A prominent evangelical leader dismissed presidential candidate Barack Obama's new line of faith-based merchandise as "clever packaging."
Various campaign buttons targeted at strategic voting constituencies on the Obama campaign's Web site are the cause for Dr. Albert Mohler's remark.
Among the buttons is one that reads "Obama Pride" underneath the campaign logo that has been modified to feature a rainbow, a sign associated with the gay community.
Then a few rows down, visitors can find buttons that read, "Catholics for Obama," "Pro-Family, Pro-Obama" and "Believers for Barack."
"This generic reach-out to people of 'faith' is going to be pretty quickly seen for what it is: more advertising than substance," Mohler, who is a member of the Focus on the Family board, told the ministry's political action arm CitizenLink news.
He connects the faith items with Obama's performance at Saddleback Civil Form, describing them both as trying to reach out to evangelicals but seeming "to be completely out of touch with what evangelicals were concerned about."
In particular, Mohler – president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and who often represents the Christian voice on programs such as CNN's "Larry King Live" and NBC's "Today Show" – said Obama is out of touch with evangelicals on issues of human life and marriage.
Obama is a strong supporter of a woman's choice to have an abortion and of gay "marriage."
However, the active social commentator said he doesn't expect most Americans to buy into the "clever packaging."
"To put out a button that says 'Pro-Family, Pro-Obama' says basically nothing, other than a very clear attempt to use the language," he said. "'Believers for Barack' is very interesting, but believers in what? Believers in whom?"
Mohler says he wants to see a change in the candidate's positions and policies more than his campaign's bumper stickers and buttons.
Other new faith-based Obama merchandise includes bumper stickers and signs. The campaign on its site promises more "merchandise for other religious groups and denominations" in the near future.
Obama has made reaching out to religious voters and sharing about his faith a trademark in his campaign. He sent out fliers of him speaking at a pulpit in front of an illuminated cross to court faith voters during the Kentucky primary.
His campaign also has several initiatives to reach out to young evangelical and Catholic voters.