Newsflash: Campaign faith workers think religion doesn’t belong in politics

AP President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk at the end of the … Continued

AP

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver on Oct. 3, 2012.

Newsflash: Religion doesn’t really matter in politics. This tidbit comes from an unlikely source, the people who work to mobilize faith communities for the Obama and Romney campaigns.

Even if it flies in the face of all research, this argument isn’t new to the religion reporters who heard it during a politics and religion panel on Friday. That’s because we’ve been largely shut out for many months in our efforts to get the campaigns to open access to their organized faith outreach – where they go, who they talk with, what their strategy is.

Both campaigns had people on a panel at the annual Religion Newswriters Association’s annual conference in suburban D.C. to discuss the campaigns’ efforts to reach various faith communities and to deal with faith-related issues that come up. Even as people on both sides said they were extremely busy in their positions, they said religion didn’t really have much of a place in politics.

“I don’t view myself as having job of speaking about my candidate’s faith. I’m speaking about his candidacy for the office of the presidency,” said Mark DeMoss, an evangelical communications executive who advises the Romney campaign on a volunteer basis. “I don’t go around talking about his faith. I talk about him.”

Michael Wear, national faith vote coordinator for the Obama campaign, said “I don’t feel it’s my responsibility and the president certainly doesn’t feel it’s his responsibility to convince anyone of his faith.”

The campaign advisers told journalists that the focus is the economy, even when it comes to the faith team. For the Democrats, a key faith proxy have been a group of Catholic nuns who have launched visible trips on buses and ferries to put an ethical stamp on the president’s economic vision. For the Republicans, that’s included well-known Christian conservative activist Ralph Reed and his plan to urge religious conservatives to support tax cuts.

There’s no question religion is a risky area for both candidates. Obama saw his campaign four years ago nearly swallowed by debate about his longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Millions of Americans still incorrectly believe he’s Muslim. Romney knows many Americans are unfamiliar with the Mormon faith.

Will faith outreach seem so irrelevant four years from now with potentially two different candidates?


View Photo Gallery: Moments when faith and politics intersect during the 2012 campaign.

  • sdmnw1976

    It is interesting to note that when Jesus Christ was here on earth, he did not involve himself in politics. In fact, he went out of his way to avoid politics. John 6:15 says “Therefore Jesus, knowing they were about to come and seize him to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain all alone.” He made it perfectly clear to his followers that while they were to be good, responsible, and respectful citizens under whichever government they happened to be living under (“Pay back Caesar’s things to Caeser…” Mark 12:17) they were not to involve themselves in politics. (John 17:14-16, John 15:19, John 18:36, ect) Why? What was the focus and purpose of Jesus’ earthly ministry? Luke 4:43 says “But he said to them: “Also, to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for THIS I was sent forth.” In his famous ‘model’ or ‘Lord’s Prayer’, he taught his followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come. The work that he commissioned his followers to undertake had nothing to do with politics…it was to “preach the good news of God’s kingdom”. (Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:19,20)

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.