Dem Candidates Become More Religious As Race Tightens


CNN’s Election Center reports that the Democratic candidates are trying to appeal to religious voters as the 2008 presidential race is about to narrow.

“It has to be authentic. This is not about Jesus-ing up the party, so to speak … It just won’t work if it’s seen as a cynical ploy,” said Mara Vanderslice, a Democratic strategist and evangelical Christian.

In 2004, Vanderslice was hired to coordinate John Kerry’s religious outreach. She found herself working without a staff or much of a budget. She says the Kerry campaign failed to engage the faith community before it was too late to make a difference.

In the past, “there was almost a joke that you couldn’t be a Christian and be a Democrat,” she said.

Many voters wouldn’t disagree with the joke, according to recent polling. In the 2006 midterm elections, 53 percent of weekly churchgoers voted Republican, as did 60 percent of people who attend church more than once a week, according to exit poll data. What’s more, a Pew Forum poll taken just before the election showed only 26 percent of voters considered Democrats friendly to religion.

The leading Democratic presidential candidates are trying to overcome this so-called “God Gap.”

{sarcasm}Oh, no it’s not “jesus-ing up” the party at all to work with a staff to make a candidate look more religious.{/sarcasm} There’s no way to make it sound not dirty. You’re deliberately trying to make the person seem more religious than they are to pander to religious voters.

This type of pandering for votes is why we have some of the most screwed up scientific policies ever supported by the administration. One group of voters says that they heard condoms give you heartburn and all of a sudden, there’s a presidential appointee presenting a report on the dangers of condoms and why they should be pulled out of high school sexual education classes. It’s for the kids. Heartburn folks, heartburn! Remember 9/11?

Let’s listen to some more “jesus-ing up” (I love this phrase — only someone named Mara Vanderslice could have given us such a sweet gift).

Senator Hillary Clinton has talked about how faith saw her through the turmoil of Bill Clinton’s infidelity and political difficulties. Senator John Edwards openly speaks of his “deep and abiding love for [his] Savior, Jesus Christ.” Senator Barack Obama has long woven the language of religion into his call for shared responsibility and social justice.

Even bigger changes have taken place behind the scenes.

Clinton and Obama have both hired strategists to coordinate faith outreach. Obama also has a faith point person in each of the three early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. His campaign held a series of “Faith, Action, Change” forums with New Hampshire voters and hosts weekly conference calls for religious leaders.

Team Clinton has assembled a Faith Steering Committee, with working groups targeting individual denominations. Edwards’ campaign says it is leaning on his Campaign Manager David Bonior to help rally Catholics, considered a key swing constituency.

Personally, I’m waiting for the day that one of these democratic candidates is asked about whether or not America was founded as a Christian nation. What will they say?


2 Responses to Dem Candidates Become More Religious As Race Tightens

  1. Dennis says:

    The day the Democrats start worrying about “Jesus-ing up” the party is the day I take my dollars and my vote and leave. I am not a Christian and do not want to hear one more word from Democratic candidates about their faith in God or how God guides their lives. If they wish to be religious, that’s their business, but it ought to have absolutely nothing to do with their political views or their proposed policies.

    Chris Hitchens has it exactly right – religion poisons everything.

  2. Speaking for the core of the evangelicals, I find it amusing that the Democratic Party does not get it. Attending church and “Jesusing up” the party will not do it. We are not like the minority groups that the Democrats do nothing to help except talk big, but they can rely on their votes. We are about issues–and for most of us, the big issues are: (1) Abortion, Abortion, and Abortion–we are against it, (2) Gay marriage and the whole gay agenda–we are against it, (3) Attempts to limit religious influence in public life –see the first amendment’s free exercise clause. If you nominate another pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-free exercise candidate, we may or may not vote GOP, but we surely won’t vote for the dumb donkey, either.

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