Kansas Attorney General Kline's Leaked Memo For Church Involvement In Politics
[ Note: news of The Kline Memo Circulated A Few Days Ago Via The Interfaith Alliance : See press release below ]
Jews On First has written a detailed summary of the scandal emerging around a recent memo, written by Kansas Attorney Phil Kline and advocating aggressive church involvement in politics, that was recently leaked to the press
[ here's the original memo ]
In a tough battle for reelection, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline gave his campaign staff detailed instructions on how to use churches to raise funds, recruit campaign volunteers and collect voter contact information. He wrote the instructions in a memo obtained by news organizations and JewsOnFirst.org.
Kline writes that the "goal" of receptions, which his staff will organize to dovetail with church services, "is to walk away with contact information, money and volunteers and a committee in each church." He names three of the churches already involved in his campaign.
Kline's August 8th memo lays bare for the world (including Democratic Party leaders who might care to protest) the details of how at least one Republican on the religious right uses churches for electoral operations. There is no reason to assume that Kline just created this campaign model.
Kline's closing instructions about telling cooperating churches how to protect their tax-exempt status, are nonchalantly dismissive. He tells his staff to prepare a "2-pager," only part of which will be about what the law allows.
Should prepare guidance sheet for those who are showing the church video. 2 pager that includes: goals for showing the video, IRS rules guidance regarding what they can and cannot do (this should not take long -- no use of church assets -- can show it at church as long as they do not deny opposition of showing their own video -- no need to invite the other, just cannot deny -- etc)
"Our efforts in the churches"
Kline is known beyond the realm of bright-red Kansas Republicanism for demanding abortion patients' records and ordering healthcare providers to report teenagers who have sex.
Kline writes that his staff should use the memo (which you can see here) as "a checklist to improve on our efforts" in the churches. He directs them to "maximize my presence in a community. Where possible, get additional churches involved."
[ here is the smoking gun. emphasis mine - BW ]
Kline tells his staff how to form a campaign committee for him at each church that will educate and register voters, "encourage people to contribute and volunteer" and network with their own email lists. He instructs :
Recontact all churches and specifically get in touch with key contact there to form a church lay committee for the campaign.
The Interfaith Alliance
September 12, 2006
Contact: Don Parker, 202.639.6370, ext. 111
Kansas Attorney General Advises Churches to Skirt the Law
Washington, September 12 – In response to a leaked memo from Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline to his re-election campaign staff, detailing a strategy for collecting money and volunteer support from churches, pastors, and church members, The Interfaith Alliance released the following statements from the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the nonpartisan grassroots organization, and from Michael Bayouth, chair of Wichita MAINstream, an Affiliate of The Interfaith Alliance:
A "church effort" memo from Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has outlined one of the most blatant and aggressive strategies to use religion in a political campaign that I have ever seen. As the senior pastor of a Baptist congregation in Louisiana myself, I can assure you this outrageous elaboration of a campaign strategy for involving churches in a partisan electoral effort offends me beyond measure and evokes from me the strongest level of condemnation. The candidate admits that churches that show his campaign video must not deny opposing candidates an opportunity to show their own videos but coyly tells churches that they do not have to invite other candidates to visit with them. Counsel on how to get away with being politically partisan in a house of worship raises serious ethical, legal and spiritual questions. Kline demonstrates no reticence about manipulating houses of worship—indeed he calls for the organization of "church lay committees" to win votes—or about jeopardizing the reputations and legal standing of religious leaders, some of whom he cites by name, and the houses of worship in which they minister. This memo also raises questions about whether the chief law enforcement officer of Kansas takes a wink-wink, nod-nod view of the law. I also think that this memo would raise as many concerns about legality for the IRS as it does about spirituality for those of us concerned about the integrity of religion in relation to politics.
C. Welton Gaddy
The Interfaith Alliance
This memo affords a blatant disregard for the integrity of the separation of religion and government by one of our highest elected officials. Kline's strategy toys with the tax-exempt status of churches for his own political ambitions, with little consideration for the church, religion, people of faith."
Chair of Wichita MAINstream, an Affiliate of The Interfaith Alliance
The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion in the life of the nation and challenging those who manipulate religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda. With more than 185,000 members drawn from more than 75 faith traditions and 75 local activist groups throughout America, TIA promotes compassion, civility and mutual respect for human dignity in our increasingly diverse society.