ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Ten-year-old Tyece Foster, glancing at her father, laughed in delight when the flashing computer monitor confirmed she knew enough civics trivia to earn flying colors.
The “iVoteValues.com” tractor-trailer rig provided entertainment and information for the Foster family and hundreds of others who passed through the truck outside First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 17.
The red, white and blue 18-wheeler has been traveling the nation since June as part of a voter registration and information drive by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The interactive exhibit outlines the importance of voting on Election Day and the necessity of considering biblical truths when entering the voting booth.
The original Florida leg of the trip was canceled due to an unusually turbulent hurricane season. But the truck since has made stops at First Baptist Church, Dunnellon, and Dunnellon Christian Academy; the Holy Land Experience; Palm Beach Atlantic University; Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa; and the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area.
The 77-foot tractor-trailer rig is equipped with seven computer stations to help guests begin the voter registration process and to be introduced to the concept of values-based voting. Visitors receive a computer printout of their civics answers, stickers and other resource materials to remind them of their visit.
Inside the trailer, Tyece and her family gathered around touch-screen monitors which flashed questions and “Yes” or “No” and multiple-choice answers.
Tyece’s brothers, 8-year-old Rayshun and 7-year old Jalen, crowded around the screens as well, impatient to hear whether their answers were correct.
Destiny, 5, wasn’t going to be outdone. “Let me do it!” she demanded.
James and Rayshell Foster said they saw the iVoteValues information as helpful in their role both as parents and as voters.
“I think it’s a help because a lot of people don’t really know what’s going on,” James Foster said. “I think it’s a good thing, especially for it to be at a church … so that people will know what the issues are.”
As to whether the kids get anything out of it, Rayshell Foster said the iVoteValues.com initiative is not only fun but it serves a larger purpose.
“It teaches them to know how we can be connected to God in every area in our lives,” she said. “They will know to always include Him in every area of their life.”
Jason Miller, visiting the rig with his wife, Gwen, and two daughters, Tessa, 9, and Becca, 8, said he was struck by the nonpartisan nature of the Platform Comparison guide he received.
“I read through this guide and it doesn’t push Christianity one way or the other, even though it has a moral base to it and lets people make decisions on their own, so that people can’t say that we Christians are pushing it down their throats.”
The guide also can help open conversations with people “on what values are important to them and where they stand,” Miller said.
Tessa and Becca tucked the printouts of the computerized quizzes inside their Bible cases. Miller said he “absolutely” is in support of voter information being delivered via the church. “I think it’s the beginning of a wonderful history lesson,” Gwen added, noting that their daughters enjoyed “learning about America” at the iVoteValues.com rig.
Twenty-somethings Jennifer Stall and Rachel Harris, both active in First Baptist’s singles ministry, said they appreciate the quick information the truck provided.
“It’s such a blessing that they’re here because I really want to learn and I haven’t had many opportunities to really know to find out what the candidates are all about and what the important issues, the hot issues are,” Stall said. “I know it’s going to be a close election and I really want to make sure that my vote counts and I want to feel good about it.”
Harris said she wanted to learn more about how the candidates’ values compared to hers.
“I think it’s important to know your values before you vote,” Harris said. “You’re not just voting for a man, you’re voting for what he believes in and what he is going to do for our country.”
Touring the tractor-trailer rig after the church’s Sunday morning services, pastor Jim Henry, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he believes the iVoteValues initiative is a good extension of the four-week sermon series he had preached on how faith and politics connect.
Henry said it didn’t take him long to decide he wanted the rig to stop at First Baptist.
“Just park in our place and let our people have the opportunity,” he recounted telling ERLC officials. “We try to have an informed congregation.”
The iVoteValues.com rig left Indianapolis in June and headed to stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Missouri, Illinois, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas, Colorado, Oregon, California and New Mexico before the election.
For more information on the voter awareness initiative, visit www.ivotevalues.com.