first off are these type of sentiments:
Progressives have a real hard time with believers. To a large degree, a lot of the Left distrusts religion -- for entirely valid reasons -- and that distrust seems all too apparent to the people we're trying to win over.
you MUST quantify this statement. it is WHITE progressives who have a hard time with believers.
to read diary after dairy about "the evangelicals" is a little rough to take. Folks here have to accept that they are outside the mainstream on cultural issues. Folks keep assuming all Democrats agree with them on abortion and gay rights and separation of church/state and keep bashing the Christian right and "evangelicals," without recognizing that a substantial part of their base has always disagreed with them on these matters and a substantial part of their base IS evangelical and/or Christian: MINORITIES.
i have feared for a long time that the [white] Democratic elite (by this i mean activists and the professionals who work on campaigns/staff/liberal interest groups) and their tone-deaf approach to religion would someday do us in among minorities. it looks like that day is here sooner than i thought it would be.
people here are forgetting that the rank and file Democrats (the ones who show up only to vote, not the activist elite/bloggers) ARE overwhelmingly religious/Christian. only 14% of the voters this year were secular. so to hear whether Democrats need to "get religion" seems rather odd.
the only people i've met who aren't very religious and are Democrats are Democratic staff members in DC and in the elite think tanks and in the blogosphere. Democratic candidates all uniformly have faith. it's their inept staffs that are the problem. thus why groups like NARAL and EMily's List continue to bleat about "woman's right to choose" instead of talking about how we can reduce abortion and why only Democratic policies can do that. thus why they're getting their clocks cleaned right now by the anti-choice movt. Most Democratic staffers do not think homosexuality is a sin. that's really great and wonderfully tolerant, but it separates them from "middle America" and i think that's what probably made them so unaware and out of touch for how much of an emotional issue the marriage amendments would become in the swing states. Remember, a lot of Democrats also voted for all these marriage amendments, even in blue states like Oregon.
i saw and knew in my own community just how much Gavin Newsom and the Mass.court was hurting us and how deeply outraged many people of color were and i prayed it wouldn't hurt us in the election. but i think Democrats (hey Bill RIchardson, looking at you especially) did not know they needed to be countering it HARD in our churches. the only time i saw them do that was at the end when they sent Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to a black church to remind us of the issues that are really important: war, poverty, jobs, health care, etc. but that outreach was very futile and way too little. Latino and Asian churches were being pounded week after week with the message that our culture was betraying God and losing it's Christian center as gay marriage became sanctioned in parts of the country. the Bush people cleverly pounced on the issue and did the outreach. yeah, while Democrat activists were screaming about them violating church/state with their political outreach, Bush's message, with the help of a lot of sympathetic pastors/ministers, found an audience. Democrats had no institutional or organizational means to combat the Bush propaganda. instead, they simply complained about how Bush was politicizing the church. i heard more and more black folks utter the unthinkable: I think God wants me to vote Bush. people here dismissed the one poll showing Bush had made inroads in the black community.
While Kerry earned 89% of the black vote nationwide, Bush doubled his % of the black vote in Ohio to 16%. that could have been the election right there. that could have been the election right there in a closer situation. Black folks voted 61% for the marriage amendment in ohio. the GOP is smart. they know they've got a winning issue with which to lure us. and Democrats still are in denial about it.
Bush broke 40% nationwide among Latinos. he gained especially in the "swing states" of New Mexico and Colorado. this poses a serious threat to Democratic prospects for the future.
during the campaign, i would scream for Edwards/Kerry to use the same faith talk they did in front of black churches to white faith audiences. they never did. such a segregated approach to faith matters did them in.
Republicans may exploit religion for their own ends, but they are never, ever disrespectful of it as a lot of white liberals are. because they understand the role religion plays in our life, becuase they understand intuitively the social conservatism of minorities since it differs little from the Christian Coalition, they have now made significant inroads into the Democratic base. this has not been acknowledged enough by white liberals who have their heads up their ass about how a major portion of the party does not agree with them on the social issues. faith-based funding is hugely popular among minorities. Bush's faith talk resonates with us, while it alienates/enrages a lot of secular white liberals. we have no problem with saying "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, hanging the 10 commandments in public spaces. minorities are more likely to believe homosexual acts are a sin and the lifestyle abnormal and that abortion is the taking of an innocent unborn life. now these are big generalizations i'm makiing. within the community, there are a lot of diverse opinions. not all minorities agree on these issues. I lean to the left of most minorities on social issues (heck that's why i post here), and so do my other friends, but among the rank and file and our parents, these are the common sentiments. But we are also, for now, voting mostly Democrat because we realize that social justice, the economy, a sane foreign policy, are spiritual values as well.
another poster said:
"I can't understand how someone intelligent can take a leap into faith."
that's the difference between a Dem or Repub. A Republican would never make that kind of statement because they intuitively know how offensive it would be to most voters and they would instantly lose them.
all is not lost. we have a role model for the future in Barack Obama, whose language of faith resonates beyond and touches white rural folks too. the third person he thanked during his acceptance speech was his pastor and church. he spoke of a "merciful God." that is true, sincere faith with an inclusive message and vision that can combat the homophobia and narrow "culture of life" arguments of what it means to be Christian.