Candidates Jump Through the Hoops of Religious Voters

061128_clinton_obama_hmed5phmedium.jpgFaith has always been a factor for voters. We all know the usual issues that religious leaders bring up every election year, but this time around climate change has been added to the list. The appeal for green values was at the forefront of the Compassion Forum that aired last Sunday on CNN.

Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has been leading a compaign to instill “creation care” as a religious imperative. He attended the forum and this was his exchange with Barack Obama:

REV. CIZIK: How do you relate your faith to science generally and science policy, and let’s take an issue like climate and flesh that out, or take stem cells, something like that. Just give us a little more indication of how you think.

OBAMA: Well, first of all…

CIZIK: Is that fair enough?

OBAMA: It is fair enough. And you guys have done some terrific work on this. So I want to congratulate you on that.

OBAMA: And should it be part of God’s plan to have me in the White House, I look forward to our collaboration. (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So, look, the — one of the things I draw from the Genesis story is the importance of us being good stewards of the land, of this incredible gift. And I think there have been times where we haven’t been and this is one of those times where we’ve got to take the warning seriously.

I know that Al Gore was mentioned earlier. By the way, I have to say, I think Al Gore won. And…(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And has done terrific work since. But I think that we are seeing enough warning signs for us to take this seriously. And part of what my religious faith teaches me is to take an intergenerational view, to recognize that we are borrowing this planet from our children and our grandchildren.

And so we’ve got this obligation to them, which means that we’ve got to make some uncomfortable choices. And where I think potentially religious faith and the science of global warming converge is precisely because it’s going to be hard to deal with.

We have to find resources in ourselves that allow us to make those sacrifices where we say, you know what? We’re not going to leave it to the next generation. We’re not going to wait.

OBAMA: We are going to put in place a cap-and-trade system that controls the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the atmosphere. And we know that that requires us to make adjustments in terms of how we use energy. We’ve got to be less wasteful, both as a society and in our own individual lives.

And having faith, believing that this planet and this world extends beyond us, it’s not just here for us, but it’s here for, you know, more generations to come. I think religion can actually bolster our desire to make those sacrifices now. And that’s why, as president, I hope to be able to rally the entire world around the importance of us being good stewards of the land.

Eboo Patel, a Muslim who leads an organization called the Interfaith Youth Core addressed Senator Clinton with the following:

PATEL: Americans of all faiths and no faith at all genuinely believe in compassion and want to apply that in addressing global poverty and climate change. Can we do that without changing our standard of living?

CLINTON: Well, I believe there is so much we can do that we’re not doing that would not change our standard of living as an imposition from the outside, but which would inspire us to take action that would impact how we live.

And I don’t think we would notice it demonstrably undermining our standard of living, but it would give us the opportunity to set an example and to be a model.

When I think about the simple steps any one of us can take — you know, turning off lights when one leaves a room, unplugging appliances, changing to compact florescent bulbs — you know, my husband and I have done that — I don’t think it’s impacted our standard of living, but we feel like we’re making a small contribution to limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, you know, being more mindful of our purchases.

I hope that, as president, I can model that and lead that effort so that people don’t feel so threatened by the changes we’re talking about when it comes to dealing with global warming.

In preparation for the pope’s visit, I was reading that the Vatican is the first carbon-neutral state in the world now. Well, that shows leadership. And I don’t think it has impacted the work or the living. You know, Ambassador Flynn, who was our ambassador to the Vatican, might know. But it was a great statement.

And we can do more.

CLINTON: And I think that, with leadership, people will find ways to take those first steps. And then we can take even more.

Now there’s so much that I have to do as president with the cap and trade system, with moving away from our dependence on foreign oil, but I’m going to look for ways that will cushion the costs on middle class and working and poor people. Because I don’t believe that they should have to bear more than what they are bearing right now as we make this transition. And I believe we can accomplish that.

The forum brought out few contrasts between Obama and Clinton, but it was interesting to watch the candidates jump through the hoops of religious voters. It’s also refreshing to see leaders asking new questions and requiring different “moral values” from candidates in this election.

  1. joe

    As one who loves God (some call that “religious”) and tries to live as green as possible, I think a little hoop jumping is in order on both fronts.

    I forget what magazine it was (might have been Ode?) but it showed each candidate and what steps they were taking to live a greener life. Don’t quote me exactly but McCain had solar panels installed on one of his houses, Hillary changed bulbs to CFL’s and was going to install motion detectors and I totally forgot what Obama was doing but it was respectable. I’d like to see a report on what kind of environmental impact each campaign is having with all of the traveling.

    Great article for calling attention to this.

  2. Bobby B.

    So, B. Hussein Obama wants us to all make uncomfortable choices and sacrifices, and Hillary Rodham wants us to shut off the mercury-laced CFL’s when we leave the room. They really weren’t jumping through the hoops of the religious voters so much as those of the greens. The moderators were actually “greens in priests clothing”. Can I copyright that phrase?

    Why not ask these two some tough questions? Why not a question about how their going to protect The Bible and other religious texts from being labeled hate speech? Why not ask if they intend to stop the government’s plans of using hate speech laws and the church’s charitable status to regulate what preachers can say from the pulpit? Why not ask what they plan to do regarding the continued disintegration of the family and the havoc it brings? Some folks are even reporting that not only do the members of broken households experience physical, emotional and economic pain, but they are also contributing to the ills of the planet.


  3. Chad Crawford

    Bobby, are you familiar with the National Association of Evangelicals? They’re hardly what you would call the “greens.”

    I excerpted the questions about climate change for this article, but the participants asked questions from all over the spectrum of public policy. I believe even the president of the Southern Baptist Convention addressed the candidates.

    It wasn’t even supposed to be a Democratic debate. The Compassion Forum was endorsed by Mike Huckabee and McCain was invited.

  4. Chad Crawford


    “As one who loves God (some call that β€œreligious”) and tries to live as green as possible, I think a little hoop jumping is in order on both fronts.”

    I’m a minister so I guess I’m a “religious voter” too. I don’t need my ideal candidate to be religious too, but I do want to know what his or her values are. So I agree with you, a little hoop jumping is in order!

  5. Bobby B.

    Maybe it’s just too early to call them the “greens”. Time will tell.

    As a Southern Baptist, I find it disturbing that the leadership is advertising the creation care wing with such emphasis. You hear almost nothing about how they respond with food and supplies for the needy during disasters (i.e. Katrina), how they support crisis pregnancy centers that offer abortion alternatives, how active they are in domestic and foreign missions, or even how their doctrine differs from other religious groups. That just scratches the surface of all the things the southern baptists aren’t talking about. And many other religions in the “silent majority” do a large amount of service unto others. Do they really think that going green will move them out of the “silent majority” and into the mainstream? Here are a couple of interesting opinion pieces about organized religion’s alignment with environmentalism:




    You will note that it is Farah’s job to be opinionate. I’m opinionated because it’s fun!

    Also, was B. Hussein Obama pandering to religious voters when his speech to a bunch of elitists got recorded last weekend:



    I am still shocked the Huffington Post ran with the story. Maybe they work for sniper-fire-ducking Hillary.

  6. Chad Crawford

    I know that “creation care” is a contentious issue with Southern Baptists, but the president of the Southern Baptist Conv. didn’t ask questions about “creation care.” He asked about Obama’s thoughts on decreasing HIV/AIDS. I mentioned his name in my earlier comment to say that they covered a variety of “tough questions.”

  7. Bobby B.


    Warning – The above article will likely offend those that believe in total tolerance.

    Chad, it’s funny that you mentioned HIV/AIDS. In some part, the ability of the gay and lesbian front organizations to infiltrate the public school system accounts for the increase in religious and home schooling. The Southern Baptists and others have called on parents to pull kids out of the public school system in favor of parochial education. I’m not in total agreement because the call to be salt and light extends beyond the church house walls. However, the freedom of Christian expression is very much under attack in these United States, especially in the public schools. There are dozens of articles each week of kids and teachers being told to conceal their faith.

    How does this relate to environmentalism? The same tactics used by the above groups have been used by the greens to get into the schools as well. The theory that man is an invader and destroying this precious planet is presented as fact, and those with differing opinions are punished via lower grades and subsequently re-educated. This practice even extends into the university and professional ranks. Wasn’t it Dr. Heidi Cullen of The Weather Channel who said that licenses should be revoked from meteorologists who presented theories contrary to that of man-made global warming?

    With a little extrapolation, you can probably see why I see this whole creation care movement as a bad idea for the church. The symbiotic relationship that exists among the greens, the gays, the pro-abortionists, the gun banners, the anti-Christians, the no-prayer-in-schoolers, the anti-nativity sceners, the Bible-equals-hate-speech club, the anti-Pledge of Allegiance crowd, etc. is undeniable. Should the church get in bed with one, what foundation will it have to resist the others when the β€œthought police” call for tolerance (conformance)?

  8. curt

    I believe, that the new President is going to be much, much more Eco friendly, whoever is going to be. All candidates are far more knowledgeable on this matter, except Al Gore in the past, but he wasn’t so Eco-Hot at that time, either.
    I wonder, if the Pope Benedict left some impact to the issue of ‘environmentally friendly politics’ by his personal visit to US?

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