D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), formerly “Coral Ridge Ministries,” is an evangelical Christian media outreach founded by minister and evangelist D. James Kennedy in 1974. The group is listed as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to statements and positions which the SPLC describes as falsely demeaning gay and lesbian people.
Best known in the 1980s and 1990s for its flagship one-hour television program, The Coral Ridge Hour, which claimed an audience of three million nationwide, D. James Kennedy Ministries now broadcasts a weekly half-hour TV program Truths That Transform. Hosted by ministry president, Frank Wright, Truths That Transform airs nationwide on four cable networks and seeks to give a “biblical perspective” on “moral and cultural controversies.” The program includes interviews, news segments, and video excerpts from sermons preached by D. James Kennedy (1930–2007), the former senior minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
At Kennedy’s direction, the ministry produced and broadcast Who Is This Jesus?, a one-hour television special aired on CBS affiliates at Christmas 2001. The program, co-hosted by Kennedy with actor Dean Jones, reached a claimed 20 million viewers, with its Easter follow-up, Who Is This Jesus: Is He Risen? The program offered scholarly viewpoints on the reliability of the Gospels, especially the resurrection claim. Associated Press religion writer Richard Ostling contrasted the broadcast to the 2000 Peter Jennings-hosted ABC News documentary, The Search for Jesus, contending the program “achieved more journalistic success than Jennings at one point” by providing a broader cross-section of experts.
Center for Christian StatesmanshipEdit
The ministry launched the Washington, D.C.-based D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship (CCS) in 1995. A Capitol Hill outreach to lawmakers and congressional staff, the Center is a discipleship and evangelism outreach to train and equip “Christian statesman.” It awards a "Distinguished Christian Statesman Award" annually to high-profile Christian political leaders. Past award recipients include Mike Pence, Tom DeLay, Sam Brownback, John Ashcroft, and Mike Huckabee.
Center for Reclaiming America for ChristEdit
DJKM founded its social action branch, The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, in 1996. With an emphasis on cultural engagement, the ministry also hosted Reclaiming America for Christ conferences in Fort Lauderdale to inspire Christians to become involved in politics and Christian social action. Speakers included former vice president Dan Quayle, then-Sen. John Ashcroft, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Jerry Falwell, and Judge Roy Moore. DJKM closed the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ in April 2007.
Center for Christian LeadershipEdit
In 2018, DJKM began the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Leadership, as an initiative of its Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington, D.C. The Center for Christian Leadership provides comprehensive leadership training to those preparing to seek elected office and to those seeking other areas of service in the public policy arena.
Wright, a Kennedy protégé, and ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, served on the DJKM Board of Directors prior to being named president and chief executive officer (CEO) in 2015. Wright, formerly president and chief operating officer (COO) of the Salem Media Group, also served as president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters for 10 years, and as the founding executive director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship, at its launch by DJKM in 1995.
The National Religious Broadcasters association (NRB) named The Coral Ridge Hour “Television Program of the Year” in 2003 and gave its “Best Radio Teaching Program for 2004” to the ministry’s daily radio program, Truths That Transform. NRB inducted Kennedy into its Hall of Fame in 2005.
Dismissed defamation lawsuit against the SPLCEdit
DJKM filed a defamation suit in federal court against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Aug. 22, 2017 after the group listed the ministry as an “anti-LGBT hate group.” The SPLC has exposed and sued white-supremacist groups under the direction of its founder, Morris Dees, but began focusing on immigration control groups and opponents of gay rights and same-sex marriage in the 2000s. It claims that DJKM engages in “anti-LGBT organizing and ideology . . . [and] demonizes LGBT people as threats to children, society and often public health.”
The DJKM suit alleges the SPLC "illegally trafficked in false and misleading descriptions of the services offered by DJKM and committed defamation against DJKM arising from the publication and distribution of false information that libels the ministry's reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public," a ministry statement said.
On February 21, 2018, a federal magistrate judge recommended that the suit be dismissed with prejudice, concluding that D. James Kennedy Ministries could not show that it had been libeled.
In response, SPLC president J. Richard Cohen, said the lawsuit is "meritless" and that the ministry’s Bible-based views are not immune from criticism. He added: "We have a First Amendment right to express our opinions, just as Coral Ridge has a right to express its opinions."
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- "Anti-LGBT". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
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- "Coral Ridge Ministries changes name". Sun-Sentinel.com. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
- Kennedy, D. James (2003). What if America were a Christian nation again?. Newcombe, Jerry. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. pp. 161. ISBN 0785270426. OCLC 53295596.
- Ostling, Richard (January 2, 2002). "Conservatives Tackle New Testament Debate". Associated Press.
- "Fact Sheet". Archived from the original on February 3, 2003. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
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- 2013 Distinguished Christian Statesman Award Dinner, 2013-06-18, retrieved 2018-05-16
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- "A New Approach to Leadership Training". Archived from the original on 2018-04-15. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
- "Communications Powerhouse Takes Helm at D. James Kennedy Ministries - Christian Newswire". www.christiannewswire.com. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
- "Celebrating Over Forty Years of Broadcasting".
- "Ministry files lawsuit against Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling it a hate group". AL.com. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
- Report and Recommendation Archived 2018-02-21 at the Wayback Machine. United States Magistrate Judge David A. Baker, United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. February 21, 2018
- CORAL RIDGE MINISTRIES MEDIA INC. V. AMAZON.COM, INC., et al. United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, September 19, 2019
- "Christian ministry labeled as a hate group is suing SPLC to 'right a terrible wrong'". kansascity. Retrieved 2018-03-24.