The Christian Science Monitor

Faith comes to fore in Democratic 2020 field. Why now?

When Bob Vander Plaats invited several Democratic presidential hopefuls to speak at his Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in July, a lot of people did a double take.

The summit is a gathering of socially conservative and politically powerful Evangelicals, and many consider Mr. Vander Plaats, the president of The Family Leader, to be something of a Republican kingmaker in the first of the nation’s nomination contests. It’s long been a must-attend for Republicans vying for Evangelical votes in their Iowa caucus. But no Democrat had ever been invited to speak there.

But like so many others this past month, Mr. Vander Plaats heard more Democratic candidates talking about their Christian faith in ways that broke with past election cycles and even in terms that Evangelicals like him hold dear.

“It just seems like a lot of them are talking about their faith as the centerpiece of their lives or even citing Scripture to explain their political beliefs,” Mr. Vander Plaats says.

He saw his invitation as a way to take up the candidates on their calls for unity and to try to bridge a nation’s polarized politics.

“There’s no gotcha questions, but just questions to basically provide an opportunity for a candidate to express who they are, what makes them tick, and what makes them reach the policies they are thinking about,”

What makes them tickA polarizing presidency ‘A human perspective’A civil rights movementA values campaign

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