Ralph Reed’s Divinely Profitable Mission: Defeating Democrats

Any scholar or journalist experiencing the slightest temptation to write another “end of the religious right as a political force” story should first read the in-depth article AlterNet’s Adele Stan has written about the operations of Republican operative and former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed. Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, which RD’s Sarah Posner has also covered extensively, is essentially a well-funded GOTV effort designed to tap into and amplify the energies of the religious right and Tea Party movements in order to defeat Barack Obama and other Democrats. Reed tells conservative activists to get involved as a “divine appointment.” 

Not one to think small, Reed pledges to contact 27 million conservative voters between 7 and 12 times this year with turnout messages. And he hopes to have a $100 million budget by 2015. With the Wisconsin recall election as an example, Stan describes in detail what a strategist like Reed can do with access to cutting-edge technology and the bottomless pockets of guys like the Koch brothers.

The article also reveals the extent to which Reed embraces the notion that the Lord helps those who help themselves, exposing the arrangements by which his nonprofit coalition contracts with his for-profit company Century Strategies and its subsidiary Millennium Marketing. The pairing of nonprofit and for-profit entities is popular among religious right leaders. It allows individuals to use undisclosed nonprofit contributions to generate huge paydays that don’t have to be reported as a nonprofit salary. Among others adept at such arrangements is the American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow, who has, according to investigative news stories, turned his advocacy work into a lucrative business for the whole family.

Peter Montgomery, a Washington, DC-based writer, is an associate editor for Religion Dispatches and a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. His work focuses on religion, politics, and LGBT issues. Follow him on twitter @petemont.