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Michael Bennet

  • Affiliation: Not affiliated

  • Age: 54

  • State: Colorado

  • Main policy issues: modernizing the economy to fit technological innovation, increasing infrastructure spending

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Raised by Jewish mother and Christian father. Grandparents were Jewish and imprisoned in a Warsaw ghetto. Married by an Episcopal priest but not part of a congregation.
    “I was raised with two different heritages, one was Jewish, and one was Christian,” Bennet told the Rocky Mountain News. “I am proud that both heritages are part of me, and I believe in God.”

  • Denominational Stance: n/a

Joe Biden

  • Affiliation: Raised Catholic and practicing

  • Age: 54

  • State: Pennsylvania

  • Main policy issues: protecting jobs for working class people

  • Personal Stance on Faith: said that Pope Francis is “the embodiment of the Catholic social doctrine that I was raised with, the idea that everyone is entitled to dignity, that the poor should be given special preference, that you have an obligation to reach out and be inclusive.”

  • Denominational Stance: No clear stance, but Catholicism has a long tradition of special concern for the poor, ensuring just wages for work, and the perils of unemployment on human dignity.

Cory Booker

  • Affiliation: Baptist

  • Age: 50

  • State: New Jersey

  • Main policy issues: criminal justice reform, uniting the country

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Raised in African Methodist Episcopal Church, but now he is a member of a National Baptist (a denomination) church in Newark.
    “The life of Jesus is very impactful to me and very important to me,” Booked told RNS. “He lived a life committed to dealing with issues of the poor and the sick. The folks that other folks disregard, disrespect or often oppress. He lived this life of radical love that is a standard that I fail to reach every single day, but that really motivates me in what I do.”

  • Denominational Stance: National Baptist has expressed appreciation for former Pres. Obama’s advocacy for justice for people of all races and “improving America’s image in the global community”, though they do not support same-sex marriage.

Steve Bullock

  • Affiliation: Not affiliated

  • Age: 53

  • State: Montana

  • Main policy issues: campaign finance reform, early childhood education as a way of reducing income inequality

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Bullock doesn’t talk about his faith and it’s not clear if he’s a practicing Catholic, though some polls categorize him as Catholic.

  • Denominational Stance: n/a

Pete Buttigieg

  • Affiliation: Episcopalian

  • Age: 37

  • State: Indiana

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Raised in church with a very religious mother. Buttigieg has said on CNN that his feeling "is that Scripture is about protecting the stranger, and the prisoner, and the poor person, and that idea of welcome. That's what I get in the Gospel when I'm in church." Main issues: curbing climate change, expanding economic opportunity

  • Denominational Stance: The Episcopal Church values caring for the environment, helping those most impacted by climate change, and living simply to reduce carbon footprints. They welcome same-sex marriages like Buttigieg’s, and their anti-poverty efforts are often aimed at racial reconcilation.

Julian Castro

  • Affiliation: Catholic

  • Age: 44

  • State: Texas

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Announced his campaign across from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in San Antonio, where he was baptized and attended with his family, in the city’s Mexican-American neighborhood. He told RNS: “I think there is a tendency to associate faith with only the right, with only conservatives... and there are many progressives who are also people of faith that I wish that more attention were spent on, on how they see the world as well.” Main issues: universal kindergarten, medicare for all, immigration reform

  • Denominational Stance: Providing healthcare and free childcare as a way to help low-income parents work fits into Catholicism’s tradition of special care for the poor and economic justice, though the Catholic Church doesn’t take a stance on specific political issues like healthcare reform. The Catholic Church teaches that nations should welcome foreigners while protecting their borders, and that economically stronger nations have more of a duty to allow migrants in need of work into their countries.

Bill De Blasio

  • Affiliation: Not affiliated

  • Age: 58

  • State: New York

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Raised Catholic and not practicing, but he often adopts religious language like “amen” and describes himself as spiritual but not religious. “Although my mother was raised a Catholic, she did not bring me up in the Church,” he said on Reddit. “I considered myself a spiritual person but unaffiliated, and I was definitely very influenced by the liberation theology movement in Latin America. And BOY am I a fan of Pope Francis!” Main issues: universal kindergarten, lowering crime

  • Denominational Stance: De Blasio is influenced by Catholic liberation theology, which teaches acting against poverty and greed, part of unjust societies. His universal pre-kindergarten program in New York was aimed at helping low-income communities.

John Delaney

  • Affiliation: Catholic

  • Age: 56

  • State: Maryland

  • Personal Stance on Faith: "A lot of us get our values from our faith," Delaney told the Hill, adding that his “social justice orientation” comes from his Catholic faith “to some extent.” “But I don't think my church, and my church policies and doctrines, should decide public policy in this country." Main issues: unity, aims to be bipartisan and universal healthcare

  • Denominational Stance: Though there’s no official Catholic teaching on specific policies like universal healthcare, the church teaches special concern for the poor and that every person has the right to access adequate healthcare based on their dignity as a creation of God.

Tulsi Gabbard

  • Affiliation: Hindu (Vaishnava)

  • Age: 38

  • State: Hawaii

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Gabbard told the New Yorker that she grew up learning Vaishnava Hinduism, a main denomination of Hinduism and one that considers the preserver god Vishnu (also his reincarnation Krishna) as the Supreme God. “After my 2012 election, I made a personal decision to take my congressional oath of office on the supreme yoga/Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna’s teachings have provided wisdom and spiritual solace to me throughout my life, including when I was serving our country in the Middle East during the Iraq war,” Gabbard wrote for RNS. Main issues: as a veteran herself, opposition to American military inventions overseas like in Syria

  • Denominational Stance: Vaishnava is often known for the Bhakti movement, an 8th-17th century social reform movement known for emphasizing individual paths to spirituality and attempting to break caste distinctions.

Tom Steyer

  • Affiliation: Episcopalian

  • Age: 62

  • State: New York

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Steyer was raised with a Jewish father and an Episcopalian mother. In 2014, Joe Hagan's profile of Steyer in Men's Journal wrote that "As he approached 40, Steyer had what he has described as a revelation. He became more involved in the local Episcopalian church."

  • Denominational Stance: In 2017, as a political mega-donor with NextGen America, Steyer vowed to never support candidates that aren't pro-choice. According to The Episcopal Church's general Convention, "The Episcopal Church teaches that “all human life is sacred. Hence, it is sacred from its inception until death." In the same general convention, the Episcopalian church 'calls for great pastoral sensitivity to the needs of the woman and others involved in decisions relating to “abortion, or mishaps of pregnancy and infertility."'

Kamala Harris

  • Affiliation: Baptist

  • Age: 54

  • State: California

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Born to a Jamaican-American dad and Indian-American mom, Harris told the Los Angeles Times she grew up attending a black Baptist church and visiting a Hindu temple. Harris also wrote in her memoir about attending a Church of God church in Oakland: “My earliest memories of the teachings of the Bible were of a loving God, a God who asked us to ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves’ and to ‘defend the rights of the poor and the needy.’ This is where I learned that ‘faith’ is a verb; I believe we must live our faith in action.” Main issues: tax cuts for the middle class, strengthening civil rights

  • Denominational Stance: Historically, both Church of God and African-American Baptist churches have emphasized racial and economic equality.

Amy Klobuchar

  • Affiliation: United Church of Christ

  • Age: 59

  • State: Minnesota

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Klobuchar is married to a Catholic and a member of the United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination that teaches individuals (called congregationalists) have full authority to interpret the Bible for themselves. Former Pres. Obama belonged to the same denomination. “The Senate prayer breakfast is a really important thing. It happens once a week, no one ever knows what people talk about. It is a mix. … Liberals go there — I promise — conservatives go there,” Klobuchar said on CNN. She has also talked about her dad recovered from alcoholism by coming to faith and gaining a community of supporters. Main issues: combatting drug addiction and the opioid crisis

  • Denominational Stance: Most Christian denominations teach that no one is beyond redemption, and Jesus gives grace to everyone, including drug addicts, to come to God and change.

Beto O’Rourke

  • Affiliation: Catholic

  • Age: 46

  • State: Texas

  • Personal Stance on Faith: "For me, that was a religious experience," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I happen to have been raised Catholic, and what I take away from my religion is you do your best to love everyone, to be good to everyone." Main issues: immigration reform, legalizing marijuana, and access to hospitals in rural areas

  • Denominational Stance: The Catholic Church teaches that nations should welcome foreigners while protecting their borders, and that economically stronger nations have more of a duty to allow migrants in need of work into their countries. The Church also has a long tradition of bringing healthcare to remote places but is opposed to legalizing recreational drugs like marijiuana.

Tim Ryan

  • Affiliation: Catholic

  • Age: 45

  • State: Ohio

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Attended Catholic school and grew up in a Catholic home Has shifted his stance from pro-life to pro-abortion, and from stronger gun rights to tighter gun control “My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of ‘judge not, lest ye be judged,’” Ryan wrote in an op-ed about changing his stance on abortion. Main issues: renegotiating trade deals, strengthening unions and worker protections

  • Denominational Stance: The Catholic Church is officially and unconditionally pro-life, and with a high view of the worker and dignity of labor, has a history of supporting workers’ rights and training workers to organize.

Bernie Sanders

  • Affiliation: Jewish (secular)

  • Age: 77

  • State: Vermont

  • Personal Stance on Faith: “I am very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of what I am. Look, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camps. I am very proud of being Jewish, and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being.” Main issues: medicare for all, free college and high taxes for the wealthy

  • Denominational Stance: Sanders’ Jewish identity is less religious and more historical, but nonetheless he’s influenced by religious ideas. Jewish socialist thought emerged post-WWII, informed by the Jewish mitzvot or duty to relieve human suffering and the belief that socialism would help Jews assimilate into a Christian Europe and America.

Joe Sestak

  • Affiliation: Roman Catholic

  • Age: 67

  • State: Pennsylvania

  • Personal Stance on Faith: "Once you have served in war and faced danger with a gay service member, how can you come home and say gay people should not enjoy equal rights? It is simple. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ must be repealed."

  • Denominational Stance: Sestak is pro-choice and holds a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. In 2009, Sestak's invitation to speak to students at the Catholic Malvern Prep School was rescinded after parents objected.

Elizebeth Warren

  • Affiliation: Methodist

  • Age: 69

  • State: Massachusetts

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Warren was raised Methodist and has said she taught fifth-grade Sunday school. She emphasizes biblical teachings about caring for others. “My favorite Bible verse includes two lessons that guide me every day: There is value in every single human being, and every one of us is called to action,” Warren told CNN. Main issues: student-debt relief, higher-education reform, universal child care

  • Denominational Stance: The Methodist church has been outspoken about the toll of heavy student loan debt and has its own student loan program for Methodist college students that loans about $2 million a year and provides $3 million in scholarships. Like other churches, many Methodist churches run child care programs open to the public at reduced costs.

Marianne Williamson

  • Affiliation: Jewish (New Age)

  • Age: 66

  • State: California

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Williamson is a prominent speaker and author on spirituality, with a regular guest spot on the Oprah Winfrey OWN Network’s “SuperSoulSunday.” She identifies as Jewish and attends synagogue for Jewish High Holidays, and also calls herself a convert to the thinking and belief system of Jesus. She insists, however, that she has never considered converting to Christianity. She is often described as a New Age guru and influenced by teaching called A Course in Miracles. “My religion is Judaism, my spirituality is universal.” Main issues: income inequality, Medicare for all, slavery reparations

  • Denominational Stance: A key tenet of Williamson’s spirituality is that all people are equal and extensions of God.

Andrew Yang

  • Affiliation: Christian, Reformed Church in America

  • Age: 44

  • State: New York

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Yang attends the Reformed Church of New Paltz. He wrote on his campaign website that he sought biblical insights about universal basic income from his pastor, Mark Mast. Yang cites Mast’s written response, in which Mast links the policy with Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor. “The support for Universal Basic Income spans centuries, political parties, religious traditions — from Stephen Hawking to Milton Friedman to Martin Luther King Jr., all the way back to the gospels. ... Let’s bring abundance to our fellow countrymen and women and remind them that a more just world is possible.” Main issues: universal basic income, Medicare for all, human-centered capitalism

  • Denominational Stance: The RCA is concerned with income inequality and encourages its members to take this concern into political discussions.

Wayne Messam

  • Affiliation: Non-denominational Christian

  • Age: 44

  • State: Florida

  • Personal Stance on Faith: Messam attends church at The Fountain of New Life in Miami Gardens. The church encourages attendees to wear whatever clothes they’re most comfortable in, and services feature a “biblically-centered message that's always honest and challenging, empowering you to apply Jesus' words to your daily life.” Main issues: gun control, living wage and relieving student loan debt

  • Denominational Stance: Messam’s congregation does not take a public stance on these issues.

Democratic Primary Guide:

Faith Profiles of the 2020 Candidates

Ten Democratic candidates will duke it out Thursday night in the third primary debate of the 2020 election season, including early frontrunners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren clashing in a primary debate for the first time. Our guide spotlights the candidate, their faith traditions and how it impacts their politics.





Marilia Cesar.jpg

Author, journalist Marilia Cesar talks spiritual abuse and misfits in Brazil

Paul Glader has a conversation in São Paulo with Brazilian journalist and writer, Marilia de Camargo Cesar, about her four books that address issues of homosexuality and spiritual abuse in the evangelical church.

Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Google Play




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