President Obama’s State of the Union speech marks a major shift in strategy for the Democratic Party. During the 2008 campaign, Democrats caught the religion bug from the GOP. Apparently they have finally killed it. Obama is back on message. Echoing Franklin Roosevelt, he preached economic liberty to the poor and justice to the oppressed without pandering to religious prejudices. For decades Republican leaders have used faith to cloak exploitative economic policies that favored the rich and the powerful. No more. I am encouraged that going into the 2012 campaign the president is not going to let them set the terms of the debate.
Matthew Avery Sutton is an associate professor of history at Washington State University and the author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (Harvard University Press, 2007).