Bush Campaign Seeks Out "Friendly Congregations"

June 4, 2004

Source: The New York Times


On June 4, 2004 The New York Times reported, "The Bush campaign is seeking to enlist thousands of religious congregations around the country in distributing campaign information and registering voters, according to an e-mail message sent to many members of the clergy and others in Pennsylvania. Liberal groups charged that the effort invited violations of the separation of church and state and jeopardized the tax-exempt status of churches that cooperated. Some socially conservative church leaders also said they would advise pastors against participating in such a partisan effort. But Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush administration, said 'people of faith have as much right to participate in the political process as any other community' and that the e-mail message was about 'building the most sophisticated grass-roots presidential campaign in the country's history.' In the message, dated early Tuesday afternoon, Luke Bernstein, coalitions coordinator for the Bush campaign in Pennsylvania, wrote: 'The Bush-Cheney '04 national headquarters in Virginia has asked us to identify 1,600 `Friendly Congregations' in Pennsylvania where voters friendly to President Bush might gather on a regular basis.'"