There's a new religious political action committee, the Matthew 25 Network, that may very well have an impact on the political scene this year, far more than any religious progressives have had in quite a while.
To briefly review, the Matthew 25 Network is spearheaded by Mara Vanderslice, who served as director of religious outreach for Kerry-Edwards in 2004, and who has been active in encouraging Democratic candidates to discuss matters of spirituality more openly on the campaign trail. (The name of the project comes from the 25th chapter of the biblical book of Matthew.)
The PAC's efforts have been kept under wraps for a while, but we learned this week about the group's first initiative -- a minute-long ad that will begin airing on Christian radio stations, starting in Colorado Springs, best known for being home to James Dobson and Focus on the Family.
David Brody, the senior national correspondent for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, touted just how effective the radio spot is: "I think the ad is EXTREMELY strong. It stays away from public policy and really focuses in his personal commitment to Christ. That is a type of message that Evangelicals will want to hear ... You won't find any John McCain radio spots on Christian radio right now. Man, how the tables have turned.
Quite right. In fact, the ad anticipates trouble, and addresses it head-on. It implicitly acknowledges that the audience may have seen those ridiculous smear e-mails, and it's "hard to know what to believe." That's why, the Matthew 25 Network argues, Christians have a duty to consider a person's testimony.
Now, I can appreciate the fact that non-Christians may not find any of this compelling, and may not even like the fact that these ads are running. But keep in mind, the ads aren't coming from Barack Obama or anyone associated with his campaign or the party -- this is an independent Christian PAC, targeting Christian voters, on Christian radio, with a Christian message.
And it sounds like the group is offering a message not usually associated with Democratic politics.