Sen. John McCain

Dozens of Christian leaders meeting in Denver have concluded they should “get behind Sen. John McCain even if they didn’t like everything about him” because the alternative, presumptive Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, actually could oversee the criminalization of Christianity, according to a report.

The results of the meeting have been reported by Steve Strang of Strang Communications. He reported in his Charisma News Bulletin the 70 leaders assembled at the request of Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel and dean of the law school at Liberty University.

“The alternative is so bad we must support John McCain,” Phyllis Schlafly, founder and president of Eagle Forum, told the group, according to the bulletin.

“Our shared conservative evangelical values and our concern about judicial activism compelled us to unite around the presidential candidate who most closely aligns with us,” Staver said. “That candidate is obviously Sen. John McCain. United we will move forward to advance our values in the short- and long-term. We are committed to a transgenerational, multiethnic and multiracial conservative movement.”

The report said some of the Christian leaders were irked by the fact “Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders more than McCain.” But it confirmed others expressed support for McCain, “because an Obama presidency would mean passage of highly liberal policies that would probably allow ‘same-sex marriage,’ severely hurt religious freedom and ensure the appointment of only judges who would keep abortion on demand as the law of the land.”

“Rick Scarborough, founder and president of Vision America, predicted that laws would be passed that would essentially criminalize basic Christian beliefs,” Strang’s report said.

The bulletin quoted Jim Garlow, lead pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, who is rallying pastors regarding the California marriage amendment. He cited 2nd Timothy 1:7, a verse that says God did not give Christians a spirit of fear. But he said California pastors are being motivated by the fact that if a law passes forcing them to marry same-sex couples, they may go to jail if they defy it.

“Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values in Ohio, each reported on meetings they had with McCain. Burress said he grilled McCain on his beliefs and has decided to support him. After the McCain meeting Burress sent an e-mail to supporters that he read to the Denver group,” the bulletin said.

“The e-mail said in part: ‘I was once one of those people who said ‘no way’ to Sen. John McCain as president. No longer. The stakes are too high. And if Obama wins I need to be able to get up on November 5th, look at myself in the mirror, and when I pray, say, ‘Lord, I did all that I could.'”

“I thought the difference between Bush and Kerry was enormous,” Burress told the Denver group, referring to the 2004 presidential election. “But the difference between McCain and Obama is like the Grand Canyon.”

In his own commentary, Strang, whose publishing empire includes Charisma magazine and others, noted he supported Gov. Mike Huckabee in the primaries.

“From my perspective as a conservative Christian he was the perfect candidate – strong on the issues important to me yet an effective leader in Arkansas who is articulate, passionate and caring for those less fortunate.

“But now I’m supporting Sen. John McCain. I’ve long admired him as a great American hero. On the important issues I believe he’s right on. However, he hasn’t cozied up to the so-called religious right. But that’s not a problem to me. Too many leaders in the Christian conservative movement wait to see who asks for their support instead of being principled. At least McCain is principled,” he wrote.

“The fact is that most Christians will vote for McCain because of his stand against abortion and his support of traditional marriage,” he said.

“I’ve reported on the meeting I had on June 10 with Barack Obama and another group of leaders – mostly more liberal denominational leaders and middle-of-the-road evangelicals in Chicago. Obama did a great job of saying just the right things to that group, and he sounded like a sincere Christian,” Strang wrote. “The problem is that his record doesn’t back up his nice words, and he is known to say different things to different groups. Even though his personal Christian faith is right for him, he says, others can get to heaven believing in a different religion or no religion. That’s universalism, and as I write in my column in Charisma, that’s just wrong.”

As WND reported earlier, another prominent Christian leader, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, has said he simply couldn’t support McCain.

“Speaking as a private individual, I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances,” he said at the time.

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