As the Democratic National Convention begins in full virtual swing, fighting for the faith vote is a major priority of the Biden campaign.
The person spearheading that outreach spoke to CBN News about the campaign’s plans to pull in the coveted evangelical vote.
Josh Dickson is the National Faith Engagement director for the Biden campaign. He believes there’s a Democratic story to tell between now and election day, one he insists believers will buy.
“You see that they hired an evangelical to lead their faith outreach and I think that speaks a lot,” Dickson said.
Dickson grew up a believer in a conservative, Republican household, then came a major change when he switched political parties in his 20’s.
“When I deeply examined what my values were, and looked at the respective platforms and the respective ways in which, the deep values I would say, that our respective political parties prioritize, that’s when I made the switch,” Dickson said.
As years passed, Dickson’s political involvement grew. He helped with Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign then worked for the administration. Now as head of Believers for Biden, he’s planning an effort with multiple objectives.
“One is ensuring that people of faith know that they are respected and valued by this campaign. Two is ensuring that people of faith know that we’re asking for their vote. We’re asking for them to support us even if they haven’t supported Democrats in the past,” Dickson said.
Regular events are being held online so the faithful can become familiar with the side of Biden and his campaign.
“I think that has been something that has been consistent for Vice President Biden through his entire career,” Dickson said. “He’s been someone who has worn his faith on his sleeve.”
“People need to understand him, to understand whether he’s someone for whom they could vote,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).
Coons, a friend and ally of the former vice president for 30 years, also works with the Biden faith effort.
“I think if you don’t know Joe as a man of faith, you don’t really know him,” he said.
But for many believers, and evangelicals, in particular, Biden’s stance on abortion remains a deal-breaker.
“We’re a party and a campaign that doesn’t take this issue or any issue lightly,” Dickson said. “I think it’s clear that Vice President Biden is pro-choice, I think it’s also clear that he’s someone who really has a holistic approach to maternal health and to women’s health.”
“It’s not that they have such a fundamental disagreement with Joe on the gospel value. They may have a real disagreement over what actions the government should be taking,” Coons added.
The Biden camp maintains the major religious issue of this election is not abortion but systematic racism, brought to the forefront by the killing of George Floyd.
“It’s been a resounding theme from diverse people across many faith backgrounds,” Dickson said. “Many major evangelical leaders have communicated that. And we’re going to fight these systems that currently exist that hold people down in very clear intentionally and systematic ways.”
Dickson says the addition of Kamala Harris to the ticket strengthens their team on this issue.
“She’s the first Indian American and Black American woman elected to the US Senate. She’s a Howard University graduate. She’s someone who’s been a champion for justice her entire career and a lot of people just really connect with her story,” Dickson said. “We need healing, we need transformation, we need hope. And we need to start much of that journey by addressing systemic racism in our country.”
During this week’s convention, there will be several special events designed for the faith community. The Biden campaign’s attempt is to make everyone feel like they have a seat at the table, while hopefully securing their vote in November.