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July 11, 2008

Giving Back Before You're Elected

Three months ago, Tom Perriello, the Democratic challenger in Viriginia's fifth congressional district, announced that his campaign workers would be required to spend a tenth of their time doing volunteer work.

Previous campaigns have done the odd bit of community service, but this appears to be the first to make it an integral part of the enterprise, and to couch it in religious terms as a form of tithing. By the end of this weekend, the campaign expects to have logged 300 hours of tithed volunteer work.

In line with the ancient and pretty honorable principle of doing well by doing good, the effort has gotten a lot of positive attention from the press, most recently in a Christian Science Monitor article by Gail Russell Craddock. To be sure, Craddock doesn't omit to include a snide swipe from David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report; to wit: "Perriello has a great profile in a very liberal district in Boulder, Colo., but that's not Virginia's Fifth." But the campaign couldn't have asked for more than it got by way of a quote from Larry Campbell, assistant pastor at Bible Way Cathedral in Danville:

"I've had many political candidates come through, but I've never had any work along with us in the area of social-action changes," he says, citing ongoing help from Perriello volunteers. "Most candidates who are running for national office have more programs just getting people out voting for them, but to give back to the community is a heavy statement for social change."

This article is cross-posted from Spiritual Politics.

Comments

From a purely political viewpoint, this is a great idea. It's guaranteed to receive good publicity for the candidate and the campaign.

From a religious point of view... well, it depends on whether a lot of the churchgoers in his district believe that "works" are even relevant to their faith, and manage to make the faith connection at all. Some may believe it's at attempt at "works-salvation" and be turned off from any religious element of that that was intended. Given that he's a Democrat, he likely won't have that problem with liberal churchgoers.

It would also be good if the mic was a bit closer to the subject in the next vid. The sound quality is not great.