Candidates Hiring Religious Gurus

The Hill shows the increases importance in reaching out to religious voters among Democratic candidates:

“In 2004 only one of the primary candidates had any staff member who was reaching out to religious constituencies and to voters,” said Amy Sullivan, one of the first liberal journalists to identify the importance of faith-driven voters to the future success of the Democratic Party, referring to one-time Democratic front-runner Howard Dean. “At this point it looks like perhaps not all but at least a majority of candidates in 2008 primary will have somebody on staff focused on religious outreach and religious strategy, and that’s a sea change in the space of four years.”

The article starts with Hillary Clinton hiring “Burns Strider, one of the Democratic Party’s leading strategists on winning over evangelicals and other values-driven voters” but gives other examples:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) joined conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to speak about AIDS two weeks ago before the congregation of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Last week Congress passed legislation sponsored by Obama that would allow people in bankruptcy to give to charitable and religious organizations.

Josh Dubois, an aide in his Senate office, is heading Obama’s religious outreach.

Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who is also contemplating running for the 2008 Democratic nomination, has been active, too. In September, he gave a speech on “service and faith” at the conservative Pepperdine University. He has tapped Shaun Casey, an associate professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, to advise him on religious outreach.

Kerry also recently held a dinner at his D.C. home with evangelical leaders and traveled out to California for a four-hour meeting with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, who wrote the bestseller, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

They note states where the Democrats were successful in 2006, including here in Michigan:

In Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm won 35 percent of the evangelical vote, according to exit polls, a 25 percent increase in white evangelical support compared to the national average for Democrats. In Ohio, Gov.-elect Ted Strickland won 48 percent of white evangelicals who voted. In Pennsylvania, Sen.-elect Bob Casey Jr. won over 29 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of Catholics, despite running against Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a candidate well-known for his Catholic beliefs.

Hopefully this will be a short lived fad going into 2008, and afterwards more voters will realize that religion is a poor way to differentiate candidates. As long as the government stays out of religious issues and separation of Church and State is restored, voters have many potential areas of agreement and disagreement which are far more relevant to the actual activities of government.

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  1. 1
    Christopher says:

    I blogged about this earlier today.

    The consensus of opinion from my readers isn’t very positive and there’s a high degree of skepticism. Is this demographic really needed to win the south and kill-off the GOP’s stranglehold on states below the Mason-Dixon line?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I wish that this wasn’t the case, but going after such votes is understandable. The goal isn’t necessarily to win the evangelical vote but to make the vote less overwhelmingly Republican. If Republican support can be decreased by 10-20% this could tip elections.

  3. 3
    Probus says:

    It was a good move on Sen. Kerry’s part to talk about faith and service at Pepperdine University. Voters should know that conservatives and repugs don’t own Christianity or faith based issues and that any candidate can talk about his religious philosophy if he or she chooses to. If a dem candidate wants to talk about his or her faith he should be free to do so.

    I was glad to hear the senator talk about his faith. It was largely misconstrued by the repugs during the 2004 campaign. There may be an effort to reach out to evangelical voters, and that is appropriate in a presidential campaign, a candidate should reach out to all kinds of voters. It’s better that candidates say where they stand on issues concerning faith and religion otherwise their opponents will just misrepresent their silence on this critical issue.

  4. 4
    Crosschecking says:

    Why should I trust any of them, left or right? All this muti-faceted conservative can think of is the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do”, and it applies to all of these politicos.

    BTW, I did a write-up on my blog about the Warren/Obama connection. Warren must not know the characteristics of a duck.

  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    I agree with Probus on this matter. The one thing that I would add is that people should not be concerned that Democrats are attempting to reach out to religious voters-indeed Jesus’ concern for helping the poor lines up beautifully with the concerns of many Democrats.

    When Democrats start denying there is a division of church and state then that’s the time to start waving red flags. Thus far, however, Democrats are staying true to the conviction of division of church and state, so the red flags can stay tucked away.

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:


    Don’t take this personally, indeed this is directed at all folks who reference the Mason Dixon line. As a self-respecting Marylander, liberal, and social studies teacher I need to set the record straight.

    Yes Maryland is below the Mason-Dixon line, was a slave state and had segregation. Maryland also fought for the North in the Civil War, swiftly followed the Brown vd. Board of Education ruling in 1954, never restricted black voting rights and eagerly voted for JFK, LBJ, and Humphrey-pro-civil rights message and all. There was a time that Maryland could be thought of as a southern state-not anymore. We are not a right to work state-and are in fact quite pro-labor. We tax ourselves to support education, support public efforts to reduce the level of children without helath care- have a minimum wage above the current federal level ($5.15), and except for the GOP landslide years of 1972, 1984, and 1988 have voted Democrat in every election since 1960. Are we a perfect state? No. Are there some parts of MD. that could be construed as Southern? You bet, particularly the Eastern Shore. Still, while MD. is most definitly below the Mason-Dixon line we are not, overall, a southern state.

    Finally, let me just say that I’m sure Chris and most readers of this blog will probably think I’m overreacting and am being too technical. Your 100% right, I am. Most people DON’T consider Maryland as being part of the South. Still, anything I can do to clarify which states are in Democratic hands and which are not I figured would be helpful. We may be below the Mas-Dix line, but we broke away from the conservative southern mentality a long, long time ago. No need for liberals to worry.

  7. 7
    Nick says:

    Oops, forgot my name. Anonymous was Nick.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:


    “When Democrats start denying there is a division of church and state then that’s the time to start waving red flags.”

    See today’s post on this. One consult is advising Democrats to deny that there is a division between church and state.

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