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
Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) | Official Huckabee campaign website
- Dr. Rick Scarborough, Founder, Vision America
- Rev. Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association.
- Jerry Falwell, Jr., Chancellor/President, Liberty University
- 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
- Brad Sherman, Founder, Solid Rock Christian Church in Iowa and Purpose Ministries
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) | Official McCain campaign website
- Senator Sam Brownback (R – KS)
- Jerry Zandstra, President of Pro-Life Michigan and former Pastor, Hillside Community Church, Cutlerville, Michigan
Gov. Mitt Romney (R) | Official Romney campaign website
- Bob Jones III, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bob Jones University
- Paul Weyrich, Co-Founder, The Moral Majority and The Heritage Foundation
- Wayne Grudem, Professor, Phoenix Seminary
- 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
- National Right to Life Committee
- Dr. Gary Cass, Chairman and CEO, Christian Anti-Defamation Commission and Executive Director, Center for Reclaiming America
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
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) | Official Clinton campaign website
- Rev. Timothy Brown, Cleveland Chapel Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) | Official Obama campaign website
- Rev. Jesse Jackson, Founder and President, RainbowPUSH Coalition
- 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
- Rev. C.T. Vivian, Chairman of the Southern Organizing Committee Education Fund of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
- Rev. Al Sampson, President, Metropolitan Area Council of Black Churches