By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged
Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-In” features analysis, fact checking and top headlines from the world of faith. Got feedback or ideas for this column? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did the Democrats “get” religion or not?
Certainly, lots of headlines coming out of this week’s virtual Democratic National Convention had strong faith elements.
But a different storyline gained attention, too.
The words “under God” were left out of the Pledge of Allegiance at the DNC’s Muslim Delegates & Allies Assembly and its LGBT Caucus Meeting, as first reported by David Brody, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s chief political analyst.
“NOT the way to win rust belt culturally centered Dems,” Brody tweeted.
Victor Morton of the Washington Times noted:
The phrase was not part of the Pledge when Congress first officially codified it in 1942 (it dates back in various forms to 1906). It was added in 1954 under a bill signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty … In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource, in peace or in war,” Eisenhower wrote.
Brody stressed that when reciting the Pledge during main sessions, the Democrats said the words “under God.”
But the exclusion of those words by certain Democratic caucuses, he suggested, harkened back to 2012 when Democrats came under fire for removing “God” from the party platform. At the request of then-President Barack Obama, the party reversed that decision.
Eight years later, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign — in what Biden calls “a battle for the soul of America” — has put an emphasis on winning over religious voters.
Elana Schor, national politics and religion writer for The Associated Press, highlighted the array of faith leaders tapped to speak at the convention. Schor also explored the significance of Delaware Sen. Chris Coons’ Thursday night focus on the Democratic nominee’s faith. Coons attested “in highly personal fashion to his longtime friend’s belief in God,” as the AP writer put it.
“The theme and timing of Coons’ speech on the pandemic-altered convention schedule underscore Democrats’ interest in engaging with religious voters on the basis of shared values with Biden,” Schor reported.
This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.
Saturday update: President Donald Trump tweeted this morning about the Pledge issue, failing to note that the omission involved two caucuses and not the full convention.