By Brian Williams Anchor & “Nightly News” managing editor
NBC News
updated 1/12/2005 7:21:59 PM ET 2005-01-13T00:21:59

On a Saturday night, Fort Worth is about rodeo. But here, and around the nation, Sunday mornings are reserved for something else.

At the Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Pastor Michael Dean is the man in charge. His church has 9,000 members, and he's walked two daughters down its aisle.

Pastor Dean says no one in this sanctuary was surprised by the election results back in November.

"It was something that most of us knew was under the surface of our lives and our culture here in this part of the country," says Dean.

From charity work to performing arts to tae kwan do class, Travis Baptist is more a way of life — not just a church.

Ralph and Jan Smith take that one step further. They are members of Travis Baptist who believe their way of life is worth fighting for. So they've become politically active.

"They've come to the point where they've said: I've had enough," says Jan. "I'm not going to be quiet any more. I'm going to vote what I feel is right."

The Smiths, like a lot of members here, oppose abortion and believe in traditional marriage — two of the issues that brought out a huge influx of evangelical Protestants in the last election. Millions more voted than four years ago.

Joel Sawyer is a tax attorney and father of two who has not gotten over seeing an anti-Bush protester during the last campaign.

"The placard or sign that they had said 'Bible-toting liar,'" recalls Sawyer. "That was probably the one thing that grieved me, of all the things that have happened during the election. Why are they making a connection with being a liar to his faith?"

Sawyer is typical of those in the heart of Bush country who see a kind of hostility toward people of faith.

"Here's a message from me, and the part of the country that I think I live in: We want to talk to God!" says Sawyer. "We want Him invited into every room that we can invite Him in. Most importantly, the Oval Office."

But some observers caution against setting religious sights too high in the real world of politics.

"To think that somehow the Kingdom of God will come in on Air Force One is to have overly high expectations of what can happen through the political process," says Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

But do evangelical Christians expect anything in return for their massive support of the president?

"The only expectation we have is that whoever is in the Oval Office would be a good man," says Dean. "A man who would keep in mind the values that we believe are deeply embedded in who we are as Americans."

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