National Public Radio just ran a pair of features on the flavors of Christianity represented by the presidential and vice presidential nominees. An editor’s note affixed to both stories summarizes the theme: “Both major presidential candidates this year are Protestants… Beyond that, their faith profiles are very different.”
This week, the State Department announced that Christian ethicist Shaun Casey will lead its new office for “religious engagement.” Within the network of the State Department’s various offices, this one stands out as potentially divisive and potentially useful. Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department turned its attention to nontraditional diplomatic partners—and she intentionally engaged, among others, religious partners. That focus has continued under John Kerry, resulting in the official announcement of this office.
But the U.S. government continues to face the issue of how exactly to engage religion.
There were two surprising things about Hillary Clinton’s first tweet.
Clinton broke her Twitter silence this week with this bio: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women and kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD . . . .” A photo by Diana Walker showing a serious-looking Clinton in black and looking at her Blackberry through dark glasses is her avatar.
President Obama signed long-sought legislation June 22 authorizing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products, and among those cheering were the 25 faith groups in the Faith United Against Tobacco coalition. “Better late than never,” said Wesley “Pat” Padillo, a key advocacy official for the National Council of Churches.
As a delegate and organizer at six Democratic national conventions (those that nominated George McGovern, Jimmy Carter [twice], Bill Clinton [twice] and Al Gore), I offer this advice to the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: settle the nominating business before you go to Denver. Convention floor fights delight the media but damage the nominee.
The stereotypes seem etched in stone, as definitive as the Decalogue: Democratic politicians are hostile to faith; they believe that church and state should remain forever separate; they’re uncomfortable in front of evangelicals.