The Obamagelical Revolution


It will take years to fully grasp the tsunami that swept Barrack Obama
into the presidency. "It’s the first time" or "not since" or "historic"
have punctuated most coverage of it – even President Bush called it
"awesome." It reconfigured electoral politics and created "never before
seen" voting blocs. One new and powerful wave of support for Obama came
from the most surprising of groups: evangelicals.

Incredible as it sounds, exit polls show
that the number of white evangelicals (ages 18-44), the base of the
Republican party, supported Obama in double the numbers that came out
for John Kerry in 2004. (Even Catholics were more enthusiastic
about protestant Obama than they were for Catholic Kerry-Obama won the
majority, 54%, of Catholic voters; Kerry got 47%.) Nationally, 25% of
white evangelicals voted for Obama. In certain key states, the numbers
were higher. He saw a 14% increase in support from white evangelicals
in crucial states like Colorado, 8% in Indiana, 8% in North Carolina
and 4% in Ohio. Most important, he won 32% of young evangelicals
(doubling the 16% for McCain).

The surge of Evangelical support
for Obama reflects stunning changes among voters who have traditionally
voted for the most right-wing of Republicans. Democratic strategists
should hear this message loud and clear: many morality voters have
party-hopped. Are these culture warriors laying down their swords? The
2008 election may mark the moment religious voters put reason above
rhetoric. The birth of the Obamagelical.

Clearly
Obama’s inclusive approach resonated with many Evangelical voters–but
to only credit the candidate is to miss the bigger story. According to a poll taken by Beliefnet.com,
Obamagelicals believe the Democratic party platform holds the greatest
potential for progress on the most intransigent issues. Take, for
example, abortion. Of evangelicals who voted for Obama only 8% believed
that restricting abortion would lead to reductions in the abortion rate
(61% of Evangelicals for McCain did). A whopping 86% of Obamagelicals
believe that instead "the best way to reduce abortion is by preventing
unintended pregnancy (through education and birth control), or
providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers." This is in direct
opposition to the "pro-life" agenda, which seeks to ban many forms of
contraception along with abortion.

Obamagelicals have
re-priortized what they consider the critical issues our nation must
address. For McCain’s evangelical supporters, abortion is their top
issue; 65% select it as one of the most important issues of the
election. Only 10% of Obamagelicals think this. Most list, in order of
importance, the economy, Iraq war, reducing poverty, character of the
candidate, the environment, cleaning up government, access to
healthcare as the more critical issues facing our country. For McCain’s
evangelical voters abortion is the number one issue facing our country,
and "reducing poverty" weighs in at #13 in importance.

That 75% of women having abortion
list financial reasons as the basis of their decision doesn’t click for
McCain’s evangelicals. For Obamagelicals it apparently does.

As the Washington Post reported,

It
could be we’re at a tipping point in this culture," said R. Albert
Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"Ignoring the obvious will not help."

President-elect Barack
Obama and other Democrats have promised to work to make abortion rare,
so long as it remains legal. "Maybe it’s time to take them up on the
offer" instead of "bashing our heads over and over again against the
same wall," writes Paul Strand, a blogger for the Christian
Broadcasting Network.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, an influential
megachurch pastor in Florida, sees a new willingness among pro-life
activists to cooperate with pro-choice forces in search of a middle
ground. He traces that openness in part to the flourishing of crisis
pregnancy centers. As volunteers meet women struggling with unplanned
pregnancies, they begin to view abortion less as an absolute evil and
more as a practical challenge: How do we get this single mother a job,
or help that college student with child care so she doesn’t feel as
though abortion is her only option?"

No less than a
third of white evangelicals under 30 favored Obama. These young
evangelicals come to long intransigent issues like abortion with a
fresh, results-oriented approachttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifh,
and for the Republican party and the pro-life movement as a whole, this
is bad news. Prevention of unwanted pregnancy was important enough to
make it into the Democratic party platform this year (and previous ones). That platform states:

The
Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family
planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which
empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also
recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of
unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

The Republican platform
is silent on the subject pregnancy prevention. It has no strategy to
prevent unintended pregnancy, only to ban abortion. There is not one
"pro-life" organization in the United States that supports
contraception, though it’s the only proven way to reduce the need for
abortion.

Now young evangelicals appear to be turning away from
the monolithic fights of their elders. They support prevention because
it delivers the results they seek. Bill Clinton, the nation’s first
pro-choice president, inherited high abortion rates from the previous
two "pro-life" Presidents, Reagan and Bush Sr. Clinton presided over the most dramatic decline in abortion rates
in the recorded history of our country. He backed prevention and
financial support for the most at risk; the pro-choice approach.
Banning abortion, the "pro-life" movement’s approach, has little effect
on its prevalence, study after study shows. The countries with the highest abortion rates
in the world are those that have already adopted our Republican party’s
platform and banned abortion. This includes most of Latin America where
abortion rates are equal to the US and in several countries twice as
high.

Conversely, the strategy Obama promises to implement is what has proven to work in the countries where abortion is most rare.
These countries, like the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, have adopted
the strongest pro-choice policies-abortion is legal, often free,
contraception is widely available and abstinence-only education exists
only as an oxymoron.

Obamagelicals have moved beyond the
righteous rhetoric and political hyperbole to focus a wider array of
issues that impact rates of abortion, like poverty, education and
prevention. They may be the common ground movement pro-choice people
have long been praying for.

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  • invalid-0

    2004 Election: Bush wins with 51% – “America is Divided!”

    2008 Election: Obama wins with 52% – ” America has sent a Clear Message!”

    Ms. Page, this election was hardly a “Tsunami”. You clearly have no clue what you are talking about.

  • invalid-0

    get a clue, you could stand to get a clue as well. calling this election a tsunami is nor more, no less subjective than the opinions touted by rightwing pundits immediately following this election vs. the crap they touted in 2004. they all claimed that president-elect obama’s victory was NOT a “mandate”. yet, go back and watch the wingnut pundits after election night 2004, and with bush winning by a lesser margin…oh gee, what did they claim? yep! that bush’s win was a “mandate”. get over it, get a clue. you leave a comment as if the wingnuts have never, ever made subjective claims regarding exit polls. please.

  • invalid-0

    Dear Betty,

    I am sorry if I touched a nerve with you. From your post, you appear to have a very short memory. Go back and google what the media said about Bush in November ’04 – NO ONE of significance claimed it was a “mandate” by EITHER side.

    Fact #1: Almost half of this country (just counting the ones that voted) disagree strongly with Obama’s “Mandate”.

    Fact #2: Obama looks like he is filling his cabinet with a bunch of Clinton retreads. So much for “Change”!

    Fact 3#: “Wingnut” pundits???? Gee, let me guess which side of the political spectrum you are in. A bit biased aren’t you?

  • invalid-0

    “Go back and google what the media said about Bush in November ’04 – NO ONE of significance claimed it was a “mandate” by EITHER side.”

    wingnuts in a barrel:

    “The voters did [decide the election] — including millions of conservative first-timers whom the exit polls and media missed — emerging from the pews and exurban driveways to give President Bush what by any measure is a decisive mandate for a second term. … Just because an election is close doesn’t mean it isn’t decisive. … We do already know … that Mr. Bush has been given the kind of mandate that few politicians are ever fortunate enough to receive.”

    [Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Bush Mandate," 11/4/04]

    “Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law. His supporters want that, and have given him a mandate in their popular and electoral votes to see to it.”

    [William J. Bennett, National Review Online, "The Great Relearning," 11/3/04]

    “The hair-pullers and teeth-gnashers won’t like it, of course, but we’re nevertheless inclined to call this a Mandate. Indeed, in one sense, we think it an even larger and clearer mandate than those won in the landslide reelection campaigns of Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, and Clinton in 1996.”

    [William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, "Misunderestimated," 11/15/04 issue]

    and, of course,

    “President Bush ran forthrightly on a clear agenda for this nation’s future and the nation responded by giving him a mandate.”

    [Vice President Dick Cheney, November 3, 2004]

    If you want more I suggest you follow your own advice and google it.
    It was a landslide, get used to it.

  • paul-bradford

    Take, for example, abortion. Of evangelicals who voted for Obama only 8% believed that restricting abortion would lead to reductions in the abortion rate (61% of Evangelicals for McCain did). A whopping 86% of Obamagelicals believe that instead "the best way to reduce abortion is by preventing unintended pregnancy (through education and birth control), or providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers." This is in direct opposition to the "pro-life" agenda, which seeks to ban many forms of contraception along with abortion.  

     

    People ascribe different meanings to the same terms.  I accept the designation ‘Pro-Life’ because I believe that we, as a society, should do everything that’s feasable, appropriate and likely to be effective to protect the unborn.  The fact that I don’t happen to believe that the criminalization of abortion would be ‘feasable, appropriate or effective’ doesn’t make me any less Pro-Life.

    The argument about ‘contraception’ is another area where people have different meanings.  Everyone agrees that methods that prevent sperm from fertilizing an ovum are contraceptive.  But what about situations where it’s possible for an ovum to be fertilized and then prevented from developing?  Is that contraception or abortifacient?  People use different words depending upon whether or not they think that a fertilized ovum deserves to be treated like a person with rights.  Of course, the whole abortion debate is about who deserves to be treated like a person with rights.

     

    Someone recently asked me if I thought abortion was murder.  I said that I preferred to think of it as very bad manners.  If it’s hard for you to accept the idea that the unborn have a right to life, try thinking that they have a right to good manners.  We could solve the abortion problem that way.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Paul Bradford:

    “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (CCC #2270).

    “Bad Manners”??? Hate to break it to you, but if you really believe what you posted above, you are not Catholic.

  • invalid-0

    Yoohoo, clueless:

    Today’s vote tally is:

    Obama: 67,065,042 (52.7%, 365 EVs)

    McCain: 58,420,587 (45.9%, 162 EVs)

    Looks like a mandate to me.

  • invalid-0

    Yoohoo Gwen:

    Look at “http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/results.htm”

    Quite a lot of red covering that map!

    After today’s news, it looks like Obama’s cabinet is turning out to be “Clinton Administration, Part III”. That is quite a “mandate”, isn’t it? Where is the “Change we can believe in”?

  • invalid-0

    “Quite a lot of red covering that map!”

    Not only is there considerably less ‘red’ land than there was at this time in ’04 (predictably the GOP appears to have become a regional party with it’s strongest support in the theocracy of Utah and the former slave holding states.) but land does not vote, people do. Thus the electoral college is at 365-167 (a miserable showing) and the popular vote is at 52.7% to 45.9%)

    So, when you claim that 45.9 is “almost half” I’m wondering by what mathematics. Is this the same sort of thinking that insists the religious right and George Bush haven’t marginalized the Republican party for at least a generation? Is it the same sort of thinking that insists that the 6% of people in the country who object to women taking birth control pills aren’t the pathetic wing nuts we all know them to be?

  • paul-bradford

    You quote the catechism to me as if there were something in it with which I disagree.  There isn’t.

     

    "Human life must be respected and protected" — that’s the goal.  How are we going to reach that goal?  I’ve noticed that when you lead with the announcement that 30 – 40% of the women in this country are murderers you don’t get much of a hearing from those who need to grow in their respect for the unborn. 

     

    "a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person"  Many of the people I discuss things with on this ‘site are of the opinion that an abortion is the moral equivalent of having one’s wisdom teeth extracted.  It’s not my opinion, obviously, but that’s the starting place of the conversation.  I’m not going to get anywhere quoting the catechism.  It makes more sense to humanize the objects of my concern.

     

    Yes, we should extend good manners to the unborn.  If we respect them at all — even 1% — we’re going to do better than we’re doing now.

     

    I’m not a Catholic!?!?!  What I’m not is a bull headed perfectionist.

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    that we’re also talking about a host of new voters, voters who have not voted in years past and those whose votes were clearly suppressed in the last two elections. Younger voters, African-American voters, unmarried females, lower-income voters – a whole host of voices were brought together and spoke clearly this time around. And many, including some evangelicals and a growing grassroots pro-life movement that is not beholden to organizations like Focus on the Family and Family Research Council that elevates abortion above poverty, HIV/AIDS epidemic, or our healthcare crisis, spoke clearly as well. They refuse to be told by a group of people who pretend they have a direct line to God, or by those who say that the only religious values that matter are Christian (and extreme fundamentalist Christian at that), that the only “proper” way to vote is to vote solely on abortion.

    Advocates on both sides are working to reach common ground through prevention measures, education and clear policies that prioritize health care over ideological mandates.

    As for the “mandate” question – President Elect Obama has clearly shown himself much more equipped and amenable to working with his colleagues across the aisle than President Bush ever did. Bush was a terrifying dictator from day one, deciding immediately that he could care less what the millions of Americans who did not support him thought. He stood up the day he was elected the second time and acted as if he was given a mandate and that’s exactly how he led – pushing through unpopular and ill conceived policies, embroiling us in an unethical war (during his first term), and making the U.S. look horrible to the rest of the world. And look what happened? His is likely the biggest failure of an administration in the history of this country, he holds the lowest approval rating of any president of the U.S. ever and he is leaving our country in a state of disaster.

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • http://faith.barackobama.com/page/community/tag/OBAMAGELICALS invalid-0

    SPIRIT OF RECONCILIATION – It is time to join forces with all faiths and help build this nation into a place where all of God’s children can worship as they see fit. People in this country are free to vote for who they feel is the best qualified. Our responsibility as Christians is to prayer for President Elect Barack Obama – GO GENERATION OBAMANATION

  • http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/worldstudybible/gGxXsL/commentary#comments invalid-0

    Your words are very eloquent. Most excellent – thank you. A link to this article has been placed from http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/worldstudybible/gGxXsL/commentary#comments

  • invalid-0

    Annie,

    Please go beyond the typical talking points and just think about what you posted. When has Obama “clearly” shown himself more equipped and amenable to working across the aisle? Can you please name just ONE thing Obama has accomplished besides getting himself elected President? He spend the majority of his Senate time doing just that. He does talk a good story. Talk is cheap and the time is quickly coming where we will see just how “equipped” he is.

    Can you number the number of sanctions the U.N. made against Iraq and Saddam Hussein? How many times did President Bush work across the aisle? Way too many, in my opinion. No Child Left Behind comes immediately to mind. Googling “Bush bipartisan legislation” yields over 1.3 million results. He used his veto powers less than every president since Warren Harding. One of biggest reasons he has such a low approval rating is that he went along with the Congress way too many times. You conveniently left out that the Congress has a much lower rating than President Bush. Much of today’s problems are the result of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Today’s financial disasters are the direct result of their actions.

    I wonder if Obama will “care what the millions of Americans who do not support him think”?

    There is a reason why Life is the first unalienable Right in the Declaration of Independence. Without Life, everything else is moot. It is much more than “abortion rights” or the “right to choose”. It is all about personal responsibility, and doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it is.

    Annie and Colleen, I hope you thank your mothers for making the right choice in having you.

  • invalid-0

    “You quote the catechism to me as if there were something in it with which I disagree. There isn’t.”

    Oh Really? If you think that, you are kidding yourself. Read your posts above: abortion = “bad manners”????

    “I’m not a Catholic!?!?! What I’m not is a bull headed perfectionist.”

    Many saints were “bull-headed perfectionists”. They did not claim perfection, they always strove towards it.

    “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matt 5:48

    All you are doing is rationalizing the issue. You should change your group’s name to Pro-Life Cafeteria Catholics for Choice. It is more accurate.