Monday, June 09, 2008

Is Obama taking a cue from HSLDA?

(Note: Post has been updated twice today.)

In an attempt to reach out to young evangelical Christians and Catholics, the Brody File exclusively reports that Barak Obama is set launch the Joshua Generation Project,
"The Joshua Generation project will be the Obama campaign's outreach to young people of faith. There's unprecedented energy and excitement for Obama among young evangelicals and Catholics. The Joshua Generation project will tap into that excitement and provide young people of faith opportunities to stand up for their values and move the campaign forward."
Reaching out to young voters of any faith isn't anything new for a Presidential campaign; but is it a coincidence or intentional that the name for Obama's evangelical youth outreach program is strikingly similar to the name of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association's (HSLDA) Generation Joshua with a very similar purpose?

"GenJ gives young people an opportunity to put their knowledge into application by actually participating in election campaigns for those officials who share their views on the proper role of government and especially on issues such as parental rights and religious freedom."
HSLDA's program Generation Joshua has been an influential presence in many state and national campaigns for some time; some credited HSLDA's President Michael Farris and homeschoolers for mobilizing evangelical's in Iowa behind Huckabee and propelling him into the national spotlight.

Obama's Joshua Generation Project is set to launch in two weeks but there doesn't appear to be any presence on the web, which would likely be the primary vehicle for an outreach to young web-savvy voters. A google search turned up nothing and the most obvious URL is already taken by a Christian ministry.

In a related story, the NY Times reports today that both McCain and Obama are both attempting to win the support of religious voters. I think it's going to be a tough sell for both men.

UPDATE: Via Jake Tapper at ABC News, Roll Call updates the story with a quote from Michael Farris who plans on challenging Obama's use of the name,
"This is an improper invasion of our trademark and we've retained legal counsel to notify the Obama campaign to stop this," HSLDA's co-founder, chairman, and general counsel, Michael Farris, told Roll Call on Monday morning. The conservative group plans to notify the Obama campaign later today."
And what does the founder and former director of Generation Joshua, Ned Ryun, think about HSLDA suing Obama for infringing on their trademark?
"I started laughing. Sorry, I was there from Day One with GenJ; took the thing from an idea and created a national organization, so I know a little about it. It was five years ago, so I can't be definitive, but I don't think we trademarked the term "Joshua Generation." And at the same time, when the program launched, there was already a Generation Joshua in North Carolina; a local youth group of sorts. I wanted to buy off of them, but it didn't pan out. At one point after I started using the term GenJ, I thought maybe we should buy, and then realized it was already being used by a webzine for Jewish youth. I point all that out to reiterate: hardly an original name. Been around, been used by other people. So I guess Farris can go ahead and sue dozens of organizations, Christians, Jews, Barak Obama, etc. if he wants, but I think there might be a better use of time than that."
So who will blink first?

: Generation Joshua is indeed a registered trademark of HSLDA. So will HSLDA go after both the Obama and the Christian ministry that use the name Joshua Generation or just Obama?

UPDATE III (6/11):
HSLDA responds.

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