The yard signs have begun to reappear: WeBelieveWeVote.com signs with a Christian cross draped in American flag imagery. One of their signs appeared in a yard on Spokane’s South Hill, along with a display of yard signs for Pastor Jonathan Bingle, and for Mike Fagan and Tim Benn, candidates on the flapping fringe of the right wing, fellow travelers with Matt Shea promoting the theocratic “State of Liberty.” (For background from 2018, see WeBelieveWeVote.com, What is it?)
The WBWV website has a more professional look today than it did in 2018. Gone are the hand-scribbled survey forms of their interviewers. Instead there is a printed set of standardized questions with answers generated by Survey Monkey. They no longer list among their evaluation criteria devotion to the preservation of the Electoral College. Perhaps that criterion was too easy to see as anti-democratic…
They still publish a long list of area churches that supposedly recommend WBWV voter guides to their parishioners. I urge you check the list for your church. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the “Pastor to Pastor Letter” you find there. If you find your church I encourage you to critically evaluate the content of the WBWV website and discuss it with your pastor.
The website is rife with examples of peculiar intersections of church and state issues. Example: “Climate Change and Use of U.S. Energy Resources” appears as a “critical issue” to “faith-based voters.” on a document on the WBWV website comparing Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Party platforms. Click that link and read the platform entry. Since every candidate endorsed by WBWV is a Republican are they suggesting a person of faith must believe climate change is a global conspiracy? What happened to stewardship of the Earth?
Tellingly, the same document argues for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a U.S. Tax Code provision that prohibits non-profits from endorsing or opposing political candidates as a condition of retaining their tax exempt status. Repeal of the Johnson Amendment would effectively make political contributions tax deductible, guaranteeing that organizations like WBWV would be major recipients of political money free to directly promote right wing candidates.
Visit WeBelieveWeVote.com. Check out the voter guides. Click on a candidate’s name–when the Candidate Profiles appears be sure to click on the blue “VIEW SURVEY ANSWERS” you find on there. It won’t take you long to understand what this site advocates under the guise of Christianity. As I explained in WeBelieveWeVote.com, What is it?, these are not the Christian values with which I was brought up. The WBWV “Survey” is a black and white political ideological litmus test.
An illustration: Breean Beggs (Spokane City Council President candidate) gets a “0% agreement with WBWV” rating. Why? He refused to checkmark Agree/Disagree questions. Instead, he provided thoughtful, well-reasoned answers to all ten questions (worth reading). In contrast Nadine Woodward (Spokane mayoral candidate) gets a rating of only 60% by refusing to answer four questions and writing, instead: “I will only focus on local issues that pertain to city government and not national issues.” There is some irony in Ms. Woodward’s refusal to answer questions on which she almost certainly agrees with WBWV. (Read at MosaicSpokane, scroll halfway down the page or use CMD-F for “Woodword” in your browser window.) She wishes her smiling newscaster face to remain a blank slate on which the voter can project their personal beliefs. (In the same manner, she campaigns on “Spokane Solutions” while offering none.)
On the brighter side I think a higher percentage of the candidates I voted for simply refused to take WBWV’s ideological litmus this year than in 2018.
Visit WBWV and explore. I know of no more blatant attempt to wed far right politics with far right Christianity–and it’s a local, Spokane and Stevens County, phenomenon. Like my right wing neighbor’s yard signs, I find WBWV a useful guide to recognize candidates whom I need to shun.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. For extra credit, start here at the Public Disclosure Commission’s data on WBWV. Click around. It’s interesting information. This year so far WBWV has only $7,135 in contributions with just twelve contributors. They have saved up a war chest totaling $19,113.48. They are building, working for political influence among local congregations. Keep an eye on them. In 2018 (the midterms) they were better funded: $81,612.26. There were six local right wing conservatives, e.g. Duane Alton of Alton Tires, who contributed $5000 or more (Alton contributed $16,000), far larger chunks of change than they could legally donate to any one local candidate.