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NHCLC participates in Department of Justice Summit on Gang Reduction

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

June, 2005 – Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, representing the NHCLC, participated upon a formal invitation from The White House, in this unprecedented summit. Attendees discussed the Executive and Legislative initiatives developing to reduce the gang activity in our nation. Rev. Rodriguez presented to the delegates representing law enforcement, faith based organizations, national and regional leadership the programs launched by the Hispanic Church via the NHCLC. National Hispanic Christian Leadership Institute Equipping the Latino Leaders in the major 24 cities of America. NHCLC announces that in January of 2005, The NHCLC will equip, train and certify Hispanic Christian Leaders that will lead as oracles of positive transformation at the political, economic, spiritual and civic platforms of our nation. “We will see Latino Leadership arise with the spiritual fortitude, the business acumen and intellectual wherewithal to lead in the political, moral, business, academic and cultural fronts.” stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of The NHCLC. The top Hispanic business, political and religious figures will teach in these 24 Institutes. Fuerza Hispanic 2008 To register, via the churches, 8 Million new Latino voters Generation Fuerza A National Youth Initiative targeting Latino Young People for the purpose of reducing the Latino High School Drop out rate and the reduction of Juvenile Delinquency particularly Gang Activity participation. This Program incorporates the National Hispanic Leadership Institute in leadership transference exercises that will address precocious transitions such as teen pregnancy, high school dropout, etc.. No Child Left Behind Collaborative Relationship with the Department of Education and The White House in creating after school programs via the churches and the local CDC’s for the purpose of achieving the goals of the “No Child Left Behind” initiative. NHCLC establishes Faith Based Programs throughout the 50 states via the Latino Churches.

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Rev Ezekiel Pecina Joins National Board of NHCLC

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

July, 2005, Abilene, TX – Rev. Ezekiel Pecina, Pastor of New Life Church in Abilene, Texas Joins National Board of NHCLC. Pastor Ezekiel Pecina was appointed to serve on the National Board of the NHCLC by the Executive Council. Rev. Pecina pastors a 1000 member strong congregation with Television and Radio programs that impact West Texas. The NHCLC welcomes Rev. Pecina.

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NHCLC President addresses General Council of Assemblies of God, Ethnic Fellowship Celebration

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr, President of the NHCLC, addressed delegates from all over America and Puerto Rico as one of the Featured Speakers to the Hispanic Leadership and Members of the World’s largest Pentecostal Denomination. With close to 1/2 a Million Hispanic Assembly of God Adherents, the Hispanic Fellowship represents the Nations largest Hispanic Charismatic Group. Rev. Rodriguez addressed the importance of the Hispanic Church functioning as an Unbreakable Net.

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Hispanic Speakers Bureau Inaugurated

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

September, 2005 – The Top Hispanic Christian Oracles of Moral Clarity, Political Empowerment, and Social/Economic Mobility have made themselves available to the NHCLC. Without question, the Hispanic Speakers Bureau is available to Civic, Religious, Political and Business Forums and Communities which desire to engage the Hispanic Constituency in America. Speakers are committed to address the issues, concerns, and vision of the Hispanic community as it relates to the differentiated roles necessary for empowerment in 21st Century America.

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National Initiative to Certify Tier 1 Hispanic Leaders Announced

Breaking News from the Hispanic Church

September, 2005 – Leadership makes the difference between effectual communities and dysfunctional families. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Institute is a Nation wide certifying Leadership Program that will identify, equip, and certify Tier 1 Hispanic Christian Leadership. “Our objective is to build and network the Civic, Business, and Spiritual Leaders of America’s largest Cities”. We desire to produce individuals with the intellectual wherewithal, spiritual fortitude, and business acumen to lead the major institutions of our cities. From school boards, to city councils, from Mayors to state and Federal legislators, from School Principals to CEO’s, we will prepare the Tier 1 Leaders of America.

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Christian Leaders Call for an end to racist rhetoric in immigration debate, may 4 service to rally faith community

(Washington D.C) Dr. Cindy Jacobs, one of America’s most prominent Evangelical leaders and President and Founder of Generals International, cannot stand idly by while a renewed racist and nativist spirit once again saturates American society under the vestiges of immigration debate.” Racism is a Sin”, declared Jacobs. “Congress has been attempting to reach an agreement on an Immigration Reform Bill for some time. This remains a deeply divisive issue both between and within the Democratic and Republican parties. Stories of racism at the border are terribly common, from people being rudely searched by our immigration officers, to pastors who feel overrun by people who have out-stripped their social services”, she added. In addition, Jacobs believes the Christian community must stand as a firewall against the racist sentiment once again prevalent in the current discourse. “After visiting with some top Hispanic leaders and listening to their concern, the consensus is that this issue will never be settled through natural means. Only God knows what needs to be done for much needed reform. Together, we are going to appeal to the Creator of the universe to adjudicate a just solution to this grievous problem”, pleaded Jacobs. As a result, Christian leaders from all major ethnic communities have issued convocation under the banner; BLEND, Christians Against Racism to take place on May 4th and 5th in Laredo, Texas at the facilities of Mercy Church, a Hispanic Mega Church. Dr. Jesse Miranda, Global Chairman of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization, sees the event as prophetic and pivotal to changing the language of the debate. “For too long the extremist have hijacked the issue of immigration and made it a rallying cry for nativism and racism. We do have a legitimate immigration situation that requires our attention. However the debate must convert to a dialogue and reason must trump rhetoric”, explained Miranda. “Racism is ultimately, a spiritual problem and it is only right the church become involved in seeking reconciliation”, he added. Dr. Jacobs will be joined by prominent Evangelical leaders such as Bishop Harry Jackson, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Rev. Mark Gonzalez, Dr. Alemu Beefetu, Herman Matir, Will Ford III and others. Jacobs recent book the Reformation Manifesto serves as a primer for 21st Century Christianity and societal transformation addressing similar issues.

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SAVE Act perpetuates, rather than reforms, our immigration policy

By:

Samuel Rodriguez Jr. – San Francisco Chronicle, Op-ed

Expressions of hatred and xenophobia toward immigrants, at an all-time high, are producing widespread fear in the Latino community. Unfortunately, the echo of a hate-filled climate is now making its way through Congress. Anti-immigrant forces in the House are capitalizing on fears and stereotypes to push the SAVE Act, a bill that would throw more money at our broken immigration system instead of engaging in the hard work of meaningful reform. The SAVE Act is touted by proponents as an “enforcement” bill, but it would in fact put us on a slow, painful path toward detention and deportation. The bill is championed by hard-line groups that advocate a strategy called “deportation by attrition.” As it sounds, this philosophy espouses making the lives of immigrants and their families so difficult that they simply give up and self-deport. This approach is inhumane and unworkable for a variety of reasons. First, the SAVE Act would require local police to enforce immigration law, a policy that deters immigrants from reporting crimes and diverts police time away from serious threats to public safety. It would allocate millions of dollars for the construction of 8,000 additional detention beds for immigrants awaiting deportation. Second, the legislation drastically expands an employer verification system that is wrought with errors – 17.8 million, according to the Social Security Administration itself. Forcing employers to verify eligibility status of their workers before this database is updated could jeopardize the jobs of millions of U.S.-born and immigrant workers alike, whose information has been entered incorrectly in the system. Enforcement of our nation’s borders is essential, as is holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers. However, if enacted without a legalization program for workers already here, these measures would seriously threaten the livelihoods of immigrants and their children around the country. What is more, the SAVE Act does not realistically address our labor needs and makes no attempt to provide a legal workforce for employers who want to do the right thing. In an election season where vulnerable politicians fear looking soft on immigration, the SAVE Act already has a hefty 151 co-sponsors, 10 of whom are from California. In the Latino community, we regret that politicians are attempting to score political points at the expense of immigrants who have come here only to work and create a better life for their families. We can do better. At a time when all remaining presidential candidates promote humane and effective approaches to fix our immigration system, it is time that Congress recognizes that scapegoating immigrants is not the right approach. It plays to the fears of Americans, instead of our past as a nation of immigrants and our capacity to build strong communities together. This country was built on the contributions of generations of immigrants. We should not allow Congress to turn our backs on this legacy and take us down a road that would create more fear in our communities and push immigrant families further into the shadows. Our leaders should pursue legislation that embodies our best values – reuniting families, strengthening the economy and restoring the rule of law. Samuel Rodriguez Jr. is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Christian organization.

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Christians eye immigration reform

By:

Originally printed in the The Washington Times, May 8, 2007 By Sean Lengell

WASHINGTON-A new Christian group touting liberal immigration reform has begun an extensive nationwide advertising campaign, days before Capitol Hill lawmakers are expected to begin debate on proposed changes to U.S. immigration laws. Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a collection of more than 100 evangelical, mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Hispanic and black religious and social-service groups and activists, began running full-page advertisements yesterday in Roll Call and Congress Daily legislative publications. The ads ask Congress to “enact policies that guarantee humanitarian border enforcement, family-reunification efforts, opportunities for employment and an earned path to citizenship.” The group says it initially will focus much of its efforts in five states — Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania — and will spread its message through local newspaper and radio advertisements, letter-writing to lawmakers and newspapers, telephone calls and public meetings. The group also promises hundreds of lobbying visits to members of Congress by the August recess. “We are coming together today because the Bible tells us again and again about the need to care for the stranger in our midst,” said Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners, an evangelical Christian ministry and key member of the coalition. The coalition’s platform, which includes an option for illegal residents to become citizens and a guest-worker program that includes “legal avenues” for workers to bring their families, is similar to legislation backed by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who has accused Republicans of stalling on the immigration debate, has said he will use a parliamentary maneuver on the Senate floor Wednesday to force a debate on the immigration matter on Monday. Meanwhile, a negotiating team of Democrats led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts is working with the Bush administration and top Republicans to reach a “comprehensive” bill that is expected to include provisions derided by many Republicans as amnesty. But the longer the negotiations drag on, the more Democratic leaders fear the White House will push for a more restrictive immigration bill. The Christian group — which includes the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, the Presbyterian Church USA’s Washington office, National Ministries of the American Baptist Churches USA and Network, a national Catholic social-justice lobby — says it isn’t advocating for a total open-border policy and says some border enforcement is necessary. “Yes, there is a problem at the borders, so let’s fix it, but with compassion and humane policies,” Mr. Wallis said. “I have yet to hear of any hotel cleaning woman from Mexico who has turned into a suicide bomber.” The group declined to say how much the campaign will cost. The Horace Hagedorn Foundation, a New York philanthropic organization, is a significant contributor, group spokesman Adam Taylor said. Mr. Taylor declined to name any other funding sources. The coalition says it will continue its campaign until the issues they are promoting become law. “As Americans, we must reject xenophobia and discrimination,” said Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “At the end of the day, how we deal with immigrants is a diagnostic of the spiritual health of our nation.”

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NHCLC and The 2008 Presidential Candidates

Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Presidential Elections

As a member of the fast growing Brown Evangelical community, we find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. Surely, we resonate with the Vietnam War Hero, Republican presumptive nominee Sen. John McCain, on issues such as marriage, life, and immigration. However, what do we say to our children and grandchildren when they ask whom we voted for in the election that embodied the prophetic possibility of permanently knocking the legs off and crippling the behemoth of racism in our nation via the candidacy of Sen. Obama? Let us contextualize the narrative a bit. Brown Evangelicals currently stand at the nexus of a righteousness and justice platform. Historically, white evangelicals thrived by the continual impetus of a two item platform agenda, life and marriage. On the other side, progressive evangelicals and particularly black Christians coalesced around the social-economic issues such as health care, education, and poverty alleviation. Suddenly, Hispanic Christians, particularly Hispanic Evangelicals arrive with a commitment to reconcile both sides with a platform that incorporates the aforementioned issues within a framework of righteousness and justice. So what do we do? On one hand, do we support the candidate that invested, in comparison to all the other, more political capital in supporting comprehensive immigration reform and deterring the deportation of 12 million of our brethren? Yet, how do we support McCain when his party stands responsible for a xenophobic and nativist strategy rekindling the racist elements within our society? Or do we support Obama who stands on the polar opposite end with Hispanic Christians on issues such as sanctity of life and traditional marriage advocacy , yet resonates with us on health care, education, poverty alleviation, immigration and other justice concerns? Correspondingly, the 47 million strong Hispanic populous and particularly the entire Hispanic faith community may very well determine the outcome of the 2008 election via the swing states of New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Arizona and Colorado. The question is not whom do we vote for? The true question is, which Isaac do we place on the altar? In order to address the question, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference hosted the “Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Presidential Elections Summit” this past weekend in Costa Mesa, Ca. Both McCain and Obama sent representatives to this unprecedented gathering. Dr. Jesse Miranda stated that for the first time in American history, Hispanic Evangelicals stand committed to contextualizing the narrative of political social activism within the framework of the Presidential elections. Accordingly, the summit participants, including the denominational leaders of America’s largest Hispanic Christian denominations, from the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Pentecostals and others a long with mega church pastors, organizational leaders, scholars and members of the evangelical Hispanic media, discussed which candidate best addresses the concerns in the Hispanic Evangelical electorate and which one best reflects the core values of such constituency. Dr. Juan Hernandez, McCain’s National Hispanic Outreach Director explained to the group that McCain should be the candidate of choice simply on three key areas: Immigration reform, sanctity of life and traditional marriage. Hernandez in essence stated that McCain’s commitment to Immigration Reform a lone should prompt all Hispanics to make him the candidate of choice. The only problem with Dr. Hernandez’s assertions is that according to research presented by Dr. Gaston Espinosa from Claremont McKenna College a few minutes earlier, Immigration does not even appear in the top 5 concerns for Hispanic Americans voters. On the life issue, McCain does have more traction. The leaders unanimously voted and determined that a commitment to a life platform stands as the deal breaking issue for Hispanic evangelicals. After Joshua Dubois, Faith Outreach Coordinator for the Obama Campaign, addressed the gathering via Speakerphone, Dr. Shaun Casey, who flew in on the final day of the gathering addressed the summit on behalf of Sen. Obama. Shaun was recently appointed as the National Evangelical Outreach Director for Obama 08. Dr. Casey articulated the position of Sen. Obama as it pertains to the other half of the Evangelical platform, justice issues. In addition, Shaun expressed the Senators’ commitment to reducing abortion while addressing the causes of abortion such as poverty and the lack of a high school education. Undoubtedly, Casey’s presentation provoked many questions and exchanges with various summit attendees. Conclusion? Obama is one issue away from capturing the Hispanic Evangelical vote”, stated Bishop Steve Perea of Christian Worship Centers, a multi ethnic mega church Pastor and participant. If he can move a bit center right on abortion, than the Democratic nominee may capture a constituency that voted 68% for George W. Bush in 2004. Even America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical organization stands divided on the Presidential candidates as NHCLC Vice President for Social Justice, Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, Senior Pastor of the 4500 member strong New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, just joined the Obama Campaign and serves as spokesperson for Matthew 25, a progressive evangelical Political Action Committee committed to Obama’s election, while Rev. Mark Gonzalez, NHCLC V.P. for Governmental Affairs, serves on McCain’s faith advisory board. At the end of the day, here’s the question. Will abortion trump immigration? Will Latinos ignore the xenophobic and nativist rhetoric allowed by the Republican Committee and vote for McCain? In other words, will Hispanics vote for McCain in spite of his party or will they vote for Obama in spite of his abortion stance? The answer may very well determine who occupies Pennsylvania Avenue come January 2009.


Obama meets with America’s leading Christian Leaders including National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

(Chicago, Illinois, Hispanic Christian Newswire). Democratic Presidential Presumptive Nominee, Sen. Barack Obama meet with leading religious figures in a private off the record gathering in downtown Chicago on June10th. Rodriguez joined Franklin Graham, TD Jakes, Max Lucado and others in the frank and deliberate exchange of ideas. Although the attendees did not elaborate on the discussion, Rodriguez believes the meeting was substantial in its purpose of contextualizing the evangelical narrative within the framework of Obama’s campaign. “It’s good to see a Democratic Nominee engage Evangelical leaders. For too long the Democratic party seemed hostile to Evangelicals”, stated the Reverend. Rodriguez did present the Senator an invitation and shared the importance of the Latino vote in this election.


Presidential Hopefuls, McCain and Obama issue statements acknowledging the leadership and success of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference in celebration of annual board convention.

(Chicago, Illinois). Republican Presidential Hopeful John McCain and Democratic Presumptive Nominee Barack Obama issued statements congratulating the National Hispanic Christian Leadership’s Conference annual Board Convention. Both candidates acknowledged the work and ministry of the organization a long with the National leadership in addressing various issues including immigration and justice matters. Both camps sent envoys who read the declarations. In addition, Mayor Richard Daley and Alderman Billy Ocasio, Chicago officials issued welcoming statements. The Board meeting set an attendance record with delegates from over the Nation and Puerto Rico attended in formulating policy that will impact over 18,000 churches and close to 15 million constituents. The annual report presented by the executive board formally submitted via the National Chairman celebrated the organization’s recognition in the following areas:

  • The Nation’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization ( Source: Christian Post, others)
  • The Nation’s leading Hispanic Organization in Defense of Marriage (Source: Alliance For Marriage, others)
  • The Nation’s Hispanic Civil Rights Organization (Dr. Gaston Espinosa, Leading Hispanic Church Scholar)
  • The Nation’s Leading Immigration Reform Faith Advocates (Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, etc)

In addition to leading in advocacy of a Life agenda and addressing justice issues such as Darfur, sex trafficking, torture, among others. “We give Praise to God for all these achievements however we must continue to work diligently to sustain and grow the leadership capacity for the sake of God’s kingdom and the future of the Hispanic American community”, declared Dr. Jesse Miranda, NHCLC Chief Executive.


National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President asks Sen. Obama to clarify Abortion stance on CNN’s Compassion Forum

(Harrisburg, Pa. Hispanic Christian Newswire) NHCLC President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez and Global Chair, Dr. Jesse Miranda joined leading Religious leaders at Messiah College in Harrisburg, Pa in a values forum discussion with Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference co-sponsored the event hosted by the Compassion Forum. Rev. Rodriguez was one of two speakers invited to share a word prior to the arrival of the candidates. “The kingdom of God is not Republican or Democrat, Red State or Blue State, Liberal or Conservative but it was, is and forever shall be righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”, declared Rodriguez to a vociferous affirmative response from the standing room only crowd. In addition, Rodriguez asked Sen. Obama a question on Abortion where the Senator reaffirmed his views on the controversial issue. “There is a moral component that cannot be denied”, stated Obama. The Compassion Forum under the leadership of Katie Barge plans to host another forum in the fall with both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.


Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Elections; Obama or McCain? Which candidate will Hispanic Evangelicals Support?

(Washington, D.C) The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Evangelical Organization, will host a Summit in Vanguard, California on August 7th and 8th titled “Hispanic Evangelicals and the 2008 Elections. Will this community determine who wins the White House in 08’”? Dr. Jesse Miranda, Chief Executive of the NHCLC believes the summit speaks to emergence of the Hispanic Evangelical Community as a viable and significant ecclesiastical, social and political force in the American religious and political landscape. “Our strength lies in the fact that we stand as a people committed to both a Kingdom message of Salvation and a societal message of transformation. As brown evangelicals take center stage as the fastest growing force in the Hispanic American family, we will address the issues important to our people and contextualize them within the framework of the 2008 elections”, declared Miranda. The Jesse Miranda Center will host the event on the campus of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. Both the Obama and McCain campaigns, who already via telephone conference and representatives attended the 2008 National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Board Convention in Chicago last April and addressed 1,200 plus attendees in the annual service, committed to participate. “Which issue will take center stage this election and which candidate will better serve our concerns? This summit will present a national platform for a most necessary discussion on race, the Latino community, faith and the 2008 elections”, explained Dr. Miranda. To register, download our form by clicking on the button to the right. For more information Contact Information: Media Director, Diana Arenas: 916-919-7476, 916-417-4036


National Hispanic Evangelical Leader, Rev. Wilfredo DeJesus, Meets with Obama, Hispanics embracing “change” message

(Washington D.C.) The Vice President of Social Justice for the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, meet with Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama last Friday and discussed the importance of justice values in the Latino community. Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois, joined a contingency of Hispanic pastors and clergy from Texas with the purpose of discussing with the Senator some of the concerns within the Hispanic evangelical community. “The meeting went very well and the Senator really understands the importance of justice issues such as Health Care, Education and Immigration within the Hispanic faith community”, declared De Jesus. The meeting represents the importance of Latino Evangelicals in the 2008 election as a significant wildcard, primarily in swing states such as Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania. “Latino Evangelicals want to confront any notion of a black/brown divide”, stated Dr. Jesse Miranda, NHCLC Global Chairman. “Hispanics need to vote for the candidates that best reflects our values”, he added. The Senator received from Rev. De Jesus an invitation to attend the annual Board Convention of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference on April 15th in Chicago. Serving 18,000 churches and close to 15 million Born Again Christians, the organization currently directs a voter registration campaign in order to present a deliverable constituency that will activate the Latino faith vote to address issues such as immigration reform. “Hispanic Born Again believers are the quintessential values voters that reconcile a platform of righteousness and justice”, proclaimed Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Conference President. The convention is set to follow a historic April 2nd meeting in Dallas, Texas where Hispanic Evangelicals and African American Evangelicals will come together for a historic unprecedented meeting to address the black/brown divide and establish collaborative relationships that may very well impact not only the 2008 elections but the future of American cities and race relations. “Pastor De Jesus’ meeting with the Senator a long with the April meetings coalesce around communities embracing a change message that invigorates our nation with hope”, explained Rev. Felix Poso, National Chairman in a pre conference prayer call.” Rev. De Jesus, one of America’s most successful and important Pastors, carries the burden of addressing the Justice issues for the Hispanic faith community” he added. Rev. DeJesus concluded his meeting with Senator Obama in a traditional Hispanic Evangelical Manner by praying and laying his hands upon the Presidential hopeful.

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Pentecostals could influence swing states

By:

William McKenzie is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist.

When Reunion Arena closed last month, most of us in Dallas focused on the end of an era for the basketball showcase. But the religious revival held at Reunion on the night of its last hurrah also had plenty to say about the future, politically speaking. According to Pastor Lynn Godsey of Ennis, the evangelistic rally brought in 13,500 largely Latino worshipers, half of whom he estimates were Hispanic Pentecostals. Defined by their preference for healings, miracles and speaking in tongues, Latino Pentecostals are a fast-growing branch within the larger world of Latino evangelicals. (Not all evangeli cals subscribe to speaking in tongues, healings, direct revelations by the Holy Spirit and miracles.) From a political standpoint, Pentecostals are worth watching, including Latino Pentecostals. Presidential elections are increasingly broken down into winning niches of voters, particularly in swing states. When you consider where Pentecostals are most concentrated, they certainly could be influential in swing states . A New York Times breakdown shows they congregate the most, percentagewise, in Arkansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. After that, it’s Arizona, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Kansas and Oregon. Texas is not a swing state. Neither is Oregon. But some of those others sure will be in play this fall. Consider West Virginia. It’s absolutely a swing state, where every vote matters to the McCain and Obama camps. According to the Times map, 14 percent of West Virginians are Pentecostals. SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson attributes that number to it being a mountain religion, coming out of Appalachia and the Ozarks. The backroom strategists for John McCain and Barack Obama can hardly overlook such a sizable portion of a state they both desperately want – and need – to capture. But Pentecostals aren’t as reliable voters as Baptists or Catholics. Pentecostals tend to live more on the margins of society, so they haven’t always been strongly connected to the political universe. What’s more, they’ve traditionally put a premium on personal piety and second-coming theology. That combination usually leads believers away from a Reinhold Niebuhr-like view of establishing justice in a sinful world. But some of those traditions may be changing, and that’s important for this fall’s election. John Green, who studies religious voting patterns for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, says Pentecostal s’ political views are in flux. They still emphasize traditional families and the sanctity of human life. But young Pentecostals are looking at a broader range of issues, like reducing poverty. That’s been the message I’ve heard in talking to Pentecostal pastors. They describe younger Pentecostals as being both pro-life and pro-women’s rights. Or, as Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference told me, they com bine a social conservatism with an economic populism. What does all this mean for the fall election? John McCain has the edge among Pentecostals, but this is not a done deal. Mr. McCain’s strategists would be smart to emphasize to Pentecostals his belief in conservative social values and his dedication to finding a better set of immigration laws. The values part would reassure Pentecostals that he won’t unravel the social order. And his devotion to fairer immigration laws will show he’s not one of those Republicans who is out to demonize immigrants, some of whom worship in Pentecostal iglesias in cities like Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago. As far as Barack Obama goes, he could play to the younger Pentecostals who have an interest in a fairer economy. And there are black Pentecostals he could win over in large cities. Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas has a Holy Ghost-flair, as do a number of charismatic African-American congregations. In swing states, those voters become part of the mini-universes he needs to win. The bottom line is I’d bet on McCain prevailing among Pentecostals. But I wouldn’t bet everything I own. Pentecostals, especially the Latino Pentecostals who can fill up arenas like Reunion, are going to be a fascinating niche vote to follow.

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