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God-O-Meter

hageemccain.jpgThe American Prospect’s Tapped blogger Sarah Posner takes God-o-Meter to task for a recent post analyzing John Hagee’s vow never to endorse another presidential candidate–and the enthusiastic applause the lined garnered from a packed auditorium of evangelicals. GOM said this was yet another sign of evangelical disengagement from the current presidential election cycle, in stark contrast to 2004.
Posner begged to differ:

I think Dan’s got this wrong on a couple of counts. First, Hagee has never said that his followers should sit the election out. In fact, I’m sure they’re terrified of an Obama presidency and will be motivated to do everything they can to prevent it. And Hagee’s comment — which his publisher and political ally Stephen Strang called a “humorous moment” in a post that hyperbolically called Hagee a “statesman” — was in no way a call for political disengagement.
Second — and I think Dan should know this given his expertise on the Dobson empire — Hagee’s political machine springs from a very different evangelical subculture than the Christian Right political apparatus as found in groups like Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the Alliance Defense Fund. They may agree on a lot of political issues, and may share many of the same political goals, but not all conservative evangelicals take their cues from the Pentecostal Hagee.

On the first point: “Hagee has never said that his followers should sit the election out.” Posner’s right–he didn’t. But when Hagee withdraws his endorsement from John McCain, announces he’ll never endorse another presidential candidate, and the Christian Right complains about being dinged for the umpteenth time by the Straight Talk Express, what message does that send? That evangelicals should storm the polls come Election Day?
No, it thickens the malaise that has so many evangelical activists who worked their hearts out for George W. Bush yawning over the candidacy of John McCain.
On Posner’s second point: “…. Not all conservative evangelicals take take their cues from the Pentecostal Hagee.”
Of course they don’t. And not just because he’s Pentecostal. Not all conservative take their cues from James Dobson, either. Or from Mike Huckabee. Or from anyone. But as the face of Christian Zionism, Hagee is a major force in the evangelical universe. He looms large over the annual National Religious Broadcasters conference, for instance, the major event in evangelical broadcasting. He writes books that are Christian bestsellers. There’s a reason that Huckabee made sure to stop at Hagee’s Texas church to preach when he was campaigning for president last year.
Not all evangelicals take their cues from Hagee. But are evangelicals getting enough cues from Hagee, McCain, and James Dobson (before he came around to McCain last week), not to mention the resurgent evangelical center, to either stay home or vote for Obama this year that it’s going to be tough sledding for the Christian Right and its GOP allies? Kind of looks that way, no?


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