Democrats abandoned their religious outreach in 2010

Dan Burke at the Religion News Service reports that the Democratic religious outreach that worked so well in 2008 was largely abandoned in 2010.

In previous elections, the Democratic National Committee hired staffers for Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and evangelical outreach. This year, those jobs are not filled, said the Rev. Regena Thomas, the DNC’s director of faith and constituent outreach.

Thomas, a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said she organized conference calls and events on religion with black women, state party chairs, and college Democrats. In some areas, however, religion was subsumed within other programs — such as Hispanic and gay outreach, Thomas said.

Of course, there were some religious progressives who tried to recapture the electoral magic of 2008 — our fans at Catholic United, for example — but it didn’t work.

Independent liberal groups such as Catholics United battled for several Democratic candidates through radio ads, phone banks, and legal maneuvers. In those campaigns, the Democrats, all Catholics, were blasted by conservatives because they voted for health care reform over the U.S. bishops’ objections. The candidates — Reps. Tom Perriello of Virginia, Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, and Steve Driehaus of Ohio — all lost close races on Tuesday.

“Those are folks who are really committed to the common good, with a strong sense of Catholic social teaching,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. “But they really got lost in whatever this fear is that is gripping our country.”
 

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Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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