Going Dark on Religion

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Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs has a useful web page that tracks the pronouncements of the various presidential candidates on matters religious–listed by date and subject. The entries consist largely of the candidates’ responses to questions by interviewers. Interestingly, there’s been nothing posted from any candidate since January 22, which seems like an eternity ago by the chronology of the current campaign. Is it that the candidates have had nothing of note to say about religion for nearly four weeks, or that interviewers–call them the media–have lost interest in the subject? (I assume that the folks at the Berkeley Center are scrutinizing candidates’ comments just as assiduously as ever.)
I will advance the proposition that the answer is yes to both halves of the question. Religion is most on the candidates’ lips, and on the media’s mind, during the early, getting-to-know-you phase of a campaign. When the casting of ballots begins in earnest, as it did this month, the significance of religion descends to the nitty gritty of mobilization and voting bahavior. The Democrats and their surrogates continue to make the black church appearances on Sundays. The Huckabees do what they can to turn out the evangelical base of the GOP. And the analysts sift the the exit poll tea leaves for differential voting patterns among religious groups, along with all other slices of the electorate.