Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

The Awesome Blue God — How Obama Forged A New Faith Coalition

“We worship an awesome God in the blue states,” Barack Obama declared during his 2004 Democratic convention keynote. Thunderous applause greeted that line, in part because Democrats felt frustrated that they’d been unfairly cast as a secular or even anti-religion party, and by the political dominance of religious conservatives.
Tonight, Obama forged a New Democratic Faith Coalition (click here for detail). To a large degree, he was able to make such progress with these groups because of the economy. Some pro-life voters went with Obama in spite of his positions on ‘values issues,’ not because of them.
But Obama nonetheless helped ease their way to his side through a canny set of tactics and strategies unlike anything we’ve seen from Democrats in years.
Emphasizing His Personal Faith
No Democrat since Jimmy Carter has spoken as openly, and as often, about his personal faith. In his Call to Renewal speech in 2006, Obama chastised some Democrats ‘who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word “Christian” describes one’s political opponents, not people of faith.’
Indeed, some of his comments would have been mocked by the left had they come out of a Republican mouth. Obama’s campaign distributed literature during the primaries that described “”That day Obama felt a beckoning of the spirit and accepted Jesus Christ into his life.” One panel on the brochure, “Called to Bring Change,” declares, “We do what we do because God is with us.” Another described his belief in “the power of prayer,” and another, labeled, “Called to Christ,” stated, “Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth and carrying out His works.”
This had two purposes: one was reaching out to religious voters. The other was to show him as a mainstream, culturally conservative person. Obama might not be able to bowl, but he sure could pray.
The Rise of the Religious Left
Obama’s religious outreach efforts were orders of magnitude greater than John Kerry’s. The campaign’s religious outreach arm has initiated 950 “American values” house parties. Initially, the campaign had hoped for a significant turnout of moderate evangelicals, especially among the young. That apparently happened in a few key states such as Ohio and Indiana.
Just as significant, the efforts paid dividends among Mainline Protestants, a heretofore Republican-leaning group that apparently went for Obama. Senator Obama’s frequent discussions of his personal faith seemed targeted at evangelicals but may have given comfort as well to traditional mainliners. “Obama planting seeds in the evangelical garden has borne fruit in the mainline garden,” says Mara Vanderslice, founder of a progressive religious group Matthew25 and religious outreach director for John Kerry’s 2004 campaign.
Just as important, a bevy of ‘religious left’ groups sprouted up since 2004 which ran ads and organized grass roots activity in battleground states. Among the newcomers on the scene: Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Mattew25, Faith in Public Life, Network of Spiritual Progressives, and Red Letter Christians.
Abortion Reduction
As the campaign went on it became clear that many moderate evangelicals and Catholics agreed with Obama on the economy and the Iraq war but couldn’t get past his consistently pro-choice views. As conservatives hammered Obama on his opposition to the born alive bill, he could see moderate evangelicals and possibly Catholics slipping away. At the urging of progressive pro-life activists, the campaign began talking about an ‘abortion reduction’ agenda — helping reduce unintended pregnancies through education and birth control, and providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers to make it easier for them to carry a baby to term. They included language in the Democratic platform suggesting as such and Obama touted the idea in a few comments during debates. Dial-ometers soared when, during the third debate, he emphasized common ground on abortion and ‘sacred sex.’
As the election approached, pro-life progressive ran radio and TV ads pushing the idea that one could be pro-life and pro-obama.
The Vice Presidential Pick
McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin created an opportunity for Obama. She revved up the evangelical base (possible by end of the night we’ll be saying the ‘traditionally Republican core of the evangelical base – or some other qualifier) but created greater concerns among mainline protestants, a group that had leaned Republican.
Meanwhile, Obama’s selection of Joe Biden was meant to improve his chances with white Catholics — not because Biden is a theological conservative but because he’s a cultural Catholic. Over and over, Biden tied the ticket’s economic messages to Catholic language– emphasizing, for instance, ‘the dignity of work.’ This particularly seemed to help in the Catholic areas of Pennsylvania, where they know Biden well.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 4:51 am

This election stands as a testimony of America’s true democracy. I hope Americans would see this virtue of democracy as a solution to Africa’s political problems, and give every support to the growth of democracy in Africa.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 5:01 am

I am glad that it is over, and I hope that all of the arguing and bickering within the church can cease. We need to get behind our new President and pray for him and that he uses wisdom (Godly wisdom) to make decisions. When things weren’t going right with George Bush we were urged by preachers and pastors to pray for him. We need to do the same for Barak Obama. I remember the story of the disciples trying to stop a man from casting out a demon because he wasn’t a direct follower of Jesus and Jesus said that if he is not against us, he with us. We need to stop this “if you are not a Republican you are not really a Christian because you don’t follow our same ideology.” Jesus told the Pharisees that they tithe their mint and cummin but they forget the weighier matters. To evangelicals this election has been only about abortion and gay marriage. And while these are important issues, there are other things that affect us too like teen pregnancies, poverty, teen school dropout, juvenile imprisonment, affordable health care, war in Iraq, putting more cops on the street, stopping domestic violence, etc. At Saddleback church, Obama talked about these types of things. In the book of Amos, it states “How can two walk together unless they agree?” We as a nation, and as Christians, need to work together if there is going to be any healing.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 11:29 am

Hallelujah,Praise Jehovah,I’m glad I voted for him and I’m glad he won and for the record,I’m a Christian and a Democrat!:)I agree with James we need to keep Obama in our prayers each and every single day for as long as he’s in office.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 11:37 am

We are so happy Barack Obama will be our President In January of 2009. As with all of life though there is always something that takes a supremely happy event and throws an unhappy one in the picture at the same time. The Proposition of only marriage between a man and a woman passed in California. Our children and friends have been disparged once again….the hope now is that our new President and the man we think of as our friend will step forward and teach America what the United States Constitution is about.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 11:52 am

We’re so pleased that Obama has been elected. Maybe we can now get back on track towards making the USA into the great compassionate nation that it can be towards its own citizens as well as the rest of the world.
True, it’s marred by the decision of the incompassionate Christians in California to continue keeping from 1/10th of the state’s population by denying them rights that it shoves into the hands of the other 9/10th.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 11:57 am

We’re very pleased that Obama has been elected President. Now, maybe we can return to making the USA into the great compassionate nation that it has the potential to be.
True, this is marred by the decision of the incompassionate Christians of California by continuing to deny to 1/10th of its population rights which it shoves into the hands of the other 9/10th.

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posted November 5, 2008 at 12:21 pm

We as a nation, and as Christians, need to work together if there is going to be any healing.
So does that mean that I, as a Jew, don’t have to work together with my fellow Americans, or that I don’t get to? I don’t count?

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posted November 5, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Prop 8 has not been called yet. Was misinformed. San Francisco Chronicle says that although more so far are for Prop 8, the counting will go on probably all night, and into tomorrow. Hopefully many more no votes will send it to victory.
People are going to have to think and express themselves in a different way eastcoastlady. I think Obama will be an excellent teacher for all of us. 😉

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posted November 6, 2008 at 6:37 am

All I can add to these comments is that I am glad that I won’t have to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and try to explain why I voted for the most Pro-Abortion President that has ever served this Great country. What are all of you who voted for Obama going to say when you come before the GREATEST throne and our Wonderful Lord Jesus Christ? You better start thinking!

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posted November 6, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Lets not allow the short-comings of our President, Obama, divide us but pray for him. If God used imperfect Paul, who was a murderer of Christians, to write 13 books in the bible, He can surely turn around the heart of any man to do the right thing (pro-life)!!!! So lets stop thinking that this state of this country is doomed and trust, praying in faith, that God will deliver this country. This is not the job for man anyways.
Please band together and pray for President Obama’s protections, wisdom and guidance, for him to have Godly counsel and have a heart that will be moved to do what is right with God more so then man. Pray for him and this country.

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posted November 7, 2008 at 10:50 am


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Ted Hodkinson

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm

The debate that has raged in Christianity since the early church is seen in the theology of Sts Paul and James. Faith alone is sufficient for salvation, or as St James preached, faith without works is dead. Frankly, I am troubled in that someone who professes a faith in God would lift himself so far above the crowd in his seeking adulation that his feet leave the ground, and he ascends.
The Lord is the only one who has live to have claimed co-equality
with the Father–until now! For me, humility is the foundation stone
of our Christian walk–washing the feet of other disciples, first shall be last–stuff like that. It is hard to be humble and reach down to others when one is ascending to the sky on the wings of rhetoric and the applause of the adoring masses (ie, mob).
After Christ’s baptism by John and our Lord’s time in the desert,
he refused the temptations of Lucifer by rejecting the worship of all the kingdoms of the world–“It is God alone whom you shall worship and adore”. I wonder at the humble and devout answer of our 44th
President would the same offer be respectfully submitted to him.
Afterall, Lucifer had couched this most generous and magnanimous offer in a way that would benefit all mankind–think of all the
people who would have been saved in time and eternity if only
Christ had agreed to “work across the aisle”and for the sake of
peace, had compromised for mankind, as opposed to dying for
our redemption. That is why the office of Christ, and His unwaivering commitment to His own intergrity will forever pit
the kindgom of grace v the kingdoms of the world. And that is why
the office of forever priest, king and redeemer is above my pay grade,
and will always and forever be, which I humbly and respectfully acknowledge.

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Ted Hodkinson

posted November 7, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Saying that God could have prevented Obama’s election is like saying that God could have prevented Hitler from becoming chancellor.
It relates to our divinely gifted “free will”–we have the will to
love God or to reject him.
As our blessed mother appeared to the three children at Fatima, Portugal, a secular humanist country at that time in 1917, she urge them to pray for the conversion of Russia, and for the turning of hearts back to God, lest God allow the evil that men have chosen to
move forward. Many argue that God allowed Hitler’s ascendance for just this reason: people’s hearts did not change.
Is this any less true in our world today? What have we learned from the last 100 years, where athestic rulers have murdered and been responsible for the deaths of millions. The warnings have been
ignored–people still chose to love their sins, and more so today,
to revel in them. With 50 million abortions since 1972, and with
the most supportive LEGISLATOR in the US, for abortion rights,
being elected President, by the FREE CHOICE of millions of voters,
God has given the majority what they have chosen–albiet in a more
democratic way than the Germans did in the 1930’s with Hitler
(Hitler’s role in government was much more limited in 1932–he
took the power later). The people have chosen–the people have spoken,
as they did in Jersulem so many years ago.
As God has shown, at least in my life that he has a sense of irony
and blesed humor, and perspective, an albiet uneducated carpenter
from Nazareth, unsupported by the “powers that be” at the time, went on to found a church with simple fishermen which last until this
day–which took three centuries to be accepted as the “church of the emperor” and to leave the shadow of persecution–the worldwide
movement of a first term Senator, who essentially was elected with
token opposition (with all due respect to Ambassador Keyes) has
set the world afire. I wonder how the name “Obama” will be heard
in 1000 years?
But please do not lay the election at God’s feet, since just as
in the Garden of Eden, He could have slapped to apple for Eve’s
hand, He loves us enough for us to first pick the fruit, then taste
it–if the picking is by his Will it will be blessed; if against,
it will be bitter. But therein lies the issue as well–there is
the picking, and then after a time, the tasting–by his providence,
there is a time to reject the fruit of sin and disobedience. There
is time to put the apple down–we cannot put it back on the tree.
And then we should thank him that we always have been blessed with
a choice, to love God that he has shown us the Tree of Life, which ultimately becomes in a sense–the Tree of Choice.

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posted November 13, 2008 at 9:46 am

God put President Elect Barack Obama in office. Do you recall a King by the name of Saul? Saul hated David, a simple sheep herder. King Saul sought to kill David but David understood that no matter how good or bad King Saul was, God had appointed him King.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1Ti 2:1-4 KJV).
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing” (Ro 13:1-6).
I will not touch or speak evil of that which is ordained of God.
“Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (1Ch 16:22 KJV).
Conclusion: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Ro 13:10 KJV).

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Lisa P

posted December 1, 2008 at 6:00 am

Everyone needs education; this is needed for a competitive way. One of the most essential things for a modern nation to have is a rock solid program of education. Everyone needs education; this is needed for a competitive way. Citizen in a well-educated country gives honor for themselves, most especially for their own country. It seems as though education took a bit of a dive on the priority list for both of the presidential candidates, but don’t worry – it’s still there, and it is still a priority for the President Elect. Obama intends to take a good hard look at No Child Left Behind, according to this article. He isn’t in favor of ending the program, but he wants some changes made, such as not teaching our children to “fill in bubbles.” Both he and his Vice President Elect, Joe Biden, are both in favor of charter schools, as long as they can perform up to standards. This is good for both the students and teachers. Teachers at charter schools and otherwise will find plenty of incentives to perform well, such as Teacher Service Scholarships and pay incentives, which are things that teachers dearly need. Also, boosting Early Head Start programs and creating tax credit, or as Obama calls them, the “American Opportunity” credit, for college education are all parts of his education plan. Repairing the American people’s faith in its education system is vital, and so is credit repair for the qualification of new entrants into the American workforce – something which is dearly needed. Click to learn more about Credit Repair.

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posted April 7, 2010 at 10:24 am

On the strength of a post-election Faith in Public Life survey, Jim Wallis makes so bold as to claim (in a conference call today) that a new faith coalition is in the offing. It will be led by blacks and Latinos, and will include young and moderate evangelicals, progressive Catholics, mainline Protestants, and miscellaneous others . It will not be a religious left, and certainly not of the right, and more inclusive than a center and like debt negotiation. As the late Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko described his own ideology, Mobutuism: ni à droite, ni à gauche, ni même au centre. Call it the Grand Coalition of the Common Good.

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posted August 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

One of the big problems with Barak Obama is that no one really knows what his faith really is. New polling shows that America is pretty confused about who this guy really is and he is not doing much to help clarify who he is as a person of faith. He has had several gaffs that also make the public question his ‘Christianity’. His illustrious pastor of the past probably should not really call himself a Christian either.
It seems like the biggest problem modern man faces is that there is no belief in the ‘Absolute’. Modern man no longer believes that there are truths that hold water no matter what. There are too many people that think they have ‘their own version of the truth’ and that is good for them and others can have their version and that is good for them.
The matter of abortion is the most glaring example and it infects the psyche of everyone who believes it is ok to terminate a pregnancy. Many democrats have slipped and used the word “child” to describe the being that is alive in the womb. Their slip of the tongue shows their dishonesty within themselves. Obama called a ‘child’ a burden when he talked about not wanting to make his daughter carry a baby to term. Are his children burdens? Is someone is a burden to another does that justify their elimination.
There is much broken in man’s psyche. True education can fix this. Political agendas cannot. Collective salvation cannot. Personal examination and attention to the truth that resides inside every human can.

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