Religious conservatives grapple with how to respond to Buttigieg

Religious conservatives who have long been a reliable voting bloc for Republicans are grappling with a new challenge in Pete Buttigieg: how to respond to a Democratic presidential candidate who is leaning into the discussion about faith and its role in political life.

For years, Democrats seeking inroads with religious voters have faced a major obstacle erected by evangelicals and other conservative Christians who have often portrayed resistance to socially conservative policies as attacks on people of faith. Adding to their challenge is the fact that few Democratic candidates have seemed comfortable emphasizing their personal faith, perhaps unsurprising given that their positions on abortion, LGBT rights and contraception differ from traditional religious orthodoxy.

Buttigieg, who formally declared his candidacy on Sunday, is flipping the traditional Democratic playbook by emphasizing how scripture informs his positions on those same issues, rather than shying away from the topic.