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Christian group drops lawsuit because of 'bad press'

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — A legal fight between two faith-based political groups in Alabama ended when the new leader of the Christian Coalition of Alabama dismissed a lawsuit against the coalition's old leader.

"We dropped the lawsuit because basically we were getting such bad press out of it," said Randy Brinson, the new chairman of the Christian Coalition of Alabama.

Brinson sued John Giles, former president of the Christian Coalition, in May, accusing him of taking the group's assets, including membership lists and Web site, when he left the organization last fall. The suit also accused Giles of trying to discredit Brinson with "unreasonable and untrue allegations."

Giles fired back with accusations that the new Christian Coalition of Alabama had been "subverted by gambling interests" and wasn't really representing the interests of conservative Christians.

While making headlines with their public feuding, Giles and his attorney, Al Agricola, met privately with Brinson and his attorney, Tommy Gallion, and reached an agreement for dismissing the suit. Both sides said the agreement included them not making any public comment about the other side, other than to confirm the case is over.

"We have agreed to resolve our differences and go forward," Agricola said Thursday.

Giles was president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama and one of the most visible lobbyists in Montgomery until the state coalition split from the national Christian Coalition last year. Giles and his board, headed by longtime Chairman Bob Russell, took their assets and set up the new Christian Action Alabama last fall. Some other state chapters of the Christian Coalition made similar moves last year as the national Christian Coalition broadened its field of interest to include labor and environmental issues.

Corporation records in the secretary of state's office show the Christian Coalition of Alabama was set up as a separate corporation from the national organization in 1992, with its own Alabama board. Last fall, the board filed papers changing its name to Christian Action Alabama. Giles became a board member of the new group, but no longer served as its president and full-time lobbyist.

After the split, the national Christian Coalition turned to Brinson to revive the state chapter of the Christian Coalition. Brinson, a Montgomery physician, was already well known among faith-based political groups for organizing voter registration rallies for young Christians through the Redeem the Vote organization.

Neither side in the Montgomery litigation would make any specific comment about the membership list and Web site that Brinson cited in the suit, but Gallion said there are still matters than are being worked out privately.

Christian Action Alabama currently has no permanent lobbyist like Giles was. Giles said the organization is "in an idle position" while the board looks for a full-time employee to raise money and address issues in the capital city.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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