I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m fully behind Thomas Jefferson’s construction of a wall between church and state. In the liberal democracy of a healthy republic, there is no place for the state to condone one religion over another.
That doesn’t mean that we ought to discard any reference to God. It’s bigger than any political elephant in the room with, as of last summer, polling showing that nine in ten Americans still believe in God. The Gallup poll I just cited notes that belief in God is lower among younger people, easterners, and liberals. Where 96% of the South and 92% of the West believe in God, the number drops to 86% in the East. Among conservatives the number is up at 98%, while it drops over 13% for liberals to 85%.
This is the paragraph that was in the 2008 platform:
“We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”
Now the words “God-given” have been removed. The paragraph has been restructured to say this:
“We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.”
It’s not unlike a the scrawl on the wall in 1964: “Nietzsche said ‘God is dead.’ God said ‘Nietzsche is dead.’” You can try to talk around God, but his presence is there. In politics, you ignore faith at your peril (just ask candidate Obama who had to answer questions about his pastor Jeremiah Wright in 2008).
Does it matter? Maybe not. This is a political platform, after all. It’s is designed to state the beliefs and philosophy for governing, not the faith and worship of its members. However, I know a few Democrats, and many of them are people of great faith, not only professing belief in God but doing a lot to prove it. That’s why I can’t help but wonder: why remove reference to God from the platform? With a large part of America professing a belief in God, why remove a statement of meek acknowledgement of a greater power in blessing us with potential?
Could it be that Democrats are looking elsewhere for the source of American success?