I wrote last July that I fully expected the liberal Democrat party to try and claim Christianity for themselves under the name of “progressive Christianity.”
A prime example is in USAToday recently that tries to show that “playing the God card” isn’t working for George Bush and the Republicans. Even if, as the author admits, “Bush, for his part, at times has invoked religion appropriately and even eloquently” and that even while overall support for Bush may be dropping, evangelicals still overwhelmingly support Bush.
I am not surprised that both Republicans and Democrats will attempt to invoke religion to win elections in 2006 and 2008. But the USAToday article misses a key point – Christian conservatives vote Republican because the Republicans support their ideals. Democrats do too, but only occasionally and when politically expedient, then come off as hypocritical when they do. Townhall’s Patrick Hynes discusses that playing the “God Card” has actually hurt the Democrat Party. Before the 2004 election, 40% of Americans viewed the Democratic Party as “friendly toward religion.” After trying clumsily to gain support for their policies by calling on God, this fell to 29% by August 2005.
Democrats have some serious decisions to make about the future of their party and its message. The Democrat Party cannot long stand as one that demands separation of church and state in all — even symbolic — matters while at the same time claiming Biblical substantiation for liberal public policies. They cannot imply John Robertsâ€™ queasiness about Roe v. Wade breaches the â€œimpregnable wall,â€ as Sen. Dianne Feinstein did during Robertsâ€™ confirmation hearings, while at the same time urge income redistribution because â€œit is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). They cannot call Republicans â€œtheocratsâ€ for trying to save Terri Schiavo while they also claim John the Baptist endorsed their welfare state when he said, â€œHe that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none â€¦â€ (Luke 3:11).
Just as Democrats are telling voters they are unserious about national security through their over-the-top rhetoric about Iraq, the Democratsâ€™ â€œGod cardâ€ gambit demonstrates to the American public that they are not serious about matters of faith in public life.
The big problem the Democrats have is a) much of their party is composed of people not just passive about God, but actively opposed to God. They support removing “under God” from the pledge of allegiance and prohibit the free expression of Christianity in schools, then the other half tries to undo that perception by claiming the liberal “give to the poor” philosophy is something Jesus would want. The Democrats won’t be able to have it both ways; it comes off as way too insincere, even for politicians.