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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. Bo

    =======================================~~~~~~~~~~@Rigel54/10:13: ~~~~~Good morning! You sound like a serios person and that is good, but don't you think your posts would carry a lot more weight if you were correct in your statements? Most of the authors of the NT (KJV) walked and talked with Jesus, and the origional letters were writen less than 100 years after the crucification of Jesus. Grant, there have been numerious transalations, and there may have been some errors, but not enough to change the message. Keep up your good spirit and have a good day! _________________________________

    August 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  2. Bo

    ==================================================== @Hell!!! 7/6/11 post: Seriously, what's left for you to believe in. What are your inspriations for life [what do want accomplish]? What is your motivation for living? What hope do you have? Is there any meaning to life for you? ===========================================

    August 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Sounds like Pastor Rodriguez only knows what goes on in Texas but he needs to take a look at Arizona and it's Republican Governor and her posse who treat Hispanics unhumane under the guise of law before he sides with Republicans.

    August 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • The Lionly Lamb of The Gods Does Roar

      @ ALL and Claudia,

      Statue of Liberty

      Location: Liberty Island, New York City, New York, U.S.[1]
      Coordinates: 40°41′21″N 74°2′40″W / 40.68917°N 74.04444°W / 40.68917; -74.04444Coordinates: 40°41′21″N 74°2′40″W / 40.68917°N 74.04444°W / 40.68917; -74.04444
      Built: October 28, 1886
      Sculptor: Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi
      Visitation: 3.2 million (in 2007[2])
      Governing body: U.S. National Park Service
      UNESCO World Heritage Site
      Type: Cultural
      Criteria: i, vi
      Designated: 1984 (8th session)
      Reference #: 307
      State Party: United States
      Region: Europe and North America
      U.S. National Register of Historic Places
      Official name: Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island and Liberty Island
      Designated: October 15, 1966[3]
      Reference #: 66000058
      U.S. National Monument
      Designated: October 15, 1924
      Designated by: President Calvin Coolidge[4]
      New York City Landmark
      Type: Individual
      Designated: September 14, 1976[5]

      Location of Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor

      The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.

      Coutesy of Wikipedia @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Liberty

      August 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      That is so stupid. You must be an easterner. One fourth of Arizona is Indian Reservation and more than half of the population is note-WHITE .. They are only racist in Obama's eyes and his AG and Napolitano and LIBERALS. . Yuma (and Tucson) are Mexican towns on this side of the border and also Gila Bend. Flagstaff and north of the Interstate are Navaho. Apache Indians are in the east-center portion of the state. The western portion of the state is a US government "proving ground " for weapons. The Grand Canyon is a U.S. Park that takes up the north portion of the state that is not Navaho. But Obama thinks the whole state is racist.

      August 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  4. askfmb

    The Hispanic Vote is extremely important, and similar to how the black vote is equally as important, both political parties only acknowledge that both blacks and Hispanics matter is prior to any election, solely because each minority vote is more valuable than any dollar a rich person may give a politician.

    However and a HUGE FACTOR, for the first time in American History, the number of minorities, if combined, equals 1/3rd of the U.S. Population and is growing at a rate that will have the U.S. population at 50% non white by 2020.

    If the minorities actually voted as one voice, the power of the numbers can influence elections in 1/2 of all the states in the U.S., especially the southern states that are predominantly racist. The combined minorities can vote in reps to change the behavior and focus of the U.S. as a whole, if they were to vote as one.

    I know that both political parties realize that, but, neither are stating that fact. ASKFMB.com website is doing exactly that, by creating a 3rd party that is foundation-ed with the minorities combined numbers, call The American Party!

    The American future will take a completely different shape, if and when the minorities figures out that their combined numbers of approx. 110 million plus votes blows away the total number of dems or the total number of reps.

    It's inevitable that the miniorties will begin to understand that each of their votes matter when they figure out that combining creates collective strengths such that, minorities can create laws and not beg for equal treatment under the laws.

    The American Party at ASKFMB.com

    August 7, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  5. GOP = Greed Over People

    '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',"

    So vote GOP and see how fast you get immigration "reform" – concentration camps for the American born citizens and deportation for all the rest.!

    August 7, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  6. johnmenacherjr

    Just what we need more treachery with religion in government. I find this fascinating now do illegals just vote along with all their other preferred treatment? keep religion separate from government as it was intended and put illegals out of the darn country. we are the ones needing jobs at non-repressed wages set for the mexicans by the teabaggers and the Chamber of Commerce.

    August 7, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • me

      Don't be so ignorant. Hispanics are not always illegals. This might shock you but a lot of Hispanics do not have ancestry in any other country than the US. No one in their family's history ever come over on a boat or had to cross a border. And what's that other thing - oh yeah, illegals don't vote.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  7. Keith A. Sillsbury

    this is great! one more nutcase to add the the rest of the christian nuts. when will people learn, god is make believe just like the smurfs and all the other cartoons. You make this stuff up in your mind and somehow it's real. religion is what has destroyed every civilization before us and will eventually destroy us. get a grip people.

    August 7, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  8. The word "fun" is not in the Bible

    Doesn't that guy look like he'd be a lot of fun at a dinner party? He looks as dull as a . . . Christian.

    August 7, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Henry

      Yup, kind of looks like a Christian militant. Does he want to look scary or is that the result of being scared of God.

      August 7, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • OnLooker

      But Joy is. And joy is greater than fun is it not?

      August 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  9. RadicalModerate

    Is he saying that there are 11 million illegal immigrants? The "deporting" rhetoric is reckless and not as civil as he is representing.

    August 7, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Henry

      He's just a blowhard who wants his place in the sun for his 15 minutes of fame. Rather than seeing him as non-partisan he is a non-anything.

      August 7, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  10. elijah44

    It is very funny when I here people on the many social media sites bashing the Lord about who He is. Just like the haters who were around during the Roman Empire died. You will be just like your brothers before you. Their voices have long been silenced dead and in the dust of the earth. Your voice will be heard no more. Jesus said heaven and earth shall past away, but my words will stand. The Lord built a place for all those that do not want anything to do with Him. That place is called Hell. You WILL GET YOUR WISH IF YOU DIE AND DO NOT KNOW JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOUR. Then you will be with the devil, his angels, and all your atheist friends. How do you like that fairy tale. All those that call on the name of the Lord shall be saved!

    August 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Henry

      And all those that believe in the Republican party will be elected to office. Don't mix God with politics. Keep it to the Belief Section.

      August 7, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Qwerty Elemeno

      What a monumental dumb-dumb elijah44 is. The Roman Empire was Christian when it died, and had been for a couple centuries.

      August 7, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • rigel54

      The first books of the New Testament were written a century after the death of Jesus. None of the authors knew, saw, or heard him. The books are just stories, written to illustrate a belief. They are at best recollections of someone's recollections of someone's recollections. Books and works were rejected en masse because they conflicted with editors' belieft. Over 2000 years the Bible was interpreted and improved. If one has faith (belief without reason) that's up to you, but history and reason do not support its claims.

      August 7, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • OnLooker

      None of the authors knew, saw, or heard him? The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John are all eye-witness accounts. Meaning that they were with Jesus. People forget that Jesus at one point was an actual human being that walked this Earth. Ever wondered why the books were written so long after his death? Consider this: Jesus instructed them not to write down everything he said but to go out and spread the word, his Gospel. The apostles, after Jesus' death, realized that they needed somehow to record his teachings so that no matter how far into history Jesus' teachings would be preserved.

      August 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  11. Zechariah

    Jesus said evildoers would call us freakin imbeciles that won't see reality no matter what!
    His prophecy is fulfilled!
    Hallaluya!

    August 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Zechariah

      You said "Jesus said evildoers would call us freakin imbeciles that won't see reality no matter what!"
      That really just means that he had his target audience pegged.

      August 6, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Keith A. Sillsbury

      no he didnt

      August 7, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • Qwerty Elemeno

      Actually Keith, it is so written. Let me quote the scriptures:

      "And yea, verily, those benighted unbelievers shall look upon your speaking in tongues, and your arm waving, and your prayers that seem not to worketh, and your atrocious writing skills, and your inability to make sense, yea, I tell you truly that evildoers will call you freakin imbeciles who won't see reality no matter what! Do not be deceived by their facts and your lack of evidence! Do not be mislead by all the prayers that don't work even though I told you they would! Thou must instead reaffirm your faith by sending money to me right away. Operators standeth by to assist you." Scatology 14:395-14

      August 7, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  12. John

    This guy surely can't believe Rick Perry or any other Republican Or Tea Party. Look how many state are trying to get rid of you. And all the GOV of these state are Republican or back by the Tea Party Or Both.

    August 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • iggie75

      That's only the half of it. The other half is....the Latino population is heavily Catholic...which Perry has heavily criticized (the Catholic church). Then there's Gardasil....

      August 7, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  13. Aaron

    And here we thought white people had the market on being religious nuts. If this guy thinks it's a step up for Hispanic people to be religious nutcases (aka evangelicals), he's about as progressive as the GA governor urging the state's unemployed citizens to go back to the farms for work.

    August 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Hesalive

      We love that you think we're nutty. Jesus said that your criticism is actually validation of His approval. If you want to come alive spiritually I suggest you join our camp.

      August 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Spiffy

      The bible also says that slavery is ok. Where can I sign up to become apart of your bigoted group?

      August 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Henry

      @Hesalive

      You mean join God's camp or the Republican's camp of hate. Or are they one and the same?

      August 7, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  14. JP99

    he look like a ret@rded Jonny Depp lol

    August 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Wonderful Irony

      I just love it when people accuse others of being retards while displaying their own Gump-level writing skills.

      August 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • DENNA

      Fabulous, JP99, just fabulous. Let's start the debate with an insult. Hispanic-Americans are an important part of the fabric of this country and they need to be respected and listened to. President Obama listened to them, that is why they voted for him in such large numbers. If the Republican party ever wants to seriously cut into that base, they will have to make a serious and honest effort to reach out to this important voting block. But beware, just like to rest of us, Hispanic-Americans will see right through you if you play them.

      August 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • OnLooker

      Denna, if Obama really cared about his Hispanic voters he would have already pushed Immigration Reform through. Lets not forget for almost two years he had the majority in both houses of Congress. Its a shame that Univision and Telemundo keep pushing the Democratic party down the throats of the spanish-speaking population of Hispanic-Americans.

      August 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  15. fernace

    "The Response" is a thinly veiled platform for Perrys bid for president. He hasn't declared himself as a candidate yet, because hes drumming up a support base first. I'm pretty sure he asked Sam Rodriguez to participate precisely because he's the head of the Hipanic evangelical Christian churches. Just think how many votes 24000 congregations can deliver. Mr. Rodriguez may be dissapointed with the current administration, but not so dissapointed as he'll be knowing he's delivered up his people to the wolf in sheeps clothing!!

    August 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Chipster

      Why, whatever do you mean? Gov. Perry and his GOP friends would love to have Hispanic votes. Then, they'd also love to have them cleaning their bathrooms, manicuring their lawns, picking their agricultural products, and then shipping them back to wherever their ancestors originated. What in the world would the GOP have to offer to Hispanics?

      August 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • DENNA

      fernace you make a good point. Mr. Secede From The Union, should just give it up. No one who is not a conservative trusts this man. Many people in Texas made quite a fuss when Barack Obama was elected president, including actor Chuck Norris. I think we should return Texas back to the Mexico. Won't need that immigration fence then, will we?

      August 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • iggie75

      Well, c'mon, it's no accident that Rodriguez wasn't even invited until nearly the date of the event. Not until the press got so hot on Perry's butt. There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, sincere about Rick Perry. Greed and ambition and big money contributors.

      August 7, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • OnLooker

      How many voters can they get from the 24,000 churches? Maybe many, but not nearly enough because the majority of Hispanic-Christians belong to the Catholic Church which, politically speaking, has been very Liberal.

      August 7, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  16. Revenge of the Mildly Angry Kittens from Beyong Hell ! ! !

    Just another religious figure lusting for political power.

    Just another religious leader who gets his bovine followers to obey his political will.

    I am so surprised. Really I am.

    August 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  17. Kipper

    People worshipping sky gods is lol.
    Its even funnier when people willingly, happily, worship the sky gods of the people who massacred their ancestors and forced them to stop worshipping their own sky gods.
    People are massively, incurably, sickeningly stupid.

    August 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Revenge of the Mildly Angry Kittens from Beyong Hell ! ! !

      Statistical proof that people are stupid:

      48% of Americans believe in ghosts, and 22% claim to have experienced them.

      26% believe in witches (the supernatural ones, not the Wiccans).

      51% of Americans thought it would be a good idea to elect George W. Bush . . . again, after seeing what he was doing.

      47% believe in extrasensory perception.

      60% of Americans believed that there were Iraqis amongst the 9/11 hijacker, and the same number believed Saddam Hussein was involved in planning the attacks, despite numerous very public reports from agencies like the CIA that stated otherwise.

      34% of Americans believe in UFOs, and 14% believe they have seen one.

      85% of all humans believe in some sort of invisible man in the sky

      August 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • rigel54

      Yes, Kipper and Revenge, if it weren't so tragic it would be funny. I have trouble laughing though, it's not good news for the human race.

      August 7, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  18. RightTurnClyde

    Now that campaign 2012 is underway the CNN belief blog is going to be about politicians and candidates (not about faith .. and it never was about faith)(not when some Hobbit preacher is selling stuffed bunnies and Teddy bears as deity)

    August 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  19. David Johnson

    From the Article:

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

    A good look at how Latinos are treated in Republican dominated Arizona, should weigh heavily on the Latino decision.

    Look at how the Republicans treat the old and the poor. Is this what Christ would do?

    Republicans are the party of the white, rich folk. Don't allow them to deceive you.

    Cheers!

    August 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      David Johnson wrote: "Republicans are the party of the white, rich folk."

      While those may be the principle beneficiaries of the party's politics, there are many poor whites as well as Spanish-Americans (think of the expatriate Cuban delegation in Florida) who have been deluded into supporting the right wing.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • OnLooker

      Neither wing is all that good, lets be honest. Career politicians have screwed over the system. But, its not the system, its the people in there.

      August 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  20. Reality

    Reiteration is great for the learning process. As is reading and rational thinking followed by conclusions based on all of it.

    A response to the "Response":

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    August 6, 2011 at 2:52 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.