Monday, July 5, 2004

While I Was Out…

My friend Brian sent me this little tidbit of news from CNN while I was in Canada:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Bush, seeking to mobilize religious conservatives for his reelection campaign, has asked church-going volunteers to turn over church membership directories, campaign officials said on Thursday.

In a move sharply criticized both by religious leaders and civil libertarians, the Bush-Cheney campaign has issued a guide listing about two-dozen “duties” and a series of deadlines for organizing support among conservative church congregations.

A copy of the guide obtained by Reuters directs religious volunteers to send church directories to state campaign committees, identify new churches that can be organized by the Bush campaign and talk to clergy members about holding voter registration drives.

The document, distributed to campaign coordinators across the country earlier this year, also recommends that volunteers distribute voter guides in church and use Sunday service programs for get-out-the-vote drives.

“We expect this election to be potentially as close as 2000, so every vote counts and it’s important to reach out to every single supporter of President Bush,” campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

I’m sure I’m not the first blogger to notice this, but may I just say to the Bush/Cheney campaign, “Are you nuts?”

In the first place, any church that engages in political activity like that stands to lose its tax-exempt status. That’s black-letter law, and I’m pretty sure that giving a church directory to a political campaign qualifies as political activity.

Second, I think it’s a sign of desperation that the Bush/Cheney gang has to try to shore up their base with religious conservatives. You would think that there is one group they could count on. Apparently not.