The Corner

The God Gap

An increasingly peculiar feature of the debate over religion in American politics in recent years has been the oddly uncomfortable and clumsy attempts by Democratic politicians to express themselves in religious terms. Jim Wallis’s “Sojourners Social Justice Ministry” recently hosted a candidates forum in which Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards each took an awkward turn at God talk (Obama’s, though, was easily the least awkward, here is a transcript of all three). On the House floor on Thursday, Nancy Pelosi provided her own version of what seems to pass for religious inspiration in some liberal circles these days. In the midst of the stem cell debate, she offered up this pearl of wisdom, as quoted in the NY Times

“Science is a gift of God to all of us and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. “And that is the embryonic stem cell research.”

Put aside the (ludicrous) substance of what Pelosi is saying about stem cells, and just think about this way of invoking religion. It is a caricature of the way religious people speak, and could only be said out loud by someone with a truly cartoonish understanding of Americans who are moved by religious convictions. Far from signaling a serious effort by the Democrats to close the “God gap”, talk like this only highlights just how very broad that gap really is.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.