Obama guns for Christian voters

DENVER - Religious leaders and people of faith who have been invited to this week's Democratic national convention are not sitting quietly with their hands in their laps.

DENVER - Religious leaders and people of faith who have been invited to this week's Democratic national convention are not sitting quietly with their hands in their laps.

The head of a large African-American denomination has challenged the party on abortion. A 30-something evangelical Christian author has warned against Democrats who mocked believers.

Although aware that party officials have political reasons for reaching out to them, several faith figures taking part in the convention say they want to go beyond talk about how faith and values inform Democratic policies. They are also calling for change on core Democratic issues, which could create tension.

"It's important that people of faith are being listened to just like other constituencies," said Alexia Kelley of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which has pressed the party to support policies aimed at reducing abortion rates.

Religion has played a visible role at the convention, starting with an inter-faith service and continuing on Tuesday with the party's first caucus meetings for people of faith.

Beneath "Pro-Family Pro-Obama" placards, a range of faith leaders, including Barack Obama's religious affairs director Joshua DuBois, have framed poverty, climate change, human rights and abortion as not just policy causes but moral ones.

"Religion has been used and abused by politics," said evangelist Jim Wallis.

People of faith, he said, "should speak prophetically more than in a partisan way".

Wallis said religious voices lobbying Democrats have gotten results, including language in the platform that aspires to reduce poverty rates by half in the next decade.

Religious groups also had a hand in crafting platform language that pledges to support women who decide against having abortions.

One tenet of the Obama campaign's religious outreach was connecting to religious communities beyond the usual liberal-leaning constituencies that support Democrats - and that is where some of the challenges have come from.

Donald Miller, a 37-year-old author from Portland, Oregon, is revered among many young evangelicals for his best-selling spiritual memoir Blue Like Jazz.

Miller was a loyal Republican but said he left the party, in large part, because he thought Republicans pandered to evangelicals on abortion and gay marriage to win votes.

Democrats are "reaching out to us and I'm not naive why, they want our votes," said Miller.

"But they won't get and keep them unless they adopt policies that promote the sanctity of life."

Miller also said he'd leave the party if some Democrats kept mocking people of faith. - Sapa-AP

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