CNN aired that special last evening, featuring the views and thoughts of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on matters of faith and politics.

It was a risk-filled journey for both: social issues
like abortion and gay marriage have long been sticking points for
Democrats in their efforts to reach some religious voters.

But in separate appearances at Faith in Public Life’s Compassion
Forum at Messiah College — only the second such event in Democratic
presidential campaign history — both spoke of their faith in starkly
personal terms.

On a day when her campaign released a new ad talking about her
struggles to “climb the mountain,” Clinton told CNN’s Campbell Brown
and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham. “I don’t think that I could have made my
life’s journey without being anchored in God’s grace and without having
that, you know, sense of forgiveness and unconditional love…”

Obama said that to him, “religion is a bulwark, a foundation when
other things aren’t going well. That’s true in my own life, through
trials and tribulations. …”

Obama later added: “I am a devout Christian … I started my work
working with churches in the shadow of steel plants that had closed on
the south side of Chicago …”

This used to be an area Democrats avoided. Until the 2004 elections,
when they discovered the ‘God gap’ and strategized to close it. Now,
they’re talking about it more than the Republicans.

So on Sunday, in front of a religious crowd, both
candidates worked their way carefully through the rhetorical minefield
that still surrounds the issue.

Rhetorical minefield because rhetoric has buried in the cultural
landscape eupemisms that replace the clear language of human life and
natural law. What’s politically correct has trumped what’s morally
correct on a number of levels.

So, how does their Christian beliefs square with, say, their abortion support?

Clinton, asked whether she believed life begins at
conception, replied that “the potential for life begins at conception,”
adding that the Methodist church, her denomination, had “struggled with
this issue.”

That’s evasive maneuvering.

“…And as some of you’ve heard me discuss before, I think
abortion should remain legal — but it needs to be safe and rare,” she
said.

So continue the conversation. Why should it be made rare?
What makes it undesirable enough that it should be made rare? This
squirmyt position is what’s disguised culturally as compassion.

Obama — who had sparked controversy several weeks ago
when he said he would not want to see his daughters “burdened” with an
unwanted child — said it was important to “acknowledge that there is a
moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of
us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tap down.”

Follow up question: Why?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....