June 19, 2011

Religion, Politics, & Iowa Newspapers

Two different Iowa newspapers recently quoted my thoughts on religion in presidential campaigns. First, John M. Hicks referenced my work in a column in the Des Moines Cityview newspaper. Quoting from my recent interview in Church & State magazine, he wrote:
Brian T. Kaylor wrote about how God-rhetoric wins elections. The candidate who talks about God the most wins. "When we create a system where candidates have to talk about their faith in order to have a chance to win, then there are serious democratic implications." You can bet that with white evangelical Christians in power, minorities won't have a chance.
The second piece is a column by Shay O'Reilly in The Daily Iowan in Iowa City. Discussing Texas Governor Rick Perry's planned prayer rally in August (see post here), he wrote:
It's easy to forget that religion was not always such a public matter. In his recent Presidential Campaign Rhetoric in an Age of Confessional Politics, rhetorician Brian T. Kaylor traced the development of religious rhetoric in the public sphere to Jimmy Carter, whose public confessions of faith helped him garner the religious vote over the more reticent Gerald Ford. Candidates ever since have confessed their faith, affirmed it in the public eye, and cited it as a foundation for their political views. Kaylor has written on his blog that the rally could give Perry a boost in the GOP primary season, if he decides to toss in his hat. But this event's importance stretches beyond Perry's campaign. It demonstrates a serious shift in the relationship between American politics and religion: Civil religion and traditional religion are no longer immediately distinguishable.
With Iowa holding the important first caucuses where conservative evangelical Christians often play a critical role, it is nice to see attention to issues of religion and politics in these newspapers.

2 comments:

  1. Freeman6:40 PM

    I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion in the Church & State interview. It is unfortunately unusual to hear an evangelical speaking so thoughtfully on the subject of church-state separation. Most public statements I hear from evangelicals are against such separation, now that "their team" is getting all the political attention.

    It is important that there are evangelical voices to counter these sentiments. The mixing of church and state not only has serious implications for democracy, but for religion as well, as it tends to drag the "red vs. blue" tribal competition of politics into peoples' practice of religion, as you point out in your observation that evangelicals often judge religious adherence based on political affiliation.

    Faith is not a sporting competition nor is it a popularity contest, and those many who seem to treat it as such might do better to examine their own commitment to faith than that of others.

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  2. Thanks, and well put!

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