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You've got to have faith to win the White House
by Graeme J. Davidson,
4 October, 2008

Americans want their politicians to trust in God too – as long as they don’t go over the top. Yet proving their religious convictions to voters isn’t as easy as it sounds.

....The United States is a secular nation with an official belief in God. Its citizens pledge allegiance to their flag as “one nation under God” and the US official motto is “In God we Trust”. You’ll find it stamped on US coins, and polls show that 90 percent of Americans like it that way.
....
They want their politicians to trust in God too – as long as they don’t go over the top. Yet proving their religious convictions to voters isn’t as easy as it sounds.
....According to a Pew Research Centre survey last week, nearly half of America’s voters still don’t know that Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama is a committed church-going Christian. He attracts black voters and non-churchgoing white voters. But hoped-for support from white churchgoers has been put at risk by an internet smear campaign suggesting he’s a covert Muslim terrorist, and by the provocative words of his now former pastor, Rev Jeremiah Wright, that “blacks should not sing ‘God Bless America’ but ‘God damn America’".
....Obama peppers his speeches with religious references and he has fulltime campaign staff reaching out to Christian voters. But his efforts take a hit whenever TV news anchors confuse his name with that of Osama bin Laden.
....One of Obama’s aims in choosing six-term Catholic Senator Joseph Biden as his vice-presidential running mate was to attract Roman Catholics, who represent a quarter of Americans.
....Although Biden attends Mass weekly so he can “be alone with God”, he can’t take communion because of his pro-choice stance on abortion. His opponents have used that to question his religious sincerity. At a political gathering three years ago, Biden famously fumed, “the next Republican that tells me I'm not religious, I'm going to shove my rosary down their throat".
....Republican presidential candidate John McCain also has problems convincing voters of his religious authenticity. Brought up Episcopalian (Anglican), he says that while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, “It was my faith that got me through, not the next day or the next hour but through the next minute”. For the last 15 years, he’s been attending North Phoenix Baptist Church in his home state of Arizona. However, he has never responded to an altar call to dedicate his life to Jesus Christ and he has postponed baptism by total immersion – which means he’s not a full member of the Baptist Church. McCain says his faith is a “personal thing”.
....His regular high stakes gambling and ties with the gambling industry have dented his credibility with the Christian right but he still enjoys the support of two-thirds of white voters who go to church once or more a week.
....No doubt, one of the reasons he chose Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate was to make his campaign more attractive to the quarter of American adults who are evangelical, believing in a personal faith in God and the authority of the Bible. She is anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage and open to teaching creationism in public schools. Unlike McCain though, Palin, who attends several evangelical churches, has no desire to keep her faith private. Three months ago, she returned to the church of her youth, Alaska’s Wasilla Assembly of God, and asked the congregation to pray for the US military in Iraq. They are “on a task that is from God” she said. ....McCain has been trying to distance himself from the unpopular Bush-led war in Iraq and comments like this make Palin sound like a President Bush with a skirt. To avoid alienating liberal evangelicals and undecided voters, McCain’s campaign has pulled the reins tight on Palin so that she sticks to its script, especially as recent polls show voter scepticism of Palin is increasing.
....The current unprecedented financial crisis favours the Democrats and the current polls show Obama taking a lead. But whoever makes it to The Whitehouse will need all the prayers he can get from religious supporters to turn the economy around and win a second term in office.




 

 

 

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