"Barack Obama's Problematic Religious Outreach"
Deal Hudson writes at InsideCatholic on "Barack Obama's Problematic Religious Outreach":
... If Obama finally clinches the nomination, the key to his success or failure will be his campaign's religious outreach.
Obama's point man for this outreach is also an African-American, Joshua DuBois. The stepson of an African Methodist Episcopalian minister, DuBois is a member of a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church. He is described as "guarded in discussing his personal positions," not wishing to offer his view of abortion during an interview with WORLD magazine.
Instead of taking specific positions, DuBois stresses his conversion to Christianity in college and speaks about it in the traditional language of an Evangelical: "I am saved by the grace of God. I'm a strong believer in Jesus Christ."
DuBois's approach to messaging Obama's religion is likewise general, but intensely personal. In comments to the Christian Science Monitor, he explains that Obama's politics are "an outgrowth of his reading of some of the seminal parts of the Bible about doing unto the 'least of these' just as we would have done unto Christ."
It is fair to say that, as a candidate of the Religious Left, Obama invokes care for the poor just as predictably as a Religious Right candidate invokes protection of the unborn.
Thus far, Obama has been slow to gain support among Catholics; he has consistently been beaten by Hillary Clinton among Catholics in the primary. An article on Politico outlining his problem with Catholic voters was met with immediate, and hostile, disagreement from the Obama campaign. (Click here for my own story on Obama's poor record, thus far, with Catholic voters.)
DuBois shrugged off the problem, promising that the campaign would be aggressively reaching out to Catholics. Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer, a Catholic, who has emerged as the most visible surrogate for Obama among religious voters, also dismissed any "Catholic problem." "The more Catholics see him and learn his positions on social justice and dignity of life issues, the more they like him," said Roemer.
While Obama's appeal to religious voters is real, the obstacles facing him, especially with Catholics, are real as well. It will not help Obama with Catholics if he surrounds himself with surrogates like Sen. Ted Kennedy and his wife. (Mrs. Kennedy recently endorsed Obama and accompanied Roemer at a campaign stop in Ohio to meet with Catholic voters.)
The Kennedy factor will only serve to remind Catholics that Obama, while he speaks inspiringly about faith, is another pro-abortion Democrat -- a fact that Obama himself, surprisingly, continues to underscore. When he was asked in a televised presidential debate to name a mistake he had made while in the Senate, he said he erred on voting to allow Teri Schiavo's parents to have a legal hearing on their daughter's medical condition. "I think I should have stayed in the Senate and fought more for making sure that families make those decisions, and not bureaucrats and politicians.''
But, at the end of the day, Obama's appeal to religious voters, especially Catholics, will be limited by the content of his own convictions. Voters who earnestly practice their religion are primarily concerned about the hostility of government and culture to their families. No matter how inspired the call to relieve poverty, it will not trump the ongoing concern of religious voters about raising their children and grandchildren.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Obama in Ohio: Sermon on Mount Justifies Same-Sex Unions
Obama Campaign Challenges Politico Article Stating "Obama Slow to Gain Among Catholics"
"No'bama for Me, Thanks"
Can a Catholic Vote for Obama?
Obama's Pledge to Planned Parenthood: “I Will Not Yield"
"Sitting Around a Fire, Ted Kennedy's Wife Visits [Toledo Area] to Fire Up Catholics About Obama"
Obama Calls Vote to Help Terri Schiavo Biggest Mistake
Deal Hudson: "Barack Obama's Catholic Problem"
"Why American Catholics are Supporting Barack Obama"
Catholics at the Ballot Box
How the Catholic Left Will Tackle McCain
National Catholic Reporter's Joe Feuerherd to U.S. Catholic Bishops: "Go to Hell"
Deal Hudson and Fr. Thomas Reese on Obama and the Catholic Vote
Deal Hudson on "Douglas Kmiec and the Lure of Obama"
Douglas W. Kmiec on "The Moral Duty to Inquire"
Former Head of "Catholics for a Free Choice" and So-Called "Philosopher of Abortion Movement" Says Obama A Better Choice than Hillary
Professor Bainbridge: "Will Catholic Reaganites Go for Obama?"
Deal Hudson: "Preacher Man: Barack Obama and the the Gospel of Liberalism"
"Sorry, Doug Kmiec, But This Catholic Isn't Buying Obama"
Ramesh Ponnuru on Douglas Kmiec and "Catholic Reaganites for Obama" [UPDATED]
Romney Advisor Says Obama "a Natural for the Catholic Vote"
Obama and the "Pragmatic Center"
Sen. Moloch H. Obama Celebrates Abortion, Warns Supreme Court Could Reverse Roe
InsideCatholic on Democrats and the Catholic Vote
National Catholic Register: "Religious" Democrat Barack Obama Sticks to the Abortion Line
Litmus Test: Democrat Candidates Demand Pro-Abortion Supreme Court Justices
Obama, Clinton Slam Supreme Court on Abortion Ruling
Holy Crap ... That's What the Dems Are Shoveling
Democrats Play at Being All Religious and Stuff
Democratic Candidates for President Give Unanimous Pro-Abortion Views
During First Debate, Democrats Back Abortion, Criticize Efforts to Save Terri Schiavo
Reaction to Court’s Abortion Ruling Falls Along Predictable Party Lines
The Democrats' Unreligious Fringe