Presidential Candidate Endorsements by Religious Groups and Leaders (2007)

Candidate endorsements have played an important role in American politics. They typically help voters to understand where a candidate stands in relation to the values and traditions espoused by a particular social group. In contemporary politics, endorsements provide candidates not only with an official “seal of approval,” but also with access to membership databases that can be used for targeted fundraising and “get out the vote” appeals.

Endorsements from religious groups and their leaders have significantly affected the outcome of several presidential elections. Most recently, the mobilization of evangelical Christians has been credited with George W. Bush’s victories in 2000 and 2004. This mobilization was widely attributed to endorsements and support from a broad coalition of evangelical Christian organizations and their leaders.

There are indications that candidate endorsements from religious leaders and organizations will be much more difficult to attain in the current election cycle. Since 2004, the Internal Revenue Service has placed a higher level of scrutiny on churches and other non-profit organizations that engage in political advocacy. Investigations following the last two federal elections have left many churches, and their leaders, skittish about endorsing a particular candidate. Other organizations and leaders now refuse to issue endorsements out of concerns that promises made on the campaign trail will be forgotten.

Nevertheless, several candidates have already received endorsements from religious leaders and their affiliated organizations. A list of those endorsements is provided below, along with links to articles regarding the endorsements and to information on the endorsers and their organizations. This list will be updated by the Pluralism Project as the campaign season unfolds.

Rudy Giuliani (R) | Official Giuliani campaign website

  • Pat Robertson, Founder and Chairman, The Christian Broadcasting Network and Founder, Christian Coalition of America
    • New York Times article on endorsement.
    • Pat Robertson bio on Pat Robertson website
    • Christian Coalition of America website
    • Christian Broadcast Network website

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) | Official Huckabee campaign website

  • Dr. Rick Scarborough, Founder, Vision America
    • Letter explaining candidate endorsement
    • Vision America website
    • Dr. Rick Scarborough bio on Vision America website
  • Rev. Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association.
    • The Christian Post article on endorsement
    • American Family Association website
    • Donald E. Wildmon bio on The Carpenter’s Bench newsletter website
  • Jerry Falwell, Jr., Chancellor/President, Liberty University
    • Reuters article on endorsement
    • Jerry Falwell, Jr. bio on Liberty University website.
  • Jeff Broderick, Owner, HisHolyspace.com
  • Jerry Jenkins, Co-Author, Left Behind Series, Writer-at-large, Moody Bible Institute
  • Tim LaHaye, Co-Author, Left Behind Series
  • Beverly LaHaye, Founder, Concerned Women for America
  • Dr. Joshua Fuiten, Senior Pastor, Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington
    • The Seattle Times article on endorsement
    • Dr. Joshua Fuiten bio on Cedar Park Church website
    • Cedar Park Church website
  • Brad Sherman, Founder, Solid Rock Christian Church in Iowa and Purpose Ministries
    • IowaPolitics.com article on endorsement
    • Huckabee campaign press release on Sherman endorsement and role as spokesperson for the campaign’s Iowa Pastors Coalition
    • Brad Sherman bio on Purpose Ministries website
    • Purpose Ministries website.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) | Official McCain campaign website

  • Senator Sam Brownback (R – KS)
    • Associated Press article on endorsement
    • Rolling Stone article, “God’s Senator”
    • Sen. Brownback bio on senatorial website
  • Jerry Zandstra, President of Pro-Life Michigan and former Pastor, Hillside Community Church, Cutlerville, Michigan
    • Grand Rapids Press article on endorsement
    • YouTube video of Zandstra launching Pro-Life Federation of Michigan.
    • Zandstra for US Senate campaign website (2006)

Gov. Mitt Romney (R) | Official Romney campaign website

  • Bob Jones III, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bob Jones University
    • Associated Press article on endorsement
    • Bob Jones University website
  • Paul Weyrich, Co-Founder, The Moral Majority and The Heritage Foundation
    • Boston Globe article on endorsement
    • The Moral Majority Coalition website
    • The Heritage Foundation website
  • Wayne Grudem, Professor, Phoenix Seminary
    • Christianity Today interview with Dr. Grudem regarding his endorsement
    • Dr. Grudem bio on Phoenix Seminary website
  • Don Wilton, Senior Pastor, First Baptist in Spartanburg, South Carolina and President, Southern Baptist Convention – South Carolina Chapter
  • Spartanburg Herald Journal article on endorsement
  • First Baptist Church website
  • Don Wilton bio on First Baptist Church website.

Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) | Official Thompson campaign website

  • Gary L. Bauer, President, American Values
    • UPI article on endorsement
    • American Values website
    • Gary L. Bauer bio on American Values website
  • National Right to Life Committee
  • Dr. Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO, Christian Anti-Defamation Commission and Executive Director, Center for Reclaiming America
    • Standard Newswire article on endorsement
    • Thompson campaign press release on endorsement
    • Dr. Cass bio on Center for Reclaiming America website
    • Center for Reclaiming America website
    • Christian Anti-Defamation Commission website.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) | Official Biden campaign website

  • Rev. Dr. J.J. Jackson, Pastor, Israel Metropolitan CME Church in Greenville, South Carolina
  • Rev. Caesar Richburg, Pastor, Williams Chapel AME Church in Orangeburg, South Carolina
    • TheState.com article on endorsement
    • South Carolina State University article with Rev. Richburg bio
    • Williams Chapel AME Church website

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) | Official Clinton campaign website

  • Rev. Timothy Brown, Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina
    • Associated Press article on endorsement
    • Rev. Brown bio on Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church website
    • Cleveland Chapel website
    • Joined at Clinton rally by 87 other local Christian clergy members

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) | Official Obama campaign website

  • Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder and President, RainbowPUSH Coalition
    • MSNBC article on re-affirmation of endorsement
    • Rev. Jesse Jackson bio on RainbowPUSH Coalition website
    • RainbowPUSH Coalition website
  • 130 black ministers in South Carolina endorse Obama
    • Associated Press article on endorsements
  • Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Founder, Lowery Institute and Co-founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    • The Post and Courier article on endorsement
    • Joseph E. Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights at Clark Atlanta University website
    • Rev. Joseph E. Lowery bio on Lowery Institute website
    • Video clip of Lowery speaking on Obama’s behalf from campaign website
  • Rev. C.T. Vivian, Chairman of the Southern Organizing Committee Education Fund of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
    • The Post and Courier article on endorsement
    • Rev. C.T. Vivian bio on SpeakOut! website
    • SCLC website
  • Rev. Al Sampson, President, Metropolitan Area Council of Black Churches
    • Austin Weekly News article on endorsement
    • Rev. Sampson bio on Truth Establishment Institute website