In 2004, Exodus International board member Phil Burress put an anti-marriage constitutional amendment on the Ohio ballot and drew thousands of Ohioans to the polls to support the re-election of George W. Bush for president.
Until recently, Burress — the powerful leader of Ohio’s anti-family organization Citizens for Community Values, an affiliate of Focus on the Family — has withheld support from 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Just a month ago, Burress had told the Los Angeles Times that while he might vote for McCain,
he will not work directly for McCain, and he suspects that many conservatives will stay home on election day.
“They think we have no place to go [other than the Republican Party], and in some respects, that’s true,” Burress said. “But it’s going to take a whole lot more than that for him to win.”
Last week, however, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCain met with Burress in a bid to secure far-right votes as McCain’s rival, Democratic candidate Barack Obama, wins over religious centrists and the religious left.
“We told [McCain] that if he didn’t come out and share his pro-family stances on these issues, then he can kiss Ohio goodbye,” said influential anti-gay Ohio activist Phil Burress, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Instead of pursuing a moderate presidential course that might unite Americans behind shared family, community, and national values, McCain pandered to the forces of paranoia and division: He announced his support for an initiative in California to ban same-sex marriage, even though a similar initiative in his home state of Arizona failed.
Burress was impressed:
“It was obvious there were a lot of changed hearts in the room,” said Burress. “We realized that he’s with us on the majority of the issues we care about.”
McCain still hopes to meet with James Dobson, the leader of Focus on the Family. Dobson has said he would not vote for McCain and claimed that neither candidate gives “a hoot about the family.”
Meanwhile, Burress — along with other social conservatives — is pressuring McCain to recruit Southern Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee as his vice-presidential running mate.
Burress characterized the Huckabee overture as a “suggestion, not a demand.”
“This is a man you don’t threaten,” Burress said of McCain. “His principles are his principles. The last thing you want to do is try to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do because he’d probably do the opposite.”
Burress said that while Huckabee is a favorite of Christian conservatives, the most important thing is that McCain’s running mate be “pro-life and pro-family.” Huckabee isn’t a favorite of all evangelical leaders, either; some dislike his populist message, emphasis on the environment and economic positions.
The leaders meeting in Denver included Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum; “Left Behind” co-author Tim LaHaye and his wife, Beverly, founder of Concerned Women for America; David Barton, founder of WallBuilders; Rick Scarborough of Vision America; and Don Hodel, a former interior secretary and former president of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, according to [Liberty Counsel chairman Mat] Staver.
Burress asserts that the Bible commands evangelicals not to vote for Obama:
“The only evangelicals that will support Obama are the ones who haven’t read their Bible,” Burress said. “The more and more we learn about Obama, the closer and closer we get to McCain.”
Does this Exodus board member feel sufficiently holy that God has permitted him to rewrite the Bible? Or does this Exodus leader feel that merely saying the word “Bible” in a sentence makes the sentence true?