You could see this coming a while back. Obama has long been comfortable talking about his moderate to liberal Christianity, and has long been very much at ease with the social Gospel and mixing religion with politics. George W. Bush, meanwhile, went a very long way toward integrating his religious faith with big government, providing conservative legitimacy to the notion of religiously infused state-funded services. Obama, for his part, has noticed that John McCain is extremely awkward when talking about religious faith in a political context, not terribly comfortable around holy rollers, and altogether a more secular figure. So put all that together and ... ta da! The latest Obama counter-strike:
Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans that would expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and - in a move sure to cause controversy - support their ability to hire and fire based on faith... David Kuo, a conservative Christian who was deputy director of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives until 2003 and later became a critic of Bush's commitment to the cause, said Obama's position has the potential to be a major "Sister Souljah moment" for his campaign... "It would be a very, very, very interesting thing," said Kuo, who is not an Obama adviser or supporter but was contacted by the campaign to review the new plan.
The rationale is laid out by the NYT today:
Mark DeMoss, a public relations executive who represents Franklin Graham and other church leaders and conservative religious organizations, said recently that Mr. Obama could conceivably win as much as 40 percent of the evangelical vote.
If that happens (and I can't see how it will because of Obama's abortion record), we're talking about a historic landslide. But if only a fifth of them move over to the Democrat, we have a serious realignment - and possibly real movement in a few Southern states.