Unfortunately, choosing not to talk much—or even at all—about faith and religion has become common in today’s Democratic Party. That choice, I believe, is the wrong one for two important reasons.
First, it hides away the deep, passionate, and formative faith backgrounds of so many Democrats who are seeking or serving in office. At our weekly Senate prayer breakfasts, for example, I’m consistently inspired and moved by the words of my colleagues whose faith is fundamental to their life and their work, but who rarely talk about it publicly.
Second, choosing not to talk about our faith as Democrats ignores the clear fact that America is still an overwhelmingly religious country, and that the Democratic Party, too, remains a coalition largely made up of people of faith—including tens of millions who identify as deeply religious.
Democratic officials and candidates need to lose their reluctance to talk publicly about how faith informs our work, our values, and our lives. I’ve been encouraged by the ways that many of the Democrats running for president have done just that.
Senator Cory Booker told his congregation, the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, that he was going to run for president before he publicly announced his candidacy, and said in a CNN town hall that “Christ is the center of my life.” Senator Elizabeth Warren, a former Sunday-school teacher, recently quoted the Gospel of Matthew while speaking to an audience in Mississippi about her own faith, and spoke eloquently about feeling called to action. Mayor Pete Buttigieg told a town-hall audience that “scripture is about protecting the stranger, and the prisoner, and the poor person, and that idea of welcome.” Former Vice President Joe Biden (whose candidacy I have endorsed) has for decades spoken about how his faith has sustained him through tragedy and inspired him to serve others.
Those examples reflect an important point: Democrats can fight for our progressive values while also identifying with the religious backgrounds that are so important to tens of millions of Americans.