Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Democrats launch Christian Web site

In an attempt to gain the religious vote, the Democrat Party has taken a different avenue and begun to appeal to voters though the internet (see the article below). Religious voters and Church-goers normally tend to side with the Republicans on social policies such as abortions. The exception to that rule is however, the African American community.

American Muslims have been split between social and moral policies. Most tend to align themselves with Democratic economic and social welfare policies, going along with tenants of social justice and charity in Islam. However, when it comes to moral issues such as abortion, the community tends to be a bit more conservative, aligning itself with Republican views.

Could an appeal like this be directed toward the American Muslim voting population in the future?

Possibly. Until then, it will be geared toward more mainstream and established communities.

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Democrats launch Christian Web site

Group hopes to dent advantage for GOP

By Frank James

Washington Bureau

Published September 6, 2006-- Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON -- A group of Christian Democrats seeking to compete against Republicans for the vote of religious Americans has started a Web site meant to serve as a forum for like thinkers and a political tool to raise money and volunteers for Democratic candidates who share their values.

The new site,, is partly the brainchild of David Wilhelm, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who also managed campaigns for Mayor Richard M. Daley and President Bill Clinton.

Jesse Lava, another co-founder who worked for Wilhelm at the DNC and is an Evanston native, is the site's executive director.

"The seed was planted after '04 when there was a lot of hand-wringing going on and a lot of people were wondering how on Earth Democrats failed to convey a sense of faith and values in that election," Lava told reporters in a Tuesday teleconference.

"What David and I believed was what we needed was some vehicle that would help shape the national debate on faith and politics," Lava said.

"So the main thing was to help reframe the values debate to be beyond wedge-issue politics, beyond fear and division and more focused on justice and the common good," Lava said. "So our site is explicitly a Christian community. It is explicitly a Democratic community."

Lava said the site's founders hoped it would be a place where Christian Democrats could share ideas through blogs and other features and organize efforts to boost particular candidates who reflect their values.

National surveys have repeatedly shown that the most frequent churchgoers tend to be Republicans while those who attend church less frequently are more often Democrats.The exception to that would be African-Americans, who comprise one of the strongest constituencies within the Democratic Party's base despite as a group having very high rates of church attendance.

Republicans have appealed to religious voters, particularly Christians, by prominently campaigning against abortion, gay marriage and other issues.For years, progressive Christian groups such as Sojourners have tried to swing the debate away from those wedge issues and more toward such social justice issues as poverty and health care for those without insurance.

The creators of the new site say they intend to be more overtly partisan than Sojourners, filling a niche that had gone unoccupied.

This week, the group is focusing on helping Democrat Bob Casey, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania against Republican incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum. Casey holds a substantial lead in the polls over Santorum.

The goal is to use the site to raise money and volunteers for Casey this week and other candidates in future weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 elections. While the Web site's organizers hope to have an impact on the upcoming midterm election, their focus is particularly aimed at the 2008 presidential election.

One of's leaders is a Tennessee Democrat, Roy Herron, his party's leader in the state Senate.

A folksy anti-abortion advocate, Herron is a former minister who probably would be an attractive candidate to numerous people who attend the huge, conservative-oriented churches that have provided significant support to GOP candidates.

"I'm tired of politicians and partisans and preachers spelling God G-O-P," Herron told reporters Tuesday. "Now many Americans think Jesus never rode a donkey and today only rides an elephant. The truth is God cannot be held hostage by a political party. And American Christians should not be, either."'s advisory council includes such Democratic political figures as Mike McCurry, who was Clinton's press secretary, and Minyon Moore, who advised Clinton and Jesse Jackson Sr.It also includes well-known clergymen such as Chicagoan Rev. Leon Finney, president of the Woodlawn Organization and pastor of Metropolitan Apostolic Church, and Rev. Jim Wall, an activist who also was editor of Christian Century.


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