(T)he Obama campaign plans to add a full-time evangelical-focused staff member to its existing religious outreach team and is rolling out an effort over the summer to organize over a thousand house parties built around an hour-and-a-half-long curriculum on faith and politics. With the broadening of the evangelical agenda to include issues like poverty, global warming and AIDS, Mr. Obama’s advisers hope to peel off more moderate evangelical voters.
From: McCain Extends His Outreach, but Evangelicals Are Still Wary — June 9, 2008/ NYT
I thought the McCain photo illustrating yesterday’s NYT piece on the evangelical vote was quite perfect.
The picture shows McEarnest in front of St. David’s Catholic Church in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. The shot was taken back in April when McCain made a pandering trip to address the Katrina damage. What is wonderful is how the photo is completely dominated by a statue of St. David, a fairly minor saint actually, while McCain is pushed off to the side like the Christian conservative afterthought that he is.
In comparison, consider this flyer from the Kentucky primary situating Obama in the pulpit alongside his inspirational quote about doing the Lord’s work. And then, notice the FAITH preceding the HOPE and CHANGE tag lines of the Obama campaign, the white background surrounding each letter evoking a sense of the ethereal. (The phrasing, of course, is also a play on “faith, hope and charity.”)
In this BAG post from October ’06, I was focusing on how conservative iconography was already moving away from the right wing preceding that last mid-term election. McCain’s campaign talking points might dictate that Obama’s appeal with evangelicals has been damaged because of Reverend Wright. But Obama does have a deep sense of religion and I believe the imagery holds up from that standpoint.
What I do have concern about is the setting. If you recall, there was controversy in the Kentucky Senate race over the fact that Harold Ford actually filmed a campaign commercial in a house of worship. The question is (considering that anything the right wing does shouldn’t make it right), does the scene — in blurring the lines between church and state — actually push Obama’s “spirituality advantage” beyond where it needs to?
See the full brochure with comment thread at race42008.com.
(image: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press. April 24, 2008. New Orleans)