PBS Religion and Ethics Weekly: A Look Back on the major Religion Stories of 2008

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KIM LAWTON (Managing Editor, RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY): Well, I was fascinated of course by some of the things these guys have talked about, but also just the incredible role religion played on every front throughout this campaign. You had both parties actively reaching out to people of faith, and frankly for the Democrats, that was a new thing. You hadn’t seen that in quite awhile. You had a Democratic candidate who was religious and comfortable about talking about his faith. But you also had questions about whether a Mormon could be president; you had questions about whether a Southern Baptist pastor should be president; what about a Muslim, and all the, you know, rumors about whether Barack Obama was a Muslim or not. You had questions about evangelicals and are they going to stay with John McCain. Controversial ministers. Every time you turned around religion played a key role, and that was really fun to watch.

Mr. [E.J.] DIONNE: I think that’s a really important point Kim makes. I mean, for Democrats, I’ve joked that Democrats discovered God in the 2004 exit polls. You know, they realized that religious Americans were very important in George Bush’s victories, and I think Barack Obama more than any Democrat in a while really tried to speak directly to religious Americans, including those he knew were going to vote against him. You know, he gave a very powerful speech in ’06. The speech he gave after the Jeremiah Wright controversy had sort of important religious overtones, and so I think we’re going to have a different conversation about religion going forward.

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