Behind the Push to Add Religion to the Convention

For weeks, if not longer, it's been clear there is going to be a major infusion of religion into the Democratic National Convention.

Here's how it's being done. And why?

[it's] a mission to narrow the "G-d gap" between Democrats and Republicans by winning over religious voters who have flocked to the GOP over the last 20 years.

What do we do with them when they get here? Adopt their Republican views so we can keep them?

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    I smell a third party in my future. (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:28:09 PM EST
    ..I'm really trying to hang on but this might be more than I can take.

    I was just thinking that (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by BarnBabe on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:36:53 PM EST
    I was reading the above and thinking, there might be enough independents that would form a third party. Unfortunately, it would probably end up the same way. There are days when the Dems are going more right that I feel like Republicans are going to become Democrats and vice versa. I might wake up some morning with a R on my forehead. Oh no.......

    been saying that (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:37:25 PM EST
    for a couple of months now.

    Damn straight! (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Xanthe on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:59:34 PM EST
    I am a practicing Catholic with a wide worldview of religion/spirituality BUT I don't want it in my every day government - get it out of my face.  I choose it - and if I want to be private about it - that's my business.

    Frankly, it's sickening - goodness doesn't equate with religion; decency doesn't equate with religion.

    And - please no money to churches on behalf of social uses - that's my tax money and I don't want it to go to any church/synagogue/coven - and let's face it - if we're going to give money to Christian churches - why not the Buddhists, covens, muslims - it's only fair.

    And while the Democrats are pandering to the religious who believe they should be in our face - they risk losing us.  Apparently, they don't care.  That is very apparent this election cycle.  Well sometimes you get what you ask for and guess what - it bites you on the tush.

    This steams me.  


    Exactly (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Jjc2008 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05:10:08 PM EST
    When I was teaching one of my teammates was always into pushing "prayer day" and would repeat the right wing meme of "well atheists are pushing God out of school, yadayadayada".  I continually asked her if she insisted we get to do Christian prayers/meetings in school, would she be equally comfortable with covens asking for meetings,  Muslims asking for us to stop five times a day to face Mecca and pray.

    She was always speechless and had no retort.

    Funny thing is one day, two 8th grade girls in middle school came in and asked me if they could use the library for some ritual as they both had decided to be Wiccan and needed time for something. I explained that I could not allow any religious practices on the school premises.  They were cool about it.  One of them says: Does that mean the Christians are not allowed to shove their bibles in our faces?

    I wished my old partner had been there to hear that?

    If the dems keep pushing this theocracy mentality they will lose me for sure.


    I have no problem if religion... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Shainzona on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:16:03 PM EST
    were a part of the convention - but this time around, it is taking front seat. (Yes, I realize that Tuesday night is Wes Clark's, er, I mean, Securing America night).  Religion begins and ends each day and I expect to hear the word God from every speakers mouth, multiple times and connected to the most inane subjects - just to appear pious.

    Most importantly, what will these fundies expect in return for their pandered-to vote IF they fall for this line of campaining?


    I do (none / 0) (#41)
    by JavaCityPal on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:43:08 PM EST
    I have a problem with it in government, on a sports field, in a public classroom, in our courthouses, and anywhere else that isn't designated specifically as a church or private school. If it is practiced on site anywhere, I want full disclosure so I can choose whether or not to remain on the property or in the program.

    Unfortunately, 3rd party is self-defeating (none / 0) (#43)
    by pluege on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 07:00:41 AM EST
    The republicans continue to succeed in their disgraced status because they are monolithic and the democrats are not. Democrats operate as at least 2 parties: blue dogs (a.k.a. republicans elected as democrats) and progressives, and then there are a myriad of free agents. While democrats operate as the government was envisioned and constructed with competing interests vying for influence, republican unity has found the way to subvert the intent of the organizational structure of the government.

    A third party "officially" fractures the democrats (even though they are already fractured) paving the way for a return of republican majority. I think 2000 demonstrated this effect very clearly and disastrously. Although the democratic "leadership" and democratic "strategies" such as they are, are insufferable, "officially" separating offers no promise at all of addressing the problem or advancing progressive ideals or policies. On the contrary, a 3rd Party offers only banishment to to the realm of irrelevance.


    The Democratic Party (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:35:14 PM EST
    Is run by morons of the highest order.  They don't even understand how to communicate with voters on the ISSUES.  Instead they play the God game, they pander to the LCD, and they evidence a lack of imagination on par with a rock.  Scratch that, a rock has more imagination.  That Obama couldn't lay out a coherent telling of the entire Georgia situation, to counter the useless propaganda of old, but instead let himself be dragged into the same tired game, well, there's nothing to say.  That he can't understand that, to really be a candidate of change, he must start playing a new game, a game the Republicans don't know how to play -- it's called the game of radical humility & honesty -- is simply pathetic.  Change what?  Nothing, it seems like.  More and more nothing every day.  He better grow a set of brass ones and quickly or he will have lost to a man Clinton would annhiliate in a general election -- either Clinton, that is.  

    Has he learned nothing (none / 0) (#18)
    by Xanthe on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:03:07 PM EST
    from his (political/manipulative) association with the good Rev. Wright.  

    "What do we do with them . . . " (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:36:57 PM EST
    seem like a classic "dog chasing car" thing.
    what do you do when you catch it?

    put their tails under and run whimpering (none / 0) (#13)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:58:00 PM EST
    back home to hide i expect!

    Is anyone really surprised? (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by janarchy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:42:04 PM EST
    I'm not. This is why I'm gone, gone, gone from the Democratic party. The most ridiculous thing is that the Evangelicals have said they don't want to be involved with politics but no one in the DNC is paying attention.

    A friend of mine who is a major Obama supporter was just going on and on about how public displays of religiosity make her uncomfortable and she thinks it ought to be kept private. However, if I pointed this sort of behaviour out to her, she'd be in complete denial. Some people are in for a big and nasty surprise in the near future.

    That first night 'One Nation' theme -- (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by RonK Seattle on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:45:59 PM EST
    -- it's not "One Nation _nd-r G-d", is it?

    Oh no. (none / 0) (#22)
    by catfish on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:16:53 PM EST
    Dog whistle to critics of that pledge allegiance Supreme Court case.

    What is wrong w/our party (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by vicndabx on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:46:55 PM EST
    did noone take Social Studies and learn about the separation of church and state?  Or did they all fail that class?  I know it was boring and all that but c'mon.....

    Religion (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Miri on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:27:10 PM EST
    They can have a religion fest, it won't matter.

    People who base their decision on who is more  religious will vote overwhelmingly to the GOP.

    honestly (none / 0) (#26)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:38:07 PM EST
    how stupid do they think people are?
    its about policies not who is on the stage in Denver.
    now, as Jeralyn pointed out, if they start courting them with POLICIES we really have a problem.

    the democrats to me are acting like (none / 0) (#30)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:50:34 PM EST
    voters including religeous oriented ones are beyond stupid. they don't take into consideration that these voters know very well about rev wright and won't give voting for obama a second thought. they just won't do it.

    The Right Way (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Valhalla on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:39:14 PM EST
    Putting aside Constitutional issues, Democrats do suffer from being thought of, suspiciously, by a lot of religious people as the party of soulless atheists.

    That IS a problem.  But Obama's tack isn't the solution.

    It's not their inability to draw the radical right into the party that's the problem.  It is the inability to convince the vast middle of (mostly) Christian Americans that they are not godless heathens.  That is, not the people who make their religion their whole life, but the people who make religion a significant but not overwhelming part of their lives.  The people who go to church each week, believe in a Christian god, but for whom religion and church is at least as much a sign of belonging to and participating in a community as it is of dedication to a particular religious ideology.  Solidly Christian, not psychotically Christian people.

    The Republicans have excelled at capturing this group by convincing them that whatever Democrat candidate was up to bat at the moment was not trustworthy and was in fact a threat or danger to Christian values.

    But Obama's way overshooting this group to go to the radical right.  I don't think that's a good way to establish trust with the middle group.  I'm not sure I can discern the strategy here, exactly.  This is where Wright really hurts him; most people know little about his church but they're seen the videos; Wright is not the solid, Christian, community-building church leader they are familiar with, that would make them feel comfortable that he's not one of those untrustworthy, unsafe Democrats.

    Seems like Obama and Axelrod (and the Dems) hit it right that religion was a weak issue, but they are totally overcompensating.  A much different, more measured but convincing approach or attempt to attract the middle would be a better strategy.  Imho!

    Failed strategy (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:52:30 PM EST
    This seems to be the same strategy that Harold Ford used in TN. It didn't work for him there either. He was the only one who lost.

    I didn't know this - but he (none / 0) (#32)
    by Xanthe on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:54:16 PM EST
    is a big light in the DNC, isn't he?  

    Yep! (none / 0) (#33)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:56:44 PM EST
    Harold Ford (none / 0) (#38)
    by Miri on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 06:41:54 PM EST
    And unlike Obama he did not have moslem connections.

    How much tax-payers money (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by laurie on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:58:42 PM EST
    is he going to ladle out to all those churches in exchange for their support?
    He certainly gave enough to Wright.

    Is the IRS investigating (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Xanthe on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 06:15:39 PM EST
    this church?  Am I being totally off the wall when I wonder if it is the parishioners who built his new home?  

    It will probably be as successful (none / 0) (#3)
    by badu on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:36:01 PM EST
    as Obama's performance Saturday night.  I don't think he won anyone there over.

    Add druids and space monkeys (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ennis on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:39:23 PM EST
    if it helps win.  

    The problem (none / 0) (#14)
    by Nadai on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:58:04 PM EST
    you seem to be missing is that the "druids and space monkeys" won't be going away come November 5.  They'll be demanding that the Democratic Party move in their direction, which is to say, rightward on a host of issues.  When you dance with the devil, you don't get to call the tune.

    Religion does NOT equal Republican! (none / 0) (#11)
    by MSS on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:47:32 PM EST
    Consider these luminaries of the Religious Left (and let's not let the right take over all ownership of religious and political concern):

    • Daniel Berrigan, Catholic priest & peace activist
    • Phillip Berrigan, peace activist
    -César Chávez Mexican American labor and social activist
    • Sister Helen Prejean - anti-death penalty activist (portrayed in movie Dead Man Walking by actress Susan Sarandon)
    • Mitch Snyder, - convert; advocate for the homeless
    -Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker Movement cofounder, Wobbly

    Many Americans (and many others around the world) recognize the importance of religion and recognize the values of "do unto others" and "care for the poor."

    See a long and interesting list and history of the Religious Left at this Wikipedia entry

    No one is saying (5.00 / 6) (#12)
    by cmugirl on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:50:40 PM EST
    That religious people can't be Democrats (I would think religious people, by the nature of most religions teachings SHOULD be Democrats).  What people here are unhappy about is that religion should not be front and center and the basis for the party platform.  We should be tolerant of all religions (or lack thereof), but we should not decide policy based on a candidate's beliefs.

    the policies of the core democratic (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:01:41 PM EST
    base from fdr forward have been christian in concept. that is all we need. we don't need or want religeon in government. when i look at the mess that bush name all the while claiming to be speaking to god, i have say i don't want to hear about god from any politican. i want to hear about his doing his DANG JOB!

    Not to mention (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by Valhalla on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:12:35 PM EST
    Obama isn't going after the religious Democrats who do good.

    He's going after the Republican religious right.  The people who even creep out moderate Republicans.


    saying god and supporting religeon (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:59:49 PM EST
    is one thing. stuffing down people's throats to the detriment of american society IS NOT OK!

    A thank you to MSS (none / 0) (#23)
    by christinep on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:18:55 PM EST
    Yes, thank you. I think our problem as Democrats regarding religion is that--for a number of active Democrats in the 70s, 80s, 90s--we could not hide our discomfort. Audiences correctly perceived that. I'm a churchgoer, my husband isn't--he and I have argued the many aspects of campaigning and people of faith. Obviously, it cuts lots of different ways. (For me, a lifelong liberal Democrat who is actually rather outspoken, it took some time to acknowledge in front of even close liberal political cohorts that I believe in God when they appeared to question any such belief as a temporary loss of intelligence, etc.) It should be ok; an individual should not be ridiculed or somehow thought less of because he/she follows the Dalai Lama or goes to Mass or attends Temple. Yet, because of the orchestration of the right & religion for some years now, there is a tendency perhaps to "throw out the baby with the bathwater." And, as we try to accept different spiritual beliefs and attitudes within our party, there really has been a tension. What I think is of concern for some here could be the apparent rush to "pile it on." Our party says: "Hey, look at us, America. We're showcasing spirituality. We mean it. Watch us highlight hours of special attention." Thats how it may seem in contrast to the past. Having spoken quickly with the convention's CEO, Leah Daughtry, about a year ago, I trust that she (an ordained minister) is not pretending. She is genuine. And, she clearly understands the importance of separation of church and state. She also understands the role of the religious left in our history and its inextricable grounding in health care, education, poverty relief, environmentalism, etc.

    Sorry, no dice. (5.00 / 4) (#25)
    by dk on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:27:19 PM EST
    So what if I think your religious belief is a lapse in intelligence.  And so what if you think I'm going to hell because I don't believe in god.  If we both agree that all people should have health care even if it means that young, healthy people who can afford it are required to pay into the system, we can come together and be in the same secular political party.

    One of the strengths of the Democratic party is that the reasoning behind people's policy positions is irrelevant.  It is the positions themselves that matter.  All the religion talk weakens the party, if you ask me.


    i am so glad that you have faith. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:43:34 PM EST
    but it your faith and not ours. therefore as i respect you, please respect the rights of the rest of your fellow americans not to have your faith stuffed down their throats. there are many religeous people who have no intention of doing that but history shows with no doubt what so ever that religeon and govenment don't mix ever.

    I hear you - and I (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Xanthe on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:43:36 PM EST
    respect your thoughts.  You are saying we will highlight the religious left; that is a good thing for us - I don't think so.  The religious left leaves a history of rebellion, including Christ.  This Dem party is anything but rebellious - they are sheep.

    Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long
    clothing, and love salutations in the marketplace.
    And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the
    uppermost rooms at feasts:
    Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence
    make long prayers.  (Matthew `12:38)

    Make healthcare and leaving Iraq and the environment the central issues!- that is truly a religious statement.


    I wonder if those leftist Religious leaders (none / 0) (#39)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:53:12 PM EST
    would approve of a political party choosing to elevate their religion above others on a political stage??

    If so, then I would not count them as progressive on that issue, though quite progressive on all other issues.


    Religious voters (none / 0) (#21)
    by TheRealFrank on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 04:16:23 PM EST
    One of my main problems with this is that trying to appeal to e.g. evangelicals by injecting religion into your campaign and the DNC, you're playing on the GOP playing field.

    That's not new politics, that's desperately trying to score a goal in a game with rules defined by your opponent.

    If you want to break through the stranglehold of the GOP on those voters, try to make it about issues. That's difficult. But it beats wasting energy like this, and blurring the line between church and state even further.

    take a long hard look at the republicans (none / 0) (#36)
    by hellothere on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 05:41:52 PM EST
    and see what happened to them after playing house with the far right religeous groups. it brings out the crazies and they then feel they have a right to tell us what we should do.

    This year's campaign a tad different, unfortunate. (none / 0) (#40)
    by Christy1947 on Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:09:28 PM EST
    Because of the Muslim issue raised, it may and I think was necessary for Obama to go before that forum and talk about things which politicians who are nominally religious  or Christians but not really, like McCain the Episcopalian (Don't get me started on Episcopalians, I am one) who goes to a Baptist church but was not baptised into it, can have their voters assume and don't have to discuss at all. OK, he's a Catholic. does not require an exploration of how he feels about . . . stem cell research or the position of saints or the use of Latin. People think they know what it is. So it works for a politician's constituents even if he shows up on Sunday and does the crossword puzzle in the pews.  Whether they are religious or not. Obama's bona fides as a Christian were raised in the campaign and need to be responded to in a forum which would care about that. Remember that a major chunk of the opposition of the Conservative Right to Romney is that he is a Mormon. Still. Doesn't matter what his policy positions are. If the Muslim issue had not been raised and hammered, Obama might have been able to do something different.

    If nothing else, republicans have proven (none / 0) (#42)
    by pluege on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:45:17 AM EST
    the past 28 years that shallow cravenness, pandering, and the politics of division work very well for them. For anyone to think that suddenly a sufficient quantity of the American electorate has become sick of it or wised-up enough to toss off the self-defeating success of the republican strategy is foolery.

    So the democrats will pander badly to religious folk and republicans will successfully use their pandering against them as they successfully use all obviously disingenuous democratic strategies against them, and the democrats will wonder later on what what wrong and what craven, shallow, egregious republican strategy they should try to adopt next so they be more like republicans.