While Democrats reject the approach of appealing to voters on the basis of their religious faith, they remain open to input from voters who hold traditional values. U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-Tex.), who serves a district in and around Abilene, says politicians should not appeal to the personal faith of voters. “Many people today have attempted to fix their own moral judgments on economic and political matters,” Stenholm said. “When you see that happening within a church, 99 times out of 100 you see a split church.”

Dale Butland, press secretary to U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), says politicians who persist in targeting voters on the basis of their religious beliefs are ignoring “the growing backlash” developing toward religious political activism. Butland suggested that supporters of Democrats like Glenn—a Presbyterian elder for more than 25 years—can see through the political opportunism of activists who try to marshal a Christian vote for Republican candidates.

Democrats who want to encourage conservative Christian participation, however, point to signs of change in their party. Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Paul Kirk, appointed after the 1984 election debacle, has restructured the party’s caucus system. (Caucuses are loosely organized groups of people who represent a particular interest to the national committee.) In 1984, the Democratic party included officially recognized caucuses for blacks, Hispanics, women, Asian-Pacific islanders, liberals and progressives, business and professional people, and gays and lesbians. Soon after taking office at the DNC, Kirk neglected to renew the “officially recognized” status of all these groups except ...

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