>Wanted: religious voters

>Sen. Obama is courting the alienated religious vote–the evangelical Christians who were all but abandoned by the Republican Party and the “Christian left” who usually view religion as less of an influence as to how they will vote.

Tuesday, Sen. Obama announced that once he’s president, he will seek a greater role for faith-based nonprofit groups. He’s also in the process of courting evangelical Christians who supported President Bush in droves during the 2004 election.

Obama said President Bush fell short in his promise to collaborate with faith-based groups and accused the administration for using the initiative to further their political agenda.

From the first article:

But Mr. Obama’s plan pointedly departed from the Bush administration’s stance on one fundamental issue: whether religious organizations that get federal money for social services can take faith into account in their hiring. Mr. Bush has said yes. Mr. Obama said no.

“If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion,” Mr. Obama said. “Federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs.”

The Obama campaign is also reaching out to evangelicals and other faith-based voters. The Obama camp is “trying to take advantage of signs that some conservative Christians are rethinking their politics, urged along by a new generation of leadership and intensified concern about issues including climate change, genocide, AIDS and poverty,” according to the second article I linked.

From the second article:

Between now and November, the Obama forces are planning as many as 1,000 house parties and dozens of Christian rock concerts, gatherings of religious leaders, campus visits and telephone conference calls to bring together voters of all ages motivated by their faith to engage in politics. It is the most intensive effort yet by a Democratic candidate to reach out to self-identified evangelical or born-again Christians and to try to pry them away from their historical attachment to the Republican Party…Mr. Obama is building his appeal in part on calls to heal political rifts and address human suffering. He is also drawing on his own characteristics and story, including his embrace of Christianity as an adult, a facility with biblical language and imagery and comfort in talking about how his religious beliefs animate his approach to public life.

I’m sure some die-hard Obama supporters are becoming slightly uncomfortable with his outreach. And I can’t blame them. For me, this is somewhat a concern. As a person who claims no religious affiliation, it’s always disheartening to hear a politician speak so freely about supporting faith-based initiatives. I was adamantly opposed to President Bush and Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s plan six years ago and I’m firmly still opposed to Sen. Obama’s proposal now.

But, I understand what Sen. Obama is trying to do. Now that he’s won over the Democratic base, he has to appeal to the white, working class, evangelical Christian, swing voter in the Midwest. And what other way to do that is to talk about religion.

Talk to me!