September 18, 2009 / 3:55 PM / 8 years ago

Conservative Christians assail Obama agenda

<p>President Barack Obama talks with workers about the economy as he visits the Lordstown Complex General Motors Plant in Warren, Ohio, September 15, 2009.Larry Downing</p>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. conservative Christians, a key base for the out-of-power Republican Party, gathered in Washington on Friday to rally the faithful against President Barack Obama's agenda, including his top domestic priority of healthcare reform.

Obama's falling poll numbers and what they depict as his ultra-liberal views on abortion rights, healthcare and climate change are galvanizing a group that could prove vital to Republican prospects of taking back control of Congress in the 2010 congressional elections or the White House in 2012.

Conservative activists see exploitable opportunities in Obama's policies and performance that also can stir more centrist voters, such as suspicions of "big government" and the almost uniquely American skepticism of global warming that prevails in much of the heartland.

"The idea that the healthcare plan takes away choice and freedom, people see their liberties at risk," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), the conservative Christian lobby group organizing the summit of self-styled "values voters."

The Family Research Council also claims "Obamacare" will lead to federal funding for abortion -- an allegation hotly disputed by the president and his supporters -- and Perkins told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference that this issue went "beyond the ranks of the pro-life movement."

FRC Action, the Family Research Council's legislative action arm, is targeting about a dozen Democrats in the House of Representatives who it sees as vulnerable in 2010. The states where these House seats are located include Ohio and Virginia.

Its actions in these races could include endorsements, advertisements, voter education and campaign contributions.

"We have looked at the percentages by which people won or lost last time, we've looked at Obama's coat-tails, so we have a pretty good idea of the vulnerable seats," FRC Action President Connie Mackey said.

'VERY CONCERNED'

Virginia resident Bill Becker, 77, who is among the 2,000 delegates in attendance, said he is uncomfortable with much of the agenda pursued by Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress.

"I'm toward the center of the conservative stream (but) ... I'm very concerned about the goals of the current government," said Becker, who said he was Presbyterian. Most of the conservative Christian movement, often called the "religious right," is comprised of evangelicals and right-wing Catholics.

Most of those attending swim far from the political center.

"I don't believe in global warming," said conservative activist Kim Simac, a horse trainer and mother of nine from Wisconsin who also believes that the teaching of creationism and prayer need to be brought back to public schools.

The religious right has been at the forefront of conservative efforts to rally public opposition to climate change legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

Conservative Christian radio stations have spent the summer saying the legislation's "cap and trade" provisions would represent the biggest tax increase in U.S. history. That has stoked opposition and could have an impact when the legislation, already passed in the House of Representatives, is considered in the Senate.

The gathering has become a "must attend" on the political calendar of any serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

Former Arkansas governor and presidential contender Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who is widely seen as a leading candidate for the 2012 Republican ticket, brought the crowd to its feet on several occasions.

"The audacity of hope has become the audacity of hypocrisy," Huckabee said, in a reference to the title of one of Obama's books.

Opposition to abortion rights and gay rights long have been leading rallying cries of the religious right, but its activists also tend to follow broader conservative values such as low taxes and support for a strong U.S. military.

Editing by Will Dunham

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below