Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's 5,000-word address to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia July 28 devoted a total of one phrase to abortion and even less to so-called homosexual rights.
The sparse mention of social issues led Walter Bradley, a former Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission trustee who served as New Mexico's Republican lieutenant governor from 1995-2002, to express concern Clinton seemed to "avoid these very important issues."
On Wednesday night (July 27), vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine's speech to the DNC was peppered with references to faith and social justice, but it also included two favorable references to homosexuality, including an apparent reference to the late Harvey Milk that classified the gay rights activist as an American hero alongside Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt, among others.
Clinton's lone mention of abortion came when she stated, "If you believe we should expand Social Security and protect a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, join us." Her speech centered on the theme of unity and alternated between explaining her own plans and critiquing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Homosexuality was referenced only when Clinton included "LGBT rights" in a list of rights she would defend as president.
Clinton discussed the appointment of Supreme Court justices but said only that nominees should "get money out of politics and expand voting rights, not restrict them."
Addressing America's racial tensions, Clinton asked police and members of the black and Latino communities, who face "systemic racism," to "walk in each other's shoes."
Regarding faith, Clinton said her mother "made sure" she learned "the words of our Methodist faith: 'Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.'" That traditional Methodist saying, which was quoted in part by Kaine the previous night, commonly is attributed to Methodism founder John Wesley, though its origin is unknown.
Clinton discussed terrorism and the Islamic State group at some length but never used any form of the words "Islam" or "Muslim."
Bradley, who completed his term as an ERLC trustee this year, told Baptist Press Clinton's treatment of radical Islam is "troubling."
America must recognize "Muslim radicals" as a threat, Bradley said. "Recognize the enemy, identify the enemy and defeat the enemy. I don't see that happening with the history of this particular candidate." Clinton has failed to acknowledge, he said, "that [radical Islamic terrorism] is a serious, serious issue in this country today and in the world."
More broadly, Bradley expressed concern that Clinton seemed to "avoid" discussing social issues in her speech even though they are "very important issues that are the moral fiber of our country."
"The relative lack of comment on social issues, including religious freedom, is troubling given the fact that she's going to be picking Supreme Court justices that will have a major impact on our future," Bradley said.
Kaine told DNC delegates his Roman Catholic faith "became vital, a North Star for orienting ... life" while he attended a Jesuit boys school growing up. He also recounted taking a year off law school to work with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, demonstrating his fluency in Spanish in the process.
The then-dictatorship in Honduras helped Kaine realize a nation should "advance opportunity for everyone" regardless of race, religion, economic status or "who they love," he said, an apparent reference to homosexual relationships.
At the close of his speech, Kaine listed Milk -- a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the 1970s who is known as the first openly gay person elected to office in the U.S. -- as among the important characters in America's "proud story." Other important characters, he said, have included John and Abigail Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr.
Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, told BP Kaine's "warm personality" and "stated devotion to the Catholic Church" should not lead voters to conclude he adopts more "moderate" positions on social issues than Clinton.
Kaine is Virginia's junior senator as well as its former governor.
"In faith-based circles," Cobb said in written comments, Kaine "would emphasize his personal opposition to abortion, not the contrasting actions he would take to defeat pro-life legislation. He flip-flopped on the definition of marriage [from a traditional stance to favoring same-sex marriage].
"Sadly, while his faith is no doubt heart felt," she said, "he has done nothing to protect religious liberty and has sided with liberal secularists who wish to force those who hold a biblical view of sexuality to violate their consciences. His ever-waffling position regarding forcing taxpayers to pay for abortion is illustrative of the control the abortion industry has over the Democratic Party and the increasing difficulty Catholics have within that group.
"Lest anyone was misled by his rhetoric," Cobb said, "his time in Washington has clarified any confusion one might have about whether his loyalties lie with the doctrines of his church or his political party. He has a zero percent rating from the faith-based Family Research Council Action and 2 percent from the conservative [group] Heritage Action. In contrast, he holds a 100 percent rating with abortion industry special interest group NARAL."
In contrast to Clinton's sparse mention of social issues, the four-day DNC included among its other speakers Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Chad Griffin, president of the pro-homosexual lobbying group the Human Rights Campaign; Sarah McBride, an activist who identifies as transgender; and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, who elicited cheers when she told of having an abortion.
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.