UPDATE: You can read Obama's speech here.
I think Senator Obama (D-IL) is right. Democrats should do more to court evangelicals and people of faith. But that doesn't mean they should be stupid about it.
Stupid would mean supporting flag burning and displays of the Ten Commandments and backing off of their support for the civil rights of gays and lesbians and women - all to woo supposed people of faith. Stupid would also be worrying about the Pledge and school prayer (sorry Obama, you're pandering). That's not how you court THE RIGHT people of faith. The people of faith who make gay-bashing and abortion and the Pledge their number one priority will never support Democrats. Hell, they barely support Republicans.
And in any case, do we need to become as phony as the Republican party, supporting these feel-good-but-do-nothing issues rather than trying to solve real problems in America, in order to convince believers we're actually okay?
What do I propose instead?
What about the death penalty? It's an issue on which I suspect people of faith are sharply divided. What about the environment? Global AIDS and world poverty? Poverty in America? These are all issues that go to the core of what it means to be a Christian.
For far too long the only people talking about God have been nutjobs in the far-right of the Republican party. God, to them, is simply a good cover story to push bigotry and discrimination that is no longer acceptable in society unless you pretend it's a God-thing. Then you just might get away with it. The effect? People pull away from God since the only evidence of God they see in the public square are the crazies. If Democrats put a bit more faith in their action, while avoiding the crazy-aunt wing of the Republican party, there could be something here.
What Democrats need to remember is that they should find the God in their own values, not change their values (which no one will believe anyway) to embrace someone else's warped hatred masquerading as piety.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats on Wednesday for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people," and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans.
"Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation. Context matters," the Illinois Democrat said in remarks prepared for delivery to a conference of Call to Renewal, a faith-based movement to overcome poverty.