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Evangelical Political Rallies

There have been several big rallies recently to get evangelicals out to vote and more involved in the political process. Last month, there was Glenn Beck's 8-28 rally. Although Beck is a Mormon and most Americans do not believe he is the right person to lead a religious movement, many evangelical leaders gladly joined him on the stage and lavished praise upon him. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows as Beck appears to be emerging as a new leader for conservative Christians. Earlier this month, evangelist Lou Engle hosted a religious-political rally in Sacramento. Then a couple of weeks ago, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed hosted the Faith & Freedom Conference. He apparently must think evangelicals have forgotten about the Jack Abramoff scandal and will trust him again. At the event, twice-divorced Newt Gingrich said Democrats have no "moral authority."

Finally, this past weekend was the Family Research Council's fifth annual "Values Voter Summit." I attended part of it (pictures are below), where I heard Mike Huckabee, Jim Inhofe, Jim DeMint, Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Pence won the presidential straw poll, which was a surprise since Huckabee usually does (although he was still a close second). Pence is an unlikely choice since the last (and only) sitting member of US House elected was Garfield in 1880! Romney was a distant third, followed by Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Santorum, and DeMint. Pence is credited with adding some social policy language to the new "Pledge to America" document Republicans released today. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell spoke at both Reed's event and the FRC's event, apparently returning to his Regent University roots after downplaying social issues during the campaign last year. McDonnell and other speakers were publicly asked by the People for the American Way to not attend because of the controversial comments of another speaker (but everyone went anyway). As documented in my forthcoming book (Presidential Campaign Rhetoric in an Age of Confessional Politics), evangelicals are a politically powerful group and so are increasingly targeted by politicians and activists. These recent events demonstrate part of the political influence of evangelicals.

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