WASHINGTON — God does not side with the Republicans, Sen. John Kerry said in a fiery speech last week, accusing Republican leaders of politicizing religion to further their agenda.
This week, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy quoted Jesus from the Bible. It was a rebuttal, he said, of Republicans’ claims that Democrats are "against people of faith."
Rep. John W. Olver, an Amherst Democrat, said he’s considered buying an "anthology of good Biblical quotations" that he’d use to neutralize Republicans’ religious references.
Some observers and lawmakers say the Democrats’ use of religious language reflects an adjustment following their electoral losses last fall. President Bush, who ended a speech on Wednesday with "God bless you all," successfully mobilized the evangelical right in the November elections.
"I think there’s certainly been a sense in the Democratic Party that they’ve allowed the Republican Party to be perceived as the religious party," said Alan Wolfe, director of the Center for Religion and American Life at Boston College. "And that’s a mistake."
Although the parties generally attract different denominations, neither can be described as more or less religious, Wolfe said.
Still, to counter the perception, there’s been talk among Democrats about emphasizing values, morals and religion, some lawmakers said.
"Most of us do not think we are godless people, and there are many people of good faith," Olver said in an interview. "It may be that we have not carried that on (our) sleeve."
Olver, who lists his religion as "unspecified," admitted that his internal catalogue of biblical references is thin. That led to the anthology idea.
"What I hear every once in a while is a Republican making a righteous statement and citing the quotation, and thinking there’s a quotation that offers quite the opposite," he said.
Pretty funny someone saying they are not godless and then lists their religion as "unspecified" and has some nebulous belief that there must be some quotations somewhere in the Bible to counter with. Needing an anthology of scriptural quotations will really prove his case that religion is important. Important that is when you want to counter a political foe. But their needing help with scripture quotes is not surprising when their own party head’s favorite New Testament book is Job. True that they may not wear their religion on their sleeve, but Congressman John W. Olver has had no problem wearing abortion support on his sleeve, pantleg or any other article of clothing. They are just looking for those value voters whose values include abortion, homosexuality, destruction of marriage, radical secularism.