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Obama's outreach to religious voters has also raised the ire of some conservatives. American Values president Gary Bauer said Obama has mixed faith and politics in a way that would be criticized by the media if the President were a conservative Republican.

"A Politico investigation early on in his administration found that Obama had invoked God more often than Bush had over a similar time span," Bauer said. "And Obama often mentions his faith to justify policies that directly contradict common understanding of Christian teaching."

The Institute for Religion and Democracy's Luke Moon said Harkins seems like the perfect choice. "The noticeable lack of outrage about an active senior pastor being hired by a political party seems odd except that it fits nicely into the left's strategy to fracture the traditionally conservative Evangelical vote," he said.

Speaking to the Call for Renewal in 2006, Obama said progressives and Democrats ignored religion at their peril.

"I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people, and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy," Obama said.

In a speech on Wednesday, Obama injected religion into the jobs debate. He noted in a speech today that the House ignored his jobs bill but passed legislation yesterday affirming that "In God We Trust" is the U.S. national motto. "That's not putting people back to work," the President said in Virginia. "I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work."


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Christianity Today covers more political developments on the politics blog.

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Democrats Receive Blowback over Outreach to Religious Voters