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Christian Action League of North Carolina

Christian Action League

Christian Action League of North Carolina.

By Si Carpenter

The only lasting cure for evil and injustice is Christian Action. 
-slogan of the Christian Action League of North Carolina

The Christian Action League of North Carolina is an influential conservative, Christian values political lobbying group that has supported anti-gay legislation debated in the North Carolina General Assembly. The goal of the organization is to develop and maintain a “just and moral society[1].”

Overview

The Christian Action League holds many hardline Christian beliefs such as biblical inerrancy and that beliefs and conduct should be governed by God, not just as individuals, but as a collective group, which is why the Christian Action League supports Christian centered legislation on state and local levels.

With the Republican Party of North Carolina in control of both the NC Senate and House of Representative, the first time there has been a Republican majority in both houses in more than 100 years, the Christian Action League now plays a growing part in shaping legislation in NC, particularly as it relates to LGBT issues.

The Christian Action League is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Morality Commission, and the American Family Association, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group[2]. Operating as a 501(c)4 organization, the Christian Action League is not required to disclose it’s financial supporters, although it claims on it’s website that it receives 85% of it’s funding from Southern Baptist Churches. The other 15% comes individuals and churches of other Christian denominations[3].

According the League,

One of the Christian Action League’s most important ministries is training, developing and motivating followers of Christ to be involved in the political process. Jesus commanded believers to be “salt” and “light” (St. Matthew 5:13,14). As “salt” Christians have a persevering affect on culture – they keep the world from becoming completely rotten. As “light” they expose the evils of their day, as well as chase away the darkness of life with the Gospel of Christ and the law of God[4].

History

The Christian Action League of North Carolina has it’s roots in alcohol and continues to be a major opponent of relaxing the state’s liquor laws. In 1937, the Allied Church League was founded during the Baptist State Convention in Wilmington, NC. Although Prohibition had been repealed in 1933 by the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, for many rural Protestants, alcohol was seen as sinful. The Allied Church League’s goal was to help establish strict blue laws that restricted the sale of alcohol[5].

Post-prohibition the rate of alcohol consumption slowing began to rise back to their pre-Prohibition levels. With alcohol policy no longer a winnable issue, the organization shifted focus. Their charter was amended to focus on other conservative social issues. The amendments also included a change in the name of the organization to the Christian Action League of North Carolina[6].

Currently, the Christian Action League lobbies the NC General Assembly on a whole host of issues, ranging from alcohol, gambling, gay rights, abortion, pornography, race relations, drugs, biomedical ethics and religious liberty.

Coy Privette

Coy Privette was executive director of the Christian Action League for 15 years beginning in 1980 and later served as the organization’s president for 6 years. In addition, Privette was a North Carolina State Representative from 1984 to 1992, member of the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners, trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and trustee chair of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC[7].

Privette was instrumental in expanding the Christian Action League’s influence in politics during the political “culture wars” of the 1980’s and 90’s as the Republican Party turned toward the religious right for support.

In July 2007, Privette was arrested and charged with six counts of aided and abetting prostitution. Following his arrest, the Christian Action League removed Privette as president[8].

Privette plead guilty to the charges in August 2007, resulting in a one year probation and community service[9].

Anti-LGBT Lobbying Efforts

As a conservative Christian political group, the Christian Action League has been extremely active in legislative debates involving homosexuality and gender expression.

Sodomy

“If any person shall commit the crime against nature, with mankind or beast, he shall be punished as a Class I felon.”
- NC State Statute 14-117[10]

During the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s, the state’s anti-sodomy laws came in question. With sodomy a punishable offense and the vague phrasing of the language, homosexual acts were illegal. During the late 80‘s and 90‘s, there were several attempts by state legislators to alter the wording or repeal the law altogether. These efforts were not successful, in large part due to the lobbying and political pressure put on legislators by conservative and Christian groups like the Christian Action League[11].

The Christian Action League views homosexual acts as incompatible with their goal of “true righteous living” as demanded by God.

With the US Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v Texas decision, state sodomy laws in 14 states, including North Carolina, were struck down. However, North Carolina’s sodomy law still remains on the books. The Christian Action League has opposed efforts to remove the law, claiming it would leave North Carolina with so-called “pro-sodomy laws” should the Supreme Court ever reverse its decision[12].

Marriage

“A valid and sufficient marriage is created by the consent of a male and female person who may lawfully marry, presently to take each other as husband and wife, freely, seriously and plainly expressed by each in the presence of the other” NC State Statute 51-1[13]

The Christian Action League has been an ardent opponent of same-sex marriage and same-sex partnerships ever since the issue was raised in the 1990’s[14].

According to Rev. Mark Creech, the Christian Action League’s executive director, part of their opposition comes from the belief that “if marriage is redefined to include same-sex relationships — then people who believe in marriage as one man and one woman, will ultimately be declared the legal equivalents of bigots for acting on their religious or heartfelt beliefs[15].”

Currently, the Christian Action League is a primary supporter of Vote For Marriage NC, which is advocating for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and partnerships in North Carolina[16].

Bullying

A more recent push by the Christian Action League is to oppose a school bullying bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. A recent bill in 2008 died because of opposition from the Christian Action League and the Family Policy Council.

The reasoning behind the opposition is that “gay-rights groups would use it to leverage other rights[17].”

References

  1. "About CAL." Christian Action League. 8 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://christianactionleague.org/about-cal/>.
  2. "Southern Poverty Law Center." American Family Association. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/american-family-association>.
  3. "Frequently Asked Questions." Christian Action League. 8 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://christianactionleague.org/faqs/>.
  4. "About CAL." Christian Action League. 8 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://christianactionleague.org/about-cal/>.
  5. "About CAL." Christian Action League. 8 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://christianactionleague.org/about-cal/>.
  6. Interview with Coy C. Privette by Joseph Mosnier, 16 February 1996. A-0404 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  7. "Lawmaker’s Double Role Raises Ethics Questions." Greensboro News & Record 27 Dec. 1990, ALL, TRIAD/STATE: D4. NewsBank. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.
  8. Jameson, Norman. "Baptist Morality Activist Arrested on Sex-for-hire Charges in N.C." Associated Baptist Press. New Voice Media, 20 July 2007. Web. 19 Apr. 2012 <http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/2782/>.
  9. "State, Cabarrus GOP Demand Privette's Resignation." WRAL.com. Capitol Broadcasting Company, 27 Aug. 2007. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/story/1752017/>.
  10. "§ 14‑177 Crime against Nature." North Carolina General Assembly. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_14/GS_14-177.html>.
  11. Gregg, Valerie R.. "Some call it passion; the law calls it a crime." The News & Observer 10 Mar. 1992, FINAL, NEWS: B1. NewsBank. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.
  12. "Legislative Wrap-Up for 2009." Christian Action League. 15 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://christianactionleague.org/news/legislative-wrap-up-for-2009/>.
  13. "§ 51‑1. Requisites of Marriage; Solemnization." North Carolina General Assembly. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_51/GS_51-1.html>.
  14. Buggs, Shannon. "Family values: Who is to judge?." The News & Observer 14 Sep. 1997, Final, Question: A21. NewsBank. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.
  15. Williams, L.A. "Watauga Marriage Rally Clarifies Need for Constitutional Amendment." Christian Action League. 12 Apr. 201. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://christianactionleague.org/news/watauga-marriage-rally-clarifies-need-for-constitutional-amendment/>.
  16. Bonner, Lynn. "Friendly audience for gay rights - Lobbying intensifies to sway legislators' votes on same-sex marriage." News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) 15 Aug. 2011, 1st, Asection News: 1A. NewsBank. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.
  17. Bonner, Lynn. "Bullying bill dies over gay controversy." News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) 18 Jul. 2008, Final, News: B4. NewsBank. Web. 27 Mar. 2012