Sunday, February 18, 2007

Should Religion and Politics Mix?

It's an age-old question. Some argue that religion and one's relationship with God should be a personal matter and not have a bearing on politics. They are argue that religion should stay out of politics. Similarly, others hang their hat the "constitution" and argue that there should be a "separation of church and state". The problem with that argument is that this provision is nowhere to be found in the constitution.

Jim Wallis of Time writes today that the era of the religious right is over. I doubt that is true. If it is, then why are so many candidates courting the support of religious leaders? Another article takes the position that voters are more likely to find Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in church than Rudy Guiliani or John McCain. The point of the story is that the religious gap between the republican party and the democratic party is narrowing. Is it?

Others are tauting Rudy Guiliani as having the ability to sway conservative voters without bowing to the religious leaders. Guiliani has said that he hates abortion but supports a woman's right to choose. He is in favor of civil unions and gun control and has been married three times. Richard Land of the Southern Baptists' Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said that Guiliani is "unacceptable" to social conservatives. But Guiliani says that he will appoint conservative judges like Alito and Roberts -- judges that are strict constructionists -- and that is music to conservatives' ears.

It's an interesting discussion: The mix of politics and religion. One's religion has always been part of that person's decision making. And that makes the separation of politics and religion virtually impossible. A person's fundamental belief -- whether shaped by religion and faith or something else -- will influence their decision making if they hold public office. There is no way around it. So should religion and politics mix? I think it is unavoidable.


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