Gingrich, Republican Leadership, Agree To Act On Religious Right Agenda

GOP 'Deal With The Devil' Shows Disproportionate Power Of Fundamentalist Political Groups, Says AU

Washington, D.C. -- In a press briefing today, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican congressional leaders announced that they would seek to implement the agenda of the Religious Right.

Meeting with Focus on the Family President James Dobson and other fundamentalist leaders in Washington, D.C., Gingrich and others said they would appoint a special congressional working group to confer weekly with Religious Right leaders to forward their agenda. This meeting follows a furious assault in recent weeks by religious conservatives who are demanding a political payback for their support of GOP candidates.

"Every American ought to be worried that TV preachers and fundamentalist politicos are setting our national agenda," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation and Church and State. "Leaders in Congress made a deal with the devil and now they're having to give the devil his due.

"Unfortunately, the American people will be the ones who will suffer the consequences of these back room political deals if the fundamentalists' agenda passes," Lynn continued. "It's outrageous and frightening that the Religious Right can wield this kind of disproportionate political power over our congressional leaders."

In recent months, allegedly non-partisan fundamentalist leaders like Dobson have threatened to leave the Republican Party unless the Religious Right agenda became the central focus of the congressional leadership. Today's announcement suggests that Gingrich is now willing to do what it takes to appease the ultra-conservative wing of his party.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.