'Redeem the Vote' registers 100,000 young people of faith
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)--After seeing thousands of young voters register through MTV's "Rock the Vote" campaign in previous years, an alternative initiative -- "Redeem the Vote" -- has been encouraging young Christians to become involved in the political process and exercise their right to vote.
The idea came from a Montgomery, Ala., doctor, Randy Brinson, who heard the statistics that 4 million evangelical Christians were registered to vote but did not exercise their right in the 2000 election and another 25 million were not even registered. He noted the success of Rock the Vote in helping elect Bill Clinton in 1992, and this past April he established a conservative response.
"We formed Redeem the Vote with an idea to be venue-specific, meaning we wanted to reach young people of faith at the places they were going to be -- Christian colleges, Christian festivals, radio stations, e-mail, that type of thing," Bob Angelotti, spokesman for Redeem the Vote, told Baptist Press.
"Randy noticed young people expressing their views in the things they did and purchased,” Angelotti said, citing records, videos and books -- and the fact that males under 30 comprised the largest single demographic to view “The Passion of The Christ.”
“So [Brinson] wanted to make sure they did that at the ballot box as well due to the incredible issues at stake in this election," Angelotti said.
Working through record producers in Nashville, Tenn., Brinson and his staff gained the support of 47 contemporary Christian music artists, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Point of Grace, Jeremy Camp, FFH and Jaci Velasquez. They also partnered with such sponsors as Sean Hannity and Fox News, the American Tract Society, Focus on the Family, FamilyNet and the Gospel Music Association.
Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and Gary Bauer of American Values are among those on Redeem the Vote's national advisory board.
Angelotti reported that although total counts are still being tallied, about 100,000 young people registered to vote through Redeem the Vote this year. The response has been overwhelming, he said, considering Rock the Vote registered just over 50,000 people their first year.
Now that registration deadlines have passed, Redeem the Vote is focusing on getting registered voters to the polls. The most recent push comes through a video spot by Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in The Passion. In the spot, he says in this election year Americans are faced with some of the most important issues in the history of the country.
"In order to preserve the God-given freedoms we each hold dear, it's important that we let our voices be heard," Caviezel says. "Voting is not only a privilege, but also an important responsibility to let your voice be heard. It's critical that you participate in the political process, and we encourage you to get involved. Together we can make a difference by voting on Nov. 2. See you at the polls."
In a letter on the website that encouraged young people to register, Brinson reminded that America "faces critical issues that are not political, but moral."
"Some voices advocate the redefinition of institutions that have helped to define our nation's strength and character," he wrote. "And they seek to remove the acknowledgement of our godly heritage from our public square -- the very thing that many believe to be the reason why our country has been so blessed. So there's a difference of opinion, and in our great land, differences of opinion are settled at the polls and in the voting booths."
Angelotti added that he is not surprised by the response to Redeem the Vote because young people can recognize what is important.
"I believe that if people are passionate about their lifestyle and about their faith in God, they'll respond," he said. "What we heard from Christians is the reason they didn't vote [in 2000] is just being a young person, your life is kind of all over the place. They were at school, and they didn't think their vote really mattered. An overall lack of education in the political process also led to their not voting."
Angelotti said Redeem the Vote made registering easy because people could go to the website, click on their state, fill in basic information, print out both the completed form and an envelope, and mail it in.
To learn more about Redeem the Vote, visit www.redeemthevote.com.