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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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