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Church hopping in Ohio

"Church hopping in Ohio" Continued...

Another conservative organization, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, headed by Ralph Reed, has been coordinating paid workers and volunteers this week to make calls and put 1 million voter’s guides in 5,300 Ohio churches by Sunday.

Earlier in the presidential race, some wondered whether Ohio’s evangelical voters would coalesce around Romney, said Chris Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance. In the Ohio GOP presidential primary, Long said, most counties supported former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. “That all seems to be a distant memory now.”

Since then, Long said, Santorum has returned to Ohio to “mend the fence” by campaigning for Romney—a step Long believes has contributed to the biggest shift in support for a candidate he’s ever seen. Although one pastor told him over the summer that his church members were “not really sure about Mr. Romney,” the same pastor told him a few weeks ago, “It’s a big difference now. Our people are on board.”

Long said getting voter’s guides into people’s hands—the Ohio Christian Alliance has printed around 800,000 this election season, with another 200,000 downloaded from its website—has helped them see the clear contrasts between Romney and President Barack Obama on issues like abortion, taxes, religious liberty, and parental choice in education. Conservatives also perked up when, in May, President Obama gave a personal endorsement of gay “marriage,” Long said—something Romney opposes.

Since 1991, the Ohio Christian Alliance has mainly represented evangelicals. This year, for the first time, the organization has produced a voter’s guide aimed at Catholics. The two faith groups are finding common ground in opposing threats to religious liberty.

“We’re seeing newly formed alliances between Catholics and evangelicals addressing the [healthcare law’s contraceptive] mandate,” Long said. “We’ve always worked together in the past, but not at this level.”

Long’s group has several thousand liaisons scattered in churches in every Ohio county. He is encouraging volunteers on Saturday to help the elderly or handicapped vote by offering them car rides to the polls.

Meanwhile, Spann, the RV driver, around midday Friday crossed the border into Marion County—the final county in the Awake 88 tour. I asked what he was thinking.

“What’s next?” he said. Completing the four-month tour felt bittersweet, since he and his wife had enjoyed the journey. But he had a personal motive pushing him forward. His granddaughter, Emery Jean, was just born in April: “What kind of world—what kind of country—will she be living in?”

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is managing editor of WORLD Magazine and lives in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.


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