Sunday, December 21, 2008

Religious Story of the Year

According to the Baptist Standard, the Religious Story of the Year is the prominence of religion during the 2008 election cycle (h/t Blog from the Capital) .
Barack Obama chose Joe Biden, and John McCain turned to Sarah Palin, but in the end, the most sought-after running mate in the 2008 campaign never appeared on a single ballot.

God, it seems, couldn’t be entirely wooed by either party.

The unprecedented and extraordinary prominence of religion in the 2008 election was easily the year’s top religion story. Both parties battled hard for religious voters ...
I was in Divinity School during the 2004 election, naturally a hyper-religious environment. Through that lens, I remember 2004 to be an uncommonly religious election: Terrorism and Islamic Extremism, Abortion and Gay Marriage.

In terms of religious stories, however, 2008 dwarfed 2004. Jeremiah Wright. John Hagee. Rod Pasley. The Saddleback Forum. The Compassion Forum during the Democratic Primary. Proposition 8. Barack Hussein Obama and his "secret Muslim worldview." Madrasas. Mike Huckabee's religious education. Mitt Romney and Mormonism. Sarah Palin and conservative evangelical elation, no exceptions on abortion whatsoever, witch-doctor blessings, creationism, God blessing Alaskan oil pipelines, etc. We could cite examples ad nauseam.

Even in our local congressional race, religion was prominent. Congressman-Elect Tom Perriello never shied from his religion: "Called by his faith." Sierra Leone, Darfur, genocides and civil wars. Volunteer tithing initiatives and Habitat for Humanity. Listening tour with pastors. Pastors for Perriello. "United Sunni caliphate."

Tangentially, are we seeing a trend here, the religification of national elections? Two times does not a pattern make, but it will be fun to watch.


Darren Staley said...

I would argue that we are seeing the end of religification in national elections.

Wright, Huckabee, Romney, Hagee, and Palin were all soundly rejected.

The Saddleback Forum, which most pundits say McCain "won" had little impact. The Prop 8 vote was closer than ever. And Perriello won by a small margin via recount.

Maybe the upside to this will be the moderation of religious zealots if they want their voices heard.

Matt F. said...

I wish I could agree with darren. Unfortunately, it seems the victories, both from Barack and Tom, seemed to be steeped in religious language and belief. Clearly neither of them made a case for secularism.