New York Times bestselling author Don Miller is the latest nationally known evangelical Christian to head into what is considered by many the heart of conservative evangelism — Colorado Springs — to deliver the message that Christians should expand their focus beyond hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
Miller, the author of “Blue Like Jazz” and who delivered the benediction at the Democratic National Convention in August, is speaking at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs tonight. In an interview today with the Colorado Independent, he said that his appearance in Colorado Springs is designed to help convince evangelicals that Barack Obama, who has spoken extensively of the role of faith in public life, is “probably the most evangelical candidate of all the candidates.”
“One of the reasons we’re here in Colorado is that it is up for grabs and the opportunity arose,” Miller said. “We have no desire to go into the heart of the evangelical movement and dismantle it, but here’s the message: A lot of people don’t know that the culture war is a cultural Vietnam, and we’re at an impasse. This is a chance for us, and a lot of evangelicals are finding themselves endeared to Barack Obama.”
As an evangelical stump-man for the Democratic candidate, however, Miller knows the odds are challenging at best. Citing current polls, he says only 15 percent of the most conservative evangelical people of faith plan to vote for Obama.
Miller’s visit to Colorado’s second largest city, which is home to national and international headquarters of dozens of high profile Christian nonprofits, follows an appearances last week by Richard Cizik, the vice president for governmental affairs of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals.
Cizik is the nation’s leading high-profile evangelical promoting the need for Christians to address climate change and protect God’s planet — and he has withstood hardball efforts from old-style evangelicals like Springs-based Focus on the Family CEO James Dobson to get him fired. Dobson, along with others, would prefer Christian evangelicals focus on social issues like abortion and same sex marriage.
In an interview with the Colorado Independent, after two public appearances in the Springs, Cizik took issue with Republican John McCain, terming the Republican as unprincipled for backing away from former positions articulating the need to address climate change, as well as torture and a sensible tax policy — and in effect, becoming more like George Bush than the John McCain of the past. Despite his condemnation of McCain’s positions, however, Cizik stopped short of saying he plans to vote for Obama.
Miller, who says he does not know Cizik, also underscored his desire that Christian evangelicals move beyond the divisive issues of abortion and gay marriage — which many of the younger generation have already done.
“Certainly many more evangelicals, and younger evangelicals, are figuring out that globalization and trade are incredibly important — responsible fatherhood is incredibly important,” Miller said. In addition, he termed the current administration’s accounting practices “unbiblical.”
“Our taxes have gone up and we have a 40 percent larger government … we can no longer say as evangelicals we have one party,” he said.
For more on evangelical Christian leaders on the intersection of politics, faith and the 2008 presidential campaigns, read Evangelical leader smacks McCain for lack of principle.