Democrats Reinforce Strong Commitment to Agenda of Young People of Faith
Party Leaders Highlight Shared Values with Religious Millennials and Moderates
WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders gathered today to reaffirm their collective commitment to the young faith community’s agenda at a press conference focused on the Young Democrats of America’s recently-launched Faith and Values Initiative. Headlined by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, participants included Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC), a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is Muslim; Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), a Presbyterian; Reverend Derrick Harkins, the DNC’s Director of Religious Outreach and a Baptist minister; and Young Democrats of America’s president Rod Snyder, an Evangelical Christian.
"This initiative is built on a very important premise: that neither political party has a lock on faith or values,” said DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “As the first Jewish woman to represent the state of Florida in Congress, my Jewish faith is a very important and very proud part of my identity. And nowhere in my faith upbringing do I remember a lesson about the inherent value of giving a billionaire a tax cut. What I do remember is the central Jewish lesson of tikun olam – repairing the world – making the world a better place, and changing lives one person at a time. I also remember a strong emphasis on the importance of social justice and improving our communities."
“Young Americans are not abandoning their faith – quite the opposite. Our definition of what constitutes a ‘moral issue’ has expanded into foreign policy, environmental regulations, economic and tax policy, immigration and other social justice causes,” said Rod Snyder, President of the Young Democrats of America.
As the 2012 election approaches, a new generation of values voters will assess the candidates and their priorities, and they will reject the Republican Party’s “fend for yourself” theology that would roll back health care benefits for young Americans and deny a quality education, while preserving tax breaks for the wealthiest 2%. These new values voters will frown upon a Republican Party that would reinstitute discrimination in the military and tear apart hard-working immigrant families. They will not support candidates that elevate corporate profits above a basic responsibility to God’s creation.
“We just cannotsay, when we’re people of faith that, we’re here for the least of these. We have to show it. We need to demonstrate it in our laws and policies,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC).
“Let’s not forget that many of those who fought for civil rights and great changes throughout our country’s history have been people of faith,” said Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC).
“Today what we’re trying to do is to signal to people of faith from a broad cross section of America that we care, we’re listening and we want to engage and work closely with you so that your values – caring for the community, caring for each other, being concerned about truth, honesty and transparency in government – can be reflected in our national policy,” said Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN).
“The work of the Democratic Party in reaching out to faith and values voters will take into account the larger conversation of core values, including economic justice, access to healthcare, job creation and voter protection. These are all issues that speak to the faith underpinnings of many voters,” said Reverend Derrick Harkins. “People of faith in America today are concerned about a wide array of issues, not just two.”
In the coming months, the Young Democrats of America will reach out to faith-based campuses and places of worship to begin a conversation about the type of country the next generation wants to inherit. YDA will host listening sessions, trainings and service days to demonstrate that people of faith have a home in the Democratic Party. The organization will also hold a summit in Washington, DC to begin developing a network of young Americans who can genuinely articulate how their faith has led them to pursue amore just society through political action. Through their website (www.ydafaithandvalues.org), Facebook page and twitter account (@ydafaithvalues), the Young
Democrats are spreading the message that Democrats are the best representatives of religious values.