With less than three weeks to go before the presidential election, the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), discussed with Odyssey Networks the key to securing the Hispanic Evangelical vote. According to Salguero, the nearly eight million Hispanic Evangelicals living in the U.S. are interested in education reform, the economy and immigration.
"We lost the Dream Act by a small margin," Salguero says, "so we were really — to say disillusioned and disappointed is to put it mildly. There was a campaign promise that was not delivered on."
Salguero's comments coincide with the release of "Latinos, Religion and Campaign 2012," a recent survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum. The survey finds that religion serves to divide Latinos in their voting preferences. Latino Catholic voters strongly favor the re-election of President Obama while Latino Evangelical Protestants are more divided, with 39 percent supporting Mitt Romney and an even 50 percent supporting President Obama, according to the survey.
Latinos represent a swing vote in the U.S. elections. In 2004, they voted for George W. Bush; in 2008 they voted for Barack Obama. "We don't want to be pandered to. We don't want rhetoric. We want real hardcore policy solutions that speak to the most vulnerable; that is, the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the poor," Salguero said, adding that education is important. "We are some of the most poorly educated communities in America and we really want education reform that changes the future of Latinas and Latinos in this country."
Salguero stressed that the Hispanic Evangelicals want legislation that addresses their concerns, not executive fiat that can be overturned.
The pastor is not impressed with politicians' use of religious rhetoric. "The use of faith in campaigns is not a new thing," Salguaro said. "God loves all people, independent of party, age, gender, so I'm concerned that we're using God to score political points and any party that does that, shame on them. God is not a member of any of these parties. God is interested in the health of this country and the world. So I think we, the faith leaders, and the seculars and the agnostics need to set the template and set the moral standard. So that's what I am hoping for, that's the best way to talk about faith. Show me your faith through your works."
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