- (Photo: REUTERS/Scott Audette)
To increase the voter turnout among evangelicals and seek support from conservative believers, the Republican Party has launched a new initiative to mobilize its "biggest, most reliable voting bloc."
"This website is designed for faith voters like you," says GOPfaith.com, which was launched Friday.
"GOPFaith.com is built to keep pro-faith voters up to date with how the Republican Party is fighting for religious freedom, learn how to register voters at your place of worship and mobilize them on Election Day," says Chad Connelly, Faith Engagement Director of the Republican National Committee.
It's "an online home for all of our efforts, all around the country," he says in a video posted on the website, which seeks to "build an army of conservative pro-faith activists to make the difference in the coming elections."
"This shouldn't be outreach, this should be who we are - it is who we are," Connelly tells The Washington Post, describing evangelicals as "are our biggest, most reliable voting bloc."
Connelly points to surveys that show only a third of the 89 million Americans who identify themselves as evangelical Christians voted in the 2012 election. There are "millions of pro-faith conservatives all across American who are not politically engaged," the initiative says.
It seeks to "identifying 100,000 pro-faith conservatives who will help identify, register, inform and mobilize America's faith-based community to get them engaged and to vote their values."
"The GOP's longtime commitment to traditional values with a platform that doesn't mind placing those values front and center has made it the natural political home for people of faith," Connelly wrote in an op-ed in The Christian Post Friday.
Up for grabs on the Election Day are 435 U.S. House seats, 36 U.S. Senate seats, 36 governorships, 89 state legislative chambers with over 6,000 seats, and "important pro-life legislation, protecting religious liberties and getting rid of ObamaCare."
The party is aiming at pastors, Connelly says, adding they shy away from talking about political issues.
Federal law requires that houses of worship must not endorse candidates if they want to retain their tax-exempt status.
"Let's overcome that myth of the IRS saying you can't talk about this from the pulpit," Connelly says. "Look, if there's no freedom of speech in the pulpit, there's no freedom of speech. Now is the time of righteous indignation."
It's a time to be the "turn-the-tables-over Jesus" and not the "meek, turn-the-other-cheek Jesus," he adds.
"Registering to vote and preaching about Biblical values in the pulpit aren't 'political talk' at all. They are imperatives that help ensure that the spiritual values that built our country live on in the political institutions that give us the laws that we live by," Connelly wrote for the CP.
Evangelicals care about issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, which might be seen as divisive by some Republicans but are still important for the party to maintain the support they receive from the bloc.
"Many Republican leaders are tired of losing, they see some real opportunities to win, and that means they have to fire on all cylinders, if you will. And this is a key constituency," says John Green, head of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, according to Religion News Service. "They don't have to woo them to the party as much as they need to woo them to the polls."