Disclaimer… these are my thoughts and my opinions. Read at your own risk.
For those living in the United States, I’m sure you have seen how religion has impacted politics, especially lately with not only our current president but also with the republican presidential candidates.
First, there’s the controversy over insurance coverage for birth control, causing extreme concern with the Catholic church, and I’m sure other Christian churches. Of course, there has been a compromise asking only that institutions such as hospitals and colleges run by religious organizations be required to provide insurance that covers birth control, but the controversy and feelings of discontent still exist with not only church leaders but also select adherents of the curch.
Then, there are the presidential candidates trying to prove who is the more conservative – who is the Christian with whom the majority of Christians will identify. Santorum has gone so far as to state that the separation of Church and State ought not to be absolute. Others, believing that Mormonism is a cult, refuse to elect Romney because of his faith.
Should religion really be the basis upon which Americans elect their president? Further, should religion be the basis upon, for lack of a better word, hatred for our current president?
My opinion? I say no. First of all, not every Catholic (or every Christian in general) subscribe to the belief that birth control is a sin or that abortion as an absolute is a sin. Further, Mormons have proven themselves over and over again that they are no different from what is thought to be mainstream Christianity. Their unique beliefs are really no different than individual interpretations of baptism or the transubstantiation of the “body and blood of Christ”. Likewise, Christians of all denominations do not always subscribe to all tenets of their denomination. Mitt Romney, for one, holds a stance on immigration that is contrary to his Mormon faith.
More importantly, it seems the majority of Americans including politicians have forgotten the first amendment, ensuring all of our rights to freedom of religion (non-governmental interference in religion and the freedom to practice), which I, for one, hope is never taken away. I prefer to believe that societal good is more important than one’s specific religious beliefs of what is good.
Finally, I am proud that the United States has the first ammendment, protecting freedom of religion. My opinion is that I am grateful that I can believe what I believe (right or wrong) without someone physically persecuting me for those beliefs. Some countries aren’t as lucky as those in the United States. I wish our current politicians would realize that.
So, in closing, I want to share some quotes, I wish all Americans would consider when reflecting on politics:
- Philosopher John Stuart Mill said, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind”.
- Thomas Jefferson said, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”.
- President Kennedy said, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish – where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source — no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all”.
- President Filmore said, “I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled”.
- President Grant said, “Let us labor for the security of free thought, free speech, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and equal rights and privileges for all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion;…. leave the matter of religious teaching to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contribution. Keep church and state forever separate.”
- Political theorist James Madison said, “There is not a shadow of right on the general goverment to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation. I can appeal to my uniform conduct on this subject tha I have warmly supported religious freedom”.
- President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Discrimination against the holder of one faith means retaliatory discrimination against men of other faiths. The inevitable result of entering upon such a practise would be an abandonment of our real freedom of conscience and a reversion to the dreadful conditions of religious dissensions which in so many lands have proved fatal to true liberty, to true religion, and to all advance in civilization”.
- William James Bryan, secretary of state under President Wilson, said, “If God himself was not willing to use coercion to force man to accept certain religious views, man, uninspired and liable to error, ought not to use the means that Jehovah would not employ.”