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Creation, cultural wars and campus crusade

By Alan Matheson - posted Friday, 30 December 2005

The debate about creationism and intelligent design (ID) is more than a debate about whether or not God did it.

The issue of evolution is but one dimension of a broader Christian agenda concerned as much with theocracy as democracy. Evolution has been on the periphery of Australian church concerns until the Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) injected new life into the debate.

While commentators noted that CCC had met with Brendan Nelson and other politicians, and that following those meetings and his support, it would begin distributing thousands of ID DVDs into schools, little information was given about CCC.


CCC is no marginal group in the new religious Right with its broader agenda to combat secular humanism, promote and defend "family values" and "to implement their Christian world view to Christianise America".

It is, "the largest evangelical organisation in the USA"; "the richest fundamentalist enterprise in the world". Money Magazine (1996) wrote of it as "the most efficient religious ministry". The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) noted that CCC "has grown into the world's largest Christian ministry as well as one of the largest non-profits (organisation) in the USA".

But as with other new Right Christian organisations it also has problems with cash and transparency. NCRP reported that while it distributes an annual report, "it does not include a host of details … including staff and board salaries, listing of outside contracts, detailed investment information and lobbying expenditures".

However the role it plays in shaping the religious and political Right, either in Australia or the US, has attracted little attention in Australia.

Bill Bright, founder and chair of CCC, was originator, participant and advocate of most of the significant political and religious Right-wing organisations in the US. With Pat Robertson, he believed, "Christians founded this nation. Christians built this nation. And for 300 years they governed this nation. And we can do it again".

First he positioned CCC as a major behind-the-scenes player in the creation of a network of organisations with overlapping memberships and finances. These included the Christian Freedom Fund, Moral Majority, Religious Roundtable, Christian Coalition, Alliance Defence Fund, Christian Voice (which pioneered the use of "moral report cards" and were seen in the Australian 2004 election) and the National Religious Broadcasters.


The most significant of all of these was the Council for National Policy (NCP), described by the New York Times as "the club of the most powerful" (28/8/04). Membership is confidential and meetings are closed to the public and media. According to the New York Times it’s "a little known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country. They meet at undisclosed locations for a confidential conference ... to strategise about how to turn the country to the Right".

CCC plays big time.

His second major contribution was rounding up corporate cash. Nelson Bunker Hunt (of silver market fame) and Wallace Johnson (Holiday Inn founder) poured millions not only into CCC but also into favoured Bright projects. Richard M. deVos, president of Amway, was recruited as "the quiet godfather and financial angel of the religious Right".

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About the Author

Alan Matheson is a retired Churches of Christ minister who worked in a migration centre in Melbourne, then the human rights program of the World Council of Churches, before returning to take responsibility for the international program of the ACTU.

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