NASHVILLE (BP) -- While many Americans don't have the time or desire to get beyond the political attacks and counterattacks in an election season, Richard Land believes it is worth the effort for voters to go beyond the ads to determine the best candidate for office.
"Voters need to do their homework before they step into the voting booth," said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
"There is no excuse for any voter willingly forfeiting their right to vote because they don't know the candidates' positions on the issues," he added. "And even if none of the people seeking the presidency exactly square with what a person desires in a candidate, that doesn't give them a pass to stay home on Election Day."
Voters don't have to wonder where the two major U.S. political parties stand on the issues because the ERLC has released a guide that compares the Democratic and Republican platforms side-by-side.
The ERLC's Party Platform Comparison Guide, available now at iVoteValues.com, is a valuable tool for voters who are serious about discovering the differences between the two major party presidential candidates.
The guide, which covers a wide range of issues, pulls excerpts directly from the platforms adopted by the Democrats and the Republicans at their conventions earlier this year and covers civil rights, human trafficking, immigration, justice and abortion, among others.
The 16-page guides are available for free download at the site. Full-color print copies can be ordered as well.
"Many pastors are naturally suspicious of so-called 'voter guides,'" Land said, suggesting that some guides fall short in providing an even-handed accounting of the candidates' positions on the issues.
Not so with the ERLC's Party Platform Comparison Guide, he said.
In developing the guide, the ERLC focuses on substantive proposals and pledges from the party platforms, while omitting campaign rhetoric or partisan attacks, Land said. He also noted there are topics addressed in the parties' platforms that are not included in the comparison resource, given constraints on space.
"While the Party Platform Comparison Guide will give voters a good idea of where the two parties stand on a wide variety of subjects, it is no substitute for voters thoroughly reading the party platforms themselves," Land said, noting that links to both major parties' platforms can be found at iVoteValues.com,.
The guide as well as the site also includes helpful information on Christians' obligation to be involved in the electoral process and a summary of "Dos and Don'ts" relating to churches and pastors and electioneering in a campaign season.
Land said the guide reflects the ERLC's commitment to help Southern Baptists and others "vote their values, their beliefs and their convictions, not their party or their pocketbook."
A limited number of the guides in print format can be purchased, on a pure cost-recovery basis, from the ERLC by calling 800-475-9127.
"The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission believes that the Lord alone is the Lord of the conscience and that voters should cast their ballot according to the dictates of their conscience," Land said.
"We are committed to helping Christ-followers engage the culture as 'salt' and 'light' by educating them on the importance of connecting biblical values with their civic behavior," he added, noting the commission does not affiliate with any political party and does not endorse candidates.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has published a similar guide in every presidential election since 1992.
Dwayne Hastings is a vice president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net
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