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More Voices: Campaigning in Churches

— Doug Brabon
Front Royal, Va.

Though I consider myself a person of faith, I am increasingly alarmed at the way religion is being used by the Republican party to undermine both fair elections and our constitutional right to freedom of religion. It is frightening to me to see the way religion, Christian fundamentalist religion, is being put forth as a litmus test for patriotism and American ideals. America is founded on the idea that people from many faiths may come here and freely practice their religions without exclusion and persecution. How are we better than religious fundamentalist dictatorships if we begin the descent down the slippery slope we are now on? Allowing churches and church leadership to espouse any particular political party or platform is completely anathema to what our constitutional founders intended. While many of the Bush policies are of great concern to me, it is this close tie to fundamentalist Christianity which I believe is one of the most dangerous. What difference does it make if we successfully combat terrorism if we lose ourselves and that which makes us unique in the world -- and American -- in the process?

_____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)
More Religion Stories

— Stacey Snow
Springfield, Va.

Tyranny is so often "divinely inspired" that words like "sovereign" have morphed from imperial canons to banal bank slogans. As we as a nation race toward installing more and more mechanisms to insure a plutocratic future, the removal of the firewall between church and state may be the final step. As the world's resources fall into fewer hands, fundamentalists seek to empower the common faithful, projecting acute frustration and anger onto an "unsaved" or "infidel" in an astonishingly inane adolescent game of "he hit me first." When it becomes the church's business to divinely sanction any government's ability to reign, that church has immediately rendered itself to the doomed human cliché of irrelevant idolatry.

— J. Kenton Moore, Jr.
Charlotte, N.C.

Separating church and state protects churches from being politicized as much as it protects government from the potentially significant influence of religious organizations. I doubt that many religious institutions are willing to open their books, including donor names and contributions, to comply with the regulations governing PACs and similar lobby groups. If religious institutions are going to participate in society in the same way as corporations and unions, they will inevitably be similarly regulated. Do you want to have to consider the political leanings of your rabbi, minister or imam when joining a house of worship, to avoid contributing to a political cause you disagree with?

— David Clark
Crofton, Md.

I am one who would definitely be considered a person of faith, attending church at least once per week and meeting with friends for faith sharing in our homes about four times per month. I consider voters guides, and especially requesting church directories, an invasion of my privacy and an extreme violation. It is up to me alone to determine how my faith informs my vote.

— Donna L. Davis
Fairfax Station, Va.

It is not appropriate to connect politics and religion in any way. This country was established on religious freedom, and it is obtuse to act as though there is only one way of believing. We should be mature enough to see that religion should not play a role in politics.

— Elizabeth Orr
Long Beach, Calif.

Is it right to have prayer in schools? The people ousted prayer in schools.

Why should worship service be bombarded with campaign literature and speeches from campaigners. If there is suppose to be this so called separation of state and religion, why would any pastor allow it? A church directory is not for public use and should not be exploited as such. Any pastor that has respect for his or her congregation and their right to privacy will not allow the directory to be used in such a manner. Everyone has a right to their privacy and giving out that kind of information without first consulting the congregation is a violation of trust. We are bombarded with junk mail now because of these types of practices from credit card companies and such.

I understand that it's our duty to vote and find out all we can about a candidate before we vote them into office, and when put in the proper perspective it can be done. A house of worship is just that: a house of worship. Campaigning is not worship. Most campaigners are only heard from when they are running for office. They don't visit the church during the year, nor do they come into a community and have a rapport with the people.

This sounds like stuff that belongs to Caesar (Matthew 22:21). Newspapers, campaign literature passed out on the street, and bills posted on the street give out enough information without having to do so in churches.

— Elizabeth A. Williams-Frye
Washington, D.C.

It is completely appropriate for a pastor to discuss issues of the day in the light of the tenets of a faith, and for him/her to encourage members to vote their consciences. However, the leaflets should stay outside the door, and shame on any party which tries to sway a congregation by using the psychological power inherent in religious leadership and organization. As for the directories, they are internal, and should not be for sale or transfer to any organization.

— Frances S. "Robin" Drake
Herndon, Va.

It is not appropriate for political campaigns to use houses of worship as tools for voter influence. Of course, citizens who attend religious services might well be predisposed to support a particular political point of view. However, it is offensive and dangerous to violate the privacy of citizens who choose to attend a house of worship. One's attendance or membership in a local community of faith should not be fodder for political solicitation.

— Jerome A. Johnson
Loveland, Ohio

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