My talk tonight was entitled “A Short History of Religion and Politics in America.” I chose to focus on a few presidential elections in which religion played an important role. We discussed the Federalist attacks on Jefferson’s religion in 1800, William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold Speech” in 1896, Al Smith’s failed 1928 campaign as the first Catholic candidate, John Kennedy’s famous Houston religion speech in 1960, and the Bush-Rove appeal to evangelicals in 2000 and 2004. I ended with some reflections on the major role religion has played in the 2008 campaign, discussing Obama and Reverend Wright, Sarah Palin’s Pentecostalism, Mike Huckabee’s southern evangelicalism, Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and the Compassion Forum at Messiah College and Rick Warren’s Saddleback Forum.
I am now watching Pat Buchanan on MSNBC who claims that Palin “wiped up the floor with Biden” in the debate. He claims that she has returned to her Republican convention popularity. Frankly, I am not sure what debate Buchanan was watching.
Now I am over at FOX News watching a focus group of thirty people, most of whom seem to think that Palin won because she “connected” with the American people in a more effective fashion than Biden.
Let the spin begin.