The reception room at the Democratic National Committee felt more like a sanctuary than a politician’s meeting space as a quartet of congressional leaders testified Wednesday about their faith.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C) described growing up in a home where his parents debated “sprinkling” or “being dunked,” when it came to baptism, Rep Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) talked fighting to put the words “One Nation Under God,” in the congressional visitors center and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) spoke about how her Jewish faith has influenced her life.
“I do believe we as Democrats can’t just say what our faith is, we have to walk the walk,” said Clyburn during the press conference which was framed as a new effort to show people that Democratic lawmakers are just as religious as their Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill.
This new season of sharing was organized by Rev. Derick Harkins, the newly named coordinator for religious outreach at the DNC, along with the head of the Young Democrats and other members of Congress.
“We are making sure that the conversation around faith issues includes economic justice, access to health care, the values of family. These are the things that have always been part of the Democratic party’s core,” said Harkins, pastor of the 19th Street Baptist Church, who is tasked by DNC with expanding the party’s outreach efforts.
The effort by Harkins and the members of Congress signal an evolving voter mobilization effort that will also involve the young Democrats, according to its president, Rod Snyder.
“The key thing for us at YDA is that it is a bit of a generational shift,” Snyder said. “I believe that young people of faith view politics different than our parents. Its a larger set of issues, the priorities have changed. I actually think the old boy majority, the Christian right, doesn’t hold the same influence and sway with young people as the previous generation.”
While the Democrats were talking about faith today, in Maryland Rev. Harry Jackson and a coalition of pastors also hosted a press conference to unveil their plans to once again fight against same-sex marriage in the next session of the Maryland legislature.