Ralph Reed, the conservative visionary who helped build the Christian Coalition into a formidable political force, is at it again. This time he’s building momentum for his Faith and Freedom Coalition, which will attempt to reach values voters with the tools that helped land Barack Obama in the White House.
“This is not your daddy’s Christian Coalition,” Reed told U.S. News and World Report’s Dan Gilgoff. “It’s got to be more brown, more black, more female, and younger. It’s critical that we open the door wide and let them know if they share our values and believe in the principles of faith and marriage and family, they’re welcome.”
“There’s a whole rising generation of young leaders in the faith community, and rather than nab the publicity I did at Christian Coalition, I want to cultivate and train that rising generation,” Reed said. “One question is, who is our future Barack Obama, doing local organizing just like he was in the 1990s?”
In a fairly lengthy blog post about Reed’s new venture, Gilgoff writes that the idea for the coalition was borne in the wake of the 2008 presidential election, in which Obama grabbed 26 percent of the white evangelical vote.
Reed is serving as chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and says he has filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service to register it as a 501(c)(4), a tax-free designation that permits lobbying and certain political activities. Gary Marx, Reed’s deputy at the 2004 Bush campaign and Mitt Romney’s conservative outreach director in 2008, will help advise the group. Jack St. Martin, a former top Republican National Committee staffer, is running day-to-day operations.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition plans to launch state and local chapters, as the Christian Coalition did, but is exploring the idea of organizing as much via “virtual chapters” that would operate online with the help of social networking technology. “The Internet’s first wave was E-mail, and the next wave was social networking, which Obama perfected,” Reed said. “There’s going to be a third wave, which we’re still developing.”
I’m not sure how well Reed understands the social networking element either. He issued his first tweet in early March, and his Twitter account is promoted on the coalition’s homepage, but so far he’s only offered two additional updates and has neglected to add a profile pic. Someone who gets Twitter, on the other hand, is Holy Weblog! That’s who tipped me to this story.