Cover Story

Prodigal party

"Prodigal party" Continued...

Issue: "Faith-based campaigning," Jan. 27, 2007

Casey also rejects the conservative idea that compassionate citizens should be the arbiter of their charitable dollars rather than having to pour taxes into secular programs they do not support. "It's not our money, anyway," he said in reference to the biblical teaching that all things ultimately belong to God.

Should Kerry run for president a second time, such values-based defenses of Democratic policies would no doubt play a greater role than in 2004 when the candidate paid little attention to Casey or evangelical adviser Mara Vanderslice-despite the pair's involvement with the campaign.

Vanderslice has since proved her counsel is worth heeding. From her new role as director of Common Good Strategies, an independent consulting firm she founded in 2005, the born-again strategist significantly boosted the Democrats' midterm landslide. Exit polls showed that the candidates she advised pulled in an average of 10 percent more evangelical voters than other Democrats.

Fellow Common Good Strategies consultant Eric Sapp told WORLD such results could signal the beginning of a grand reshaping of the political landscape: "My hope would be that Christians become a perennial swing vote."

Like Vanderslice, Sapp's political involvement goes along with his evangelical faith. He attends Heritage Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Alexandria, Va., calls himself a Calvinist, and believes fallen humanity requires government action to alleviate suffering: "The social justice side of the gospel has to be front and center in what you are as a Christian. Government is definitely not the only solution, but if you're trying to solve things with private means and it's not working, you have to figure out another way."

Compassionate conservatives argue that government means have worked poorly and that groups offering challenging, personal, and spiritual assistance help the poor much more. Evangelical voters have two years to decide which view they will follow.

Presidential hopefuls

Republican:


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani
California Rep. Duncan Hunter
Arizona Sen. John McCain
Texas Rep. Ron Paul
Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney
Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo
Former Wis. Gov. Tommy Thompson

Democrat:


Delaware Sen. Joe Biden
New York Sen. Hillary Clinton
Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd
Former N. Carolina Sen. John Edwards
Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack

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