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« on: December 29, 2004, 02:30:03 PM »

Groups Emphasizing Importance of Evangelical Vote in Election 2004

by Sherrie Black and Allie Martin
December 29, 2004

(AgapePress) - America's 50 million Evangelicals are being urged to vote -- and an official with the Southern Baptist Convention is urging them to vote their values, not their pocketbooks.

A draft of the National Association of Evangelicals' document For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civil Responsibility has stirred controversy. Guidelines in the document urge Evangelicals to vote biblically on issues like poverty, abortion, stem-cell research, and same-sex marriage.

An earlier version of the document reported in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times said "Evangelicals must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party." But according to the Washington Times, that sentence produced enough inquiries to the NAE that the drafters revised it during a conference call on Monday to now read that Evangelicals "must be careful not to equate Christian faith with partisan politics."

Christianity Today editor David Neff notes that only half of the voters in American who identify themselves as evangelical Christians participated in the 2000 election, nearly keeping President Bush out of the White House. And Bush's re-election campaign is heavily courting the nation's Evangelical vote, hiring Ralph Reed, known for his work with the Christian Coalition of America.

Be an Informed, Values-Based Voter
An arm of the Southern Baptist Convention is doing its part to get out the Evangelical vote. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is spearheading an initiative known as iVoteValues.com to educate voters and register new voters.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the ERLC, says Christians have a duty not only to vote, but also to be informed about the candidates and the issues. He says an astonishing number of churchgoers have not taken the first necessary step.

    [Photo compliments of Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission]
Dr. Richard Land
"In the average church, 30 percent of the membership is not registered to vote. If you're not registered, you can't vote," Land emphasizes. "We want to encourage people to vote, to be registered to vote, and to be informed voters -- to find out the candidates' views on the issues; then to vote their values, their beliefs, and their convictions. We're not endorsing candidates; we're looking for candidates who endorse us."

Land is convinced the upcoming presidential election may be one of the most pivotal elections in the history of the nation. That is why he says every Christian needs to vote this November.

"I don't know about you, but I personally think that if the vast majority of Americans who are registered to vote voted -- and voted their values, beliefs, and convictions as informed voters -- all of us would feel better about the results, no matter what they were," he says.

The iVoteValues.com initiative features a website that offers voters a comparison of the presidential candidates' values on issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, and the public display of the Ten Commandments.


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