In this era of political correctness you would think it not possible for a group steeped in hate and intolerance to continue operating. But, if that group happens to be on the left side of the political spectrum, hate and intolerance are tolerated.
So it is that the ultra-left wing Americans United for Separation of Church and State is again attacking and threatening legal action against Christians and their churches for merely exercising their fundamental Constitutional right of registering to vote.
It seems a coalition of pro-life groups has announced a national drive to register Christians to vote in the 2004 Presidential Election. Among the groups participating in this united effort are the Christian Coalition, the National Pro-Life Religious Council, and Priests for Life - a Catholic group that opposes abortion.
These groups are holding a series of "National Christian Voter Registration Sundays" in June, September and November of this year, and again in January of 2004.
According to CNSNews.com, slightly more than 50 million eligible voters in this country identify themselves as "born-again," "observant," or "evangelical" Christians. Of those 50 million, only 15 million voted in the 2000 Presidential Election.
Given the numbers, Christians - who currently vote in about the same percentages as the overall population - could become an extremely influential voting block if more registered and turned out at the polls. The impact on elections, national and otherwise, and on public policy would be pronounced.
That fact is not lost on Americans United which specializes in acts of political terrorism against Christians across the land. They have for years used every tactic, short of setting up lion’s dens, to intimidate and harass Christian conservatives.
In the current instance, Americans United is threatening the tax-exempt status of churches if they support the voter registration drive. Already, before a single voter registration form has been passed out, the left wingers are alleging the coalition is biased in favor of Republicans.
The Reverend Barry Lynn, sort of the David Duke of Americans United, is whipping up his usual hysteria claiming the voter registration drive is, according to USA Today: "a step toward creating a church-based political machine."
A church-based political machine? Let’s examine that thought for a minute.
Does anybody remember the Civil Rights movement and from where it sprang? Were it not for the black churches of America this nation would still be shackled with the shame of being an overtly segregated society. That movement - born, nurtured, and realized - through churches literally remade the face of American society and made it possible for such outstanding leaders as Colin Powell and Condelessa Rice to serve in the highest echelons of our government.
In fact, Reverend Lynn, the encyclopedia Encarta biography on the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. talks about his founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as "an organization of black churches and ministers that aimed to challenge racial segregation." It observes that as it’s president, King was "responsible for much of the organization’s fundraising, which he frequently conducted in conjunction with preaching engagements in Northern churches."
The mixture of church and public policy is a well-worn thread woven into the fabric of American politics. Kirk van der Swaagh, vice president of the National Pro-Life Religion Council put it best when he said "the Christian mandate to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’, so central to the church’s understanding of societal responsibilities, directs us to seek the election of those candidates who policies and legislative commitments will best accord with the truth of the Scripture and the traditions of the Christian church."
Just like the Baptist churches of King’s day, today’s Christian churches have the right to register their members to vote. Like every American, Christians have the right to vote for those candidates who best reflect our values and beliefs. So Mr. Lynn, if you don’t like the fact that most of those votes go to Republican candidates, perhaps your time would be better spent urging Democrat candidates to more reflect Christian values rather than trying to deny Christians their right to register and vote.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc., a Harrisburg-based non-profit educational foundation.)