NASHVILLE,Tenn. (WKRN) – A colorful bus painted with religious crosses and “Vote November 8” signs heads out of suburban Nashville Tuesday night with the idea of getting Christians “out of the pews and into the polls.”
The effort, called Lift the Vote, is spearheaded by well-known Middle Tennessee political observer Steve Gill and his wife Dana.
He says the group already has two other buses that have been going to targeted presidential battleground states, such as Ohio and North Carolina.
“We first thought about it back in January when we were looking at the fact that 17 million Christian Evangelicals did not vote in the last two election cycles,” Gill told News 2 as he walked around one of newly painted rented bus ready to head to Colorado Tuesday night.
Gill says changing a few hundred thousand votes in some of the battleground states in 2008 and 2012 with Christian votes would have led to a different outcome in the presidential election.
“If 400,000 of them had showed up in Ohio, Colorado Virginia and New Hampshire and voted for Mitt Romney, they would have turned the election and the electoral college,” he added.
While Lift The Vote makes no endorsements, Gill says that when “Christians don’t vote, they silence their own voices” on major issues.
The group’s brochures spread at their various bus stops say, “Christian votes determine who serves on the Supreme Court, whether or not religious liberty is protected, whether or not Constitutional Rights are preserved, and whether or not we embrace values that protect the moral foundations of our country.”
The first buses from Lift the Vote headed out last weekend and all of them are filled with staffers who plan to be on the road through Election Day.
The Gills say they have already reached 20,000 people who wanted #LiftTheVote stickers at events such as football games, gospel concerts or church parking lots.
He said the group is funded by a donation effort that began earlier this year of close to $800,000.
“I was kind of looking for something like this,” said local Pastor Greg Locke, who is working with Lift the Vote. “It’s a non-partisan type of approach to get Christians to get up and vote.”
He says it is the Bible that urges members of his Mt. Juliet church to be part of the political process.
“We know God is in control,” said Pastor Locke. “But he still gives us a voice and he still wants us to get up off our tail and go out and do something about it. People in the Bible were actively involved in the process and I don’t think believers understand that God wants them to be involved.”
They are the kind of words that will be likely heard when the eye-catching buses bring their messages to the intersections of Christianity and politics.