24 hours from now, we’ll all be talking…exit polls.
Here is the AP’s Eric Gorski with a “final church Sunday before Election Day” wrap-up:
By ERIC GORSKI
AP Religion Writer
On the final Sunday before Election Day, volunteers for both presidential candidates fanned out to churches in competitive states, congregations bused worshippers to polls to vote early and a battle of wills erupted in church parking lots over the distribution of political literature.Taking political messages to places of worship carries risks. Churches can lose their tax-exempt status if they take positions for or against a candidate directly or indirectly.
Officials with both the John McCain and Barack Obama campaigns said their efforts are careful to keep churches out of trouble, but it’s hard to know whether lines are crossed in such large-scale operations.
The McCain campaign recruited church members to pass out literature, take part in peer-to-peer phone banks and participate in the Republicans’ final 72-hour get-out-the-vote machine that began Sunday, said Bob Heckman, the campaign’s director of conservative outreach.
About 15,000 people volunteered, he said. On Sunday and the past two weekends, volunteers in 14 states who belong to Protestant megachurches, politically active conservative churches and Catholic parishes distributed literature at their churches comparing McCain and Obama on hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage and judges. “Who Shares Your Values?” the flier says. “You decide.”
The flier also suggests that Obama wants to provide sex education for kindergartners â€” a claim from a disputed McCain ad about a failed bill from Obama’s days in the Illinois Legislature. Obama has said kindergartners, under the bill, would have been taught to defend themselves against sexual predators.
Heckman said the literature was given out “where appropriate,” including church meeting space, tables outside or car windshields.
Asked whether volunteers were told to get permission from clergy or church staff, Heckman did not directly answer.
“We only urge them to do whatever they think is appropriate or customary within their congregation,” he said. “The one thing we always do make clear is that if a church official would prefer we not distribute literature on church property, we respect their desires.”
One conservative Catholic political activist questioned the effort.
“If this were truly a national effort, the way it was in 2004, it might turn the election,” said Deal Hudson, who helped marshal Catholic support for President Bush. “But it’s too targeted â€” and targeted because of the lack of resources. The grassroots are there, but it’s a really missed opportunity.” Continue reading