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January 8th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

Letters to the President #1084: 'The church vote'

Reporter's Note: The Republican candidates are spending time courting religious voters. I’m spending time, once again, writing to the president.

Dear Mr. President,

A lot of headlines seem to be swirling around conservative Christian voters this weekend, asking which way they will lean as the Republican primary grinds on. They are described as devout, rigid, tough, stubborn…it seems like dozens of words are used to suggest that they are a hard bunch to win over and yet a critical bunch for the Republican contender to have in his pocket.

And yet, I can’t entirely believe they are as monolithic as some paint them. I am not convinced that they will show up and vote in lock step as predicted, because I’ve just seen too much evidence over the years of the differences that exist in all sorts of political groups.

I also remember what a woman told me some years back. It was a different election and I was visiting an evangelical church to hear what voters had to say. I talked to them about all the expectations, the candidates, their ideas…and when it was done this lady said, “You know, I hear all this talk about how Christian voters are, and I think...’I’m not that way, and I don’t know anybody who is.’”

She wasn’t being flip or defensive. She was being honest.

The tendency to think that anyone can be fully defined by a single label has always been a problem, but maybe never more than now.

So I’ll take a lot of this talk about the “faith vote” with a grain of salt. Because there are plenty of people of faith with many, many varied views of politics…even if they share the same pew.

Hope all is well.

Regards,
Tom