Sunday, September 07, 2008

Obama and the Evangelicals


I admit that I grew (and remain) upset with a lot of evangelical and fundamentalist friends who seemed to be reacting to Senator Obama's ethnicity and history by clinging to the patently false and easily disproved idea that he was or is Muslim (not that there would be anything wrong with that, as a politician, anyway!).

However, I have noted that many on the "evangelical left" have become more and more strident in their tone and rhetoric as the election approaches. It's interesting to note the fervor that grips folks who put too much faith in men (and women) and the institutions of human civilization.

Having said all that, there's been much made of the shift in evangelical politics to the moderate or liberal side of the page in this election cycle. However, more and more data seems to confirm the fact that there is no such shift. In fact, the only real change among evangelical voters seems to be that they are somewhat reluctant in their support of McCain - though there remains little doubt which "lever" they will pull in the booth on November 4th.

In fact, Spiritual Politics notes that the new CBS News poll shows that McCain's support among white evangelicals has gotten a nice lift from convention week: 66% of white evangelicals are now backing McCain, up from 57% this weekend.

Barack Obama's evangelical support is down at 18-percent. That's a smaller share of evangelical votes than John Kerry got in '04 or Al Gore got in '00!!

So much for the rise of the evangelical left!

Not surprisingly, the political machinery has begun to focus more and more on avoiding the other candidate rather than on supporting a particular candidate. Thus, we're hearing more attacks on McCain and Palin and more attacks on Obama and Biden - though I suppose the rhetoric from both sides is "kinder and gentler" than we've had in the past.

In spite of the rhetoric to the contrary, it isn't shaping up to be a radically different kind of election. The conservatives will vote based on taxation, the liberals will vote based on government programs, and the religious will vote based on abortion and gay marriage. Just like before... The only issue is who can mobilize and energize their base more effectively.

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