For better or worse, Evangelicals have enough clout to carry elections and Senator Barack Obama has kept no secrets in his attempt to court them. But is Obama’s pandering another sign that he is drifting from his liberal base–or just a wasted effort to persuade a historically republican voter block?
The answer to all these questions is an emphatic NO! Senator Obama speaks openly of his Christian faith (he is not a Muslim…for the millionth time already), and his recent appearances at the Saddleback & Compassion forums, provided thoughtful, nuanced, and deliberate answers on faith.
Obama understands when it’s appropriate to quote the Bible, has broad knowledge in religious theology, and speaks the language in Christian terms effectively.
I admired his response, in particular, to our country’s greatest moral failure: “We still don’t abide by that basic precept of Matthew…that whatever you do for the least of my brothers you do for me.” The truth of his statement, especially when held to our last eight years under Bush (Katrina anyone?) could not have been more clear.
But when it was McCain’s turn at Saddleback, he delivered robotic lines that fed to the cheers of the crowd. With the question, “At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?” McCain growled, “At the moment of conception.”
I find his incessant reference to the audience as “My friends” to be ingratiating and insincere, like that of a used car salesman (he’s certainly no friend of mine…especially after these comments).
And McCain’s story about how the prison guard drew a cross in the ground for him on Christmas was a little too convenient for the occasion. But I’ve gotta give him props for answering that his own moral failure was his first marriage.
Still I wished he was pressed on this more, as leaving a loyal wife awaiting your return from prison camp after she’s disfigured in a car wreck for a younger, prettier, wealthier Cindy Hensley reveals a lot about his character.
But in this election, the Democrats have a real chance of converting some of the Republican Evangelical faithful in our post separation of church and state era with Obama.
The Republicans have manipulated wedge voting issues, like abortion and gay marriage, for long enough and I think Evangelical voters are starting to sober up from the GOP kool aid served to them by Bush the compassionate conservative. It will be interesting to see their judgment in November.