Pious pols dare not swear on a stack of Bibles

August 12, 1999|By John Young

ATLANTA — ATLANTA-- In "Liar, Liar," Jim Carrey portrays an attorney cursed with a spell that renders him unable to lie.

Coming soon to theaters near you: In "Oh, God, What a Bunch of Liars," Mr. Carrey stars as Pat Robertson. George Burns returns as God.

All right, that's not true. It's a lie.

But you'd need a full-length motion picture to do justice to the way Mr. Robertson's Christian Coalition mutilates No. 9 of the 10 Commandments it would post on public school walls. That's the shalt-not against bearing false witness.

One wonders what other commandments the coalition has ground into powder in its efforts to get where and what it wants. Are there any witnesses in cement shoes at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay who could tell us how deceitful and cynical this so-called Christian organization has been?

Simply by doing the math, one would wonder: Who's killing all the Christians in the Coalition? There has either been a massacre or one of history's biggest put-ons.

Last year, the Coalition was claiming that it had 2.8 million members and thriving affiliates in 48 states. Last week, the group acknowledged that affiliates were skeletal in all but seven states.

The New York Times, quoting current and former staffers, reported that the names of thousands of dead people had been used to inflate membership rolls, and that the Coalition printed millions of voter guides that it never expected to be distributed.

Sources acknowledged that shipping stacks and stacks of these propaganda sheets wasn't the same as getting them distributed, as the Coalition had claimed. Many pastors refused to play a calculated political game.

Most brazenly, Coalition staffers were caught in an act of illusion. During press tours at the Chesapeake Bay national headquarters, the Times reported that "a roving group of employees leapfrogged ahead of the reporters to fill empty offices and telephones."

The upshot of it is that the Coalition has been revealed for what it truly is: a partisan brotherhood with the scruples of the mob.

In June the Internal Revenue Service said, "Jig's up, Bugsy." It revoked the Coalition's tax-free status citing the group's hand-in-hand efforts with the Republican Party, whose nomination Mr. Robertson has sought as presidential candidate.

This was the second shoe to drop. In 1996, the Federal Election Commission declared it a partisan group and required it to register as a political action committee.

All along the Coalition has known what it was doing and why. It was trying to get as far as it could without the truth coming to bear.

Speaking of movies, Toto just pulled back the curtain on the great . . . the powerful . . . the -- look, Dorothy -- it's just another corrupt political machine.

John Young is opinion page editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald. His e-mail address: jyoung@wacotrib.com.

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