Opinion: Religion’s role in the Democratic Party

Mackenzie Kloepfer Kent State College Democrats

When one thinks of how religion is associated with politics, the Republican Party is the party that comes to mind as relevant. According to recent polls, religion is seen as “very important” in the lives of registered Republicans —about 15 percent more often than in the lives of registered Democrats. Polls also reflect that most of these voters practice some form of Christianity. Conservative politics, especially on social issues, do well with people deemed more religious, but only if they’re Christians. So how does religion come into play with Democrats? More importantly, how is religion relevant in this upcoming election? The simple answer would be that Democrats are all-inclusive, but the party also has to take into account the high percentage of Christian voters.

The Democratic Party rarely, if ever, uses religion to back up views or actions. There is an emphasis on separation of church and state and because of this, the party is very inclusive in regards to differing religions. In today’s America, that particularly applies to people of Islamic faith. With the uprising of ISIS and recent terrorist attacks, Republican candidates have responded to the fear of the people with anti-Semitic rhetoric. Frontrunner Donald Trump has gone as far as to say that Muslims should not be allowed in the United States. Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I think Islam hates us… And we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.” Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have responded to such Islamophobia with disdain. Clinton called it “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive.” On Jimmy Kimmel’s show, Sanders argued that Trump is using the Brussels attack to lash out at all, stating “we cannot allow the Trumps of the world to use these incidents to attack all of the Muslim people in the world.” Clinton and Sanders have both emphasized that ISIS and Islam are not one in the same. One is a religion and one is a terrorist organization.

What is necessary to win in an election in a dominantly Christian nation is to sympathize with that sector of the population. Clinton, who is a practicing member of the First United Methodist Church, has never shied away from talking about her Christian values. Bernie Sanders, who is of Jewish faith, recently visited Pope Francis in Rome and was endorsed by the Pope. It can be assumed that both candidates have gained support from Christian voters for different reasons.

The results of this upcoming election will be determined by many different factors and the role of religion is a noteworthy one. While religion tends to play a more obvious role in the Republican Party, the Democrats are also aware of its impact. 

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kent State College Democrats as an organization.