Senator Chris Coons Defends the Role of Faith in Politics

For a generation, the Democratic Party of which I’m a member has steadily moved away from communities of faith. Today, according to a recent Pew study, more than one-third of Democrats—including 44 percent of self-described liberal Democrats—think churches and religious organizations actually have a “negative impact” on the United States.

But the beliefs of those liberal Democrats don’t reflect the views of most American voters. The fact of the matter is this: The vast majority of Americans—including the majority of Democrats—are people of faith. According to a recent Pew study, for example, nearly 80 percent of Americans identify with a religious faith. Two-thirds of them pray every day.

That’s why if progressives are to achieve our goals, we have to open our hearts and minds to our allies in the faith community. Doing so won’t just advance our shared policy goals—it might also help heal a nation deeply divided along political lines.

Like many Americans, I’m a progressive Democrat and a Christian. That’s why I know that progressive values aren’t just secular values. We can get to some of our most important public-policy priorities through both secular and scriptural routes.

If you believe fighting economic injustice and creating opportunity for the poor is an urgent challenge, you can get there because you value the fundamental premise of the American dream that anyone who works hard can earn a decent living, provide for their family, and leave their children better off. Or, you can get there because you take to heart the biblical injunction to care for those who are less well-off and treat fairly those who are oppressed.

If you believe Americans should welcome immigrants and refugees into our country, you can get there as an intellectual or a humanist who cares about others, or…

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