March 29, 2005

THINK HOWARD DEAN CAN REACH THEM?

For family, religion shapes politics: Heartlanders convert others to live daily by 'the word of God' (Brian MacQuarrie, March 29, 2005, Boston Globe)

Michael and MarCee Wilkerson bow their heads and pray before every meal, even when they are surrounded by strangers at Skyline Chili. Their older daughter, Brittany, 13, listens to Christian-accented rap, hip-hop, and R&B. And Brooke, 9, is fond of wearing a T-shirt that proclaims, ''Jesus is my Homeboy."

A middle-class family in a Cincinnati suburb, the Wilkersons are evangelical Christians for whom a literal interpretation of the Bible is a blueprint for living. Religious beliefs also guide their politics in this staunchly Republican region, which helped President Bush carry Ohio and the national election.

To them, the president is ''a godly man" and Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts is not.

Such thinking is prompting many Democrats to rethink the party's message on religion and abortion, and how to reach out to voters for whom religion plays a critical, determining role. But in the Wilkersons' four-bedroom home, nestled between a creek and a cul-de-sac, a political conversion seems unlikely at best.

The Wilkersons oppose abortion and stem-cell research, consider homosexuality a sin, and regard same-sex marriage as the work of activist judges who cater to a dangerous fringe group. The future holds either heaven or hell, and the only way to paradise is to accept Jesus Christ. In their reading of Scripture, even a saintly non-Christian such as Gandhi has been doomed to eternal torment.

''This is the word of God," Michael Wilkerson says, brandishing the New International Version of the Bible. ''There's only one way, and it's through Jesus."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2005 12:00 AM
Comments

If the Boston Globe thinks this family is exotic... They need to come down to the Bible Belt. Try homeschooling families. Try homeschooling families with 8 children in the bible belt!
Also, the most invisible and conservative people of all, the Anabaptists, are voting in increasing number; they've lagged behind other Christians in realizing the importance of voting.

Posted by: Emily B. at March 29, 2005 8:37 AM

EMily makes a good point. After over 20 years of hard, grueling work, evangelicals are now turning out at about the same rate as other voters; but, there are still pockets of conservative Christians who are relatively unengaged in the political process. Bush's breakthrough into Amish and Mennonite groups in PA and Ohio was probably not the source of a large number of votes, but it was most enocuraging. Given the way that Christian groups are organizong early for Blackwell, they might make Ohio red until Jesus returns.

Posted by: Dan at March 29, 2005 8:52 AM

If you consider Gandhi "saintly", you're already in Hell.

Posted by: AC at March 29, 2005 10:49 AM

Someone tell Mr. MacQuarrie to read this blog and call us back tomorrow.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 29, 2005 10:24 PM
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