Engaging Culture

What a Obama Presidency Means for Non-Profit and Religious Organizations

There’s no question that the political shift that’s happening in the country will have a powerful impact on the religious and non-profit community.  While a significant number of Christians voted for Obama, the majority of the major churches and ministries in the country lean toward the conservative Right when it comes to politics.  If you happen to be a Democrat, then you’re probably thrilled with the new possibilities.

Certainly social services, the poor, and government programs will see some new approaches and ideas.  Although a number of my friends on the Left are pro-life, they voted for Obama based on the idea that his programs for the poor will impact the abortion rate by changing the circumstances for those most likely to get abortions.  Since the Republican approach hasn’t really moved that dial in a significant way, they’re eager to see if another strategy works.

But there are areas of real concern for the religious and non-profit community.  The re-imposition of the fairness doctrine will be enormously unfair.  I’m not sure how the Left can promote free speech by limiting the rights of broadcasters and media outlets, but there have been some pretty serious indications that this will be attempted.  With the enormous number of religious radio and TV networks, stations, and programmers, that could literally spell the end of religious broadcasting in America.

Although Obama will be facing restraint from the weak economy, a number of potential changes – like the fairness doctrine – are not financially driven.  Liberal judicial nominees, trade restrictions, foreign policy changes, and union support for card check, (which according to The Wall Street Journal is overwhelmingly unpopular with the American public) are all on the agenda for Democratic leadership.

Interestingly enough, with the combination of a Democratic president and congress, I predict enormous fundraising potential for conservative non-profits and religious organizations.  In a liberal environment (the Democrats in congress today are far more liberal than the democratic congress during Carter)  organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Moveon.org, and others will have free-rein.  It will also be interesting to see how the abortion industry responds with the pending Freedom of Choice act.

My greatest advice for non-profits and religious organizations is that if you decide to raise support to fight these and other issues, just remember that chances are – many of your supporters voted for Obama.  Demographic studies of religious media reflect many of the same target audiences that voted for Obama, and if you come down too hard on the new president, you might alienate more people than you think.

Proceed with caution.  I don’t see the country shifting Left as much as this being a repudiation of the war in Iraq, and President Bush’s policies.  But either way, there are serious changes and challenges ahead, and the best response is to be aware of what’s coming, be accurate in your presentations, and look for issues that connect with your audience.


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  1. I believe you’re right on all points.

    You didn’t spend much time talking about race, which I think will become more – not less – of a divisive issue in the next four years. The primary voting block in this election was not evangelicals, not the hard-core conservatives, not the soccer moms – it was African Americans. This is not how Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed it would be. Instead of his dream of a day when a man would be judged by the content of his character, the voters today judged a presidential candidate by the color of his skin. And I’m afraid it won’t stop now.

    This will be a field day for all of the conservative talk shows and those on the religious right with radio and TV shows – until President Obama puts in the new FCC Chairman and dictates the Fairness Doctrine again. Then we’ll have a fight to the Supreme Court — and hopefully that happens before President Obama gets to name two more justices. That’s our only chance of still having a free broadcasting system in the US.

    Pray for our new President, Congress, and for our nation. We are in for a ride.

  2. I am so mad right now I don't know what to do with myself. The only word that comes to my mind is "Cool Aid". I guess that is two words.  Christians have voted for Hate crimes and fairness doctrine…. Real change is certainly upon us.

    Our ministry objective and media planning efforts will not be the same this time next year. We will be preparing our clients accordingly

    One month ago, I was in Washington with the NRB President's council group, and I they briefed us on what was going to happen if Obama was elected, I didn't really think it was going to happen. Fairness is anything but fair, Hate crimes speech has nothing to do with hate and everything to do with controlling the pulpit





  3. Phil,

    Before the self-righteous machinery of some broadcasting pastors gets revved up in overdrive, consider this point I've been trying to make for years:

    Many broadcast leaders use shenanigans to get their money and power while preaching the gospel.  These shenanigans can be described as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP.  But their shenanigans are not limited to just NLP.

    My warning has been that these shenanigans poorly prepare sheep, because some day a better shenanigan politician might come along.  Well, he has… and I believe the shenanigan broadcasters have much to repent of. 

    Until some brave broadcast pastors teach how to see spiritually, and give examples of the NLP shenanigans pastors use, and enlighten sheep how not to be taken in by such wolves in sheep's clothing; well… broadcast pastors cannot really help the sheep they blind so effectively see anything a politician is so also doing.

    Beezlebub cannot cast out Beezlebub.  Now, who said that? 


  4. And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
    14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
    And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
    15 Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so. I think that is to be our response in this situation and any situation of governance. To be very truthful I do not think anyone person can solve the issues facing the US or the world’s problem and Obama is not a Saviour and I actually do not have faith in him but I am happy that a barrier has been broken and mindsets will be changed and maybe just maybe we will finally appreciate all human beings – something we in the Body of Christ should have lead the way in especially when we have Scriptures discussing this plainly. This is a tough day for many but at the same time please let us remember no matter who won we will still have to pray that person and the government in general.

  5. Going back to the purpose of this blog I find interesting the "mediums" and new approaches the Obama campaign took to promote. I think we as christian can learn a thing or two about this and try to apply it to our own ministries.

    Regarding politics and faith, sometimes I feel (and this is only my personal opinion) we rely to much on politics to "impose" our message to the world. I think we somehow forget that this is not in our own force but on God's force. Jesus didn't came here to take over politics and impose his way… he came to convince through example, by his testimony. Lets start leading by example and then the world will see the difference in us and will come to Jesus.

    Again, just my opinion…. 

  6. I'm no expert in the area, but I suspect US charities working overseas may benefit from the tremendous amount of goodwill Obama has already generated. I know he has been well received in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe…. pretty much everywhere.

    He could have a very positive effect of re-building the USA's image internationally. It will be interesting to see his first half a dozen or so real tough international decisions made under pressure with lives and/or money at stake.


  7. "Instead of his dream of a day when a man would be judged by the content of his character, the voters today judged a presidential candidate by the color of his skin."

    That sounds like the Kool Aid talking. 

  8. I have a question: Is the general consensus primarily upset because of how Obama's win will affect the Fairness Doctrine for broadcasters?  Or him particularly, or the whole Democratic platform?  I'm just curious b/c I was a bit surprised by the reactions on this blog.  The majority seems to think that America got it wrong.  I  just wanted to know whether the grounds for this reaction is coming from one particular area(s) or a whole.


  9. I agree, Tony.  (along with most of the U.S. – since he did win).  That's why I was curious to know the primary reason(s) behind those who disagree – whether it was one issue, the majority, or all. 

  10. I am responding to K's comment on Nov 6th. K the fairness doctrine and hate crimes speech has been held up or blocked by conservative Christians who are called to serve in Washington. Groups like the NRB, Capital Ministries, ADF and others have fought for conservative values. I would encourage you and everyone who has been commented to get involved with your local politics or congressman or woman, to find out more about the details of thes heavily weighted legislative items that are getting ready to pass now that Obama will be in office, the congress and senate are heavily liberal. Our voice has been not been squelched but our legislative power has. 

    I am personally not an alarmist or a futurist. This past year I had the fortunate opportunity to sit on the NRB Presidents Council, in those meetings we were briefed by the congressmen, senators and FCC commissioners on issues like Fairness Doctrine and Hate crimes speech.

    Please do the research your self and get involved. I am here to tell you and anyone else who is reading this that the Christian broadcast landscape in going to significantly change in the next 12-18 months. 

    I love the lord and will be praying this doesn't happen. 1 Tim 2:1-3





  11. Sure thing, Dave – thanks.   But I believe that God has a plan in all of this.  He was well aware of all the factors involved in Obama's election, and He's allowed it to come to pass.  I think this will be a good change, and any area negatively affected will bring us, as Christians, back to the basics of our faith – the lifestyles that result will make us an even more powerful influence than media could ever portray.

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