Candidates McCain and Obama have agreed to this one encounter (it’s
not a debate) in a forum at an evangelical megachurch to answer
questions that concern Christian Americans. Finally. But hold on…

Christians are divided over which issues are most important to address. And the pastor the candidates have chosen to moderate that forum and ask the questions says a lot about which way they hope this “Civil Forum” goes.

The founding pastor of the 23,000-member Saddleback
Church is “Purpose-Driven Life” author Rick Warren. Perhaps the most
prominent so-called “new evangelical” in the country, Warren focuses
more on issues like AIDS, poverty, human rights and the environment
than on social issues, chief among them abortion and gay marriage, that
have been the focus of traditional evangelicals in recent years…

Hours before Obama and McCain take the stage at Saddleback, however,
a very different evangelical gathering will be taking place at the
National Mall. There, according to Lou Engle, founder of TheCall,
thousands of evangelicals will gather for “cross-denominational solemn
assembly” to pray and push evangelicals to keep marriage and abortion
front and center in their minds.

Social conservatives have been waiting for this kind of encounter
since the primaries began and niche debates were held to address the
concerns of several other groups. “Will there ever be a debate over the
social and moral issues that concern pro-life Americans?” I have been
asked at several events. The answer is still….we’ll see. This one comes
close. Listen to what is or isn’t asked….and answered.

It will be televised at 8 pm Eastern.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....