NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, March 22, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Politicians usually calculate every action to maximize their popularity among future voters, especially during an election year. But a prominent leader of the nation’s second largest denomination says President Barack Obama’s HHS mandate has the potential to unite Catholics and Protestants into a coalition that will turn him out of office in November.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “The thing that frightens our opponents the most is the specter of an evangelical-Catholic alliance – because they can count.” He told listeners of his radio program, Richard Land Live, “You take evangelicals, and you take Roman Catholics, and you are over 50 percent of the population of the country.”
Land said, while two-thirds of Baptists voted for “born again” candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976, the vote began to turn against Democrats in the 1980s.
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Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount that Catholic voters are turning against the president as the election nears.
On Thursday Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, cited a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the number of white Catholics who saw the Obama administration as “hostile” to religion climbed from 17 percent in 2009 to 31 percent. In a press release e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, he said, “It is not hard to fathom why the Obama administration is having a hard time with Catholics.” In addition to the HHS mandate, “the administration recently denied funding to a Catholic social service agency that helps women and children merely because it is pro-life.”
Looking ahead to the election Donahue said, “Everyone knows that Protestants vote Republican, and Jews vote Democrat. It’s Catholics who are up for grabs.”
Exit polls show in 2008, 78 percent of Jewish voters supported Obama, and 73 percent of evangelical Christians voted for John McCain. Meanwhile, 54 percent of Catholics cast their ballots for Obama. In 2004, they narrowly favored George W. Bush over fellow Catholic John Kerry.
Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, told LifeSiteNews.com that Southern Baptists tend to vote for candidates who share their convictions about life and faith, not because of anything their church is doing, but because more conservative people are drawn to evangelical churches.
“Frankly, I’m disappointed that more pastors in the Southern Baptist church don’t encourage their members to get out and vote,” he told LifeSiteNews. “Our primary mission is to win people to faith in Jesus Christ, but we’re also called to be salt, preservatives in our society to prevent a premature collapse of our society.”
For generations, Christians saw politics as something dirty or beneath them. Pastor Jeffress disagrees. “Politics simply means to be influencing the culture in which you’re living,” he said. “I believe as Christians we are called to influence our culture.”
He dedicated a chapter in his book Twilight’s Last Gleaming to ministers, entitled “For Pastors Only.”
“I believe pastors need to boldly stand, not for partisan politics, but for Biblical issues like the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage, and encourage their people to vote for those who uphold those Biblical standards,” he told LifeSiteNews.com.
Signs of a burgeoning evangelical-Catholic alliance against the secular state are multiplying. In February, members of the Southern Baptist Convention sat side-by-side Catholic Bishop William Lori in a House Oversight Committee hearing to defend religious liberty.
Land’s comments came during an interview promoting the new book Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late by Southern Baptist televangelist James Robison and Roman Catholic scholar Jay Richards.
Former Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee told the CPAC convention in Washington, D.C., “We are all Catholics now.”
It is unclear how important such an alliance will be to the president’s re-election prospects, let alone future Democrats’ electoral fortunes. Strategists say Obama will be the first president to entirely write off white working class voters. If unaddressed, changing demographics will marginalize the shrinking white vote as they have other decreasing ethnic groups.
Jeffress, who caused a controversy when he endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Republican presidential primaries last October, said preachers need to regain a sense of their prophetic ministry to the broader culture.
“In the Bible, prophets didn’t just speak to their own people, but they actually confronted ungodly cultures and ungodly leaders,” he said.