(FORBES) — “Dad, is everyone who goes to church a Democrat?”

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I posed that question to my father—probably 7 or 8. It was the early 1980s, at the dawn of the Reagan revolution, and my suburban Minnesotan family was decidedly out of step with the dominant political ethos of the day. Small government and low taxes may have been popular in Washington, but they were anathema in my childhood home. Over dinner, I listened to my parents despair over rising poverty and our nation’s eroding safety net.

It was a message that was reinforced on Sundays, when my family attended church services at the Newman Center, the Catholic parish associated with the University of Minnesota. We sat on folding chairs in a basement room and sang hymns like “On Eagle’s Wings,” written by our congregation’s jocular priest, Father Michael Joncas, to guitar accompaniment.

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