Give me that old time religion
Bad news for John Kerry: According to Slate, Kerry's inability to discuss religion on the campaign trail isn't only going to hurt him with Republican voters, but with members of his own donkey party as well. A majority of the party, like a majority of Americans, are religious, and one of the party's core constiuencies, African-Americans, is very religious.
John Kerry, of course, has a problem in part because conservative Catholics, including some bishops, have attacked his defense of abortion rights. But you'll recall that Howard Dean had a problem with God-talk as well. All anyone knew of his religion was that he left the Episcopalian faith because of a spat with his church over a bicycle path. He made a too little, too late effort to cozy up to the faithful by making a well-publicized visit to Jimmy Carter's church with the former president, a southern evangelical Christian.
The problem for Democrats, as Steven Waldman points out in Slate, is that the party's liberal activists are secular, even anti-religious, just as the GOP's most conservative activists are fundamentalists. But as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter proved, Democrats can talk religion and still win the presidency. In fact, they may have to.