Bush and Gore out-Jimmy-Carter each other in US News

"We haven't seen anything like this since William Jennings Bryan," religion and politics quotemeister John Green tells U.S. News in its December 6 issue. No, he's not referring to Bryan's role in the early Evolution Wars—the most likely reason you'll hear Bryan's name invoked these days—but for his 1896 presidential campaign. "It's been generations since so many politicians have talked so much about Jesus—and their personal relationship with him," writer Franklin Foer begins his article, "Running on Their Faith."

There's surprisingly little media cynicism here. "When candidates make public displays of religion, a common reflex is skepticism: American politicians have always found votes in church. But with the governor and vice president [Bush and Gore], there is evidence of devotion," Foer writes. "There is a bigger point than piety here. For both frontrunners, their political agendas are bound to their religious agendas."

Foer describes how Gore's spiritual background—a mix of conservative Baptist revivalism bred in his youth and undergraduate days and "Protestant ultraliberalism" learned at Vanderbilt Divinity School—results in a social justice-oriented campaign that's supportive of faith-based charities and even teaching creationism in schools. Bush, on the other hand, "is the first major politician to emerge from the new milieu of suburban megachurches." His ideas on racial reconciliation and his embrace of self-help theories are straight out of Promise Keepers. (Extended interviews with Bush and Gore on faith are posted exclusively on the U.S. News Web site.)

Though he never comes out and says it, Foer's main argument is how, despite all the warnings about religious extremism, ...

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

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

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: