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(RNS) — For Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, investing in faith outreach isn’t just strategic. It’s personal.
“I think it just makes sense to reach people where they are,” Buttigieg, an Episcopalian, told Religion News Service in a recent interview. “Making sure that people who are organized through faith have a way to connect with our campaign on that wavelength is important to me.”
Buttigieg - Mayor - South - Bend - Indiana
Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has become known on the campaign trail for his God-talk. In his standard stump speech, he’s made a point of connecting the divine to policy debates over immigration and the poor, all while slamming conservative Christian supporters of President Trump.
When it comes to the brass tacks of how he will use faith outreach as a modern Democrat, however, the strategic path for Buttigieg is less clear. As with other campaigns, Buttigieg mixes spiritual rhetoric with grassroots efforts to target the resurgent “religious left.”
Trump - Administration - Approach - Immigration - Justice
But while the Trump administration’s approach to immigration and other social justice issues has energized faith-based activists to a pitch not seen since the 1970s, the religious left remains an amorphous, diverse group with few nationally known leaders.
Unlike Republican candidates, who can summon totemic conservative Christian figures such as Jerry Falwell Jr. or Robert Jeffress, the passionately pro-Trump pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, to focus evangelicals on electoral victory, Democrats must navigate a hodgepodge of religious groups that range from mainline, mostly white denominations to black churches to an array of non-Christian groups.
Democrats - Buttigieg - Faith - Politics - Buttigieg
That doesn’t mean Democrats like Buttigieg aren’t trying. When it comes to mixing faith and politics, Buttigieg’s team started early. He praised the value of churches during one of his first campaign events at a Washington, D.C., bookstore in February. He later spoke about his faith at length during a question-and-answer session with political columnist Ana...
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