Faith Scholars See Weakening Interest by Democrats in Religious Voters
In 2008, the Democrats were able to get a few extra percentage points from religious voters during the presidential election. Those additional points helped to elect President Obama. This year the Democratic National Committee has promised the same thing in the November election. However, a number of religious scholars and leaders who were Obama backers in 2008 have become skeptical.
They say through neglect and lack of focus on the part of Democrats the substantial gains with religious moderates in 2008 have been squandered and worry Obama will be hurt during a tight race against his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Rev. Derrick Harkins, the DNC’s director of faith outreach said the Democrats have strong relationships with different religious groups. However, as evidenced by their concerns, critics point to the debate that followed the president’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, a decision Obama said was in part based on his own faith.
The critics say that no prominent person of faith was sent as a surrogate by the White House to explain the religious argument behind supporting same-sex marriages. Instead the voices of religion that are connected to Obama publically were the ministers serving as his personal spiritual advisers of which many generally are opposed to same-sex relationships. Those same ministers said they were struggling with Obama’s decision and many were reluctant to support it.
In 2008, the campaign for Obama sought out ways to cooperated with the religious conservatives and moderates to make them feel more accepted among Democrats. Many dismissed it as quixotic, but it seemed to work.