Let Me Repeat: Democrats Have Been Appealing to Religion for a Long Time

Obama compassion

Obama talks about his Christian faith at the Messiah College “Compassion Forum” in 2008

I appreciate the Pacific Standard calling attention to religion and the race for the Democratic nomination, but Chayenne Polimedio’s piece makes it sound as Democratic candidates talking about religion is a new thing.  Granted, Hillary Clinton could have done more to make religious appeals, especially to moderate evangelicals, but the religious left has been around for a long time.  I wrote about this here and here.

Here is a taste of Polimedio’s piece:

Democrats seem to have finally caught on to the fact that national elections can be hard to secure with purely secular campaigns. This is a wise observation: Faith plays a large role in the lives of millions of Americans, and religious values drive the voting choices of many of them. In this election cycle, Democratic hopefuls like Pete Buttigieg and Julián Castro, who’ve not only embraced their faith but also made it a pillar of their political platforms, are telling of potentially larger shifts within American society and politics.

This evolution of how faith is discussed in the public realm and who gets to lead that discussion is, in part, due to America’s changing religious identity: The evangelical church is graying and losing members, religious “nones” are on the rise, and growing Latino and Asian populations mean that religion in the United States is becoming less white and more diverse. These are all factors that, at least ostensibly, work in progressives’ favor. In fact, the 2020 election cycle is, in some ways, poised to be one in which the Christian right won’t have a monopoly on the role of religion in public life, with some progressive politicians determined to close the “God Gap” once and for all.

Read the entire piece here.

One thought on “Let Me Repeat: Democrats Have Been Appealing to Religion for a Long Time

  1. John,

    Your recent postings on the attempts of the religious left to express itself in the current presidential race are, as you know, simply the tip of the iceberg. There has long been a religious left in our country, but it centered primarily around economic or war and peace issues rather than the exotic and boutique causes which have become important to today’s Democrats.

    It is going to be difficult for candidates such as Mr. Castro and Mayor Pete to be seen even minimally as religious figures since the center of mass within the Democrat party is indifferent if not antithetical to sanctified religious expression.

    You raised an interesting point about Hillary Clinton’s lack of connection to religious voters. Personally, I don’t think her failure in that area was for lack of trying. After all, her pastor of sorts, The Reverend Shillady, was given prime time to pray at the Democrat National Convention. She also spoke occasionally of her childhood connection to her version of Methodist ideals. She visited a number of historically black churches. There was also a paid campaign advisor who had a Southern Baptist clerical background. None of this worked for her. A detailed campaign post mortem analysis of the reasons for her failure in this area would be fascinating.


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