Where is ‘the Rev.’ prefix?

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Congressional web forms require that message fields match their own. Since no uniform standard exists and most offices do not include ‘Rev.’ as option, such messages would be rendered incomplete and non-deliverable.

Many clergy express frustration — and rightly so — that the UCC’s advocacy forms do not include religious titles, such “the Rev.”, in drop-down menu options. 

“The problem is not of our making, but rests solely with the requirements of the websites on the receiving end of our messages,” explains the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the UCC’s communications director. “Most government offices require that  salutation fields be completed — primarily to confirm a constituent’s gender — but they often limit the available responses to a few choices, such as ‘Mr.’, ‘Dr.’, ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs.’ Anything message that doesn’t conform to required fields is rendered ‘incomplete’ and therefore ‘non-deliverable.'”

When a person completes an online advocacy form at ucc.org, Guess says, the email message is delivered in the same way as if the constituent had completed the web form directly on that Congressperson’s website. Therefore, the UCC’s website hosting company — Convio — has no other option but to configure its clients’ prefix titles so that messages will be received by every members of Congress. If the UCC was to include ‘the Rev.’ as a salutation choice, Guess says, any emails submitted to office webforms that didn’t also have “the Rev.” as a prefix option would bounce back to the UCC.

“Ironically,” Guess says, “members of Congress say they want to hear from religious leaders, but they don’t provide a mechanism for clergy to identify themselves as such.”

That’s why Guess encourages users to alter the suggested email text so that it accurately describes a person’s religious affiliation and viewpoints.