Presidential Contenders Talk about Religion at the Sojourners Presidential Forum
On June 4, Sojourners hosted three leading contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination—John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton—for the first-ever candidates’ forum on faith and values. In this forum, which illustrated the potential role that religion could play in the 2008 race, the candidates spoke with remarkable frankness as a panel of religious leaders questioned their personal experiences with religion and the effect of faith on their political views.
The discussion touched on a number of religious themes. When asked about the greatest sin he has committed, Edwards replied, “If I have had a day in my 54 years where I haven't sinned multiple times, I would be amazed.” Senator Obama spoke of people’s “mutual responsibilities” that “have to express themselves, not just through our churches, and our synagogues, and our mosques, and our temples, not only in our own families, but they have to express themselves through our government.” Senator Clinton responded to questions about infidelity in her marriage by saying, “I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought.”
After the 2004 presidential election, many analysts argued that the election had been decided along religious lines, pointing to exit polls, strong turnout among evangelicals, and controversy over gay marriage. In A Matter of Faith, editor David E. Campbell and additional contributors assess the role religion played in the 2004 election and explore its significance for future contests. While we have yet to see the extent of religion’s impact on the 2008 election, this book suggests that religion has the potential to wield a powerful influence. Surely yesterday’s forum was just the beginning.