Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made an unscheduled appearance on Thursday at the Faith in Action Forum at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. There he explained what motivated the Democratic Party to increase its displays of religiosity and to involve “people of faith.”
Referring to his own northeastern background as former Governor of Vermont, Dean said people from New England know “it’s hard to talk about religion.”
Though the party once acted as if “we mustn’t talk about religion,” he added: “I think we’ve made a lot of progress for the last couple of years… I am thrilled to be in a party that no longer cedes the faith community to the Republican Party.”
He said the idea that one is “called” to do something is “very powerful” among “people of faith,” explaining that people in the Democratic Party “don’t believe you have to change your values to cater to people of faith.”
“Faith is faith,” he exclaimed. “Faith in God is something that is common to human beings.”
He was quick to acknowledge that secular people in the Democratic Party “still have values.”
Dean suggested that the diversity of the Democratic Party is one reason it does not address faith in the same way as Republicans, whom he accused of talking about a “mono-religious country.”
“In this party, we have other values that matter to us. We talk about respecting everybody’s faith,” he asserted.
“Jews and Muslims matter a lot in our party.”
He also said that all religions could overcome their differences to support a broader American vision.
“It’s a universal country,” he claimed.
Just because Democrats “speak differently,” Dean argued, “doesn’t mean it’s less important. It matters how you live, not necessarily what you say every Sunday.”
Before leaving, he encouraged the Faith in Action audience to engage in voter turnout efforts.