By Caleb Parke
Published June 26, 2019
It's a perception they've been trying to change since, especially on the 2020 campaign trail.
Political pundits said Democrats have a God problem and their latest move shows they are taking steps to solve it.
President Trump solidified the evangelical vote in 2016 but Democrats hope to make up for the sins of Hillary Clinton's campaign, which was criticized for its lack of outreach to faith groups in the last election. The Democratic National Committee recruited a far-left religious outreach director and is launching a round of listening sessions with faith leaders leading up to the 2020 election.
The DNC hired former Washington, D.C. anti-Trump pastor, Rev. Derrick Harkins, who held a similar position in 2012 and has been the senior vice president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, which recently celebrated "rejoicing in the queerness of God."
“We take seriously the relationships that we have with faith communities around this country," Harkins told Religion News Service, adding that faith "will be a priority going into 2020, but even more importantly, beyond 2020.”
Over the past few elections, Democrats have alienated themselves further from religious voters, partly in due to stances it takes on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, not to mention its focus on urban communities that tend to have lower church attendance than their rural counterparts. While Trump took 80 percent of the white evangelical vote, Democratic presidential hopefuls are gearing up for more faith outreach, especially in historically black churches and within minority communities.
But with 25 candidates running, the field offers a wide-range of faith perspectives. But the eventual nominee will be the one to shape where the party truly heads.
Recently Democratic presidential candidate Kristin Gillibrand said she doesn't believe the GOP is a "faith-driven party" because their policies go against her idea of what Christianity is all about, and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg questioned Trump's faith and called him out for hypocrisy.
"Within the Democratic Party there is a huge spectrum of deeply faithful people," Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, told Fox News Religion Correspondent Lauren Green. "For too long, when we look at religion in America, we have associated with just politics and the religious communities that have been associated with the Republican Party and conservative politics...and there is a strong progressive Christian voice that is being spoken and lifted up and demanding to be heard."
Jones added progressives are "very open about the kind of Christianity they profess."
"Most of the progressive Christians are also deeply involved in interfaith conversations. They understand and know a lot about Islam, about Judaism," Jones said. "They're constantly connecting their own faith claims as Christians to a critique of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia."
Alex McFarland, founder of Truth For a New Generation, told Green he believes the Democrats are a godless party with no objective morality.
"I think many are saying 'Uh, oh, oops, we've alienated and just written off the majority of our voters over the life of this party, so they're having to try and invoke God because their platform has eliminated God. It's certainly not the god of the founders or the god of the Bible. It's a god of the 21st century, pluralistic, relativistic of our own making," Alex McFarland, founder of Truth For a New Generation said. "The Democratic Party is going to have to rediscover some moral convictions..."