Saturday, May 17, 2008

Obama's Ky. campaign focuses on his religion

The Constitution says there shall be no religious test for "any office or public trust under the United States," but Barack Obama is conducting what The Revealer calls "a blatant Christian campaign" in an effort to avoid in Kentucky's Tuesday primary an embarrassment like the one he suffered last week in West Virginia, one of the few states more rural than Kentucky.

"In addition to radio and television ads that began airing this week, a handbill [right] is being distributed that deals entirely with the Democratic presidential candidate's religion -- even relating his salvation experience," reported Joseph Gerth of The Courier-Journal. In radio ads, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler say Obama is a Christian, and a narrator in a TV ad says "Through his service as a community organizer and his Christian faith, he came to believe in something larger than himself."

The handbill, like one distributed in other Southern states, "calls Obama a 'Committed Christian' and has a picture of him standing in a pulpit with a large cross behind him," Gerth wrote. "A survey released this year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 85 percent of Kentuckians identified themselves as Christians. And in a 2007 Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, 49.8 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians." (Read more)

"One aim of the flier is to counteract the persistent and false belief held by some voters that Obama is Muslim," wrote Shailagh Murray of The Washington Post, who called the flier "startling." For the general election, the piece "also signals Obama's determination to compete for evangelical voters, who may not be as enthralled with John McCain as they have been with past Republican presidential nominees." (Read more)

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