Full Steam Ahead?

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The 1990's have seen the Christian Coalition in a steady and unbroken rise toward the top of the U.S. political landscape, highlighted by the1994 Republican Revolution that was driven in large part by the grassroots efforts of Coalition members. Since then, the Coalition has steadily gained political power and influence on both local and national levels. But maintaining that momentum may be difficult this year, as many Republicans in Congress fear another election upheaval, this time with them on the losing end. "This is a critical year for the Coalition," says TIME's Richard Ostling. "They have tremendous visibility and clout in the Republican party. The question is whether they can keep it." They have their work cut out for them. After five years of explosive growth, financial contributions to the Coalition declined last year by 12 percent, to $18.7 million from $21.2 million the previous year. And circulation figures for its magazine Christian American also dropped last year, to about 310,000 people from 354,000 people. Says Ostling: "These numbers don't necessarily indicate they're losing political clout. The Coalition's force in the politics of 1996 is not waning." Indeed, the coalition has managed to set the terms of debate on a number on issues -->