American Prospects Debate Kerry's Alleged "Religion Problem"

July 16, 2004

Source: The American Prospect

On July 16, 2004 The American Prospect reported that, "if conventional wisdom is to be believed, John Kerry has a religion problem -- namely, that Americans think he’s insufficiently devout. From the inner circle of the Kerry campaign to the front page of the Washington Post, every pundit in America has advice for Kerry on how to appeal to religious audiences on the trail and how to make use of his own Catholic faith -- but should he listen? [American Prospect Staff Writer] Ayelish McGarvey argues that religion could lead Kerry to the promised land, but [American Prospect Staff Writer] Matthew Yglesias fears that the road to defeat is paved with biblical quotations. This is the first round in a three-part debate." Matthew Yglesias was reported saying: "I don’t think this religion problem really exists... When you look at it, rural voters have plenty of reasons to like Republicans that have nothing to do with religion... The Republicans deliver generous farm subsidies, low grazing fees on public land, and easy exploitation of natural resources. And white southerners, of course, have had a decades-long beef with the Democratic Party over civil rights." Alternatively Ayelish McGarvey was reported saying: "Once and for all, let’s retire the hackneyed stereotype of conservative Christianity residing in America’s southern boondocks. It simply isn’t true. While mainstream Protestant congregations are growing smaller, more socially lethargic, and ever more gray-haired, evangelical churches are flourishing in places like suburban Chicago and Boulder, Colorado."