From Talk To Action, a memo from Kansas Republican Attorney General Phill Kline to his re-election campaign staff was recently leaked to the press. The memo details how they are to work with church groups and pastors to steer church goers to campaign receptions following church services, and instructions on getting church members involved in various aspects of his campaign. Tips on getting around IRS restrictions are outlined. Please go to the Talk To Action report for a link to the text of the original memo.
The memo was publicized in a press release from the Interfaith Alliance:
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.