The Nation's Pulse

The Obama Snooker

Evangelicals sure can be gullible.

By 7.28.08

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I'll be the first to admit it: evangelicals can be gullible.

That's odd given the Good Book's admonition to trust no man. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men," writes Paul (Colossians 2:8, NKJV). That verse appears to have fallen on deaf ears when it comes to Barack Obama.

Mesmerized by the kid from Honolulu, some evangelicals, particularly young "moderates," are tempted to break ranks and defect to the Obama bandwagon. At least, that's what media pundits would have us believe. Polls still show that conservative Christians favor McCain, but Obama is faring better than Kerry did in 2004.

And no wonder. Obama's campaign isn't afraid to target more rural areas awash with religious voters. Unlike past Democratic presidential nominees, he's not schizoid when it comes to talking about his own faith (which, admittedly, is a clash between the bizarre and the watered-down). He's even set up a website to lure young evangelicals into the fold.

Granted, Obama's attempted coup of the evangelical right is hardly a universal success. He continues to tick off conservative mainstays like James Dobson, who can see past the senator's rock star persona and occasional biblical references to his liberal core. But others are not so wise.

Rick Warren, for example.

The purpose-driven pastor is hosting a two-hour forum August 16 for both Obama and McCain. According to a Saddleback Church press release, topics of the day will include "poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate and human rights."

What a lineup. Obama will have yet another opportunity to espouse his Marxism-couched-in-religion talking points, and Warren a chance to solidify his role as the "new evangelical," concerned more with global warming than abortion (it's only the slaughter of 47 million cellular globs, after all).

Warren says he's organizing the event to bring light instead of heat to the political process, but what's the real message the world-famous pastor is sending to evangelicals, many of whom respect him as a legitimate, Bible-believing minister of the gospel? It's that Obama may be liberal on abortion and marriage redefinition, but he's still a great guy. Maybe you should even vote for him.

The rub is that some evangelicals will buy the line, and Obama is a master at delivering it. Take his speech at a Planned Parenthood event last year. Appearing before an adoring crowd that could barely contain its uproarious applause at several points, Obama talked about his commitment to "choice," but he blunted his remarks by saying many pro-lifers are people of "good will." He also chided those who stand in the way of finding commonality on the abortion issue.

"They want us to believe that there is nothing that unites us as Americans -- there is only what divides us," he said. "They'll seek out the narrowest and most divisive ground. That is the strategy to always argue small instead of looking at the big picture. They will stand in the way of any attempt to find common ground.... Their days are growing dark. It is time to turn the page."

So, what would "common ground" on abortion look like in Obama's administration? He answered that question later in the speech. "The first thing I'd do as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act," he said, referring to legislation that would wipe out all state and federal abortion restrictions, even the partial-birth abortion ban supported by the vast majority of Americans.

Way to reach out, Barack.

Later, he showed again his magnanimous olive branch to conservatives by pledging to gut federal abstinence education programs and indicating that sex education for kindergarteners "is the right thing to do." After a pause, he qualified the statement with the terms "age-appropriate" and "science-based" (I wonder if Obama thinks those terms apply to Planned Parenthood's explicit website for teens, crammed with how to's on an assortment of sex acts?).

Such examples show Obama's duplicity. He tries to snooker evangelicals into believing he's a different kind of candidate, but when it comes to actual policy, he's just as liberal as the next guy. Even more so.

To some evangelicals, though, it won't matter. He talks a good talk, and that's enough for them. Warren, for one, is doing his part to give Obama a platform. It's part of a strategy that might work, given the current state of Christianity in America. Obama might be the most pro-abortion presidential candidate ever nominated, but that's all right because he's a smooth talker.

The Apostle Paul gave us a warning about something like that, if we stopped to read our Bibles as the minister of change exhorts.

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About the Author
David N. Bass is a journalist who writes from the Old North State. Follow him on Twitter.