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Think Out Loud

From the Conventions: Believing in Politics

Pete Springer/OPB

How will the Democratic Party’s focus on faith affect the presidential campaign?Faith and politics are no strange bedfellows in this country, and the combination is getting higher billing than ever at the Democratic National Convention this year. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been reaching out to religious voters and communities of faith, particularly evangelical Christians, while trying to put criticism of his former pastor behind him.

He’s won supporters and detractors: the Christian political action committee Matthew 25 is running TV ads promoting Obama, while evangelical leader James Dobson has accused him of distorting the Bible and the US Constitution.

Religion and Democrats are hardly oil and water (remember Jimmy Carter), but what does this overt focus on faith mean for this year’s campaign?

It’s getting some unsolicited calls for restraint from people supportive of the constitutional separation of church and state. Obama’s active pursuit of faith-based voters has also raised questions about which presidential candidate faces a bigger challenge among Christian communities, Obama or Republican John McCain. It’s clear both are working hard for religious votes; they first appeared together during this general campaign season at one of the country’s biggest megachurches, for interviews with evangelical pastor Rick Warren.

How is this focus on faith affecting your view of the campaigns and the candidates? What role does religion play in your pick for president?


Photo credit: ScottD_Arch / Flickr / Creative Commons

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