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« on: September 25, 2004, 06:13:05 PM »

Gospel, CCM Artists Help 'Redeem the Vote'

by Allie Martin and Jenni Parker
September 24, 2004

(AgapePress) - A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization is enlisting the help of Christian music artists to encourage young people of faith to vote in order to exercise their voice and make a difference in society.

Redeem the Vote (RTV) was co-founded last year by Montgomery, Alabama's Dr. Randy Brinson as an answer to MTV's "Rock the Vote" campaign. The concerned citizen realized that, when it comes to cultural issues, far too many young believers today are simply not being reached. An alarming statistic bears this out: according to some estimates, there are 25 million Christians in America who are not registered to vote.

But after observing the impact of the MTV-sponsored voter registration and motivation drive known as "Rock the Vote," Brinson and his wife, Pam, felt challenged to emulate that success. "We saw how effective Rock the Vote is," he says. "We were involved with Christian radio, so we said, 'Well, why can't we get Christian artists to do the same thing?'"

The couple went to Nashville, Tennessee, and presented their idea to officials at the Gospel Music Association. "And they said that they loved it," the Alabama doctor says, and after that, a sort of domino effect began: "Christian radio got involved with it, the Christian artists got involved with it, and since that time we've just ballooned into this huge grassroots movement, involving about 500,000 people now."

Brinson estimates as many as 30,000 people have registered to vote at either the group's website or at one of its many concerts. And he has found that getting contemporary Christian music artists to help "sell" the idea of voting to young people as a Christian duty, a privilege and a good idea, works really well, because young people are strongly influenced by these artists as role models.

Among those artists who work with RTV are popular veterans and new faces, from Phil Keaggy, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Philips, Craig, and Dean to Rebecca St. James, Casting Crowns, and Natalie Grant. The music runs a gamut of diverse styles as well, from Jaci Velasquez and Anointed to Toby Mac, Chonda Pierce, Anointed and ZOEGirl.

The list is extensive, with musical flavors for every taste, and the RTV website is awash with photos of these Christian personalities, along with audio messages from several, urging young people to register, be aware of the issues, and voice their values.

There is also a written message from Brinson explaining to young people why their vote counts. Still, he counts heavily on Christian celebrities to inspire young voters to get involved in the political process.

"People get their information a lot from entertainers and sports figures and look to them as their heroes," the RTV founder says. "There is some polling data that has shown that with 40 percent of 18- to 24-year olds, if someone they endorse or they support tells them about something or supports a candidate, they are likely to vote the same way. So it's a very positive impact [the recording artists] can have."

With some half a million voters registered so far, RTV has made a good start on its objectives. But Brinson says it is only the beginning of the task at hand. On the movement's website he states, "Redeem the Vote wants to motivate the more than 25 million evangelical Christians who are not registered to vote and " mobilize those in the faith-based community to exercise their rights as citizens."

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