Christian Right’s Mailings Depict Terrible Future Under Obama

November 4, 2008

steve-cole-christian-right-mailings.jpgTerrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern
Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The
end of the Boy Scouts.

All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected
president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation
called “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America,” produced by the
conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.

The imagined look into the future is part of an
escalation in rhetoric from Christian right activists who are trying to
paint Obama in the worst possible terms as the campaign heads into the
final stretch and polls show the Democrat ahead.

Although hard-edge attacks are common late in
campaigns, the tenor of the strikes against Obama illustrate just how
worried conservative Christian activists are about what should happen
to their causes and influence if Democrats seize control of both
Congress and the White House.

“It looks like, walks like, talks like and
smells like desperation to me,” said the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell of
Houston, an Obama supporter who backed President Bush in the past two
elections. The Methodist pastor called the 2012 letter “false and
ridiculous.” He said it showed that some Christian conservative leaders
fear that Obama’s faith-based appeals to voters are working.

Like other political advocacy groups, Christian
right groups often raise worries about an election’s consequences to
mobilize voters. In the early 1980s, for example, direct mail from the
Moral Majority warned that Congress would turn a blind eye to “smut
peddlers” dangling pornography to children.

“Everyone uses fear in the last part of a
campaign, but evangelicals are especially theologically prone to those
sorts of arguments,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University
political scientist. “There’s a long tradition of predicting doom and

But the tone this election year is sharper than usual and the volume has turned up as Nov. 4 nears.

Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma
magazine, a Pentecostal publication, titled one of his recent weekly
e-mails to readers, “Life As We Know It Will End If Obama is Elected.”

Strang said gay rights and abortion rights would
be strengthened in an Obama administration, taxes would rise and
“people who hate Christianity will be emboldened to attack our

Separately, a group called the Christian
Anti-Defamation Commission has posted a series of videos on its site
and on YouTube called “7 Reasons Barack Obama is not a Christian.”

The commission accuses Obama of “subtle diabolical deceit” in saying he
is Christian, while he believes that people can be saved through other

But among the strongest pieces this year is
Focus on the Family Action’s letter which has been posted on the
group’s website and making the e-mail rounds. Signed by “A Christian
from 2012,” it claims a series of events could logically happen based
on the group’s interpretation of Obama’s record, Democratic Party
positions, recent court rulings and other trends.

Among the claims:

• A 6-3 liberal majority Supreme Court that
results in rulings like one making gay marriage the law of the land and
another forcing the Boy Scouts to “hire homosexual scoutmasters and
allow them to sleep in tents with young boys.” (In the imagined
scenario, The Boy Scouts choose to disband rather than obey).

• A series of domestic and international
disasters based on Obama’s “reluctance to send troops overseas.” That
includes terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that kill hundreds, Russia
occupying the Baltic states and Eastern European countries including
Poland and the Czech Republic, and al-Qaeda overwhelming Iraq.

• Nationalized health care with long lines for surgery and no access to hospitals for people over 80.

The goal was to “articulate the big picture,”
said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of public policy for Focus on
the Family Action. “If it is a doomsday picture, then it’s a realistic
picture,” she said.

Obama favors abortion rights and supports civil
unions for same-sex couples, but says states should make their own
decisions about marriage. He said he would intensify diplomatic
pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions and add troops in

On taxes, Obama has proposed an increase on the
5% of taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year and advocates cuts
for those who make less. His health care plan calls for the government
to subsidize coverage for millions of Americans who otherwise couldn’t
afford it.

One of the clear targets of this latest
conservative Christian push against the Democrat is younger
evangelicals who might be considering him. The letter posits that young
evangelicals provide the margin that let Obama defeat John McCain. But
Margaret Feinberg, a Denver-area evangelical author, predicted failure.

“Young evangelicals are tired — like most people
at this point in the election — and rhetoric which is fear-based,
strong-arms the listener, and states opinion as fact will only polarize
rather than further the informed, balanced discussion that younger
voters are hungry for,” she said.

In an interview, Strang said there are fewer
state ballot measures to motivate conservative voters this election
year and that the financial meltdown is distracting some voters from
the abortion issue. But he said a last-minute push by conservative
Christians in 2004 was key to Bush’s re-election and predicted they
could play the same role in 2008.

Kim Conger, a political scientist at Iowa State
University, said a late push for evangelical voters did help Bush in
2004, “but it is a very different thing than getting people excited
about John McCain,” even with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice
presidential pick.

Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens
for Community Values, said the dynamics were quite different in 2004,
when conservative Christians spent some energy calling Democrat John
Kerry a flip-flopper but were mostly motivated by enthusiasm for George
W. Bush.

Now, there is less excitement about McCain than fear of an Obama presidency, Burress said.

“This reminds me of when I was a school kid,
when I had to go out in the hall and bury my head in my hands because
of the atom bomb,” he said.

Source: USA Today

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