Hundreds of Arlingtonians emerged from church services last Sunday to find their cars graced with a religious message. The message: Get Rep. Joseph L. Fisher out of Congress.
Contained in fliers wedged under windshield wipers at five 10th District churches in Arlington, it was a denunciation of the three-term Democratic incumbent. The "Congressional Report Card" was distributed by volunteers for The Christian Voice, a national, self-proclaimed morality watchdog organization and right-wing political group that is campaigning this year against 45 congressional incumbents nationwide.
The group, which claims about two dozen conservative congressmen among its 100,000 members, has chosen Fisher and 8th District Democratic incumbent Herbert E. Harris as two Washington-area candidates worthy of defeat.
Campaign aides said they were unaware of any anti-Harris leafleting by the group.
The literature, proclaiming "We cannot . . . rely on ungodly men and women to preserve this nation!," contained no mention of Fisher's opponent, 41-year-old Vienna lawyer-lobbyist Frank Wolf. Wolf campaign manager Gus Hubal said the challenger had "no knowledge" of the organization's leafleting activities. But a spokesman for the California-based group's political arm in Washington said The Christian Voice had spoken with Wolf organizers as recently as two months ago to "reassure us of the candidate's positions."
"In all cases, we're in support of the challenger or we wouldn't be putting out the literature," said Gary Jarmin, national director of the group's Moral Government Fund. "The last thing we're going to do is ask our volunteers to go out and distribute these things if the challenger is going to be just as bad as the incumbent."
On all of the "moral" issues for which The Christian Voice has given Fisher and Harris failing grades, among them homosexuality, prayer in public schools, tax-exempt status for parochial schools, abortion, busing and sex education, Wolf and his 8th District counterpart Stan Parris passed with flying colors, Jarmin said. Hubal acknowledged Wolf's positions agree with those of the group in each case.
"We would think Christian issues would involve compassion for the poor, compassion for children, compassion for the unemployed," said Fisher's spokeswoman, Jean McDonald. "As far as we're concerned, Joe does pretty well on those."
While the leafleting left Fisher aides shrugging their shoulders, it disturbed some preachers and parishioners alike. "I don't agree with that kind of blatantly political approach by a supposedly Christian organization," said the Rev. Bill Hoffman of Arlington's Church of the Covenant. "They call it 'The Christian Voice,' which I find arrogant and presumptuous."
"Some of the church leaders were displeased that the things were just put on there and left," said Richard Vinson, seminarian at Calvary Methodist Church. "But many people just kind of laughed it off."