It is a political world turned upside down. Republicans running away from religion and Democrats acting like evangelists.
Last night in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidates were long on conservatism and short on compassion. On immigration, on Iraq, on virtually every issue, the consensus was that America hasn’t been tough enough. No compassion for anyone ”” particularly those 12 million Americans who got here illegally.
When it came to the hungry ”” or, more precisely, those the Bush Administration has categorized as “food insecure” ”” there was silence. So, too, on issues like poverty and youth violence and the epidemic of the uninsured. There was, in short, no evidence of the compassionate conservatism George W. Bush once promised would be his governing philosophy.
And Jesus made only the briefest appearance ”” first from Wolf Blitzer’s lips in a question to Rudolph Giuliani and then from Mormon Gov. Mitt Romney, who declared his love for Jesus.
Romney doesn’t really want an in-depth examination of his Mormon faith. Ex-mayor Giuliani certainly doesn’t want to explain his penchant for marrying in a religious context. And Sen. John McCain, who once called religious right leaders “agents of intolerance”, isn’t leaping at the chance to play pastor, either.
How differently the Democrats are behaving. Monday night, the progressive religious organization Sojourners hosted the three leading Democratic presidential candidates at a forum on “faith, values, and poverty.” It was a Jesus fair.