Some of the most important entries in a journalist’s Rolodex are the people you can count on to oppose something you’re writing about. News stories need balance, after all. Bonus points if they’ll give you an inflammatory quote to spice up a story.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of The Christian Action League, is one of those people.
Anything involving religious issues, alcohol or gambling generally means Creech is getting a call.
Need a good quote against House Bill 21? Borrow from his blog.
“Don’t expect these social terrorists like the HRC to let up on the pressure,” [Creech] wrote. “There is no meaningful dialogue with them, only total domination. They are an unbending, immovable, aggressive, insistent force that would have every norm and moral turned on its head.”
Or boozy brunch:
“Current law existed for so many years out of deference and respect for churches that don’t end all their services before lunchtime,” the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League said Thursday. “This bill begs the question: Where’s that respect now? … Surely we can wait until after the preacher has given the benediction.”
“The concept of medical marijuana essentially violates every sensibility of the way people in our country believe medication ought to be approved and dispensed,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, director of the Christian Action League. “Testimonials are not science. Emotions, or even compassion, don’t trump wisdom.”
Creech and the NRA are at odds over House Bill 640, a bill that would repeal the state’s 145-year-old ban on Sunday hunting. Last week the gun group emailed an action alert saying the Sunday hunting ban endorses “the view of animal ‘rights’ extremists that there is something wrong with hunting.”
Hold on, says Creech, who identifies himself as a lifelong hunter who has owned guns his whole life, and who is applying for a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The alert “smears people of faith, like me, who oppose Sunday hunting,” Creech writes on the league’s website.
Or nonprofit fundraising casino nights2. From WRAL:
“It is instead a fallen angel with all the same intrinsic minions of illegal gambling,” [Creech] said. … “Gambling in any form always causes social disruption and evil,” he added. “When we add alcohol to the mix, we’re only greasing the wheels for these negative behaviors.”
Sometimes Creech gets his very own headlines.
Last week, the News & Observer squeezed out a story with the headline: “Conservative Christian lobbyist fears Amazon would try to make NC more LGBTQ-friendly” based on a blog post somebody else wrote on his site saying that making LGBT categories legally protected classes is anti-business.
Here’s Creech’s quote:
“Amazon is a huge corporate entity,” said Creech, a lobbyist who is executive director of the Christian Action League, which he says represents evangelicals from 17 denominations in the state. “That would make me nervous.”
“I’m just stating what the political landscape would be if they come,” he said. “Amazon is a huge corporation and it’s plausible to think that with as many jobs as they would bring, they could possibly bring considerable political leverage along with them.”
The quotes aren’t the main problem. Treating him as representative of Christians is. Creech is irrelevant in today’s political sphere.
The Christian Action League was born out of the Baptist anti-alcohol movement of the 1930s, and still maintains a tangential relationship with the N.C. Southern Baptist Convention.
Over the past half-decade, it has more or less piddled out of existence.
Since raising about $500,000 to promote Amendment One in 20124, the Christian Action League has fallen on hard times.
Their most recent financial report shows that the Christian Action League had just $440 cash in the bank5.
There haven’t been any other lobbyists registered for the Christian Action League since 2015, and no lobbying expenses ever registered that I can find.
There’s no political action committee to speak of. The last expense was $1,200 to place two ads in the Blue Ridge Christian News against same-sex marriage in 2012.
Late last year, Creech took to Facebook asking for $3,500 by the end of the week.
Most of what the organization raises goes to salaries. Creech pays himself about $50,000, the organization’s nonprofit filings show. It’s unclear where the rest of the money goes, or where it comes from, for that matter6.
All that said, Creech does still manage to insert himself in photo ops.
He stood alongside some actual influential faith leaders like Rev. Mark Harris (again running for Congress this year) at a 2017 press conference criticizing Rev. William Barber after Barber said he wouldn’t pray for President Trump. Creech also apparently spoke at a Sunday morning prayer breakfast at last year’s N.C. Republican Party convention.
He’s also a prodigious writer on his website.
Is that enough to be labeled “influential“? Probably not.
Dear N.C. media: You can stop quoting Rev. Mark Creech now.
Find somebody else: Franklin Graham or Mark Harris, for example. They actually do represent a sizable number of Christians — though far from a majority.
Or for social issues, at least go to the N.C. Values Coalition, which had more than $78,000 in the bank and actually fundraises and donates to political campaigns.