NASHVILLE (BP)–Before Americans go into the voting booth Nov. 2, Richard Land hopes they will do their homework.
“To be uninformed or to not be involved in the process is to be irresponsible and to become part of the problem rather than part of the solution,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
It is incumbent upon Christians, like all Americans, to be an educated part of the political process, continued Land, host of Salem Communication’s nationally syndicated radio program, “Richard Land Live!” “It means that you become an informed voter. Voters need to look for candidates who endorse their values and their convictions.”
In an effort aimed at fostering a more informed populace, the ERLC has launched a far-reaching initiative to register and educate voters. The goal of the “grassroots voter mobilization and education effort” is to register 2 million previously unregistered but eligible Americans for the 2004 election cycle. The initiative also will emphasize an awareness of the immediate and long-term importance of “values-based voting.”
Since most American homes have a personal computer connected to the Internet, Land knew the effort to register and educate voters had to have a strong online presence. In the end, the initiative’s Internet site became the linchpin of the entire effort and even gave the project its name —iVoteValues.com.
The initiative, which seeks to “promote awareness of the immediate and long-term importance of values-based voting,” will encourage people to register to vote and aid individuals in helping their friends and family members register to vote. The bottom line, Land said, is that voters vote their values, “not their pocketbook or their party.”
Christians have more than a right to be involved in the political process, they have an obligation, Land said, expressing hope that iVoteValues.com will facilitate Americans’ participation in the voting process.
“It is absolutely critical that we impress upon people the need to be registered, to be informed and to vote their values,” Land said. “We should never try to tell people how to vote, but we should tell them that they have an obligation and a responsibility to be informed and to be involved in the process.” That is the intent of the user-friendly, interactive website, he said.
The website insists that Christians are failing to fulfill their civic and scriptural duty by not voting. Many other Christians, the site continues, are selecting candidates whose positions on the issues are “contrary to biblical values.” The site adds, “Imagine the impact believers could have on our government, its leadership and our nation if we all simply registered to vote and voted our values!”
The iVoteValues.com site acknowledges many voters are confused over what candidates to support when they are faced with the many choices on the ballot. The effort urges voters to consider candidates’ convictions and character.
The site encourages visitors to reflect upon their basic beliefs in anticipation of election day, calling on individuals to “think about what your core values should be as a follower of Jesus.” The site goes on to encourage voters to research the positions of the candidates, after they first identify their own biblically founded values.
The iVoteValues.com effort lays out a simple plan for voters to make a difference in the election, Land explained: “Step 1 — register to vote; step 2 — encourage your friends to register to vote; and step 3 — vote your values.”
The Internet site eventually will offer voters a side-by-side comparison of the major presidential candidates’ values, gleaned from the candidates’ political party platforms. Among issues that will be addressed on the site are abortion, fetal stem cell research, same-sex “marriage,” the Pledge of Allegiance and the public display of the Ten Commandments. Each issue will be addressed from the perspective of God’s Word.
The website also will aid church leaders in discerning what type of political activity is and isn’t legal for a church according to the Internal Revenue Service. The initiative calls on churches to mark Sunday, July 4, and Sunday, Sept. 26, as “National Voter Registration Days.”
Land said the site provides a wealth of information and resources for church leaders and others interested in bringing individuals up to speed on the electoral process, and it provides a link to a universal voter registration form that individuals can fill out, print out and submit to their local supervisor of elections office. The site offers prayer points for the election season, encouraging “all concerned Christians to devote themselves to focused prayer for the election and for our nation.”
The website answers some important questions political novices and junkies alike might ask, such as, “Who is really eligible to vote?” and “Does each state have its own registration requirements?” iVoteValues.com also provides an electoral glossary, of sorts, defining what it calls “political lingo,” terms and concepts that often mystify citizens who want to get involved in the civic process but are overwhelmed by the system.
Land’s vision in the iVoteValues.com initiative is succinctly wrapped up in a quote on the site: “Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.”
If Land has his way, the polls will be flooded this November with citizens intent on voting for candidates who embrace their values.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: NETTING VALUES-BASED VOTERS.