WaPo Heralds How 'Democrats Aim to Reconnect with Religious Voters'

October 21st, 2011 12:24 PM

A Baptist minister from Washington, D.C., who in a sermon once indirectly compared President Obama to Queen Esther -- the biblical figure whose intercession saved Jews from extermination -- has been tapped by the president to "bolster support for President Obama among black and religious voters."

Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein gave readers of the October 21 Metro section a positive 13-paragraph profile of Rev. Derrick Harkins, "a popular D.C. pastor with a shaved head and a remarkable resume." Nowhere in her article did Boorstein examine how Harkins will address conservative religious voters' concerns over Obama's stance on issues such as gay marriage, gays in the military, and abortion, particularly taxpayer-subsidized abortion possible through ObamaCare.

Boorstein also left out the Esther comparison, although her colleagues Nikita Stewart and Hamil Harris noted it in their January 19, 2009 Post article "19th St. Baptist's Glory: The Obamas," about the then-senator's visit to the historically-black congregation the Sunday before his inauguration.

"Harkins brings the assets of Obama's Chicago church but without the baggage," Boorstein quoted one Terry Lynch, the "executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations and a longtime activist in faith and politics in the District."

While Harkins is not the "God damn America" type, a quick Google search confirms his liberal political credentials. For example, he favors a liberalized immigration policy and defended ObamaCare even as other religious leaders were concerned about lack of protections for the unborn.

From EverydayChristian.com's September 8, 2009 profile of Harkins:

Harkins also sees a difficult set of faith-related policy hurdles for Obama. In the ongoing storm of the health care reform debate the prospect of abortions being funded through a government public option has been a point of contention.

“I think we’re all waiting with baited breath for (Wednesday) when he addresses the health care issue before Congress, but it is clear that there has been no mention of specifically providing any federal funding for abortions in any proposals. This also creates a real philosophical conundrum because you can’t disprove a negative.”

Harkins does feel, however, that driving down the number or abortions needs to be a public health goal.

“In a perfect paradigm I don’t think any church would condone abortion,” he said. “I think there needs to be a clear consensus that people from a pro-choice standpoint should coalesce around that abortion reduction should be strongly encouraged from a health care perspective.”

Even so, Boorstein attempted to pass off Harkins as a fence-straddling moderate who can appeal to even some conservative evangelicals:

Harkins works with some of the country’s most visible Christian groups on both the right and the left. He sits on the board of the center-right National Association of Evangelicals, the country’s biggest evangelical organization, as well as of the progressive advocacy group Faith in Public Life.