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"We are at a Beginning"

This news story below speaks to what is a common theme here:

That it is to the Dem's detriment to appear aloof, uncomfortable, or unfriendly to issues of faith and morality and values...

The party should be and I believe is trying to be actively supporting religious candidates at local, state and Federal races, should get good at framing it's historic positions not as just policy but as tieing them to core values. And when we oppose the positions on the Religious Right, we should find ways to be clear that we are opposing bad ideas and bad values, not opposing religion itself, or folks who are religious. Christians who are Democrats have a key role here I think. A key place to be "salt" and "light" within the party.

With that said, here are the details of a Pew Poll that show that over the last year, Dems have been increasingly seen as "unfriendly" to faith. Some of that is the loud voices of the Religious Right trying to define us, and Dems letting that go without sn effective push back. Some of this is likely self-inflicted.

"We're at the beginning..." The DNC is quoted as saying, relating to religious engagment and the DNC. Fine, but by all means, let's get moving.

"Fewer people see Democrats as friendly to religion now than felt that way a year ago, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

That number has dropped from 40 percent in August 2004 who thought the Democrats were friendly to religion to 29 percent now.

"The change is seen across all groups," said Scott Keeter, director of survey research for the Pew Research Center, which conducted the poll for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

After Democrats fared poorly with religious voters in the 2004 election, the
Democratic National Committee initiated numerous efforts to strengthen its standing with religious voters.

The DNC hired someone to coordinate religious outreach, encouraged state parties to work more closely with the religious community, and had Chairman
Howard Dean meet with clergy and others in the religious community during his travels around the country.

"We're at the beginning," said Democratic spokeswoman Karen Finney, who said religious voters share many of the values of the Democratic Party. "But we know we need to do a better job of talking about our values in a way that people see we share their values."

More than half of those polled, 55 percent, said the Republican Party is friendly to religion.

A majority of political independents, 54 percent, said religious conservatives have too much influence over the GOP. Fewer than half of independents said those who are not religious have too much impact on the Democratic Party."
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8/31/2005 12:21:00 PM

Not only shouldn't we count on leadership from the DNC (or DLC), it would be better if they stayed out of the "religious" questions. Because the only way they can conceive of incorporating these matters of "values" is by moving the party rightward. In fact, the increasingly vocal "faith" (I despise these terms) element in the party in the party is insisting that Democrats should & can remain true to principles of social progressivism - health, housing, jobs, education - that Democrats can use these successfully against religious right Republicans provided candidates are comfortable presenting them in a "faith" context. Simply pulling out a dusty Bible & memorizing a few quotes can never work.    

8/31/2005 01:20:00 PM

Hey Bob:

Fair comments, I'm often conflicted as to how much should be happening at a structural party level vs at a grassroots or netroots level...Perhaps naively, I'd hope for openess to change at *all* levels.

But I get your point and I agree that if we confuse "values" with "right-wing policies" we are missing the bigger picture tragically, and I absolutely applaud the comments that health care, housing, jobs, education issues ARE inherintly moral and values based issues...as would be civil rights, environmentalism, and many other progressive values.

And lastly, you make the point very clearly that being authentic is key. Faking a gloss of spirituallity over candidates misses the boat by about a million miles. We need good models for what NOT missing this particular boat looks like. MLK was clearly an amazing embodiment of this. Some have suggested Barak Obama as a promising modern day example.    

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