Why is WORLD delving into the Ralph Reed scandal? So what if Mr. Reed used millions of dollars of Coushatta gambling money and has refused to answer probing questions about his actions?
Our concerns fall into three categories: morality, transparency, effect.
Moral argument: When does the end justify the means? Should we support one group of drug-sellers to stop another group? Mr. Reed could argue that it was better to have Coushatta gambling funds in the hands of evangelical friends than enemies, but evangelicals typically refuse to embrace that variant of utilitarianism. For example, we don't justify abortion because it might decrease the amount of poverty among single mothers. We don't abandon the state of Israel in the hope that Muslim terrorists won't attack the United States.
Transparency argument: Some evangelicals might challenge the moral argument, and we could have a good discussion about that-but Mr. Reed should have let others, particularly his friends and supporters, have that discussion. If he thought it was fine to use gambling money (hey, it's all green), he should have informed the pastors he organized and the ministries he lobbied that he was using casino funds, so that they could make an informed choice.
Effects argument: If Mr. Reed had been transparent, he would have encountered disagreement but would not have so greatly disappointed many who trusted him. He has damaged Christian political work by confirming for some the stereotype that evangelicals are easily manipulated and that evangelical leaders use moral issues to line their own pockets.