The Dem Candidates: Lots of Religion, No God

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The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart noticed something was missing from Beto O’Rourke’s March 14 video announcing his primary campaign for POTUS. Original thought? Coherent ideas? Self-awareness? Well, yeah, though as a left-winger, Beinert would never say it. No, it was something else.

What was missing was God.

And in fact, writes Beinart, “None of the other major white progressive candidates—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, or Kirsten Gillibrand—invoked God in their presidential announcements either.”

Go ahead and shrug: The Democrats are the party of abortion and gay marriage and imagined constitutional “walls” between church and state — the Godless party — and for decades any religious talk they used was window dressing. All more or less true.

But window dressing matters. Every Democratic candidate through Obama tossed God into his or her appeals, maybe out of habit or to lull the “bitter clingers.” But they also regularly “invoked religion as a source of national unity,” Beinart writes. It had its uses.

Not anymore. “While white progressives once described religion as something that brought Americans together they’re now more likely to describe it as something that drives them apart,” according to Beinart, who points out that Bernie Sanders’s only campaign launch mention of faith was about “ending religious bigotry.”

Beinart cites unpublished Pew Research numbers saying that in 2016, a full 33% of Democrats had no religious affiliation. Beto and Bernie et al. don’t really have to bend the knee. Who’s going to complain, Pastor Debbie Mantrousers at the United Church of What’s Happening Now?

But our republic is built on compromise, and the dearth of believing Christians in one of our two major parties doesn’t bode well for deal-cutting. Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Beyond mere numbers, politics has rushed into the vacuum where religion should be. Citing another Pew study, Beinart writes that “Democrats who shun organized religion were more than twice as likely to have attended a political rally in the previous year than Democrats who identify with a religious group.”

Except progressive secularism is their religious group, and the state, in one form or another, is their deity.

The illusion of their own enlightenment would never allow them to admit it, but their pieties (some of which date all the way back to the 1960s!) are just as sacrosanct to them as ours are to us. If you’ve marched around D.C. with a “p***y hat” on your head, you really have no room to scoff at people who wear ashes on theirs.

And since every religion must be the One True Religion, the p***y hats want to convert or banish the ash-wearers. Again, ask the Little Sisters, or Hobby Lobby. Whatever else it may have been, the contraception mandate was a brutal exhibition of one religious group’s raw power over another.

What’s more, Marx got the “opiate of the masses” thing right. Christian humility is a brake on the inclination to remake the world every time a new letter joins the LGBTQ and sometimes Y conga line. Man and man’s condition can’t be perfected on this plane. Gratefully accept traditions, adjust them as necessary and keep on keepin’ on.

But the progressive secularist has no such governor. If someone gets his feelings hurt, the secularist is duty-bound to fire up the machinery of state to make it right. He believes fervently that he (or someone a little smarter who shares his beliefs) has the moral and mental authority to order the world as he sees fit. But, largely uninformed by history, theology, or a more rigorous guide to ethics than Oprah’s book club, his idea of order is arbitrary and ever-changing.

So yes, God’s gone missing from Democrats’ campaign announcements, and that should be troubling. Bernie’s worried about “religious bigotry.” So am I. I’m also worried about a religion that maintains that there’s no higher power in the universe than … Bernie Sanders.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of the Media Research Center's Culture Division and a Newsbusters contributor. Follow him on Twitter at @Mattphilbin.

4 Comments

  1. What a mystifying article. Republicans = God; Democrats = Godless. Wow. Is that statement a broad brush assessment? When you talk about God I get nervous. My Mother is a Democrat and she fervently believes in God. I would not show he this piece. Lets get real…

    None of the Democratic candidates appear to be struggling with their portfolio or law enforcement. Trump’s resume’ is a mess of Biblical proportions. And, the Catholic Church sees a need to align with this “man for NO morels”. Trump is a shyster, a misogynist, truly a politically convenient pro-life advocate and much more. What scares us is his recent frivolous disparagement of a deceased war hero, John McCain. Amazingly, Trump never served a day in the military having defeated the process by getting five deferments for a bone spur that his doctor could not find. He therefore was exempt form serving in Viet Nam. Contrasting that debacle John McCain flew missions over Viet Nam and was shot down over the rice paddies. He was captured by the enemy and spent more than five years of torture at the .Hanoi Hilton The disgraceful Trump was at the summit with Kim in Hanoi and never visited the HH. He really hates McCain. It becomes more evident each daily Tweet that the man is mentally ill.

    • The Party seems to take a dim view of religious practice, Morgan. The last Democratic administration took three religious liberty cases to SCOTUS. Three. They did not prevail, but were happy to try to infringe on the FA rights o four fellow citizens.

      The rest of your treatise is a deflection, as, of course, Trump is not a Democrat. He also hasn’t prosecuted religious entities as his predecessor did.

      Thanks

      • Ram, I continue to struggle with the term “religious liberty”. How can I be an evangelist and then say I am for RL? Dichotomy, conflicted… lost.

        • Or likely deliberately obtuse.

          One can assuredly evangelize and be for RL.

          The efficacy or any other impact of evangelization is upon the proposed evangelized.

          You can receive the message or ignore the message.

          Hauling them to SCOTUS was not the correct response, and the Obama Administration was repudiated thrice for their troubles.

          Hope this is a balm for your troubles in this regard.

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