As part of Sojourners/Call to Renewal's 2007 Pentecost conference in June, we hosted the three Democratic presidential front-runners in a "Faith, Values, and Poverty" candidates forum broadcast nationwide by CNN. I was joined by Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, Rev. Joel Hunter, Rev. Sharon Watkins, and Monsignor Kevin Sullivan in questioning the candidates; CNN's Soledad O'Brien moderated the forum.
In answering personal questions, the candidates showed that faith is both personal and real for them. When John Edwards spoke of how he and his wife, Elizabeth, were actually "dysfunctional" for a time after the tragic death of their son, and how only "the Lord" got him through that—nobody on either side of the political aisle could have doubted the authenticity. After what many thought was an inappropriate question about Hillary Clinton's marriage, the senator responded with a spiritual depth and maturity that deeply impressed everyone who was watching—even her political enemies. Barack Obama spoke of how his moral commitment to the vision of what Dr. King called a beloved community rose out of his faith. The questions about faith, as they often do, ended up revealing more of the honest humanity of these candidates than we often see, and took them off their stump speeches.