What Do Latino Evangelical Voters Want?

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It may come as a surprise to you to learn that Hispanic evangelicals are a key constituency in swing states. The Jan 31 Florida primary has hastened an all-out blitz for this group’s attention. What do Hispanic evangelicals want from a presidential candidate?

Since our coalition of Latino evangelicals launched a national voter registration campaign, I have fielded multiple interviews about this growing–and increasingly politically influential–demographic. As many have noted, historically, Hispanic evangelicals are social conservatives that simultaneously advocate for issues of justice for the most vulnerable. Anyone who ignores this reality, particularly in swing states like Nevada, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Ohio, has not understood this emerging and increasingly vocal group. As a group, we are quintessential independent voters.
In 2004, George W. Bush won the majority of Hispanic evangelicals and in 2008 Barack Obama won that vote by a slim majority. Now in 2012, politicians, pundits, and prognosticators want to know which way we will lean. I’d like to recommend a way forward.
Hispanic evangelicals are not a monolith. Moreover, it would be the height of hubris for anyone to claim to speak for the 10 million or so Latino evangelicals. I personally agree with David Neff of “Christianity Today” that we as evangelicals should resist the temptation to try to be kingmakers. There is much seduction in the “will to power” and we should run away as fast as they can from this temptation. Martin Luther King, Jr. was correct, when he wrote: “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, it must be the guide and critic of the state and never its tool”(Strength to Love, 1963). Hispanic evangelicals should simultaneously bring moral and public pressure to bear on behalf of legislation we feel is consonant with our conscience and convictions. Our community should work hard to develop our own national agenda that holds all candidates accountable. In short, we should shy away from endorsing candidates –while backing agendas that are consonant with our worldview.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Gabriel Salguero