Faith in the Democratic Platform
It is interesting at the start of the Democratic Convention
to note that the draft platform the delegates are beginning to discuss says
more about what a faith initiative will not be than what it will be in an Obama
I bet the GOP platform will be more positive. Not that the Democratic
platform is negative. It is just less positive than one would imagine. This
contrasts with Obama's rhetoric in July about his plans for a Council
of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (as he will call it), though
it does track somewhat his well-known 2006
Call to Renewal speech, which sought to show the complexity of faith and
policy in America.
Below is the draft section on faith in the Democratic platform. It uses
traditional language in praising the place of faith and its importance in
solving problems in America.
When it comes to specifics, however, the draft Democratic platform wants to
make sure any faith-based initiative does not endanger First Amendment
protections, does not allow proselytizing, does not allow discrimination (they
main issue of controversy in Congressional debates on the issue), and is used
on programs that actually work.
All these points are right and important. They show more concern from the
Democrats about faith and government than the flowery language they have used
in the past or than one would imagine in such a document.
Draft Democratic Platform Statement on Faith
We honor the central place of faith in our lives. Like our Founders, we
believe that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly
stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it
inspires. We believe that change comes not from the top-down, but from the
bottom-up, and that few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues,
temples, and mosques. To face today's challenges -- from saving our planet to
ending poverty -- we need all hands on deck. Faith-based groups are not a
replacement for government or secular non-profit programs; rather, they are yet
another sector working to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We will
empower grassroots faith-based and community groups to help meet challenges
like poverty, ex-offender reentry, and illiteracy. At the same time, we can
ensure that these partnerships do not endanger First Amendment protections --
because there is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and
respecting our Constitution. We will ensure that public funds are not used to
proselytize or discriminate. We will also ensure that taxpayer dollars are only
used on programs that actually work.
Democratic Outreach to the Religious Left
It is historic that there is a Faith
Caucus at the current Democratic National Convention. The interfaith
gathering last Sunday (August 24) and the events all week are diverse in
terms of representing different religions, but not in terms of ideology, which
is progressive across the faiths. The caucus panels are moderated mostly by
Obama's director of religious outreach, Joshua
Dubois, or by Jim Wallis, a principle architect of the religious left,
which became politically active following the 2004 elections and formed Faith
in Public Life, among other projects, to engage people of faith for the
McCain Targets Catholics with Palin ... But Will
It Help in New Mexico?
The selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP is by any
estimate a very interesting pick. Her pro-life background should help McCain
with blue collar Catholic voters generally. I'm starting to feel that this
election comes down to who wins Colorado and New Mexico. Perhaps
McCain flips New Hampshire.
Certainly McCain must "hold serve" on more states than Obama to stay
even, and that puts more pressure on him. If Obama gets momentum and starts
flipping states like Ohio, Virginia,
Nevada, or Florida, it's all over. It is less likely
that McCain flips Democratic states like Pennsylvania
but it is possible. I think it comes down to Colorado
and New Mexico.
Can two Westerners keep these GOP states? Can Palin's Catholic roots (she is
reportedly a baptized Catholic) help with Hispanic voters in New Mexico? We'll see.
Who is Sarah Palin's Pastor?
With all the focus during the primary campaign season on the
words of the candidates' ministers, whether it was Jeremiah Wright for Barack
Obama or John Hagee for John McCain, one has to wonder when the press will
start focusing on Sarah Palin's pastor. As a member of a conservative,
evangelical congregation in suburban Alaska,
there is a decent chance Palin was present for some controversial sermons from
time to time. Much as Obama was hit with the content of Wright's sermons, one
would expect Palin to receive the same treatment from the media in terms of her