Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama's 'off the record' meeting with Christian leaders

Senator Barack Hussein Obama had a private, "off the record" two-hour meeting with 43 Christian leaders this past Tuesday.

Franklin Graham hugged him and talked to him about Darfur, Scripture, and Obama's Christian walk. Graham asked Obama whether "he thought Jesus was the way to God, or merely a way." Graham's spokesman, Mark DeMoss, declined to discuss Obama's response.

Rich Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals and global warming guy for the NAE, was there, but he made sure that the press knew his presence
was not an endorsement.

T.D. Jakes says he doesn't endorse candidates, but he told CNN that he "got goosebumps," thrilled with enthusiasm at Obama's presumptive nomination.

Stephen Strang of Charisma attended with trepidation. He asked Obama about his position on abortion, and though thoughtful, it was nothing new.

Others
who attended were Stephen Thurston, head of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; Dewitt Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; and Phillip Robert Cousin Sr., an A.M.E. clergyman and former NAACP board member. Those were the only three announced by Obama's camp. But there were others there, too.

Conservative Catholic constitutional lawyer Doug Kmiec who was denied communion recently for endorsing Obama; author Max Lucado; Cameron Strang, of Relevant Media, which is aimed at young Christians; Luis Cortes of Esperanza USA; and Paul Corts, president of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities; Glenn Palmberg.

Senator John McCain, by comparison, seems to be backing away from engaging evangelicals, who gave Republicans their presidential victory the last two cycles. And who can blame him? His two fiascos with John Haggee and Rod Parsley show not only that he doesn't know what a regular evangelical is, but that he doesn't know how to engage them either.

In the last Presidential election,
77% of evangelicals voted Republican, but without a strong evangelical choice this time, many, especially young evangelicals, will likely swing to the Democratic ticket. While Republicans need 67% of the evangelical vote to retain the White House, Franklin Graham's spokesman, Mark Demoss thinks that as much as 40% of evangelicals may vote for Obama.