Religion and Politics

A lot of people say there are two things that people should avoid talking about.  That is Religion and Politics.  I would have to agree in some cases.  There are a few people I know not to discuss religion or politics with.  There are a lot of people that just don’t think the other side can or should be heard.   I will listen to the other side, but that does not mean that I agree with it.

In the 2012 presidential election, we are going to see a big deal about religion and politics.  If the trend continues as it is, Mit Romney will be the US Presidential nomination for the GOP for the 2012 election.  If that happens, then his religion will play a big role in the months leading up to the presidential election.  It already has created some problems in the news recently, and will only get worse over time.  Here is just one example article from Feb 2012: SBC’s Richard Land: Romney Not a Christian, Compares Mormonism to Islam 

I have recently been reading a book by Randall Balmer titled, “God in the White House”.  (NOTE: by reading his book, I am showing that I do indeed listen to the other site of the argument.  He is very critical of what he calls the Religious Right, and has written a book titled, “Jesus was not a Republican”.)   He talks a lot in the first part of the book about the struggle that John F. Kennedy had prior to him being elected as president, because he was a member of the Roman Catholic religion. 

There were a lot of tracts, books and pamphlets published during JFK’s pre election run.  This books were written by may different denominations and were all about making sure that Kennedy would not get elected.  There were also several different groups of ministers that got together and tried to find ways to derail the Kennedy campaign.  These writings varied from stating that Catholics were not Christan’s.   And that if we had a Roman Catholic in office, the Pope would actually rule America and use him as a puppet.  They even went as far to say that he would remove all non Catholic members and replace them with Catholic members.  It should be noted that this did not happen. 

I have been thinking alot about this.  This is also something that we have been seeing in the Romney campaign, and it is something that we will continue to see if he does get the nomination.   In 1960 a group of Jewish and Christan leaders organized an entity called, “Fair Campaign Practices Committee.”    This group included several rabbis, Catholics and various other Orthodox and Protestant leaders.  One of them being George Romney (father of Mit Romney and later Governor of Michigan.)  Here is part of the groups statement, “No candidate for public office should be opposed or supported because of his particular religious affiliation …  A campaign for  public office is not an opportunity to vote for one religion against another.”  It also called for, “intelligence, honest, and temperate public discussion of the relation of religious faith to the public issues.”

This statement was also later iterated by JFK himself.  In a speech he made in Sept 12, 1960 to the Ministerial Association, Rice Hotel, Huston Texas.  He stated the following:

But let me stress again that these are my views – for, contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as President – in birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject – I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if the time should ever come – and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible – when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith – nor do I intend to disavow either my Church in order to win this election.[John F. Kennedy: Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Greater Houston Ministerial Association, Rice Hotel, Houston, TX ]

I have to agree with JFK and George Romney.  A man should not be elected to office based on his religion, but based on his record and his moral values and character.  I understand that you cannot totally separate religious affiliation from the equation.  Religion has a great influence on a mans moral values and character.  But it SHOULD NOT BE the reason to vote for or to vote against a person.

You will hear a lot about the Mormon religion during the course of the presidential campaign.  You already have heard a lot about it.  Religion should not be the sole reason for your vote.   This election, if Mit is nominated, is going to be a lot like the JFK election.  We are going to see a strong push against Mit’s religion.

I am reminded of what someone told me recently during an election in Saratoga Springs.  This person happens to be black, and was commenting about how her family members were upset with her because she did not vote for Obama.   Their comment was, “How could  you not vote for a black president?”  I have to agree with her.  You should not vote for someone because of their religion or race.  But you should vote for someone because you have looked into their stand on the issues, and you believe that they are the best person for the job.