Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Last week John McCain denounced the work and ministry of two very popular pastors, John Hagee and Rod Parsley. This move may cost him the mainstream evangelical vote. At the very least it will make the Senator suspect to other pastors and millions of unconvinced believers. If the loyal supporters of this spiritual dynamic duo don’t show up at the polls, it alone will make the White House unattainable for the 71-year-old. In other words, the consequences of these rash decisions could be paid at the ballot box this November.

Need proof? Try these statistics on for size.

John Hagee’s last book topped the million unit sales mark (not bad for the San Antonio, Texas "phenom”). Parsley speaks to millions all over the globe through daily television and influences a politically active core group numbering in the hundreds of thousands thorough his Center for Moral Clarity. One could argue that their influence upon the religious right is topped only by James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Don Wildmon. In addition, neither of these fellows is a “Jeremiah Wright” in terms of influence. They have 10 times the outreach muscle of the Chicago preacher.

While evangelical voters are unlikely to move toward Obama, they may soon decide to sit this national election out. Candidates like McCain who want to please everybody, often over react to polls and pundits. People pleasers or political panderers often seem to be wishy-washy and mercurial. Without a clear set of guiding principles, political opportunists often raise more questions than they answer. They destroy the life and vitality of their own campaigns. I hope I am painting McCain with the wrong brush. He’s the only hope that social conservatives have, but we don’t know if we can trust him.

Although McCain is a seasoned politician, a war hero and a life long public servant, he has committed three unforgettable sins. The sins are:

1.Running from the principles that originally got you elected

2. Siding with your enemies

3. Alienating your base

How has he run from the principles that got him elected Senator?

First of all, he seems to have abandoned family values and social conservative principles. Although he has been pro-life for 25 years, he has muddied the waters by supporting embryonic stem cell research. His stance on immigration has also gotten him into trouble because he forgot his supporters’ concern for nation security and the rule of law. In addition, last week he missed an opportunity to cry out against the outrageous California Supreme Court ruling essentially legalizing gay marriage.

How has he sided with his enemies?

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.