Four of the Democrats who have recently announced that they are presidential candidates for the 2020 election appear to be ignoring the religious beliefs of Americans. Beto O’rourke, Bernie Sanders, Kathleen Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, leading progressives of the Democratic party, appear to be ignoring God and seem to be more interested in issues around skin tone, secularism, socialist views, abortion and sexuality.
In an age of rising secularism, identity politics and the supposed divisiveness caused by religious beliefs, on the surface, ignoring God would appear to be a good strategy in obtaining political office. These impressions, largely driven by the media and academia, appear to be solid foundational issues. However, when we look at the numbers, ignoring God to focus of secular issues is numerically a flawed strategy.
In America today, according to Pew Research, over 70% of
Americans identify themselves as Christians. Of this group 25% are
Evangelicals, and over 80% voted Republican in the last election.
Additionally, in another Pew Research poll, 90% of Americans believe in
God. While church attendance has declined over the last few decades,
religious desire or expression has not. Two thirds of those who have a
religious affiliation pray on a regular basis. While church attendance has
declined, religious beliefs are consistent with previous generations and are
remarkably similar to those when our country was founded.
When we look at book sales, the largest growing segment is the
religious category, which has averaged close to a ten percent growth over
the last few years. Americans are not becoming less religious, despite the
decline in church attendance.
Religious desires are virtually unchanged and those who are most
heavily invested, Evangelicals, have become a largely disenfranchised
segment of our population. They have been called “deplorables” and
uneducated. All surveys show that the largest group of identified Christians,
Evangelicals, do have a lower educational achievement and are lower on
the wealth scale. But are they less sophisticated in their political thought?
No survey supports a lack of political sophistication by this group. They do
feel ignored and they are.
This trend in ignoring God is very recent. All Democratic presidential
candidates from the past have mentioned God. Whether it be Al Gore,
Jimmy Carter, or even Hilary Clinton. Clinton herself is a lifelong Methodist
and would frequently say, “God Bless America. In the 60’s the Civil Rights
movement was closely tied to Democrats, largely driven by Reverend
Martin Luther King.
Statistically this tact of denying God is a poor strategy. Of the 25% of
Americans who describe themselves as Evangelicals. 81% voted against
Democrats in the last two elections. In other words 20% of all Americans
are ignored. The remaining 45% of the population who are Christian, also
voted Republican, with non-Evangelical Protestants at 58%.
The statistics say this is a flawed strategy. We can ask ourselves why
would candidates ignore such a large population in their campaign strategy.
A cynical view would be one of following the money trail. Perhaps it is a
pursuit of fame that in turn leads to post election paid speaking
engagements. Perhaps it is the money supplied by wealthy contributors
that support this view of absolute secularism.
If our politicians truly are representatives of the wishes of the people.
Than we have to scratch our heads regarding the tact of leaving out this
large group of voters. In this age of identity politics why wouldn’t we listen
to those who profess a strong allegiance to the values of God. Evangelicals
represent a very large identity. Or have we entered a period of selective
listening to only those voices we agree with.
Additionally, this current generation of Democrats is ignoring what is
embedded in both our tradition and past; strong symbols of the importance
of God to America and its voters. Consider the following:
Above the Speaker of The House title in Congress, it says, “In
God We trust.”
Each President at their inauguration has said, “So help me
Every Inaugural address has included the word God.
Christmas is a national holiday.
Our national anthem includes God.
The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times.
Chaplains have been on the public payroll since the beginning.
A Bible verse is engraved on the Liberty Bell.
Oaths in the courtroom have always included a mention of God
since the beginning.
The dollar bill includes the term “In God we trust.”
The Supreme Court building has carvings of Moses and the
This current group of progressives is ignoring the importance of God
to Americans and downplaying the value of this large portion of our
population. Essentially, they are asking us to trust the government, when
most Christians place their trust in God.
God has a history of success and government has not always been a
trustworthy companion. Today we have a Speaker of the House, who is a
Democrat, quoting Bible verses that don’t exist. Even though she is sure it
is the Bible, but just doesn’t know where. We have presidential candidates
ignoring one of the pillars that founded our country. In doing so leaving the
vast majority of Americans unrepresented.
Led by the Evangelicals, Americans will stubbornly resist this trend.
We can and should be concerned by this trend. But I trust the ways of God,
not the ways of politicians.