U.S. Senate Chaplain withdraws from Christian nationalist conference

by JewsOnFirst.org, February 4, 2007

The chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Rev. Barry Black, withdrew last week from participation in a training conference aimed at establishing a Christian theocracy. The website of the Reclaiming America for Christ conference, to be held next month in Fort Lauderdale, offers "power-packed training sessions taught by 'culture war' veterans" to "help you reclaim your community for Christ." Additional literature on the website, shown on this page, make it clear the reclaiming is about taking over the government, not alleviating poverty.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, televangelist. D. James Kennedy, founder and president of the host organization, the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, wrote in literature distributed at the 2005 "Reclaiming" conference: "As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government ... our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors - in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."

The Center's brochure for the upcoming conference says:

Reclaiming America for Christ 2007 is coming and "evil" is counting on you.

That's right. The only thing evil requires for its triumph is for Christians to say and do nothing..

...Reclaiming America for Christ 2007 offers you the tools and training, ideas and energy you need to change America for the better.

Please join us for two wonderful days, as we come together to be informed and equipped in the campaign to reutrn America to her godly heritage. This is your chance to learn, grow, and go -- to better understand the issues we face and to take you pleace -- great or small-- in the grand task of reshaping America's future.

Black, himself, has not commented on what prompted him to agree to participate in such a blatantly dominionist event. Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy chaplain who has known Black since the 1970s, told JewsOnFirst that the Senate Chaplain believed he was being invited to speak at a church.

"He accepted an invitation to speak at a church," said Kahn. He gets about five invitations a day. He thought he was going to be showing up and talking about the work he does as the United States Senate Chaplain. He knew nothing about the agenda of the program or who would be participating in it."

Black's spokeswoman told the Associated Press that he decided to withdraw before he received a letter from the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Rev. Barry Lynn, objecting to his participation. Americans United learned of Black's involvement from a brochure picturing the chaplain with Ann Coulter and Rev. D. James Kennedy.

Kennedy, whose media operations and Florida megachurch both go by the name Coral Ridge, is infamously upfront about his theocratic ambitions. He was recently hospitalized with a major heart attack.

Rabbi Kahn said in a February 13th interview that he knows Black well and has no doubt about his commitment to the separation of church and state. "There isn't any doubt whatsoever that he embraces the full integrity of the Constitution of United States. He has had a full military career in that commitment. It was a commiment that was tested day in and day out and he passed with flying colors."

Kahn, who served as an active and reserve Navy chaplain for 32 years, currently directs the Center for Equal Rights in Washington, DC. (You can hear an earlier interview with him here.)

Before his appointment as Senate Chaplain, Black headed the military chaplain services.

The AP quoted the center's executive director Gary Cass saying that military chaplains have appeared at past reclaiming conferences to encourage attendees to consider becoming military chaplains.

UPDATE In April 2007, D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries announced it had shut down the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, but would continue to hold annual conferences like the one discussed here.

TOPIC: Church-State Separation