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More Voices: Campaigning in Churches

Sunday, September 5, 2004;

I feel it is extremely inappropriate for a political campaign to distribute voters guides in a house of worship or to use the congregation's directory to contact voters. People go to their various houses of worship to worship, not to listen to political campaigns or be inundated with nonreligious writings. If a political campaign wants to reach out to a community, they can go door to door, introduce themselves and hand over the voters guides to residents; if no one is home they can leave a voters guide behind. Politics do not belong in a house of worship!

— Lisa A. Sokol, Knoxville, Md.

_____On Faith_____
Channeling God at the Video Cafe (The Washington Post, Sep 5, 2004)
REVELATIONS (The Washington Post, Sep 5, 2004)
Should Political Campaigns Distribute Voter Guides in Churches? (The Washington Post, Sep 5, 2004)
A Sacred Sound May Fall Silent (The Washington Post, Aug 1, 2004)
Previous Issues
_____Religion News_____
Channeling God at the Video Cafe (The Washington Post, Sep 5, 2004)
REVELATIONS (The Washington Post, Sep 5, 2004)
Should Political Campaigns Distribute Voter Guides in Churches? (The Washington Post, Sep 5, 2004)
At Teen Magazine, Faith Is in Fashion (The Washington Post, Sep 4, 2004)
In Congress, Religion Drives Divide (The Washington Post, Aug 28, 2004)
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It is wrong and most inappropriate. Our Founding Fathers were quite aware of the separation of church and state having had firsthand experience.

You will find that the majority of main-line churches do not do this; it seems to be the fundamentalist churches who do not have governing bodies and each church has their own rules and regulations. They feel that they know who people in their congregation should vote for and their parishioners are easily swayed and are not knowledgeable about politics.

It is an affront to all this country stands for.

— Ann Rudd, Arlington, Va.

Campaigns are expected to leverage every tool possible. They are really the lowest of the low and I don't expect much from them in terms of conduct. The church, on the other hand, should have its tax-exempt status revoked immediately unless it can be proved that they provided exactly the same access to all parties in the race. If I were a member of the congregation, I'd quit regardless of circumstances. The trusted relationship between church and parishioner ought to be, shall we say, sacred.

— Eric Graves, Alexandria, Va.

I am Mormon, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is very careful to not endorse any party or candidate. I am a registered Independent, but usually vote Republican. I will likely vote for Bush, but I am undecided.

I agree that a church should not be a pulpit for a candidate's campaign. Rather, if a candidate is going to give a speech to a church, equal opportunity should be given to the other side of the aisle.

— Kaua'i Mansur, Anthem, Ariz.

No. Period.

Someone could stand outside a church and talk to people coming and going, but not in a place of worship of any faith.

We should be free to worship without encountering campaign efforts for an elected office in our place of worship and, in particular, during services. Congregations should welcome participants regardless of their political affiliations or beliefs.

— Peggy Drake, Baltimore Md.

As a practicing Christian, I can only note that Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Church and state must be kept separate; to combine them endangers each. No one should be allowed to place the imprimatur of God upon any candidate. Any church that tries such a thing should immediately lose its tax-exempt status.

— John Floars, Woodbridge, Va.

Thirty years ago, I spoke out against prayer in public schools because, as I said then, "Who will be designated to write the prayers?" The question is the same regarding voters guides in houses of worship. "Who will be allowed to write the guides?" Other than the simple act of encouraging people to vote and assisting them in the process of registering to vote, voters guides in formal religious settings are inappropriate at the very least and, in some instances, may violate the Constitution. The answer is no!

— Ronald F. Christian, Fairfax, Va.
Chairman, Fairfax County Faith Communities in Action

I can see two sides to this question. On the one hand, the separation of church and state should be respected for many reasons, and so should the identity of church members. Should politicians who do not comply with that separation benefit from the practice of campaigning this way while others who comply do not?


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