Editor of TIME Talks About New Role of Faith in Politics

October 16, 2008 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

amy-sullivan.jpgThrough this election cycle, in a notable break from recent cycles, Democrats have been more concerned with religion than Republicans, Time Magazine’s Nation Editor Amy Sullivan said in a lecture Monday afternoon in Guyot Hall.

The relationship between religion and politics has shifted over the course of this year’s presidential race, as the Democratic presidential hopefuls have been more open to discussions about religion than their Republican counterparts, Sullivan explained.

Most Americans assume that political conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals, Sullivan said, but these trends have not manifested themselves this election cycle.

Sullivan said that the campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) represents a break from those of past Republican presidential nominees because he is noticeably less religious.

“The voters who were most conservative were the least happy about voting for McCain,” Sullivan noted.

Though McCain has said that he goes to a Baptist church, he has never confirmed that he was baptized, she added.

Sullivan, who said she believes that one cannot be a Baptist without being baptized, asked the audience, “If he is not a Baptist, then what is he?”

In contrast, Sullivan explained, the Democratic candidates were much more open about their religious beliefs during the primaries, noting that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) clearly expressed what their religious beliefs are.

“They were very comfortable expressing their faith,” Sullivan said. “They didn’t necessarily go out of their way to express it, but when asked, they did so willingly.”

Sullivan referred back to McCain to illustrate the difference in the importance of religion to him as opposed to the Democratic candidates during the primaries.

“McCain still has not responded from the requests from Christianity Today, a very ‘right’ magazine,” Sullivan said. “Both Obama and Hillary did.”

Sullivan concluded the lecture by saying that while all of these changes in the relationship between religion and politics are important, their impact on the election is still uncertain.

“I am going to be very unsatisfying in saying that I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Sullivan said. “But the state of the economy will overweigh all of these things.”

Sullivan was introduced by Jenny Legath, associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion. Legath spoke of her friendship with Sullivan, which developed when both were master’s candidates at the Harvard Divinity School.

Legath recalled a book she bought five years ago called “Click Clack Moo.” In the story, she said, cows were so cold that they asked a farmer for electric blankets and went on strike when the farmer did not comply.

Legath said that she loved the book because it reminded her of “Amy’s commitment to democracy.”

“I have to say, that is the best introduction I’ve gotten,” Sullivan said when she took the stage.

William Greene ’10 said after the event that he was content with the discussion.

“It was very interesting, learning how much religion can play a factor in the voting process and how there is a shift happening this year,” Greene said. “But it’s a little irrelevant to my political beliefs.”

South: Daily Princetonian

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