Will You Be Watching the Civil Forum?

Shawn McEvoy

Ed Stoddard in the FaithWorld blogs on Reuters wrote yesterday:

Commentators who have written off U.S. evangelical voters as a relic of the Bush era should take notice of this Saturday’s “Civil Forum on the Presidency” moderated by famed evangelical mega pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain will each spend about an hour taking questions from Warren and will only share the stage briefly. But it is the only event — and one that will be nationally televised — that  they will both participate in ahead of their party conventions in a few weeks’ time, underscoring the importance of the faith vote in America and the evangelical vote in particular. Evangelicals account for one in four U.S. adults making them the country’s largest religious group and a key battleground faith. And Warren is one of the leading figures in the movement’s shift to a broader agenda that moves beyond (but does not exclude) issues like climate change, AIDS, immigration and poverty reduction — issues where both McCain and Obama see opportunities to woo moderate voters with their positions.

To read the full commentary, click here.

Evangelical voters a relic? I can say pretty confidently that's not going to be the case. Now, "whether" any have shifted or contemplated shifting their usual pre-stamped Republican ticket isn't even the question, while "how many" might be.

And now, national pro-life organizations have drafted an open letter to Rick Warren (read it here) in which they ask him NOT to "shift to that broader agenda" Stoddard and TIME magazine note, at least not so quickly, not without pinning the candidates down first on that pesky abortion issue. "A presidential candidate's position on abortion should be a deciding factor for Christian voters," the letter says.

Is it still? Crosswalk blogger Dr. Warren Throckmorton has already been tracking that trend and asking that question throughout 2008 much better and more informatively than I can. Dr. Throckmorton has already wondered at why, now, would it appear voters for whom the life issue has been so key suddenly choose this moment to jump off that wagon?

Interesting questions, ones I'm sure we'll discuss after seeing how the forum plays out this weekend...

Saturday’s Civil Forum will be webcast live from 8-10 p.m. eastern at