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Christian Leaders
Meet Privately With Obama

Christian Leaders
Meet Privately With Obama

Barack Obama discussed Darfur, the Iraq war, gay rights, abortion, and other issues on Tuesday with Christian leaders, including conservatives who have been criticized for praising the Democratic presidential candidate. Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent black clergyman who heads a Dallas megachurch, said Obama took questions Tuesday, listened to participants, and discussed his ''personal journey of faith.''

Barack Obama discussed Darfur, the Iraq war, gay rights, abortion, and other issues on Tuesday with Christian leaders, including conservatives who have been criticized for praising the Democratic presidential candidate.

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent black clergyman who heads a Dallas megachurch, said Obama took questions, listened to participants, and discussed his ''personal journey of faith.''

The discussion ''went absolutely everywhere,'' Jakes told the Associated Press, and ''just about every Christian stripe was represented in that room.''

Jakes, who does not endorse candidates and said he also hopes to meet with Republican presidential candidate John McCain, said some participants clearly have political differences with Obama. The senator's support for abortion rights and gay rights, among other things, draws opposition from religious conservatives. Some conservatives have criticized Jakes for praising Obama.

Jakes said the meeting, at a law firm's offices, seemed designed to prompt a wide discussion rather than to result in commitments from either Obama or those attending. Others familiar with the meeting said some participants agreed to attend only because it would be private.

Rich Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella organization for evangelical churches and ministries, said Obama asked participants to share ''anything that's on your mind that is of concern to you.''

''I think it's important to point out this isn't a group of people who are endorsing Obama,'' Cizik said in an interview. ''People were asked for their insider wisdom and understanding of the religious community.''

Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Reverend Franklin Graham, said Graham attended and asked Obama whether ''he thought Jesus was the way to God or merely a way.'' DeMoss declined to discuss Obama's response.

Graham, who succeeded his father as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, found the senator ''impressive'' and ''warm,'' DeMoss said. (AP)

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