Obama is ‘ramping up his God talk’
President Obama is “ramping up his ‘God talk’ for the re-election campaign,” says political scientist John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum for Religion & Public Life.
But Green and two other experts who track religious rhetoric in presidential politics speculate this strategy to connect with evangelical voters may not work for Obama.
Green points out,
“Obama didn’t talk much about faith during his first two years in office and this has left 40% of Americans wondering just what, exactly, is his faith commitment. Now he is ramping up this kind of language and using it in the right kind of context”.
Most recent examples: On Sunday, Obama recited Psalm 46 at the 9/11 memorial event in New York and quoted Psalm 30 that same night at a memorial concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington. In his televised national jobs bill speech, he declared,
“We are one nation under God, we always have been and always will be”.
These kinds of God mentions won’t move the dial for conservative evangelicals but, Green says, they could be just right for ambivalent voters who “don’t want a hard-edged faith shaping national politics…”
David Domke, professor of communications at University of Washington, who tracks all religious references in candidates’ speeches, said Obama’s recent ways of raising God’s name are big steps up from his routine “God Bless America” speech sign-off.
Domke calls this
“a technique for making ‘Christian’ and ‘American’ synonymous. He’s making a claim about the nation. There’s no avoiding that this is a strategic emphasis on his part. He didn’t speak this way when he was at 60% public approval”.
However, Obama generally doesn’t use secular events to speak about how he came to Jesus, the core Christian testimony, says Domke, co-author of The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America. It examined the God language of the four preceding presidents…