Media Roundup April 28, 2008 Subject Line – Sermons, Schools, and Candidates’ Spirituality State of Belief Preview: Have you been watching the media’s coverage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright lately? We have – and we’ll be talking about it this weekend, on State of Belief. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Race for the White House ’08
McCain Pressed on ‘Islamic’ Terror Label
Washington Times – 4/21/08
A coalition of American Muslim groups is demanding that Sen. John McCain stop using the adjective “Islamic” to describe terrorists and extremist enemies of the United States. Muneer Fareed, who heads the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), told The Washington Times that his group is beginning a campaign to persuade Mr. McCain to rephrase his descriptions of the enemy. “We’ve tried to contact his office, contact his spokesperson to have them rethink word usage that is more acceptable to the Muslim community,” Mr. Fareed said. “If it’s not our intent to paint everyone with the same brush, then certainly we should think seriously about just characterizing them as criminals, because that is what they are.” An aide to Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who is counting on his pro-Iraq war stance to attract conservative voters, said the senator from Arizona will not drop the word. Steve Schmidt, a former Bush White House aide who is now a McCain media strategist, told The Times that the use of the word is appropriate and that the candidate will continue to define the enemy that way. “Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda represent a perverted strain of Islam at odds with the great many peaceful Muslims who practice their great faith peacefully,” Mr. Schmidt said. “But the reality is, the hateful ideology which underpins bin Ladenism is properly described as radical Islamic extremism. Senator McCain refers to it that way because that is what it is.”
Barack Obama said he is frustrated by questions about his religious beliefs and patriotism, particularly because his presidential rivals are not questioned in the same way. “It frustrates me that people would even have a question about something like that because they don’t ask the same questions of some of the other candidates and that concerns me,” Obama said here Monday night. During the last weeks of campaigning, Obama has spent much of his time telling voters that questions concerning his religion, patriotism, and the “bitter” controversy are all manufactured distractions and political games. In many cases, he has blamed Hillary Clinton for instigating some of these distractions, admonishing her for not learning from attacks against her during the 1990s. However, last night, another Pennsylvania voter asked Obama about the rumors that he may be Muslim. “I heard on the news the other day that still approximately 10% of this country still believe you are Muslim, not that there is anything wrong with being Muslim, but are you doing anything to try and dispel those rumors?,” the voter asked. Obama blamed these rumors on e-mails, calling them “political dirty tricks” that the media has picked up on. “I am a Christian and have been a Christian. But you made an important point which is it’s not just that I’m a Christian and these e-mails are misinforming people, they’re also feeding on anti-Muslim sentiment and that’s also wrong because we don’t have a religious test in this country,” Obama said. “So, I want to make sure that nobody gets hoodwinked, and if anyone gets that information you make sure you correct it because we want to make sure everybody has accurate information.”
Clinton’s Faith Underestimated
Washington Times – 4/25/08
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is more devout than public perception has allowed, her Methodism carried close to her heart alongside her political interests, even if she is almost reluctant to talk about it. “Just in terms of her Christian commitment, I think she is one of the most authentically and deeply committed Christians I know,” said her former youth pastor, the Rev. Donald Jones, a 77-year-old retired professor of social ethics at Drew University in New Jersey who is her longtime friend. “You can’t really understand Hillary apart from the centrality of the Judeo-Christian tradition that has affected her life. I think more than any other influence, it’s her Christian faith that has shaped the core of her character.” Mrs. Clinton, who has downplayed religion for much of her campaign, called her Christian journey a “serious search” as she opened up at a recent Compassion Forum at Pennsylvania’s Messiah College. “I worry that you have to walk the walk of faith,” she said at the forum, where she offered a glimpse of the role that faith has played in her political life. “Talking about it is important because it’s important to share that experience. But I also believe that, you know, faith is just — it’s grace. It’s love. It’s mystery. It’s provocation. It is everything that makes life and its purpose meaningful as a human being. “We have created this democracy where we choose our leaders, and we have to be more mindful of how important and serious a business this is,” she said.
Romney’s Run Good for LDS Church
Salt Lake Tribune – 4/23/08
The news storm created by Mitt Romney’s presidential bid was a plus for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “I’d much rather have people talking about us than ignoring us,” Elder M. Russell Ballard told a meeting of the Brigham Young University Management Society in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. “The biggest problem we face is apathy. Still, we have learned a lot. One thing we have concluded is that even after 178 years, there is more misinformation out there than we had imagined.” Political pundits have spun two opposing theories about the consequences of the run of the most high-profile Mormon candidate ever to seek the presidency: He boosted recognition of the church and helped tamp down misconceptions, or his bid was a bad experience for the church since it brought out criticism and controversy. Ballard, one of the first LDS leaders to speak out about the race’s impact, says anxiety about Mormons primarily came from conservative Christians who are against the LDS Church’s doctrine and, from the other end of the spectrum, those who oppose the church’s position on moral issues such as abortion or same-sex marriage. Although much criticism surfaced during Romney’s bid, Ballard said a lot of Americans were simply puzzled about who Mormons are and what they believe. Ballard said he and other church leaders met with journalists from Washington, Chicago, New York, Boston, Cleveland and other cities to help them understand the LDS Church.
RNC Official: McCain Faith Outreach will be “Aggressive”
CBNnews – 4/25/08
The Democratic Party has stolen the headlines on faith outreach and “God talk” during this 2008 campaign season but the Republican National Committee Deputy Chair Frank Donatelli tells The Brody File that is about to change. See his comments below: “All I can say is that it will be aggressive. Senator McCain’s aides at all levels will be talking to pro-family groups. Senator McCain himself will engage with pro-family groups. The problem with the DNC outreach is the party that embraces abortion on demand and retreating in the face of our enemies I would think would have a great deal of difficulty reaching pro-family voters. We are going to have a very aggressive program to reach out to religious voters whether they are Evangelical, Protestant, Catholic or whatever. That is a staple of our campaign because what we find is that the most religious voters certainly in terms of Church attendance tend to vote Republican more than the general public. There are a lot of voters there for us. The senator’s team has been meeting with these (pro-family) groups. He has conducted some meetings and he’ll continue to have such meetings. I think the test here is what we are saying in terms of issues. The issues that are of concern to religious voters namely winning the war on terror and appointing and supporting judges to the federal bench that will interpret the constitution and not make social policy, those are bedrock issues as far as Senator McCain is concerned. I believe that as the campaign goes on this will become more and more evident. We’ve got plenty of time here, lots of time for meetings and interaction and I just believe that as we go forward that the groups you’re talking about will become more and more comfortable with our campaign.”
McCain Doesn’t Put His Faith Out Front
Los Angeles Times – 4/26/08
Not long after he became the presumed Republican nominee, John McCain flew to New Orleans to face a skeptical audience — conservative leaders of the Council for National Policy. A questioner zeroed in on a topic McCain rarely addresses on the campaign trail, asking him to explain his faith in God McCain, an Episcopalian who attends a Baptist church in Phoenix, turned to a well-worn tale of the guard he met when he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. The man once loosened the ropes binding McCain, and later shared his Christian faith with McCain by silently sketching a cross in the prison yard with his sandal. The story played well in an ad before the New Hampshire primary, but it was deeply disappointing to many at the New Orleans gathering, conservative activist Richard Viguerie recalled. “He blew that question off by telling us about the faith of his jailer,” said Viguerie. “It was very obvious to those three or four hundred conservative leaders there. . . . The vast, vast majority of them were either sitting on the sidelines or unenthusiastic about his impending nomination and he didn’t move a single person.” McCain’s reticence about raising the subject of his faith in public is all the more noticeable as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have spoken up about their beliefs as they campaign for the Democratic nomination. The secular language of McCain’s speeches, often rooted in patriotic themes of duty, honor and service, is also a striking contrast to that of President Bush, who bonded with evangelicals by threading religious language through his speeches and speaking about how faith rescued him from his struggles with drinking.
McCain, Hagee and the Politics of God’s Wrath
The Nation – 4/26/08
The whole controversy about John McCain’s ties to radical preacher John Hagee has been miscast, both by McCain’s critics and supporters – not to mention by our ministerially-obsessed media. There is not really a comparison between the McCain-Hagee link and the relationship between Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Obama, the Illinois senator who leads in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, looks to Wright for personal and spiritual counsel but does not have a political relationship with the man. Indeed, as concerns about some of Wright’s statements have been voiced, Obama has gone out of his way to distance himself politically from his former paster – while at the same time voicing his regard and respect for a religious leader who has been a part of his life for two decades. Hagee, whose views about a host of social issues give new meaning to the term “hateful,” is not McCain’s pastor. They have no personal or spiritual relationship. Rather, Hagee is a close political ally of McCain and an ardent supporter of the Arizona senator’s presidential bid. McCain sought Hagee’s endorsement and continued to defend and embrace the pastor – saying he was “glad to have the minister’s endorsement – even after Hagee said that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans because of the city’s “sinful” acceptance of homosexuality. “What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God…” Hagee explained after the city experienced a national disaster that cost at least 1,836 lives – making it the deadliest hurricane in American history – and permanently dislocated tens of thousands of Americans from not just their homes but the communities of their birth and upbringing. “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans” Hagee told NPR’s Terry Gross in a 2006 interview. What was God judging? “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God,” said McCain’s backer, who explained that “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”
Prayer Day ‘Hijacked’ by Evangelicals, Critics Say
Washington Post – 4/26/08
Is the upcoming National Day of Prayer a day for all Americans — or just conservative evangelicals? That’s what some critics are charging in advance of the observances Thursday as they call for a more inclusive approach to an event that they say has been “hijacked” by conservative Christians. Jews on First, a 2 1/2 -year-old online organization, has questioned the application process for coordinators affiliated with the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is headed by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Although the task force is a private group, it nonetheless gets an unofficial government seal of approval with an annual proclamation by President Bush and prayer ceremonies held at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Jews on First is spearheading an “Inclusive National Day of Prayer” campaign that includes a Web site featuring talking points, sample letters to governors and a list of “alternative inclusive observances.” “The National Day of Prayer has been hijacked!” the group declares on its Web site. “What began as President Truman’s declaration of a National Prayer Day for all Americans is now excluding and dividing us on religious lines.” Jane Hunter, co-director of Jews on First, said her group has interfaith volunteers in several states who are urging their governors to issue inclusive proclamations about the annual observance. “The volunteers who organize the events . . . are required to pledge that they will only invite Christian clergy to officiate,” said Hunter, a longtime Jewish activist who lives in Bethesda. “The volunteers themselves have to . . . make a statement of faith that is very narrowly drawn so that only a conservative evangelical Christian would be comfortable doing it.”
Where Crimes of Hate Do Not Make a Trend
New York Times – 4/27/08
WHEN Roger Kahn rushed up here from the Bronx to see what had happened to the lakeside bungalow that had been his summertime synagogue since childhood, he was dumbfounded. The velvet curtain had been ripped off the Holy Ark, prayer books and shawls were scattered on the floor, a brass menorah had been twisted and torn off the stage where the Torah is read, and a Torah — fortunately a paper scroll and not the sacred parchment used for services — had been trampled. Just in case there was any doubt about motive, the culprits painted two swastikas on the walls, a particularly cruel sight for Mr. Kahn, whose father fled Nazi Germany and whose grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz. “It was like walking into a post-pogrom kind of thing,” said Mr. Kahn, the 54-year-old president of the shul, with its too-grand name of Mohegan Park Jewish Center. Small as it is, the synagogue has been the pulsing heart of a summer colony of Orthodox Jews since the 1930s, though its roster of member families has dwindled to 15. The desecration on April 10 had an extra edge of ominousness because it came on the heels of another local episode rife with allegations of anti-Semitism. Late last month, Kyle Gulitz, a 27-year-old worker for the Yorktown Highways Department, filed a lawsuit claiming that he had been harassed by three co-workers. One worker, he said, wore a swastika armband and gave him a stiff-armed Nazi salute, shouting, “SeeKyle.” Mr. Gulitz said that Eric DiBartolo, the elected highways superintendent, had encouraged the workers.
Wright: Critics Twisting Sermons for Political Gain
Associated Press – 4/26/08
The former pastor to Democrat Barack Obama said his sermon blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks was a warning against vengeance and the view that all American actions are perfect, according to transcripts of a PBS interview released Friday. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright said he was in Newark when the terrorist strike occurred and, from his hotel window, he said he saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Some of his congregants lost loved ones in the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center, he said. “We want revenge. They wanted revenge,” Wright told “Bill Moyers’ Journal.” “God doesn’t want to leave you there, however. God wants redemption. God wants wholeness. And … that’s the context, the biblical context, I used to try to get people sitting again in that sanctuary.” The interview, for broadcast Friday night, is the first the pastor has given since video of his preaching gained national attention in March, putting Obama’s campaign for the presidential nomination on the defensive. The controversy forced Obama to distance himself from the minister, after a 20-year association through Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In a March 18 speech in Philadelphia, Obama described the history of injustice that fueled Wright’s comments, while also condemning his pastor’s statements and acknowledging white resentment of African-Americans. Wright, who is stepping down from Trinity’s pulpit, said he and his successor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, have received death threats, and that the there have been threats to bomb the church. In the Sept. 11 sermon, Wright pointed to U.S. military strikes on Panama and Libya, American slavery and its treatment of Indians and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant?” he said in the sermon. “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” Wright told Moyers that “the persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly.” The pastor said that the video is being publicized by people who want to make him out to be a fanatic instead of someone expressing problems with U.S. policies. “To put an element of fear and hatred and to stir up the anxiety of Americans who still don’t know the African-American church, know nothing about the prophetic theology of the African-American experience,” Wright said, “who don’t even know how we got a black church.”
‘Jihadist’ Booted from Government Lexicon
Associated Press – 4/24/08
Don’t call them jihadists any more. And don’t call al-Qaida a movement. The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language. Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as “jihadists” or “mujahedeen,” according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like “Islamo-fascism” is out, too. The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates. For example, while Americans may understand “jihad” to mean “holy war,” it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, “mujahedeen,” which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context. U.S. officials may be “unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims,” says a Homeland Security report. It’s entitled “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims.” “Regarding ‘jihad,’ even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world,” the report says. Language is critical in the war on terror, says another document, an internal “official use only” memorandum circulating through Washington entitled “Words that Work and Words that Don’t: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication.”
Florida Senate Passes Evolution Challenge Bill
ABC News – 4/23/08
Two senators from Tampa Bay squared off on the floor of the Florida Senate today in a fight over how evolution should be taught in public schools. Plant City Senator Ronda Storms introduced the Evolution Academic Freedom Act, which permits teachers to challenge the theory of evolution in science classes. This comes months after a state panel voted to require teaching evolution in Florida. Storms says her law would protect teachers who want to offer other theories for mankind’s existence besides evolution. Tampa Senator Arthenia Joyner argued the law opens public school classrooms to debate on creationism, intelligent design and God’s role in mankind’s existence. Joyner said that debate belongs in church and at home, not in Florida’s public schools.The bill passed 21-17 and now goes to the House. That chamber is considering a version of the bill that would not just permit, but require teachers to present “critical analysis” of the theory of evolution. The Senate rejected that version of the bill.
Texas 911 Calls Linked To 33-Year-Old in Colo.
Washington Post – 4/24/08
The phone calls that triggered a massive raid on a polygamist compound in west Texas — in which a quavering girl’s voice described being forcibly married at 15 — have been linked to a Colorado woman with a history of making false claims of sexual abuse, according to an affidavit filed in Colorado Springs. The affidavit says calls that allegedly came from “Sarah Barlow” — a teenage girl at the Yearning for Zion Ranch outside Eldorado, Tex. — actually came from numbers connected to Rozita Swinton, 33, of Colorado Springs. The affidavit also notes Swinton’s possible involvement in a series of separate but similar reports in which the young caller described being abused by a pastor, an uncle or her father. Texas authorities yesterday said they have not determined whether the calls about the Yearning for Zion Ranch were a hoax and that they plan to press on with their investigation of possible sexual abuse there. More than 400 children are now in state custody, as authorities try to sort out what happened at the ranch run by a polygamist group called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. “Until she’s actually been charged” with a crime related to the phone calls, Swinton’s role “is still an open question,” state Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said. But the revelations about phone calls to shelters for abused women in Colorado, Washington, Utah, Arizona and Florida cast doubt on the dramatic scenario that led Texas authorities to investigate and ultimately to raid the compound April 3. The raid made the insular sect the subject of one of the most complex child-custody cases in recent U.S. history.
An Unusual Prosecution of a Way of Life
Washington Post – 4/27/08
The ironic thing is that before the big sheriff’s department armored personnel carrier appeared outside the Yearning for Zion Ranch, it was starting to seem as though America had finally figured out how to live with its polygamists. For more than a century, authorities had alternately persecuted and ignored the groups practicing plural marriage around the West — splinters from mainstream Mormonism, splinters of splinters. Mostly, they ignored them. But, in the past few years, officials in some states have begun trying to bring these groups out of the shadows. They offered a deal: Marry however often you want, but don’t marry children. A Supreme Court case on gay sex also provided unlikely help. Then came Eldorado. On April 3, Texas authorities raided the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ compound here, then removed more than 450 children. Now, Texas seems headed for exactly the kind of wrenching, head-on fight that other states have tried to avoid. Their case will ask: Does this polygamous group deserve a place — and the right to raise children — in modern society? “The people in Utah and Arizona simply aren’t doing it” this way, said James W. Paulsen, a professor and expert on polygamy at South Texas College of Law in Houston. “The idea of walking in and shutting down the entire group hasn’t been tried in more than 50 years. And the last time it was, then it was an abject failure.”
Judge: Gideon Bibles don’t Belong in School
Associated Press – 4/26/08
Tangipahoa Parish public schools must stop in-school Bible giveaways to students, a federal judge ruled. “Distribution of Bibles is a religious activity without a secular purpose” and amounts to school board promotion of Christianity, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier ruled. As requested by both sides, Barbier made a summary judgment based only on the written briefs – something judges may do only if the law is absolutely clear. But attorney Christopher M. Moody said he thinks the Tangipahoa Parish School Board is likely to ask the 5th U.S. Court of Appeal to overturn Barbier’s decision, though he hadn’t yet consulted with the board. “We think there’s a very good chance” of a reversal, he said. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed the suit for an anonymous family whose daughter said she felt pressured into taking a Bible even though she doesn’t believe in God. The girl was called Jane Roe and her father John Roe out of fear of retaliation by schoolmates and neighbors, the ACLU has said. “Jane Roe states that she accepted the Bible because if she did not, her classmates would have ‘picked on’ her,” Barbier wrote. “She feared they would call her ‘devil worshipper.'” Marjorie R. Esman, executive director of the ACLU chapter, said, “A child shouldn’t have to choose between her family’s beliefs and the wishes of school administrators.”
Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats
New York Times – 4/26/08
When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending. But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement. Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers. Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, declined to comment on the case, saying, “The department does not discuss pending litigation.” Specialist Hall’s lawsuit is the latest incident to raise questions about the military’s religion guidelines. In 2005, the Air Force issued new regulations in response to complaints from cadets at the Air Force Academy that evangelical Christian officers used their positions to proselytize. In general, the armed forces have regulations, Ms. Lainez said, that respect “the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”
School Voucher Amendment Headed to Voters in November
Miami Herald – 4/26/08
The citizen panel empowered to put amendments before voters ended its first meeting in 20 years with a bang Friday, asking Floridians to defy the state Supreme Court by allowing tax money to pay for kids to go to private schools. The proposal to allow the state to pay for private school vouchers was the last constitutional amendment — one of seven — the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission agreed to put on the November ballot. If 60 percent of voters agree, the measure will undo a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that threw out the vouchers as unconstitutional. The vouchers were the brainchild of then-Gov. Jeb Bush, who wanted the state to pay to send students in low-performing public schools to private schools. ”The purpose of this amendment is to protect charter schools, to protect virtual education . . . and the alternatives that exist to the public school system,” said Pat Levesque, who runs Bush’s pro-voucher foundation and sponsored the amendment. But opponents said it will establish a private school entitlement to public money and scolded the commission for introducing a nonbudget-related, ideological proposal into the agenda. ”You’d be the first state in the union to create a right, an obligation and mandate to have publicly financed private schools,” said state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat and nonvoting member of the commission, who called the amendment “ideological pork.” The voucher proposal will be rolled into one amendment with the so-called 65 percent solution, which would force school districts to spend at least that percentage of their budgets in the classroom. Both ideas have been repeatedly rejected by the Legislature, blasted by critics as far removed from the panel’s mission and rejected as recently as two weeks ago by the 25-member commission. But when the commission gave final approval to its hallmark piece of tax reform on Thursday — a plan to lower all property taxes by about 25 percent and force Tallahassee to make up the money with sales taxes and other revenue — key opposition to the education schemes disappeared.
Pennsylvania Fault Lines
Washington Post Op-Ed, E.J. Dionne, 4/25/08
Perhaps it was inevitable: The Democrats’ battle for the presidential nomination has led us into the thicket of race and religion. Hillary Clinton’s significant victory over Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary was the result of many factors, but most troubling for Obama’s camp were exit polls suggesting that an underlying anti-Obama vote was responsible for the size of Clinton’s win. One little-noticed finding was that 6 percent of Clinton’s own voters said that they would defect to John McCain in the fall against Clinton herself. These Pennsylvania Democrats clearly were not Clinton enthusiasts. They were voting against Obama. What was behind the anti-Obama feeling? More specifically, did Obama’s race play a role? The evidence suggests that race mattered; it’s just not clear how much. Among white Pennsylvania voters, roughly one in six said race was a factor, and three-quarters of those voted for Clinton. By contrast, Clinton’s gender seemed to help her more than hurt her: A substantial majority of men who said a candidate’s gender was a factor (a very small group) voted for Clinton.