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Religious
rally comes to Ohio statehouse

Religious
rally comes to Ohio statehouse

A second conservative Christian movement is planning a foray into politics built on its success in helping gain passage of a same-sex marriage ban and win Ohio for President Bush last year. Reformation Ohio, created by suburban Columbus minister Rod Parsley, is a four-year plan to bring 100,000 people to Christianity, help low-income families, and recruit 400,000 new voters. It scheduled a rally at the Ohio statehouse on Friday expected to be attended by U.S. senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, and U.S. representative Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican. More than 1,000 people, many from Parsley's World Harvest Church in Canal Winchester, also planned to attend, said Debbie Stacy, executive director of Parsley's Center for Moral Clarity. That number included about 500 pastors from across the state, she said. Another church-based group, the Ohio Restoration Project, began its own campaign to recruit new voters in August. Although the two groups are not affiliated, they share many of the same goals, said the Reverend Russell Johnson, pastor of Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster and the Restoration Project's chairman. "We're all on the same team, going into the same direction. [Parsley] is on first base. I'm on second base. He'll cover areas I cannot reach," Johnson said. The Restoration Project also is committed to signing up 400,000 new voters by next May's primary election. Should both groups succeed, that would add 10% to the nearly 8 million voters who were registered for the November election. "It is completely separate and different from what we're doing," Stacy said. "Beyond that, our goals are not their goals. We wish them well. We're very supportive."

Turnout in the last election was 72%, a figure buoyed by conservative Christians voting for Bush and the same-sex marriage ban, which passed with 62% of the vote. By comparison, turnout in the 2000 presidential election was 64%. Bush's win in Ohio gave him the electoral votes he needed for victory. Shortly before Friday's rally, a coalition of church leaders and gay rights activists planned a news conference at a church across the street from the statehouse. In a news release, it described Reformation Ohio's agenda as "narrow" and promised to "share an inclusive vision for Ohio that respects and honors all people." (AP)

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