The Democrats and Religion

 Posted by on 1 November 2006 at 8:03 am  Religion
Nov 012006

One effect of the Republican Party’s aggressive efforts to pursue a religion-friendly agenda is that it encourages the Democrats to do the same. Although this is still a minor part of the Democratic strategy, it’s disturbing trend, and I expect to see more of this in 2008. This is yet another reason to ensure that the Republicans are defeated in 2006, so as to slow down or halt this trend.

The 10/25/2006 edition of the Christian Science Monitor had an detailed article on the Democratic Party’s attempts to appeal to religious (Christian) voters. Here are some excerpts:

Ever since George W. Bush named Jesus as his favorite philosopher and positioned himself as a strong man of faith, Republicans have increasingly been viewed as the party sympathetic to religion — with the Democrats found seriously wanting.

That may be changing…

…Democratic candidates’ efforts to articulate their faith and values — and tie them to a broader range of issues — are also resonating with voters.

The party has initiated a serious effort to reach out to people of faith. For example, after a series of meetings with religious and lay leaders across the state, the Michigan Democratic Party has written language on the role of faith into its party platform.

…[Following the advice to "play up their faith"], in the current campaign, a number of Democratic candidates are seeking to do just that. Prominent party leaders have led the way: Sen. Barack Obama’s speech on faith and politics last June won wide play in the press and accolades from the public; Senator Kerry followed with a speech about his own religious convictions that many say he should have given in 2004.

Others in the political fray are opening up. In Ohio, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland has talked regularly about faith and values and is way out in front of his religious conservative opponent, Ken Blackwell. Ohio went for President Bush in 2004, but Republican scandals and a deteriorating economy have put the social issues promoted by conservatives on the back burner for many voters. Instead, raising the state minimum wage is garnering support from more than three-quarters of Ohioans, according to a recent poll.

In Tennessee, Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who is running for the US Senate, filmed a TV ad from his home church explaining his values and has a faith statement on his website. Pennsylvania state treasurer Bob Casey Jr., an anti-abortion Democrat running against conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, has given the Democrats a different face on the abortion issue.

Such efforts “may help particular Democratic candidates get Evangelical votes, but it might be even more effective with Roman Catholic and mainline Protestants, groups that have been voting Republican but aren’t as strongly wedded to the GOP,” suggests Dr. Green, a longtime political analyst from Ohio.

Two other innovations may also benefit Democrats as they try to bring religious voters into the fold. A number of Democratic candidates are advertising for the first time on Christian radio. And national and state Democratic parties are working hard on outreach to religious groups. The chief of staff of the Democratic National Committee, in fact, is a Pentecostal pastor.

[Note from Diana: Colorado is already suffering from this trend: it has two pro-life religious candidates for governor. However, unlike the Republican Beauprez, the Democrat Ritter has not made his religion a central feature of his campaign. Unless the Republicans are punished for injecting religion into politics, all elections will soon be a "choice" between faith-driven Democrats and faith-driven Republicans.]

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