Apparently, Democrats have no reservations about taking a page from Karl Rove by cynically shilling for the support of evangelicals:
Called “The Matthew 25 Network,” the new organization, which is still in its earliest stages, is being spearheaded by Mara Vanderslice, who was director of religious outreach for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 and did similar work for several statewide Democratic candidates, including Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.
Mr. Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee, is beginning to step up his outreach to the religious community, and met Tuesday in Chicago with a group of about 30 leaders, including the Rev. T. D. Jakes, the black mega-church pastor.
The Matthew 25 Network draws its name from a few verses in chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink… ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brethren, you did for me.’—Matthew 25:30-40
Note that the Matthew 25 Network’s website and ad for Obama (click the image above for larger version) belie either sloppy research or an embarrassing unfamiliarity with the Bible. Only an edited excerpt from verses 35-40 are actually quoted. I’m not sure they really intend to be guided by the entire citation.
Here’s Matthew 25:30-40 in its entirety (ESV translation):
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
Disregarding the relevance of verses 30-34 to the point the Matthew 25 Network is trying to make, it’s annoying at best that the group believes it can win over evangelicals with such careless mining of scripture for obvious prooftexts.
M25N has endorsed Barack Obama, which isn’t surprising, I guess. Expect a string of ads over the next few months targeting “purpose driven” Christians who believe that the sum total of faith is how much you’ve done for the less fortunate.
Don’t misunderstand me. Faith without works is dead. But the problem with the social gospel pushed by liberal Christians, which is now seeping into mainstream evangelicalism through the efforts of Rick Warren and his network, is that it de-emphasizes or ignores this part of the gospel:
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.