Rachel Zoll writes at AP that although the 2008 Obama campaign made a serious outreach to churchgoers, some religious Democrats worry that the reelection campaign is neglecting them.
"I think there is a viable religious left who can be persuaded by a carefully articulated religious argument, but no one is making it," said Valerie Cooper, a religious studies professor at the University of Virginia and Obama supporter. "I'm concerned that the administration has not followed through on the promise of 2008."
Cooper recently attended a White House briefing for academics on the work of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She and other religious scholars say they understand that pressing issues such as the economy had to be the priority. Still, they argued more could have been done to broaden the party's tent.
"I get frustrated when I talk to evangelical friends or students and they ask, 'How can you be a Christian and a Democrat?'" Cooper said.
David Kim, a Connecticut College religious studies professor, helped advise the 2008 campaign when videos of incendiary sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former Chicago pastor, threatened to derail the nominee. Kim, who attended the briefing with Cooper, described the administration's faith-based work as "ad hoc" and "with no long-term strategy."
"I didn't really get a clear sense of what the mission is," Kim said.
Four years ago, Douglas Kmiec, an anti-abortion former official in the Reagan administration, backed Obama, drawing widespread condemnation from fellow conservative Catholics. In a column last month in the liberal U.S. newspaper the National Catholic Reporter, Kmiec praised the University of Notre Dame for suing the administration over the narrow religious exemption in the birth control rule. In 2009, Notre Dame withstood intense criticism from American bishops and honored Obama, despite the president's support for abortion rights.
"Unwittingly, perhaps, the president has allowed his appointees to drift into the secular lane and stay there," Kmiec wrote.