Indeed, the fundamentalist faithful are no longer political outsiders. Take Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and a speaker at the Reclaiming America conference. In 2001, Bush appointed Land to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, of which he is now chairman. Land has the ear of Karl Rove, the president's closest adviser. In other words, he's essentially part of the administration.
"Here's how it's supposed to work," the 57-year-old Land says in explaining the Christian's role in government. "When people get saved and their lives turn around, they begin to have a different perspective.
"We then can, as citizens, go forth and say, we want pro-life congressmen, and we want pro-life senators, and we want pro-life presidents, and we want pro-life legislators." Many have been "bamboozled" by the liberal idea of separation of church and state and the notion that morality can't be legislated. "Nonsense," he says.
Gay Rights? Gay Wrongs
So what are the most pressing issues facing Americans today? The economy? An extended occupation in Iraq? A growing federal deficit? Health care?
None of the above, insofar as Kennedy's cohorts are concerned.
"We must teach Christians that they should vote for political candidates that follow the biblical positions on the political issues," says O'Neal Dozier, who founded the Worldwide Christian Center in 1985 in Pompano Beach. He instructs conference-goers: "The major political issues that you should teach the biblical positions on are abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment, income tax of citizens, affirmative action, right to bear arms, and public school prayer."
Dozier's congregation is mostly Republican and mostly black -- an anomaly in Democrat-heavy Broward County. In 2001, Jeb Bush appointed him to the 17th Judicial Nominating Committee, which is the board that recommends lawyers for judicial seats in Broward County. A former linebacker with the Chicago Bears, Dozier received a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Appearing much younger than his 54 years, he sports a dark blue suit as finely sculpted as his flattop coiffure.
Dozier freely mixes politics and religion in the pulpit.
"I do not teach people to become Republicans, even though I am a Republican," he says. "I do not teach people to become a Democrat. I teach them to know and understand the issues at large. And I know they're going to do the right thing in the voting booth. We want to be very, very careful as Christians not to 'cancel out our salvation' as we enter into the voting booth. Many Christians are doing that. They're praising God on Sundays, then on election Tuesdays, they are 'canceling out their salvation' because they are siding with the enemy, with the devil."
Dozier expounds on a few "issues at large." Homosexuality is clearly foremost in his mind. Quoting from the Old Testament book of Leviticus, he declares that it is "an abomination," which he defines as "something so nasty and disgusting that it makes God want to vomit."
"Why is it one of the paramount of sins?" he poses. "Well, it is a very bad kind of sin because it really hurts society in so many ways." God, however, found a way to punish the homosexuals through HIV-AIDS, he says. "It is a type of judgment for such a sin as this one, homosexuality."
Then there's the matter of the death penalty.
"Listen, God is 100 percent for capital punishment," Dozier pronounces slowly and emphatically. "Oh, yeah, God knew some were going to slip through, a few innocent ones. He knew that. But you cannot have a society without capital punishment." Murmurs of accord rise from Dozier's audience. "You're right," calls out one woman.
Dozier sees one sure way to ensure that these lofty ideals become the immutable law of the land: take over the world's economy. "We ought to be the ones in charge of economics on this Earth," he says. "Secondly, we as Christians must take control of the government. We should be the ones in charge of the government. Wouldn't you agree with that?" Everyone nods and mutters in agreement.
They could bring an end to abortions, special protections for homosexuals. "We should take control of every facet of society," he says.
"The best thing our president has done..." Dozier pauses and then waxes rapturous. "I love that man; I love President Bush. Thank God for President Bush!" The crowd claps wildly. Dozier talks about Bush's drive for faith-based initiatives that would provide federal tax dollars to church-run programs for the poor, elderly, and ill. "Do you know what it would mean for Christ if the church could have the money to take care of the poor?" he asks. "That means that the poor would come to the church and the poor would see Jesus as their God and not the government as their god."