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Obama's Christian Appeal

By Perry Bacon
GREENWOOD, S.C. -- The brochure being handed out in South Carolina shows a picture of the candidate with his hands together and eyes closed. In large letters, it reads "ANSWERING THE CALL."

Inside, voters learn of a candidate who was "CALLED TO CHRIST" and even larger letters is a "COMMITTED CHRISTIAN" and is quoted saying, "I believe in the power of prayer."

Barack Obama's campaign in South Carolina is targeting black voters, and one of the ways he's doing it is appealing to a connection based on shared religious faith. Obama, a Christian who attends a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago, has talked about his faith in Iowa and other states, as well, but his campaign literature is particularly focused on his religion here, where he depicts himself, in one picture, before a pulpit, and, in another, praying with an African American man.

That appeal is no accident. There may be as many African American born-again Christians voting in the South Carolina Democratic primary as white Christians voting in the Republican one. Reaching out to religious African American voters, Obama's campaign hosted a series of gospel concerts last year that drew huge crowds, but also some controversy because of the anti-gay comments of one of the singers, Donnie McClurkin. The candidate did not attend, but the concert included videos of Obama and his wife Michelle speaking.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 14, 2008; 8:33 PM ET
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The real testimony of belief is living that belief without glory. Attempting to garner support by showing his alignment with the Christian believer is what the GOP does.

Posted by: lindafranke1952 | January 15, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, on the Republican side we have Huckabee with all intents and purposes proclaiming himself the Christian candidate so why not Obama? If either of them win the Highest Office in the US, I will expect to see the Messiah there to swear them in since they are such favored sons of the Christian religion.

Posted by: cymric | January 15, 2008 6:44 AM | Report abuse

As someone determined to avoid another Republican president, but who finds Hillary Clinton unpalatable (vote on war, pandering on flag burning, etc., etc.), I want very much to like Obama. I want someone other than Hillary and someone who does not belong to the party of G.W.Bush.

Unfortunately, the religious appeal made by Obama is nearly a deal-breaker. I am, shall we say, a convinced non-believer, and hate the mixture of religious faith with politics. Although we have no purely secular candidates, Obama seems the worst offender on the Democratic side against the ideal of separating religion from politics, which is an ideal I and many others like me firmly believe in.

If Obama's use of religion is sincere, it is a strike against his judgment and intellectual maturity; if it is not, it is a strike against his authenticity. Either way, his emphasis on religious faith is a clear demerit for me and for others like me.

Posted by: jcurzon | January 15, 2008 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | January 14, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse


Yet, strangely, no one is even considering brainwashing at the age of 10 for any of the other candidates -- why is that?

(Note I will hold any personal attacks I could level against you ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 14, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, you're one of the most destructive, dishonest posters I've ever seen. Obama was the child of a secular Muslim and an atheist and grew up an atheist until his conversion experience in his 20's. For you to doubt the sincerity of his faith is an incredibly sad statement about your own cynicism. I could take just about anything any of the candidates have done and say "this is just like a Manchurian candidate."

Posted by: Nissl | January 14, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that exactly what you would expect from the Manchurian Candidate? "Barack Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life . . . I still have this funny feeling . . ."

Posted by: JakeD | January 14, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

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