September 24th, 2007
05:50 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama plans "40 Days of Faith and Family" in South Carolina

Obama is hoping a Biblically-titled grassroots effort will boost his stature among South Carolina primary voters.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Barack Obama's presidential campaign is hoping to increase the candidate's profile among African-American voters in South Carolina by launching a grassroots effort called "40 Days of Faith and Family."

The effort, which began on Saturday, will organize Bible study programs and gospel concerts across the state over the next month in order to engage voters and boost Obama's name identification among Palmetto State voters who may be more familiar with the Democratic frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Obama staffers have a significant grassroots effort underway in the state, using phone banks, canvassing and house meetings to reach out to black South Carolinians in urban centers as well far-flung rural areas. The campaign has also run radio ads here targeted at African-American voters emphasizing the Democratic candidate's faith.

African-Americans make up an estimated fifty percent of Democratic primary voters here. Recent polls have shown Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton running neck-and-neck among black voters.

According to a release from the campaign, "40 Days of Faith and Family" is "an opportunity for people of faith to come together, across racial and denominational lines, to talk about how they live their faith outside the four walls of the church, what they want to see from their presidential candidates and how Obama’s faith informs how he thinks about the issues of our time."

The release also says the effort will emphasize Obama's experience as a community organizer and civil rights attorney, two biographical entries that the campaign hopes will help the senator appeal to black voters.

Though Obama and Clinton are in a dead heat among African-Americans, Clinton still leads Obama by a wide margin in most statewide polls.

[For more campaign news from the Palmetto State, check out the South Carolina Political Ticker.]

UPDATE: The Obama campaign clarifies that they will not be organizing Bible studies themselves, but will be doing voter outreach through existing church Bible study programs.

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Amy, TN

    Wow, I was waiting for a looney left liberal to freak out about a democrat professing his faith in such an open way. Thank you AJ. You stand for your party to perfection.

    September 25, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  2. Chip Celina OH


    Why such hate? I thought the Democratic party was the inclusive one, 'the big-tent', a bastion of tolerance. Yet, quite arguably the best candidate in the field uses the 'freedom OF religion' and 'freedom of speech' tenets of our Constitution and you say it is disgusting. Then you spew other-side rhetoric?

    I got the following quote from an article on,

    "Americans are religious people. According to U.S. News & World Report, 96 percent of us believe in God. Fifty-four percent attend church at least once a week"

    And you say that if Obama wants to attract 'those type of folks'...

    If I were him, I'd love to attract 96% of the electorate. Perhaps the survey is outdated or the numbers slightly inaccurate, but to me it looks like a majority.

    It's obvious by this, and other posts you've made, that you hate Christians at least, perhaps religion as a whole. So, let's look at the Ten Commandments that don't deal with a deity and you tell me which ones you disapprove of.

    4. Remeber the Sabbath and keep it holy. Do you work 7 days a week, or do you take at least one day off?

    5. Honor your mother and father. Not a bad idea.

    6. Don't murder, I think most of us agree with that.

    7. Don't commit adultery, while it may be fun for a few minutes, it is injurious to other parties involved at some point down the line.

    8. Don't steal, another noble principle.

    9. Don't lie, how many people are pissed at Dubya for this one, I think you're probably in that group.

    10. Don't envy your neighbor's house or wife. Sort of ties in with #7.

    If these are the principles of 'the other side' that you despise so much, I'm glad to be a part of it.

    If what upsets you is people trying to use their faith for purely political gain or force certain aspects of it on an unwilling person, I am in agreement that it is wrong. Throughout history, people have misused the name of God as a rallying cry to conquer peoples, land and acquire resources. My understanding of the book is not that at all (even though it has happened) and it sickens me. The KKK and Arian movements in this country try to cloak themselves in religion to further their worldview, that is an abomination.

    Martin Luther King was a Christian, was he a lunatic? What do you think of his biblical views? Bill Clinton (and every President beginning with Harry Truman) had frequent meetings with Billy Graham where they prayed together. All lunatics I guess, more of those-type people. Every candidate in the field, Democrat and Republican claims an affiliation with a church, are you going to stay home on election day?

    Not everyone who is a believer is a "thumper".

    Have a great Tuesday,

    September 25, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. bukky, Baltimore, MD

    If Obama was such a great person then why doesn't he spend 40 days and nights in a nursing home, home for the wayward, orphanage,etc. Many people are not religious and that is very uncalled for.

    Posted By laurinda,ny

    Obama went to Columbia and Harvard, and has spent the past 21 years in Civil service for the poor... What more do you want from the man? This man actually HAS dedicated his life to the greater good, and you are mad bc he is showing that he has faith? What is wrong with you?

    This is DISGUSTING!! A Democrat trying to appeal to the thumpers. We dont want those people in our party. If Obama wants to attract those type of folks he needs to switch to the other side.

    Posted By AJ; Montpelier, VT :

    YOU are disgusting. Get off your high horse AJ. People of family and faith are not nessecarily thumpers. I great number of black southerners are VERY religious but you dont see them joining the right wing Focus on Family type groups. Infact a large majority vote consistantly democrat and you cant kick them out of the party bc they pray. These people understand the division BTW church and state. There is a difference.

    You can't lump every person of faith into the same hypocritical box as the James Dobson Clan.

    And not I'm not religious

    September 25, 2007 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    To say people who don't want theocracy are anti-religious is ignorant.Jesus himself was anti-theocratic.The religious conservatives endorse theocracy and pandering to them to get money on the cheap is simply immoral.I hope Obama has the guts to explain during his forty days that theocracy threatens religions more than the 15% of this country that is not afflicted with that syndrome.We are the ones who gave you all of your technology,now this technology shows the defective brains of these theocrats,and science gets attacked as heresy.Athiests are the best protectors of religious freedoms because we stand for equal treatment under the law.US news and world report is way off in their poll,probably because of right-wing pressure to skew the facts.Promoting theocracy is an establishment of religion,period.We are not Iran!So let's agree to ban theocracy to protect our nation from religious fanatics who would destroy it.Do all the praying you want,just don't force it on our country.When you do,you hasten the fall of your religious organization.Religion is not a weapon to be swung like a bat,it's not that strong.

    September 25, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Ryan, New York, NY

    I like Obama and I understand why he's doing this.

    That said, I absolutely hate that in this country where we're supposed to have a separation of church & state, our politicians are forced to inject religion into government in order to gain votes. It annoys me to no end that voters take this into consideration, as though a candidate's religion is a badge representing his or her values. As we see on a daily basis, being a person of faith doesn't necessarily mean that you're a moral person.

    September 25, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Chip Celina OH

    Ed of Ellenville,

    I think the establishment clause of the first amendment takes care of banning theocracy. The authors of that document (most of them religious men looking for the liberty to worship as they please) fled a theocracy, first hand knowledge led to that provision. It must have been important too, since it is amendment #1.

    The inverse of your opening comment is true, assuming that someone expressing their faith is promoting a theocracy is ignorant.

    Not too sure about your claim that ALL technology flows from atheists, but thank you for all of your hard work.

    As for science being called heresy and then saying taht "We are not Iran!", did you see Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia in it's entirety? He would disagree soundly with you on that one. He sees advances in science and the furtherance of all knowledge as vital in the discovery of one's spiritual walk.

    Maybe things aren't as divided as they seem?

    Anyway, I hope you have a good day,

    September 25, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Ryan, NYC, NY

    If Obama was such a great person then why doesn't he spend 40 days and nights in a nursing home, home for the wayward, orphanage,etc. Many people are not religious and that is very uncalled for.

    Posted By laurinda,ny : September 24, 2007 7:23 pm

    Most people are not religious?
    90% of americans believe in god.
    what a dumb statement.

    Posted By Coach Haughton : September 24, 2007 8:01 pm

    Coach, many doesn't equal more. Using your numbers, 10% of 300 million people is "many people," unless you consider 30 million to be a small number.

    If you're going to criticize someone, at least respond to what they wrote, not what you recreated it to be when you read it.

    September 25, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    I didn't mean to link that issue with Iran.I'm well aware of the bizarre dichotomy there.It's here where science is berated by these opportunists.Iran's scientists are left alone to quietly pursue their endeavors.And not all religious people are theocrats,just those that use religion and the promise of theocracy to curry favor in politics.As to the remark about all technology coming from athiests,I should have used a different term,perhaps people with fully functional neurological pathways between the amygdala and the temporal lobes of the brain, whether they choose to practice religion or not.Is that better?

    September 25, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. Adam, Chicago, IL

    People, what's the matter with you? Obama isn't trying to shove religion down people's throats, he's trying to demonstrate that the values of the Democratic party are in line with the values of Christianity. While the 'Focus on the Family' people have been great about claiming that they are the true holders of the message, they overlook their own hypocrisy. The whole point of Obama's campaign is that all of us, no matter what we believe, can be better. Our country can be better. We can really show all those qualities we say we stand for, and for those Christian, you can really show the compassion and love that's supposed to be a part of Christianity – not the hate and venom that's so popular in mass market Christianity. While cynics say 'this is the way the world is, so we need to be too', Obama is saying, 'we need to have the courage to stand up and actually live our values, not just give lip service to them'.

    If Obama can do half of what he wants, the world will be a better place.

    September 25, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Chip Celina OH


    That is better. Now that you have taken the total swipe away from anyone with faith and reduced it to those who are one neuron short of a synapse (many posters of various stripes on this board), we're in good shape.

    I agree that my faith's name has been dragged through the mud in this country (as well as throughout history) in the name of conquest and power.

    Do you think that a 'faith and family' approach is detrimental to society?

    If our country simply followed at least 5 of the 7 commandments I mentioned in an earlier post, we'd be far better off.

    Imagine picking up the newspaper for months at a time and not reading about a rape or a murder.

    I believe that's where the right-wing wants to go, just using the wrong way to get there. They feel it's better to change LAWS on the national stage than use a local/neighborly approach and demonstrate love and compassion to those around you.

    Have an enjoyable rest of the afternoon,

    September 25, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  11. James, Phoenix AZ

    40 Days of Faith and Family?

    Ask Barack if kids should be able to pray in school, high school football games, or other rallies. What will be his answer?

    September 25, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    James,I'd like to know that too,prayer in schools is so unconstitutional,will he pander or punt.That would be a good litmus test.I hope he stands against the shredding of our constitution.

    September 25, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. joyangel123

    I do hope that Mr. Obama continues his bible study campaign after the elections if he is truly a man of God because this election belongs to Hilary Clinton


    September 25, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. R. JAMES


    September 26, 2007 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  15. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    "Faith and Family" need to be kept where they belong, in the home and out of politics. That this creature would pander to the christian segment of our population for votes is, again, disgusting.

    September 26, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  16. James, Phoenix AZ

    Actually Ed (NY) you're half right and half wrong about prayer in school being unconstitutional.

    The Courts have said coerced prayer or school sponsered prayer is unconstitutional. Voluntary prayer by students is ok. However, most schools today (either from fear of lawsuits or rather taking the liberal view) refuse to even allow voluntary prayer.

    The rights of students are being trampled by administrators, politicians, and atheists wanting to push their agenda to erase God from existence.

    Again – hearing Obama speak about this would be intriguing. Would he pander to the far left ACLU types or remain balanced in his faith – recognizing individual rights?

    September 26, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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