Saturday, February 18, 2006

North Carolina GOP Caught Reaching into the Pews

Via the Washington Post, we learn that the North Carolina GOP is asking church members to send them their church directories.
The Post picked up on a story in yesterday's Greensboro News & Record that the request is not sitting well with some conservative pastors:
"I would not want my church members to have their names given to either political party, Republican or Democrat," said Dr. Richard Byrd Jr. of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro. "That, in my opinion, would be unethical."
Cornerstone accepts "The Baptist and Faith Message" adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, widely regarded as among a more conservative and Republican-friendly organization. And Byrd said he does not believe people need to separate their religious practice from their politics.
But he said members give their contact information to a church to further its spiritual mission, not a political one.
"It would be betraying the trust of the membership," Byrd said.
The Post reports that the Bush-Cheney campaign tried the same thing in 2004:
During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing.
The tactic was roundly condemned by religious leaders across the political spectrum, including conservative evangelical Christians.
The North Carolina GOP has drawn fire from conservative religious leaders:
"Such a request is completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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