Americans United Discourage Religious Voter Guides

2 11 2006

Filed under: Americans United, First Amendment, Church and State, Politics, Election

Not surprisingly, Americans United for Separation of Church and State have issued a threat to churches to not take part in partisan politics, but a closer look reveals a deeper threat from this humanist group:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 – Americans United for Separation of Church and State today advised houses of worship to be extremely wary of supposedly “non-partisan” Religious Right voter guides, many of which are being issued this week just before the mid-term elections.

Americans United has examined many of these guides, which are being produced by a variety of organizations, and found them to be significantly flawed. The guides show bias and are obviously designed to encourage evangelicals to vote for Republican candidates. As such, any church that distributes them may be putting its tax-exempt status at risk.

“These guides are clearly partisan and deceptive,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Houses of worship should not be part of the Religious Right’s unethical and legally problematic campaign to intervene in elections.”

These guides are no more partisan than all the liberal mainstream media polls we see that indicate that liberals have already won both houses of Congress.

Lynn pointed to the following examples:

Christian Coalition of America voter guides continue to oversimplify complex issues by saying a candidate “Supports” or “Opposes” selected stands on issues. The Internal Revenue Service warns about this type of language. The IRS Web site lists the following language as a “key consideration” for determining if a guide is biased: “If the candidate is given limited choices for an answer to a question (e.g., yes/no, support/oppose), whether the candidate is also given a reasonable opportunity to explain his position in his own words and that explanation is included in the voter guide.”

How does “Supports” or “Opposes” constitute deceptive, Mr. Lynn? Unless you have to spin to makes excuses. Yep, that’s what I thought.

Christian Coalition voter guides also employ a deceptive tactic for candidates who did not respond to the group’s surveys. The CC puts “No Response” for some issues but lists “Supports” or “Opposes” for others, the latter supposedly being determined by a candidate’s public statements. Use of this device makes it appear to the casual reader that the candidates responded to some questions on the CC questionnaire when, in fact, they answered none. (In a few cases, the Coalition lists disfavored candidates as having “no response” to any of the issues on the page, thus suggesting that candidates are ducking controversial issues.)

Gasp!? A non-responsive candidate gets an answer of “No Response” next to his name? The nerve of these religious zealots! If the candidate takes a stand in a speech, the answer is listed by permission of the campaign. A No Response means just that. But it also means the candidate has not take a stand on the issue. Typical Democrat. They’ll figure out they’re platform in a year from now.

A guide published by the Association of Maryland Families lists candidates’ responses to 20 questions, but some of the questions dealing with the most controversial social issues are worded in a manner that steers evangelical voters toward Republican candidates. Questions include “Should the public school curriculum teach homosexuality as an acceptable, healthy lifestyle?” and “Should the procedure known as partial birth abortion be banned in the United States, except in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger?” Candidates are expected to answer “Yes,” “No” or “Undecided” to these complex issues.

In addition, the Association of Maryland Families, which is affiliated with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, adds a line to its guide reading, “This Educational Voter Guide meets the 501c3 requirements and is permissible for distribution in churches….” This implies that the guide has received some type of official stamp of approval from the IRS, which is simply not true.

Lynn reminded pastors that if a church intervenes in a campaign by distributing a biased voter guide, it is the church, not the group that produced the guide, that will have to deal with the IRS.

Liberals are always looking for a back door, an excuse to make for why they support baby killing and destroying families. They have to spin they’re answers in such a way as to deceive voters that they are not that bad. That is why you never hear a Democrat say they support abortion. They are “pro-choice.” Nope. No such thing. You are either pro-life or pro-murder.

Some churches are so fearful of losing their tax exempt status, they won’t come so close to even holding a voter registration drive. But for those that promote healthy citizenship and a proper church / state relationship, do so in a way as to avoid legal snags. Most of Mr. Lynn’s threats are nothing more than blowing smoke.

For example, threatening a church’s tax exempt status for endorsing a candidate is widely known and any pastor that does so, if prosecuted, could face legal issues. Mr. Lynn’s true intent is to discourage the religious right from voting all together. He is religious, but it’s ok for the religious left to vote and be involved in partisan politics (Harold Ford’s commercial in a church, Kerry and Gore campaigning in churches . . . ).

It would be nice if Mr. Lynn would just tell what he really means. Like Kerry. Just let it out. We can take it.

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