Who you gonna believe? Jesus or a bunch of stats?
But the untold story of the 2004 election, according to national religious leaders and grass-roots activists, is that evangelical Christian groups were often more aggressive and sometimes better organized on the ground than the Bush campaign. The White House struggled to stay abreast of the Christian right and consulted with the movement’s leaders in weekly conference calls. But in many respects, Christian activists led the charge that GOP operatives followed and capitalized upon.
This was particularly true of the same-sex marriage issue. One of the most successful tactics of social conservatives — the ballot referendums against same-sex marriage in 13 states — bubbled up from below and initially met resistance from White House aides, Christian leaders said.
In dozens of interviews since the election, grass-roots activists in Ohio, Michigan and Florida credited President Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, with setting a clear goal that became a mantra among conservatives: To win, Bush had to draw 4 million more evangelicals to the polls than he did in 2000. But they also described a mobilization of evangelical Protestants and conservative Roman Catholics that took off under its own power.
In battlegrounds such as Ohio, scores of clergy members attended legal sessions explaining how they could talk about the election from the pulpit. Hundreds of churches launched registration drives, thousands of churchgoers registered to vote, and millions of voter guides were distributed by Christian and antiabortion groups.
The rallying cry for many social conservatives was opposition to same-sex marriage. But concern about the Supreme Court, abortion, school prayer and pornography also motivated these “values voters.” Same-sex marriage, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was “the hood ornament on the family values wagon that carried the president to a second term.”
Some Christian leaders perceived not only a threat to biblical morality, but also a winning political issue. Same-sex marriage “is different from abortion,” said the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark. “It touches every segment of society, schools, the media, television, government, churches. No one is left out.”
Except the gays…
Personally I look forward to a day when all gays can come out of the closet and experience the same rights as any citizen of this great country of ours. I also look forward to shoving the “Christian leaders” kicking and screaming into these now-empty (but well-decorated) closets, and locking the doors and maybe even putting some towels up against that gap at the bottom of the door so that we can’t hear them anymore.
You may say that I’m a dreamer…