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DNC Hires NAE Board Member as New Religious Outreach Director Luke Moon November 1, 2011
On October 20th the Democratic National Committee announced its hiring of the Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins to lead the DNC’s religious outreach program. Harkins is the senior pastor of the prestigious Nineteenth Street Baptist, one of the largest, historic black churches in Washington, DC. As a standard-bearer for many Religious Left issues, Harkins is the perfect choice. He serves on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals while also associated with the militantly pro-abortion rights Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. He has diligently promoted open-border immigration, Obamacare, and most recently the anti-budget limits “Circle of Protection.” The noticeable lack of outrage about an active senior pastor being hired by a political party seems odd except that it fits nicely into the left’s strategy to fracture the traditionally conservative Evangelical vote.
As a member of “Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” (CCIR), Harkins has been deeply involved in the immigration debate in the media and before Congress. Although CCIR might sound innocuous, the signatories of the CCIR statement of belief is a who’s-who of the Religious and Evangelical Left, including Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, and Jim Wallis. It should not be a surprise that CCIR operates out of the offices of Jim Wallis’ Sojourners. CCIR argues it is affirming the Biblical call to care for the “alien among you.” But CCIR fails to recognize that while to church is to care for the “alien,” that care does not diminish the state’s responsibility to uphold the law.
During the Obamacare debate in 2009, Harkins faithfully made the media rounds arguing that Obamacare was morally imperative for Christians in the US. He dutifully claimed that Jesus Himself would support the government takeover of 1/6th of the US economy. As many might recall, attempts to keep public funding for abortions out of the legislation faced stiff opposition. To placate pro-life concerns, Harkins told Fox News, “Public funding for abortion should not be part of this endeavor.” HHS recently mandated the abortion pills be freely available to all insured individuals, including those who work for religious charities such as Catholic or Baptist hospitals. Harkins is also a member of the Black Churches Initiative Advisory Board of the strongly pro-abortion rights Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). RCRC President Carlton Veazey commended Harkins’ appointment to the DNC, saying: “On the issue of reproductive choice, although he and I have different theological views on the moral appropriateness of abortion, he is committed to improving the health of young African Americans through sex education and pregnancy prevention.” RCRC strongly opposed any abortion conscience exceptions in Obamacare.
This summer, Harkins endorsed the Jim Wallis’s “Circle of Protection,” which effectively sided with President Obama and against Congressional Republicans during the debt ceiling crisis by opposing spending limits on social welfare or entitlements programs, by implication favoring only tax increases and military cuts to address spiraling federal deficits. So the DNC selection of Harkins is understandable given his liberal politics and his connections with mostly conservative evangelicals. As a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), he has ready access to leaders of at least 40 member denominations and over 45,000 congregations. For several years the Religious Left has been targeting the influential evangelical community. Its theme is that government is the typical instrument for establishing God’s Kingdom on earth.
Harkins also serves on the board of the liberal group Faith and Public Life (FPL), which calls itself “a strategy center advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good.” Funded by George Soros and the leftist Tides Foundation, FPL is a prominent Religious Left voice for CCIR, Obamacare, the “Circle of Protection,” and Occupy Wall Street. In an interview with Lou Dobbs, Harkins said, “There's a very big difference between being astute as to public policy issues and being partisan.” Yet in his statement for the DNC press release, Harkins said, “President Obama has been a leader on so many of the issues and values religious Americans are passionate about—from comprehensive and just immigration reform to the Affordable Care Act to maintaining and supporting the critical role of faith in public life. People of faith have a home in the Democratic Party, and I have every expectation that people of faith will be a key part of a successful election for Democrats in 2012.”
Although all Americans have a right to engage in the political issues about which they are passionate, should a clergyman and church pastor work directly for a political party? And if so, will his sermons be based on the Bible or that political party’s current platform? And will traditional, pro-life, pro-marriage evangelicals listen to Harkins’ appeals on behalf of the DNC?
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