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Published October 08, 2012, 05:59 PM

Church becomes hotspot for political forum

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) - Like it or not, religion plays a big role in politics. Churches in our area are taking advantage of this influence, to shine light on an overlooked issue.

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) - Like it or not, religion plays a big role in politics. Churches in our area are taking advantage of this influence, to shine light on an overlooked issue.

They're hosting a candidate forum tonight, and the discussion won't be about your usual election hot buttons.

There's a group of Minnesota churches fighting for social justice. Part of that includes giving a voice to those who, sometimes, can't speak for themselves, like children.

Rev. Mark Pettis, First Congressional United Church of Christ: " Get a sense of where they are in terms of supporting funds to help families, programs designed to help children.”

Revered Mark Pettis says hot election topics like abortion and gay marriage are not on the agenda. The focus is on families.

Pettis: "Talking about livable wage, tax credits for children."

Pettis says the candidate forum at Hawley United Methodist Church is purely informational. It's for state senate and representative candidates from the area surrounding Moorhead.

No one will push any specific view.

Pettis: "Not playing favorites in this sense. Coming together and saying let's learn."

It might sound surprising, hosting a debate in a church.

But Dr. Barbara Headrick, an MSUM political science professor, says it's more common than you think.

Dr. Barbara Headrick, MSUM Political Science Professor: “These are the forums where voters can ask questions and get answers."

And Headrick says it's perfectly acceptable for churches to ask faith-based questions, just as long as they don't push for congregations to choose specific candidates.

Headrick: "Are they asking questions in a religious tone, or are they asking about the issues."

The forum is tonight at the United Methodist Church in Hawley, from 7-9.

The moderator has questions ready, but if you want, be prepared to bring your own.

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