Obama: Dems need to reach out to evangelicals

As an evangelical Christian (who might be described as a fundamentalist until I’ve had my morning coffee), I find it amusing that the Democrats keep publicly acknowledging that they just don’t understand evangelicals. It’s the only true thing that ever comes out of that party.

The lastest to try to reach evangelicals is Barack Obama. He can at least talk the talk:

Obama, the only black in the Senate, drew national notice even before arriving in Congress last year, and has occasionally used his visibility to scold members of his own party. Widely sought as a fundraiser for other Democrats, Obama responded with a noncommittal laugh this spring when asked whether he wants a spot on the national ticket in 2008.

His speech included unusually personal references to religion, the type of remarks that usually come more readily from Republicans than Democrats.

“Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me,” he said of his walk down the aisle of the Trinity United Church of Christ. “I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.”

Obama said millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews have traveled similar religious paths, and that is why “we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse. … In other words, if we don’t reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons will continue to hold sway.”

And that’s where Obama shows how little he understands (other than on the issues, where the Democrats’ dependence on the hard left automatically turns off the vast majority of evangelicals). Everyone who knows anything knows that Falwell and Robertson are yesterday’s news. Today’s most influential evangelical leader is the much more shrewd Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in California. While Falwell and Robertson run their mouths and get overtly involved in politics, Warren plays puppetmaster, shaping about 30,000 churches around the country in his image. He has a political agenda, don’t be confused about that, and his church-shaping contains elements of his politics. Broken down to its essence, Warren’s politics are pretty populist–he’s against abortion, for traditional marriage and family, but very goo-goo on internationalism and post-nationalism. He doesn’t put a lot of stock in hard doctrine, preferring the soft power of marketing to bring people in. There’s room in the Warren worldview for Obama and other Democrats to make inroads, but they’ll have a hard time as long as their party is represented by Howard Dean, who couches his religious-speak in 60s nostalgia.

If you had to pick a decade as most evangelicals’ least favorite, it would be that one.