The Values Bus, on a mission to reach and educate voters about issues and the importance of each vote, was met with a small crowd in Wadesboro on Oct. 28.
The bus stopped in the Walmart parking lot along its tour. It is owned by Family Research Council Action, which handles legislative issues for Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.
Brent Keilen, action director with the Family Research Council, said North Carolina is one of the most important stops on the tour since it is a swing state.
“A top issue is religious freedom,” Keilen said.
Travis Weber agreed.
“It’s so important this election,” he said. “We advocate for religious liberty protections from a Christian worldview.”
Weber said the bus’ mission of reaching as many voters as possible was crucial.
“It’s important that you understand so you can bring it into our sphere of understanding,” he said.
Weber said he believes religious freedom needs protected.
“In essence, what happens in wedding vendor cases is, people in the wedding business, which is obviously a religious activity, say, ‘Look, we don’t support same-sex marriage. Go down the road and someone will be happy to serve you,’” Weber said, adding that vendors often meet with lawsuits and fines. “In essence, what you have is people are implicated in a system they don’t want to be implicated in.”
In those cases, the vendors may be forced to “violate conscience,” Weber said. “We have to support the right of conscience.”
Thomas Graham, pastor outreach director with the NC Family Policy Council, said his mission is to help pastors encourage their congregation to vote.
It’s working, he said.
“Church leaders and congregations are responding and getting more active,” Graham said. “We equip families to be voices of persuasion for time-honored values in their community. They’re getting more steel in their religious backbone.”
Graham encouraged the crowd to “imagine a nation and state that honors God, a nation and state where religious liberty thrives, and a nation and state where all lives matter.”
“Watch what God will do when we continue to engage ourselves in the culture,” Graham said.
Keilen said that acting on that vision means educating voters about issues on their ballot and giving them a “nudge” to get to the polls. He referenced a number of previous close votes as reason for everyone to “believe every vote matters.”
His group was “instrumental” in helping get the family tax credit passed in the 1990s, he said. Today, he works to educate voters on the topics of “Supreme Court Justices, the sanctity of life, family values and respecting the Constitution,” as well as “policy to strengthen family.”
“We encourage people to engage with local officials as much as possible,” Keilen said.
Miriam Harris, a representative with Concerned Women for America, was also on the bus.
Keilen said the group does a bus tour every two years but has never made it to every county in the state so far. This year, the tour team has visited 20 states and plans to visit all 100 counties in North Carolina, its last state on the tour. As of 11 a.m. Thursday, it had visited 68 of those counties.
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.