KNIGHT: Faithful flexing muscles before Election Day

Religious Ohioans gather Romney voting bloc

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Economic issues seem to be dominating the 2012 campaign, but a quiet electoral revolution is brewing. The “religious vote” is on the move, and it’s not going leftward.

Because of disgust over the Democrats’ embrace of the abortion industry and the homosexual agenda, plus reckless spending and the donkeys initially leaving God and Jerusalem out of their party platform, the rightward march may turn into a stampede on Nov. 6. Building on the Tea Party-fueled GOP tsunami in 2010, “values voters” are in hyperdrive.

The Rev. Billy Graham, while not endorsing a candidate, is featured in full-page ads urging Americans “to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.” President Obama, it should be noted, endorsed homosexual “marriage” in May.

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, a high-tech version of the old Christian Coalition, began in September distributing 17 million voter guides in battleground states, including Spanish-language versions, according to CBN.com’s David Brody.

In Ohio, a crevasse has opened between city and country. In 2004, Ohioans approved a constitutional marriage amendment with 62 percent of the vote. Yet, today, “in the 10 biggest cities in Ohio, all the mayors are for gay ‘marriage,’ ” said Phil Burress, president of Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values and CCV Action. “What’s happening is that the conservatives are leaving the big cities, so we are concentrating on the rural areas. Seventy-two counties are ‘red,’ and only 16 counties are ‘blue.’ “

A former union organizer who became a Christian activist, Mr. Burress told me in a phone call on Thursday that his group has been operating six call centers since May. They distributed 2.2 million voter guides over the past two weeks, plus 1.5 million business cards for a website that endorses candidates. “The technology is unbelievable,” Mr. Burress said. “We see what the other side had four years ago. We know 300 things about 8.4 million people who live in Ohio. We know who’s pro-life and who’s not.”

While the media ruminate over whether Mitt Romney’s Mormonism will cost him evangelical votes, Christian activists are rallying the faithful. The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger noted this in his recent column “Romney’s Secret Voting Bloc.”

In Ohio “and other swing states — Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina and Florida — the evangelical vote is flying beneath the radar. That is a lot of voters not to notice. In the 2008 presidential vote, they were 30 percent of the vote in Ohio, 31 percent in Iowa and 26 percent in Wisconsin.”

Mr. Burress‘ group has sent voter guides to 10,000 churches in Ohio, placed “family values” ads in 98 rural newspapers and five additional ads in papers aimed at the state’s Amish population. He said 39,000 Amish registered and voted for the first time in 2004, motivated by the marriage issue.

Ohio pro-life activist Janet Porter’s homemade video, “Top 5 Reasons (Not to Vote for Obama),” has gone viral on YouTube, as has Virginia Bishop Earl W. Jackson’s video “Exodus Now,” which urges black Christians to leave the Democratic Party. Prominent black conservatives such as Herman Cain, William Owens and Bishop Harry Jackson have been active in Ohio and may cut into Mr. Obama’s total.

In 2004, rural and suburban voters in Ohio more than offset urban totals. George W. Bush won the state while losing five of the six biggest cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Akron-Canton), narrowly carrying only Cincinnati (Hamilton County). No matter how big the Democratic turnout, Mr. Burress says, “I tell our people, if you show up, you win. If you stay home, you lose. Three hundred thousand of our people who voted in 2004 did not vote in 2008. Obama would have lost by 10,000 votes.”

Catholic voters also have been trending toward the GOP. In the 2006 midterm congressional election, 44 percent of Catholics nationally voted for Republican candidates, according to Pew Center exit polls. After two years of the Barack Obama-Harry Reid-Nancy Pelosi regime, 54 percent of Catholics voted for the GOP in 2010, a 10-point increase. This was before the Obama administration stiff-armed Catholic institutions with an order to pay for Sandra Fluke’s contraceptives.

White Protestants, who gave 61 percent of their votes nationally to the GOP in 2006, upped that to 69 percent in 2010. This time around, they’re no happier about the Democrats’ aggressively secular, redistributionist agenda.

Among Latinos, the GOP increased its share from 30 percent in 2006 to 38 percent nationally in 2010, and elected three statewide Latino candidates — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. It will be interesting to see how Mr. Obama’s unilateral amnesty program for illegal immigrants affects the Latino vote on Tuesday.

The only thing that might put a wrench in a Republican sweep would be massive voter fraud. Mr. Burress noted that a Columbus woman who tried early voting called him, furious. Election workers had informed her that she already had voted. She told them someone had committed fraud, and they let her fill out a provisional ballot.

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