Wednesday, April 11, 2007

DNC Hones Secular Outreach

Howard Dean chose Easter Sunday as the day to extend an olive branch to the non-religious community. Better still, he disguised it as a message to Christians. How did he pull off this neat trick? By offering Easter wishes without mentioning Christ, the resurrection, or anything else you might find in the Bible:

Then, a week later, the DNC celebrated Easter with another statement from Dean, including his definition of the holiday. "Easter Sunday is a joyful celebration. The holiday represents peace, redemption and renewal, a theme which brings hope to people of all faiths."

Dean's Easter statement seems to bend over backwards not to mention Jesus and demonstrates either a misunderstanding of the evangelical community or a fear of alienating other voting blocs with religious talk.

"This press release, absent any reference to Jesus, without whom the Easter resurrection story is meaningless, is apparently a sad reflection of a 'lowest common denominator' religious outreach of the Democratic party," said Richard Cizik, Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, "Wake up and smell the Easter lillies! This kind of outreach will not pass the smell test of any evangelical."

Frankly, Webster's New World Dictionary, which is not regarded as a particularly spiritual or political source, has a better definition of Easter: "an annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus."

The DNC statement is striking, particularly since Democratic outreach to evangelicals is on-going (including Dean's speech at Eastern University just last week) and the importance Democratic strategists have put on using the right language to appeal to evangelicals. Democrats like to point to recent conservative evangelical leaders' attacks on Cizik as evidence that they are making progress, but based on Cizik's comments, evangelicals aren't moving en mass toward the Democratic Party anytime soon.

Dean and the DNC simply missed the target this Easter. The press release was astonishing because it's sole purpose was to acknowledge a religious holiday, yet it was painfully-worded to avoid being religious. If this press release was part of the Democratic Party's outreach to evangelicals, they probably would have been better off just skipping it altogether.

Can you picture the conversation over at the DNC?

"Hey wait - should we tell Dean he forgot to mention Jesus?"

"Better not - you know how strongly he feels about faith, religion, and bike paths."

Update: Philo notes in the comments that Howard Dean seems to have no problem understanding Passover; there's only one religion that ties him in knots.

17 comments:

Philo-Junius said...

It's not secularism that Dean boosts--he had no problem explaining Passover earlier in the week.

http://www.democrats.org/a/p/dnc_chairman_ho_20.html

There's just one religion that ties Dean into knots...

Philo-Junius said...

He's also hip to Eid al Fit'r:
http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/10/dnc_chairman_ho_33.php

klebeck said...

you right-wingers sure do get worked up over a dead jewish carpenter and the fictional tale written about him. don't you have something more important to think about?

Philo-Junius said...

Do you crack wise similarly about Muhammad, troll?

Or do you only pick on the ones that you're pretty sure won't pin manifestoes to your beheaded corpse?

Thought so.

klebeck said...

no philo...i give all you superstitious crack-pots about the same amount of respect.

Philo-Junius said...

I'm sure Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, William Wilberforce and the Frs. Berrigan would have appreciated your respect.

Modern liberalism doesn't exist without the religious left to give it moral weight.

The Editor at IP said...

Comment deleted because of obscenity.

Philo-Junius said...

They say that when you throw a stone into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one you hit.

klebeck said...

philo..
the religious right proves over and over that religion does not provide morality.

Anonymous said...

If Easter is "only" a Christian holiday, then find me the part of the Bible that talks about the Easter Bunny please.

Philo-Junius said...

"[T]he religious right proves over and over that religion does not provide morality."

Religion does not ensure morality.

But if it did, wouldn't you then be whining about its "mental compulsion" instead of its failure to get your desired results?

Philo-Junius said...

"If Easter is 'only' a Christian holiday, then find me the part of the Bible that talks about the Easter Bunny please."

Which of course was a key component of Dean's Easter greetings--right up there with "Peeps on earth and jelly beans for men of goodwill."

Anonymous said...

I didn't hear Bill O'Reilly acknowledge that the first real Pope was actually a rabbit. Boycott!

klebeck said...

philo...
even if religion insured morality...which is an absurd proposition...it would still be a collection of superstitious hooey.

Philo-Junius said...

One must always admire the audacity and self-regard of the village atheist attempting to dismiss all religion with simple, unreasoned, question-begging and dogmatic generalisation.

Anonymous said...

Funny how deeds done in the name of religion cause a great amount of evil in the world today (and for the past 2k years too, let us not forget)...gotta luv the i-ron-knee :)

made up fables, created by powerful men, to keep the masses in line...this goes for both testaments and the koran...no wonder the authoritarian types luv it so much.

Good fiction, sorta like Aesop.

Proof of existance will be required for me to 'believe', IHMO.

VC

Philo-Junius said...

"Funny how deeds done in the name of religion cause a great amount of evil in the world today (and for the past 2k years too, let us not forget)...gotta luv the i-ron-knee :)"

Crimes have been committed under all sorts of pretexts. Anyone seeking an idiot-or-villain-proof system of ethics profoundly underestimates both the ingenuity of idiots and villains and the fallibility of their audiences.

But the larger question is whether one can frame any definition of evil without prerational assumptions which are merely another form of religion, no matter how they are repackaged for sale.

"[M]ade up fables, created by powerful men, to keep the masses in line...this goes for both testaments and the koran...no wonder the authoritarian types luv it so much."

Talk about sweeping assertions taken on faith...

"Good fiction, sorta like Aesop."

Well, which is it? Either they're cynical manipulations or wise lessons; you can't have it both ways.

"Proof of existance will be required for me to 'believe', IHMO."

If one had proof, one would no longer believe, rather, one would know.

Belief is an exercise of the will which precedes reason, the way one says seeing is believing, even though we know full well that the senses can be deceived.

To demand the satisfaction of the intellect prior to belief is in fact to define belief out of existence. Which is usually the object of the exercise.