Christians now have an important new hobby to pursue–analyzing the faith and values stances of the just-announced Democratic vice-presidential candidate.
A very helpful and insightful article is on the current blog of ChristianityToday.com. Rather than reproduce it entirely, I’ve selected just a few paragraphs here and there that give the flavor. I highly recommend reading the entire piece. Here are some excerpts:
Edwards is a United Methodist, as is George Bush, so don’t expect there to be any confrontations between this candidate and his church’s leadership. Instead, the religion story here may be the way in which Edwards is able to talk about religious and moral issues in a way that other Democrats feel uncomfortable in doing. . . .
Several news reports have noted that while Edwards seemed to be the Democratic candidate most likely to attract white evangelicals—especially in the South—he rarely discussed his faith outright. Beliefnet, for example, said Edwards is “more reserved than other candidates in talking about religion and his personal faith.” . . .
“I haven’t talked about it, because I only usually talk about it when asked,” he said in Iowa. He also explained, “‘Most people in this country do not want you to be beating them over their heads with your religious views.” It’s not that Edwards is uncomfortable with religion, Newhouse News Service reporter Mark O’Keefe (recently appointed the new editor of Religion News Service) reported. Edwards, he wrote, “turned to the Bible after his 16-year-old son, Wade, died in a car accident. But Edwards has been uncomfortable talking about this, saying it’s a private family matter.” . . .
He may not talk about it much, but it’s no secret that after the tragedy, as the Des Moines Register reports, “Edwards started going to church again and joined a Bible study group.” He said his faith came “roaring back.”
He told The Washington Post in 2001 that he doesn’t know why God lets bad things happen to good people, but added, “I believe that God answers prayers.”
He also rarely talks about his baptism at age 16 at First Baptist Church of Robbins, North Carolina, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in February. But he does talk about values…..” . . .
In 2001, Edwards was even more direct about connecting with voters on issues of faith and values. “I’m a Christian, and I hold my beliefs very, very deeply,” the Winston-Salem Journal quotes him saying. “Christ is the savior of the world. … I have a connection with [Southerners’] values, and that includes faith. Do I think I can connect with those people? Of course, I do.” . . .
Edwards serves on the board of directors for urban ministries at his church, Raleigh’s Edenton Street United Methodist.
So when it comes to some of the values that Edwards wants to promote, it’s not clear that many conservative Protestants will rally to the campaign. He opposed the partial-birth abortion ban (though he supported it in 1998 )and the “Mexico City Policy” (a.k.a. the “global gag rule”), and says he opposes both a federal marriage amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996….
He also opposes Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative, saying it promotes discrimination… . . .
He has earned a 100% ratings from the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League, Human Rights Campaign, and Planned Parenthood, with 0% ratings from the National Right to Life Committee, Family Research Council and (in 2003) the Christian Coalition (though he scored slightly higher with conservative Christian groups before 2003 and with Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families in all years). The independent National Journal gave him an 85% rating on liberal social policies, and a 0% on conservative social policies. Bread for the World, however, rated Edwards at 100%.