Governor Perdue is paying a heavy price for his desire to have school vouchers safe from challenge by his version of proposed state const. amd't.
Religious denominations still stand four-square behind the governor. Except for Methodists. And Southern Baptists
The death of Gov. Sonny Perdue's "faith and family services" amendment to the state Constitution last week was lost amid the courthouse killer's rampage and Democrats' outrage over two voter ID bills.
Republicans in the Senate never got close to the two-thirds vote they needed for passage of the governor's initiative. And they may get no closer if Perdue makes a third attempt.
The governor said the amendment was needed to undergird the state's current practice of giving taxpayer money to religious institutions that provide much-needed social services. Perdue lined up an impressive coalition of religious leaders to back it.
But Thursday, the Methodist-Baptist alliance that once held sway over all moral issues in Georgia — and still carries great weight — announced it had withdrawn its support for S.R. 49, the governor's initiative.
Instead, the Georgia Council on Moral and Civic Concerns has put its full weight behind the Democratic alternative, S.B. 42 — because it would prohibit school vouchers.
Before the Christian Coalition was a glint in Ralph Reed's eye, there was the GCMCC. It was formed by an alliance of Georgia's two United Methodist conferences and the Georgia Baptist Convention — the two largest denominations in the state.
Since the days of Glenn Miller's "Little Brown Jug," it has fought alcohol, pornography and gambling. When Gov. Zell Miller made his pitch for a state lottery, this was the organization he had to get past.
Here are excerpts of the letter from GCMCC executive director Willis H. Moore to state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), the author of S.B. 42:
"This letter is to let you know that I am pulling our support from S.R. 49 and giving full support to S.R. 42. We previously published support for both, in that they are so similar. Our faith community friends had rallied around S.R. 49, and in an effort to get the issue passed, we united behind it.
"However, since the key difference seems to be that S.R. 42 prohibits vouchers, and although supporters of S.R. 49 say vouchers are not a part of this issue, it seems that if this is true, it could be so stated. S.R. 42 does so state.
"It is our hope that S.R. 42 passes without further fear of disruption of the humanitarian services provided by faith-based organizations."
The switch is interesting, and may represent a rift between Georgia's old churches and its new ones, between steepled churches and mega-churches.