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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How the Once Mighty of the Right Have Fallen ...

World magazine has a devastating investigative report by Jamie Dean on former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed. With Jack Abramoff, Reed once formed a dynamic duo of emerging young conservative leaders.

As head of Pat Robertson's political operation, Reed was also a very visible spokesman for evangelical Christians.

World's Dean cites numerous examples of Reed leveraging his reputation, visibility and contacts in the political, government and evangelical communities on behalf of interests to whom he was beholden.

For example, Dean describes Reed's work in generating support among evangelical missionaries for extending China's Most Favored Nation trade status but on behalf of corporate interests that stood to make millions:

"In 1998, a group of U.S. companies, including Boeing and the Business Roundtable, hired Mr. Reed to help get China's most favored nation trading status extended another year, a move aimed at bolstering the companies' international business markets.
"The extension was controversial: Some believed China shouldn't be rewarded with the recognition in light of its government's human-rights abuses. Mr. Reed had opposed extending China's favorable trading status just one year earlier when he was still director of the Christian Coalition.
"In March 1997, he told Fox News that China was the most brutal of "any nation in the world outside of Sudan." He said the Christian Coalition would oppose extending the trade status.
"A year later, he apparently changed his mind and turned to Christians to help his corporate clients. He hired the Georgia-based DeMoss Group, a public relations firm representing dozens of large evangelical organizations, to help form 'The Alliance of Christian Ministries in China.'
"Mark DeMoss, president of the DeMoss Group, told WORLD that his company sent letters to about 48 U.S.-based Christian ministries with staff or missionaries in China, asking if they would join an alliance supporting China's favored trade status.
"The message: 'A nation open to trade is a nation open to ministry.'
"The letter that the DeMoss Group sent to ministries asking them to join the alliance did not mention Mr. Reed's firm or the business interests behind the effort. About half the organizations signed on, and the DeMoss Group developed radio spots and print ads for The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and Roll Call, urging Christians to call for the extension of China's favored trade status.
"One ad said that denying the status to China would provoke 'an ill-advised and counterproductive trade war with China that would close the door to the Gospel.' Another ad claimed: 'The progress of democracy and the salvation of millions of souls depends on it.'
"What the ads didn't say was that the business interests of Mr. Reed's corporate clients, who were behind the ads, depended on it as well.
"The advertisements did not mention Mr. Reed's firm or the DeMoss Group, but only The Alliance of Christian Ministries in China. Later that year, Congress voted to extend China's favored trade status.

"Mr. DeMoss says his company 'declined to work on the campaign the following year. . . . I don't disagree with the premise [of the campaign], but there are very good, evangelical Christians that would take either side of this particular argument, and a number of them happen to be our clients.'"

Hypocrisy masquerading as virtue is not a new story, of course, but it is still a sad one. Go here for the full World story.