Religious organization hopes to influence voters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Religious organization hopes to influence voters

June 25, 2004

Albany -- There are an estimated 50 million evangelicals in the United States. Now the groups national organization plans to release guidelines to influence those believers to cast their votes religiously. We talked to one religious leader about mixing God with politics.

It's a practice popular in many Arabic nations. Mixing religion with politics. But in America the idea is sometimes frowned on but some religious leaders say it shouldn't be that way.

"I know people talk about the separation of church and state but you need to view political views through the proper perspective. Although we would not say vote for this particular candidate we would encourage people to view them through the scripture," says Minister Alex Kendrick.

Kendrick says he anxious to see what the proposed guide book that will help evangelical Americans vote will look like. He says many Christians are actively seeking guidance from the Bible for answers to political issues like abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage.

"If someone was to ask us about some of the hot topics today our answers would come from a biblical perspective and from that end we encourage that kind of view point," says Kendrick. People who consider themselves religious are still split on whether they really need a guidebook to teach them how to vote.

"I don't mix my religion and politics together," says Cheryl Edwards.

"We need to get more into our religion and I think if we live by that the world will be better place," says Catherine Solomon.

Kendrick believes as long as religious leaders don't abuse their power of to influence politics-- political commentary from the pulpit is ok.

" If their agenda is to taint or misrepresent a candidate or an issue that would be misappropriate that would be something we would say no we can't support that," says Kendrick.

And as long as voters have the power to cast theirs ballot as they see fit it will help protect the right of each person to follow the their own beliefs.

Religious leaders from the National Evangelical Organization will vote in October about the framework of political guidelines. If approved it will be sent to the groups members nationwide.

posted at 6:13PM by scott.hunter@walb.com

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