Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Religion and the election, take 3

The Pew Forum has an interesting transcript up, featuring Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council and Eric Sapp of Common Good Strategies, which worked on religious outreach for a number of campaigns (about which more here.

I find many of Sapp’s comments quite interesting--especially when he discusses a strategy involving just listening to religious voters. Democratic outreach to these voters is in some ways the mirror image of Republican efforts to reach African-Americans (successful enough, perhaps, in 2004 to give Ohio, and hence the presidency, to GWB). In other words, Republicans ought to regard this as a serious threat.

Charmaine Yoest is, I think, rightly suspicious of whether the Democratic gestures are any more than that. We’ll see, and, as I’ve suggested before, the fate of the competing abortion reduction bills is a good place to begin looking.

But I’d add that the Democratic strategy of increasing the number of religiously-tinged issues (which I think is on some level right, but has to go against the grain of the secularists in the party) demands a response. Yoest talks about how religiously-inspired moral values don’t require statist responses, and about how the best "antipoverty program" is marriage, but Sapp is right when he responds that you’re kind of hard-pressed to find the proverbial concern with widows and orphans in the foreground of conservative religious messages. My advice: let’s talk more about the whole range of questions about which religions offer their opinions, but let’s also remind all the participants that prudence and social science can (and ought to) inform our discussions.

Discussions - 1 Comment

There is a large population of evangelicals who tend to vote Republican but are not committed to the party -- either because it’s not socially conservative enough OR because they aren’t. I suspect some of the hard-line social conservatives don’t vote third-party or stay home, but actually vote Democratic, for economic reasons. And the evangelicals who are only vaguely socially conservative will settle for equally vague professions of respect, alternative definitions of Christian values, etc., from clever Democratic candidates. Then, there are the ignoramuses who don’t know how socially liberal most Democratic candidates are, or don’t understand how parties and Congress work. All in all, a huge headache and a huge mess for the Republicans. It doesn’t help that pastors, from what I’ve read, tend to shy away from any and all forms of political leadership among their flocks.

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