Archive for Monday, July 31, 2006

Primary may see religious influence

Denominations call members to polls; low turnout likely

July 31, 2006


What would Jesus do? He would vote.

That's the message from three Protestant leaders, who are urging their 225,000 Kansas members to vote Tuesday in the primaries.

"This is something every Christian ought to do," said Scott Jameson Jones, bishop of the United Methodist Church-Kansas area. "It's part of your Christian life; it's part of your Christian responsibility."

In addition to Jones, Bishop Gerald Mansholt of the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Right Rev. Dean Wolfe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, are telling their church members that voting will help ensure the quality of leadership.

The leaders don't endorse candidates but urge Kansans to take their responsibility to vote seriously.

"We care about public education, therefore who serves on the state school board and in the Legislature matters," Jones said. "We care about poverty and children, so how the state funds social services matters."

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius also urged Kansans to get to the polls.

"It's critically important that people participate," she said. "There are important choices to make, both on the Republican and Democratic side."


REPUBLICAN BALLOT U.S. House of Representatives, District 3 (East Lawrence) Chuck Ahner Thomas Scherer Scott Schwab Paul V. Showen Governor/Lieutenant Governor Jim Barnett/Susan Wagle Ken Canfield/Kathe Decker Rex Crowell/Brian D. Shepherd Dennis Hawver/Bret D. Landrith Robin Jennison/Dennis Wilson Timothy Pickell/Jeffrey A. McCalmon Richard Rodewald/Helen D. Kanzig Secretary of State Kay O'Connor Ron Thornburgh Commissioner of Insurance Eric Carter Sandy Praeger DEMOCRATIC BALLOT Secretary of State Robert Beattie David Haley State Board of Education District 1 (East Douglas County) Jesse L. Hall Janet Waugh

But even with such exhortations, most Kansas voters are expected to stay away from the polls Tuesday.

Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh predicted a primary turnout of 23 percent, or less than one in four eligible voters.

The small number of contested primary races and campaigns lacking much fire have turned this election day into a yawner.

"It's hard to put lipstick on this pig," Thornburgh said.

Thornburgh said voters shouldn't avoid the primaries and vote only in the general election.

"I would assume most voters would want a nominee that stands for what they stand for," he said. "There is a great need to show up and express your support for the candidate of your choice. I don't understand the thinking, 'I'm going to pass it up and let someone else decide for me.'"

Also in Kansas, many races are decided in the Republican Party primary.

"In Kansas, where one party is dominant, the primary determines it, so not to vote in the primary means you have really lost your opportunity to determine the ultimate outcome," said Jones, the Methodist leader.

There are 1.6 million registered voters in Kansas, a 3.5 percent increase from two years ago. Of those, 46 percent are registered Republican, 27 percent are unaffiliated and 26 percent are Democrats.

Thornburgh predicted 38 percent of Republicans would vote and 18 percent of Democrats. Both Jones and Thornburgh say many voters are apathetic because they feel disconnected from the government or are put off by hard-edged political fighting.

But Jones urged voters to try to take a long-term view when analyzing the candidates.

"It's not about the latest scandal or the latest hot-button issue, it's really about good government," he said.


Jayhawk226 11 years, 10 months ago

Is there a Libertarian ballot??

These choices suck already.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 10 months ago

This Jesus character sounds like a real trouble maker.

Ken Miller 11 years, 10 months ago

I highly doubt that JC would vote for people that feed on hatred and fear.

bjamnjm 11 years, 10 months ago

These days, it seems, there are so many passionate advocates of so many issues and yet there is so little knowledge espoused by them.

Most clergy are quite aware of their restrictions and equally aware of their liberties.

BrianR 11 years, 10 months ago

"When are churches going to learn to stay out of politics?"

When the get taxed as a PAC.

staff04 11 years, 10 months ago

"We care about poverty and children..."

I guess we'll have to see if the action in the voting booth matches the words...

I've got a guess, though.

oldgoof 11 years, 10 months ago

nope strontius, this is in reaction to the evangelical churches being actiive.... The moderate/centrist churchs have not participated. The difference can be seen in who we have in the State School Board.

Strontius 11 years, 10 months ago

For some reason, I doubt these churches are merely urging people to go out and vote because it's the "Christian" thing to do, which it most certainly is not. Jesus was a monarchist, as were all people living and writing during that period in time, so the concept of voting, or participating in government processes didn't enter into the equation.

I would also wager that an urge to vote by these churches was followed by a sermon over some particular social issue, designed to make people want to vote whichever party advocates said issue.

When are churches going to learn to stay out of politics?

WilburM 11 years, 10 months ago

Ya know, maybe Moderate Rs could find some thing or someone to get as excited about as conservative Christians (with whom I profoundly disagree on most issues) do. What is there to mobilize so-called moderate Rs? What's the issue? Who's the standard-bearer? Mostly, they have a longing for the good old days when the Huck Boyds and Bob Doles ran everything and all was right with the world. If there's energy in KS politics, it's among the conservative Right and Democrats, at least for the time being. In many ways, like it or not, Dems are currently the moderate Rs of KS politics (cause there sure as hell is no KS left).

usaschools 11 years, 10 months ago

In case some of you are not familiar with the denominations mentioned, I want to give you some info on the ELCA's message, which I received in the mail through a local church.

The ELCA is NOT an evangelical, right-wing organization. It is moderate in tone as members of the ELCA run the whole range from conservative Missouri Synod type Lutherans to very progressive people concerned about social causes. The church does not take stands of issues such as the war in Iraq, recognizing that after prayerful consideration, people disaagree on these things. In short, they are not crossing any lines and endorsing candidates. Strontius, you would lose your wager. The message from the Bishop was not even read, just posted in a newsletter. It is not the habit of the ELCA churches to mention candidates or hit on social issues to influence an election. I am in my 40's and have attended these churces my entire life. I've NEVER heard a pastor try to influence the congregation in such a way. Frankly, there are times when I wish they would take a stand on an issue, but not a candidate.

I do feel churches now need to be monitored in some way because they pose, in my opinion, a danger to our democratic process. There are churches in this state that literally hand out lists of who to vote for, which is a clear violation of their tax-free status. I favor the taxation of churces that are guilty of trying to influence the minds of voters towards or away from specific candidates. 
 That being said, this is thankfully not the case with the three denominations in question.  It seems to be evangelical churches that delve into politics. Although that is a generalization, I have not observed this type of behavior in the major protestant denominations and non-literalist churches.  When the Catholic church strays into politics, it seems to be individual bishops and so on acting alone, not acts sanctioned by the vatican or their "superiors."

I hope this alleviates some fears regarding this particular incident. This was truly just church leaders essentially saying, "Someone is going to vote to decide our leaders, it is our belief that our society would be well-served if our congregations were among the decision makers."

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