Voter Guides At Hillside Community Church

The church is used as a polling place for two precincts, 558800 and 558720. Both were found in the sanctuary, one (558800) in the rear of the sanctuary, and the other, (558720) in the front of the santuary, just under a large Christian cross.

Between the two polling areas, a table approximately six feet long was placed, outfitted with flowers, brochures for the church, mailing list sign-up, and a stack of "Christian Examiner" newspapers. The table was about 10 feet from one polling area and about 20 feet from the other one.

I turned in two absentee ballots, one for myself and the other for my wife. The poll workers helped me to submit the correctly, making sure I had signed my wife's appropriately. On my way out, I went to the map of precincts because I wanted to know what the surrounding precincts were. I passed the table and picked up the newspaper.

At home I was able to look at the paper and it's advertising which was very partisan and political in nature.

At about 3pm, I went back to the Church and asked how I could make a formal complaint. Doris Ichidgey, Assistant Inspector at that location signed a statement in my book witnessing the placement of the newspapers. She gave be a hotline number to call, 858-565-3360.

I called that number when I returned home, talking to Carrie Pickmosa, Personnel Development Manager. She had be talk to her supervisor, who said that the "Chief Deputy" Nicole Alejandre would call the next day. I requested faster response since this seemed like something that should be corrected that day. I gave her my cell-phone number (which has 24-hour voice mail, even when I am on the line) and requested a call ASAP.

I went to several other polling places in El Cajon that are located in churches. In all those cases, the polling was done in room that was not the sanctuary, and no Christian Examiner newspapers were seen. I returned to the Hillside Church of God and surveyed the site to confirm that the newspapers had been removed.

It is now two days later, and I have received no call from "Chief Deputy" Nicole Alejandre. The number for her office is 858-495-5492. Left message at 10am on 6/8/2006.

Upon further review of the paper, I noticed large advertisements for candidates. The newspaper is filled with ads for right-winger candidates. I'm sure they don't allow ads that don't fit their agenda since the publisher "reserves the right to refuse any advertising." I see a full page ad for Debbie Beyer (R), for 77th assembly district with many endorsements from the Christian community. Then, a 1/6 page ad for Larry Kincaid for Superior Court Judge. I don't have any problem with a newpaper carrying these things, but when you distribute this in a nonprofit, tax- exempt church, I believe they are crossing the boundary that is required for their tax-exempt status.

When I applied for our preschool to be a charity (which we never completed) it was not allowed to post any signs whatsoever for candidates. By having this newspaper in their church, it is precisely like posting a sign stating who to vote for.

On the Debbie Beyer ad, it has endorsements by pastors of various churches, such as Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor, Skyline Wesleyan Church and Dr. Jeremiah, Senior Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church. He says: "The 77th District of the State of Califorina needs Debbie Beyer and, right now, Debbie Beyer needs you!"

At the bottom, it states that Dr. David Jeremiah has endorsed, Dr. Jim Garlow has endorsed Beyer. These are the pastors of the churches where this newspaper is widely distributed to large congregations. I can't imagine that this is allowed!

I could not find any article that specifically endorses candidates. However, the paper certainly endorses various bills. It has a box:

Take Action Today: To register your opinion on SB1437, Call Governor Sshwarzenegger's office at... The Phone recording will ask...

C. Is the bill SB 1437? Yes, Press 1.

D. Are you in favor of this legislation? No, press 2.

If you ask me, that is certainly advocating a position. They paper even goes so far as to tell readers how to call and which buttons to press to promote political initiatives.

I called the office of the California Secretary of State in San Diego and they referred me to the attorney line in Sacramento, 916-653-7244.

Transferred to legal unit, unavailable to take the call. I asked them to let me know what the procedure is to make a formal complaint that churches are distributing this information.

Called the office of the Christian Examiner and asked for their media kit. Went to Shadow Mountain Community Church web site to view the service of 6/4/2006, "God's Marriage Amendment" I've been to this church and I know they distribute the Christian Examiner in the narthex.

mms:// Watch video of this service, skip to 38 minutes into the sermon when Dr. Jeremiah encourages political action to support the marriage amendment. This is definitely "lobbying".

See General Guide To Church Politics

-- Raymond Lutz - 06 Oct 2006
Topic revision: r2 - 06 Oct 2006, RaymondLutz
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