Presidential Politics

Why Religion May Not Matter Much in 2008, Part 2

For three days last week, I got my chance to do what I love most: hang out with fellow religion writers and talk/listen/think obsessively about the latest religious news and issues. It was the Religion Newswriters Association annual conference, held this year in D.C. (Melissa Rogers has rounded up the excellent blog coverage by fellow [...]

23Sep2008 | Andrea Useem | 4 comments | Continued

John McCain Speaks of His True Religious Conversion

Last night’s speech from GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s speech in St. Paul was lackluster at moments, particular in comparison to the “electrifying” speech of VP nominee Sarah Palin the night before. But there was one moment, toward the end, when the hall grew quiet and focused, and the cameras had an easier time finding [...]

5Sep2008 | Andrea Useem | 1 comment | Continued
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Obama in Lynchburg: The Faith-versus-Works Debate

Here’s a photo I took this weekend while driving through Lynchburg, the central Virginia town where religious right leader Jerry Falwell ministered and built Liberty University. The sign outside this small church reads, as you can see: “USA TELL OBAMA JESUS CHRIST NEEDED FOR SALVATION READ ACTS 4:12.”
Part of the reason this sign caught my [...]

23Jul2008 | Andrea Useem | 2 comments | Continued

Is Obama’s Real “Faith Asset” His Ability to Speak the Language of American Civil Religion?

Last June, at the Wharton Leadership Conference, Richard Greene, a well-known public speaking coach, offered his prediction that Barack Obama would win the Democratic nomination on the basis of his amazing strengths as an orator. Glossing over the fact that Greene said Romney would win the Republican nomination for the same reason (great speaking skills), [...]

4Jun2008 | Andrea Useem | 3 comments | Continued

Mormon American Idol, Church on Second Life and Barack Obama in Indiana

It’s been a big night, yet another Tuesday evening of clicking back and forth between American Idol and Democratic primary results. So first things first: It looks like America is going to have its first-ever Mormon American Idol in 17-year-old David Archuleta. The three judges, Randy, Paula and Simon, go crazy for Archuleta’s earnest crooning, [...]

6May2008 | Andrea Useem | 6 comments | Continued

The Compassion Forum: Highlights and Lowlights

Just finished watching “The Compassion Forum” — an intimate evening with the two Democratic presidential candidates, hosted by Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and Faith in Public Life, a progressive Washington D.C.-based organization. Overall, it was a little dull — after all, how much new ground can be covered after the endless months of campaigning? [...]

13Apr2008 | Andrea Useem | 5 comments | Continued

When a Woman Runs for President — in Afghanistan

I’ve just finished watching FrontRunner, the new documentary from New View Films about Massouda Jalal, the only female candidate in Afghanistan’s 2004 elections. It’s hard, of course, to think about a woman running for president without immediately making comparisons to the current presidential race in the U.S. - it’s like a cartoon that needs a [...]

9Apr2008 | Andrea Useem | 3 comments | Continued

Should Obama Make a Religion Speech?

That was the question this morning at a panel on Islam and U.S. Politics on Capitol Hill.
Have the “accusations” that Obama is a Muslim reached such a pitch that Obama should seize the moment and deliver a historic speech, ala his March 18 address on race? (Background: One-in-ten Americans think Obama is a Muslim.) The [...]

3Apr2008 | Andrea Useem | 6 comments | Continued

Romney, Muslims and “Conservative Multiculturalism”

While lounging on the couch after an indulgent Christmas dinner this evening, ReligionWriter could not resist turning her attention from relatives and instead reading an essay titled, “Mormons, Muslims and Multiculturalism,” which she stumbled upon while leafing through a recent issue of the conservative Weekly Standard.
The essay, which goes for a lengthy 6,000 words, would [...]

25Dec2007 | Andrea Useem | 1 comment | Continued

Why Romney’s Task Is Very Different From JFK’s

If you’re into religion and politics, then December 6 is shaping up to be every bit as important, if not more, than January 3, when the Iowa caucuses are held. That’s because this Thursday, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will deliver a long-awaited speech on religion, and more specifically, his own Mormon faith — the [...]

3Dec2007 | Andrea Useem | 3 comments | Continued