Message from The National Council of Churches
October 20, 2004, NEW YORK CITY -- Over two dozen leading moderate and progressive faith organizations and leaders, including the National Council of Churches USA and its General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, launched their first ever coordinated national "Get Out the Vote" campaign today. Thousands of volunteers and 100 phone banks have already been mobilized to call one million newly registered voters before Election Day.
The "Vote ALL Your Values" campaign connects people of faith to a database of millions of low-income, minority, and youth voters. Another 20,000 volunteers have been trained for Get Out the Vote and election monitoring efforts on Election Day.
The "Vote ALL Your Values" message is largely in response to religious groups who have suggested that Americans should vote based on a few hot button values issues, organizers said.
"Vote ALL Your Values is our message to Americans in this time of moral urgency," said Dr. Edgar.B "We can't afford to sacrifice our sacred values of truth, justice and community to a narrow ideological agenda advanced by a few vocal religious groups," he added.
Said Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance, "At stake in this year's elections is the fate of virtually every issue of social-moral-political significance to religious communities - civil rights, foreign policy, fair housing, taxation, religious liberty, economic justice, education, poverty, health care, and the future for our nation's children.B We must not ignore the moral urgency of this moment."
This campaign caps the most intense year in decades for moderate-to-progressive religious activism, highlighted by:
-- $1 million raised to run ads in over 100 newspaper and radio outlets for "God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat," "Life Does Not End at Birth," and Church Folks for a Better America ad campaigns;
-- Over 450,000 voters registered through the National Council of Churches, Center for Community Change, the Gamaliel Foundation and the Interfaith Alliance;
-- A doubling in the membership of moderate-to-progressive online religious advocacy networks to over 400,000 activists - primarily for Sojourners and the launch of FaithfulAmerica.org;
-- Over 1 million voter guides distributed by Catholic, Protestant and evangelical groups;
-- More than 700 major faith gatherings around the country, including a 30-city Bus Tour in October that reached thousands with the message that ending poverty is a religious and political issue, and a 15-city "Let Justice Roll: Faith and Community Voices Against Poverty" campaign June-October.
"The era of the Religious Right's dominance over faith and politics is over," said Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine. "Progressive voices are making themselves heard. We will not allow a conservative partisan minority to tell us how to vote and how to interpret our faith. We will vote on all our values."
"Vote ALL Your Values" is the first non-partisan, virtual get out the vote campaign. It allows faith volunteers anywhere in the country to log into the virtual phone bank, receive phone numbers and scripts, and record responses.
One volunteer, Eric Thal, explained his decision to start making calls: "I believe in a democracy that believes in compassion. We're all children of God and we should have a democracy that works for everyone, not just a few."
The million voter drive officially launched on Wednesday (Oct. 20) at a media event, held at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City, featuring Dr. Bob Edgar (National Council of Churches USA), Jim Wallis (Sojourners and Call to Renewal), Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy (The Interfaith Alliance), Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs (Kol Tivah), Rev. Larry Pickens (United Methodist), Bishop Catherine S. Roskam (Episcopal Diocese of NY), and Sister Arlene Flaherty (Network Catholic Social Justice Lobby).
Institutional sponsors of the campaign include People for the American Way, Progressive Christians United, Let Justice Roll, FaithfulAmerica.org, the Center for American Progress, The Riverside Church and Mobilization 2004, African American Minister Leadership Council, Pax Christi, Lift Every Voice, the People of Faith Network, Catholics for the Common Good, The National Council of Churches USA, Sojourners, Call to Renewal, The Interfaith Alliance, Network Catholic Social Justice Lobby, The Alliance of Baptists, Res Publica, and Kol Tikvah.