Once again, here are my recommendations:
A reflective, prayerful "NO" on Proposition 73, the parental notification law. A strong and vehement "NO" on Props 74, 75, 76 -- the first three of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "reforms." A more qualified and hesitant "NO" on Prop 77, the redistricting initiative, a strong "NO" on 78 and half-hearted "YES" endorsements on 79 and 80.
The election, for me, hinges on two propositions: 75 and 76. The first would make it far more difficult for unions (such as my own California Teachers Association) to effectively challenge huge corporate interests in state government. The second would give the governor inordinate power to slash budgets, and would likely lead to decreased spending on schools. If Arnold wins either one of these, he and his allies can claim victory, regardless of how anything else on the ballot fares.
Though the polls show that Arnold's initiatives are in trouble, I'm not comforted. In my years of following elections, I've been on the losing side far more often than the winning one. Last year, I had high hopes for a Kerry victory, and the memory of that disappointment continues to linger. I remember that the polls augured good things for the Democrats, and the polls were proved wrong. I respect the formidable power of the Republican "Get Out the Vote" machine, and with the chance to increase restrictions on abortion on the ballot, I'm confident my conservative Christian friends will have strong reasons to turn out. Most will probably support Arnold's propositions. Though I hope it doesn't come to pass, I'm predicting that Arnold will win three out of four tomorrow (74, 75, and 77), and will narrowly lose Prop 76. But the dreaded prospect of a clean sweep haunts me.
In other election news, the LA Times reports that an anti-war sermon at All Saints Pasadena given just before last November's election has attracted the attention of the IRS.
The Internal Revenue Service has warned one of Southern California's largest and most liberal churches that it is at risk of losing its tax-exempt status because of an antiwar sermon two days before the 2004 presidential election.
Rector J. Edwin Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told many congregants during morning services Sunday that a guest sermon by the church's former rector, the Rev. George F. Regas, on Oct. 31, 2004, had prompted a letter from the IRS.
In his sermon, Regas, who from the pulpit opposed both the Vietnam War and 1991's Gulf War, imagined Jesus participating in a political debate with then-candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry. Regas said that "good people of profound faith" could vote for either man, and did not tell parishioners whom to support.
But he criticized the war in Iraq, saying that Jesus would have told Bush, "Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine. Forcibly changing the regime of an enemy that posed no imminent threat has led to disaster."
On June 9, the church received a letter from the IRS stating that "a reasonable belief exists that you may not be tax-exempt as a church … " The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections.
I was in the pews for that sermon, and was critical of Regas' remarks. Here's my own post on the targeted sermon from November 1, 2004 (another election eve). I wrote that day:
It was as close to a partisan sermon as one could get without jeopardizing one's tax-exempt status under the IRS code.
Apparently, the IRS disagrees, and thinks George Regas crossed the line.
The annoying thing is, of course, the stunning selectivity of the IRS. Today's paper also includes this story: Abortion Proposition finds its Forum in the Churches.
...at some evangelical Christian churches, including the Rock in Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento, pastors made time for a two-minute DVD featuring teenage actresses promoting support for the measure.
"The essence of Prop. 73 is to protect young girls from abortion and allow parents to be part of that equation," said Senior Pastor Francis Anfuso at the Rock, where the video rolled on twin screens shown to about 900 weekend churchgoers. "There's a wonderful simplicity to it, and it's definitely a message we wanted to spread here."
Okay, so it's permissible for conservative churches to show a DVD urging a "Yes" vote on Proposition 73, but not okay for a progressive church to ask "How would Jesus vote?"
As I wrote last year, I was angered by what Regas said. I stand by my words then, words which I would direct to activists in churches across the political spectrum:
I'm stunned at the hubris of anyone, left or right, who claims certainty about how Jesus would view our modern day political landscape! I've never been comfortable with fundamentalisms of any sort -- and what I got yesterday from the pulpit at All Saints was liberal fundamentalism at its most self-righteous.
But though I was annoyed at the former rector of my church, I am equally annoyed at the IRS for what is, apparently, an obviously selective approach to the enforcement of the rules about churches and partisan politics. Either hold right and left equally accountable, or leave all who preach in His name -- be those names Regas or Robertson -- free to say what they will.