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Bipartisan Christian Group Forms Super PAC To Oppose Trump

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

With only weeks to go until the end of the election season, there's a new super PAC in town with a very specific agenda. The group called Not Our Faith is bipartisan, and it specifically targets Christian voters in key battleground states. White evangelicals helped propel Donald Trump to victory in 2016. The group's first digital ad says President Trump exploited those voters for his own political gain.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AUTUMN HANNA VANDEHEI: Mr. President, the days of using our faith for your benefit are over.

MARTIN: Autumn Hanna VandeHei is one of the group's co-founders.

VANDEHEI: I don't think all of them will change their mind, but I think that some of those who are saying yes are shaky in their yeses. And, you know, to illustrate that - and I hope he doesn't mind me illustrating this with him - is my father-in-law who - I don't think he's ever voted for a Democrat in his life. And he started out saying, you know, there's no way I can vote for Biden because of the abortion issue. And we engaged in a series of conversations back and forth about what it means to be pro-life, which I am unapologetically, you know, identify as pro-life. But we talked about pro-life including children that are already born as well as babies who are not born. And we went through how this administration has treated the edict that we have from Jesus in Mark about taking care of children. And if anybody causes any one of these to stumble, it would be better that a millstone is tied around his neck.

MARTIN: Abortion is so central for so many Christian voters - white evangelicals and white Catholics in particular. I mean, they've got one of their own. White Catholics have one of their own on the other side of the ticket in Joe Biden...

VANDEHEI: Right.

MARTIN: ...A man who's always talked a great deal about his faith. And yet...

VANDEHEI: And he lives it. I mean, I have had the opportunity to be in the room with him and to me - lives a Christlike life. He has known suffering. He exudes compassion. Look...

MARTIN: But I've heard, Autumn - I've heard - and I'm sure you have - from Trump supporters, we have to separate the personality from the policy.

VANDEHEI: Right.

MARTIN: And if you are someone for whom abortion is very central to how you vote, it won't matter as much that Joe Biden may be an incredibly empathetic person and they may find Donald Trump morally reprehensible. But the policy that Joe Biden supports a pro-choice or a pro-abortion-rights platform is just not something they can wrap their heads around.

VANDEHEI: Right. And that's difficult. But I do think that we make a pretty solid argument for what being pro-life means. And I feel like we should be having these discussions in a way that isn't if you vote for Biden - and I get this. I mean, you should see the things people are saying to me on Twitter - that I can't be a real Christian and support Biden. And I think that is contributing to the polarization that we are seeing in our society as each side calling the other side evil, and with sides, I mean, within the Christian community. So I think it's really important to show that this single issue shouldn't be the defining factor when we have so many other things at stake.

MARTIN: I guess I'm trying to understand how you counter some of the what are now very deeply ingrained mantras almost of white conservative evangelicals and Catholics who support Trump. I mean, as we have discussed, they will admit that Donald Trump is not an example for their children. They don't like how, you know, he disparages people or his bullying. But they are quick to say God uses flawed people to advance his work on Earth. How do you respond to that?

VANDEHEI: Yes. Yep. Namely, they use David all the time. They use Cyrus all the time. I respond to that...

MARTIN: David, Cyrus - biblical stories.

VANDEHEI: Yes. Right. And so I think people are twisting scripture, and I grew up with this my entire life, where different scriptures and different chapters in the Bible have been used since the beginning of politics everywhere to justify all kinds of horrendous things. And we have not seen any credible, to us, Christians stand up and say, this is wrong. Let me refocus you back on scripture. Look, I have voted. This will be the second Democrat at the top of the ticket that I have ever voted for. I...

MARTIN: Who was the first?

VANDEHEI: Hillary Clinton. And to be honest, I did not vote for Hillary Clinton because I agree with her. I voted against Donald Trump.

MARTIN: But let me ask you, Autumn. I mean, you grew up in a conservative, evangelical family, and you have spent much of your career in Republican politics. But as someone who didn't support Trump in 2016 and isn't going to support him now, do you think you have the language and the experience to reach out to people who see positive in him?

VANDEHEI: I do. And I think I do because what's most important is not party affiliation. It's that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. And so my focus in this is not about politics. It is about faith and the role of faith and a dialogue about faith and where it belongs and doesn't belong in politics.

MARTIN: Autumn VandeHei of the new super PAC Not Our Faith, it's been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.

VANDEHEI: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it and enjoyed speaking with you.

(SOUNDBITE OF POPPY ACKROYD'S "RESOLVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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