Thursday, June 12, 2008

Courting the Evangelical Vote

As evangelical voters become more and more disaffected with GOP leadership, their votes are seemingly left up for grabs. It's no secret that John McCain runs into issues with the religious vote. Michael Farris, who heads the organization Generation Joshua, notes that, "We don't feel invested in his candidacy and he clearly doesn't feel invested in us." In 2004, Farris was knee-deep in presidential politics, developing swing state strategy for the GOP; however, in this election, Farris has no plans to assist the GOP.

McCain attempted to secure backing from controversial Reverends John Hagee and Rod Parsley, but when the two endorsed McCain, media frenzy ensued. In 2006, Hagee referred to a "homosexual parade" held on the date the hurricane struck and this was "proof" of the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans. Parsley attacked Islam, claiming that Muhammad was "the mouthpiece of a conspiracy of spiritual evil." McCain rejected both pastors' endorsements and each rescinded his support. Among the evangelical community, many felt a sense of betrayal from McCain. James Dobson, a key member of the religious right, stated, "I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances," Dobson said in January 2007, adding, "I pray that we won't get stuck with him."

Democrats view McCain's tension with the religious right as an opening for newfound correspondence between the two groups. The Matthew 25 PAC, a chapter of moderate and liberal Christians seeking to attract financial support moderate evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants and Hispanic Catholics committed to electing Sen. Barack Obama president, held a fundraising event Tuesday night in Washington D.C. David Brody, a political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network, stated that, "I think Obama has a great opportunity still, with the Jeremiah Wright controversy behind him, to re-introduce himself with the American people, especially with his spiritual walk." However, the Democrats have a long way to go if they want to solidify evangelical support.

Sources: CNN, Huffington Post