Friday, August 19, 2011

Rick Perry's "The Response" A Lesson In Political Community Organizing

The American Family Association, one of the co-sponsors of Rick Perry's "The Response" prayer event, sent an email message to the 30,000 event attendees as the next step of community organizing to register and mobilize 5 million conservative Christians for the 2012 election.

One of the key motivations for holding community organizing event is to collect contact information from the people who attend the event so that a regular line of communication can be opened to further organize and mobilize them.

About 30,000 people attended "The Response" prayer event at Reliant Stadium in Houston in early August 2011. The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis, which Gov. Rick Perry promoted and which looked a lot like charismatic, evangelical church service, was a well planned and well executed community organizing event that collected a lot email addresses and no doubt a lot of cell phone numbers to text.

These days, there are myriad problems that affect, and sometimes frighten us. As individuals we often feel powerless to address the things that affect our our lives and our families. We often feel powerless to make changes, feeling stuck and often hopeless. We don’t think that we have the power to make a difference. Community organizing is a process that empowers people to recognize and honor their individual and collective voices by working together to transform their communities.

Many find hope and purpose in the "community organizing" process, which helps people transform that personal feeling of powerlessness into powerful action. Community organizing helps to mobilize those who want to make a change, but who don't have experience in the public sphere. Community organizing helps create new leaders as people come to understand their own power and gifts to transform their neighborhoods, and impact city, state and even national policy.

The key to community organizing is to identify common self-interest and community-interest issues shared by members of the community. Self-interest is a person's concern for the health and safety of them self, close friends, immediate family and close neighbors personally connected to them. Community-interest is a person's concern for priorities shared by many people within the community. Self-interest and community-interest strongly motivate people to come together to get power and make change.

Rick Perry's political strategists tapped into several powerful threads of self-interest and community-interest by organizing "The Response" religious event and by inviting The American Family Association and other ultra-right religious leaders to organize the event.

The American Family Association (AFA) was one of the most visible and extreme participants in Perry's Response rally at Reliant earlier this month. They oppose religious tolerance at all turns, and have a record of attacking a wide variety of non-Christians for their faiths. Southern Poverty Law Center named AFA a Hate Group in 2010, and Right Wing Watch also keeps tabs on them too.

The email sent to "The Response" attendees makes clear that the goal of AFA is to use The Response contact list for community organizing activities to mobilize right-wing Christian voters -- probable Perry campaign supporters and contributors -- in the 2012 election cycle. From the AFA email:

Today, I want to introduce you to Champion the Vote (CTV), a friend of AFA whose mission is to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.

Only half of the Christians in the United States are registered to vote. Imagine the impact we could make on the future of America if these Christians made their voices heard in the voting booth!


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