Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Howard Dean’s religion offensive

Here’s an article from the Christianity Today website:

The day before he was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee last week, Dean went to the leaders of different Democratic constituencies outlining an approach that will emphasize outreach to evangelicals and people of other faiths. His talks sought to distance himself and the Democratic Party from an image as a secular party out of touch with common Americans.

To a standing-room-only caucus of women Democratic leaders, Dean urged them to learn to talk and cooperate with people of faith. "People of faith are in the Democratic Party, including me," Dean declared.

In response to a question from CT, Dean said, "We are definitely going to do religious outreach. Even in my campaign I was interested in reaching out to evangelicals." Later, Dean tactfully expanded his remarks, noting "our religious outreach will not solely be to evangelical Christians but to Americans of all faiths."

But I’m not sure these
tired old tropes from the Democrats’ 2004 campaign playbook will get them very far:

Dean mocked the Republicans as family values hypocrites. "The GOP wants to cut the money for feeding kids. They only get two of the values of the New Testament. Do they talk about having walked among the least of these?"

Comparing the Republicans to Sadducees and Pharisees, Dean said, "I haven’t heard the Republicans talk about that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man through the gates of heaven."

There’s a lot more in the article, including a reminder that Dean once said that Job was his favorite New Testament book. Let’s just say that the folks at CT are skeptical. So am I.

Update:Since this post has provoked a good bit of commentary, let me add
this into the mix. Click on the link and you’ll be reminded why HD left the Episcopal Church for the Congregational Church. Hint: it had nothing to do with deep thoughts over church polity and perhaps little explicitly to do with his views of theology.

Discussions - 19 Comments

This is absurd on one level, but not on another level. Many religious-right folks, let alone the less political of the evangelicals, are, I suspect, still not all that sophisticated about the political parties and how crazy the Dems have become.

In short, this bears watching.

I guess the difference is ultimately between those like President Bush who simply have and practice their faith and those like Howard Dean who develop political strategies for convincing others they have faith. I would much prefer honesty and then letting the American people decide.

TONY - Perfectly said. And, I always thought it strange that a politician, who appears not have any faith of any kind, suddenly decides to embrase people of faith as if they are any other sub-group. To appeal to the evangelicals, you must...MUST...hold the same values. Not similar, not close to, but the identicle values. No abortion. No exception. Period. No adultry, no excuses (if one does fall for this weakness as Clinton did, the only recourse is to admit it and plead for forgiveness) No to so many of the issues of faithful people. So Dean thinks he’ll come to negotiate and tell us he understands us, like we care about that.

It’s as simple as ordering a meal. Either we like what we see or not. Dean?...I’ll have a hamburger instead.

What evidence is there to suggest that Dean is not truly faithful?

Dan - By the way he acts, the way he so casually denegrates people of makes one question him. But, no man can know what is in another man’s heart. He may or may not be of faith. But for a reference, I’ll ask you to consider who appears to respect people of faith more...Bush or Dean?


How Dean acts? President Bush starts wars and increases deficit and the religious right isn’t supposed to question his faith because he publicly prays? I’m not saying that Bush is not a devout Christian (I believe him to be), but don’t tell me that Dean is less of Christian because of how he "degenerates people of faith". At least you admitted that no man can know another man’s heart. Why’d you even make that statement then? Why speculate about the man’s faith if we really can’t come to a conclusion?

I think your question is irrelevant. To have faith in something, to be a faithful person is more than to respect other "people of faith." Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but I can’t think of a good reason they’d have to go hand in hand.

Not to mention I never said anything about whether I thought Bush was faithful.

MATT - I didn’t say any of the things you list. So please do not take what I say out of context to prove your point.

The original question was “What evidence is there to suggest that Dean is not truly faithful?” My answer was to say I question him…not that I KNOW him. I contrast Bush with Dean to make a point…that apparently you missed. You asked “Why speculate about the man’s faith if we really can’t come to a conclusion?” Because he opened the door to the conversation. I don’t as a practice go around looking at people trying to figure out what they believe. But Dean says he is reaching out to people like me because of my faith, and because he wants my support, and in order for me to accept him he offers that he is a person of faith as well. It’s reasonable to question him on that, wouldn’t you agree? It’s not that I know or don’t know what’s in his heart, but I can judge his actions and not accept them. It’s that simple. I do believe Bush when he reaches out to me based on my faith, because he understands me. You confuse Bush’s policies and political decision (earthly actions) with his faith. I know, you will say “how can he (fill in the blank) and say he is faithful? Too complicated to answer here. Go to church this weekend and ask a pastor. Dean does not get it. He sees me as someone to negotiate with. Sorry, I don’t negotiate away my beliefs. If we talk about taxes, we can talk. If he talks about abortion, well, you know my stance Mr. Dean. Don’t bother asking me to support you if you don’t hold my view on that.

Note that my implication is not that Dean is not a faithful man. I have no idea, and I am unwilling to judge another man’s faith. I’ll refer back to Comment #2 about the appearance of insincerity when the Democrats assume a "Jesus strategy."

Yes, I did misquote you and I apologize. You did not say "denegerate".

My only point was that you did attempt to judge the man’s faith and then you admitted that it was really impossible to do so. I quote:

"So Dean thinks he’ll come to negotiate and tell us he understands us, like we care about that."

Honestly, I’m not trying to tell you that Dean is more faithful than Bush or that Bush is not a faithful man. I’m sorry if I was not clear.

You might not have noticed the update that Joe tacked on to his initial post. I think Dean’s reasons for switching from the Episcopalian to the Congregationalist Church say a great deal about the depth of his faith.

Sorry again, Gary. I mean "degenerate". Eh . . .

MATT-totally understandable. Thanks for the thoughtful response.


He converted over the issue of a bike path... This does not seem like a very faithful man to me. Instead he seems like a man who is self-concerned, at best.

I find it hard that Howard Dean no matter his faith is going to convince the majority of voters that his party undertands faith when. After all, a sizable constituency within the Democrat Party wants to banish religion from the public view.

How are they going to keep that portion of the party happy when trying to reach out to Evengelicals?

"I know, you will say “how can he (fill in the blank) and say he is faithful? Too complicated to answer here. Go to church this weekend and ask a pastor."

What a COP OUT.

Chris - Spoken like a true non-believer.

Cop out? If you say so.

I don’t accept the premise Bush started this war. Therefore, I don’t link his faith this decision. There’s more, but this isn’t the forum for it.

BTW, why don’t you stop by a church this weekend? A pastor would be happy to answer your questions.

Let me put Dean’s faith aside for just a moment to remind you of the most recent presidential campaign. Anyone who honestly thinks that President Bush did not use his faith to his own advantage was quite possibly living in a cave. The Bush camp made no secret of their efforts to mobilize white,conservative, evangelical voters. I guess they succeeded. Sure, we all want a leader with faith in some superior being. Dean is just trying to bring some people of faith back to the party to show them that Democrats are not just baby-killing, prayer-hating homosexuals like the GOP has a tendency to paint them. Exploting religion is never the right thing to do, but Dean’s exploitation is no worse than President Bush’s. It is not up to you and me to determine whose faith is genuine and whose isn’t.

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