Guest / Limited Access /

Not since Bill Clinton's first run for President has there been so much talk among Democrats about fielding candidates viewed as more socially and religiously moderate than the standard-bearers of their party. In several important races—in Tennessee and Pennsylvania, for example—conservative Republicans found themselves up against Democrats who spoke the language of faith. "I just can't help it," said U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee. "I love Jesus."

We dare not speculate about how many Democratic victors might share that affection. Nor can we know what difference this strategy made on the election outcome; discontent over the war in Iraq and disgust over political scandals evidently drove lots of voters into Democratic arms. But we can ask what it might mean for the future of the Democratic Party and American politics.

In a hopeful vein, the political cost to Democrats over their perception as the "godless party" may have forced political leaders to do a little soul searching. Senator Barack Obama has impressed many with his ability to speak affirmingly and fluently about the importance of morality and faith to democratic life. "To say that men and women should not inject their 'personal morality' into public policy debates is a practical absurdity," he said. "Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition." Lines like that, when uttered by Republican leaders, send many liberals intoa fear-mongering frenzy of theocracy talk.

Nevertheless, consider a few Democratic victories yesterday: In Pennsylvania, pro-life Democrat Bob Casey Jr. beat out Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a conservative Catholic known for his social ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedJerry Falwell Jr. Endorses Donald Trump; Here's How Other Evangelicals Compare
Jerry Falwell Jr. Endorses Donald Trump; Here's How Other Evangelicals Compare
(UPDATED) Yes, 'The Donald' draws five times more admiration than Billy Graham. But polls of religiosity and leaders tell a different tale.
TrendingWhat to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
What to Give Up for Lent 2016? Consider Twitter's Top Ideas
(UPDATED) Charting how Lenten abstinence has changed over time, as 2016 data comes in.
Editor's PickGod's Place in Black History
God's Place in Black History
Looking to the past provides direction for the current fight for justice.
Christianity Today
Faith-Based Triangulation
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.