We’ve lost our religion. I suppose some would say that the statement is true in a generic sense, but I’m talking specifically about Republicans. In the last two cycles, we have seen an exodus of support for our candidates in federal elections when it comes to the most religious voters. In the 2008 presidential exit polls alone, we saw close to 7-point attrition among those who attend weekly religious services.Why would values voters vote for a candidate attached to a party that supports abortion rights or gay marriage? Why would they get behind a contender who breaks ranks with the tenets of their own faith – religious practices they deign to live by? Are they apathetic or are we missing something?There is a reason that Democrats have, at every turn, hastened to portray Republicans as heartless and soul-less. There is a reason that DNC leaders have painted former Vice President Cheney as Lord Vader sans cape and iron lung. The characterizations have stuck and many voters (who believe that there is little difference between the parties) will tell you that what separates Democrats from Republicans is the “fact” that Ds care about people and Rs only care about big business.Some of our scandals have not helped. But the other team has had their own too, and theirs largely go unnoticed (Congressman William Jefferson with a year’s salary packed next to the frozen peas anyone?). The reasoning: it’s a momentary lapse in a party that genuinely cares about the little guy.This brings us back to our religious question. There are two sides to every story and the fact of the matter is that, while some religions teach that life begins at conception, some teach that the mother is the center of the family unit and that her personal decision is most important. Some religions teach that marriage is between a man and a woman and others teach that God is present in every living being. All religions, however, teach that the “Golden Rule” is the prime directive. Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. How you treat the least among you is how you treat me.That is where we’ve failed. We’ve allowed the other side to frame our candidates as eschewing the raison d’être in favor of the components. We have taken our “connection” to values voters for granted and we have paid a price at the polls.I had a candidate who once answered a question about his religious background during a debate with a statement similar to “I attended a Quaker school, take a Taoist approach to life, was raised Episcopal and attend church in a very traditional parish where we still say some of the mass in Latin. I think that qualifies me to say that I take a broad look at religion and that I value different approaches.” The audience laughed at the light hearted answer. The newspaper quoted only the narrow “I attend church in a very traditional parish.” The swipe was intended to frame a Republican candidate, employed as a social worker, as a heartless traditionalist. It worked.“Family values” can be an esoteric phrase. Many families can have many different values. Most believe that the least among us deserve help, though, and until we can prove that the golden rule is best served by our candidates and our platform, we’ll continue to come up short with regular church goers. The great thing is that it doesn’t mean changing our platform. It just means refocusing our message.Jonathan Scott is president of the Liftline Group, a New England-based consulting and public relations firm. He is also the chairman of Ocean State Policy Research Institute. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.