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‘The Response’: Step one in a conservative Christian voter mobilization drive

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/07/MahurinReligion_Thumb.jpgThose who signed up to attend “The Response,” the all-day prayer event hosted by Gov. Rick Perry earlier this month, are now being asked to partake in an ambitious voter registration effort targeting conservative Christians, ending a months-long dance around the question of whether the event was political in nature.

The strategy is linked to a group called United in Purpose, whose stated mission is to “reclaim America in the name of God”.­ Reaching the constituency through pastors is a pivotal component in the effort, and Perry’s prayer event is merely step one of that goal.

In an email from Don Wildmon, president of the event sponsor American Family Association, registrants are encouraged to help mobilize Christians through a concerted effort called Champion the Vote (CTV), an AFA partner:

The Response was just the beginning of a nationwide initiative to return America to the principles on which she was founded, with God at the center of our nation. All of us in attendance in Houston were moved by the overwhelming call to repentance, prayer and action.

Today, I want to introduce you to Champion the Vote (CTV), a friend of AFA whose mission is to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012. Only half of the Christians in the United States are registered to vote. Imagine the impact we could make on the future of America if these Christians made their voices heard in the voting booth!

CTV’s research has shown that it takes only 5 million voters to influence the outcome of an election. This is a do-able goal, and Champion the Vote is seeking Champions – an army of volunteers — to help with the effort. A Champion is simply a Christian talking to other Christians about registering and voting.

If you would like to be involved in this important initiative, go to the CTV website (http://www.ChampionTheVote.com) for complete details. We can make a difference, one by one, multiplied across the nation.

Sincerely,

Don Wildmon, Founder

American Family Association

Champion the Vote’s central advocacy issues include a pro-life, one-man-one-woman marriage agenda, as well as a prioritizing prayer in the public arena and rejecting church-state separation by promoting “god and government” together, according to its website.

To help make God central in politics, the group lists a bullet-point list of tools for pastors — described as “key” in the mobilization effort­­­ — and a PowerPoint slideshow to attract potential voters. “Research shows that it only takes 5,000,000 voters to swing an election. Is it possible to mobilize just 5,000,000 Christians to register and vote?” reads one point.

The voter registration effort is not a stand-alone operation, but an initiative of the self-identified non-partisan nonprofit group United in Purpose (UiP), whose stated mission is, “to actively advance the traditional values of America’s founding fathers.”

They claim to provide resources to Christian groups and ministries for voter mobilization in an effort to bring, “the Biblical worldview to the forefront of American life and politics.”

According to the UiP, the organization hosts nationwide educational events on topics like America’s heritage as a nation founded on Biblical truth, and facilitates communication “about the Biblical perspective on national and local political issues,” while also supporting the coordination of legislative prayer caucuses and prayer support groups at both the state and local level.

“Our mission is to get unregistered Christians registered to vote, we are nonpartisan in every way,” said Deborah Layman, a spokesperson with UiP. “We are strictly about moving a Biblical worldview to the forefront of American culture, and one way to do that is to encourage Christians to vote. There is a great untapped voice there.”

The group broadcasts segments of influential Iowa pastor briefings, which featured a handful of Republican speakers including GOP presidential contenders Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, as well as Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee and controversial Texas-based historian David Barton. UiP repackaged the March 2011 event as “Rediscover God In America.”

The briefings were said to propel Huckabee into victory during the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008.

At that conference, attendees also heard from figures that shared in a string of politically tinged religious-right events, including backing Perry’s “Response,” and took part in nationwide pastor briefings and secretive evangelical meetings focused on a strategy to unseat President Barack Obama in 2012.

Figures include former Republican U.S. Congressman and GOP lobbyist Bob McEwen and as Right Wing Watch notes, David Lane who organized the conference.

“History is clear,” the conference coordinators write, “the founders of our country drew their inspiration, wisdom, and direction from the Bible.”

While some said the timing of “The Response” seemed like a strategic political move, days before Perry announced his run for the presidency, the governor’s office continually defended the rally as apolitical.

Event spokesperson Eric Bearse continued that defense in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “The Perry campaign hasn’t used any of the data from the event for any type of political purpose. The AFA sending out an email to register people — if that is political, then I guess so is the activity of the secretary of states’ offices in all 50 states.”

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