Editor's note: This is the first part of a two-part series about this week’s closed-door meeting by a group of conservative Christians, called together by Southern Baptist evangelist James Robison, to plot its behind-the-scenes strategy to defeat President Obama.
James Robison said the meeting is intended to be spiritual, not political. However, he said there were political implications of the gathering, including issues involving political elections, Kaylor reports.
A group of about 80 pastors and other conservative Christian leaders from across the country met this week in a two-day closed-door meeting to discuss the need for spiritual and political change in the nation.
The meeting was a follow-up session to one last September as the group plans its behind-the-scenes strategy to defeat President Obama.
"This nation right now is facing a tremendous crisis, and it's as though Christians have buried their head in the sand and not recognized that we were placed here on earth to be overseers of what he entrusted to our watchcare," Southern Baptist evangelist James Robison told EthicsDaily.com as he expressed his hopes for the gathering.
"One of the points that I've made that the leaders agree with is that … the vast majority of those who profess faith are uninspired, uninformed and uninvolved," he added. "With the privilege of choosing our leadership and putting in place those who establish the policies that govern our lives and affect us comes the responsibility to choose right. And correct choices will always be based upon principles that are consistent with biblical truth and the views of our founders – the providential perspective of our founders."
Last year, EthicsDaily.com broke many of the details of a secret Sept. 8-9, 2010, meeting at the Grand Hyatt DFW Hotel in Dallas where about 40 conservative Christian leaders gathered at the request of Robison. The June 21-22, 2011, meeting at the campus of Robison's LIFE Outreach International in Euless, Texas, was a continuation of that effort.
In 1979, Robison led a similar secret meeting in Dallas to plot how to defeat then-President Jimmy Carter. That effort culminated in an August 1980 rally with Republican presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan that helped Reagan mobilize pastors for his presidential campaign.
Following up on his September 2010 meeting, Robison held two conference calls in March with 35 conservative Christian leaders.
"As we discussed how to find common ground to address the serious challenges facing our nation, some asked that we seek God for very specific, meaningful direction," Robison wrote on his blog about the calls. "They wanted to know how to help focus the prayers of believers on specific issues, make wise suggestions and take positive action."
"Active participation is both a privilege and responsibility to choose wise leaders who will support sound policy and legislation in order for good government to become a reality," he added. "This is an absolute necessity and one of the ways the people of God's Kingdom can leave His footprints on planet Earth, impacting our own great nation."
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, 76 conservative Christians gathered for another meeting to continue their dialogue and planning. Robison told EthicsDaily.com that the group plans to release a video of highlights of the event to send to pastors across the country and invite them to join the effort.
According to a list obtained by EthicsDaily.com, among the attendees at the meeting were several Southern Baptist leaders: Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas who recently suggested on Fox News that Obama was a Muslim; Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Richard Lee, pastor and the editor of the controversial The American Patriot's Bible; and former North American Mission Board head Bob Reccord, who now heads the semi-secretive group the Council for National Policy, founded by Tim LaHaye. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and son of the late founder of the Moral Majority, was scheduled to attend but couldn't make it.
Also attending the meeting were: Jacob Aranza, a minister who in the 1980s helped popularize the theory that rock ’n’ roll music included backmasked messages promoting drug use and sex; Vonette Bright, widow of Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, who played a key role in conservative religious-political efforts that birthed the so-called "Religious Right"; Jerry Boykin, a former Pentagon official rebuked for violating policies by speaking in churches in uniform; Jim Garlow, chairman of Newt Gingrich's organization, Renewing American Leadership; Ruth Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham; Harry Jackson, a politically active conservative pastor; David Lane, who has led several efforts to politically mobilize pastors; Ron Luce of Teen Mania Ministries; former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob McEwen; Rod Parsley, a controversial megachurch pastor who endorsed John McCain in 2008 before being rejected by McCain; Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leaders Conference; and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association.
Also attending the meeting was Rabbi Daniel Lapin, whom Robison described to EthicsDaily.com as someone who is "convinced that Christians hold the hope for stability on earth." Lapin, who has been heavily involved in various Republican efforts, was part of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's financing work that landed Abramoff in prison.
Robison described the meeting as "a powerful gathering" and "an amazing gathering." Robison said the meeting is intended to be spiritual, not political. However, he said there were political implications of the gathering, including issues involving political elections.
"This is not a political gathering; it is a gathering for a spiritual awakening that will affect every area of life and culture," Robison told EthicsDaily.com. "We're not trying to organize some power base. We're trying to release the power that affects every other base of influence and power. And that is kingdom impact, kingdom imprint, the weight of God's presence that throughout history has proven to leave the indelible footprints of God on decisions and direction – spiritually and nationally."
Over the past few months, Robison has welcomed several participants from the September meeting in Dallas on his TV ministry show, "Life Today." During some of the discussions, he and his guests have made vague references to the September meeting. Although the comments shed little insight into the plan, they do show part of Robison's vision for the effort.
During the April 4 broadcast, Robison talked with evangelist and author Tony Evans, who was at both the September and June meetings. As the two talked about the importance of Christians being involved in politics and the need to "put principled people" who are "under God's control" in office, Robison referenced the September meeting.
"We got in the room and there was a holy, heavenly presence," Robison said about the secret September gathering. "There was kingdom-covering and there was joy."
During the April 19 episode, Robison referenced the meeting as "a leadership summit where we came together in the presence of the Lord to pray." He also said it was "what God's called me to do."
"This is the heart of God to bring his family together and to understand a unity beyond anything we've ever seen," Robison added.
One of the guests on the program, Craig Groeschel, quickly affirmed Robison's vision. Groeschel, who attended the September meeting, is the pastor of LifeChurch.TV and was on the program with his wife to promote their new book, “Weird.”
"I don't know anybody else that could have brought together that diverse group of leaders," Groeschel said as he praised Robison after Robison asked for affirmation. "I believe what you're doing is one of the most important things on planet earth. I believe you're hearing from God. I believe you're calling together amazing leaders."
"I think what happened in prayer that day was big, and I think the foundation that was built to move forward together with leaders from all different groups of Christianity, I think it was a profoundly special meeting," Groeschel added.
Tony Perkins, president of the James Dobson-founded Family Research Council, similarly praised Robison during the June 2 broadcast. Perkins attended both the September and June meetings.
"I sensed a new leadership that the Lord has called you to, in that there is a clear recognition that America needs to turn to God," Perkins said. "But I think what you're able to do as kind of a senior statesman of the church is to call together those leaders today that are emerging, and those that are present, to bring them together because unity is the key. I know one of the conversations we had is that you prayed for that unity among us. I think if we could ever be unified and we could walk together as a body of believers in this country that we could profoundly impact this nation."
Robison responded by talking about "the coming- together occasions we've had."
"I believe the gates of hell tremble at the very thought of the family of God coming together like the family of the father," said Robison.
During the Feb. 21 show with Jay Richards, who attended both the September and June meetings and played a key role in the follow-up conference calls, Robison and Richards talked about how the United States was founded with a divided government system to keep government power in check. Robison then subtly mentioned their work to remove Obama.
"Jay and I have committed to work together to really seek before God in a real pursuit of truth to try to help reveal necessary steps," Robison said. "Jay, I believe we've got about a 12- to 18-month, 24-month period at the most, really less than that, where we're going to literally have to turn the ship of state away from the hidden dangers, like hidden underwater iceberg edges and the visible, to turn away and head to a safe course, safe harbor with a captain and crew in place over all that will make necessary course corrections to keep us in a secure safe place."
The 2012 presidential election will come just barely more than 18 months after that remark. Neither Robison nor Richards mentioned what those "necessary steps" would be in that campaign. However, the two have co-authored a book titled “Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It's Too Late,” which will be published in early 2012.
Robison and his group seem united in their opposition to Obama and their desire to see Obama defeated in 2012, but it remains to be seen if they can find a candidate who unites and activates them like Ronald Reagan did in 1980.
Brian Kaylor is a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.
TOMORROW: Conservative Christian Group Seeks New Reagan