Due to the election of Barack Obama and Democratic gains in Congress, some U.S. evangelicals are planning their next steps in a transformed political landscape. They’re hoping for common ground and planning to continue fighting for social issues that had mixed results at the ballot box.
“Where we agree, such as standing against genocide in Darfur . . . we’re going to support [Obama],” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “On issues on which we disagree, we’ll do our best to persuade him. Pro-life Catholics and pro-life evangelicals aren’t going anywhere,” he said.
Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, said he hopes evangelicals can find common ground with Obama on the volatile issue of abortion. “If we happen to disagree about abortion, for example, might not we agree to find strategies to reduce the number of abortions in America?” he said. “I think that is a good idea.”
Wasting little time, conservative Christian groups have already drafted open letters to Obama, stressing their opposition to abortion.
“This was, I think, more of a referendum on the Republican Party than conservative values,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
While exit polls indicated Obama gained ground with voters of various religions, he won only 1 in 4 evangelical votes.
Sojourners President Jim Wallis said the election results indicate that a wide range of evangelicals may be ready to broaden the issues they address with Congress and the White House.
“The leadership of African American and Latino evangelicals, along with a new generation of Christians in white America, is ending an age of narrow and divisive religion,” he said. “This new faith coalition voted for a broad new moral agenda for faith in public life. Racial and economic justice, creation care, peacemaking, and a more consistent ethic of life will be the keystones of this growing shift.”