FRC Demands That McCain Talk Religion Like They Want

In its most recent “Washington Update,” the Family Research Council appears to be trying to call out John McCain on the fact that his website just isn’t religious enough:

A quick tour through the candidates’ official websites may do more to predict who our next president will be than months of polling data. On one nominee’s site, visitors can select from featured articles called, “When Faith Is Front and Center,” “Reconciling Faith and Politics,” and “Strengthening Families.” In another section, they can scroll through the priority issues of “ethics,” “faith,” and “family” and read excerpts from speeches, watch video clips, and peruse editorials devoted entirely to this senator’s religious conviction. If you attributed that content to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), guess again. The site belongs to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), whose party is vying for the “values void” created by the GOP’s near-silence on its core issues. Unlike Obama’s site, McCain’s homepage is dedicated to “energy security,” “global competitiveness,” and “Iraq.” Nowhere is faith or family referenced. With the exception of a blurb on human dignity, found on the bottom half of his issues menu, McCain’s commitment to and record on social values are glaringly absent … Is it any wonder then that the gap of support between McCain and Obama is shrinking in the religious community? As of Friday, McCain was leading by only five percent among those who said that religion is an important aspect of their everyday life. The GOP’s silence on marriage, particularly at this critical juncture in California, is deafening.

Oddly, if you actually bother to compare the two candidate’s websites, they don’t seem nearly as different as FRC makes them out to be.

Obama does have a “Faith” page consisting mostly of a link to a speech he delivered to Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America Conference in 2006 and a link to a document entitled “Barack’s Faith Principles. Other articles FRC cites look to be run-of-the-mill campaign issues – concerns about the issues such as “Ethics” and “Family” certainly are not unique to the so-called “Values Voters” FRC claims to represent and the “When Faith Is Front and Center” article they cite is basically a link to an op-ed by Obama supporter Douglas Kmiec.  

It’s not clear why FRC is so high on Obama’s website relative to McCain’s. FRC praises Obama for having a “Family” page even though it contains proposals for a bunch of things FRC loathes, such as providing a living wage and universal healthcare. On McCain’s site, what FRC dismisses as a “blurb” is actually a long “values” page dedicated to Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life which is chalk full of the issues FRC and its ilk care about and even starts off by pledging to overturn Roe v. Wade which, for groups like FRC, has long been its top political priority:

John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.

The page goes on to set out McCain’s views on the importance of protecting marriage, protecting children from internet pornography, and restricting stem-cell research. It concludes with a declaration that “decency, human compassion, self-sacrifice and the defense of innocent life are at the core of John McCain’s value system and will be the guiding principles of a McCain Presidency.”

McCain’s website also contains articles such as “John McCain: Keeping Faith, On His Own Terms” as well as others about his efforts to reach out to the GOP’s conservative Christian base and even the text of his remarks to FRC’s own Values Voter Summit.

FRC’s one-sided review of the websites seems to be an exercise in pressuring McCain into publicly discussing his faith more openly. As FRC’s Tony Perkins explained back in February:

“[McCain] must make social conservatives feel that he, No. 1, understands their issues; No. 2, believes in their issues; and No. 3, will advance them as president.”

Apparently, the only way McCain can do that, despite all the pandering he has already done, is to spend a lot more time talking about religion in a manner that FRC deems acceptable.