Falwell Announces New Voter Registration Drive
(CNSNews.com) - Hoping to involve the nation's conservative churches, Rev Jerry Falwell has launched a voter registration drive that the founder of the Moral Majority said could sign up as many as 10 millions voters in time for the November general election.
"People of Faith 2000" will cost $18.6 million and, according to Falwell, will cease operations November 8, the day after the election. The Virginia-based pastor insisted the effort is not a partisan move and added, "It really is a civic thing, not a political thing, of registering voters without voter guides, believing that people will probably vote all right, too."
"You know and I know that the churches and pastors who allow me to assist them in this effort probably are not connected closely with Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or Al Gore. That's reality," he added.
In response to a reporter's question, Falwell said, "I don't think religious conservatives have lost any of their power," as a result of the recent primaries. Religious conservatives took harsh criticism during the primary season, from Arizona Sen. John McCain, who attacked Falwell and Christian Coalition founded Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance."
But Falwell's opposition had different views, including the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "In reality this is a highly partisan drive that Falwell himself has admitted is intended to help put George W Bush in the White House," said Lynn.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State also attacked Falwell, characterizing the drive as "a shady shell game, The group also accused the minister of working for Bush's' election.
For his part, Falwell insisted that attorneys fully researched the legalities of his effort and denied the drive represented an effort to help him and Robertson regain influence after McCain's attacks. "McCain did more to energize people of faith, since Ronald Reagan," said Falwell.
The registration drive represents an effort to capitalize on Republican primary exit polls, which showed nearly one-third of all GOP primary voters were self-described as members of the religious right. Bush eventually captured as many as 75 percent of those voters.
Falwell also characterized McCain as "a man of faith," and said he would ask the senator to join the registration drive.