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A follow-up to An Occasional Note, 14

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

A follow-up to An Occasional Note, 14

Following the Saddleback Church’s Civil Forum on Saturday, I called into a teleconference featuring “some of the nation’s top evangelical leaders” according to the press release. It was arranged to provide “an expanded perspective on how evangelicals see the relationship between faith and public policy.”

A full transcript of the teleconference is here. What follows is a summary of the teleconference as it was occurring, using the same method used by marketing companies studying focus groups—get down what you can in real time. Kinda like a live blog.

The abbreviations are:

MZ - Martha Zoller, Talk Radio World Today Host, moderator;

TM - Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family;

HJ - Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior pastor, Hope Christian Church and Chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition;

JF - Janet Folger, President and Founder of Faith2Action and national radio host;

CH – Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring.

(Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values, was listed on the press release for the teleconference, but wasn’t present.)

::Live blog of teleconference (kinda)::

Q: Wiley Drake of the Wiley Drake Show: How did the candidates do on abortion?

Janet Folger: [About Obama’s response to the question of when a baby gets its rights] He said it’s “above his paygrade” He voted three times as IL senator against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. He’s to the left of NARAL. Spoke against protecting babies which have survived abortion.

Martha Zoller: He is saying in a very long answer, nothing. Used old numbers.

Tom Minnery: More generally, this evening was very historic. I believe it’s the first time an event like this has ever taken place in a church. Nasty books... Christopher Hitchens, for example. A little bit worried about Rick Warren because he’s moved away from abortion, family values.

Harry Jackson: It was good to get what the candidates believe. Good questions, broad, numerous, even-handed because they were the same for both candidates. What we heard was exactly what the candidates thought.

JF: John McCain without hesitation, bang, “Life begins at conception.” He gets it. Said it exactly the way it needed to be said.

Q: Michael Foust with Baptist Press: Did McCain close the deal with evangelicals?

[Colin Hanna?]: Sen. McCain was more open about his faith and communicated to evangelicals in their own language very effectively. Obama’s style was more reflective, communicated effectively too. But McCain did better.

HJ: McCain closed the deal. If he chooses a pro-abortion VP I think he will give the election away to Obama. The distinction we heard tonight would be muddied if he mixes the ticket in some way.

Q: Elizabeth Blackney with BlogTalk Radio: When asked what his greatest failure was... said his first marriage. Where is our community going to come down on this issue?

TM: Evangelicals understand forgiveness and the ability to redeem oneself after one has sinned.

JF: McCain’s situation is very different from Edwards’ situation. His former wife supported him. Been a fantastic father. It’s an issue that’s been vetted.

HJ: Some reporters on the line tonight that will call us hypocrites. Clarity of faith and clarity of values McCain has mitigates against past mistakes.

Q: Michael Foust again: Obama says marriage is between a man and a woman but opposes the CA marriage amendment.

TM: You can’t square the circle, and that answer is weak. He is hypocritical

JF: The definitive answer that JMcCain gave, supporting states’ laws. He said the Supreme Court of CA was wrong. Obama’s response was like saying “I’m against slavery, but Dred Scott was the way to go.” No one has called him out on saying he supports the CA Supreme Court decision.

HJ: Evangelists need to enumerate what a legal marriage is.

MZ: No more questions. Panel, was there a winner tonight?

CH: I thought McCain was the winner, but I thought Obama did well with people who are not....

TM: Sen. McCain did very well. I thought his answers were sharp. I was particularly impressed with people he admired answer. He went right to Gen. Petraeus. Obama went to safe... his wife, grandmother.

HJ: McCain won, got many more applauses from people in the room. If he can continue with this kind of fervor and integration it will be good for the campaign.

JF: Without hesitation, JMcC, was the clear winner. Obama fumbled, re campaign finance act which passed in 2002 and Obama didn’t come into senate till 2005. Also, he’s great at quoting scripture, but his deeds aren’t reflective of that. His deeds are of abandoning life, not protecting it. Mark 7: 6. “This people honor with their lips but their heart”—and I would add their voting record—“are far from me.”

Q: Wylie Drake again: Were Warren’s questions pretty tough?

TM: Yes. I appreciated them very much. They were tough.

JF: Stronger than I expected, but I would have asked a follow-up on the abortion question.

HJ: Warren did an excellent job and went exactly where we would want him to go. Teasing out is our job. Doesn’t come out of it as an evangelical pastor to the left or right. Enhances our reputation as people who are open to hearing people, civility. Warren will go down as this generation’s D.L. Moody or Billy Graham.

CH: Warren exceeded my expectations. He did a pretty good job.

Q: George Meyers, not part of media: A local elected official who has talked on record about his faith. JMcC’s answer to question on faith minor; BO did a bit more then moved on. What do you expect to hear when a candidate talks about his faith?

TM: I believe that a Christian needs to say he believes Jesus died for his sins.

HJ: I agree with TM, but tonight was not the time to make it more. Warren resisted the temptation as a theologian to dot i’s and cross t’s which would miscast the evangelical community.

JF: It’s not the rhetoric so much as the record. Is it words or is it deeds as well? You know a tree by its fruit. When they honor JC with their lips but their votes show something different...



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