Republicans, Democrats Rally for Christian Support

WASHINGTON – With the 2006 midterm election season in full swing, both Democrats and Republicans are pulling out old campaign strategies and testing out new initiatives to woo Christian voters to their camp.

As in the past, Republican politicians are rallying alongside Christian activists on issues surrounding homosexual marriage, abortion, judicial nominees and similar hot-button topics that helped tip election results in the GOP's favor two years ago.

Already eight Republican senators and representatives have agreed to speak at "The Washington Briefing: Values Voter Summit" – a joint effort by Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Americans United to Preserve Marriage and the American Family Association to amplify concerned Christian voices ahead of the November 7 elections.

In the meantime, Democrats have formed a new national organization aimed at raising funds, recruiting volunteers for Christian Democrats, and creating an online community for religious Democrats to discuss faith and politics.

"In recent years, I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that if Democrats of faith hide our lights under a bushel and let some falsely say that Christians have to be Republican, then too many Christians are being misled," said Tennessee state Sen. Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden who co-chairs the group's website, http://www.faithfuldemocrats.org/.

The website features profiles and quotations from Democratic candidates in close races, with links that relate biblical passages to Democratic positions on topics like war, economic justice, the environment, and race.

While both Republican and Democratic initiatives place "Christian value" as the basis for dialogue, their respective prioritizing of "hot button" issues will likely attract Christian voters from opposite ends of the social spectrum.

The Sept. 22-24 Washington Briefing for instance, merges some of the most conservative Republican heavy weights including Ann Coulter and Senator Bill Frist, with some of the most fundamental Christian figures like Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Don Wildmon.

In light of the obvious dichotomy, organizers of the new democratic group hope to draw from middle-of-the road Christians who may sympathize with a wider array of social issues.

"I've had Tennessean after Tennessean tell me that in their church the pastor proclaimed from the pulpit that Christians cannot be Democrats," Herron told the Tennessean. "That's simply heresy and simply false. I hope this Web site can offer a Christian message of hope and love that reveals a Christianity they might yet come to trust and believe in."

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 34 Senate seats, 36 governorships as well as countless mayoral and other local positions will be in play on November 7, when Americans go to the polls. Democrats need a net gain of six seats to gain control of the Senate and 15 seats to take over the House.

According to a poll released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life last month, the "Democratic Party continues to face a serious 'God problem.'" The poll found that only 26 percent of Americans believe the Democratic Party is "friendly" to religion, while 47 percent believe Republicans were friendly to religion.