Some Christian Evangelicals Despair at Prospect of Obama Victory (Video)

October 22, 2008 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

As the words to the Christian rock song fade from the giant screens at
Mountain Springs church, Pastor Steve Holt steps forward to speak to
his congregation. These are perilous times, he says, but he urges them
not to despair.

“There are still two weeks before the election,” he says, before
announcing a week of fasting and prayer in the run-up to polling day.

For
conservative Christians, such as Holt and his congregation, the
prospect of a Democratic victory represents sheer calamity. Yet
Evangelicals have not been natural supporters of John McCain, doubting
the Republican’s commitment to banning abortion and gay marriage.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

But
conservative Christians believe a Barack Obama presidency would roll
back a generation of political gains which culminated with their
privileged position in George Bush’s White House.

“I don’t think we are going to have any influence with Barack Obama in the White House,” Holt told the Guardian.

The
election represented a paradigm shift for the US as well as for
evangelicals. “I think there is a backlash against Bush because of the
economy and I think frankly because of a lack of leadership,” Holt
said. “There is a sense we are in a position of weakness right now.”

A
political forum at the church saw bewilderment and frustration among
members of Holt’s flock as they tried to come to terms with Obama’s
widening lead over McCain – and the potential loss of their power in
Washington.

“Has Obama through mass hypnosis figured out a way to
bypass the critical faculties of all Americans?” asked Brian Sherman, a
church volunteer.

Mark Andre, a commodities trader, said he had
not started out a supporter of McCain – though the senator was well
liked by his Democratic friends before the campaign. “It’s almost like
Democrats became hateful of McCain. Has it been Sarah Palin and her
stance, or is it just Obama and his ideology? What happened to all the
Democrats who loved McCain?”

Political soul-searching is under
way at conservative churches across the US – but nowhere more so than
Colorado Springs, a town known locally as the “evangelical mecca”.

Local
government officials lured conservative Christian groups here with tax
breaks in the 1980s. Colorado Springs is now headquarters for the most
powerful Christian organisations in the US.

The town and
surrounding areas remain defiantly conservative in a state that has
been leaning Democratic in state elections for the last four years
since voting Bush in 2000 and 2004. John Morris, the chairman of the
county Democratic party, called the town “a black hole of Republican
extremism”.

Colorado is now emerging as a key battleground state,
and Republicans are counting on the evangelicals to help McCain hang
on. The party has sent emissaries to 400 churches over the past few
days to recruit volunteers for “evangelical-to-evangelical” phone
banks. It has also used the churches to generate excitement about
Palin’s rally schedule yesterday, handing out tickets after morning
services on Sunday.

In an ordinary election that grassroots
organisation would make a difference. Evangelicals consider it a
“Christian duty” to vote. Past elections have seen high turnouts among
conservative voters – especially if there were ballots on gay marriage
or abortion.

In an attempt to bring out the faithful this year
conservatives in Colorado drafted a ballot measure that confers human
rights on a fertilised egg from the moment of conception.

Church
leaders have also tried to impress on their followers that – even if
they are still cool towards McCain – conservatives cannot afford to
have Obama in the White House.

But with election officials
predicting unprecedented turnout across Colorado – up to 90% in heavily
Democratic Denver and Boulder -the tested Republican strategy of
winning elections by getting out the evangelical vote is unlikely to
work. That vote would be simply swamped by a very high turnout.

There are also signs that evangelical power over the ballot box could be waning – even in Colorado Springs.

Recent
years have seen more Democrats in the area. There have also been signs
of an internal revolt against local conservative Republican politicians.

Over
the years, the influx of evangelicals to Colorado Springs shifted the
local party establishment to the right. Party politics increasingly
revolved around the emotive issues such as abortion. That alienated
more traditional Republicans who wanted their officials to focus on the
economy and infrastructure.

Last month, Jan Martin, a lifelong
Republican and an elected city council official, announced she was
supporting Obama because she believed the party had moved too far to
the right.

“I think Bush has been too extreme, and he has catered
to this black-and-white extreme view of conservative Christian
thinking. The leadership of the local party is still very conservative
and still very much us against them.”

A number of evangelical
leaders have also begun asking whether their movement has drifted too
far to the right. Some church leaders in Colorado Springs have called
for the evangelical focus to be broadened beyond abortion and gay
marriage and address issues such as climate change and poverty.

Few
are willing to publicly write off McCain and the current brand of
Republicanism. But in the political forum at Mountain Springs, local
Republican elected officials were already discussing how they would
operate under an Obama administration.

“God forbid, but if it
comes about we are going to have to be speaking out like never before,”
said Doug Lamborn, the local Republican member of Congress.

Republicans
needed to update their methods of communications by launching more
conservative blogs, added Amy Stephens, a local state representative.

Holt
was also now moving to reconcile himself to defeat. “This could be the
best thing that ever happened to the evangelical cause,” he said.
“We’re used to being against the tide.”

Source: Guardian.co.uk

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