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Sunday, July 4, 2004

Render to Caesar...your church directory?

You've probably already heard about this, but I'm still catching up on my reading. Alan Cooperman reported in the Washington Post:

The Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives.

Now, I'm not a purist about barring religion from public life and I don't think it's inappropriate for churches to address moral and political issues, but let's ponder this bit of Rovianism for a second. Do people expect their church directories to be forwarded on to political campaigns? Really? Would you consider sending yours? To Bush? To Nader? To Kerry? Do you suppose your fellow churchgoers would mind that you sent their names and addresses to the candidate of your choice? And doesn't this strike you as a bit of a blur on Jesus' admonition to render to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and render to God that which is God's?

Come on, folks: That's a "P" at the end of G.O.P., not a "D."

("Churchgoers get directions from Bush campaign," Alan Cooperman, Washington Post 7.1.04, reg req'd)

Update 7.6.04: The Baptist Press, the media arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, reports:

Southern Baptist church-state specialist Richard Land said he is “appalled” at an effort by President Bush’s re-election campaign that includes seeking possession of the membership directories of churches.

Bush-Cheney ’04 has provided coalition coordinators with a sheet asking them to give their church directories to the campaign, talk to church groups about the re-election effort and distribute “Voter Guides” in the churches. The instructions consist of 22 responsibilities and the deadlines by which they should be completed prior to the Nov. 2 election.

“I’m appalled that the Bush-Cheney campaign would intrude on a local congregation in this way,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “It’s one thing for the church to have a voter registration drive, to seek to inform church members on public policy issues, to encourage church members to fulfill their Christian duty and vote, and to encourage them to vote their values, beliefs and convictions. It’s another thing entirely for a partisan campaign to ask church members to bring in church directories for use as contact lists by the campaign and to seek to come into the church and do a voter registration drive and distribute campaign literature.”

A leader in the National Association of Evangelicals had a similar take.

It sounds like “an overzealous campaign worker ... stepped over the line of appropriate behavior,” said Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the NAE. “[W]hen party officials, whether Republican or Democrat, do that, it’s simply the obligation of church members to determine what is appropriate, ethical and legal and to say, ‘No.’”

("Land ‘appalled’ by Bush campaign strategy for churches," Tom Strode, BPNews 7.2.04; thanks, Jesus Politics!)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 4 July 2004 at 9:09 AM

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Steve Caldwell:

July 5, 2004 11:58 PM | Permalink for this comment

Here's some additional coverage on this topic from

"The gospel according to Karl
Bush's mastermind Karl Rove is going all-out to mobilize an army of Christian soldiers to carry the president to the Promised Land in November. But will mainstream churches rebel?"

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