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How the Market Stamps Out Evil

In the year before the 1994 election, Ralph Reed announced that the Christian Coalition would broaden its focus. It would go beyond traditional social issues like abortion and school prayer and include economics. He made the case that the security of the American family, a central concern of any Christian political organization, is affected by far more than mere social issues. High taxes, for example, drain family bank accounts. Regulations destroy family businesses. Huge liabilities in the Social Security program threaten intergenerational relations.

True enough. And yet astute observers who read his essay in Policy Review had the feeling that there was an unstated subtext to this policy ecumenism. Would he use the new "broad focus" to water down the old social message? Would "economics" become a code word for moderation? Was this a prelude to full-scale political sellout? After all, it is far easier to make a coalition with establishment-oriented Republicans on issues like trade and petty business regulations than on tough issues like abortion and prayer. In time the suspicions of Reed's detractors proved correct: the Christian Coalition's political agenda was soon indistinguishable from Bob Dole's.

The headlong slide of the organization from outsider to insider status angered many grassroots activists. Why was Reed talking about a balanced budget when local schools were being...

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