Richard Land: How Evangelicals View Election 2008

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This fall, Democrats hope to win back a slice of the evangelical Christian vote, a heavily Republican group. The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land would rather they didn't — at least as long as Democrats support abortion rights.

Land holds an influential position in the Southern Baptist Convention, which claims more than 16 million churchgoers.

Land says he's working to convince evangelicals that they should not abandon "the prioritization of the sanctity of human life and ... the sanctity of marriage."

"It seems to me that when you say to someone, 'Well, you're too narrowly focused on abortion and same-sex marriage.' That's like telling [the Rev. Martin Luther] King he was too narrowly focused on racial reconciliation and racial justice," Land says.

He says Republican Sen. John McCain's stance on abortion should help him keep the support of evangelicals in the coming presidential election.

"If you have a pro-life candidate running for the Republicans ... and he's running against someone who is pro-choice and who is running on a party platform that has never met an abortion they couldn't at least live with — if they didn't like — you're not going to see a lot of movement among evangelicals when it comes to presidential elections," Land says.

He says it will be difficult for McCain to win as much support from evangelicals as President Bush did in 2000 and 2004.

"But there are things McCain can do," Land says. "He can talk about how [conservative Supreme Court Justices] Roberts and Alito are his idea of a template for the kind of judges that he would nominate."

McCain could also help himself greatly if he picks the right kind of running mate, Land adds.

"There are lots of things he can do between now and November which will really determine how high the [evangelical] turnout is in the 2008 election," he says.



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