Focus on the Family signs on to ERLC’s iVoteValues initiative
Posted on Aug 12, 2004 | by Dwayne Hastings
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The iVoteValues.com voter awareness and registration initiative of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is now partnering with a familiar ally -- Focus on the Family -- in the effort to make even more voters aware of their responsibilities on Election Day.
James Dobson of Focus on the Family has teamed up with the ERLC’s Richard Land in promoting the iVoteValues message that Americans need to give serious attention to voting their values, not their political party or pocketbook. The two evangelical organizations worked together to adapt the iVoteValues website and resources to reflect the cooperative effort of the two groups.
The ERLC went live on the Internet with www.iVoteValues.com April 15 after devoting several months to developing the concept. Focus on the Family began working with the SBC entity to explore how the two groups might work together in the effort. The Focus on the Family site, www.iVoteValues.org, mirrors the ERLC site, www.iVoteValues.com, in most areas.
“The impact of this partnership is tremendous,” Land said. “Dr. James Dobson is one of America’s most respected Christian leaders and Focus on the Family’s influence reaches across denominational and geographic barriers.”
“It is unconscionable that so many Christians today have concluded that it is somewhat immoral to ‘get political,’” Dobson said. “I don’t believe our nation’s Founding Fathers intended to exclude people of faith from the process. There is not a scrap of evidence to indicate such.”
Land said the partnership “grows out of what the ERLC and Focus on the Family perceive as a common challenge -- the fact that almost a third of Americans are not registered to vote and that when most Americans of faith go into the polling place they leave their faith outside.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as many as 25-35 percent of the voting age population is not registered to vote, which translates to between 45 and 65 million Americans. A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans say their faith has little to do with their voting decisions.
“Many Christians fail to consider biblical values when voting, often choosing candidates whose positions are at odds with their own beliefs, convictions and values,” said Land, president of the ERLC and host of the syndicated radio program, “Richard Land Live!” He said the nonpartisan iVoteValues initiative was created to answer “these challenges and help believers to be informed and take action as Christian citizens.”
“It is a moral outrage that more Christians do not take their voting responsibilities more seriously,” said Dobson, a best-selling author and founder of Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization that produces his internationally syndicated radio program. “If they did, this nation would be a very different nation, and a better one.
“This partnership promises to bring unprecedented attention and energy to the effort to motivate Americans to get involved in the electoral process,” said Dobson, who has served on numerous government panels related to family concerns. He will headline several speaking events and rallies promoting the iVoteValues message. The Washington, D.C.,-based Family Research Council co-sponsors the iVoteValues site customized by Focus on the Family.
“The iVoteValues effort squares with the ongoing missions of the ERLC and Focus on the Family,” Land said. “The two ministries consistently call Christians to grow in their understanding and appreciation of the value of living out our Lord’s teachings in their homes, communities and nation.”
The iVoteValues initiative calls Americans to register to vote, encourage their friends to register, and then go to the polls and vote their values, Land explained, underscoring the need for prayer for the effort and the upcoming election.
“More is at stake in this election than merely the influence of chief-executive policy for a four-year term -- judicial appointments made by the president can directly impact our culture and our families for half a lifetime or more,” Dobson said. The iVoteValues website allows Americans who are not registered to vote to begin the process by using a site customized for their state of residency.
In addition to the iVoteValues.com website that provides visitors information on the importance of voting plus values-based voting resources for pastors, Land noted that an additional product will be released in September -- an eight-page magazine featuring a nonpartisan comparison between the official Democrat and Republican party platforms.
“Research shows that as many as 56 million Americans won’t be able to vote this Election Day even if they wanted to because they haven't registered,” said Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family’s vice president of government and public policy, on the group’s website. “That’s not the way our founding fathers designed our system of government; this is a representative democracy, and people must understand that it is worth their time to make sure their views and values are being fully represented.”
Minnery added, “A common excuse used by those who don’t vote is that they think all the candidates are the same.” iVoteValues.org, he noted, is designed “to not only give them information about where the candidates really stand, but also to help them identify where they as voters stand -- and to show them the importance of casting their ballots for the men and women who share the values they deem important.”
“This voter registration and awareness initiative is not about telling people who to vote for,” Land concluded. “It is about encouraging people to vote their values. The Lord alone is the Lord of their conscience. Voters just need to vote their conscience.”