September 11, 2008
The Religious Right in Florida: It's Alive
In Florida, long a hotbed for evangelical/Christian Right activity, the Miami Herald reports Barack Obama's evangelical outreach is running into some roadblocks:
When two prominent evangelical Christians from Florida agreed to speak at the Democratic National Convention, the party proudly pointed to Barack Obama's aggressive outreach to a traditionally Republican voting bloc.
But one, a Christian magazine publisher, decided not to go on stage, and the other, the Rev. Joel Hunter, who gave the benediction after Obama's speech, said Tuesday he is ''laying low'' until after the election.
Meanwhile, several leaders of the religious right in Florida say they are more enthused than ever about Republican John McCain, pointing to his strong performance at a nationally televised forum at a California church and his staunchly anti-abortion running mate, Sarah Palin....
The Christian Coalition of Florida is preparing to distribute three million voter guides that will not offer endorsements but will outline the candidates' divergent positions on abortion, gay rights and school vouchers.
''That stay-at-home thing is over,'' said Dennis Baxley, the group's executive director. ``There has been a marked shift from people saying they will vote for John McCain to people saying that they will work for the ticket.''
The Herald notes that Obama's Floridi religious outreach is robust:
Obama's camp is not deterred, pointing to 1,677 ''faith captains'' around Florida who are mobilizing voters in their churches and synagogues. In a sign that the campaign is taking pains to reach the African-American slice of the Christian community, two prominent black Democrats, U.S. Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and John Lewis of Georgia, are meeting this week with religious leaders in Florida.
But with a new Quinnipiac poll giving McCain a 7-point lead in the Sunshine State, Obama's religious outreach team has good reason to worry about their standing with the formidable bloc of sunbelt evangelicals there.
(Originally posted at Beliefnet's God-o-Meter)