For a long time, religious faith has been the domain of the right. Traditionally, Christians have leaned conservative, and even faithful Democratic voters who are religious have tended to hold more socially conservative values. Let’s face it, how often have we heard the term “religious right” used as a pejorative against conservative believers?
But a funny thing is happening as 2020 looms. We’re starting to see Democrats open up more about their faith. From Pete Buttigieg being willing to call out any believer who doesn’t support abortion on demand and LGBT rights as a bad Christian to Tulsi Gabbard, who is Hindu to Elizabeth Warren relying on liberal Christian’s old saw of Matthew 25, we’re seeing Democrats invoking faith in a non-cynical way more and more.
The faith angle that Democrats have discovered has become such a big deal that Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has written about it in The Atlantic. In his piece, he writes:
Democrats can fight for our progressive values while also identifying with the religious backgrounds that are so important to tens of millions of Americans. It’s not about citing one scripture verse or another to argue for a certain policy; it’s about letting those Americans for whom religion is central to their lives know that we understand them, respect them, and in many cases share their religious backgrounds.
That’s a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways. We’ve talked a ton in the last few years about the religious intolerance of the left, so to hear a prominent Democrat discussing being welcoming to people of faith goes a long way in seeing a greater understanding of religious freedom. It’s also nice to see someone on the other side demonstrating that believers aren’t simply backward yahoos.
But this emphasis on religion leaves questions unanswered for the Democratic party. How can they make peace with Christians who believe in a Biblical definition of sexuality? How can they reconcile killing babies ruthlessly? How will they protect religious freedom when so many on their side scream, “Bake the cake, bigot”?
As a faithful believer, it’s refreshing for me to see the Democrats being more open toward people of faith rather than the abject hostility toward Christians like me that they’ve displayed for so long. On the other side of the coin, I can’t help but think that it’s too little too late for them. Their side has gone too far to the left to be attractive to a large segment of voters of faith. (Don’t get me wrong – I’m okay with that. I’d rather see Christians voting for candidates who will protect life and support values that line up with the Bible.)
Coons does offer some advice that Christians of all political stripes can take to heart:
We must be careful to never weaponize or politicize faith, religion, or scripture, nor should we claim some sort of divine endorsement for our policies. A healthy dose of humility is always important when interpreting scripture, and doubly so when it inspires politics and policy.
We should never use our faith as a political bludgeon. Two of the best things we can do as Christians is love one another and tell people about Jesus. Those are things that Christians on both the left and right can do.