The race for Indiana’s 7th congressional district continues to be one of the most interesting exercises on religion in politics this year. Andre Carson, who replaced his late grandmother in a special election last month, became the second Muslim member of Congress. However, Carson’s honeymoon may be short lived. He faces stiff competition from five challengers to his seat in a primary election May 6.
The district is 30% African American and black churches have become the center of attention. Challengers including Carolene Mays are not shying away from religion. Mays’ website greets visitors with an exclamation,
“One of my favorite quotes is from Proverbs 31:8-9 NIV ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ Proverbs goes on to talk about the virtuous woman who had talents in many areas; it discusses how strength and honor are her clothing and how she opens her mouth with wisdom.”
Mays is also running a radio ad that features an endorsement from the late Julia Carson’s own reverend.
Many speculate that Andre Carson lacks a monopoly on the black clergy because he is a Muslim. However, Carson has a large advantage because Barack Obama is endorsing his candidacy. (So, expect to see that duo together on the stump soon. Word has it as soon as Tuesday.)All the candidates recently addressed concerns about religion and race in a Obamaesque forum in a politically active black church.
Others running for the Democratic nod include Jewish doctor/lawyer David Orentilcher and another doctor Woody Myers. The victor of the May 6 challenge will face Republican legislator Jon Elrod, a Methodist. We will be watching this race closely.