It was a wonderfirl Sunday school. . . . My class met not only on Sunday morning but on prayer meeting night too, and I recall our Wednesday meetings with the simplest nostalgia. While in the church above, the adults of our congregation would be gathering for quiet song and prayers, we would meet in the basement. The meeting would as a rule be of a business sort given to sport programs and reports, collections and the like. A new member or two would be initiated, and if injured seriously .helped home by his mother. There would be a short prayer, and a shorter benediction. And we would turn out all the lights and in total darkness hit each other with chairs. Robert Ardrey Houston IT IS WITH apologies to the Christian Right that an anecdote from Robert Ardrey’s African Genesis serves as a metaphor to help understand what went on at the state Republican convention. Ardrey, who took a sabbatical from screenwriting in the 1950s, wrote the book that introduced Dr. Louis Leakey’s then-revolutionary theory on mankind’s evolution from a southern African branch of our priMate family. Ardrey’s brief, firstchapter recollection of his own Presbyterian youth in Chicago suggests the division that occurs whenever Republicans gather in Texas these days. For several weeks before the Republican convention, reporters and political prognosticators had anticipated an open division among the old line, country club conservatives and the washed-in-the-bloodof-the-lamb Robertson neophytes. Of the Robertson faithful, they had asked the Jesse Jackson question: What is it that they want from the party? Many wondered if these New Republicans would alter the landscape inside the George Brown Convention Center. Some predicted floor fights over the platform, others speculated that at least one Robertson representative would be elected to one of four top-level executive positions in the state party, or that Robertson himself would appear at the convention as Vice President Bush departed, embarrassing and upstaging the party’s nominee. In the end, all had predicted wrong. The Christian Right fringe Christians, one of their own leaders called them at a caucus did run a candidate for one of the top offices: Ray Farrell for national committeeman. But for much of the convention Pat Robertson’s invisible army was invisible, outvoted on the floor or cloistered in small angry caucuses, in circumstances not unlike the church basement of Robert Ardrey’s Presbyterian childhood. While the George Strakes and Fred Meyerses of the party cut the deals and orchestrated the votes of the 6,000 delegates, the Robertson faithful came to terms with their loss and planned their future. Away from the critical eye of responsible party moderates, sometimes they got a little crazy. At a pro-family caucus on the opening night of the convention, Richie Martin, State Director of Americans for Robertson, had something to share with 500 faithful Robertson delegates. \(None of the spokesmen of the Christian Right tells me share a few neat spiritual thoughts with you,” Martin said. A Dallas minister in his 30s, glib and pacing with a microphone cord trailing behind him, something in Martin’s staccato delivery suggests a Pentecostal Lenny Bruce. On the Monday after the convention, Martin said to some 300 delegates who elected to ramain in the convention center at the end of the first day’s proceedings, Americans for Robertson would cease to exist. Most of the party’s 6,000 delegates had already moved on to hospitality suites at the Four Seasons and the Hyatt, where candidates for party offices tried to win delegates with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. But with the 300 faithful who remained you can’t drink and you can’t dance, anyway, Martin reminded them Martin shared a few ideas on the immediate future of the organized Christian right in Texas. “On Monday, we become the Restoration Movement,” Martin said. The Restoration Movement, I was told later, is a campaign “for restoration of the greatness of America, for its strength, for its morality.” The Pat Robertson movement, according to Martin, now goes local to work for election of candidates at the state and local level and to assume leadership in the Republican Party at precincts and counties. “We will not go away,” Martin told the crowd. OR WILL THEY compromise. David Davidson, who two years ago was the party’s candidate for lieutenant governor, warned of false conservative prophets. “I do not come to bring peace,” Davidson said. “I come to bring the sword. I come to pit brother against brother. . . . We only need 300, that’s all Gideon had.” Davidson, a minister and member of a group called the Christian Heritage Society, is the harshest and most primitive of the four or five Ayatollahs of the Christian Right. While the Bill Price Christian faction followed a more pragmatic course through the caucus, often discussing political strategy and providing delegates with scorecards and checklists, Davidson and Martin advised against compromise. “We don’t have to talk political stuff to them,” Martin said, of the secular delegates. While Gideon needed 300 to destroy the Midianites, the Christian Right here would need some 3,000 to elect their candidate, Roy Farrell, to the position of national committeeman. Farrell, 35, is an antiabortion activist and oilman from Dallas. At the nightly Christian caucuses, he is introduced as a man who went to jail rather than compromise his anti-abortion principles. Interviewed after the convention, Farrell said that he was arrested in Dallas about two-and-a-half years ago for picketing outside an abortion clinic. “We were on the parking lot, trying to tell the girls that there were other options that they wouldn’t hear about once they were in there,” Farrell said. Charges against him, he assumed, were dropped “or adjudicated.” At the caucus on the first night of the convention, Farrell asked Christian delegates for their support and prayers. Then ushers passed Roy Farrell styrofoam hats which filled with dollar bills to pay for walkie-talkies rented to coordinate floor fights on Friday and Saturday. Robertson, Martin reminded the caucus, would speak to the convention on Sunday. Earlier, Robertson’s Thursday no-show had been explained. “Pat called to say that he couldn’t do it. . . . He just couldn’t be in three places at one time,” Martin said, citing commitments in other cities and Robertson’s dedication to the 700 Club as reasons why he could not attend the Thursday night pro-life rally. On the floor, however, the word was that Bush supporters and the more pragmatic Christian leadership of the Bill Price faction had sent word to Robertson that his appearance so soon after the Vice President delivered his keynote speech could be divisive. By the second day of the convention, party insiders were conceding that Farrell had an outside chance of upsetting longtime Invisible Army The Christian Right at the Republican Convention BY LOUIS DUBOSE 8 JULY 1, 1988
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