Dems chided for taking God from platform

A Southern Baptist seminary president says dropping a reference to “God-given” potential doesn’t help an incumbent viewed by some as hostile toward religion.

By Bob Allen

Religious observers questioned the message sent by Democrats omitting any mention of God in their 2012 party platform adopted by delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

“Guess what? God’s name has been removed from the Democratic National Committee platform,” CBN News Chief Political Correspondent David Brody reported on his blog, The Brody File, Sept. 4.

A paragraph in the 2008 platform said: “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”

In the new platform, the idea is conveyed as “in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.”

Brody said critics might observe that with planks in the platform advocating abortion rights and gay marriage, “it's no wonder that God's name would be dropped as well.”

ABC News quoted a party official explaining that the 2008 reference to “God-given” was not a statement of faith but instead about fairness and building a middle class. A 107-word plank on faith, the official said, is the exact same language used in 2008.

“Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history,” the platform reads.

“We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires,” it continues.

“Faith-based organizations will always be critical allies in meeting the challenges that face our nation and our world – from domestic and global poverty, to climate change and human trafficking.

“People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country and the world, and we believe in lifting up and valuing that good work, and finding ways to support it where possible.

“We believe in constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other nonprofit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests.

“There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country.”

Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in his daily podcast briefing Sept. 5 that “God-given” in a party platform “is not necessarily in any sense meaningful,” because it is an expression of “civil religion” and part of America’s political culture.

“But in an election cycle like this, with the incumbent president himself running somewhat on the defensive on these issues, it’s hard to imagine why the Democrats would do something so blatant as to take God-given potential out of their platform and simply replace it with secular language,” Mohler observed.

Robert Parham, head of the Baptist Center for Ethics in attendance at the Sept. 4-6 DNC in Charlotte, N.C., posted questions on Twitter asking: “How does African-American Baptist pastor Harkins defend Dem's removal of God from platform…?” and “Is the claim of faith, theology, really a thin veil for what is an ideology without God for national Democratic leaders?”