Senator Barack Obama's campaign unveiled this past week a new committee featuring top African American religious leaders supporting the presidential contender's bid for the Democratic nomination.
The African American Leadership Committee, announced Tuesday, is composed of denominational heads, civil rights leaders, as well as prominent female faith leaders who believe that Obama is living out his faith and values in his public life. The committee members, both at the national and statewide levels, meet on regular conference calls to support the Illinois senator.
"This is an unprecedented group for an unprecedented candidate," said National African American Religious Committee Co-chair the Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., a civil rights legend and former chairman of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. "As a lifelong advocate for the less fortunate and the forgotten, Senator Obama lives his faith everyday. He continues to talk about a faith that works to unite and not divide people."
Besides Moss, the national leadership committee is made up of presidents of two of the largest national Baptist conventions, the most senior Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and prominent leaders of the Civil Rights movement such as the Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery and Dr. C.T. Vivian, among others.
The campaign made significant gains in South Carolina, where its state leadership committee includes nearly 130 senior pastors from some of the largest and most prominent churches in the state.
Obama strongly campaigned in the early voting state, reaching out to religious voters with frequent church visits, speeches on his faith, and a high-profile Gospel concert.
The campaign has so far recruited more than 200 Faith Community Contacts - grassroots church leaders who are identifying and educating voters in advance of the primary election – in 27 counties.
South Carolina ministers who are part of the Obama state committee include the Rev. Ralph Canty of Savannah Grove Baptist in Effingham, the Rev. Dr. Charles Heyward of St. James Presbyterian on James Island, the Revs. Alanza Washington of Wallingford Presbyterian in Charleston, and Julius McDowell of Big Wesley United Methodist in Hollywood.
According to the religious website Beliefnet.com, Obama is currently ranked as the Democratic candidate that speaks the most about religion by the "God-o-Meter." The "God-o-Meter" measures "God talk" in the presidential campaign.