Magazine article The American Prospect

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Magazine article The American Prospect

Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

Article excerpt

Karl Rove is so desperate for votes from conservative Christians that he just might don a black preacher's robe and hit the pulpit.

In early June, Luke Bernstein, coalitions coordinator for the Bush campaign in Pennsylvania, wrote a letter to team leaders in the state, which was leaked to The Associated Press: "The Bush-Cheney'04 national headquarters ... has asked us to identify 1,600 'Friendly Congregations' in Pennsylvania where voters friendly to President Bush might gather on a regular basis;' it read.

There's just one problem: Churches are tax-exempt organizations, and they can lose that privilege if pastors campaign from the pulpit. The Bush campaign's letter made no mention of this fact. The story was met with much bad press, from both secular and religious media outlets. Indeed, it was an almost laughably egregious violation of the separation of church and state.

But the Bush team wasn't kidding around. Rather than issue a mea culpa after the Pennsylvania incident, conservative lawmakers set about to change the rules. …

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