In the same week Focus on the Family's James Dobson made some pointed comments about Barack Obama's "confused theology" in his 2006 "Call to Renewal" speech, the senator's campaign took another step in its deliberate outreach to evangelical voters by hiring Shaun Casey.
An ethics professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C., Casey will next month become Obama's official "senior adviser for religious affairs." Similar to his informal role in John Kerry's 2004 campaign, much of Casey's time will be spent communicating Obama's personal story and policy positions to leaders of the evangelical world. (Casey was also the lucky one to go to bat for Obama on Good Morning America following Jeremiah Wright's own pointed comments.)
Casey was one of four figures to speak on religion in public affairs at this weekend's Christian Scholars Conference, held at Lipscomb University in Nashville, a school affiliated with the Church of Christ denomination (not the UCC) and with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
In a one-on-one panel discussion with Stephen Monsma, research fellow at the Paul Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics, Casey expressed his belief that in their tendency to resist "single-issue voting," younger evangelicals may hold the key to Obama's victory come November:
The truth about young evangelicals is that they track with their larger age demographic anyway. . . . [It's] not to say those folks are getting more liberal on abortion or same-sex issues. It just means they're less inclined to be single-issue voters. The moral basket of issues is larger than just abortion and gay marriage.
According to the Washington Post's campaign blog, Casey was raised in an evangelical home and attended Abilene Christian University in Texas before going on to Harvard Divinity for three degrees.
For more on Dobson and Obama's theology, see CT editor at large Collin Hansen's "Reading the Bible with Obama."