Key for McCain: Evangelical Centrists

In his new book The Future of Faith in American Politics, evangelical leader David Gushee writes that despite the opposition Republican John McCain has encountered from the religious right in his run for the White House, he "offers policy stances on a number of issues that evangelical centrists find appealing -- if he holds on to them."

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In his new book The Future of Faith in American Politics, evangelical leader David Gushee writes that despite the opposition Republican John McCain has encountered from the religious right in his run for the White House, he "offers policy stances on a number of issues that evangelical centrists find appealing -- if he holds on to them."

Those issues include, he said, McCain's efforts to battle climate change and his positions on torture and immigration. But Gushee, in Washington this morning as part of his book launch, said that McCain's touting of his recent endorsement by controversial Texas televangelist John Hagee suggests that the Arizona senator "needs to learn the evangelical community better."

Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, said that the endorsement by Hagee, who has made anti-Catholic statements and has asserted that Jews have been punished by God for disobedience, "is a problem for the center."

He loses as many votes as he gains from Hagee's seal of approval, said Gushee, who encouraged the senator -- as have some leaders in the Catholic community -- to repudiate it. McCain has said he does not agree with all of Hagee's beliefs but has not rejected the endorsement.

—Liz Halloran