As a Canadian, my mind was somewhat blown (certainly not for the first time in this US election cycle!) when Barack Obama quoted from scripture in ending his nomination speech to the Democratic National Convention:
At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise – that American promise – and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
I was raised in a “religious” tradition with which I no longer identify. I believe I have a fairly firm grasp of several religious traditions. I am “tolerant” of people who identify with those traditions and of the traditions themselves, except when they contribute to harming people or impinging on my freedom not to be a member of one of them. But I just can’t identify with a politician who uses religion as a defining factor of his political beliefs.
As we in Canada have begun our race to election day, I’ve thought several times of what would happen if a Canadian politician made these kinds of references in a political speech or if s/he attempted, openly, to draft certain “religious” entities as supporters. It’s actually not thinkable (so far) and I’m glad of that.
Imagine my shock when I came upon a story indicating that a whole line of electioneering paraphernalia based on religion is coming from the Obama campaign:
The Obama campaign is preparing rolling out a new line of “faith merchandise” – the latest move in an ambitious effort to win over religious voters.
“Check out the Believers for Barack, Pro-Family Pro-Obama, and Catholics for Obama buttons, bumper stickers and signs….” says Obama Deputy Director of Religious Affairs Paul Monteiro in an e-mail obtained by the Beliefnet Web site.
“Believers for Barack rally signs and bumper stickers, along with all Pro-Family Pro-Obama merchandise, are appropriate for people of all faith backgrounds. We’ll soon be rolling out merchandise for other religious groups and denominations, but I wanted to get this out to you without delay,” he adds.
Both campaigns have been making a major push for the Catholic vote, which has gone to the winning presidential campaign in every race since 1976, except Al Gore’s 2000 White House bid.
Beliefnet reported that “Clergy for Change” and “Pro-Israel Pro-Obama” merchandise will soon be offered.
But, what Anglachel said.
On the other hand, “Pro-Israel Pro-Obama” has obvious and real political implications, even if the rest of it”is a politically smart appeal to parts of the electorate that the Democrats have no previously been able to reach. And “Pro- Family Pro-Obama” doesn’t sit well with me either, smacking as it does of anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage, traditional “family values” ideology. Given Obama’s dithering with respect to his views on abortion, that makes me pretty nervous.