Thursday, August 31, 2006

'Republicans, who love all those Christian votes but seem not to care seriously about enacting a Christian agenda, had better take note'...

Cox & Forkum linkA very interesting article from Patrick Hynes and The American Spectator - "God's Other Party":
... WHICH BRINGS US TO THE FIRST OF TWO significant challenges facing the Democrats as they seek to win the votes of believers: the crisis of credibility. Outside of Kaine and Casey, most of the Democrats' rhetoric has betrayed signs of the same overreach with which they have approached the war in Iraq. When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cast her vote against the Republican budget resolution, she claimed to have done so as "an act of worship." Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has invoked the Prophet Isaiah on the House floor to agitate for higher taxes. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) voiced her opposition to a Republican immigration reform measure because, she said, "It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because the bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself." ...

... This kind of over-the-topness calls into question the Democrats' sincerity. Rob Boston from Americans United for Separation of Church and State told me some of the Democrats' appeals stink like old school political pandering. "Sometimes it's hard to tell if they mean it or if they are just trying to get votes," he says. "It is both sincere and calculated," adds Professor Green. "Some in the party are informed by their faith and others just think it is a way to win."

And is talk enough? No major presidential candidate in American history used the word "values" more often than Senator John Kerry did in 2004. It earned him 18 percent of the "values vote." The question remains: Why should it be any different this year?

MEANWHILE, A SLUICE OF LIBERAL anti-Christian tracts has opened up. The tracts deride increased religion in public life as hints of a looming "theocracy." Conservative Christians consider this a deeply offensive charge and it has the potential to diminish appeals from religious liberals to find common ground. "The two messages might cancel each other out. It is hard to appeal to religious voters if one does not respect religion. All this talk of 'theocracy' could easily appear as hostility toward religion," Green says.

The second challenge for religious-left Democrats is to avoid cross-pressuring their secular base with all this new "God talk." Green believes the Democrats' increased public religiosity has the potential to turn off secular voters. Boston agrees. "If the Democrats continue going down the road of introducing more religion into their proposals, sooner or later congressional debates are going to evolve into proof text contests," he says.

Waldman argues, "If the Democrats decide to become a secular party, they will have decided to become a minority party." This might be a matter of simple math, but the fact remains that approximately 11 percent of the electorate describes itself as "secular" and this cohort votes overwhelmingly in favor of Democrat candidates. Will these voters stay with the Democrats if the party continues to posture itself as the party of Jesus?

The question may not find its answer in 2006. Waldman believes the Democrats' "God talk" will not have a significant impact on the off-year elections in November. "I don't think they [the religious left] are organized in enough local races," he says.

But despite all the reasons to suspect the Democrats of a cynical play for votes, they nevertheless are for the first time in three decades telling Americans of faith that they are willing to talk. This is a remarkable transformation and a powerful testament to the enormous growth in the number of religiously motivated voters.
Religion of convenience.

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