Suzanne Fields

There are no atheists in foxholes, as any dogface soldier could tell you, and neither are there many atheists in politics. Looking death in the face, whether in a foxhole or at the polls, makes a believer of almost everyone. You could ask almost any Democrat. Democratic office-seekers have been to the mourner's bench, and they're drenching their campaigns in religiosity, if not necessarily authentic religion. Be prepared to hear a lot more about the "Religious Left."

Hillary Clinton has come a long way from her days as first lady, when she held seances with the long-dead Eleanor Roosevelt and praised the squishy "politics of meaning." She speaks now of her personal faith as a way of connecting with "values" voters. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, might not recognize her "do good" intentions to erase poverty, her call for an energy policy to prevent tinkering with "God's creation," but she invokes her Methodist upbringing in nearly every speech. She concluded a sermon at a Baptist church in Selma, Ala., commemorating the Voting Rights Act with a quotation from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians: "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due seasons we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

Barack Obama is the natural preacher, whose exhortations are rich in the language of the Bible. In Selma he delivered a sermon in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., alluding to the civil rights warrior as the Moses who led the Israelites through the Red Sea but didn't get to see them all the way to the Promised Land. He challenged his audience to be "the Joshua generation" to carry on the work of Moses. "Like Moses, the task was passed on to those who might not have been as deserving, might not have been as courageous," he said. "The previous generation, the Moses generation, pointed the way. They took us 90 percent of the way there. We still got that 10 percent in order to cross over to the other side."

John Edwards, running behind Hillary and Obama in most polls, is no slouch in the pulpit, either. He was baptized a Southern Baptist, but drifted away from his faith in college. Faith became important to him again when his 16-year-old son was killed in an automobile accident and his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. "It's important in my case to have a personal relationship with the Lord, so that I pray daily and I feel that relationship all the time," he told an interviewer for Beliefnet.com. "And when I'm faced with difficult decisions, which I regularly am, I very often go to Him in prayer."


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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