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September 18, 2008

Obama campaign launching faith tour

Barack Obama's campaign enlisted evangelical author Donald Miller on a tour through battleground states called "Barack Obama: Faith, Family and Values Tour," a campaign official told Christianity Today.

Miller, Pepperdine University professor Doug Kmiec, and former Indiana Congressman pro-life Democrat Tim Roemer will speak to groups in community centers and gyms before taking questions. They plan to talk about where Obama and his running mate Joe Biden stand on issues like poverty and abortion.

The tour will begin next week and will last for about a month in states like Colorado, Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Obama campaign has done several of these tours in the past, including a 10-day "40 Days of Faith and Family" in South Carolina and a 10-day faith tour in Iowa last fall. The campaign official said that previous tours were focused more on fact finding and this tour will focus more on why people of faith and values support Obama.

Miller prayed at the Democratic National Convention after Relevant Magazine Editor Cameron Strang backed out. Here is an earlier CT interview with Miller about what issues the Democratic Party should tackle.

Comments

Senator Obama's surrogates on the "faith tour" no doubt will assert that Obama favors "abortion reduction." This is a PR stategy cooked up by liberal political-messaging outfits such as "Third Way," an operation staffed by pro-abortion activists that specializes in developing methods for camouflaging hard-line pro-abortion politicians. Obama's entire history shows that he is firmly committed to an array of policies that will, if implemented, predictably and substantially increase the number of abortions performed in the U.S.

The issue of public funding of abortion is a good place to begin a reality check. The Hyde Amendment cutting off almost all federal funding of abortion, and the comparable policies that most states have adopted, have resulted in major reductions in the number of abortions. Both sides agree that this is so. For example, a December "factsheet" issued by NARAL observes, "A study by The Guttmacher Institute shows that Medicaid-eligible women in states that exclude abortion coverage have abortion rates of about half of those women in states that fund abortion care with their own dollars." By even the most conservative estimates, over one million Americans are alive today who would have been aborted if the federal Hyde Amendment had not been enacted in 1976. So, here we have what both sides agree is a proven "abortion reduction" policy (although one side thinks it is a good thing, and one side thinks it is a bad thing). Obama advocates the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and all other such restrictions on tax funding of abortions. Moreover, in 2007 Obama gave a speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in which he promised abortion would be covered in his national health care plan, which means that everybody would be required to pay for elective abortion through taxes, mandatory premiums, or both. I am sure he means it.

In addition, Obama is a cosponsor of the "Freedom of Choice Act," a bill that would invalidate virtually all state and federal limitations on abortion. In addition, this bill would make partial-birth abortion legal again, and require tax-funded abortion on demand in both state and federal health programs. The "Freedom of Choice Act" further provides that "A government may not . . . discriminate against" abortion "in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.” (That doesn't sound like a formula for "abortion reduction," does it?) In 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing I'd do." More on this radical bill here: http://www.nrlc.org/FOCA/index.html

In the past, Obama has gone to remarkable extremes in his zeal to defend "abortion rights." In the Illinois state Senate in 2001-2003, Obama led the opposition to, and ultimately killed, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was a simple three-sentence bill to provide protection for babies who are born alive during abortions. The bill that Obama killed was virtually identical to a bill that passed Congress without a single dissenting vote in 2002. When the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) on August 11 released recently uncovered documents to prove that this was so, Obama himself said that we were "lying." After an investigation, Annenberg's independent FactCheck.org concluded: "Obama's claim is wrong . . . The documents from NRLC support the group's claims that Obama is misrepresenting the contents of SB 1082 [the 2003 Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act]." Obama's history on this legislation, and what it tells us about his thinking on abortion, is explored in a White Paper released by National Right to Life on August 28, 2008, which can be read or downloaded here: http://www.nrlc.org/ObamaBAIPA/WhitePaperAugust282008.html

Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee
Washington, D.C.
http://www.nrlc.org

Sorry, but this really just disgusts me. Obama, the man who voted for basically infanticide four times, doesn't deserve the time of day. Biden is no better on this issue and many others near and dear to Christian's hearts.

The only thing they deserve are our prayers and God's forgiveness if they ever truly desire to seek it. I'm not holding my breath, but that's why I'm not God. Thank goodness He has the patience and love for people like Obama and Biden, who spend more time spewing lies about opponents than finding ways to build and strengthen the moral core of our country. I don't.

I wonder why Rev. Wright isn't on this tour. Instead of pulling out someone not related to his actual practice of faith, Mr. Obama might send out his real spiritual mentor. Then we might find out more about how real his faith and values are, and exactly what they comprise.

So they want to reach out to me on the subject of abortion... QUIT the pretense, don't lie to me, you have no interest whatsoever in "reducing abortion". Don't lie to us, tell the truth. We are a nation deeply adrift (when politicians can't face facts) while committing genocide against people with Down's Syndrome.

May God help us.

These Obama surrogates are will try to persuade people of faith that Obama would reduce abortions. That is just is a public relations product cooked up at liberal think tanks like Third Way, where veteran pro-abortion activists specialize in developing strategies to help hard-core pro-abortion politicians camoflague their positions. The truth is, there are more than one million Americans alive today because of the Hyde Amendment, but Obama calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and tax-funded abortion on demand -- the very opposite of 'abortion reduction.' Pro-life states laws -- for example, women's right to know laws, waiting periods, and parental notification laws -- are saving countless lives, but Obama is a cosponsor of the so-called 'Freedom of Choice Act,' which would invalidate every one of these laws. Obama even advocates repeal of the ban on partial-birth abortions. I have faith that most people of faith are not so easily snookered.

Douglas Johnson
Legislative Director
National Right to Life Committee
legfederal//at//aol-dot-com
www.nrlc.org

This is wolf in sheepskin.

Sen. Obama and Biden's tour is designed to reclaim much of the religious landscape for the political progressives in the United States. The political right's open hostility to issues of contraception and public sex education has given an opening for the current candidates to exploit, since abstinence education has been shown to be ineffective in preventing unintended pregnancy or delaying the onset of sexual activity. Obama and Biden will likely make the argument, as some Catholic theologians have (new window), that the extensive war policies of the current administration have also been devastating abortifacients, which seems to have escaped the notice of other commenters here. Its likely that the political right, as evidenced here, will be quite uneasy about the expansion of moral issues beyond the 'human pelvis'--as many evangelical Protestants are already doing. (new window). Political reactionaries and conservatives simply no longer have a rhetorical lock on what defines a "moral issue." They are beginning to realize that "abortion" isn't just "abortion" when its politically convenient, as pregnant civilians in Iraq have found out far too well.

Christopher W. Chase
Department of Philosophy and Religion
Iowa State University

Wow. You Christian Right soldiers are gold. The only thing Christian about you is...well...nothing. Pro war, anti-environment, anti-social programs, anti-gay, pro big government (in our homes), anti-science and full of white-hot hate.

Look at yourselves. Your radically inept policies lead to increased poverty thus increased desperation that leads to, guess what? Abortions. Guess what abstinence only ed leads to? Unwanted pregnancies and ABORTIONS.

Guess what, the vast majority of Americans support abortion (although not to the extremes Obama seems to, I admit). This is a democracy. Stop trying to force your radical beliefs on the rest of us. If abortions were illegal, they would still occur just at a much greater risk to women.

That's ok right? I mean, the drug war is a great success.

Really, what has you bankrupt moral movement given us that is positive? Anything? It gave us Bush. Thanks fort that. It might give us McCain and I believe we know where that will take us.

Face that facts. Change will come. Fighting it is destructive and only puts you, once again on the wrong side of history. The Right always finds itself there - slavery, segregation, woman's suffrage, equal rights and evolutionary science. You will lose as you should and always do in the end.

P.S. The "Right" isn't about DEM or GOP - the two have flipped sides of the spectrum since the 1960s (but I don't expect a single one of you to know that)

Face the music and stop destroying a country that belongs to ALL of us - not just you and yours. This is NOT a Christian nation and was not intended to be. Even the far-right USSC has reinforced this fact many, many times.

Roll with change or it will roll over you.

Look, I don't want to be Mr.negative here, but the "Christians" who have posted thus far are nothing but closed-minded, smear-spreading hate mongers.

This next line is very important, so don't skip it.

I do not believe that Christianity, ( I am a Christian), or even fundamentalist Christianity (used to be) are themselves hateful. However, if you read the above comments, you see words like, "lie", "Rev. Wright", "infanticide","disgust", and "evil".

I ask you: How many of you have taken the time to actually read up on black liberation theology from someone other than Sean Hannity or a random email you received? (Be honest.) How many of you have read Obama's books? How many of you can point to a single verse in our Bible that states categorically that God gives a human soul at the exact moment that sperm touches egg?

Let's be fair here. Obama has made a true campaign promise out of including us (Christians) in the democratic process. He is the only one who is activly touring o let those of you who care to know his stances have a chance to question him. Just eight years ago, John McCain called your religious leaders "agents of intolerance". How can you be so certain which one is the true Christian based solely on their adherence to conservative philosophy?

I recognize that there are places and people that would seek to unfairly distort Christianity as some vile agent of intolerance but, with your total lack of research into the things you claim to understand, you are making their jobs much easier.

Thank-you Joshua, you have said it well. As Barack has often stated, we need to have civil debate about ALL of the issues and avoid the malicious and unloving language that is present in so many of these posts. Regardless of ones passion for particular causes (abortion, war, free market economics, poverty) or political parties, we need to "follow in His steps" and engage those who do not align with us love and personal holiness. We should allow God to use us in the political process while leaving judgment to Him.

Mr Crisp, how is it being "closed-minded, smear-spreading hate mongers" to say that someone is lying? How is it hateful to feel disgust at something? Disgust is often found where there is a love for something so profound that its perversion produces an overwhelming negative response.

And, please, let's not tar with sucha broad brush as "How many of you have taken the time to actually read up on black liberation theology...?" Yes, I have, and it perverts the message of the gospel terribly. Those who preach it (as all those who preach various heresies which are too numerous to list) lead people astray from God's way and his purpose. (But, no, I have not read Obama's books; I am seldom a reader of biographies, especially by persons who are no older than I - at least until I age quite a bit more.)

And, yes, Mr Crisp, scripture is unclear on a precise biological moment for ensoulment. But, it is also very clear in Psalms (51:5, precisely) that conception is a moment at which God considers us truly alive - and already broken by our sin.

My conviction of who is a Christian is predicated on their actions. Do they follow scripture; and failing to do so, do they have humility before God? So far, I have not seen that humility evidenced by Obama. He is grotesquely wrong on abortion. His compassion is not a virtue as he desires to force others to practice it for him (government-mandated charity). And, yes, he (or his campaign surrogates) has lied in respect to his positions.

As for McCain? He is not running as a Christian, but as a man with certain positions (so far as I have seen). Many of those positions support my Christian beliefs, while others do not. Gov Palin has been pointed to by many as a Christian, but I do not believe she is running on that as a primary plank of her platform.

If someone lies and distorts to achieve an end, it is not hate to call them out on it. It would instead be cruel and evil to leave them to lead others astray without speaking out.

Mr Chase... You are a fool. Not because you are wrong, but because you willfully distort the truth to fit an ideology. Killing of pregnant civilians in Iraq? Please - as if unfortunate collateral deaths are the same as deliberate killing of the innocent. Our armed forces do not set out on any given day to find and kill innocent civilians, nor do they take pleasure colateral deaths occur. If you are a professor, sir, I can only hope you remove your ideological blinders before entering the classroom.

Mr. Brown,

Thank you for taking the time to fully read my statement before responding, as that is the first step in honest debate. Unfortunately, I will have nothing as glowing to say in response to your statements. In fact, I can find only one point of agreement with you. It is not wrong to call someone on their statements when they are clearly lying. Sadly, it is in this light that I must approach your post.

You say that you have read Black liberation theology. You are lying. If you had you would not find it to be a distortion. This theology began in the late 60s as a group of pastors who wanted to use Biblical teachings to more effectively discuss the topic of racism. In fact, This theology maintains that African Americans must be liberated from multiple forms of bondage — social, political, and economic. In this new formulation, Christian theology is a theology of liberation -- "a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of the existential situation of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus Christ."

Now, I FULLY understand that many white people feel oppressed themselves, and see the issue of race bondage as something solely belonging to the past. However, these people are wrong, at least on the latter point.Regardless, it is not in any way a distortion for Black people to say that God wants them to be free. What is a distortion is to speculate that God's will is to bless America regardless of her actions.

Regarding the use of the word "disgust", I stand by my statement. The author of that statement was not saying that abortion disgusts him, but that he was disgusted by the idea of Obama trying to appeal to Christians, a disgust predicated on a belief that Obama's faith is false. This is knowledge the author could not have, so the statement is therefore stupid and hateful.

Also, for you to infer that Sarah Palin's selection should be seen as completely removed from her status as a member of the evangelical right is intellectually dishonest. You know better.

Finally, although I disagree with you on the subject of abortion, I believe that this is a topic that deserves serious debate. This debate will go on much better if you realize that we have no right under the Constitution to force others to adhere to your interpretation of scripture. The next president may put their hand on the Bible, but it is the Constitution they will swear to God to uphold. They will not put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.

Injecting faith into the political system is like putting lipstick on a moose. :)

The religious left is just now copying what the religious right has monopolized for decades. In the end it is much ado about nothing, but the theatre of it all provides an addictive voyeurism akin to professional wrestling - entertaining but not real.

These posts are just oozing Christian love. Why is it so hard to accept that other people of faith have different views?

As a christian, I too am disturbed by the hateful comments. Obama is a christian and has the right to express how that part of his life will affect his candidacy or presidency. Calling Obama a liar is to ignore that John Mccain is a liar. Sarah Palin is a vehement liar. This campaign has showed all involved prone to spin, misrepresentation, or lies. Obama is no more guilty of this than anyone else. I believe that church and state should be separate. I wouldn't want the federal government deciding how I personally should practice faith. To call him evil is silly. No one can truly claim a moral high ground. I can easily accuse Mccain of not adhering to what I consider as Christian values. His Tax policy favors only the ultra wealthy. Extreme wealth is a sin. He favors a war which I find morally corrupt. A war that kills thousands upon thousands of innocent people. As a christian I believe we should care for the earth, the weak, the poor, we should forgive, we care for one another. I'm concerned, -and we all should be- with real policy issues, not just speculation on someones beliefs.
An example: In my income bracket Mccain's tax plan will save me 12 dollars a year. Obama's will save me over $500. Mccain likes to attack Obama on raising taxes, but do the numbers. The only way Obama will raise your taxes from the current Bush plan is if you make over 603,000 dollars a year. Obama's tax cuts are much more significant than Mccain's on all who make under 150,000. People in the 300,000 and more income brackets would benefit most from Mccain. Who's morals should I question.
I'm tired of abortion being the only issue Christians talk about. I don't like abortion. Nobody is pro-abortion. Does the government have authority when it comes to a woman's reproductive systems? That's the question. But don't demonize a good man. I try not to demonize Mccain, and some of his political views offend me. They offend my morals. That doesn't make him evil. We just disagree.

This is all just window-dressing and pandering any way possible for a vote. Obama and his wife have no credibility on Christian matters after sitting still for 20 years of Jeremiah Wright's Hate Whitey venom. "Father" Pfleger is a fraud, too, and should have been defrocked long ago by the Catholic Church. Everyone knows it is impossible to attend a church like Trinity United CC for that long and "not know" it is RACIST and a BLACK PANTHER organization feeding hatred to children as well as adults. This is not "Christian" teaching nor neighborliness. Period. End of story.

Wow. Sensible posts from Christians. I am stunned. Why are you not taking the lead and taking your faith out of the madness it has descended into by becoming nothing more than a tool of the state? (just as Constantine intended but Christ never would have imagined)

We all called for moderate Muslims to stand up against radical Islam, same needs to happen here. Christianity is on the decline more and more each decade while atheism doubles it's growth with each passing decade.

I think it is clear why. Christianity is a political movement run by people like Dobsom with Christ in the backseat if in the car at all.

I hope your faith finds it way again soon. This movement is destroying our country and dividing us against each other. I believe it is the most dangerous threat to our way of life/ form of government in its history.

These posts do prove that evangelicals have no coherent social ethical philosophy, at least not in the pews and pulpits of churches. Young people are thus flocking to a candidate who embraces a culture of death, in the name of change, while conservatives continue to embrace a party that is in no way the party of Christ.

Rick is thus right. This is a kind of "addictive voyeurism" and it ruins our need for real community. We can now further divide the church into more and more sects and parties.

Sarah Palin's pastor put it well when he said that their congregation discouraged partisan buttons and displays in worship so as not to invite this spirit into the church.

We must "debate" real issues. We can vote as we understand those issues. But none of this partisanship advances the kingdom and people on the left and the right had best wake up to this before the spirit seen in these posts distorts our message even further.

Donald Miller, whom I saw as a bright and effective young author, disappoints me. He shows a lack of understanding that is all too typical and he would have been better served to have stuck to what he does best. He clearly misses huge ethical and moral concerns in his approach, one that appears to be formed in opposition to the failures in love on the Christian right. I sure hope young Christian thinkers and writers like Don can find better ways to embrace life and reject the Christian right at the same time. This video reveals the sad weakness of evangelical ethics in our time. Sound bytes have won, on both the left and the right. No wonder many young people are fleeing evangelicalism for Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Miller embraces the "future" but without the "ancient" in the late Robert Webber's "ancient-future faith" paradigm.

I'm just ignore all the haters here in the comments and say thanks to CT for this info. I look forward to catching the tour when it comes through North Carolina.

I cannot beieve the relativistic judgmental attitudes in some of these posts. Just because you may not believe that abortion is murder does not give you the right to judge those who believe it is and assume that they are hateful because they want to stop innocent babies from being killed. Christianity has always clearly taught (at least until the past few decades) that abortion is outright murder. Look at 1st and 2nd century writings such as the Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache (which laid out part of the teaching and practice of the Church). They, and others, clearly proclaimed that killing the infant in the womb is one of the the most horrible things that can ever be done. It is outright premeditated murder!

The Church also condemned slavery centuries before our country, which insured the rights of all, did. The Church understood the harm of smoking decades before published research gradually led many to want to rid it from the public square. Perhaps being open to change means that someday the vast majority will realize that the Church was right about abortion too.

And for those who are fed up with Christians who make so much of this issue, what are we supposed to do if we truly sincerely believe this country is promoting (paying for) the deliberate murder of babies by the millions? It is a matter of priority. It's not that other issues aren't important, but, if abortion is murder, who cares about several thousand innocent people being killed in a war if we are killing millions of babies. Who cares about the economy. If we continue to deliberately kill babies, maybe our economy should rightly not exist anymore.

I wanted to add to the comment about the priority of the abortion issue. This is not just a "Christian" issue. I'm reminded of the Native American chief in Georgia who would not accept the Bible from John Wesley. He stated that, as long as the native women kept killing babies in the womb, they did not deserve any more words from God!

Abortion is also a "natural law" issue. It is a killing off of the human race. It has been used by Planned Parenthood as blatant racism to diminish the Black population of this country (this is fact, not opinion - read their own leaders' writings). Study the great thinkers in the field of genetics and hear the hateful racism of the plan to use genetics and abortion in this Country to elliminate the Blacks.

Abortion has taken away the working force that was to pay for Social Security, so now we will all pay the price for this missing generation in America. Many cultures have practiced abortion. But, they all recognized, as the dear chief, that it is murder. Natural law loudly says so, Christian or not.

Would someone please explain how a Christian can attend for 20 years a church with a pastor who preaches black liberation theology? That theology is gussied-up Marxism, and that is the antithesis to Christianity.

Let's be honest...most white evagelicals will never vote for Obama simply because of the color of his skin. PERIOD. Stop masking your racism in terms of being pro life. If you were TRULY pro life you would also be anti death penalty. You worship John McCain who left his wife and children to marry money and power and has shown great disdain for what you believe. Sounds like adultery to me. On his part and and on your part for loving a party more than loving God's Word. I'm just saying stop the hypocrasy!

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I just googled "Hateful Christians in Politics" and came up with you - and I am sure God is proud to call you his own...
What a turn off...

from a Christian who refuses your negativity - don't pray for others - it is biased with your limited beliefs....

I do not belong to any p;olitical party. I'm not at all interested in politics. We know that politics is NOT the answer.

Relax, God's in charge!

Donald Miller just gave an interview to the Burnside Writers Collective about his decision to campaign for Obama. You can find the interview here:

http://burnsidewriterscollective.blogspot.com/2008/09/interview-with-donald-miller.html

I'm way behind the curve here, and all the political prizes have been handed out. But those who think that anyone who is in any way pro-choice is a worse choice than any candidate who is pro-life might consider this: if the presidency has been in Republican hands for eight years and during at least part of those eight years Republicans have also had control of the Congress (perhaps the whole time, actually), AND the Supreme court has effectively had enough conservative justices added to make up a majority, why hasn't there been any real anti-abortion legislation passed? Wouldn't that have been the time to flex the anti-abortion muscles and send up a pro-life balloon and see if the courts will now back it up? If by their works you would know them, it looks like nobody really knows the GOP.

For almost forty years Republicans have been waving the anti-abortion flag and getting a lot of Christian mileage out of it, and what has come of it? Very, very little except votes for themselves. Well, nationally, they are definitely out of power now, and there is no chance of grabbing any power back in the next two years at least. The only thing we can all do is now see if Obama is indeed serious about using social means to lessen the numbers of abortions, and then see if his ideas work. Maybe so, maybe not. We all can pray about it with a mindset of hope and good will, if only until we get government whose actions we like better.