- Democratic National Committee has hired Rev. Derrick Harkins as their new Faith Outreach Director to combat religious stereotypes.
- Texas Democrat, Julián Castro, says that Democrats “progressivism” is in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ. He speaks of his Catholic heritage.
- Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg doesn’t think Democrats talk about religion enough.
- Democratic connections with religious voters better than it was during the 2016 campaign.
Democrats are fighting back against the stereotypes that they are somehow less religious and moral than Republicans, as the DNC hires a faith outreach director to address the Party’s “God problem.”
DNC Hires Faith Outreach Director
The Democratic Party is coming to the realization that it is not putting enough effort to reach out to faith groups. At election time, religion and politics cannot be avoided.
To that end, the DNC has hired a new religious outreach director. Selected to lead in this role is Rev. Derrick Harkins, a senior vice president at Union Seminary in New York, who will oversee the faith outreach for the Democratic Party.
Harkins was also a former pastor in Washington, D.C., and has previously held a similar position with the Democratic Party in 2012.
To get the ball rolling, the party has scheduled a round of listening sessions with faith leaders across the country.
“We take seriously the relationships that we have with faith communities around this country,” Harkins said, while adding that matters of faith “will be a priority going into 2020, but even more importantly, beyond 2020.”
Castro: Democrats “Put in a Box”
Texas Democrat, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and presidential contender for 2020 Julián Castro, in a recent interview, said that Democrats are “put in this box of somehow not living up to our moral ideas or ethical ideas.”
He adds that the “progressive values and progressive vision” of Democrats is “completely in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
Castro also spoke frankly about his Catholic upbringing in the interview. He spoke about his devout Catholic grandmother and going to mass as a child. Castro says his mother taught 16 straight years of Catholic school.
Buttigieg: Democrats Don’t Discuss Religion Enough
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that the difference between Democrats and Republicans on the topic of religion is: “Our party doesn’t talk about [religion] as much.”
Buttigieg also recently criticized Republicans as being religious hypocrites in light of the treatment of migrant children at the US border.
Will Democrats Connect With Religious Voters?
The faith outreach director for former president Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, Michael Wear, thinks the hiring of Harkins is the right move, saying, “You’re not going to get too many more people with [Harkins’] breadth of experience.”
But when it comes to Democrats connecting with people of faith, Wear says that it will ultimately come down to the faith outreach of the Party’s eventual nominee – and not the party as a whole.
However, Wear is optimistic saying, “At this stage, Democratic faith efforts look for me more promising than they did in 2016.”