Beliefnet
God-O-Meter

mccain5.jpgOr maybe religious conservative awareness week.
On Tuesday, Senator McCain gave a speech promising to appoint conservative jurists to the courts. Some in the Christian Right applauded.
On Wednesday, he gave a speech that opened with a celebration of evangelical hero William Wilberforce and that included McCain’s strongest calls to date for the U.S. to defend religious freedom abroad, do more to combat human trafficking, and crack down on online child predators. It’s an unusual speech for McCain, and worth reading. What struck God-o-Meter is that, even in a speech on religion and the threat of moral relativism, McCain sounded more like a secular humanist worshipping at the altar of American exceptionalism than he did a man of faith:

There is a tendency in our age to accede to the spurious excuse of moral relativism and turn away from the harshest examples of man’s inhumanity to man; to ignore the darker side of human nature that encroaches upon our decency by subtle degree. There are many reasons for this. Blessed with opportunity, and intent on the challenges of work and family, our own lives often seem too full and hectic to take notice of offenses that seem distant from our own reality. There is also the threat in a society passionate about its liberty that we can become desensitized to the dehumanizing effect of the obscenity and hostility that pervades much of popular culture. It is in our nature as Americans to see the good in things; to face even serious adversity with hope and optimism. And yet, with so much good in the world, for all the progress of humanity, in which our nation has played such an admirable and important role, evil still exists in the world. It preys upon human dignity, assaults the innocence of children, debases our self- respect and the respect we are morally obliged to pay each other, and assails the great, animating truths we believe to be self-evident – that all people have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — by subjecting countless human beings to abuse, persecution and even slavery.

Will such talk bring wary religious conservatives around to McCain’s side? David Brody, for one, sounds skeptical:

The question for McCain is whether he will really work hard on these issues and spend some political capital or is this just lip service? Is it just a “to do checklist”? …What social conservatives want to see from John McCain is PASSION on these issues, not words.

Indeed, what interests God-o-Meter is whether McCain’s campaign to win over voters of faith is just a weeklong blitz or part of a sustained, long-term effort that probably should have been started more than a year ago. In fairness to McCain, he did have a serious religious outreach campaign underway a year ago, but it was canned during his summer ’07 implosion and is just getting back on line now.
To bottom line is, McCain has a lot of catching up to do among religious voters. Is this week the beginning of that catch-up campaign, or a series of showy gestures?


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