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DNC makes appeal to evangelical community ahead of Romney’s Liberty speech
May 11th, 2012
04:47 PM ET

DNC makes appeal to evangelical community ahead of Romney’s Liberty speech

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s commencement speech at Liberty University on Saturday may be a significant moment for the presumptive Republican nominee’s relationship with the evangelical community, but Democrats are not ready to give up the powerful voting bloc and are even trying to use this weekend’s speech to draw a distinction with Romney.

In what was billed as a prebuttal to the commencement address, the Democratic National Committee’s faith outreach director, the Rev. Derrick Harkins, said in a Friday conference call with reporters that President Barack Obama could make inroads with the evangelical community.

“The realties of 2008 point to the fact that we made significant gains among younger evangelicals,” Harkins said. “We seek to do that very thing [again] because we are speaking to the issues that resonate with individuals and certainly younger evangelicals.”

According to Harkins, issues like poverty, immigration and health care are important to evangelical voters, and he believes the president’s stance on these issues will win him votes.

Christine Darby, president of Liberty University Democrats, also was on the Friday conference call, and said that Obama “respects my values and is looking out for not only my best interests, but also the best interest of all Americans and not just the wealthy few.”

Darby addressed the fact that some Liberty University students are opposing Romney’s appearance because he is Mormon, which many evangelicals consider a cult.

“The feeling between the student body and the campus is kind of split as far as people who are looking forward to the outcome of the commencement speaker,” Darby said. “A lot of people really are excited about it, but then there's a few people questioning why is he going to be the main speaker at the commencement.”

Harkin said that Friday’s call had nothing to do with Romney’s Mormon faith.

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Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and regular CNN Belief Blog contributor, says that the call was an attempt by the Democrats to become a part of the religion conversation.

“This is a moment to talk about religion, and Democrats want to be in the conversation,” Prothero said. “Democrats want it not to just be a conversation between evangelicals and to what extent they think Mormonism is a Christian religion.”

Obama is vulnerable with some faith leaders. When the president announced this week that he supports same-sex marriage, he further distanced himself from much of the evangelical constituency, which generally opposes gay marriage.

In an interview with ABC News, Obama said that his decision squared with his Christian faith.

“We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others,” Obama said, referencing his wife, Michelle. “But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule.”

Same-sex marriage was not addressed in the prepared section of Friday’s call; it was brought up when reporters asked questions. Pastor JR Kerr, another speaker on the DNC call, described Obama’s revelation as a “clearly personal decision” for the president and one that shows a “high value of what it means to be human” and of “loving your neighbor.” According to Kerr, this “aligns very well with Christians and people of faith.”

Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, told CNN that while same-sex marriage is an important symbolic issue, it is not the leading issue in the minds of evangelical voters.

“Things like the economy, jobs, unemployment, immigration, the environment, all rank higher than the issue of same-sex marriage among evangelicals,” Jones said. “Though evangelicals weight it higher than the general population, it ranks lower than these other issues.”

But a Public Religion Research Institute/ Religion News Service poll released this week found that Romney enjoys a near 50-point lead over Obama among evangelicals, with 68% siding with the former Massachusetts governor and 18% choosing the president.

Romney also experienced favorability increases in the evangelical community, according to the poll. In October 2011, just 40% of evangelical respondents views Romney in a favorable light. In this week poll, 67% of those respondents expressed a favorable view of Romney.

“The evangelical community has been tough for Democrats for recent history. They supported McCain, they supported Bush, they are heavily Republican leaning,” Jones said. “It is a tough road for any Democratic candidate.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of white evangelicals supported Republican John McCain in 2008 over Obama, who got 25% support.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Christianity • Mitt Romney • Politics • Same-sex marriage • Virginia

soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Kindness

    thought to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome .

    May 22, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You're all smart people . I tell the truth."

      LMAO You're all smart people . I tell the truth.= EGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That makes your whole post moot!

      May 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  2. Alger Dave

    Evangelical stances – to enlighten the DNC:
    Poverty – Christians care very much about the poor and disenfranchised. But we also clearly understand that money solves very few of the poor's problems, and makes many of them worse. DNC miss.
    Immigration – Christians care very much about all citizens following the rule of law, and feel that it's important to have legal avenues for immigrant's to follow to enter this country instead of periodic amnesties for scofflaws. DNC miss.
    Health care – Christians know that health care is very important for our families and all Americans. That's why we need to find ways to bring health care costs down, so that everyone can afford to have it. Obamacare doesn't do that. DNC miss.
    Rev. JR Kerr better start using his brain and figure out that allowing your 'neighbor' to do whatever they want to do isn't the same as loving them. In fact allowing anyone to do whatever they want to do is generally considered apathy towards that person, which, last I checked, is the opposite of love. Any parent could tell you that! But, of course Obama apparently now claims that he changed his mind on gay marriage on the advice or prompting of his children's beliefs. At least we know who's running the country....

    May 14, 2012 at 5:52 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.