Foreign Policy Blogs

The Approach to Religious Voters in 2008

On Saturday, Obama and McCain made their first joint appearance as presumptive nominees at a "Civil Forum". The candidates were speaking before the Saddleback Church in California. NPR has reported news of the event and said that the church has a membership of "22,000 evangelical voters." The pastor of the church and interviewer on Saturday was Rick Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Life." Warren has not endorsed either candidate, saying that they are both patriots and his friends. The NPR article includes an interview with John Green from the Pew Research Center. He noted that the "approach to religious voters is central to both campaigns" although most analysts have agreed that Obama has been more forthcoming about his faith and how it shapes his life. The New York Times Politics Blog has pointed out that the forum was the "unofficial opening of the general election." The two candidates spoke separately, with Obama going first (after flipping a coin) and each of them speaking for about an hour. The questions were quite varied but related mostly to character and personality. The main goal appeared to get the candidates to do some soul searching , allowing viewers to get more personal information from the candidates about their leadership styles and opinions. "The event reflects the importance of religion in American life and increasingly, in politics," and as Pastor Warren said in his introduction (see transcript), "we believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics because faith is just a world view and everybody has some kind of world view." A CNN article also looks at the politics of trying to persuade religious voters to vote one way or the other. Ed Hornick wrote that the "stakes are high for both candidates, who are actively courting so-called values voters and evangelicals, important voting blocs."


Photo of Pastor Rick Warren from the Purpose Driven website



Karin Esposito

Karin Esposito is blogging on religion and politics from her base in Central Asia. Currently, she is the Project Manager for the Tajikistan Dialogue Project in Dushanbe. The Project is run through the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies with the support of PDIV of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the project is to establish practical mechanisms for co-existence and peaceful conflict resolution between Islamic and secular representatives in Tajikistan. After receiving a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 2007, she worked in Tajikistan for the Bureau of Human Rights and later as a Visting Professor of Politics and Law at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP). Ms. Esposito also holds a Master's in Contemporary Iranian Politics (2007) from the School of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran and a Master's in International Relations (2003) from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (GIIDS) in Switzerland.

Areas of Focus:
Islam; Christianity; Secularism;