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Photos and Audio of Barack Obama Voter March in Columbus (With Jesus)

Click here to listen to an audio collage of snippets from various parts of a Barack Obama Early Voting March taking place early this morning in Columbus, Ohio. About 300 people marched from the Shiloh Baptist Church to the Board of Elections in downtown Columbus to cast their early votes for Barack Obama.

For an official presidential campaign event, I found it somewhat galling that the opening and closing consisted of invocations for a Christian God to heal the nation through Barack Obama, and for us all to vote “in Jesus’ name.” That’s Sunday business, not Saturday business, and it is certainly not the job of the Barack Obama campaign to place the stamp of Christian uniformity on presidential politics. The share of Americans that subscribe to Christianity is on a sharp decline, yet the people who organized this voter march for the Barack Obama campaign seemed to have no problem reinforcing religious divisions while talking about bridging or healing other divisions.

I also learned beyond a doubt that Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus is not the next Barack Obama by any means: he could put a pack of wolves on a caffeine drip to sleep with his speechifying.

I did not vote at the end of the event, in case you were wondering. I simply did not feel comfortable lending the weight of my vote in endorsement of this religiously pushy event.

6 thoughts on “Photos and Audio of Barack Obama Voter March in Columbus (With Jesus)”

  1. Iroquois says:

    How can they endorse a particular candidate and still have tax-exempt status?

  2. Peregrin Wood says:

    That’s a great question. They ought not to.

    The sad answer to your question, in many such cases, is that the IRS just doesn’t care to enforce the law, or that people in attendance don’t do the right thing and file an official complaint.

    Also, religious leaders enjoy the power they get through this kind of event, and claim that the letter of the law allows them to play a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”. Many people cannot conceive of refraining from pushing their religion through any event they participate in. They’d claim that they’re eating microwave popcorn “in Jesus’s name”, if they thought that anyone was watching.

  3. Judith in NYC says:

    If the IRS decided to go after every religious group that endorses political candidates they would not have time for anything else…which would be a very good thing come to think of it.

    I do agree with you, so-called “Christian” uniformity has no place in a political event. If I have to vote “in Jesus name” I will not vote at all.

  4. Jim says:

    The particulars are 1) that the closing invocation was offered off church grounds by a nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. who is not affiliated with the Mt. Shiloh Baptist Church, and that 2) the church leader who offered the opening invocation never said the explicit words “I endorse Barack Obama”, 3) the church did volunteer itself as a staging ground for an march explicitly dedicated to early voting for Barack Obama. I am not a lawyer, but my guess is that the combination of these three factors is not going to meet the IRS’ standard for investigation. If I were running the IRS, I certainly would investigate but the church based on event #3. But I’m not running the IRS; a bunch of mealy-mouthed people are.

    My concern here goes beyond legality, however. If any Obama staffer is reading this post, you need to know that regardless of what it’s possible to get away with, I don’t think it’s right for a political campaign for the office that governs all Americans to sanctify itself “in Jesus’ name.” The message it sends to me is that as a non-Christian American I am not a welcome part of your supposedly open and inclusive campaign.

  5. Iroquois says:

    I would prefer to vote for a candidate who understands separation of church and state. The last time I checked, this was in the constitution. We have had enough of the executive branch thumbing its nose at the constitution.

    They can do whatever they want in Jesus’ name or Allah’s name or the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s name as long as they don’t expect the public to subsidize it through tax breaks.

    Jim, at the end of the podcast, you say everyone was asked to put away the signs before going in to vote. I believe the reason for this is that law prohibits electioneering within a certain distance of a polling place. So clearly they knew they were attempting to influence voting behavior and they knew that what they were doing in the church was electioneering.

  6. Tom says:

    Why are we bringing the religion card up NOW? It was the 2000 and 2004 “elections” that brought the fundies into politics in a big way. Did anyone complain about this then? Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? i think that if the incumbents cheat, lie and steal elections it’s considered “normal” but if they want to block YOUR party from doing it – that’s abiding by the law, see. The ol’ two-tiered justice system lettin’ you know it’s alive and well.

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