Preacher men

It is perhaps no surprise that the religious left is comfortable with Barack Obama. Just listen to this interview with the Concord (NH) Monitor:

“We know that 90 percent of Americans believe in a higher power, we know that huge chunks of voters in swing states consider religion a really important part of their lives,” Obama told the Monitor. “If we aren’t speaking to those issues, then I think we’re missing a huge part of the electorate that cares about family, poor people, a lot of issues I care about as a senator and a presidential candidate.”

In his approach to religion, Obama has walked a fine line, emphasizing the importance of Christian faith to his own life while advocating a universal ideology that respects the separation of church and state.

“I’ve always said that my faith informs my values, and in that sense it helps shape my worldview, and I don’t think anyone should be required to leave their religious sensibilities at the door,” Obama said. “But we have to translate those concerns into a universal language that can be subject to argument and doesn’t turn into a contest of any one of us thinking that God is somehow on our side.”

Locally, Obama’s message has garnered support from liberal religious leaders. “People talk about the Christian church and think right-wing fundamentalism,” said the Rev. Leanne Tigert, a pastoral psychotherapist and United Church of Christ minister in Concord who supports Obama. “Obama has really opened up an avenue for many of us ‘progressive people of faith’ that says you don’t speak for us. We are people of faith, we are pro-choice, pro-gay lesbian equality, civil rights. . . . He’s giving us a voice.”

(If you listen to the speech Obama gave after winning the Iowa caususes, it’s easy to tell that he’s heard a sermon or two in his time.)

But what’s really intriguing is how uncomfortable some on the right are with how Mike Huckabee interprets the Bible’s teaching on economic issues. The Wall Street Journal raises the alarm, saying that on pocketbook issues, Huckabee’s values are those of the religious left:

Speaking to the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, in 1933, FDR explained that the “object of all our striving. . . should be to help citizens realize the abundant life Christ said he came to bring.” According to Mr. Smith, “Roosevelt wanted to ensure that ‘all elements of the community’ had an equitable share of the nation’s resources. The federal government’s social planning, he contended, was ‘wholly in accord with the social teachings of Christianity.’ ” It is not hard to imagine Mr. Huckabee — standing at a podium in the Rose Garden to announce a raft of government programs — talking in exactly this way.

Jacques Berlinerblau also offers a few thoughts on Huckabee:

Unlike Romney, Huckabee presently has no ecumenical game plan, no well crafted appeal to any group other than his own. Little as of yet suggests that he will carry Catholics, as Bush did in 2004. As for Mormons (who also voted overwhelmingly for the current president) Huckabee’s musings about Jesus and Satan’s fraternal bonds will never be forgotten or forgiven. ….

On the bright side, Huckabee has shown himself to be an extremely canny politician. Aware that 75% of the nation’s voters are not Evangelicals, he has been toning down his over-the-top religious rhetoric on the stump in the last few days. He is also a likable and refreshingly serene candidate. Most importantly, he just may have patched together an attractive quilt of liberal and conservative positions that could cover up some his aforementioned weaknesses.

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