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Leader of Hispanic organization at center of sought-after voters
August 6th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

Leader of Hispanic organization at center of sought-after voters

By Padmananda Rama, CNN

(CNN) - For the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, who leads a Hispanic organization that represents more than 24,000 Christian congregations, the future of American Evangelicalism is clear.

"If you are an Evangelical Christian, the fastest growing demographic in the American Evangelical community is embedded in the Hispanic church," said Rodriguez, leader of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference.

Rodriguez is in Houston this week preparing for a leading role in Saturday's Christian prayer, "The Response," which organizers describe as "a call to prayer."

Described by Rodriguez as an answer to the country's moral crisis, it's already being viewed through the lens of the 2012 presidential election.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, considered a potential GOP presidential candidate, has endorsed the event.

Rodriguez said Perry asked him several weeks ago to join as a co-chair with other evangelical leaders who will be speaking and offering prayers in Houston.

The daylong gathering to be held at Reliant Stadium is expected to draw at least 8,000 participants.

While Rodriguez admits there's no way to remove the planned day of prayer from 2012 politics, he said the event is not a political endorsement of any candidate.

"It cannot be political. It cannot be partisan," Rodriguez said. "It needs to focus on God and humility, repentance and prayer and that's why I signed on."

Rodriguez's participation is important given the millions of Hispanics who attend services in one of the many Evangelical churches that make up the NHLC.

The California-based minister recognizes that both parties have been courting him, eager to reach an important political constituency. His organization has started a voter sign-up drive, called Fuerza 2011, which encourages Hispanics to vote.

Yet, Rodriguez insists his role is nonpartisan.

"I think my role is to speak truth to both the donkey and the elephant, to do it with integrity, to do it with civility."

Republicans and Democrats alike are eager to court the Latino population he represents.

According to CNN exit polls, then Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, won two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in 2008.

In last year's midterm elections, Democrats won 60% of the Hispanic vote.

Rodriguez said he has no intention of endorsing a political candidate. Yet he recognizes the importance his congregation will have in the upcoming election. And he's not beholden to Democrats.

"I want to speak truth to the Democratic Party and say, 'You all gave us a promise in 2008 and you failed on your promise. You never passed immigration reform in the first 100 days, never passed it in the first three years of the Obama administration'," Rodriguez said.

He has a similarly strong warning for Republicans, saying, "Without the Hispanic vote, the Republican Party will be a minority party for decades to come."

While Rodriguez supports a legal path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S., many of his Evangelical colleagues have a different view.

Rodriguez hopes that Saturday's event will begin a conversation that gives Hispanics a greater role within the Evangelical community.

"We are the fastest growing segment," Rodriguez said. "In other words we are the future of American Evangelicalism. For you to support the idea of deporting 11 million immigrants you may very well be deporting the future of American Christianity."

Rodriguez said Texas is a part of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference largest chapters, which represent 4,000 churches and he expects many members to attend Saturday's "Response."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Politics • Rick Perry • Texas

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Faith

    America was created to promote the Christian morality, not amorality or moral neutrality. No sane parents want moral neutrality for kids. We know even little kids go naturally bad if left alone without moral guidance. The Western worship of freedom alone is crazy. How much more chaos or victims do we need for mankind to admit the facts about itself? Present America is such a heavy burden on Christians just like any other villain nations.

    August 8, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  2. Faith

    Non-believers are illegals in N. America – total contradictions to the nations' founding purposes.

    August 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  3. Faith

    I'm glad he is not white the media cannot bash him. Why are the whites so up against themselves nowadays? The whites look gone nuts after losing Christianity. Result of relying on self instead of God = loss of honor, insanity

    August 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  4. erniemm

    Reverend Who? Never heard of him. Looks like just another Hispanic preacher trying to gain some political clout.What ever happened to separation of church and state? Things are already a big enough mess. And he's siding with Perry, well that should tell you something. Sorry,but not impressed....It's a sad day indeed!

    August 8, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  5. Former democrat

    The democrats fail with the hispanic and black communities. Why do these voting blocks keep giving them their loyalty. Take the blinders off and actually do some research before you vote. And instead of voting for the candidate that will line your pockets, vote for the person who will make the tough decisions and do what is best for the country.

    Put your country ahead of your party.

    August 8, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  6. Richard Larson

    If the good Reverend thinks he can keep politicians from using his participation, and the participation of his church members, he is not as aware of how sleazy politicians can be when they think they see an easy mark. People like Perry, Santorum, Huckabee, and any of the other far right presidential wanna be's will walk all over that, or whatever agreement he thinks he has with them, in a heart beat. He is an honorable man, they have all completely forgotten what honor is. This is one of the reasons for a rigid barrier between Church and State. It is all to easy for dishonorable political operatives to use religion and an opportunistic candidate to try to use such an association, tenuous as it is, as proof that he is indeed supportive of that Evangelical Group's Social Program to appeal to like minded voters who expect that candidate to reward their votes with policies that further that group's sociologic ends to the detriment of those who happen to believe differently.

    August 7, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  7. Sank

    Also Texas was full of Hispanics who are American citizens and great citizens. You are way off base when you talk down upon theses people, but that is the way of you Liberals, isn't it? Remember that Hispanics when it comes voting time for the Liberals don't give a damn about you all they want is your vote.

    August 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  8. Former Republican, now an Independent

    As an Evangelical Christian, I say that Rev. Rodriquez had better wake up and realize that the republican party is using Evangelical Christians, and their values are not really on the republican agenda at all. The republican agenda is really about money and the wealthy and do not fit Biblical principals whatsoever. Wake up Christians and smell the lip service!

    August 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Sank

      his man is a nothing. Beware of Liberals like this in disguise.

      August 7, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Vote for the godless socialists .. so they can take 80% of your income and all your savings and give it to others who need it more. Glad you are such a generous soul. Tent city thanks you ..they'll will do meth in your honor.

      August 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  9. fernace

    @ OnLooker, you have alot of valid points, but a)Obamas 1st obligation to this nation, when he took office, was to bring the country back from the brink of disaster. He's also had the wars to contend with & a decidedly hostile GOP to deal with!1st things 1st! b) I'm pretty sure hes not talking about the People of Arizona, but the specific immigration law, that was the 1st of it's kind, & since copied by other states. That law is extremely predjudicial, basically suggesting people with brown skin need to carry "citizenship papers!" It could easily affect the Navajo people or any1 with a good tan! Those laws are anti-American & don't seem to adhere to christian laws, which the GOP are so fond of proclaiming! Just another view point!!

    August 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  10. fernace

    All these posts have some very good obsevations, that we have 11 mil Legal Hispanics in this country & that illelgals don't vote, for ex.! That Sam Rodriguez & his evangelicals will be sold a bill of goods by the GOP. All he needs to do is to look at the republican run states that Do have new immigration "reform"laws, including Tx. own "sanctuary city" law, to see if what they say & do match! In 2 words:Hella No! I know what Guv'nah Goodhair (as we "affectionately" call him), is doing, I'm a Texas who's seen it too many times before, most recently during this years legislative session, which was a gleeful republican chop-shop! So DENNA, let me pack before y'all hand us back to Mexico!Lol! Your posts are spot on, though. QE, your "scripture excerpt" was hilarious & also spot on! Have an excellent week, all!!

    August 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  11. Cathy

    By the time the illegals are done sucking the us dry it will have become another Mexico. Already Mexicain gangs and drug lord in the US cities.

    August 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Sank

      Yeah and all the fat cats thaty are causing the gangs and the dope smuggling into the U.S. wonder if any of them are Liberals like Obama.

      August 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  12. Reality

    And the "Rev" Rodriguez is paid a cool $145,600/yr for promulgating the flaws and errors of Christianity. (guidestar.org)

    August 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  13. Cathy

    By the time the illgelas suck America dry of money it will not beworth anything, we're becoming another Mexico very fast

    August 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  14. Jeff

    That religious fanatic dude in the picture looks constipated.

    August 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  15. The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

    Qwerty Elemeno on August 7, 2011 at 10:07 am; did write, “What a monumental dumb-dumb elijah44 is. The Roman Empire was Christian when it died, and had been for a couple centuries.”

    Maybe QE, this world is once again ready to know all about the Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Roman Days of whom the King of them now is Christ Jesus who has been so commissioned by GOD, the Father of All Creation and GOD does so adore all manner of things created by those Gods and Goddesses of the good Ol’ Days! Just an inspiration of thought-filled and leavened clamor.

    It is a Truth regarding prejudicial adolescents who manifest christian vulgarities just so they can feel good about themselves and imaginarily look good in the eyes of those who peer upon their owned' words of reprobate wit! The same can be said of adolescents of Atheisms’ pedigrees. Either one believes or one does not believe. Makes no difference to GOD.

    Thus saith The Lionly Lamb of The Gods and Goddesses written in the aboveness of Word!

    August 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  16. Reality

    Does Rev. Sam Rodriguez fit the following?:

    ., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    August 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Sank

    From the apperance of this moron he looks like the leader of a gang instead of the Hispanics. If the Hispanics continue believing in Obama then they'll do no good for the U.S. If they want the Illegals to be citizens then send them back to Mexico and make them enter this country legally. Make them stop being a drain on our economy which I have never heard the campaigner Obama say a word about how much is spent on the illegals in education, healthcare, three school meals a day for them, school supplies, food stamps and welfare checks if they can figure a way to convince Human Resources they need it. The only people who get anything from that department is race qualified. Go in and you will se only one race running these offices now. The Obama type.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  18. Bo

    Has anyone considered the fact that this is legal Hispanics. Many of the legal Hispanics (most from what I hear) despise the illegal Mexicans. They realize that the illegals are taking their jobs. I have many "legal" Hispanic friends. The politicans don't seem to know that fact either.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • me

      Legal Hispanics? That's not possible. Every one know the original anchor babies are from the Gadsden Purchase of the 1850s when the US bought the portion of Mexico that is now California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, et al. It was their plan over 150 yeas ago to sneak their way into the US. Crafty devils. Now, their descendants act like they're US citizens or something!

      FYI people, brown was here well before the whites.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • gert612

      To me: Texas was NOT part of the Gadsden Purchase. Texas was an independent country from 1836 to 1845 when it joined the United States.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Aaron

      Correct. The Gadsden Purchase encompassed parts of present-day southern Arizona and New Mexico. Texas couldn't pay its bills as an independent country. The U.S. federal government agreed to pay the republic's debts at the time that it became a state. This was way before anyone gave a rat's booty about oil.

      August 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Sank

      me – I beg you pardon no one especially the U.S. bought Texas. Texas joined the union with the treaty signed that they can return back to a Republic anytime they wish to. And it is not suceeding. This was the gounds under the treaty of Texas becoming a State. Also they agreed if they stayed and it became neccessary they would devide up in to four states under the Republic of Texas.

      August 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Aaron

      Well, Texas did try leaving the Union during the Civil War. Treaty allowing another republic or not, that didn't work out too well for the state.

      August 8, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Faith

      Secular Americans are illegals in America because USA was created for Christians or godly citizens alone. Atheists should be kicked out of nation so all the Founding Fathers would be happy.

      August 8, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.