Arch Street United Methodist Church, across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Religion News Service photo by Debra Mason

Liberal Christian group kicks off new swing-state organizing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The liberal-leaning Christian group Faithful America is launching a new project focused on chipping away at President Donald Trump's support among religious voters in three swing states.

The group's anti-Trump effort, shared in advance with The Associated Press, is projected at $65,000 — a fraction of the $50 million get-out-the-vote effort announced last year by the conservative Faith & Freedom Coalition. But the project could have an outsized impact in the states of Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and it is the latest sign of progressive Christian groups engaging more actively in the presidential race.

The liberal-leaning Christian group Vote Common Good is holding socially distanced outdoor rallies this month, while the liberal-leaning NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice recently unveiled a website designed to mobilize "Pope Francis" voters against Trump.

The Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopal priest and campaigns director for Faithful America, said he hopes the group's work this fall can help liberal Christians be more vocal about the connection between their religious beliefs and their stances on key issues.

"We have to put our values into action," Empsall said in an interview. "And I think progressive Christians always have, but we haven't always been great about talking about where those values come from."

The group's new swing-state effort involves hiring four new organizers and a goal to spark at least 11,000 new faith-based conversations with voters. Its work will use "relational organizing," an emerging approach to political network-building that relies on personal relationships to help motivate people to get engaged on issues and to vote.

Empsall noted that while Trump's foothold with white evangelical voters is often discussed, mainline Protestants and Catholics who might have leaned toward the president in 2016 are valuable in terms of swing-state outreach. Those Christian voters, he said, have people in their orbit who backed Trump "while holding their nose, and can probably be moved by having faith conversations and sharing personal stories."
__
Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. The AP is solely responsible for this content.