September 4, 2004
How Will the Religious Vote?
According to the Census, about 30 percent of
Americans are not even
registered to vote - 55 million Americans. In 2000 only 53 percent of
eligible Americans voted. That figure fell to only 39 percent in 2002
Carl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist,
has lamented that four million evangelicals who he expected to vote for Bush
in 2000 did not vote at all.
These numbers were in my mind as I watched the
Republican Convention during its first three days. Were the speakers
persuasive to those who oppose abortion or favor a
Constitutional Amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman?
The most prominent speakers on Monday and Tuesday -
former New York Mayor
Rudy Guiliani, Sen. John McCain and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -
mention either issue. Why? They support gay marriage and abortion.
All three were passionately enthusiastic of President Bush
because of his handling of
terrorism, and as a strong and decisive leader. In fact, their
prominence as liberals on social issues may have the benefit of attracting
moderates who disagree with Bush on
abortion or same- sex marriage, but agree with Schwarzenegger that the
President is "a man of inner strength, a leader who doesn't flinch, doesn't
waver, does not back down."
However, will this be persuasive with evangelicals who
did not bother to vote in 2000?
True, Sen. Elizabeth Dole did speak about her faith at
8 p.m. (Eastern time) on Tuesday: "Two thousand years ago, a man said, "I
have come to give life and to give it in
full. In America I have the freedom to call that man Lord, and I do," citing
John 10:10. "The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not
freedom from religion," she said to
However, her remarks were not part of the tiny one hour
of network broadcast time
allotted to Convention coverage. And the much smaller audiences
watching cable TV could not have seen her in the West where it was only 5
Similarly, Sen. Brownback, a recent Catholic convert,
recalled that "A fundamental
principle of our democracy and our Republican Party is respect for the
inherent dignity, equality and sanctity of every human life...At our party's
convention in 1860, we...nominated Abraham Lincoln, and we denounced and
ultimately defeated the scourge of slavery."
He then noted that "President Bush has committed record
levels of support" to fight
AIDS which has already killed 20 million people. His plan to fight AIDS,
malaria and TB with $15 billion "will treat 2 million people, prevent 7
million new infections and
care for 10 million orphans."
Brownback added, "From the child in the womb to the
mother carrying her, this nation
and this president will fight for you. Why? Because each is
wonderfully made, and what we do for the so-called `least of these' we do
for our creator. We are leading the world in a heroic rescue of human life. This is the essence of compassionate conservatism. It is
the mettle of George Bush."
However, his remarks were not broadcast by network TV
either. Few of those
4 million non-voting evangelicals heard him.
What ABC, CBS and NBC did air were powerful attacks on
Sen. John Kerry by
Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller and by the Vice President. Partisans loved
hearing a Senator who was the 1992 Democratic Convention's Keynoter, deliver
the Republican's Keynote, attacking his own party as well as John Kerry:
"For more than 20 years, on every one of the great
issues of freedom and
security, John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any
other national figure...While young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq
and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made
weaker because of the Democrats manic obsession to bring down our commander
On the other hand, 40 liberal Christian leaders and
40,000 citizens signed a petition
declaring that "God is not a Republican...or a Democrat." It urged Americans
to consider a wider range of moral issues on
"When poverty has risen each of the past three years -
that's a religious issue," said
spokesman Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of "Sojourners" magazine. "The war in Iraq
- that's a
religious issue. Taking care of the environment - that's a religious
issue...How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich and
I predict a higher-than-usual voter turnout.
30+ Years / 1700+ Columns
2017: Column 1861: Cohabitation: A Growing Problem - Part II
Cohabitation: A Growing Problem - Part I
Texting While Driving - A Killer
Why Have "Religious Nones" Tripled?
Norma McCorvey Roe of Roe v. Wade
The Worst Valentine: Cohabitation
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Christianity Gives Women Equal Opportunity
Sextortion Kills Teens
Assisted Suicide Is Growing
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,