More Examples of Christian Right Voter's Guides Found Inside Pennsylvania Polling Locations
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 02:16:38 PM EST
Following are more examples of Christian Right voter guides found by voters inside Pennsylvania polling locations. State law requires that campaign signs, individuals campaigning and distribution of electioneering media must be kept at least ten feet outside the entrance of the polling place. This post includes voter's guides from Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition and Life PAC of Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Photos follow.
On Election Day I posted an article documenting Christian Right voter guides at  Pennsylvania polling locations.  In that example, the voter guide was produced by the Pennsylvania Family Council, an affiliate of Focus on the Family and Family Research Council.  Voters also reported voter's guides from Life PAC and Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition displayed at polling locations in the Pittsburgh area. The Faith and Freedom Coalition voter's guide also indicates sponsorship by the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, a project of Let Freedom Ring.

Photobucket

Photobucket

The Faith and Freedom Coalition advertised a get-out-the-vote effort with the lofty goal of registering two million Christian conservative voters and turning out eight million already registered voters who did not vote in the 2008 presidential election.  After attending the Values Voters Summit, Talk2action's Frederick Clarkson reported on this and related get-out-the-vote efforts. (See the last section of Clarkson's Public Eye article on Samuel Rodriguez.)

Pennsylvania Pastors Network and Let Freedom Ring

Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN) is a project of Let Freedom Ring, a 501(c)(4), founded in 2004 and initially chaired by John "Jack" Templeton, Jr., president of the Templeton Foundation and son of the foundation's founder, the late Sir John Templeton. Jack Templeton is one of the largest funders of the GOP in Pennsylvania. In 2011, Templeton contributed $790,000 of the $3.9 million dollar total income of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania. This does not include his $56,000 to Pennsylvania's House Republican Campaign Committee or contributions to individual candidates, including $40,000 in a county commissioner's race and $31,000 to a candidate for Commonwealth Court in 2011.

Templeton was a major donor to the SuperPAC that supported Rick Santorum's presidential bid in 2012. In past elections he contributed to Swiftboat Veterans for Truth and was the second largest individual donor to California's Proposition Eight, according to the LA Times, which also reported that Templeton donated $800,000 of a $1.3 million dollar ad purchase for Let Freedom Ring in 2008.  The ad in support of pro-McCain, anti-Obama ad aired in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, and Virginia.  

In 2005 Let Freedom Ring introduced the "Templeton Curve," named for their chairman Jack Templeton. Many conservative media outlets republished the graphics promoting Paul Ryan's privatization plan for Social Security, the Ryan-Sununu Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005  

Let Freedom Ring has also sponsored projects promoting a fence/barrier on the southern border of the U.S. and a "Jihadist awareness website."

The Pennsylvania Pastors Network is currently led by Sam Rohrer, a nine-term Pennsylvania state representative and former state director of Americans for Prosperity. Rohrer is one of the the state's vocal supporters for "private school choice" programs and an opponent of the teaching of evolution in public schools.  Rohrer was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000, stating,

"Evolution is a religious tent- it's a tenet of secular humanism, and of Marxism and Communism."

Life PAC of Southwestern Pennsylvania Voter Guide

Another voter's guide reported at a polling location was produced by Life PAC.  This was an unsophisticated and homemade-looking production and focused only on abortion. It listed anti-abortion candidates in all slots on the ballot from president to the state senate and house races.

Handwritten on the guide are the words,

"Return to me America & I will heal you.  Love, God"
followed by
"Abortion is an intrinsic evil.  Support for an intrinsic evil disqualifies a candidate for president."
PhotobucketLifePAC is directed toward Catholic voters and describes the five nonnegotiable issues as:
-abortion
-euthanasia
-fetal stem cell research
-human cloning
-homosexual marriage

LifePAC's website describe it as a Political Action Committee organized in 1980.

Is this Legal?

Pennsylvania law requires that electioneering individuals and media be at least ten feet from the polling place entrance.  These examples of Christian Right voter guides reported by voters were displayed inside churches used as polling locations. An example in another state was documented by a Virginia voter on video and can be viewed at Raw Story.  In Virginia it is illegal to exhibit campaign material or attempt to influence voters within 40 feet of a polling location.

Given the extent of incidents of voter harassment and suppression that took place on election day, it's not likely that there will be ramifications for the display of voter guides. However, voters should document and report them in order that those responsible for oversight will be aware of the violations and, at the very least, warn the polling locations to comply with the laws during future elections.

Regardless of whether these violations will ever be addressed by authorities, it is important to educate the public about what appears to be a common occurrence of some churches taking advantage of the opportunity to influence voters while they are entering the polling place or waiting in line.

Other issues, unrelated to the polling location, are the laws about nonprofits and political activity.  The PA Family Council, Faith and Freedom Coalition, and Let Freedom Ring are 501(c)4s. The Citizens United decision has gutted some of the restrictions regarding electioneering activities of this category of nonprofits, which were already very complex and left substantial gray area.

The PA Family Council voter's guide featured in my previous article, includes the statement,

"Churches and other nonprofit organizations may distribute nonpartisan, unbiased, voter education material without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.  This publication has undergone extensive legal review to ensure that it complies with the rules for 501c(3) organizations."
That does not negate the fact that churches or other venues may be violating the law by providing the guides to voters on Election Day inside the polling location.

The PA Family Council guide used survey responses from candidates on a list of issues. Most Democratic candidates, as well as several Republicans, refused to respond, and for obvious reasons since these are organizations working against their election. Other voter guides, like the Faith & Freedom Coalition, apparently fill in the blanks on the candidates positions themselves.  For instance, it includes that President Obama would "Cut Medicare $716 Billion" and that he supports "Taxpayer-Funded Abortion."

A CNN Belief Blog by Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation for Church and State, drew more than one thousand comments on the issue of using churches as polling places and a follow-up post by Dan Gilgoff.  Lynn stated,

"All of this church-based political activity makes me uneasy about casting ballots in houses of worship, especially those festooned with political signs. And yet today, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of churches around the country are being pressed into service as polling places."

Pennsylvania allows electioneering up to ten feet outside of the polling place, which means that many voters walk into the polls with media in hand from political parties, issue-based activists, and candidates. In these cases, it is clear to the voter that this media is intended to influence their vote. The Christian Right voter's guides are deceptive since they are being presented as "impartial" and "non-partisan" guides, supposedly to aid the voter, and are displayed  inside the polling location.  




Display:

as citizens and voters to speak up about these issues at the time they are occurring. The chief election officer of the precinct should be informed and asked to have the offending material removed when it is in violation of the state's election laws. Any citizen can make this request, just as any citizen can phone a higher-up official or government hotline to escalate the complaint.

Where I served as a voter advocate last Tuesday, both Republicans and Democrats were handing out sample ballots -- from outside the prohibited area. Inside, most voters I saw carried one of each.

I was moved by the experiences of the day, which I detailed in the Daily KOS blogs under the title "America's Beating Heart" by GrannyRedBird. [with apologies - I can't seem to the the hyperlink html right]



by Khalila RedBird on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:22:59 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Religious Supremacism on the Rise Against Marriage Equality
This is a crosspost of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation.  -- FC Christian right undermines marriage equality with religious supremacism FREDERICK......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Author of Loathing Lincoln Explains Why Some on the Christian Right Loathe Lincoln
One under-reported result of the 2014 elections was the rise of Neo-Confederate politics in the U.S. This included the election of unabashed apologist for......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Catholic Theocracy Grows in Florida
Catholic Right pizza mogul Tom Monaghan and his Ave Maria School of Law are back in the news.  Journalist Eleanor Bader has a new......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Mississippi Madness: Group Wants To Designate An Official Religion
A group in Mississippi is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to change the state constitution in several ways.The proposal put forth by the......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the cities' mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
I Stand Sunday Part 2
I Stand Sunday took place in Houston, Nov. 2, 2014, motivated by the city's mayor who subpoenaed sermons from local pastors.  The host church......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Houston's I Stand Sunday
In response to Houston's gay mayor's solicitation of church sermons, on Nov. 2, 2014, Houston Texas will host an I Stand Sunday.  The event,......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Real Religious Liberty is Not Oppression
This is a reposting of an op-ed I recently published at LGBTQ Nation -- FC Real Religious Liberty is not Oppression FREDERICK CLARKSON Senior......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Houston Mayor Ignites Fervor of Religious Right
The best take on Houston Mayor Annise Parker vs. the churches in her city is the story written by Marv Knox in the Baptist......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)

Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.