Jeff Sharp says: "They're excited about it. They're excited about the publicity. We're just a little youth group."
Sharp teaches the seventh and eighth grade youth group at Gethsemane Baptist Church, who recently sent surveys to 161 state legislators and their opponents in the upcoming election.
Sharp says: "In that survey we ask one question. And that question is, "Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"
Sharp says they hoped by asking the question it would put non-believers on the path to salvation. The survey also stated that they may provide the lawmakers answers to churches in their areas to allow the congregations to see the answers themselves.
Sharp: "We wanted the legislators and those running for those positions to know that Christians are watching what they do, that we are watching how they vote on things. We're doing it as something to give information to voters."
Not all lawmakers agree with the survey. Representative Kathy Stein, of Lexington, is encouraging her colleagues to disregard it. Stein is Jewish and calls the survey intimidating. Sharp says it wasn't meant to be.
Sharp: "All we're doing is attempting to supply information to the voters. We're not saying anybody can't run. Muslims, Jews, anybody can run for that office. Christians still have a right to know what somebody is."
Below is the statement Representative Stein sent to WBKO in response to the religious survey:
"Mr. Sharp is perfectly free to send out any sort of survey he wishes. But just because he can do something doesn't mean that he should.
Mr. Sharp's questionnaire, asking the single question of people running for office if they have accepted Jesus as their savior, poses a religious test for office, and is highly discriminatory of non-Christians. Unwittingly or not, persons who answer "yes" to the survey are participating in religious discrimination. Mr. Sharp's reported shock over reaction to what he calls "a simple little survey" is disingenuous. He and every other politician know the potential negative consequences of revealing non-mainstream religious beliefs. And his suggestion that he may share the survey response with churches in the area of the candidate is nothing less than school yard bullying-- i.e. "I will tell the churches in your area that you are not Christian." His implication is clear-- answer this question the "right way" or he will tell the churches on you.
I am certain that not all Christians share Mr. Sharp's values nor appreciate his intimidating tactics. I hope that the children he is teaching in the Sunday School class have also learned a civics lesson-- that the Constitution prohibits religious tests to hold office.
I am also hopeful that Mr. Sharp will share with his students Section 5 of the Kentucky Constitution which is even more clear about why what he did is wrong. "
This is not the first time the youth group has sent out the survey. Sharp says they did it in the November election two years ago, but they said it did not receive nearly as much publicity.