NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP) – A Southern Baptist evangelist who orchestrated the first gathering of what became known as the Religious Right in 1980 is now seeking to mobilize a new coalition of Catholic, Protestant and evangelical voters to save America’s economy.
James Robison, at the time an influential Southern Baptist evangelist, organized the first National Affairs briefing in Dallas where candidate Ronald Reagan famously told 20,000 people, including more than 5,000 Christian ministers, "I know that you can't endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you are doing."
“We actually voted a Baptist Sunday school teacher out and voted a former principal Hollywood actor in who really understood the times,” Robison, founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian relief organization and host of LIFE Today, a daily syndicated television program, said on the March 17 broadcast of the Richard Land Live radio program.
In a previously recorded interview promoting a new book that he wrote with Discovery Institute fellow and Roman Catholic Jay Richards, Robison said voters going into the 1980 presidential election were mobilized by the visible threat posed by the Soviet Union.
“In 1980 you could see the enemy,” Robison said. “It was quite obvious to most people that we had a very serious threat. Today the enemy is within. It lurks in a very subtle and crafty way.”
That doesn’t mean the threat isn’t just as real, he insisted.
“If we who know the truth do not point to the truth and stand for the truth and really get involved to turn back the tide … we are going to see in horrific 3D the collapse of the United States of America economically,” Robison warned.
Robison said his new book, Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It's Too Late, is aimed at a new coalition of Christian voters “who really do understand the solid foundation upon which this nation was built and upon which all sane societies must stand.”
“I believe that they recognize the imperative of coming together to really offset this tidal wave of overpowering government control and a world view that literally mocks God and mocks the sacred, including the family, including the preciousness of life.”
Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has endorsed the book and was present at one of the meetings that Robison said encouraged him and Richards to write it.
“The thing that frightens our opponents the most is the specter of an evangelical-Catholic alliance, because they can count,” Land said. “You take evangelicals and you take Roman Catholics and you are over 50 percent of the population of the country.”
“Back when the conservative resurgence was going on in the Southern Baptist Convention a lot of us could never figure out why guys like Bill Moyers were involved. What did they care?” Land said.
“They were smarter than we were,” Land continued. “They knew what would happen if the largest Protestant denomination in the country turned around and got serious with God about Holy Scripture. They understood the impact it would have, for instance, in electing Ronald Reagan.”
Land said in 1976 two out of three Baptists voted for Jimmy Carter, and in 1980 two out of three Baptists voted for Ronald Reagan, and “that made the difference in the election.”
Robison predicted dire consequences if the country continues to move in the same direction it is currently headed, but that does not have to happen.
“We can turn the ship of state and, really and truly, the people of faith — the people who know that faith, family and freedom, including a healthy free market, greed-vulnerable but not greed-driven or greed-dependent — until that coalition comes together, we’re not going to turn the tide,” he said. “The moment they come together and the moment they stand together we can — as Nehemiah did — we can build the walls and restore the walls more rapidly than you might imagine.”
“It’s not hopeless, but I’m telling you, it is later than most people think,” Robison said.
Land predicted the economy is “going to be a huge issue” in the upcoming election.
“There are those of us who have been hammering away at the fact that you cannot separate the social issues from the economic issues,” he said. “We’re spending 700 billion dollars a year in means-tested welfare programs trying to make up for absent fathers, and the states are spending another 200 billion dollars a year trying to make up for absent fathers.”
“I think we will be worse off than Europe if we go to this full-blown entitlement society that President Obama is trying to take us to,” Land said. “I really do see this as two polar opposites. He wants to remake America and make us into France, and we want to restore America to what it was in its greatest day.”
“Even when the French disagree about everything, their Frenchness holds them together,” Land said. “When the Germans disagree about everything, their Germanness holds them together. We are a unique country. We are a creedal country. We’re the only country in the world that’s made up of all kinds of different ethnicities, held together by assent to a common creed. And that creed is found in the Declaration of Independence, and it is based upon Judeo-Christian values, and if we lose that, we’ll have anarchy in this country that will be worse than anything they see in Europe.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.