Guest / Limited Access /

Each of the presidential candidates has been caught off guard by accusations leveled against their religious connections.

While Barack Obama continues to distance himself from the "incendiary language" of his pastor of 20 years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, John McCain has renounced anti-Catholic comments made by Texas pastor John Hagee, who endorsed McCain in late February. McCain has also come under criticism for calling the Rev. Rod Parsley, who endorses total war against Islam, his "spiritual guide." Meanwhile, political essayist Barbara Ehrenreich and others have criticized Hillary Clinton for her affiliation with the Fellowship Foundation's National Prayer Breakfast.

"Neither Obama, McCain, or Clinton expected they would be criticized on this basis," said John Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. "They had not thought these issues would be controversial."

Presidential hopefuls took note after President Bush's narrow reelection in 2004, which was credited largely to his appeal among people of faith. However, as this election's candidates have emphasized their personal beliefs and religious connections in an attempt to influence voters, they've found that it has opened them up to new criticisms, said Green.

"One of the reasons religious appeals are effective is because many Americans care deeply about their faith," he said. "But they also have doubts about other people's faith. Because they care about religion, they are concerned if they hear things they don't agree with."

In a twist not seen in recent presidential campaigns, candidates have been held accountable not just for their own religious views, but also for the views of those with whom they associate.

"Obama and Clinton are making ...

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

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

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Rise of the Rebel Virgins
Why we refrain even when premarital sex is safe and "natural."
RecommendedAfter Trump, Should Evangelical Christians Part Ways?
After Trump, Should Evangelical Christians Part Ways?
The 2016 election has revealed afresh a deep fissure—and a great opportunity.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickThe Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’
The Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’
How the New Testament offers a better, higher calling than the Declaration of Independence.
Christianity Today
From Blessing to Burden
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2008

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