Lafferty said the Mainstream Coalition has “taken a page out of the practices of those who harassed African-American churches during the darkest days of the Civil Rights struggle. When will they start wearing hoods as they go about their ‘monitoring?’
“This is an attempt to intimidate pastors and church members who are faithful to teachings which conflict with the liberal agenda. It is despicable!
“These same people would go hoarse defending the free speech of some foul-mouthed disc jockey but let a minister or a priest condemn homosexual marriage — that makes them fighting mad.
“Look at their website and the bios of their board members — many are current or former members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood and the National Education Association. They don’t want to monitor anything; they are there to intimidate pastors and worshippers.
“Christians shouldn’t be forced to surrender any of their rights as citizens including the right to public worship and the right to express sincerely-held religious beliefs.”
The Washington, D.C.-based CSA, with more than 100,000 members, is a division of the Traditional Values Coalition and bills itself as the Christian alternative to AARP.