Michael Paulson of The Boston Globe has been all over the God-and-politics beat during the Democrats' convention, and in his story "Party refuses to cede the religious vote" he reaches a sublime point of irony. Paulson opens with a dramatic image of Ron Sparks, Alabama's commissioner of agriculture and industries, addressing his fellow Democrats:
"Let me say this one thing: It really aggravates me every time one of those Republicans tell me that I don't know anything about Jesus Christ," Sparks said, prompting a round of "That's right!" from other delegates.
Later, though, comes this crucial paragraph:
Since the 1980s, the Republican Party has increasingly embraced the language of religion, as the GOP has successfully courted, and become influenced by, conservative white evangelical Protestants. By contrast, Democratic leaders have often shied away from explicit talk of religion, in part because such language had become associated with conservative politics, and in part because some Democrats view public expressions of faith as contradicting the separation of church and state.
The Democratic Party has chosen to hire the Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, to help strengthen ties with faith groups. If she can help bury the ridiculous notion that expressing one's faith publicly contradicts church-state separation, she will have earned her salary.