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Gop Embraces Christian Coalition Agenda

Calling on Congress to lead a moral renewal, the Christian Coalition outlined Wednesday a 10-point cultural agenda that quickly was embraced by Republican leaders.

The legislative package includes a proposal to return prayer to the public schools, new restrictions on abortion and a plan to revamp public education.

In recognition of the growing political clout of Christian conservatives, more than a dozen lawmakers joined coalition leaders in promoting the program at a Capitol news conference.

“Our purpose is not to legislate family values. It is to ensure that Washington values families,” Ralph Reed, the coalition’s executive director, said in unveiling the organization’s “Contract with the American Family.”

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who acknowledged the political debt that Republicans owe to Christian activists, promised a House vote on all 10 items by the end of the year. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., who met privately with coalition leaders, also praised their legislative program.

Presidential candidate Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who joined the lawmakers at the news conference, said he would push for coalition-backed tax cuts and a proposal to end government funding for the arts.

Although Reed repeatedly described the 10-point agenda as “mainstream,” critics called it extremist.

“The proposed contract runs roughshod over the diversity of American family and religious life,” the American Jewish Congress said. “We think most American families want abortion to remain legal. We think most American families want sex education taught in the schools.”

xxxx CHRISTIAN COALITION WISH LIST 1. Religious equality. Measures allowing voluntary prayer in public places such as schools. 2. Local control of education. Abolishing Education Department. 3. School choice. Enactment of legislation that will enhance parents’ choice of schools for their children. 4. Changes in tax policy, which includes a $500 per child tax credit and Individual Retirement Accounts for homemakers, with the same tax benefits as IRAs for those who work outside the home. 5. Restrictions on abortion, including a ban on Medicaid funding of abortions, cutting off federal funds to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortion counseling and restricting late-term abortions. 6. Restricting pornography. 7. Ending government funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corp. 8. Support private charities. 9. Protecting parental rights. 10. Victim assistance. Funds given to states for corrections programs should be tied to a requirements that criminals make restitution. Associated Press


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