God's Politics

Three important projections were just made by CNN. Bob Casey is projected to win in a Senate seat in Pennsylvania by what CNN is calling a landslide. And in Ohio, former Methodist minister Ted Strickland is projected to beat the Religious Right’s favorite candidate, Kenneth Blackwell for Governor by an even wider margin. Strickland’s authentic Christian faith made it impossible for Blackwell to claim that God was on his side (a traditional Republican assertion). And because Bob Casey is both a devout Catholic and a pro-life Democrat, his campaign took both religion and abortion off the table in the Pennsylvania race. When the Republicans failed to win a religious advantage in both of these races, other issues—like the war in Iraq and the economy—defeated the Republican candidates. Also in Ohio, Democrat Sherrod Brown is projected to beat Republican Senator Mike Dewine with a distinctively populist and faith-friendly campaign.

Here are the lessons. When Democrats can run authentically as persons of faith, they can beat back the idolatrous claims of the Religious Right that God is only on their side. And when Democrats take a more morally sensible and centrist position on issues like abortion, they do better than liberal Democrats have done. These results are bad news for the “religious fundamentalists” who have far too much influence in the Republican Party, AND for the “secular fundamentalists” who have far too much influence in the Democratic Party. But it is good news for the majority of Americans who are alienated by the political extremes of right and left and are hungry for a new “moral center” for our public life. More good news may lie ahead tonight.

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