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Running Against Sodom and Osama

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Micro-targeting in the Pews

One of the most extraordinary partisan moments came in the workshop “Voter Identification and Turnout: A Church Plan,” run by Connie Marshner. Not a name known to most on the political Left, Marshner was one of the earliest key architects of the “pro-family” movement that helped mobilize the Christian Right, which in turn became a major sector of the New Right coalition.~57

Marshner announced at the start of the workshop that in 2000 she had used the set of techniques in her 17-page workshop handout to help re-elect Rick Santorum (R-PA), one of the staunchest allies of the Christian Right in Congress.~58

She outlined her very practical nuts-and-bolts techniques, which she plainly stated was based on first obtaining the list of members of a church, parish, temple – or mosque if there are any pro-life Muslims, she added with a smile. She explained that if your pastor does not want to have the church involved in politics, this is a people-to-people campaign that does not expose the church to IRS sanctions regarding tax exempt status, a dubious claim at best.

The process starts with anonymous cold calls to members of the church to determine their voting leanings. Marshner suggested the caller be someone from outside the congregation who could pose as being from a polling company. Here is the script: “Hello, I’m with ABC Polls. We’re calling in your area to find out the level of interest in the upcoming [U.S. Senate/House of Representatives/state assembly/town council/school board/etc.] election.” Responses would be tabulated and as Election Day approaches only congregants supportive of the “pro-life candidates,” as Marshner put it, would be contacted for the get-out-the-vote campaign.

Someone in the audience asked what to say if the person being called wanted to know where the caller got their name and phone number.

Say you got it from the list of registered voters, advised Marshner, it is a public record.

What if the number is unlisted?

Here Marshner seemed to suggest that the good Christian folks in the room just tell a fib. And not surprisingly, there were some grumbles from the crowd. Sensing discontent, Marshner said individuals should leave it up to their conscience on how to answer the question. Perkins indicated he was “upset” with Marshner’s suggestions and denounced any dishonesty in the session.~59

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