Conservative Christians are showing considerable Republican clout this season, but some worry about the new power bloc.

Nineteen-ninety-two may well be remembered as the year Godspeak resurfaced on the American campaign scene. Certainly religion and politics have been deeply intertwined in the legacy of American democracy. However, the level of religious rhetoric that has permeated this presidential race has been unprecedented in post-World War II politics, with George Bush criticizing the Democrats for leaving the letters G-O-D out of their platform, and Bill Clinton countering by comparing his Republican opponents to the “sanctimonious moneychangers” that Christ drove out of the temple.

Indeed, Republicans have made the “family values” theme—which Bush says includes a faith in God—a cornerstone of all their campaigns. “We believe … in the Judeo-Christian heritage that informs our culture,” their platform states in its opening paragraphs. The Democrats have been highly critical of the strategy, with Clinton accusing Bush of promoting “an atmosphere of intolerance.”

Still, Clinton has spent more time this year campaigning in churches than any Democratic candidate in recent memory, save Jesse Jackson. Clinton’s own campaign theme, “A New Covenant,” was borrowed from the Bible, and both he and running mate Al Gore quoted Scripture in their acceptance speeches during the Democratic National Convention. (Alert Christians have since criticized Clinton for significantly altering the wording of 1 Cor. 2:9 and Gore for attributing a nonbiblical phrase to Scripture.)

Behind all the rhetoric, observers say, is a growing realization of the importance of the evangelical community as a voting bloc; the last Democrat to sit in the White House ...

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