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Separating faith and politics

Posted Monday, December 10, 2007, at 9:22 AM

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says the Mormon church, of which he is a member, would not influence his decisions as president.

Romney also says he will never abandon his religious beliefs.

Seems like we've already run into a contradiction, and I'm not being critical of Romney.

Religious beliefs make up a large part of a Christian's value system (or those of adherents of any other religion). Can they actually be separated?

It wasn't so many elections ago that conservative Christians were almost to the point of insisting on a Christian candidate and a direct influence in the nation's decisions.

And suppose Baptist minister Mike Huckabee became president. He'd suddenly become secular? I don't think so, and I'm not criticizing him either.

Thrice-married Rudy Guiliani's a little more silent on religious issues, probably because he's more of what some refer to as "moderate" i.e. more open to those things moral conservatives abhor like abortion and gay rights.

We're not hearing so much about religion from the Democratic side. Hillary Rodham Clinton's dealt with the results of her husband's temptations, about which she isn't speaking. The others seem more silent, probably because they're not yet having to go after conservative Christians' votes.

I'd agree that a president should represent all the people, of all faiths or no faith. And "separation of church and state" is one of the United States' founding principles.

But how far should -- and will -- faith influence decisions? That can only be truly answered after the elections.

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David, there is no such animal as "separation of church and state". The founding principle that this all came from was that the Congress would not dictate that there be one National religion. It had more to do with keeping the government out of Church business, not the Church out of the government. Unfortunately this has been twisted and turned so that the only people that are not allowed to have a say in any of this are the Christians. Nobody is asking Obama whether or not he supports his religion's principle that says that all of the "infidels" must be converted, subjugated, or killed. Personally, I'd rather not have someone that does believe that way in the White House to begin with.

-- Posted by Thom on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 1:50 PM

I agree that the main purpose was to prevent a national religion but I would disagree that the main reason was to keep government out of Church business. A National Religion would have meant that this religion would be deeply embedded in the government and just as likely to influence government decisions as the government would be to influence Church decisions.

By the way Obama's religion is Protestant Christian (United Church of Christ) not Muslim. http://hootsbuddy.blogspot.com/2006/12/w...

-- Posted by devan on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 6:55 PM

devan, I stand corrected. Obama is no longer a Muslim and, as such, he is liked less by them than an "infidel" is. Of course, I'm also not very fond of a religion that says if you're not one of them you're going to hell, but that's a totally different argument. As it turns out, I did spout off at the mouth (or fingertips) without first doing more research. My main point is that Mr. Romney's religion does not matter in regards to how well he could fulfill the duties of the office of President. Just as Mr. Obama's religion really doesn't matter. If the American people believe that a Mormon, a Jew, a Muslim, or a Christian could better serve them as President, then it should be on the merits of that individual's acts and positions rather than on what his (or her) religion believes.

-- Posted by Thom on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 7:25 PM

I'm also not very fond of a religion that says if you're not one of them you're going to hell, but that's a totally different argument.

-- Posted by Thom on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 7:25 PM

I think that's pretty much the case for every religion... Especially a local blogger here on the the T-G.

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Tue, Dec 11, 2007, at 10:57 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.