If you went to church in Wake County this Sunday you might have encountered a voter guide produced by Called2Action, the evangelical Christian political group which misspells the names of two Democratic candidates for State House: Vernon Malone is listed as "Vernon Walker" and Ty Harrell is listed as "Tt Garrekk"
Update: see Called2Update below
While Called2Action claims to be non-partisan, the guide parallels the all-Republican endorsements of Called2Action’s political action committee, Called2Elect PAC. Called2Action lobbies for specific issues that narrowly define Republicans as good guys and Democrats as godless and the boundaries between Called2Action, Called2Elect PAC and churches are very blurry.
At the Called2Action website Called2Action.org visitors are directed:
To see the endorsements of our political action committee (PAC), Called2Elect, please go to:
This link, beside the Voter Guide link, actually resolves back to www.called2action.org/c2e
Called2Elect is a PAC endorsing Republicans in local, State and, Federal races (including Vernon Robinson) but it is only registered as a PAC in Wake County, not at the SBOE or FEC and, has had contribution in excess of $5,000 in an election cycle. The registered address of Called2Elect PAC is a Raleigh address which is also a registered address of Called2Action and the address of Steve Noble’s business, Paint Co.
It is difficult to separate Called2Action from Called2Elect and the person of Steve Noble, described as a rising star of the Christian right.
Called2Action was established by Steve Noble 7/26/04 as a non-profit corporation. Called2Elect was established as a Wake County political action committee 7/12/05.
Called2Action claims to have filed papers for 501(c)4 status but no public filings have been made that have appeared at Guidestar.com which publishes required reports by non-profits when the IRS makes them available.
This fall the header of the Called2Action website featured a banner linking to ivotevalues.org a project of the Southern Baptist Convention (through its Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) and Focus on the Family that explores the boundaries of political activities by churches. This was followed by a link to the Voter Guide of the NC Family Council, a statewide document with loaded questions similar to the Called2Action document.
The Voter Guides are bundled in packages of 100, and we will ship them to you the week of October 16. Place your order by clicking here and completing the order form, and don't forget to designate how many Voter Guides you need for distribution at your church (in multiples of 100).
Called2Elect PAC has not responded to a complaint that it ran a radio ad supporting a Wake County School Board candidate but did not report any expenses for the radio ad.
Expenses that are listed are primarily printing/mailing and payments to the Kreider Company, a small consulting business run by Tara Kreider, a former CapStrat employee currently working for the developer oriented Triangle Community Coalition.
Guest Speakers Warn of the Dire Consequences of Smart Growth at the TCC Lunch and Learn
Called2Elect PAC has not responded to a complaint that it did not itemize $2,700 in contribution received in 2005.
Called2Elect PAC has repeatedly failed to file reports on time and has been referred to the State Board of Elections.
The questions to candidates in the voter guide are obviously designed to draw a sharp distinction between Republican and Democratic candidates, casting the latter in poor light while highlighting Republicans. In fact a letter to candidates states that if all candidates give the same answer to a question Called2Action reserved the right to drop the question and responses from the voter guide which states:
The intent of our Candidate Questionnaire was to challenge candidates on issues that have clear Biblical truth and are consistent with our Judeo-Christian foundation. Your challenge will be to apply these same truths as you cast your ballot on November 7th.
In a recent and hasty reversal of the group’s opposition to year-round schools in Wake County (and by inference, the School Bond) leader Steve Noble stated:
Therefore, after much prayer and careful consideration, we have decided not to actively engage this issue, which does not have a clearly defined Biblical position.
Yet the voter guide contains many questions that do “not have a clearly defined Biblical position” such as public funding for private schools. Opposition to the Wake County Bond proposal had support within Called2Action from School Board Member Ron Margiotti and Christian Coalitian activist Ed Gehringer who are both active in the anti-bond Stop Mandatory Year Round group.
Another question that did “not have a clearly defined Biblical position” was the Pledge of Allegiance which had a Biblical position only to the extent that it contained the phrase “under God”
In a letter published 7/14/06 by NorthCarolinaConservative.com signed by Steve Noble as Chairman, Called2Action Noble wrote:
Some things to remember in November…Democrats voted for the Pledge, then against the Pledge, then for the Pledge. Can anybody say “John Kerry”? The Democrat leaders, Basnight, Rand and Black, were perfectly willing to use our Pledge of Allegiance as a political football, putting their allegiance to their own political posturing ahead of their allegiance to the Pledge. Julia Boseman stole one, got one passed, lobbied against one on the floor of the Senate, voted against it, then finally voted for it. This is way beyond “John Kerry”.
Hardly non-partisan. Evangelicals were chagrined that openly gay Representative Julia Boseman had a pledge bill in play. This was clearly about dividing Republicans and Democrats and not the Pledge.
People behind Called2Action, besides Noble include Judy Keener listed as a Christian political activist who is actually the Republican Party’s 13th District Vice-Chair. Keener, a fellow traveler of mystery Republican Claudia Rodgers, has been active in efforts to defeat Richard Morgan.
Others include Tracy Griggs listed as independent video producer who is actually Director of Communications for the NC Family Policy Council, State Representative Russell Capps and State Senator Neal Hunt, both endorsed by the PAC as is Paul Coble, a contributor to the PAC and candidate for County Commissioner.
Also included is Rev. Mark Creech who believes that government should not be helping the poor and needy and Drew Goettman, of OnlineChristian.Info who writes on his website:
Perhaps you never wondered. In case you have wondered where some of the churches are in the Triangle that accept gay members, then someone has provided a list for Internet readers here. For some, it serves as a warning list.
It links to progressivechurches.org which lists the following Wake county churches:
Community United Church of Christ
North Raleigh United Church, UCC
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh
Covenant Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
St Mark’s is the church of which WRAL news anchor David Crabtree is a deacon and which was roundly attacked by Vernon Robinson for its tolerance. Yet Called2Elect endorses Robinson.
Randy Balmer, an evangelical Christian who wrote: "Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America," describes how he
contacted eight "religious right" organizations and asked them to send me a copy of their position paper on Bush's use of torture against enemy combatants. I received a reply from ….. the Family Research Council …..which defended the Bush administration's position on torture. First of all, that's morally bankrupt. It's also aligning the faith too closely with a particular ideology.
The Family Research Council is led by Tony Perkins who recently disclosed to Chris Matthews that he knew about Mark Foley’s behavior from staff members who were former pages, yet did nothing. Perkins addressed a marriage amendment rally in Raleigh may 2005 organized by the NC Family Policy Council and Called2Action where one sign read:"It's About Our Children, Not Us."
PERKINS: Yes, I think there is, because in talking to some pages, you know—I‘ve had people now on staff that used to be pages, and it was widely known to watch out for him, that he liked boys. And the question—and this question I asked ...
Not surprisingly the Family Research Council and the NC Family Policy Council have both received funding from the Pope Foundation. ($95,000 for the NC Family Policy Council in 2005)
Called2Action claims to have access to over 100,000 NC email addresses. Through its membership of The Arlington Group it has a relationship with The American Family Association which provides the addresses.
God has certainly blessed us with many helpful relationships with groups like AFA, The Family Research Council and The Center for Reclaiming America.
The Arlington Group is a coalition of “Pro-Family Organizations” that functions much like the State Policy Network does for right-wing think tanks.
One of the ways Called2Action promotes its agenda is through Christian Impact Committees it forms at local churches with the help of pastors to share information, coordinate on issues and provide a pool of activists for Called2Action. Called2Action claims to have partnerships with over 75 churches and ministries.
Called2Action wants us all following the Ten Commandment plus several that were never etched in stone yet seems to have trouble staying inside the lines of the tablets itself. Called2Deceive is more appropriate.