Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ethics Daily on Rev. Rick Scarborough

Tues, Jan 23, 2007

Bob Allen
Vision America founder Rick Scarborough turned a "New Baptist Covenant" proposed by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton into a fund-raising pitch, calling it an effort to deceive Christians into believing the Bible is compatible with abortion, gay rights and opposition to Israel.
In a fund-raising letter, Scarborough, a former Southern Baptist pastor in Pearland, Texas, pledged to "expose the lie" that brought religious leaders together Jan. 9 in Atlanta to announce a major meeting early in 2008 to offer an alternative Baptist voice to often-negative messages of the Religious Right.

"Christians, beware!" Scarborough warned. "Scripture itself warns that wolves will approach the flock in sheepskins in order to devour the sheep. Jimmy Carter's gentle nature and Bill Clinton's clever oratory must not be allowed to pull the wool over the eyes of innocent churchgoers. While many may find comfort in snuggling up to such powerful public figures, it is the duty of Godly men to expose the lie that brought together religious and political figures like those gathered at the press conference in Atlanta. With God's help, I intend to do just that."

Scarborough pointed out that a planned mega-gathering "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant" Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2008 at the Georgia World Congress Center is "not coincidentally" nine months away from the next presidential election. "Perhaps Senator Hillary Clinton will be invited to lecture on honesty in government--or Senator Barack Obama can share his thoughts on abortion," he chided.

Scarborough said the meeting gives the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, "what has to date been a relatively small and modest [SBC] breakaway group" working with Carter and Clinton on the project, "a new lease on life.""The Clinton/Carter movement toward this alliance proves what many conservatives within the Southern Baptist Convention always knew: That theological liberalism always leads to political liberalism--as both begin with the assumption that God’s word is not verifiably true and that man is the center of his own universe," Scarborough said."This new alliance is designed to undermine the moral authority of the church," he continued, "to deceive the public into believing that Christianity is compatible with gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, a head-in-the-sand foreign policy and the betrayal of Israel."

Scarborough said there is nothing wrong with the image of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has grown some of the largest churches in the world, has seminaries filled with young preachers and supports more than 5,000 missionaries around the world. "I assure you that Vision America is not going to allow this deception to go unchallenged," Scarborough closed. "We are planning a major response the Clinton/Carter press conference. Stay tuned for more information."

The newsletter article includes a link inviting readers to "make a tax-deductible donation to support the ongoing work of Vision America."

Scarborough launched Vision America in 1998 as a national effort to mobilize pastors against moral issues like abortion and homosexual rights. He launched pastor mobilization programs in South Dakota, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. He took a lead role in passing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Texas. His "Patriot Pastors" network numbers about 5,000.

Vision America conducted a Judicial War on Faith National Conference in Washington in 2006, 10 days after the death of Terri Schiavo, and has sponsored two annual conferences on "The War on Christians and Value Voters."

He has been interviewed by The Los Angeles Times, C-SPAN, "The Alan Combs Show," "Point of View," PBS, Bott Radio and "Larry King Live."

While not as well known as Christian Right figures like James Dobson and Pat Robertson, Scarborough has ties with powerful political figures like former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He once told the Washington Post, "One of my goals in life is to give the Republican Party courage."

Scarborough wrote recently of his "great affection and respect" for Brownback, who announced Saturday he is running for president in 2008. Vision America gave Brownback its "National Hero of The Faith Award" in 2005. Sen. Brownback was scheduled to speak at Vision America's "War on Christians" conference in 2006 but canceled.

Scarborough told the Dallas Morning News many evangelicals might not vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, because of his Mormon faith.

"I would hope most people in the Christian conservative movement are mature enough in their politics not to just write him off because he's a Mormon," Scarborough said. "But I do think that gives a lot of people pause."

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

Previous related stories:
Moderate Baptists Seek Unity to Work on 21st Century Issues
BCE Leader Defends 'Golden Rule' Baptists
Richard Land Doesn't Get Baptist 'Covenant'Think Differently About Partisanship Issue at 2008 Baptist Gathering

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