FAITH WITHOUT FUNDING, VALUES WITHOUT JUSTICE: THE BUSH CAMPAIGN'S SUCCESSFUL TARGETING OF AFRICAN AMERICAN EVANGELICAL PASTORS AND CHURCHES IN THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Wilds Lawson, Tamara M.
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This dissertation examines the impact of the Black church on electoral politics through an analysis of the role it played during the 2004 presidential election. By examining this particular election, I illustrate both the complexity and political import of the Black church and how neither can be taken for granted by presidential candidates or major political parties seeking to win elections. Paying particular attention to the strategies the Bush campaign and Republican Party used to target a certain segment of the Black church, I focus on faith-based initiatives and same-sex marriage as two specific issues that connected Black churches to the 2004 presidential election in critical ways. I collected data from historical and political texts as well as newspapers and published reports. My interviews with a cross-section of clergy, party operatives and political activists also provided critical information. This dissertation will examine the significance of the role faith-based initiatives and values centered wedge politics played in impacting Black pastors and churches during the countdown to the general election of 2004. The Bush campaign targeted and successfully reached evangelical Black pastors and congregations across the nation by appealing to their conservative moral values. This is significant for two reasons. First, because in expressing their support for President Bush, these Black churches represented a clear departure from the perception that all Black churches support Democratic candidates. They also complicated the notion that African Americans, often thought of as a racial monolith, are politically predictable. Second, because it signaled a shift in Republican presidential campaign outreach strategy from the previous four presidential elections. This study will interrogate whether that strategic shift was grounded in a desire to broaden and diversify the base of the Republican Party. The Bush campaign capitalized on existing relationships with Black churches and pastors, which were cultivated as the administration courted their support during Bush's first term with promises of faith-based initiative funding.