A conservative Houston pastor and close friend of President Bush switched political camps this election cycle and is going all out to get Sen. Barack Obama into the White House.
Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell – the same person who introduced Bush as the nominee at the Republican National Convention and presided over the wedding of Jenna Bush – has been passionately campaigning for Democratic nominee Obama.
Not only has Caldwell donated time and money, but he has built a pro-Obama Web site, organized meetings for the candidate with prominent Christian leaders, and talks to the campaign several times a week.
He said he was won over by Obama's "heart" and could identify with the candidate's life story as an African-American who worked hard to get a good education and a better life.
"Senator Barack Obama went to two good schools. In the neighborhood I grew up in, that's what they said: 'Get a high-school education, get into a good school,'" Caldwell said while criticizing Republicans for attacking Obama as an elitist, according to Newsweek. "He did that. And now, they are taking his educational background and trying to twist it to make him an elitist."
But the founding pastor of the 14,000-member black congregation, Windsor Village United Methodist Church, has been the target of attacks by Christians who criticized him for trading in his moral conviction in order to support Obama.
In one instance, Caldwell volunteered to take a ministry that seeks to help homosexuals to understand that "change is possible" with the help of God off the church Web site so as not to give Obama "unnecessary angst."
Pro-gay groups had protested the ministry, called Metanoia, and contacted the Obama campaign about it. In response, Metanoia was removed from the church Web site although it is still operating and will return online soon, Caldwell said.
Responding to accusations that he sacrificed Christian convictions for politics, Caldwell says he believes homosexual sex, adultery, and premarital sex are all sinful acts.
"I agree with Senator Obama on this one," he said. "I think marriage is between a man and a woman, but I support gay persons' rights under the Constitution."
While Caldwell may be able to reconcile Obama's abortion rights and pro-homosexual agenda with his religious conviction, other African-American evangelicals have vehemently denounced the Democratic candidate based on those same two issues.
Pamela G. Wilson in her book, Finding Soul Brothers: Dismantling Black Christian Racialism, chastises African-American Christians for what she calls behaving like a secular black society.
"Most of the time, people (black Christians) are supporting a candidate for the sake of how they feel they will advance the race," Wilson told The Christian Post in an earlier interview.
"People just jump on the black bandwagon at the expense of their faith," she said.
Wilson called on black Christians to vote based on a faith-based agenda including family values, morality, and spiritual authority.
She criticizes, in her book, top African-American religious leaders for "turn[ing their back" on biblical issues of abortion in exchange for a civil rights agenda.
Likewise, conservative evangelical leader Bishop Harry Jackson, an African-American registered Democrat, has criticized Obama. Jackson has often worked closely with Focus on the Family Action to highlight Obama's left-wing position on values issues.
Obama is backed by 91 percent of registered black voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll for Oct. 6-12.