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No retreat

"No retreat" Continued...

Issue: "Obama," Nov. 15, 2008

"The left has been unusually successful in demonizing our rising stars. We saw this most blatantly when it came to judges, when President Bush appointed really solid candidates for the federal bench and the left threw all kinds of spurious and untruthful accusations against them. We need to learn how to defend and stand up for good men and women who are in public office or would be in public office.

"The left has had a strategy of picking off rising conservative stars and not just fighting their current position or nomination but destroying the candidates' reputations, to try to keep them from future positions. And we've got to learn how to protect good people better."

Mark DeMoss, public relations executive

"I'm still amazed and somewhat disappointed at the number of evangelical voters, including many in leadership positions, who are really quite uninformed about candidates and the process. I think that's a terrible mistake to approach something this important uninformed. People will say they're for this candidate or they like this candidate, and if you ask them why, many times the best answer they can give is that they're Christian or they love the Lord or they share my values. And you ask them which values, and they don't know. We ought to be informed. And particularly in a day and age when it is so easy to get informed.

"To a large degree, [evangelicals] have not realized the importance of money in elections. … If we're serious about electing Candidate X or Candidate Y, we've got to not only speak out for these candidates and talk them up, we have to give them money. A pastor stands up and promotes a missions campaign or a new building campaign, and he asks people to give money and support it because it takes money. We stand up and say that we need to elect a candidate who will represent our values, but we don't give them money. … If Christians wanted Mike Huckabee, for example, as the Republican nominee, they should have given him money. And I think we just ignore this too often. We think our job is to talk and promote and invite candidates to our churches, but somehow we're exempt from putting money down.

"No candidate is perfect and no candidate is all bad, in my opinion. To be more specific, I would say, for religious conservatives, John McCain is not our savior and Barack Obama is not the antichrist. Too often we look at things completely black and white, and suggest that the candidate we're supporting can do no wrong, and the other candidate can do nothing right or say anything right. And that's just not true anywhere in life. I think we lose credibility when we suggest we're perfect and you're evil. I think we lose a platform for influence. I think that's a terrible mistake.

"Governing the United States of America encompasses so much more than two or three so-called social issues.

"I would emphasize a positive vision for America rather than a divisive attack on Barack Obama. I think if Obama wins it will be in large part because he ran arguably the most positive, uplifting, energetic campaign in modern history. I think evangelicals of all people ought to be able to speak the truth in love, and to be respectful and kind and courteous, and it's possible to be all those things without compromising your beliefs.

"I would really like to see evangelicals begin to or continue encouraging people of faith to look for and support candidates who share their values, whether or not they share your theology or faith. And I think we made some progress on that front this year, but I don't think we made enough. I think we still have too many evangelicals choosing candidates on the basis of their faith rather than on the basis of their values and their competence and qualifications and experience to serve.

"Evangelical Christians ought to be the thought leaders, not the flame-throwers. We ought to make compelling arguments and do it respectfully. We ought to be attractive to other people who look at us, and I don't see enough of that."

Tony Evans, senior pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, Texas

"Relevancy. You have to show where your belief system is relevant to the perspectives, needs, hopes, dreams of the people. Without compromising standards, you have to be relevant. Conservatives have often been too disconnected from where people really are and that showed up in the economic crisis. The masses did not feel that the conservative approach was relevant to where the average person is. It didn't relate to their kitchen table talk.

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