GOP accused of using religion as last ditch anti-Obama scare tactic

By staff writers
6 Nov 2012

As polls indicate that the tight US presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is heading Obama's way, the Republican Party (GOP) is being accused of using religious scare tactics in a desperate attempt to swing the vote.

A Catholic bishop in a swing state released a pastoral letter this week warning his flock that "to vote for someone in favour of [the Democratic party's] positions ... could put your own soul in jeopardy."

In the archdiocese of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a Catholic parish is distributing an endorsement of Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, former GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee released a web video full of roaring fires, suggesting that Christians who vote for President Obama will go to hell.

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, running on the Romney ticket, also told a group of evangelical Christians that re-electing President Obama would put the country on "a dangerous path" that erodes "Judeo-Christian, western-civilization values."

And Mitt Romney's campaign team has suggested that an Obama vote would "threaten religious freedom", citing health care packages that include contraception.

The ecumenical Faithful America group, which pushes peace and justice issues, urged its supporters to resist and expose these tactics.

In a letter to supporters, they declared: "In these final hours before the polls close, the religious right is desperately trying to frighten Christians into voting for their preferred candidate. It's up to us to remind our family, friends, and neighbours that Jesus doesn't belong to one political party, and that there are faithful Christians on both sides of this election."

The presidential candidates have largely avoided religious controversy to date, with an effective bipartisan agreement not to make Mitt Romney's Mormon faith an election issue.

But Republicans appear to have decided to press "religious buttons" hard now that they fear they are losing the election battle, say critics.

It is estimated that some 70 per cent of evangelicals lean towards the GOP, though the number of moderate and progressive evangelicals has ben increasing significantly.

Many church leaders of different denominations have objected to the co-option of faith by the big party machines.

Pew Research data indicates that attempts to delineate and target a "Catholic vote" or a "Jewish vote" are misplaced, because of the increasing diversity of the American electorate.

It has also been noted that there is a large and growing segment of the electorate that is non-affiliated in religious terms. This includes both non-believers and those who have a belief but are disillusioned with religious institutions.

Faithful America (http://www.faithfulamerica.org/) describes itself as "an online community of tens of thousands of citizens motivated by faith to take action on the pressing moral issues of our time. We come from diverse faith traditions but share a unifying commitment: to restore community and uphold the common good in America and across the globe."

** Ekklesia's LIVE election night blog: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17316

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