A politically-liberal Christian organization will host get-out-the-vote "revivals" in nearly 30 towns across the nation this coming month in an effort to unseat Republican members of Congress this fall.
Led by Minnesota pastor Doug Pagitt and fueled by opposition to Trump administration policies, "Vote Common Good" rallies will be held in at least 10 states before the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The rallies will feature live worship music and a rotating cast of mostly left-leaning Christian leaders, authors and activists who will attest to why Christians should vote for the Democrats.
The stated goal of Vote Common Good, which is the brainchild of a meeting of anti-Trump evangelical leaders that took place in Colorado in May, is to "flip Congress for the common good."
"A lot of people we talk to are in a crisis of their faith because they really feel like their leaders and their overall Christian narrative has turned in such a way that things that they thought were commitments and unshakable values of human rights and family values and decency have just been sold out for a bowl of porridge," Pagitt told The Christian Post. "There is a real crisis."
The bus tour kicked off with a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday and a rally in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday. On Thursday, a rally was held in Richmond, Virginia.
"We don't just say we are running it like a revival. It really is a revival," Pagitt, the pastor of Solomon's Porch in South Minneapolis, said. "The theme of it is 'from fear to faith for the common good.' That is the branding around the particular event."
According to the organizers, the tour will hit at least 34 congressional districts, some of which are in states that have key Senate races, such as Missouri, Arizona and Texas.
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Vote Common Good relied on the help of Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., a regional vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in deciding which areas of the country the tour should target.
The outfit is traveling in a three-vehicle caravan that includes a sleeper bus, an RV and a truck that pulls its mobile stage that allows it to set up tour events outside.
Most rallies will feature music from New York City church and bar musician Vince Anderson and soul singer Meah Pace. The organization also lists about 25 known Christian leaders who will speak at the events. The cast of speakers speaking at each event will vary depending on speakers' individual availability.
While some of the speakers might speak at most rallies, some will only speak at a handful.
Those expected to speak include author and activist Brian McLaren, author Frank Schaeffer, activist Shane Claiborne, Pastor John Pavlovitz, Pastor Rob Schenck and Rev. Jacqui Lewis, a minister at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City who advocates for LGBT and racial equality.
"We are not reflexively partisan or reflexively Democrats," Pagitt declared. "Our statement is that the Trump administration is a hazard to the wellbeing of a lot of people and to the planet and needs to be restrained. The common good calls us this election to respond with our vote."
Pagitt, who was arrested earlier this year for protesting illegal immigrant family separations at the White House, admits that the aim of the tour "feels very partisan." However, he explained that he can imagine a time when Congress is the hands of the Democrats and Vote Common God is calling for a flip in Congress yet again.
Among other things, Vote Common Good objects to the Trump administration's policies on refugees, health care, immigration, and the 2017 tax overhaul and poverty.
Pagitt asserts that some of the areas the tour will stop in are districts that voted for a Republican in 2016 House elections.
"[W]e are saying to a lot of these voters who voted Republican in the past that maybe it is time to offer your vote on behalf of someone else and to not only think of your own self interest when you vote," Pagitt explained. "It is a little surprising that this comes as fresh news to Christian people who are often very selfless in other areas of their lives."
Considering that many conservative Republicans voted for President Donald Trump and Republicans in 2016 because of promises to advance pro-life policies, Pagitt refuted the notion that conservative Christians are voting for "someone else" when they support candidates with pro-life policy stances.
"Some people use that as an easy block because some of these people have been voting this way since 1972 and abortion is still legal in this country," he said. "So, it is not a very wise voting standard. If that is what you are doing, it is not really working. Making abortion illegal and reducing the number of abortions are not connected to one another."
"We have three decades of information now that tell us about what we can do to reduce the number of abortions in this country," he added. "You can be anti-abortion and not have to feel like you are compelled to vote for people who want to put kids in cages or limit the number of refugees or takeaway health care or who are hawkish on war. Those things don't have to go together and if they keep telling you they are, they are lying to you."
According to Pagitt, Vote Common Good is not looking to "change people's minds" through this tour.
"We are trying to encourage people whose minds have already changed that they need to stay true to their faith and vote along their changed mind," Pagitt said. "We call that changed-mind repentance. If they have already repented and changed their mind and perspective, their faith should follow. We are not here to have a debate about the issues."
Ultimately, Vote Common Good wants those who attend their rallies to understand how important the midterm elections are, even though most voters usually don't vote in them.
"I think more people are tuned in right now than in some other midterm election," Pagitt said. "I will be honest, I have missed a lot of midterm elections and haven't always voted in them. This one feels a little different and we want people to know that they are not alone."
On the right side of the political spectrum, conservative evangelical grassroots organizations like the Family Policy Alliance and the Faith & Freedom Coalition are spending millions on efforts to encourage social conservative voters to vote in the 2018 midterms.
The midterm elections will come as the Trump administration has advanced religious freedom and pro-life policies favored by conservative Christians at an unprecedented rate in his first two years in office.
"People need to remember that President Trump is not on the ballot this year but with those that are on the ballot, there is going to be a choice between a candidate who will advance life and religious freedom and family and there will be a candidate who doesn't," Autumn Leva, vice president of strategy at the Family Policy Institute, told CP last week. "If voters don't show up to support the pro-family candidate, then we are going to have a very big problem passing pro-family policies when it comes to the laws that are advanced at the state level and federal level next year."