The New Yorker’s Peter Boyer has a sharp piece this week on the role that church-going Catholics and evangelicals have played in electing Republicans and on whether McCain can get them to the polls.
For people who live and die for this stuff, you may not learn anything new.
But for folks who are trying to get a handle on why McCain needs the conservative religious vote, Boyer’s article will tell you.
He doesn’t have much on Palin’s influence here, by the way, because she was named just before publication.
John McCainâ€™s religious-outreach effort has been attenuated at best, perhaps reflecting the candidateâ€™s pronounced ambivalence toward the religious right, and the insistent agenda of cultural conservatives in general. McCain admitted as much in July, when George Stephanopoulos, of ABC, asked him about his position on gay adoption. He doesnâ€™t support it, McCain said, but he added, â€œItâ€™s not the reason why Iâ€™m running for President of the United States.â€
Independents and moderates may admire that attitude, but it is a cold bath to cause-driven activists, who, in another time, would have been able to count upon harmonizing their efforts with those of the national Republican campaign. Activists in California, anticipating a ruling by the state Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage, launched a drive to put an initiative on the ballot in November that would amend the stateâ€™s constitution to ban gay marriage. The proposal prompted an extensive support effortâ€”forty-day fasts, prayer marathons, and the likeâ€”among Church leaders in California and the two other states that have similar measures, culminating in a daylong stadium rally on the weekend before Election Day. â€œThere has been no dialogue with the McCain campaign at all,â€ says Jim Garlow, the pastor of the Skyline Church, in suburban San Diego, who is one of the driveâ€™s organizers. â€œIf I were Senator McCain, I would do everything I could to identify with this issue. I donâ€™t know that he will. I have no idea what his campaign is about. At this point, he seems quite low-key on these types of things.â€