Church Efforts Decline in 2008 Election
Special Report - Nov 20, 2008
The North Carolina Family Policy Council led a successful voter guide project for the 2008 election, despite a nationwide trend of declining church involvement in elections this year. This is the third election cycle in which the Council has produced a nonpartisan voter guide for North Carolina races. The 2008 General Election Voter Guide included 372 candidates running in races for U.S. Senate and House; N.C. Governor, Lt. Governor and Council of State; N.C. Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and Superior Court; and N.C. Senate and House. The guide contained information on the candidates’ positions on issues important to North Carolina families, including abortion, the definition of marriage, gambling, educational choice, public prayer, embryonic stem cell research, and more. Half a million copies of the 2008 Voter Guide were printed and distributed across North Carolina, primarily through a network of more than 1,200 churches. Tens of thousands of voters also visited ncfamily.org to download the 2008 Voter Guide and to access additional information provided by the candidates.
Despite efforts like the North Carolina Family Policy Council’s 2008 Voter Guide project, a nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that churches were significantly less active during the 2008 election cycle than in 2004, the last presidential election year. Only 15 percent of voters who attend religious services once or twice a month reported having received election information through their church. That number is down from 27 percent in 2004, but comparable to the 2000 rate of 14 percent. White evangelicals and Catholics both showed a 17point drop in the percentage of voters who reported election-related information being available at their church. Around onethird of these groups received election information through their church. Black Protestants, at 29 percent, reported the highest incidence¬¬ of hearing about the election at church. While only 8 percent of all church-going voters were explicitly encouraged to vote a particular way by their clergy, Catholic voters reported 18 percent, more than double that of any other group.
“Despite the national trend of reduced church involvement during this year’s election cycle, we applaud the churches and pastors in North Carolina who understand the important role they serve in educating the public about the candidates and the issues,” said John Rustin, director of government relations for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Churches carry a responsibility to be actively engaged in the issues of the day, and by helping to educate citizens on matters of morality, family, religious freedom, social justice, etc, they can truly be ‘salt and light’ in our culture. We are pleased that our Voter Guide has helped to contribute to this process.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.