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John Edwards on Democrats and Faith

Possible 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards on Democrats and authentic faith:

"The party has enlisted a number of consultants, church leaders and marketing experts to help Democrats chart a new course. Some party leaders fear they have ceded the values of faith and spirituality to Republicans...

What concerns the former U.S. senator from North Carolina and 2004 vice presidential nominee is that fellow Democrats, in an effort to regain lost ground, will get into a bidding war with Republicans over who could invoke the name of God and quote Scripture the most.

"The last thing the Democratic Party needs is to start trying to maneuver strategically" to gain the upper hand, Edwards said during a visit to Columbia last week.

The values seminars and retreats have had some effect already. Use of value-laden phrases has proliferated on Capitol Hill. Democrats are freely quoting the Bible.

The House Democratic leadership has tapped U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., son of a minister, to lead a "faith working group" to encourage lawmakers to sprinkle references to God and religion into their speeches.

Fine, says Edwards, a man of deep faith, but it must be real. Put another way, authenticity is essential. You must be able to say "God" and not flinch.

"You should be able to say these things and be comfortable with it," Edwards says. "You must have genuine emotion to go with it."

No matter how hard some try to be spiritual, they don't sound convincing. They can't refer to the Almighty without cringing.

And they quote the Bible without knowing the Bible.

"People know the difference," Edwards says. What people want in their leaders is "strength and conviction and a clear core set of beliefs."

"They want to know what you care about, and they want to know that it is real. They want somebody who will fight for their core set of beliefs."

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