Religion getting squeezed out of the race

Isn’t it funny how religion kind of evaporated from the presidential race?

Obama and Clinton are both pretty devout mainline Protestants who don’t have many faith-based issues to tussle over.

tjndc5-5ixmz92nge01ka1765e0_layout.jpgAnd John McCain isn’t all that interested in talking about religion. He will, of course, as he tries to rev up the GOP’s evangelical base. But he’s not too good at it.

In fact, Columbia prof Randall Balmer has written an hysterical piece about McCain’s earlier confusion over whether he is an Episcopalian or a Baptist.

Balmer, an Episcopal priest (whose new book is God in the White House: A History) walks McCain through the differences. One example:

If the pews are filled, you’re probably in a Baptist church. Sadly, if there are a lot of empty seats and a lot of grey hair, it’s likely you stumbled into an Episcopal church.

I did come across an interesting interview with John Green, the maven of religion and politics, about why McCain may need to win over evangelicals. Among other things, he says:

White evangelicals have been a very strong Republican constituency – the exit polls in the 2004 general election showed that 78% of white, born-again Protestants voted for George W. Bush. Thus, in that very close election, evangelicals were quite important to Bush. And if the 2008 election is close, they would be as important to the Republican nominee. McCain may have some trouble achieving that level of support from white evangelicals given that a majority of them preferred other candidates in the primaries. In addition, many of the leaders of the Christian right have been hostile to McCain.

(Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.