Voters or Believers? Faith or Politics?

19 February 2005

Religion, not faith, will be a part of every Presidential race from now on. Candidates are likely to select ministers and organizations they can use as instruments of influence. This isn’t new.

What’s new is the degree to which it will be used disingenuously. Rather than saying, “they believe as I do,” or, “I believe as they do,” we’re going to see religious figures used as pawns of manipulation. To sort through this mess, interviewers are going to have to become much more adept at questions that will reveal what a candidate really believes.

  • Do they hold with the views of a given organization or have they merely aligned themselves with it for campaign purposes?
  • Have you always been or have you only recently become a person of faith?
  • Since your dramatic conversion experience on the road to the New Hampshire primary last week…

Rumors abound that members of the Democratic Party are beginning to see the wisdom in presenting a clearer “values statement” to the public. To this end, there seems to be early indication of the political left and right conscripting the religious left and right.

Howard Dean vs. Ken Mehlman. Jim Wallis vs. Jerry Falwell. Hillary Clinton(?) vs. Rudy Giuliani(?). Imagine how confusing it’s going to become to determine what someone really believes. If advertising works—and I’m told it does—the power of religious figures and organizations to influence elections has only begun.

What we’ve called a “culture war” is about to become a full-fledged war for (or over) the beliefs of a nation.

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