With Election Day just over a week away, churches on the left and right are preaching the same message: Go vote - and do it early.
St. Paul Baptist Church members Lodia Ward, left, and Angela Collins-Lewis look over a sample ballot before getting in line to vote at the Sugar Creek Library on North Tryon on Sunday.
On Sunday, the Rev. Greg Moss used a chant to urge members of his Democratic-friendly flock at St. Paul Baptist to head straight to the polls - just as many of them did on a Sunday in 2008.
That year, Barack Obama and other Democrats built up early-voting cushions that Republicans couldn't overcome on Election Day.
"Let's do it again..." the black pastor shouted seven times near the end of Sunday's 10:30 a.m. service.
"...in 2010," St. Paul's worshipers answered each time from the pews and the balcony.
At uptown's First Baptist of Charlotte, where Republican positions get a warm reception, the Rev. Mark Harris also urged his congregation on Sunday to go to the polls early - just as he did.
To help them decide who to vote for, the Southern Baptist pastor passed out candidate surveys conducted by the conservative N.C. Family Policy Council. Among the questions asked: Should the state and federal constitutions be amended to define marriage as being between a man and a woman?
By law, churches - tax-exempt organizations - are not permitted to endorse individual candidates from the pulpit.
But both political parties are counting again on churches friendly to their side to mobilize members to vote.
And though they differ on many issues, pastors Moss and Harris agree that churches do have strong positions on moral and social issues and should take the lead in encouraging big voter turnouts among their congregations.
"We are good citizens, and it is not just a citizen's right to vote, it's an obligation," said Harris, whose 3,400-member church hosted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee - a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2012 - last July 4.
"We certainly try to respect separation of church and state. But that doesn't mean we don't take positions on issues. Our emphasis would be on social issues the Bible speaks clearly to."
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