Massive Evangelical movement spearheaded by right wing activist pastors to affect the 2012 election.
There's 'a growing movement of evangelical pastors who are jumping into the electoral fray as never before, preaching political engagement from the pulpit as they mobilize for the 2012 election. This new activism has substantial muscle behind it: a cadre of experienced Christian organizers and some of the conservative movement's most generous donors, who are setting up technologically sophisticated operations to reach pastors and their congregations in battleground states.''"The Christian activist right is the largest, best-organized and, I believe, the most powerful force in American politics today," said Rob Stein, a Democratic strategist who recently provided briefings on the constituency to wealthy donors on the left. "No other political group comes even close."'
'The political engagement of evangelical pastors signals a reawakening of the conservative Christian activism that atrophied in the last decade. This time, organizers say it could be even more powerful, a reflection of the sharp backlash against the current administration.
Dismay about Obama's stances on gay rights and abortion — as well as anxiety about the growing national debt — has overcome the ambivalence of many pastors about speaking out.'Boosting the movement are veteran figures such as Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition. His new organization, Faith & Freedom Coalition, is developing a list of Christian voters in key states, a tool it used to reach thousands of voters in Wisconsin's recent recall elections.
New players are even more ambitious. United in Purpose, financed by an anonymous group of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, aims to register 5 million conservative Christians to vote. The organization boasts a sophisticated database that identifies millions of unregistered evangelical and born-again Christian voters around the country.
'The passion for politics stems from a collision of historic forces, including heightened local organizing around the issues of abortion and gay marriage and a view of the country's debt as a moral crisis that violates biblical instruction.'
'Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., rallied fellow pastors to push for the passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage.
"This country is at a critical crossroads," said Garlow, who is now working with several national organizations to encourage their brand of biblically inspired political activism. "Pastors have to understand their unique role."'
In 2010, pastors in Iowa helped lead a successful campaign to force out three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of gay marriage.
"When I heard about the decision, there was an anger — a feeling of righteous anger that swept over me," said Pastor Kerry Jech of New Hope Christian Church in Marshalltown. "I have no hatred toward people who engage in a homosexual lifestyle. All that I know is that marriage — biblically and morally — is between a man and a woman."'
'As pastors speak out on political matters, they've drawn admonitions from groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which warns that such activism could jeopardize their churches' nonprofit status. But the religious leaders are bolstered by well-funded Christian legal organizations supporting their cause.
The most prominent — the Alliance Defense Fund, a group based in Scottsdale, Ariz., that spent $32 million in fiscal year 2010 — is challenging a 1954 tax code amendment that prohibits pastors, as leaders of tax-exempt organizations, from supporting or opposing candidates from the pulpit. The group sponsors Pulpit Freedom Sunday, in which it offers free legal representation to churches whose pastors preach about political candidates and are then audited by the Internal Revenue Service. (So far, no IRS investigations have been triggered.)'