Networksâ€™ exit polls only ask Republicans if they are evangelicals
Prominent evangelical leaders have called on media outlets to correct flaws in their presidential primary exit polls that pigeonhole evangelicals as beholden to the Republican party. Following the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, exit polls asked Republican voters if they considered themselves â€œborn-again or evangelical,â€ but did not ask that question of participants in the Democratic contests. As a result, news reports have misrepresented evangelicals as a de facto category of the Republican party, which is a mischaracterization of the politically and ideologically diverse evangelical movement.
Revs. Joel Hunter, Jim Wallis, and Brian McLaren, Christianity Today editor David Neff, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities president Dr. Paul Corts, Redeem the Vote founder Randy Brinson, Drs. David Gushee, Randall Balmer, and Glen Stassen, signed the letter calling for the networks to correct the exit polling by asking both Democrats and Republicans the same set of religious questions. It was sent to the polling directors and political directors at ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press.
The text of the letter, available online at http://blog.faithinpubliclife.org/upload/2008/01/Evangelical%20Letter%20to%20Networks.pdf, follows:
Letter from Evangelical Leaders to Polling and Political Directors of Media Outlets Represented in the National Election Pool
January 10, 2008
Dear Polling or Political Director:
Religion is playing an unprecedented role in the 2008 presidential campaign; the need for accurate and thorough information about religious voters is difficult to overstate. Thus far, the National Election Poolâ€™s exit poll surveys have pigeonholed evangelicals, reinforcing the false stereotype that we are beholden to one political party.
Your entrance and exit polls at the Iowa caucuses asked Republican caucus-goers if they were â€œborn-again or evangelical Christian(s),â€ but did not ask the same question of Democrats. This omission left a substantive hole in subsequent news coverage of the caucuses. Based on your polling, the public helpfully learned that born-again or evangelical Christians played a central role in Mike Huckabeeâ€™s victory, but received no information about the impact of evangelical voters in the Democratic race.
As reported by numerous news organizations, candidates of both parties spoke explicitly of their religious faith while campaigning in Iowa and have robust faith outreach operations. By omitting the question of evangelical/born-again identification from the Democratic polls, you prevented the public from seeing the full picture of how the bipartisan courtship of evangelical voters affected the outcome of the first contest of the 2008 campaign and perpetuated the misperception that all evangelical Christians are Republicans.
No party can own any faith. Evangelicals have broadened their agenda to include care for the planet, the poor and the stranger, and as a result are increasingly diverse politically.
Your New Hampshire exit polls gathered much more detailed information about votersâ€™ religion but still asked only Republican voters if they were evangelical or born-again. The data revealed a significant difference between the voting patterns of Republican evangelicals in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, Mike Huckabee dominated, claiming 46 percent of evangelicalsâ€™ support, with no other candidate receiving even 20 percent. In New Hampshire McCain, Romney and Huckabee split the evangelical vote almost evenly. The disparity of these results suggests that evangelical votersâ€™ behavior may not conform to expectations, which further shows the need to measure it in both parties.
With voters entering polling sites in Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina in the coming days and weeks and Super Tuesday following shortly thereafter, it is imperative for you to remedy the imbalance in your exit polling immediately. Evangelicalism is not a monolithic movement that fits neatly into one party. For the sake of accuracy and dispelling shopworn stereotypes, we urge you to allow all evangelicals an opportunity to be represented in your surveys and polling data.
Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland A Church Distributed
David Neff, Editor, Christianity Today
Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder, Sojourners
Randy Brinson, Founder, Redeem the Vote
Paul Corts, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University
Brian McLaren, Author, Founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church
Randall Balmer, Professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University
Glen Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary
*Institutional affiliations are given for identification purposes only.
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With shocking and new revelations about torture coming out of Washington daily, National Religious Campaign Against Torture calls torture â€œthe most important issue we have to face as a nationâ€
WASHINGTON â€“ Forty-eight prominent Americans, including President Jimmy Carter, former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell), Rev. Jim Wallis, and Dr. Rick Warren, will appear in a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register on Sunday, December 16 sponsored by the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT) Action Fund. Headlined, â€œTorture is a Moral Issue,â€ the ad comes out at a time when torture is at the forefront of the national debate.
This ad was produced in partnership with Evangelicals for Human Rights. Evangelical signatories on the ad include Dr. David P. Gushee, President, Evangelicals for Human Rights; Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President for Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals; and Dr. Rick Warren.
The ad declares, in part, â€œ[Torture] degrades everyone involved â€“ policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nationâ€™s most cherished values. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.â€
â€œWith reports about the CIA destroying evidence of torture breaking out of Washington, it is a critical time to address this pressing moral issue,â€ said Linda Gustitus, president of the NRCAT board and Iowa resident. â€œTorture is, without a doubt, the most important issue we have to face as a nation. It must be abolished immediately and should never be a part of our nationâ€™s policies or practices in the future.â€
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, over 130 religious groups have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and congregations.
Iowa spokespeople available for discuss the ad:
Linda Gustitus, President of the Board, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, currently living in Princeton, IA
Pastor Kirsten Klepfer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Grinnell, IA
To schedule an interview with Ms. Gustitus or Rev. Klepfer, please contact Steve Fox at 202-822-5200.
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(Washington) — The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a campaign of over 130 religious organizations working together to abolish U.S.-sponsored torture, sent the following letter today to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, urging him to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate allegations regarding the CIA’s destruction of videotapes and its use of “harsh” interrogation techniques.
December 10, 2007
The Honorable Michael Mukasey
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Mukasey:
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), a campaign of over 130 religious organizations working together to abolish U.S.-sponsored torture, requests that you appoint a Special Counsel to investigate the destruction of the CIA videotapes that document the use of “harsh” interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists and whether these techniques violated U.S. and international law.
According to a New York Times article of December 7, 2007, several officials have said that “the tapes were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that video showing harsh interrogation methods could expose agency officials to legal risks.” Furthermore, there appears to be credible evidence that requests for the tapes by a federal court at the time such video tapes were intact may have been ignored by the CIA. These two allegations, if true, would be evidence of the use of illegal interrogation tactics by U.S. personnel and an effort to cover-up that fact.
These allegations raise serious concerns that must be fully and fairly addressed in order to retain the trust and confidence of the American people in our intelligence and justice systems.
A key point of controversy during your confirmation process involved your statement that one particular “harsh” interrogation technique (namely, waterboarding) was not necessarily torture. Also, it is possible that top Justice Department officials may have been involved in counseling the CIA about both the techniques used and the handling of the tapes. For these reasons, we believe it is necessary for you to appoint a Special Counsel, independent of the normal Justice Department chain of command, to conduct this investigation. We believe a Special Counsel is critical to achieve the confidence of the American people in the outcome of such an investigation.
NRCAT believes that torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved – policy-makers, perpetrators and victims – and it contradicts our nation’s most cherished values. We believe that any policies that permit torture and inhuman treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
We urge you to use your good offices to ensure that the public learns the truth behind these allegations and has confidence in the final outcome. We believe the appointment of a Special Counsel is necessary to accomplish that task.
Linda Gustitus, President
Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director
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Open Letter Urges Bill Oâ€™Reilly, Bill Donohue and John Gibson to Join a Campaign that focuses on the Common Good
Washington, DC â€“ Catholic social justice leaders, priests, religious sisters and evangelical Christians want a â€œceasefire in the Christmas culture wars.â€ These leaders are challenging Bill Oâ€™Reilly of Fox News and others who have lashed out against a so-called secular â€œWar on Christmasâ€ to join them in a new campaign that restores a focus on the common good during this holy season.
In an â€œOpen Letter to Christmas Culture Warriorsâ€ (link to pdf: http://www.christmascampaign.org/ad-wt.pdf) to be published as an advertisement in the New York Post, Washington Times and National Catholic Reporter, the group says that outrage over some department stores using â€œHappy Holidaysâ€ instead of â€œMerry Christmasâ€ fails to address the profound moral challenges we face in confronting the threats to human dignity in our world.
â€œWe believe the real assault on Christmas is how a season of peace, forgiveness and goodwill has been sidelined by a focus on excessive consumerism,â€ the letter states. â€œThe powerful message Christ brings to the world is â€˜good news for the poor.â€™ Instead, Christmas is being reduced to a corporate-sponsored holiday that idolizes commerce and materialism.â€
The letter asks all readers to join the groupâ€™s new campaign at www.ChristmasCampaign.org, a website that not only promotes the letter, but also alternative Christmas giving programs. The open letter will be published in the Dec. 4 issue of the Washington Times and New York Post and in the Dec. 14 issue of the National Catholic Reporter.
Fox News commentator John Gibsonâ€™s 2005 book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought, denounced what he and other pundits describe as a secular agenda intent on destroying Christmas and driving religion from the public square. William Donohue, executive director of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has warned of â€œcultural fascistsâ€ taking over Christmas. Bill Oâ€™Reilly has made the â€œWar on Christmasâ€ a prominent seasonal feature of his popular Fox broadcast.
â€œChristmas marks a season of hope, peace and the light of justice illuminating the dark corners of our world,â€ said Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. â€œAt a time when soldiers and innocent civilians are dying in a real war in Iraq and 37 million Americans live still in poverty we should be focusing on those moral scandals not having petty shouting matches on television about a supposed â€˜secular conspiracyâ€™ to subvert Christmas.â€
“When we consider the true meaning of Christmas, its sacredness is not validated by prescribed greetings or slogans in department stores,” said Rev. Derrick Harkins, Senior Pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and a Board member of the evangelical humanitarian relief agency World Relief, “If we are truly serious about the importance of Christmas, we will remember that its message of love and hope was shared with disenfranchised shepherds first, which should prompt us to be far more concerned with how the season is shared in word and deed with the poor and hurting among us.”
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**TELECONFERENCE TODAY AT 1:30 PM**
Washington â€“ On Thursday, November 8, Third Way, along with Common Good Strategies and Faith in Public Life, will host a conference call for reporters on the topic of a new abortion initiative approved yesterday by House and Senate negotiators. The call will be headlined by Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), along with Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, pastor of Northland Church and one-time President-Elect of the Christian Coalition, Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and CEO of Sojourners, and Sr. Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK.
The speakers on the call will discuss the inclusion of a â€œreducing the need for abortionsâ€ initiative in the Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill Conference Report, which was made public yesterday. This abortion reduction package contains many of the core provisions of the Reducing the Need for Abortions and Supporting Parents Act (H.R. 1074), sponsored by Representatives Ryan and DeLauro.
The congressional speakers, both of whom were conferees, will note that this signals a major change in direction for the Democratic Congress on abortion, in three principle ways:
– It explicitly highlights â€œthe need for reducing abortions in America.â€
– It emphasizes both prevention of unintended pregnancies and support for pregnant women and new families.
– It talks about new money to â€œencourage women to carry their pregnancies to term, and provide support for new parents who have economic difficulties.â€
The Evangelical leaders will offer their support for this groundbreaking new direction.
WHAT: Press conference call on new congressional abortion initiative
Rachel Laser, Third Way
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro
Congressman Tim Ryan
Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Northland Church
Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners
Rev. Jennifer Butler, Faith in Public Life
WHEN: Thursday, November 8, 2007
CALL-IN #: 888-245-4141
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