Skip to comments.Baptists Angry at Bush Campaign Tactics
Posted on 07/03/2004 7:04:00 AM PDT by truthandlife
The Southern Baptist Convention, a conservative denomination closely aligned with President Bush, said it was offended by the Bush-Cheney campaign's effort to use church rosters for campaign purposes.
"I'm appalled that the Bush-Cheney campaign would intrude on a local congregation in this way," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
"The bottom line is, when a church does it, it's nonpartisan and appropriate. When a campaign does it, it's partisan and inappropriate," he said. "I suspect that this will rub a lot of pastors' fur the wrong way."
The Bush campaign defended a memo in which it sought to mobilize church members by providing church directories to the campaign, arranging for pastors to hold voter-registration drives, and talking to various religious groups about the campaign.
Other religious organizations also criticized the document as inappropriate, suggesting that it could jeopardize churches' tax-exempt status by involving them in partisan politics.
Campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said the document, distributed to campaign staff, was well within the law.
"People of faith have a right to take part in the political process, and we're reaching out to every supporter of President Bush to become involved in the campaign," Stanzel said.
One section of the document lists 22 "coalition coordinator" duties and lays out a timeline for various activities targeting religious voters. By July 31, for example, the coordinator is to:
_Send your church directory to your state Bush-Cheney '04 headquarters or give to a BC04 field representative.
_Identify another conservative church in your community who we can organize for Bush.
_Recruit 5 people in your church to help with the voter registration project.
_Talk to your pastor about holding a citizenship Sunday and voter registration drive.
The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the effort "is a shameless attempt to misuse and abuse churches for partisan political ends." Lynn said his organization would be "watching closely to see how this plays out in the pews."
The Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, a Washington advocacy group that has been critical of the Christian right, said the document was "totally inappropriate."
"We are alarmed that this initiative by the Bush-Cheney campaign could lure religious organizations and religious leaders into dangerous territory where they risk losing their tax-exempt status and could be violating the law," Gaddy said.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said "efforts aimed at transforming houses of worship into political campaign offices stink to high heaven."
None of those groups, however, has been as supportive of the Bush administration as the Nashville-based Southern Baptists.
Bush spoke to the Southern Baptists' recent national convention, by video link, for the third year in a row. Outgoing SBC President Jack Graham called the president "a man of personal faith whose leadership is great for America."
On Friday, Land said: "It's one thing for a church member motivated by exhortations to exercise his Christian citizenship to go out and decide to work on the Bush campaign or the Kerry campaign. It's another and totally inappropriate thing for a political campaign to ask workers who may be church members to provide church member information through the use of directories to solicit partisan support."
Richard Land is a big supporter of Bush and when you have him saying this about the Bush campaign, the Bush campaign better have a good talk with the SBC leadership.
Yeah right, BAPTIST-DEMOCRATS angry at Bush; and that is all I'm going to say- you make the connection.
Churches have long been a rally point for all sorts of activism. Why is Land suddenly drawing a line in the sand? I can't help but wonder.
Funny. I am a Southern Baptist and the reports I read of the convention and this mobilization effort gave me just the opposite reaction. From what I read, the overwhelming majority of delegates, as well as the officers newly elected, were all for this.
Funny how different views can be seen by different entities.
That said, I am sure some were upset that a political organization would openly solicit a religious denomination for mobilizing it's base for votes. I seriously doubt ANYONE will be so turned off as to not vote for Bush. No one with 1/2 a brain that calls themselves a Christian would vote for Kerry when they know he wold do more to undermine religious expression that Bush has done to further it.
It ain't gonna happen.
Gee, how to respond to such an insightful response. For the record, I support W and will vote for him. But this is waaay over the line. This represents all the reasons I am sickened by the religious left. (Groups such as the Unitarian Unversalists or most of the black churches don't think twice about doing this for the Dems.) The church is for spiritual pursuits only. To exploit that is sacrilegious.
"It ain't gonna happen."
My sentiments exactly.
truthandlife is right - Richard Land is a huge Bush supporter, as are the vast majority of grassroots Southern Baptists. They really should reel it in and mend some bridges.
I go to church to worship our Messiah, no other reason. It's not proper for GWB to be mining churches to create a political spam list database.
If he wants a political spam list the voter records of registered republican et al is perfectly legitimate.
what this proves is what I have always said - some parts of the Republican base are not strong, there are too many weak links in it. when people complain about the party having to reach out for moderates with various issues, its stories like this they need to remember. Some parts of the base are wimps, crying children.
God gave you a brain, use it.
It was an AP story, should be expected.
Yeah, Repubs! let's just back off, stand back, and let the Dems go into BLACK CHURCHES and campaign FROM THE PULPIT, just as they have always done. The only way to really reach the black community is from the churches.
This election, we need all the help we can get from all sources.
.and you can bet....actually it's already happening...
..that the other side, ie...Democrat liberals..are already organizing/promoting/disseminating just like this!!!
...they have no hesitation of setting up voter registration at church, at theaters, etc. ....
I simply don't believe the this story!!
Didn't Kerry rally the AME (African, Methodist, Episcopal) church awhile back? The glaring double-standard that democrats enjoy - openly campaigning at liberal black churches, homosexual churches and the handful of mainstream denomination churches that have slipped into heresy, and if a Republican so much as attends a national conference, Barry Lynn is out to scream separation of Church and state. The funny thing is, most media folks know so little about christianity that they REALLY believe these liberal religious folks represent the body of Christianity. Hillary campaigning from a Catholic pulpit, Clinton campaigning from liberal Baptist churches - never received any reprimand.
Democrats = Abortion, Gay marriage, homosexual rights, government controlled medical care, and taking money from the middle-class to subsidize the lower-class... for the greater good.
...but, if I remember correctly, you're not very supportive of Bush regardless.
You are certainly entitled to your opinion...
..but there are many of us who feel Godblessed to have this man in office.
If you're gonna try to enforce that, it damn well better go both ways.
This deserves attention and an agreement or compromise. There are several items of interest:
1) This is a southern organization? If so, the campaign need not squeeze so hard because the South is already won.
2) I think a good compromise would be for the campaign to agree not to use rosters for fund raising, but perhaps it is okay to call folks to get them to vote or maybe volunteer for the campaign. Fundraising: offlimits. GOTV: Okay.
3) I heartily agree that those 4-6 million evangelicals Rove has spoken of should be sought, but in the battlegrounds more than the south.
Consider the source.
I would view any attempt at political datamining in my chapel to be profane. If this same initiative was coming from the Kerry campaign every single person on this board who is for this would scream, making some of us hypocritical.
I wouldn't want my personal info being given to the dems by an usher in my church...would you?
Wouldn't bother me. I love sending back those postage-paid envelopes - empty! And I have also been known to vent at democrat push-pollers on the phone - very therapeutic!
Interesting take. Using their wieght against them, sort of like Judo.
The big difference here is that AME churches have whored themselves out and welcome this type of exploitation. This complaint is from conservative Bush supporters whose crime is to see the church as a place of worship, not politics. Criminy, that's thier right. As much as I would disgree with them, I would have no issue here if the churchs invited the politicos in. Clearly, this did not happen.
When religion and politics mix too closely it's bad for both in the long run.
Frankly, I don't see what the problem is. Churches can decline to do so. Other churches might put it on their bulletin boards.
Some of the things being done are definitely questionable. I keep getting mailings, emails and faxes from an organization that calls itself the National Republican Congressional Committee's Business Advisory Council, which will make me Business Person of the Year for only $250.
Democrats have been campaigning from the puplit as long as I've been alive and whats more I could care less.
The other day the NRA wanted to put me on some honor roll or some such, complete with a certificate that looked even better than anything I've seen from Publisher's Clearing House.
I've gotten plenty of spam from the Bush campaign as well, which I really don't mind. Such is life.
This idea of trolling for lists churchgoers from houses of worship however just strikes me as out of line.
More Baptist self-contradicting church/state separation/political activism nonsense...
So God doesn't demand Lordship over every area of our lives, especially the way we choose to be governed? Can a genuine Christian faith be so easy compartmentalized?
"Bad Jesus... Go back to church!"
Why, when you can fill it with metal or rocks?
But that is quite a step below what the adminstration is attempting to do here. If the DNC was surreptitiously collecting names from churches, we would be howling.
I don't mind the voter drives or the open recruitment efforts -- these are both great ideas. But to have the RNC say "Send us a list of your churchgoers," why that's just downright invasive.
Dear Dr. Land,
When Barry Lynn agrees with you, you're wrong.
you would think... but a lot of Christians fell for Slick Willie... they may fall for Kerry, too... (although Kerry does lack the "southerness" that Bill had.)
I am a Southern Baptist in MS, but I understand there is a large SBC group is southern Ohio, which might be critical for Bush. How a Christian can vote for pro-abortion Kerry is beyond me.
Sheesh, what's the big deal. Here's a call to action:
Every freeper with a church directory, mail one into the Bush-Cheney campaign and bypass the church "leadership.
FREEPERS are direct action folk. My directory will be in the mail this afternoon and I'll just pick up a new one tomorrow.
So someone giving your name to someone else compromises your faith just how?
Maybe we should make a federal law against Christians organizing politically to save this country from liberal ruination.
This is really making more sense now.
Black communities are totally structured around their churches, so I only meant that this is where Repubs have to look for black support. You are right about the invitations. However, there is a distinct possibility that white churches would lose their tax esempt status if they do what the black churches do. ddI'm sure after years of Dems going into black churches, they would not render the same privileges to whites and Repubs. Something about a double standard.
I just want to see the Christian community wake up and realize that God probably expects us to take part in the political process to stave off evil. He did say to occupy until He comes.
Agreed. It seems that many see that as an act against God. This is absurd.
Let's hide our heads in the sand and hope the problems go away. Prayer is first. Then Action.
I didn't say anything about making it against the law for Christians to organize nor did I say anything about this compromising my faith. These aren't my positions at all, they're your false summations of them.
In fact I wish Christians would organize more often. I don't even believe political speech in churches should be against the law for that matter, as it is now. Mine wouldn't engage in it, but if churches desire to do so that's their problem.
Legalities notwithstanding, I think the idea of political operatives using volunteers to gather data without consent for electioneering at best lacks class. This is not the same as putting a sign up sheet on a bulletin board. I don't see how it's a good thing that I sign up to volunteer at my church picnic then have my personal info wind up in some idiot pol's database.
All I'm saying is that it's an ill conceived idea. Would you want the info your church has, including where you worship going into Hillary's database?
Jessie Jackson came to our school during class time to talk about voting. You know what he was aiming at. Democrats can spread their message...why can't the Republicans? Just do it after church time.
P.S. We have UU in our area. They don't know what to believe!
I don't think I would. I would find it funny that they would think they could sway my vote with a letter. Is any literature from the Bush campaign going to incorporate the church from which the list came? I see this as a non-issue. They can get my name from any number of sources. Big deal.
The rest, like voter registration drives, again a non-issue to me. No one can make anyone vote for one or the other candidates. It's kind of like reaching both ends of the spectrum: MTVs Rock the Vote/Church directory lists. Some may even get double-whammied!
And I trust my Pastor and deacons. They wouldn't allow such a thing to happen.
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