John Kerry, Democrats and Religion

An interesting story comes out of Slate concerning religion and John Kerry's campaign for the Presidency entitled "Pilgrim's Progress? John Kerry's dubious approach to religion". The article commences by pointing out that there is a large number of very religious people in the Democratic party.

"As you may already know, one of America's two political parties is extremely religious. Sixty-one percent of this party's voters say they pray daily or more often. An astounding 92 percent of them believe in life after death. And there's a hard-core subgroup in this party of super-religious Christian zealots. Very conservative on gay marriage, half of the members of this subgroup believe Bush uses too little religious rhetoric, and 51 percent of them believe God gave Israel to the Jews and that its existence fulfills the prophecy about the second coming of Jesus.

"Liberals could read these statistics and sneer about 'those silly Republicans' were it not for the fact that it's the Democrats who hold these beliefs. And the abovementioned ultrareligious subgroup is not the so-called 'Religious Right' but rather the so-called 'African-Americans.'"

I have personally encountered a large number of this latter "ultrareligious subgroup" in my travels, and have often wondered how they could be part of the Democratic party which tends, in my opinion, to be the party arguing consistently for amorality in law. Or, just as importantly, the question comes up as to why this group isn't asserting more influence on the Democratic party platform. Well, Stephen Waldman, the article's author, makes an interesting suggestion.

"Perhaps they've come to believe the misleading punditry about the religion gap. Well, heck, they may figure, if there aren't any religious people in our party, no need to talk about that stuff.

"More likely, the Kerry campaign suffers from the fact that while most Democrats are religious, many liberal Democratic activists are not. Perhaps the real problem with the paucity of African-Americans at senior levels of the Kerry campaign is not that he doesn't understand racial language but that—forgive the gross stereotyping—the white aides tend to be more tone deaf about religion than the black ones."

Not being a Democrat, I don't know if he is right, but it is an interesting thought.


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