By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
In 2008, religion and faith are to be defining differences between the Republicans and the Democrats. It seems that finally candidates have found religion and now want to share the good news with every voter in whatever forum they can find.
The Democrats and the Obama campaign have been promoting their Interfaith Gathering on the Sunday before the convention begins. The Gathering is the first time a national political convention has started with a religious service. The service was Obama’s way of showing that religious themes and political themes can co-exist and still give people the freedom to worship their God.
About a week ago, I received an invitation to participate with three other faith leaders from across the country in the invocation for the Interfaith Gathering. I was surprised to receive such an honor and opportunity to share my faith with delegates and party leaders who may be in trusted with the responsibility to lead our nation.
I was personally thrilled to help lead this group of national leaders in prayer.
The CEO of the DNC, Rev Leah Daughtry asked me not to share this news with others because a news release was being prepared by her office. To be honest, I had already shared the wonderful news with some friends and family. All were very pleased and shared their good wishes for me.
As I waited to provide more information about my ministry and God’s calling to share the good news, Obama operatives Sky Gallegos and Artie Blanco encouraged me to participate and join the campaign in promoting Obama for president. I was very pleased to be a small part of the political process here in Colorado.
I was impressed with their leadership and enthusiasm for the campaign, and looked forward to finding tasks I could perform for the campaign.
However, almost literally as I got into my car after the meeting, my cell phone rang as I drove down 18th Avenue. It was Rev. Leah Daughtry on the line.
She was calling with some bad news. The Obama campaign staff had finished “vetting” my background. Daughtry said they found some “troubling controversy” while I served as manager of safety TEN years ago. Daughtry claimed she did not know specifically what the trouble was, but I was asked to withdraw my participation from the Invocation.
Talk about being caught off guard, I was stunned to hear that something that happened years ago was preventing me from participating in a prayer.
I was asked to dis invite myself from the Gathering. As I listened to Daughtry trying to explain why I was being dumped, I thought politics were not supposed to be a part of this “unique religious service.”
I thought to myself, a candidate for Office of the President was dumping a Latino Evangelical faith leader because they doubted my integrity and ethical standards. What about other leaders like Governor Richardson, Mayor Webb, Secretary Pena, and Michelle Obama? All have been involved in controversial issues and problems, and yet they are not being “dis invited” to the convention or events related to the DNC.
I was angry and resentful that the Obama people would so easily dump a Latino Evangelical supporter who represented the Latino faith community. Nevertheless, the more I listened to Daughtry, it dawned on me that perhaps the need that Obama says is a priority to reach out to Latino Evangelicals did not really matter after all.
Politics, plain old dirty politics was the reason I was thrown under the bus. I thought my record of commitment over the last twenty years to our city, to the people of faith that were looking for answers to their problems was sufficient to prove that I am sincere in my efforts to serve the Lord.
My friends, beware of the Obama political machine. Obama and his political sidekicks do not care who they dump, or who they literally mock or defame. One has to just remember how easily Obama threw his long time friend and pastor over board when the heat got too hot.
I felt my character and integrity were being questioned and belittled. It was as if I had no ethical standards as a faith leader, and that really bothered me. I was also embarrassed to be dumped by Obama.
In the end, I was just another political pawn of the Obama campaign and not the Latino religious leader I hoped they would respect.
I must confess, I do not have much respect for Obama because of this mean spirited incident, but I am grateful there is another candidate who does not support abortion, or gay marriage, but who is closer to our Latino values.
I just hope when I go work for McCain, he does not dump me as easily as Obama did.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212