Pitney Discusses the "God Gap"

The election forum with Pastor Rick Warren represented an opportunity for Obama to emphasize his Christian beliefs, according to Prof. Pitney in the Palm Beach Post:

Obama’s faith became an issue during the Democratic primaries amid the controversy over the anti-American statements of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But even though the controversy highlighted Obama’s Christian faith, polls have shown that nearly two in 10 Americans believe he is a Muslim.

And that may the best reason for Obama to participate in tonight’s forum, said John Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.

“The evangelical vote heavily favors McCain,” Pitney said in an exchange of e-mails this week. “But by appearing at such an event, Obama will cool some of the opposition. They won’t vote for him, but they might not go all-out to beat him, either. But the event also gives him an opportunity to address one of his ongoing problems. By talking about his Christian faith, he is telling Americans: NO, I AM NOT A MUSLIM!”

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