Play on your fears for political gain? NEVER!

The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that “liberals” seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush.

The mailings include images of the Bible labeled “banned” and of a gay marriage proposal labeled “allowed.” A mailing to Arkansas residents warns: “This will be Arkansas if you don’t vote.” A similar mailing was sent to West Virginians.

A liberal religious group, the Interfaith Alliance, circulated a copy of the Arkansas mailing to reporters yesterday to publicize it. “What they are doing is despicable,” said Don Parker, a spokesman for the alliance. “They are playing on people’s fears and emotions.”

The mailing is the latest evidence of the emphasis Republicans are putting on motivating conservative Christian voters to vote this fall. But as the appeals become public, they also risk alienating moderate and swing voters.

An editorial on Sept. 22 in The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, for example, asked, “Holy Moley! Who concocts this gibberish?”

“Most Americans see morality more complexly,” the editorial said. “Many think a higher morality is found in Christ’s command to help the needy, prevent war and pursue other humanitarian goals. Churchgoers of this sort aren’t likely to believe childish allegations that Democrats want to ban the Bible.”

Still, Mr. Land questioned the assertion that Democrats might ban the whole Bible. “I wouldn’t say it,” he said. “I would think that is probably stretching it a bit far.”

The New York Times.