As the 2020 election looms, religion continues to play a consistent and dizzying role in American electoral politics. Traditionally, party operatives and pollsters on both sides of the aisle tend to treat religion as a constituency, using demographics to categorize different identity groups and predict voting patterns. However, as part of the larger debates about organizing strategy and tactics in the wake of 2016, scholars, journalists, and organizers themselves are starting to pay attention to the unexpected ways in which religion shows up in elections. This includes religion’s presence in the rhetoric of candidates, moral and ethical considerations of voters, or in the everyday lives of communities that are tangibly and materially affected by elected officials.
This trend is particularly evident in campaigns’ outreach to Christian communities of color and working class communities. In these contexts, Christianity often plays different roles than it does for the white middle class Protestants who have long dominated how Americans think about religion. This panel brings together experienced organizers from a variety of contexts who are engaging religion in innovative ways in their outreach to voters. Its goals are twofold: first, to glean generative examples of how religious outreach is currently being done, particularly to historically marginalized communities; and two, to identify where deeper understanding of religion and religious literacy could further enhance these efforts.
Join the Ash Center and Religion and Public Life Program at Harvard Divinity School for a discussion featuring:
Whitney Murray Brown, Program Director for Women of Faith
Olga Segura, Opinion Editor at National Catholic Reporter
Jonathan Soto, Organizer for Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign
Diane L. Moore, Founding Director, Program in Religion and Public Life
Student and alumni participants
Anna Burnham, MDiv'20, Harvard Divinity School
Melissa Cedillo, MTS'21, Harvard Divinity School
Steven Harris, PhD Candidate, Harvard University