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Robertson resigns as president of coalition, cites ministry call

WASHINGTON (BP)–Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition, resigned Dec. 5 as president of the pro-family organization, which has declined markedly in influence in recent years.

Robertson cited a renewed sense of calling to ministry in announcing his decision, saying, “With the few years left to me of active service, I must focus on those things that will bring forth the greatest spiritual benefit.” He will give greater emphasis to his roles with The Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University, according to a news release from Robertson. He is chairman and chief executive officer of CBN and chancellor and interim president of Regent, a graduate school. Both are based in Virginia Beach, Va.

The Christian Coalition board elected Roberta Combs as the new president. She has served as executive vice president for about two years. The board named Robertson president emeritus.

In a letter in which he also announced his resignation as a member of the Christian Coalition board, Robertson encouraged the organization he started in 1989 to continue its work to promote “pro-family, pro-life values.”

“Without a doubt, this organization has played a pivotal role in the election of Christian conservatives to important public offices across our land and [in] mobilizing the evangelical churches and our pro-family Roman Catholic allies to bring our agenda to the forefront of American political thought,” Robertson said.

“Without us, I do not believe that George Bush would be sitting in the White House or that Republicans would be in control of” the House of Representatives, he said.

The Christian Coalition’s impact on American politics, the Republican Party and religious conservatives has decreased greatly since the mid-1990s, however. Ralph Reed directed the coalition from the beginning, building it into an effective organization at the grass-roots and national levels. Its peak of influence may have been the 1994 elections, when Republicans gained majorities in both the Senate and House.

Reed left the coalition in 1997 to become a political consultant. The coalition had gained significant leverage in the GOP’s primary and platform processes but at the expense of what some believed was an unhealthy identification with Republicans. Though the coalition sought to pull back to a principle-before-politics approach under new leadership, it has yet to regain the influence and recognition it had previously.

The coalition reported distributing a record 70 million voter guides for the 2000 election, but those guides have received increasing criticism for not being as nonpartisan as advertised.