FEC sues to stop Christian Coalition’s voter education activities
By Gerald Lostutter Jr.
The Federal Elections Commission has filed a lawsuit, alleging that Christian Coalition’s voter guides are “in-kind contributions” to conservative candidates who must report such “gifts” to the government. The FEC seeks an injunction to prevent us from distributing our voter guides. Meanwhile, the Clinton-controlled FEC is not investigating labor unions who are spending $35 million (gifts?) to elect liberal Democrats.
Christian Coalition’s conservative membership – including Democrats, Republicans, and independents – hold Biblical standards on issues. Christian Coalition teaches Christians to be effective citizens. We do not endorse candidates or any political party. Our nonpartisan voter guides report candidates’ responses, which may or may not share a Christian perspective. Thus the issue is free speech. Does Christian Coalition have the right to distribute voter guides that report opposing candidates’ positions on issues important to conservative voters?
“These Washington liberals obviously want Christians to be uninformed and stay home on election day,” wrote Pat Robertson in a recent flier from the national Christian Coalition. “We have obeyed state and federal election laws in both letter and spirit.”
According to the FEC, these guides are distributed among socially conservative voters who will select candidates whose views most closely mirror their own. Analysts speculate that liberals want Christian Coalition to drop social issues – such as abortion and homosexuality – from the voter guides. By so doing, voters may overlook social issues in favor of economic ones.
“Candidates who do not share our biblical morality will lose votes among Christians,” said Glenn DeJong, Chairman of Christian Coalition of Brevard County.
Constitutional scholars agree that Christian Coalition will win this lawsuit. The FEC has possessed alleged evidence against Christian Coalition for two years. The FEC apparently waited to file the lawsuit until just before the ’96 elections to frighten ill-informed pastors with a loss of tax-exempt status for their churches.
However, the courts have ruled that religious, tax-exempt organizations “can spend a small percentage (up to 5% but no more than 20%) of time and money circulating petitions and engaging in activity for the purpose of influencing legislation,” wrote Attorney Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel in Orlando. The FEC has lost 8 of their last 9 lawsuits on free speech rights, including the Massachusetts Citizens for Life and the Christian Action Network. The liberals can only hope to deplete the national Christian Coalition’s funds.
Despite the liberals’ empty threats, many pastors are eager to have our voter guides distributed in their churches. To order voter guides, or volunteer as a courier to churches, telephone the Christian Coalition of Brevard County’s office.