The Democrats want to get God -- or at least those who believe in God -- on their side.
Continuing an effort to connect to religious Americans after President Bush won the overwhelming majority of voters in 2004 who said "moral values" was their most important political concern, Barack Obama's campaign will in August hold "faith forums" in South Carolina. In those events, Joshua Dubois, the campaign's director of religious outreach will meet with local clergy and Obama supporters who are religious and talk about the role of religion in politics. Obama has long sought to woo the faithful, and has devoted space on his website to religious supporters.
The Illinois Senator himself is also continuing to talk about his faith. In an recent interview via e-mail with David Brody, the political reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network, a station founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, Obama spoke about how America should not see itself as purely a Christian nation.
"Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers," Obama wrote. "We should acknowledge this and realize that when we're formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we've got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community."
Speaking in religious terms Democrats don't often use he also said, "the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed aren't simply technical problems in search of a ten-point plan. They're rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness -- in the imperfections of man."
For its part, the Clinton campaign also reached out to Brody, with Burns Strider, Clinton's faith outreach adviser, saying that he plays a key role in the campaign organization. John Kerry had a faith outreach team in 2004 but rarely listened to its advice.
"We have direct lines to the candidate," Strider said. "There's interaction; decisions are being made. The faith office is at the table every morning, fully integrated into the campaign. Faith work has to be substantive, it has to be real in people's lives and it has to be taken seriously."
All three major leading Democrats have made active efforts at wooing the faithful, including appearing at a forum in June put on by a liberal Christian group on faith.
-- Perry Bacon Jr.
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